2023 - 2028
The Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Maryland-College Park, and the Maryland Campus of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine (VMCVM) are the same unit housed in the Avrum Gudelsky Veterinary Center, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland. The Department was established in 1897 and initially served as an instructional facility until the addition of the research program in 1917. A generous donation from Avrum Gudelsky Fund allowed the building construction to house this Department in 1987. In 1990, the Maryland Campus of the VMCVM was dedicated to the Avrum Gudelsky Veterinary Center. Throughout its existence, the Department has performed ground-breaking research in animal health and has become internationally renowned for research in animal and zoonotic diseases. From 2023, The Department will expand its research interests to Biomedical Sciences, Clinical Sciences, and Infectious Diseases.
The Department has made significant contributions to animal and public health. The current Department comprises tenured/tenure-track faculty, professional-track faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and administrative and technical staff members. The Department's activities include research, teaching, and extension/outreach, particularly investigating microorganisms, pathogenesis, host immune responses, and vaccine development for infectious diseases. The Department now ranks in the top tier of animal health research in the nation, consistently producing novel discoveries in the areas of virology, immunology, epidemiology, parasitology, bacteriology, and mycology of animal and public health by outstanding scientists and teachers utilizing state-of-the-art facilities and equipment. Our graduates are highly placed at prestigious institutions throughout the United States and worldwide. This Department is committed to the success and well-being of its faculty, staff, visiting scholars, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) students.
This 2023 strategic plan is modified from earlier versions after much discussion and input from the entire department faculty and staff. It is the standard by which our Department will function for the next five years. This strategic plan will provide us with the guidance necessary to accomplish our future goals, raise our unit to an even higher level of excellence, and lead the University to a ranking in the top tier of research universities nationwide. The plan also aligns with the principles and objectives outlined in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the University of Maryland Strategic Plans.
During the next five years, the Department will become more internationally recognized for providing excellent educational programs, conducting innovative research in animal and zoonotic infectious diseases, biomedical and clinical sciences, and serving as a catalyst for disseminating new knowledge and biotechnology in relevant fields with high global impact.
The Department of Veterinary Medicine is internationally recognized for its outstanding research programs. Our faculty have forged partnerships with federal institutions, universities, research institutions, corporations, and companies, from which they derive a steady stream of sizable contracts and grants to further their research in animal and human diseases.
Educational and Extension Programs
The quality of our educational and extension programs is known across the nation and the world. These programs complement the outstanding research conducted by dedicated and high-caliber faculty in the Department.
The Department is led by Chair with shared governance. All faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows, and students are encouraged to provide ideas and suggestions for departmental development and issue-solving. The Department Chair makes the final decision after careful consideration of all input, reality, and other relevant matters.
High Containment Facility
The Department houses a USDA-approved ABSL-3+ high containment facility. This is the only public BSL3+ facility in the mid-Atlantic region where research is conducted on highly pathogenic animal and zoonotic infectious agents.
The Department is located inside of the Washington D.C. “beltway.” It is adjacent to federal agencies and institutions, several other nationally-ranked universities and biomedical centers, and private industries involved in ground-breaking veterinary medicine and human health research.
With faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows, DVM students, and graduate students from multiple nations, our Department is the epitome of diversity in race, nationality, and gender. The Department has developed a diversity, equity, inclusion, and respect (DEIR) plan. We are proud of our ability to work together toward our common goals.
Short of Visibility
The Department is located across a major roadway from the main campus of the University of Maryland-College Park, which hampers our day-to-day involvement in campus life and, thereby, impacts our visibility on the campus.
Lack of Faculty and Staff
Due to our relatively small number of faculty and staff members, we can merely fulfill our teaching and service expectations. We cannot pursue more significant grant funding and graduate fellowship program opportunities. There is no technical staff for each lab, which significantly drains the faculty's time to meet the requirements of continuously increasing federal, state, and campus regulations. We need to add more faculty and offer more courses in order to expand our mission.
Lack of Financial and Personnel Resources
Successful departmental operations require sufficient financial and personnel resources for quality DVM and graduate education. Our unit especially needs such resources to expand in scope. State and federal funding has become increasingly competitive in recent years. While we understand that this is a nationwide trend, it limits our ability to produce top-quality research and develop excellent education programs for our students.
Infrastructure, Equipment, and Available Space
The Avrum Gudelsky Veterinary Center was dedicated in 1990. Our available space needs to be improved. We need classroom space, labs, offices, student work areas, and a service area. We propose to reoccupy the adjacent Neuroimaging Center to provide much-needed space for our faculty and students who need more state-of-the-art equipment to perform their research optimally. For example, the Transmission Electron Microscope is obsolete, and we cannot afford a state-of-the-art HPLC-Mass Spec or a single-cell transcriptomics facility. Our building is aging, and air handlers, plumbing, and electrical installations must be replaced. We need solid supportive input to improve our Core facilities.
