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Virginia Tech names new dean of Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine


BLACKSBURG, Va., June 3, 2004 – Gerhardt Schurig, interim dean of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech since October 2003 and an internationally renowned researcher, has been named the third dean of the two-state, three-campus professional college, effective immediately.

"Dr. Schurig is an outstanding scholar with a long and distinguished record of service to the college and the university. His vision for the college and his commitment to excellence will ensure that the college's educational, research, professional, clinical, and outreach programs will continue to grow and develop," said Mark McNamee, university provost and vice president for academic affairs, in making the announcement.

Schurig replaces Peter Eyre, who resigned for health reasons in 2003 after serving as dean for 18 years. The new dean was selected following an international search.

"We have accomplished a great deal in our first 25 years, but I believe we have enormous potential for growth and achievement in many established and emerging areas," Schurig said. "In particular, I believe our college is poised to play a vital role in Virginia Tech's rapidly developing collaborative research programs in the biomedical and life sciences."

A long-time professor and veterinary immunologist in the college's Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, Schurig is internationally renowned for his work in developing the RB-51 vaccine, adopted in 1996 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the official vaccine for bovine brucellosis, a zoonotic disease that causes reproductive problems in cattle and undulant fever in humans. The vaccine has played a major role in the virtual eradication of the cattle disease in the United States, and Schurig also has been working on a project with the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command that will protect people from brucellosis.

Schurig joined the college's faculty in 1978 as assistant professor of veterinary science and moved through the ranks to become professor and head of the Department of Veterinary Biosciences in 1984. In 1987, he was named director of the Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases, a position he held until 1994. In 1996, he assumed duties as director of the college's International Program and director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Veterinary Education in Management and Public Health. In 2001, he was named the college's associate dean for research and graduate studies, and in July 2003, he became interim director of the university's new Institute for Biomedical and Public Health Sciences.

Schurig, who holds three patents, has presented keynote talks and seminars throughout the world and has published more than 90 papers in peer-reviewed journals. He is a member of numerous professional societies, among them the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Association of Veterinary Immunologists, and the American Society for Microbiology, and has served on many national and international committees. He also has received a number of major teaching and research awards, including the 1986 Beecham Award for Research Excellence.

A native of Chile, Schurig studied chemical engineering for one year at the University of Concepcion before transferring to the University of Chile to major in veterinary medicine and earn his DVM degree. He conducted graduate work at Cornell University, where he received master's and Ph.D. degrees in immunology and pathogenic bacteriology. He spent two years as a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Veterinary Science at the University of Wisconsin at Madison before joining the faculty at Virginia Tech.

The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM) is a two-state, three-campus professional school operated by the land-grant universities of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and the University of Maryland at College Park. Its flagship facilities, based at Virginia Tech, include the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, which treats more than 40,000 animals annually. Other campuses include the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Va., and the Avrum Gudelsky Veterinary Center at College Park, home of the Center for Government and Corporate Veterinary Medicine. The VMRCVM annually enrolls approximately 500 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and graduate students, is a leading biomedical and clinical research center, and provides professional continuing education services for veterinarians practicing throughout the two states.

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become the largest university in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech's eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research, and outreach activities and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top 30 research universities in the nation. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.