Dr. Tom Wittum named 2014 Distinguished University Scholar

Dr. Tom Wittum, professor in the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, was recognized in a brief presentation as a Distinguished University Scholar, a title given to six or fewer Ohio State faculty each year. University Interim President Joe Alutto, Vice President for Research Caroline Whitacre, Assistant Vice President Jan Weisenberger, and College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Lonnie King were on hand during the surprise announcement.

Tom Wittum

"Tom is so deserving of this important recognition," said Dr. Bill Saville, chair, Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine. "He is an asset to our department and demonstrates great leadership in all aspects of teaching and research." 

Dr. Wittum's work emphasizes the "One Health" apporoach to prevention and control of infectious diseases to protect both animal and human health. His research began as an attempt to find answers to the important problem of Salmonella outbreaks affecting dairy cattle in response to requests from producers on farms and their veterinarians. His work quickly expanded to address both the animal health and the food safety aspects of this important disease. Dr. Wittum has emphasized an applied approach to his research program, utilizing field research projects with results that can be implemented by producers, practitioners, regulatory agencies, and other academic researchers.

After looking at highly virulent strain of Salmonella that was resistant to to antimicrobial drugs, he expanded his research to address the the broad issue of agricultural antibiotic use, one of the most important public health issues facing our country today. His work in this area is not merely an academic exercise. The true significance of this work is represented in its impact on national policy toward veterinary and agricultural antimicrobial use.

His research was recently cited in the Food and Drug Administration’s justification for their new rule limiting the off-label use of cephalosporin drugs in agricultural animals.

Dr. Wittum has published over 110 peer reviewed scientific manuscripts, and has been principal or co- investigator on federal grants totaling more than $8 million. In addition to his research program, Wittum was instrumental in the development of OSU’s nationally recognized Veterinary Public Health Program as an innovative collaboration between the Colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Public Health at Ohio State. He continues to play a leadership role in that program. Dr. Wittum has had an influential role on national committees to inform federal policy regarding the use of antimicrobials in the US food system.

Dr. Wittum earned his PhD from Colorado State University. He joined the faculty at Ohio State in 1995.

As a result of his efforts, he was appointed to serve on the US CDC Advisory Committee on Agricultural Antimicrobial Use and Resistance, which developed the “Public Health Action Plan to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance”, which has been used as a blueprint to inform federal policy in this important area.  In addition, he was elected to serve as President of the Association for Veterinary Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, which is an international organization to advance Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health initiatives, especially in the area of One Health.

In 2006, Dr. Wittum was recognized with the Pfizer Excellence in Research Award for his outstanding research program that had attained national recognition. His research focus continued to expand into investigating the origins and epidemiology of antimicrobial resistance in livestock.

Posted April 10, 2014