The Department is located in one of the significant biotechnological corridors in the nation, which provides a wealth of opportunities for collaboration in biomedical research with federal/state agencies, peer institutions, and biotech industries. This also provides our DVM and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows opportunities to become familiar with these facilities and network with accomplished scientists worldwide to prepare for their future careers. Our location allows us to expand our undergraduate, DVM, and graduate students' education by organizing internships and tours of governmental agencies and biotech industrial centers.
Our Department’s research programs are funded by federal funding agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and biotech companies, and have been successful in securing several substantial extramural funding grants. The Department is also funded through contracts from various industries, private foundations, and donations.
Influence on Policy
The Department's proximity to the nation's capital provides excellent opportunities to influence animal and public health policymakers.
The Department embraces the One Health approach that unifies the health of people, animals, and the environment. Our infectious disease research has consequences for both livestock and human beings. For example, different viral, bacterial, and fungal pathogens have animal or human reservoirs that complicate the epidemiology, prevention, and control of zoonotic diseases caused by these pathogens.
Although the Department has two Extension faculty, we make every effort possible to work with the poultry and biotech industries in translating research-based knowledge through Extension and Outreach. We used this approach to devise an animal disease control and in-house composting program adopted worldwide to prevent avian influenza outbreaks and other economically significant animal diseases. We continue to work with the poultry industry, professional veterinary and poultry organizations, and state and federal animal health agencies to address their needs and concerns through applied research and science-based Extension and outreach programs. ABSL3+ facility is expected to create opportunity for collaboration.
Stagnant State/Federal Funding
Over the past several years, the Department has experienced difficulty in securing state and federal funding for Extension and research programs. Although our extramural funding has significantly increased, the flat budget for state/federal agencies is seriously impacting the opportunities for our faculty to get continuous funding to expand the scope and depth of our research and teaching programs. Additional funding is needed to cover a recent 6-10% inflation of costs associated with food, salaries, goods, and transportation.
High Cost of Living:
The high cost of living and inflation in the Washington DC metropolitan area is prohibitive to many new talented young scientists and students considering relocation. This impedes our ability to hire faculty, staff, and postdocs or recruit high-quality students to complement current faculty, staff, postdocs, and students. Housing costs are prohibitive, and transportation is a tedious experience. The lack of pay increases in over a decade after the 2008 economic meltdown due to a stagnant state economy has exacerbated this issue. The compression salary of the current faculty and staff has a significant negative impact on their life quality. It leads to a pessimistic outlook for young talent trainees to pursue the academic profession.
Improve the health of animals and people by enhancing our research programs in the area of biomedical sciences, infectious diseases, and clinical sciences:
Increase financial, human, and physical resources supporting research on economically-important food animal diseases, emerging infectious diseases, and zoonotic diseases and producing animal models for human diseases by increasing our extramural funding, requesting additional funding from our College and Campus administrations, federal and state agencies, and soliciting donations through expanded outreach strategies to potential donors.
Recruit and support outstanding research and teaching faculty by increasing our tenured/tenure-track research and teaching faculty base within the next five (5) years. This will be accomplished by obtaining approval for new hires from our College administration, securing the required funding for salaries, lab, and office facilities, then launching a series of nationwide searches to identify the most qualified and suitable individuals for these appointments. We will provide competitive start-up funding for new faculty. Faculty mentors and monthly one-on-one informal meetings with the Department Chair will also be offered. We will also promote these faculty for college, campus, national, and international awards, recognizing their work as we become aware of them.
Increase the quality and quantity of our publications, which would be reflected in PubMed scores and Google citations and increase the volume of invitations to our faculty to attend and present at international scientific venues.
We will work to secure an endowment for a Chair position within five (5) years. This will be accomplished through extensive marketing of the Department and its programs, increased contact with alumni and previous donors, and cultivating new donors.
Increase our efforts in the area of technology transfer from our patents.
Our research expenditure has been increasing at a steady rate over each previous year. We have promoted and recruited several outstanding tenured/tenure-track faculty in our focus areas. This will bring us national and international recognition, add to our already solid base of expertise in animal and human diseases, and enhance our existing research and teaching programs.
We have achieved a noticeable increase in the quality and quantity of publications as evidenced by a marked increase in our citations and social impact, an increased number of faculty invitations from prestigious review boards to international scientific venues, an increased number of faculty memberships on editorial and review boards, an increase in referee requests, an increase in the number of book chapters produced by our faculty, and an increase in the number of national and international collaborations entered into by our faculty.
