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Poulsen Named Director of Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Lab
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 09/10/2018

The interim director of the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has been chosen as the agency's new full-time leader. Keith Poulsen was named the new executive director of the organization as of September 1, which plays a critical role in preserving animal health and the integrity of the state's animal production industry.

A native of Waunakee, Poulsen is a veterinarian with the UW-Madison--which is also where he holds several degrees in biochemistry. He first arrived at the WVDL in 2014 as a clinical professor and was named interim director in March 2018.

"I think we have a very important mission for the state and for the university," Poulsen says. "We are investing in our staff because they are the scientific minds and the people who get the testing in and done, and the customer service done."

With about 130 employees, the lab runs roughly 600,000 diagnostic tests each year, handling around 38,000 cases. The WVDL mostly tests bull semen for export around the world to serve meat and dairy producers.

Beyond bovines, the agency supports the poultry industry by helping respond to outbreaks of avian influenza, participating in the federal Salmonella Action Plan and the National Poultry Improvement Plan, and playing a role in maintaining flock health. It promotes health among all other animal species as well.

Poulsen says the WVDL will continue to provide appropriate support to the animal production industry in Wisconsin and work to broaden outreach to state industry leaders and elected officials in Wisconsin and nationally.

"We want to continue growing our relationship with the state legislature and the agricultural industry to make sure they know us as a resource," he added. "That means meeting with the Wisconsin Farm Bureau and elected officials on agricultural committees to explain what WVDL is and let them know that if there are problems like highly pathogenic avian influenza, or foot and mouth disease, or canine influenza, they know that we are a resource on campus and they can come get us, or we can come to their offices."

The WVDL was first established in the early 1930s with the goal of providing animal disease diagnostic services to the state's veterinarians and animal producers. It is located and administered by the UW-Madison campus as part of the University of Wisconsin System and is specifically funded as a line item in the state budget.

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