A Day in the life of a Veterinary Pathologist

Written by Francisco A. Uzal Reading time: 4 mins

Can you give us a brief outline of your job?

Francisco A. Uzal, DVM, MSc, PhD, Dipl. ACVP, is a Professor of Diagnostic Pathology and Branch Chief of the San Bernardino Laboratory of the California Animal Health and Food Safety, UCDavis. He is a leading expert on clostridial diseases of animals with special emphasis in enteric diseases, and a special interest in gastrointestinal diseases of horses, ruminants and other farm animals. Dr. Uzal has published ~ 280 articles in peer reviewed journals. He is the senior author of the chapter on “Alimentary Diseases”, for the 6th edition of “Jubb, Kennedy and Palmer’s Pathology of Domestic Animals” (2016, Elsevier) and the first author of the recently published textbook on Clostridial diseases of animals (2016, Wiley and Blackwell). He has also authored  chapters on clostridial diseases in several traditional veterinary textbooks such as Diseases of Poultry, Diseases of  Pigs and Textbook of Internal Medicine. He has an active NIH research program on clostridial diseases with special emphasis on enteric diseases produced by Clostridium perfringens. He is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists and a member of the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians. He was the president of the Latin Comparative Pathology Group for 6 years; he was for 1.5 year the president of the Davis-Thompson Foundation and he is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the same Foundation.  Dr Uzal is an Associated and Photo Editor of the Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation and Anaerobe and member of the editorial board of several other journals.

Where did your interest in working in this sector come from?

I was always interested in animals, animal production and animal health. Veterinary pathology is a great way to understand disease processes and this way, finding solutions to health problems.

How did you get into it?

Soon after graduating from Vet School I got a scholarship from the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA) in Bariloche, Patagonia, Argentina. There I started teaching myself pathology until I was fortunate enough to be sent to Sweden for a master’s in Pathology. From there my career progressed through a PhD (Australia), Post-Doc and finally Diplomate of the ACVP in the US.

What sort of different roles did you do to get to where you are today?

I always worked in diagnostics combined with a little research. For the past 10 years or so, I have had heavy administration responsibilities, but I still work full time in diagnostics and research. I am currently also the CEO of the Davis Thompson Foundation, the biggest organization that teaches Veterinary Pathology in the world.

Did you have a plan to get to a certain point/level in your career Or did you just keep picking moves that looked interesting to you?

No pre-conceived plan. Just to become the best possible diagnostic pathologist and teacher.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Working in the PM room, microscope and then writing reports and attending a myriad other activities.

What would you say are the best and worst aspects of the job?

Finding new things in the post-mortem room and coordinating new training activities for young trainees.

What are the main skills you need to be a...?

Be a hard worker and put your heart in everything you do.

What are the common misconceptions that people have about the work you do?

Some people think that you put a dead horse in a slot of a machine and you get the results at the other end.

What advice would you give someone wanting to break into this career?

Work hard, study and put your heart into it.

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