The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents has named Amy Swinford, DVM, DACVM, as the sole finalist for director of the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, TVMDL.
Since July, Swinford has served as the agency’s interim director following the retirement of TVMDL’s former director, Bruce Akey, DVM. Prior to this appointment, Swinford served as the agency’s associate director for six years and has been with the agency for over 16 years.
“Dr. Swinford embodies every facet of TVMDL’s mission of service,” said 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. “Her professionalism, expertise and passion for service are only a few of her qualities that make her an exceptional leader. I am confident TVMDL will continue to flourish under her leadership.”
During her tenure as associate director, Swinford has elevated TVMDL’s testing services and ensured the agency maintained a strong presence across national organizations, such as the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians, AAVLD. She has served in multiple capacities within AAVLD, most recently as the current co-chair for the accreditation committee, as well as a member of the AAVLD executive board.
Among several other achievements, Swinford is most recently noted for promoting TVMDL’s ability to test human samples for COVID-19 using polymerase chain reaction. In the wake of the pandemic, Swinford advocated for state and federal entities to allow TVMDL to begin testing human samples for the first time in agency history. She worked diligently with other TVMDL professionals to develop testing and quality assurance processes and establish partnerships with human health care providers.
This historic feat contributed to a significant increase in COVID-19 testing in Brazos County and the Texas Panhandle. To date, these partnerships have allowed for over 51,000 tests to be performed using TVMDL equipment and expertise.
Commitment to veterinary medicine
Swinford was majoring in animal science at the University of Illinois when she took an introductory course in microbiology that inspired her to change majors and pursue a degree in microbiology.
“I was fascinated by the work involved in determining the identities of bacterial isolates,” Swinford said. “That spark eventually paved the way for some of the most rewarding work of my career: to implement new test methods and technologies that improve the capabilities to rapidly diagnose agents of infectious disease. My love for animals and veterinary medicine naturally led me to specialize as a veterinary microbiologist and focus on veterinary diagnostic laboratory medicine.”
Swinford’s career as a veterinarian has led her to work in diagnostic laboratories, serve as a public health officer in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, become a technical services veterinarian, and perform clinical research for biopharmaceutical companies.
In 2005, Swinford joined TVMDL as the bacteriology section head in College Station. She became microbiology branch chief in 2012 and was promoted to associate agency director in 2015.
“I’ve enjoyed every job I’ve had as a veterinarian, but working at TVMDL alongside my colleagues has truly been the highlight,” Swinford said. “It would be the honor of my career to lead this agency and represent its dedicated staff.”
Swinford earned a bachelor’s degree in microbiology, a doctorate in veterinary medicine and a master’s degree in veterinary pathobiology from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She achieved board certification from the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists.
For more information on TVMDL, visit tvmdl.tamu.edu or call one of the agency’s full-service laboratories in College Station or Canyon.