College of Veterinary Medicine

Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology

Combined Anatomic Pathology Residency/Graduate Program


  Dual view through a microscope
Washington State University was the first NIH supported training program in veterinary pathology and today remains one of the largest and most successful programs in training pathologists for leadership positions in academia, the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, and government institutions. The program combines anatomic pathology residency training leading to eligibility for ACVP certification (http://www.acvp.org/) with state-of-the-art training biomedical research leading to the PhD.

The Department’s research and training programs are focused in the immunology, epidemiology and host-pathogen interactions at the molecular level of bacterial, parasitic, and viral infections of animals and humans. Trainees develop a strong background through coursework in biochemistry, bioinformatics, cell biology, disease pathogenesis, immunology, molecular genetics, and statistics. Dissertation research is carried out under the direction of a highly collaborative research faculty internationally recognized for infectious disease research (http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/research_vmp/) and who are experienced in mentoring trainees within state-of-the-art laboratories funded by NIH, USDA, Morris Animal Foundation, The Wellcome Trust, and additional international, federal, state, regional, and private institutions and organizations. This academic research environment is enriched by integration with the Washington State University Animal Health Research Center, the School for Global Animal Health (http://globalhealth.wsu.edu/), and the USDA-ARS Animal Disease Research Unit (http://www.ars.usda.gov/main/site_main.htm?modecode=53-48-10-00).


The residency training occurs within the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (WADDL), a full service veterinary diagnostic laboratory staffed by faculty of the Departments of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology and Veterinary Clinical Sciences. WADDL has 3 primary facilities, a primary full service laboratory in Pullman, an Aquatic Health laboratory in Pullman and an Avian Health and Food Safety Laboratory branch in Puyallup. The laboratories are accredited by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD), WADDL is one of 12 founding members of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (funded through USDA/APHIS), and one of the 9 veterinary diagnostic laboratories that serve as a reference lab in the Laboratory Response Network for Bioterrorism (funded through the Centers for Disease Control). This ensures that residents develop a strong background in all aspects of laboratory medicine, including detection and diagnosis of emerging and zoonotic pathogens. Additional information about WADDL is available at (http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/depts_waddl/)

The faculty includes 12 ACVP- and ACLAM- certified pathologists with training focused on close interaction among faculty and trainees. The high level surgical biopsy and necropsy case loads provide direct experiential learning and are supported by specialized pathology seminars.

Program trainees have a high success in acquiring ACVP certification—greater than 90% of trainees in the past 10 years have attained ACVP certification (does not include trainees sitting for the examination this September).

Areas of Research Emphasis: The Program is highly collaborative with a central theme of investigation of microbial pathogens and their interaction with animal hosts and the environment. Many of the pathogens are of international importance. Within this common goal, there are currently 46 extramurally funded projects, with a total extramural research budget of over $18 million, in 8 integrated programs of emphasis :

  • Bacterial and Viral Respiratory Disease
  • Immunology: Innate Immunity, Immunogenetics, and Vaccine Development
  • Mycobacterial Infections
  • Parasitic Infections
  • Persistent Viral Infections
  • Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies
  • Vector-borne Diseases
  • Zoonotic and Food-borne Pathogens

Overview of the Graduate Program: Training is tailored to the individual's background and career goals, with the proviso that a strong basic sciences foundation is indispensable in preparation for disease research. Core knowledge in the basic sciences is attained through coursework in biochemistry, bioinformatics, cell biology, disease pathogenesis, immunology, molecular genetics, and statistics. PhD candidates are required to earn 72 credits; 16 of these credits must be formal graded graduate courses or seminars.  The remainder is in courses related to diagnostic pathology and supervised dissertation research. This core knowledge is advanced through regularly scheduled research seminars, special research seminar series, and through directed readings with the Graduate faculty.  Mentored laboratory research is the most critical part of the training and the strength of our program. This is the primary mechanism by which the philosophy of research is imparted to new scientists. In this arrangement, the major professor and the trainee interact intensively, most often on a daily basis, to define a research hypothesis and the appropriate experiments to test the hypothesis. Together the major professor and graduate student trainee develop a directed course of research. Throughout the training period, all graduate students attend weekly research seminars where faculty and trainees present recent results. The goal of trainee participation in these seminars is exposure to critical analysis of data, experimental design and discussion of research significance. Trainees are expected to conduct original research leading to a significant contribution to knowledge in the trainee's area of emphasis and culminating in publication in leading international scientific journals. This publication is required for and constitutes the PhD dissertation. The final PhD examination is preceded by a public presentation of the research, attended by the faculty, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows, followed by an oral examination that is primarily a defense of the original research, but may cover the general fields of knowledge pertinent to the degree. Grant writing skills are developed through the expectation that trainees submit their PhD proposal to an extramural funding agency.

Although the program is rigorous, the dual training leading to the PhD in combination with ACVP certification prepares trainees for leadership positions in academia, the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, and national and international laboratories. Trainees are very competitive for these positions.  Of the 17 most recent residents, 11 hold academic faculty positions, 3 are pathologists in the biotechnology or pharmaceutical field, 2 are pathologists with state or national laboratories and one is employed at a private veterinary diagnostic laboratory.

Application Procedures: Applicants must hold a DVM degree or equivalent. U.S. citizens or permanent residency (green card status) is not required, but is preferred. Applications should include veterinary college transcripts, curriculum vitae, statement of professional goals, and names of three references. Send applications to:

Kevin Snekvik, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology Washington State University Pullman, WA 99164
509-335-6331
ksnek@vetmed.wsu.edu 

The current starting stipend is $35,436 plus basic health care coverage. However, many starting stipends are significantly higher as they are supplemented by specific fellowships for outstanding candidates—these are dependent upon both candidate qualifications and fellowship availability.

Candidates with a DVM and who are US citizens may apply for a position integrated with and supported by the USDA Animal Diseases Research Unit. These positions are fully integrated with the Graduate Program. Application should be made directly to the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology and candidates eligible for and interested in a USDA position will be nominated for a position in this Training Program by the Chair of the Graduate Program.

Washington State University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity educator and employer. Protected group members are encouraged to apply.

Graduate and Training Programs in VMP
Last Edited: Dec 18, 2013 12:05 PM   

Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, PO Box 647040 , Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-7040, 509-335-6030, Contact Us  Safety Links