Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory appoints new director

dr Kurt Williams fills this role at OSU at a time when COVID-19 has shown the importance of labs and their testing capabilities.

Oregon State University (OSU) has appointed Kurt Williams, DVM, PhD, DACVP, a current veterinary pathologist at Michigan State University, as director of the Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (OVDL). His work at the OVDL will start on March 1, 2022.

Williams received his veterinary medicine degree from Michigan State University in 1990 and his PhD from the University of California, Davis in 2001. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Environmental Journalism from Michigan State University.

“He comes from a program (Michigan State) with a very large and well-equipped veterinary diagnostic laboratory, and we look forward to using his expertise and experience to advance our goals of expanding our OVDL facilities and services,” said Susan Tornquist , DVM. MS, PhD, DACVP, Dean of OSU’s Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine, in the publication.

According to the press release, the OVDL is state and federally funded with its primary purpose of testing and diagnosing animal diseases in farm animals and wildlife. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the facility began testing human samples when Oregon’s testing capacity was overwhelmingly limited.

Human testing is still ongoing, and Williams expects to participate in the ongoing COVID-19 testing and help Oregon prepare for future outbreaks.

“If you look at the arc of human history, this is not unprecedented,” Williams said in the press release. “Pandemics have repeatedly afflicted humans, most of which come directly from our relationships with animals. We have to be ready.”

Williams’ top priorities in this position will include raising funding for an upgraded facility for the laboratory, with enhanced high-level biohazard testing capabilities, to ensure Oregon has the infrastructure and staff to respond to major disease outbreaks. He looks forward to continuing to work as a pathologist in the diagnostic service in addition to research and teaching.

According to the press release, he wants to focus on effective science communication with the public, sharing insights and stories that demonstrate the importance of veterinary diagnostic laboratories in managing public health and safety for animals, humans and the environment.

“Being ready for the next pandemic means we are also ready for a potentially less catastrophic but still regionally significant outbreak in Oregon’s agricultural or natural environment,” Williams said. “We have to be ready to rumble if something hits the ground in Oregon that could potentially impact Washington or California or the rest of the nation.”

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Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at OSU Appoints New Director. press release. Oregon State University. January 24, 2022. Accessed January 24, 2022. https://today.oregonstate.edu/news/oregon-veterinary-diagnostic-laboratory-osu-names-new-director