University of California Davis



University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine


The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine has shaped the field of veterinary medicine since its doors opened 66 years ago—from developing dynamic education programs to uncovering solutions for emerging diseases of animals and humans to sharing knowledge with communities worldwide. The school trains tomorrow's small and large animal veterinarians as it develops leaders in veterinary medical practice, higher education, public health, research, disease control, food safety, environmental protection and biotechnology. This top-ranked institution has been led by Michael D. Lairmore since 2011.

The school offers 34 clinical specialties to treat companion animals, horses, livestock, poultry, captive and free-ranging wildlife, exotic animals, birds, aquatic mammals and fish, and animals used in biological and medical research. Approximately 120 of our clinicians are board-certified in one or more specialties recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

With an extensive veterinary hospital in Davis and satellite clinics in Tulare and San Diego, the school provides services throughout California. The Davis-based Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) consistently ranks at the top among all academic veterinary hospitals in reputation and patient visits, caring for more than 47,000 patients per year, and training more resident veterinarians than any other teaching hospital. Our statewide mission includes 28 research institutes/centers and clinical programs, including clinical referral services, diagnostic testing services, continuing education, extension and community outreach.

By taking a One Health approach to the health of animals, people and the environment, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine leads veterinary medicine and addresses societal needs.



  • 1948 -The School of Veterinary Medicine opens at UC Davis with 42 students—all male and mostly World War II veterans.
  • 1952 - The U.S. Atomic Energy Commission contracts with the school to investigate the effects of low-level radiation on dogs and assess human health risks; study runs through 1986.
  • 1954 - First of several vaccines developed to combat bluetongue, an infectious viral disease of sheep.
  • 1955 - Veterinary Genetics Laboratory launches blood-typing services for livestock owners and breed associations. Services have evolved to include forensic DNA-based testing.
  • 1962 - California National Primate Research Center opens; studies include nutrition, effects of aging on cognition and memory, thalidomide and other agents that cause birth defects, HIV/AIDS, and autism.
  • 1964 - First food safety program in a veterinary school is established at UC Davis.
  • 1966 - Calvin Schwabe establishes the Master of Preventive Veterinary Medicine Program, a graduate program in epidemiology. More than 850 veterinarians holding MPVM degrees from UC Davis now serve in leadership positions in 75 countries.
  • 1966 - First zoological medicine program begins with courses for veterinary students, a long-standing partnership with the Sacramento Zoo, and a residency program for specialists in captive and free-ranging wildlife health.
  • 1970 - Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital opens, and faculty begins training residents in veterinary specialties—now the largest program in the nation.
  • 1972 - California Raptor Center opens to rehabilitate injured birds of prey, conduct veterinary training and educate the public about raptors and environmental aspects of their health.
  • 1974 - Researchers determine that Pasteurella bacteria are the source of a pneumonia that causes the majority of cattle deaths in feedlots—leading to better industry standards for beef cattle health and well-being.
  • 1975 - World's first behavior service begins. Now largest in the nation and has trained more board-certified behavior specialists than any other school.
  • 1980 - Pioneering work on the causes, diagnosis and treatment of bovine mastitis leads to development of the patented California Mastitis Test.
  • 1980 - Small animal orthopedists develop the first total hip prosthesis for dogs.
  • 1983 - Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center opens in Tulare to conduct applied research at the hub of the U.S. dairy industry. The J-5 mastitis vaccine (1988) improves animal health and saves dairy producers $11 million each year.
  • 1986 - Researchers discover feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and develop a veterinary model for human AIDS research. In 2002, the first federally approved vaccine for FIV is based on School of Veterinary Medicine research.
  • 1986 - Aquatic Toxicology Laboratory begins a water quality testing program on behalf of statewide agencies. The environmental program analyzes water from many sources such as storm runoff and orchard runoff after pesticide applications to determine how different chemicals affect water quality and animal health.
  • 1987 - The California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System (CAHFS) opens as California's "first line of defense" against diseases that harm animals, threaten the food supply, or pose a danger to human health. Perform 1.8 million diagnostic tests annually; ongoing surveillance for diseases such as avian influenza and mad cow disease. Serves as the state's central milk quality and safety laboratory.
  • 1987 - Nutritionists document the link between a lack of dietary taurine, an amino acid, and feline dilated cardiomyopathy, a fatal heart ailment in cats. Pet food companies now add taurine to commercial pet food, saving thousands of pets' lives every year.
  • 1988 - Develop a vaccine for rinderpest, a devastating cattle disease in Africa.
  • 1990 - First veterinary hemodialysis unit established; expands to the UC Veterinary Medical Center—San Diego in 2002.
  • 1990 - Students establish the Mercer Veterinary Clinic for the Homeless; offer spay-neuter, basic care and food for the animals of homeless one Saturday a month in Sacramento; received the AVMA Humane Award in 1998.
  • 1990 - An innovative ELISA test is developed for diagnosis of bluetongue, a major "non-tariff trade barrier" disease of ruminants.
  • 1990 - Scientists identify Neospora as the major cause of abortion in dairy cattle that costs the California dairy industry an estimated $35 million per year.
