CORVALLIS, Ore. – Helen Diggs, a nationally recognized leader in veterinary medicine and animal welfare, has been named director of the Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Oregon State University. Diggs, who also will serve as associate dean of OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, will begin her new duties on Feb. 1 (2009).
She has directed the Office of Laboratory Animal Care at the University of California at Berkeley for the past 13 years, and is the consulting veterinarian for the entire University of California system. Diggs also is vice president of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine, and is scheduled to become the organization’s president in 2010.
“Dr. Diggs brings to OSU an informed perspective and a wealth of experience relating to veterinary medicine, management of veterinary service entities, and laboratory animal use,” said Cyril Clarke, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine.
“She is a (1985) graduate of our program and has strong familiarity with the veterinary needs of the state and the evolving roles that colleges of veterinary medicine play, including the education of students, clinical service, and critical research on issues relating to both animal and human health.”
Selected last year by the OSU Alumni Association as one of its Alumni Fellows, Diggs also delivered the 2008 commencement address at Oregon State and received an honorary doctorate from the university.
Diggs research interests include “zoonotic” diseases, which can be transmitted from animals to humans, such as West Nile Virus, Lyme disease, avian flu, and others. Before enrolling in OSU’s veterinary medicine program, she spent two years in Alaska as a teacher in Point Hope and Barrow, in small schools comprised primarily of Inupiat children. After returning to Oregon to earn her doctor of veterinary medicine degree at OSU, she worked at Oregon Health & Science University as an assistant professor of animal care before becoming head of the veterinary medical unit at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Portland.
She also spent a year as associate director for veterinary care at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
Before earning her DVM from OSU, she received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from the University of Portland.
As director of OSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Diggs will oversee the operations and management of the hospital’s activities and functions, including personnel, budgeting, marketing of clinical services and communication with clients and referring veterinarians. The OSU hospital offers both primary care and referral service, often handling critical or complex animal care that may require specialized training or equipment.
The OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital handles approximately 7,000 cases a year across a range of animal species, including dogs, cats, horses, cattle and camelids such as llamas and alpacas. In addition, the hospital offers a field clinical service that reaches out to more than 6,000 cases a year.