College of Veterinary Medicine

Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology

Combined Clinical Microbiology Residency/Graduate Program

  Petri dishes

Recognized as a leading research institution in infectious diseases research, Washington State University offers clinical microbiology residency training leading to eligibility for American College of Veterinary Microbiology (ACVM) certification ( with state-of-the-art training biomedical research leading to the PhD. The Department’s research and training programs are focused on 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 ( and who are experienced in mentoring trainees within state-of-the-art laboratories funded by NIH, USDA, FDA, Grayson Morris Animal Foundation and the Morris Animal Foundation, and the Wellcome Trust. Trainees are eligible for ACVM-certification and are recruited for positions in academia and government laboratories.
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) and WADDL is one of 22 founding members of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (funded through USDA/APHIS) and one of the nine veterinary diagnostic laboratories that serve as a reference lab in the Laboratory Response Network for Bioterrorism (funded through the Centers for Disease Control). Specialized sections in aquaculture, bacteriology, molecular diagnostics, parasitology, serology, and virology ensures that residents develop a strong background in all aspects of clinical microbiology, including detection and diagnosis of emerging and zoonotic pathogens. Additional information about WADDL is available at

Training occurs under the direction of ACVM-certified microbiologists and is enriched by faculty with expertise in infectious diseases, including zoonotic agents and emerging pathogens. The rich and diverse case load provides direct experiential learning and is supported by specialized infectious diseases seminars.

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. Within this common goal, there are currently about  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
  • Parasitic Infections
  • Persistent Viral Infections
  • Transmissible Spongioform 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. The remainder is earned in courses related to diagnostic microbiology and supervised dissertation research. This core knowledge is advanced through actual service work in the diagnostic laboratories, regularly scheduled seminars in diagnostic microbiology, special 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 ACVM certification prepares trainees for leadership positions in academia and national and international laboratories and trainees are very competitive for these positions. Of the 5 most recent trainees, 4 hold tenured or tenure-track academic positions and 1 is a diagnostic microbiologist in a state laboratory. All trainees that have taken the ACVM boards have been successful in achieving certification.

Application Procedures

Applicants must hold the DVM degree or equivalent. U.S. citizen ship or permanent residency is not required, but preferred. Applications should include veterinary college transcripts, curriculum vitae, statement of professional goals and three letters of reference.

Send applications to:

Dubraska Diaz
Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology
Washington State University
P.O. Box 647040
Pullman, WA  99164-7040
The current starting stipend is $36,853 and includes basic health care coverage.

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.

More information on the USDA-ADRU can be found at Washington State University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity educator and employer. Protected group members are encouraged to apply.
Last Edited: Dec 18, 2013 12:07 PM   

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