After 34 years in the veterinary field, Bruce Akey, DVM, director of the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, Bryan-College Station, will retire at the end of June.
Akey joined TVMDL in 2014. Since joining the agency, he has played a key role in elevating TVMDL to a national leader in veterinary diagnostics through several historic milestones. Under his leadership, TVMDL constructed two state-of-the-art laboratories, first in College Station in 2017 and then in Canyon in 2020.
In 2019, Akey was instrumental in helping TVMDL implement a robust Laboratory Information Management System, LIMS, specifically tailored to the agency. The LIMS allows electronic information to be shared between the laboratory and veterinarians.
During Akey’s duration as director, TVMDL also earned funding from the Chancellor’s Research Initiative to enhance the agency’s research and development efforts. The agency also increased its testing capacity to over 1 million tests annually.
Most recently, Akey was appointed to a U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, APHIS, National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response consultation board. He has served nationally as president of the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians and been a co-chair of its Government Relations Committee for over 20 years.
“Dr. Akey has been a fervent leader for TVMDL,” Patrick J. Stover, Ph.D., vice chancellor of Texas A&M AgriLife, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research, said. “Under his leadership, the agency surpassed several great milestones to further enhance its reputation as a global leader in veterinary diagnostics. We are thankful for his dedication to serving Texans, and beyond, for the past seven years.”
Building a lifetime of service to veterinary medicine
Akey graduated from the College of William and Mary with a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1977. Following the completion of that degree, he went on to earn a master’s in parasitology from the University of Florida in 1981 and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University in Minnesota in 1987.
Akey began his career in veterinary medicine as an associate veterinarian at the Hopewell Animal Hospital in Hopewell, Virginia. After dedicating three years to the veterinary practice, he joined the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as an assistant state veterinarian and director of the Virginia Animal Health Laboratory System, VAHLS, in 1990.
While at VAHLS, he conceived, implemented and provided technical support for the agency’s LIMS. During his tenure, he also oversaw the construction of three regional laboratory facilities, implemented a comprehensive quality assurance program, and established a Geographic Information System, GIS, covering the Virginia poultry industry.
Akey furthered his commitment to the state’s poultry industry during the 2002 avian influenza outbreak. During that event, he served as deputy incident commander and acting incident commander for the Virginia Avian Influenza Taskforce. In these roles, Akey oversaw all aspects of the taskforce including diagnosis, euthanasia, disposal, logistics, personnel safety and policy decisions.
In 2003, Akey joined the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets – Division of Animal Industry as the assistant director and assistant state veterinarian. For three years, he managed emergency programs, animal disease and monitoring systems, and zoonotic diseases.
In 2006, Akey began his tenure at the Animal Health Diagnostic Center, AHDC, at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University where he served as the assistant dean for diagnostic operations and executive director. As director, Akey managed AHDC’s testing services and research and development endeavors. He also directed the design and construction of a new, 126,000 square foot facility to replace the main laboratory building.
The future of TVMDL
The Texas A&M System Board of Regents announced that Amy Swinford, DVM, will serve as interim director effective July 1. Swinford has been serving as associate director since 2015 and helped in executive operations of the agency, including at the Canyon, Center and Gonzales laboratories. She most recently has served as interim resident director for the Canyon laboratory.
Swinford earned multiple degrees from the University of Illinois: two bachelor’s degrees, a master’s degree in veterinary pathobiology and a doctorate in veterinary medicine. She became a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists in 1997, and in 2012 was elected to the organization’s board of governors.
Swinford worked at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Veterinary Diagnostic Center, held positions with two veterinary biopharmaceutical companies, and served in the U.S. Air Force Reserve as a public health officer prior to joining TVMDL in 2005. She was hired as the Bacteriology section head in College Station and promoted to branch chief in 2012, a position in which she oversaw the Bacteriology, Molecular Diagnostics, Serology and Virology sections.
For more information on TVMDL, visit tvmdl.tamu.edu or call one of the agency’s full-service laboratories in College Station or Canyon.