Experienced and Trusted Extension Leader Named Pennsylvania’s State Veterinarian
Posted: August 2, 2016
A career veterinarian and animal health leader with experience in the public and private sectors, David Wolfgang has been selected to oversee the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services and to serve as the commonwealth’s state veterinarian.
Dr. David R. Wolfgang of Pennsylvania Furnace, Centre County, will serve as the state veterinarian starting August 8, replacing Dr. Craig Shultz, who retired in late April. Since 1995, Wolfgang has been with Penn State, serving for the past 17 years as the Penn State Extension veterinarian overseeing the Dairy Production Medicine Certificate Program.
“Pennsylvania’s livestock industry faces many challenges and threats that are so often linked to issues of public health and safety. It was clear to us that whoever leads our animal health initiatives must be both a great resource and communicator to producers, veterinarians and citizens alike,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “Dr. Wolfgang fills that role, with a comprehensive approach to health – acknowledging that food, animal and human health are inextricably connected – that has been honed from more than two decades as an investigative veterinarian. On top of that, he recognizes the significance of our statewide animal health and diagnostic laboratory system, so his leadership and experience working within the system will be crucial as we move forward.”
As bureau director, Dr. Wolfgang also will serve as executive director of the state’s Animal Health and Diagnostic Commission (AHDC). He will collaborate with state, federal and industry partners on domestic animal health regulations, as well as domestic animal disease surveillance and response, including the ongoing Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) preparedness efforts.
“Collaborative efforts are necessary to address the important health challenges for society, animals and our environment,” said Dr. Wolfgang. “The crucial statewide and national needs for public health, food safety and security, production animal health and profitability, rapid and relevant diagnostic strategies, and comparative medicine have not gone away, and if anything, have increased. I look forward to taking on this new role and to the work that will be undertaken as a public servant.”
For 21 years, Dr. Wolfgang has served as the director of the Field Investigation Unit with the Pennsylvania State University’s Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences and also serves as co-director of its Center for Animal Care and Health. Prior to his public service, he was a large animal practitioner in Shippensburg, Cumberland County, and Warriors Mark, Huntingdon County.
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, he is a diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners certified in dairy practice. Dr. Wolfgang also has completed extensive post-graduate training in pathobiology and dairy production medicine, and he recently earned a Master’s of Public Health from the Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey.
Dr. Wolfgang also served as a Penn State Extension veterinarian, performing field investigations for herds experiencing production or animal health issues. As continuing education coordinator for Penn State’s Dairy Production Medicine Certificate Program, Dr. Wolfgang enhanced the training and problem solving skills of dairy veterinarians across the state. His research has been published in numerous veterinary journals and developed into publications for producers and the general public.
Redding recognized the work of bureau staff for their leadership during this transition period. “The animal health challenges that Pennsylvania faces do not pause for staff transitions, so we asked Dr. Aliza Simeone to serve as acting bureau director following Dr. Shultz’s retirement,” added Redding. “She stepped up and hit the ground running to help fill in the gaps and ensure that our team continued moving forward with its charge to control and eradicate animal diseases in the commonwealth. We sincerely appreciate Dr. Simeone’s work.” Dr. Simeone will return to her post as the veterinary medical field officer in the department’s Region 7 office.
In March, Dr. Kevin Brightbill joined the bureau as assistant director. Dr. Brightbill spent the last 13 years in private veterinary practice with Millerstown Veterinary Associates in Millerstown, Perry County. During his tenure there, he had extensive experience working both with small animals and large animals, including dairy herds, beef and small ruminants.
As assistant director, Dr. Brightbill develops policy to protect animal agriculture in Pennsylvania and will work closely with Dr. Wolfgang to identify, prioritize and address all operational needs of the bureau.
Dr. Brightbill has a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the Virginia Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and a Bachelor of Science in Animal Bioscience from Penn State.
For more information about the Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services, visit www.agriculture.pa.gov and click on “Protect.”