2020 State of the School

vet with dog

2020 State of the School

In Dean Michael Lairmore’s annual State of the School address on May 21st, he congratulated the school for being named #1 again world-wide by QS World Rankings. That measure of excellence is a testament to the dedication of the entire veterinary medicine community of faculty, staff and students.

The school’s mission to advance the health of animals, people and the environment remains more vital than ever as the world faces the current coronavirus pandemic, he said. While the global health crisis has impacted the school’s budget and resulted in income loss, Lairmore highlighted that the crisis has also brought the role of veterinarians to the forefront of global health. 

Thanks to the groundwork laid over the past decade by the school’s PREDICT program, scientists and researchers around the world were prepared to react quickly with early lab responses and tracking of animal sources of SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. 

PREDICT—a project of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Emerging Pandemic Threats program, directed through the school’s One Health Institute—has helped trained approximately 7,000 One Health professionals in more than 30 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The program has played a critical role in this current pandemic response. 

In addition, multiple units and researchers across the veterinary school and UC Davis Health are collaborating on developing new reagents, diagnostic tests and a possible vaccine. The teams were able to launch into gear quickly thanks to existing strong partnerships. 

Due to shelter-in-place protocols established in California, the veterinary hospital had to drastically reduce the number of animal patients it could receive. That, combined with income losses from laboratories, will result in approximate losses of more than $6 million to the school’s overall budget. 

Dean Lairmore discussed the five main goals of the school’s Strategic Plan, major achievements over the past year, and how we are aligned for future success. These are a few brief examples. For more examples, view the entire presentation.

Goal 1.0 -Educate World Leaders in Academic Veterinary Medicine, Veterinary Medical Practice, Biomedical and Agricultural Research, Industry, Government, and Public and Environmental Health

The pandemic necessitated a curriculum revamp for 1st through 4th-year students. The challenge was to provide them continued access to veterinary training while safeguarding their health and well-being. Thanks to faculty members who pivoted quickly to online teaching and remote clinics for 4th years, our Class of 2020 will graduate on time with their diplomas. Tune in on Friday, May 22nd to join the virtual celebration!

UC Davis presents one of the best value for veterinary education. Our students have the highest median starting salary of graduates of any of the 30 U.S. veterinary schools. Thanks to generous donors for scholarship support, the school ranks second for the most optimal debt-to-income ratio and the third-least in median debt.

Goal 2.0 -Lead in Innovation and High-Impact Transdisciplinary Research to Advance the Health of Animals, People, and the Environment

UC Davis has always been a leader in research funding. This year, total research expenditures topped $81 million. Those funds supported studies such as: discovering the first genetic link between Toxoplasma  strains in felid hosts and parasites causing fatal disease in marine wildlife; linking melting Arctic sea ice to the emergence of a deadly virus in marine mammals; evaluating drugs that impair bone repair in racehorses.

Lairmore highlighted the excellence of the Veterinary Genetics Lab. They performed approximately 220K genetic tests across 24 species; completed 69 animal forensic cases; expanded their portfolio  of tests; conducted genetic studies in horses; and provided undergraduates with valuable research experience. 

Goal 3.0 -Provide Cutting-Edge Clinical Programs that Deliver Exceptional Veterinary Services  and Support Premier Education, Advanced Specialty Training, and Collaborative Translational  Research

UC Davis has the largest clinical residency training program in the country and a strong history of fostering excellence in those trainees. Four residents from the UC Davis veterinary hospital took home research awards from the 2019 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) annual conference. As one of the largest veterinary conferences in the world, ACVIM receives resident research submissions from some of the best and brightest young minds in veterinary medicine. In addition, Dr. Maureen Griffin was honored with the 2020 American Association of Veterinary Clinicians (AAVC) Resident Achievement Award. 

Research that has translated in better treatment include a study that determined that cats from California wildfires suffered heart problems. Advanced technology in combination with research also resulted in a new artificial intelligence method of detecting Addison’s disease in dogs. 

The Veterinary Medical Center remains on track as the most ambitious fundraising campaign by any veterinary school. Phase I structures completed include the Large Animal Sport Facility and the blood donor pasture and coral. With fundraising goals reached for the All Species Imaging Center, that part of Phase II will begin next year. 

Goal 4.0 -Advance the Well-Being of Animals and People in California and Around the Globe

The California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System has been busy this year protecting the state’s livestock and poultry. They have assisted the CFDA in dealing with virulent Newcastle disease, running more than 60,000 samples through the lab. They’ve also hired four additional faculty diagnosticians. 

The Western Institute for Food Safety and Security has joined collaborators across three western states to prevent animal pandemics in a new project funded by the USDA.

The Veterinary Emergency Response Team was honored for their response in helping animals impacted by wildfires with an award from California Emergency Medical Services Authority.

Goal 5 -Promote a Vibrant and Diverse Community of Faculty, Staff and Students to Advance  the Mission of the School in an Engaged and Respectful Community

Lairmore highlighted faculty members who have been honored with significant awards, including: Amy Kapatkin was named president of AO North America, the first woman and veterinarian to be hold that role. Nicole Baumgarth and Wilson Rumbeiha were elected as fellows to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Peter Havel received the 202 AAVMC Excellence in Research Award. Chris Barker was named a Chancellor’s Fellow.

In addition, UC Davis highlighted three SVM women in its list of 55 most significant women in history as part of a celebration marking the 150th anniversary of the admission of women to the University of California. They included including Jonna Mazet, Marguerite Pappaioanou and Elizabeth Arnold Stone.

Lairmore also honored the 2020 Alumni Achievement Award recipients, and staff and faculty retirees. 

View a recording of Dean Lairmore’s presentation.

Download Presentation (pdf)

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