Dr. John Madigan, professor in the Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, is being recognized by the UC Davis Cal Aggie Alumni Association with the Distinguished Achievement Award for his profound impact on the advancement of equine health and animal welfare worldwide. 

As an accomplished equine internist, infectious disease specialist, and equine neonatologist, Madigan has spent his career devoted to research discovery of disorders and diseases affecting large animals, and developing equipment and methods for animal rescue while expanding the field of veterinary disaster medicine. 

Madigan earned his DVM degree at UC Davis, and is board certified in both the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and the American College of Animal Welfare. He was a veterinarian in private practice until joining the UC Davis faculty in 1983. Since that time he has admirably served the school as a teacher and researcher, and provided extensive service to the community, state, and the profession. He has held multiple leadership positions including head of the Equine Neonatal Intensive Care Program, chief of the Equine Medicine Service, associate director of the Large Animal Clinic at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, director of the International Animal Welfare Training Institute, founder and head of the Veterinary Emergency Response Team, and liaison for the school in disaster response with local and state emergency response agencies including helicopter rescue teams.  

He is an expert in the health of newborn foals and in infectious diseases of horses. He has carried out pioneering research in equine neonatology, and discovered the pathogenesis of multiple equine infectious agents including Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Neorickettsia risticii, Borrelia burgdorferi, and novel prevention methods for Rhodococcus equi. In recent years, he’s developed an innovative approach to Maladjusted Foal Syndrome which may provide clues for autism patients. 

Madigan was instrumental in the development of the UC Davis Anderson Sling and the UC Davis Large Animal Lift, both used widely in emergency medicine and large animal rescue. He has actively engaged in rescue operations for animals caught in natural disasters such as floods and fires, and been the driving force behind the UC Davis Veterinary Emergency Response Team—a group of volunteer faculty, staff and students who assist with animal rescue and veterinary care during disasters. Some of Madigan’s rescues involve challenging situations such as the rescue of a cow from a mine shaft.

Madigan’s other contributions to the UC Davis campus include starting the UC Davis Polo club and developing the area on campus for horse polo which ultimately became the site of the UC Davis Equestrian Center. The UC Davis Polo team first participated in the National Intercollegiate Polo Championships in 1974 and has won 14 national titles in both men’s and women’s divisions. 

Madigan has published more than 160 scientific papers, and the 4th edition of Manual of Equine Neonatal Medicine. He has received numerous awards throughout his career, including the Pfizer Award for Research Excellence, AVMA Animal Welfare Award, Red Cross Hero Award, AAEP Distinguished Service Award, Legend of Academic Medicine Award from Kansas State University, the U.S. Congressional Achievement Recognition Award, and the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Achievement Award - the school’s highest honor. He was named the 2014 American Association of Equine Practitioner’s Milne Lecturer, a prestigious honor and tradition at the annual convention, the largest gathering of equine practitioners in the world. 

The CAAA Distinguished Achievement Award will be formally presented at the 45th Annual Alumni Awards Gala on February 2, at the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.