Agency History & Overview

The Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) is a member of The Texas A&M University System and is composed of two full-service laboratories, located in College Station and Amarillo, and two poultry laboratories, located in Center and Gonzales. With its strategic locations, TVMDL is uniquely positioned to serve the animal industries of Texas. TVMDL receives approximately 200,000 accessions and runs an average of 925,000 tests per year. Submissions received in the laboratory originate from Texas, neighboring states, and around the world.

TVMDL employs approximately 100 staff at its College Station location and approximately 30 staff in Amarillo.  The Center facility has a staff of eight while the Gonzales laboratory employs five.  In its entirety, TVMDL employs over 30 professionals who hold a DVM and/or PhD.  Many hold board certifications in their specialty.

Texas legislators created TVMDL during the regular session of the 60th Legislature, in 1967; the lab formally opened in College Station in 1969. The Amarillo facility opened its doors in 1975. In 1991 the 72nd Legislature transferred the Salmonella Pullorum-Typhoid Program, Texas’s complementary program to the National Poultry Improvement Plan, to TVMDL and also granted administrative responsibilities from the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station (now Texas A&M AgriLife Research) for the poultry diagnostic laboratories in Center and Gonzales. TVMDL’s mission expanded under new legislative direction to include drug-testing services for the pari-mutuel horse racing industry in 1989 and for the greyhound racing industry in 1992.

Laboratory tests are performed on many different types of specimens sent or brought to the laboratory.  The efforts of TVMDL staff are directed to diagnosis only; treatment of sick animals or surgery is not performed. Specimens received may be deceased animals brought to the laboratory for examination or tissue specimens collected from animals in the field or in a veterinary clinic.  Laboratory income is derived from state appropriations and fees charged for services rendered.

TVMDL’s primary clients are Texas animal owners and veterinarians; state and federal agencies, including the Texas Animal Health Commission; Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Texas Department of Criminal Justice; the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and the state’s food animal industries. TVMDL provides service to these clients by conducting laboratory tests on specimens from live or deceased animals and their environments. In addition, the laboratories facilitate commerce of Texas livestock by providing tests required for international, intrastate, and interstate movement of animals. TVMDL also provides critical laboratory data necessary to identify disease outbreaks, including emerging, reemerging, and zoonotic diseases, and provides appropriate warnings to individuals and governmental agencies. Early disease detection is a critical contribution by TVMDL to the One Health/One Medicine approach to ensuring public health.

Accredited by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD) as a full-service veterinary diagnostic laboratory, TVMDL is committed to providing state-of-the-art, quality diagnostic services concentrated on maximum testing accuracy, timeliness, and cost-effectiveness. Attaining these goals not only provides immediate benefits to the animal owner but also ensures the success of a disease surveillance system that provides an early detection system for high-consequence animal diseases.

In 2004, the USDA selected TVMDL to be a part of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN), a group of state and regional laboratories performing surveillance testing for high-consequence agricultural and zoonotic pathogens. TVMDL performs testing and surveillance for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, avian influenza, H1N1 influenza, foot and mouth disease, vesicular stomatitis, contagious equine metritis, classical swine fever (hog cholera), scrapie, and chronic wasting disease in deer. To conduct testing on these agents, TVMDL constructed a Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) laboratory in 2004 at its College Station location, capable of safely working with and containing high-consequence animal disease agents. Because of the importance of animal agriculture in the Texas Panhandle, TVMDL also constructed a BSL-3 laboratory at the Amarillo location in 2011.

While maintaining traditional service to the food animal industries and companion animal owners of Texas, TVMDL is dedicated to developing new diagnostic tools, incorporating state-of-the-art technology, increasing efficiency, and continuing to provide clients with professional expertise to help them solve difficult cases. The laboratory’s success can be attributed to a dedicated and skilled professional, technical, and administrative staff and to the professional relationships TVMDL has developed with the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science (CVM), practicing veterinarians, industry leaders, and the general public.