  • 1993 - Oiled Wildlife Care Network establishes a statewide effort to coordinate the rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife injured in oil spills and begins oil spill research.
  • 1995 - Human granulocytic Ehrlichiosis and Ehrlichia equi infection in horses are found to be caused by the same tick-transmitted agent.
  • 1996 - Center for Vectorborne Disease brings together veterinary experts and medical entomologists to study diseases transmitted by vectors such as mosquitos, ticks and rodents; identified the West Nile virus as it enters California for the first time in 2003.
  • 1998 - The University of California Veterinary Medical Center—San Diego expands clinical services and research collaborations for Southern Californians. By 2008, the center offers pharmacy, nutrition, cardiology and kidney medicine, including hemodialysis.
  • 1998 - Center for Comparative Medicine begins with biomedical research on persistent diseases shared by animals and humans such as AIDS, influenza and Lyme disease.
  • 1999 - Environmental toxicologists discover that dioxin exposure may cause early fetal loss in the nonhuman primate.
  • 1999 - The Kenneth L. Maddy Equine Analytical Chemistry Laboratory opens to perform drug testing of equine athletes, provide education and carry out research in equine pharmacology.
  • 2000 - First national shelter medicine program launches to improve the health and adoptability of homeless companion animals through research, education and services to animal shelters.
  • 2001 – Veterinary researchers develop recommendations for shoeing of racehorses, management of training intensity, and monitoring for early signs of injury based on scientific study specific results.  These recommendations changed racing in California and improved equine health.
  • 2001 – Veterinary Scientist Training Program (VSTP) launched to provide DVM/PhD dual degree training and encourage veterinary scientists to pursue research or academic careers.
  • 2002 - First federally approved vaccine for AIDS in cats is based on UC Davis discoveries about feline immunodeficiency virus.
  • 2002 – Opened new $12.5 million student surgery facility for large and small animal veterinary surgical instruction.
  • 2002 – Opened hemodialysis service for companion animals in San Diego
  • 2003 – Veterinary Medicine Extension and CAHFS help USDA contain outbreak of exotic Newcastle disease in poultry and develop rapid diagnostic test; save poultry producers more than $500 million.
  • 2004 - Center for Companion Animal Health opens $16 million facility; triples the capacity for cancer treatments, and provides laboratories for genetics and cancer research.
  • 2004 – 1st Spay Day - more than 400 school volunteers spay and neuter 300 dogs and cats in a single day as part of a community effort to serve low-income pet owners and reduce pet overpopulation.
  • 2004 - $4.7 million received from Dept. of Homeland Security to train personnel how to prevent, recognize and deal with potential terrorist acts directed at the nation’s food supply
  • 2005 – The Claire Giannini Hoffman Equine Athletic Performance Laboratory opens, dedicated to evaluate and treat lameness, respiratory or cardiovascular problems in horses.
  • 2005 – Veterinary Cardiologists discover gene mutation responsible for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, with major implications for feline and human heart disease
  • 2006 – Opened new Gladys Valley Hall teaching, co-locating all veterinary classroom teaching adjacent to teaching hospital
  • 2006 – Vet Extension and Wildlife Health Center faculty launch the international Flu School in six African Countries to train veterinarians, public health experts and producers in prevention and control strategies related to highly pathogenic avian influenza
  • 2007 – Opened new Vet Med 3A research and multipurpose teaching facilities.
  • 2008 – School of Veterinary Medicine celebrates 60th anniversary.
  • 2008 – The Transfusion Medicine Services creates a community-based canine blood donor program.
  • 2009 - The Health and Livelihood Improvement project examines the effects of zoonotic disease and water management on health and livelihoods in Tanzania.
  • 2009 – Wildlife Health Center Director and team lead multi-institutional $75 million USAID PREDICT grant seeking to identify zoonotic and infectious diseases with pandemic potential.
  • 2009 – Researchers discover that ozone exposure, even at levels currently deemed safe, can have significant negative effect on lung function.
  • 2010 – Veterinarian and human doctor develop unique surgery to treat near-fatal swallowing disorder in canines with technique used for humans with cricopharyngeal dysfunction.
  • 2010 – Veterinary scientists present data indicating that synthetic racetrack surfaces have significant potential for reducing horse racing injuries
  • 2011 – Researchers link lead hunting to lead in golden eagles and turkey vultures.
  • 2011 – NIH awards $3.8 million to fund mouse-based research center devoted to physiology and genetics of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular health.
  • 2011 – Mouse Biology Program receives $37.8 million to develop mouse disease models and establish a phenotyping center.
  • 2011 – First year of new student-centered curriculum implemented.
  • 2012 – 100K Genome project tackles food borne diseases for USFDA
  • 2012 – Novel procedure regrows dog’s jawbone after cancer; procedure now successful in 19 dogs.
  • 2012 – Study finds chemical in antibacterial hand soap may impair muscle function.
  • 2012 – CounterACT Center of Excellence established with $17 million grant to develop antidotes to chemical exposure that causes neurological damage.  Development of improved treatments for people and animals with seizure disorders.
  • 2013 – New cattle virus ID’d that will help rule out mad cow disease.
  • 2013 – Opened new 4-story bio-medical research building – Vet Med 3B - to support work on environmental pollution, food safety, public health, and zoonotic and infectious diseases.
  • 2013 – Research budget reaches $67 million
  • 2013 – Launched Veterinary Center for Clinical Trials
  • 2013 – Installed new TrueBeam linear accelerator to deliver more powerful cancer treatments with pinpoint accuracy and precision
  • 2014 – Cleft palate genetics discovered in dogs that may help understand human birth defect.

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