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UM School of Medicine Names U.S. Army Veterinary Medicine Leader Colonel Dawn Fitzhugh as New Director of Program in Comparative Medicine and Veterinary Resources

February 17, 2021

Dr. Fitzhugh Currently Serves as U.S Army Animal Care Director, and Consultant to the Surgeon General; Dr. Robert Bloch Has Been Serving as Interim Director

COL Dawn C. Fitzhugh, VMD, MPH, DACLAMUniversity of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, announced today that U.S. Army Colonel and Veterinary Medicine Leader, COL Dawn C. Fitzhugh, VMD, MPH, DACLAM, has been named as the UMSOM’s new Director of Program in Comparative Medicine and Veterinary Resources, and Attending Veterinarian, effective July 1.  Her academic appointment at the UMSOM will be in the Department of Pathology.

Dr. Fitzhugh has served as an Appointed Consultant to the U.S. Army Surgeon General for the Specialty of Laboratory Medicine since 2019.  She has been an Active Duty Officer in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps since 2000, and has held several senior veterinary medicine leadership positions in the U.S. Army Medical and Medical Research Command.

A national search was conducted by a Dean-appointed Search Committee, led by Asaf Keller, PhD, Professor and Interim Chair, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the UMSOM, and Robert Ernst, PhD, Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Microbial Pathogenesis, University of Maryland School of Dentistry, and Adjunct Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, at the UMSOM.  The Search Committee concluded its work by submitting to Dean Reece a group of finalist candidates.  Dr. Fitzhugh emerged as the leading candidate, and following due diligence, was appointed by Dean Reece to the aforementioned position.

 Asaf Keller, PhD & Robert Ernst, PhD

“Our search committee was very impressed with Dr. Fitzhugh’s credentials,” said Dr. Keller and Dr. Ernst.  “Her extensive experience in veterinary care and management, and in relevant regulatory and policy work, as well as her outstanding interpersonal skills, suggest that she will be an excellent Director.  We look forward to her reinvigorating the Comparative Medicine and Veterinary Resources programs, including training, promoting, and hiring staff, and improving the operating procedures. There is little doubt that, under her leadership, the programs will balance high-quality animal welfare with outstanding support for animal research,” they added.


Successful Transition Period

Robert Bloch, PhDRobert Bloch, PhD, Professor of Physiology at the UMSOM, has served as Interim Director of Comparative Medicine and Veterinary Resources since last October 2020. “Dr. Bloch has done an excellent job in leading the program during the interim period,” said Dean Reece who is also the Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore, the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Most notably, he has successfully expanded and upgraded the workforce and infrastructure, and has built an open dialogue with veterinary staff and the research faculty. Over the next few months, and until Dr. Fitzhugh arrives, Dr. Asaf Keller will continue to serve in this interim capacity, as he supports the transition of Dr. Fitzhugh into her new role.”

E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA“We are deeply appreciative of the leadership of Dr. Bloch, and now Dr. Keller, in serving as Interim Directors during this period of transition,” he added.

“I am delighted to have appointed Dr. Fitzhugh, and am confident that she will bring the depth of experience and expertise to effectively and successfully lead our Program in Comparative Medicine and Veterinary Resources,” Dean Reece continued. “We could not be more pleased to have recruited someone of the high caliber of Dr. Fitzhugh.”

Margaret “Peg” McCarthy, PhD“I am deeply appreciative of the collaborative work of Dr. Susan Buskirk, Vice President, Chief Accountability Officer and Institutional Official at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), and the support and assistance she provided in the recruitment of Dr. Fitzhugh,” Dean Reece added.

Dean Reece also acknowledged the tremendous support from the Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee (VMAC), chaired by Margaret “Peg” McCarthy, PhD, the James and Carolyn Frenkil Chair and Professor, Department of Pharmacology, along with Vice Chair Patrik Bavoil, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Microbial Pathogenesis in the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology of the UMSOM. The VMAC includes representatives from UMSOM, as well as the UM Schools of Dentistry, Nursing, and Pharmacy. The Program in Comparative Medicine and Veterinary Resources provides service to these institutions on the UMB campus. Dean Reece also acknowledged with great appreciation the active collaboration and support of the Deans of Nursing, Pharmacy, and Dentistry. In addition, Dean Reece expressed his appreciation for the integral role played by John Sacci, PhD, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at UMSOM, who chairs the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).

John Sacci, PhD

Fitzhugh’s New Role Covers Broad Responsibilities

In her new role, in matters such as infrastructure, workforce, and research, Dr. Fitzhugh will report to Terry Rogers, PhD, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Associate Dean for Research Development & Administration, and Chief Conflict of Interest Officer.  In addition, she will also report to Susan Buskirk, DM, MS, Vice President, Chief Accountability Officer and Institutional Official at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), on matters related to animal care and welfare, as the Attending Veterinarian.

