A message from our dean

Dean Dana Zimmel

Dr. Dana Zimmel


I hope you all are enjoying the holiday season and are able to make time in the coming weeks to reflect on whatever is meaningful in your life and work. The festivities surrounding us can create excitement and a greater sense of shared community, but this time of year can also be difficult for those who have lost loved ones or are experiencing other hardships. I hope our college community can be there for those among us who are struggling at the same time we take stock of all we are grateful for.

As another year winds to its close, I wanted to note what an exceptional year it has been for us here at the college. Some of the highlights we’re proudest of from 2023 include:

  • Rising two spots last spring to tie with two other veterinary colleges at No.7 in the U.S. News & World Report rankings
  • Launching our new open heart surgery program for dogs in August
  • Creating a new strategic plan based on the theme of “Transforming through Innovation”
  • Obtaining support from the UF strategic funding initiative to create an AI-enabled digital imaging platform for veterinary medicine and One Health

Our new strategic plan provides us with a blueprint for success across our missions. All of our goals, as well as the action plans to fulfill them, reflect our commitment to reimagining every aspect of our college through transformational and cross-cutting approaches to patient care, research and education.

It’s an ambitious plan, and we’re ready to go to work! To get there, we aim to nurture top talent to create a culture of employee well-being and fulfillment that underlies all we achieve and strive for. Although investing in our people has always been a strategic goal, we are committing even greater energy and time into creating a workplace culture that underscores the value of all of the members of our team.

We plan to implement cross-cutting innovations to facilitate a new era of data analytics and to harness the power of technology to revolutionize teaching and clinical service and make day-to-day life easier through automation. We also plan to reimagine the research enterprise as well as our educational program to build a national model for a “learning veterinary health care system.”

It’s that aspect of our strategic plan that I would like to talk more about in this column.

We recently obtained support from UF President Ben Sasse’s strategic funding initiative to develop a state-of-the-art, AI-enabled digital imaging platform through which we will collect, collate and analyze patient data. This $2.3 million project — $750,000 per year over three years — will facilitate the creation of a new data warehouse that will make use of digitized patient-care information gleaned from patient records from our robust caseload, enabling us to embed research into clinical operations to treat diseases like cancer.

No matter what questions we want to ask, we will have a whole data enterprise to draw from, allowing us to transform the possibilities for clinical practice and creating a path for the development of precision medicine.

Our new associate dean for research and graduate studies, Dr. Janet Robishaw, help craft our funding proposal and her efforts will be critical in driving the project forward. A passionate team of internal collaborators from across disciplines are involved as well, along with key leadership from the UF Health Information Technology Division. I can’t wait to see where this project will lead, but there’s no doubt this new data enterprise will create a perpetual loop of research discovery and clinical quality improvement, not to mention positioning our college as a leader in the use of AI to advance research in animal health.

We always have more news than I can capture in a column, but I wish everyone a wonderful coming year and am grateful to everything you each contribute to your colleagues, your college and the broad veterinary community of which we are all a part.



Dana N. Zimmel, D.V.M.
Dean and Professor

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November-December 2023

Dr. Zimmel

A message from our dean

A message from the college’s dean, Dr. Dana Zimmel.

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