Establishing an endowed chair, endowed scholarship, or fellowship in our Department will increase our visibility as an institution capable of securing donor funding. It will inspire other donors to follow suit.
There is an increased number of disclosure and patent applications compared to the previous five years.
1. Improve the health of animals and people by preparing the next generation of outstanding scientists and professionals:
We will revamp our recruitment strategies, including updating the departmental website and graduate studies brochure, to attract outstanding graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, relying on interviews, transcripts, prior research and working experiences, and recommendations for potential students.
We have proposed a new undergraduate major in Biomedical Science and desire to have it approved. We will expand undergraduate teaching by adding classes that appeal to students seeking post-graduate work in the biomedical sciences.
We will improve teaching to our graduate students, such as increasing the number and variety of Comparative Biomedical Sciences (CBSC) courses available, continuing to enhance the graduate seminar course with experienced and influential guest speakers, and providing the students with opportunities to travel to other institutions nationally and internationally to attend meetings and present their work, increase their stipends to the extent possible and provide them with a safe, comfortable working and study environment.
With regards to our role in teaching DVM students enrolled in the Virginia-Maryland School of Veterinary Medicine, we are proposing a "2+2 Program" in which the students take two years of general veterinary medical courses on the Maryland Campus and two years of clinical training in the teaching hospital on the Virginia campus.
We will provide our postdoctoral fellows with an environment that is conducive to high-quality work, a salary that is as competitive to our peers as possible, an opportunity to conduct their research in a state-of-the-art facility and to submit career development grants, and opportunities to attend and present at national and international meetings and conferences so that they may widen their field of focus and network with scientists and other potential employers throughout the world.
Measures of Success:
We will see a marked increase in our incoming students’ quality. We will see a substantial increase in the number of publications as first-authors in peer-reviewed journals and the number of awards received by our students. After graduation, our students will have secured appointments in high-quality institutions, government agencies, or private industry.
Proposed undergraduate courses and the new undergraduate Biomedical Science Major will be approved. The number of graduate courses offered will have increased by three (3) in the next five (5) years.
The graduate student stipend will be increased based on the cost of living.
The VMCVM and the University of Maryland will approve our "2+2 Program". A dedicated budget, staff, and space will be allocated in Maryland to enable this program.
Our postdoctoral fellows will have secured appointments in high-quality institutions, government agencies, or private industry, locally, nationally, or internationally, after their postdoctoral experience. The Department and faculty will also promote the outstanding postdoctoral fellows to the junior faculty level based on merit and funding.
2. Enhance Extension and Outreach activities:
We will work with the poultry industry (through the Delmarva Chicken Association or DCA), private veterinarians (through the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association or MDVMA), backyard and small-scale poultry producers, and animal health agencies to identify the needs and concerns of these stakeholders. We will develop educational programs and conduct applied research based on the needs and concerns of these stakeholders.
We will devise new strategies to support Extension and applied research related to our programs. Specifically, we will establish a Center for Veterinary Molecular Diagnostics (CVMD). Using existing space, we can invent and develop new diagnostic methods and employ commercial kits to diagnose infectious diseases like tick-borne Borrelia and infections of livestock and humans for local farmers and campus medical centers. The new CVMD empowers us to prepare for the next pandemic and serve the public.
We will work to fully integrate the Department's research and Extension efforts into extension, which is an Internet-based collaborative environment where Land Grant University content providers exchange objective, research-based knowledge to solve real challenges in real time.
We will develop internationally recognized programs focusing on preventing and controlling zoonotic and economically significant diseases, including influenza, utilizing our already intense research and Extension backgrounds in this area.
Measures of Success:
We will re-acquire approximately 7,000 square feet of space from the Neuroimaging Center and expand our clinical, research, and teaching activities into that space.
We will see positive feedback from stakeholders through increased invitations to speak at industry-sponsored meetings and conferences and increased correspondence and interaction with industry/commodity groups.
We will receive positive feedback through responses to surveys, interaction with industry advisory committees, increased production of publications and fact sheets, and increased media exposure (television, radio, newspapers, etc.).
We will receive increased extramural funding for our Extension and applied research programs.
We will have in place fully-engaged eXtension COPs (Communities of Practice).
Our faculty will receive more invitations to present at international meetings and conferences, our Webpage hits will increase significantly, and we will host more trainees and visiting scientists.
3. Enhance Department visibility locally, nationally and globally:
We will develop, enhance and maintain our department website on an ongoing basis to provide the most current information on our research, teaching, and Extension programs to the university community and public and government agencies.