Dr. Fitzhugh's primary responsibilities as the Attending Veterinarian Director include:

  • Overseeing animal health and welfare, including veterinary services, husbandry service, and related compliance across all of the UMB schools involved in animal investigation;
  • Working collaboratively with the IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee) on regulatory adherence;
  • Ensuring that appropriate quality standards are maintained in clinical care, facilities, housing, personnel, and equipment in compliance with federal, state, and local regulations and policies;
  • Playing an active role in the development and oversight of animal user training and outreach programs.

Her primary duties as Director of Comparative Medicine and Veterinary Resources include:

  • Ensuring that the facilities, infrastructure, and workforce are fully operational;
  • Ensuring that research collaborations, animal models, and related services are well-supported by the Comparative Medicine faculty and staff;
  • Assisting or directing faculty and staff to assist Primary Investigators in including appropriate animal support on grant applications;
  • Ensuring that appropriate high-quality veterinary support is organized and understood for all research projects, including projects requiring GLP standards;
  • Serving as a partner in and facilitator of the research enterprise;
  • Fostering growth and development of Residency Program with high-quality education.

Susan Buskirk, DM, MSDr. Buskirk commented: "I am happy Dr. Fitzhugh is joining us as the Director of Program in Comparative Medicine and Veterinary Resources, and Attending Veterinarian. Dr. Fitzhugh’s experience and expertise are a welcome addition to UMB’s Animal Care and Use Program. I look forward to working with Dr. Fitzhugh and her leadership as we move forward with an Animal Care and Use Program dedicated to the welfare of animals, the needs of our researchers, and reflective of our core values."

Terry Rogers, PhDDr. Rogers added: “I am delighted that Dr. Fitzhugh will be the new Director of Comparative Medicine and Veterinary Resources.  Her expertise and organizational skills will ensure that our animal facilities are first class.  I have already begun engaging her on several projects, and her energy and enthusiasm are palpable.  I look forward to working with Dr. Fitzhugh as we ensure that our facilities support new and novel biomedical research, and that our veterinary staff collaborate with our Principal Investigators  in their programs.”



Dr. Fitzhugh's Distinguished Career in Veterinary Medicine and Animal Care

Dr. Fitzhugh has had a distinguished career in veterinary medicine and animal care for the U.S. Army in a variety of leadership roles.

She is currently Director of the Animal Care and Use Review Office and Director of the Army’s Laboratory Animal Medicine Residency Program, U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command. 

She was previously Deputy of Animal Welfare in the Office of the Under-Secretary of Defenses for Research and Engineering, and Director of Air Force Animal Use Programs.  She has held positions as Attending Veterinarian and has served on and led committees and working groups throughout her career, providing support to the medical and operational research and training missions of the Department of Defense. 

Dr. Fitzhugh is certified as a USDA Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostician and has received certifications from the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine, and Lean Six Sigma Green Belt.  She received the Order of Military Medical Merit for distinguished service in the Army Medical Department in 2017 and was awarded the highest level of professional accomplishment in the U.S Army Medical Department in 2018.

Dr. Fitzhugh earned her Veterinary MD (VMD) Degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 2000.  Upon completion, she was commissioned as a Captain in the U.S. Army.  She completed a Master of Public Heath Degree (MPH) and Laboratory Animal Medicine Residency Program at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, earning a board certification from the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine and the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM).  She received her Bachelor of Science (BS) Degree in Chemistry from Austin Peay State University.

About the University of Maryland School of Medicine

Now in its third century, the University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States. It continues today as one of the fastest growing, top-tier biomedical research enterprises in the world -- with 45 academic departments, centers, institutes, and programs; and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and a distinguished two-time winner of the Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research.  With an operating budget of more than $1.2 billion, the School of Medicine works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide research-intensive, academic and clinically based care for nearly 2 million patients each year. The School of Medicine has more than $563 million in extramural funding, with most of its academic departments highly ranked among all medical schools in the nation in research funding. As one of the seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine has a total population of nearly 9,000 faculty and staff, including 2,500 student trainees, residents, and fellows. The combined School of Medicine and Medical System (“University of Maryland Medicine”) has an annual budget of nearly $6 billion and an economic impact more than $15 billion on the state and local community. The School of Medicine, which ranks as the 8th highest among public medical schools in research productivity, is an innovator in translational medicine, with 600 active patents and 24 start-up companies. The School of Medicine works locally, nationally, and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. Visit


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