Athens Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory director retiring, interim director appointed

By Paula M. Krimer

After 15 years of service, Dr. Jeremiah (Jerry) Saliki will be retiring from UGA May 1st, 2020. Dr. Saliki has been the director of the Athens Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (AVDL) since 2007 and at the University of Georgia as a professor of virology since 2005. He is a renowned virologist who, since 1984, has dedicated his professional life to serving the needs of people and animals through research, diagnostics, and public service.

As director of the AVDL, Saliki oversaw the steady growth and modernization of the lab while expanding the scope of its activities to include niche services such as laboratory animal and marine mammal diagnostics. He is a highly accomplished virologist with over 125 scientific publications and who served 11 years as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation, the official publication of the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD). The AAVLD is the largest association dedicated to advancing the discipline of veterinary laboratory diagnostic medicine in the United States. His many awards and accolades include Practitioner to Faculty award (Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association, 1997), Pfizer award for research excellence (Oklahoma State University, 2003), Charles Dobbins award for excellence in service (UGA, 2010), distinguished service award (AAVLD, 2013), life membership award (AAVLD, 2014), and EP Pope Memorial award (AAVLD, 2015).

Dr. Saliki has continuously advocated for the needs of the laboratory and all its stakeholders, meeting with government officials at the state and national level, with a focus on positioning the laboratory to adequately fulfill its disease diagnostic and surveillance missions to the state and the nation. He has served on grant review panels for national and international funding agencies, including the NIH, DHS, USDA, National Pork Board, Wellcome Trust, Qatar National Research Foundation, and Volkswagen Foundation. Dr. Saliki and his family will be moving to Stillwater, Oklahoma, where he will serve as director of the Oklahoma Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory. He will be sorely missed, but we wish him well in his next endeavor.

Dr. Keith Harris, professor emeritus, has been appointed interim director during the search for a permanent director. Dr. Harris has served in numerous leadership roles at the College of Veterinary Medicine. He held the Barry G. Harmon Professorship and served as head of the Department of Pathology, as well as executive director of Tifton and Athens Veterinary Diagnostic Labs from 2008 until 2018, and served as interim dean from 2018-2019 until the arrival of Dean Lisa Nolan. Prior to moving to UGA in 2008, Dr. Harris spent eleven years in the pharmaceutical industry, serving several executive positions at Wyeth Research, Pharmacia Corporation, and GD Searle. Before joining the pharmaceutical industry, he served for over 20 years as a veterinary officer and pathologist in the United States Air Force, retiring as a Colonel and serving his last four years as chair of the Department of Veterinary Pathology, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, DC. He has received numerous awards and recognitions including the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, the Defense Superior Service Medal, and the Presidential Award from the American College of Veterinary Pathologists. He has served in a number of capacities in the American College of Pathologists, including membership on the Examination Committee and the Executive Council, Chair of the Certifying Examination Board, and as President. We welcome him back home to the DLabs.

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