We will increase our affiliation and collaboration with other College/Campus departments by encouraging our faculty to pursue joint research projects with faculty in other departments, increasing our affiliate or adjunct faculty base, and serving on graduate committees of students in related departments.
We will increase participation in campus functions by participating in various activities, such as the annual Maryland Day/Ag Day, and inviting campus faculty, staff, and students to our seminars and department functions, as appropriate.
We will publicize our faculty achievements/accomplishments to the campus via articles/notes in campus media, such as Research Rounds, The Diamondback, and Momentum, and email announcements to the campus.
We will increase our faculty attendance at and active participation in national and international meetings and conferences so that they can enhance their foci and expand their networks with other scientists in their fields.
We will update the Comparative Biomedical Sciences (CBSC) Graduate Program brochure to include new courses that are being offered. We will continue to identify college, campus, national and international awards and recognition. We will promote our faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows, DVM students, and graduate students for the same awards and recognition.
Measures of Success:
We will have a complete and functional website that offers an in-depth view of our Department, our research, teaching, and Extension programs, and our vision of becoming a top-tier university unit. Frequent updates will monitor our progress toward that goal.
Our affiliate and adjunct faculty complement will increase within the next five years, and our Department will be acknowledged across the campus for our participation in student functions, such as the Pre-Veterinary Society, Bioscience Day, Ag Day, Student Welcome Fete, Annual Research Symposium, etc.
We will see a marked increase in the number of Diamondback and UM News articles published about our activities and in donations from external sources.
Our faculty will substantially increase the number of national and international invited presentations.
We will update the CBSC Graduate Program brochure frequently. The number of awards and citations received by faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students will increase exponentially as our people become more prolific in their publications and achieve positive results in their research programs. Our department administrators will have a search and selection plan to identify relevant awards and candidates within our ranks who are eligible nominees for those awards.
4. Strengthen our collaborative partnerships:
We will strengthen our collaborations within VMCVM and UMD by initiating joint projects with other campus faculty in our focus or related research, teaching, and Extension areas.
Likewise, we will strengthen our collaborative efforts outside UMD by seeking and initiating opportunities to engage in joint programs/projects with private or corporate entities, public and federal agencies, and national and international institutions involved in our focus or related areas of research and Extension.
Measures of Success:
Our success will be measured by an increased number of submitted collaborative grants, a more significant number of publications in peer-reviewed journals, a higher level of participation by our faculty on graduate student committees, the establishment of an increasing number of joint research projects and regular faculty and student exchanges with prestigious academic/research institutions nationally and internationally.
5. Improve the infrastructure to support excellence fully:
The Avrum Gudelsky Veterinary Center building is over thirty-five years old, with an aging infrastructure that requires extensive renovation. Much of the large and small equipment is past its prime and needs to meet today's excellence of research expectations. We have already begun building renovations by updating our BSL-2 suite and ABSL-3+ facility, converting unused space into new research laboratories with faculty offices, updating all existing research laboratories, and replacing aging and obsolete equipment. However, much more must be done to bring this facility to a level of one equipped to handle the cutting-edge research being performed here. We will upgrade and expand our core facility, replace animal equipment, and improve LN2 and CO2 storage. We are also in dire need of additional laboratory and office space to increase our faculty base.
Security is another serious concern in that our researchers work on highly pathogenic diseases and, accordingly, must be able to rely on building and campus security to ensure that the agents and animals utilized in their research are being housed safely and that no one other than the authorized users have access to them. We have installed interior locks and cameras in those sensitive areas and on the exterior of the building.
The current faculty/staff/student service area needs to be improved for our expansion and growth, with insufficient seating, dining, storage, and food preparation areas. An additional small meeting room, renovated conference room, and classrooms are also required. We will seek innovative methods of overcoming these logistical problems.
In the area of personnel, we immediately need a contracted Web developer who will also perform public relations functions for the Department, the administrative positions to handle the Biomedical Sciences Undergraduate Program, 2+2 DVM educational program, and CBSC graduate program duties, and additional animal care personnel while retaining our current positions.
Measures of Success:
We will increase expenditures for the building and support services and equipment. Building renovations will be continuing and complete, other equipment will be in place, and the ABSL-3+ facility will be inspected annually.
We will have an updated security system that ensures the safety of our personnel, animals, and biological materials.
The personnel service area will have been expanded to at least twice its current size. It will contain furniture, storage, and food preparation areas large enough to accommodate our faculty/staff/students.
We will have hired additional staff positions while retaining our current positions based on our current needs.