Dr. Debra Hickman Named as Purdue Associate VP for Animal Resources; Joins CPB Faculty

Friday, July 16, 2021

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Dr. Debra Hickman
(Photo courtesy of IU)

Purdue University has announced the appointment of Dr. Debra Hickman as the new attending veterinarian and associate vice president for animal resources in the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships (EVPRP).  Dr. Hickman also will be appointed as a clinical professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Comparative Pathobiology, where she presently is an adjunct associate professor.

Dr. Hickman’s new appointment takes effect August 2.  “In this role, Dr. Hickman will be responsible for ensuring outstanding animal care and welfare in all of the university’s research and teaching programs,” said Dr. Theresa S. Mayer, Purdue executive vice president for research and partnerships. Dr. Mayer also said that as a clinical professor in the Comparative Pathobiology Department, Dr. Hickman will lead Purdue’s efforts to establish a unique Residency Training Program in Laboratory Animal Medicine that includes rotations at a partner university and a company in Indiana.

Dr. Mayer went on to explain that Dr. Hickman brings to Purdue a diversity of experience and expertise. “She has significant experience in administrative leadership and is a funded researcher, providing her with a unique perspective and set of skills to support the well-being and clinical care of animals across the university,” Dr. Mayer said.

Dr. Hickman comes to Purdue from Indiana University, where she has served as the director of the Laboratory Animal Resource Center and attending veterinarian for the School of Medicine since 2009. She currently supports an independently funded laboratory that focuses on enhancing the well-being of animals used in research. She previously spent eight years as the chief of veterinary services for the VA Medical Center in Portland, Ore. She also is president elect of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM).

Dr. Hickman earned her undergraduate and DVM degrees at the University of Illinois, where she went on to complete a Lab Animal Post-doctoral Training Program, earning her MS degree in 2001.  She is a Diplomate of the American College of Animal Welfare (ACAW) as well as ACLAM and her research interests involve the use of behavior and physiology to assess the well-being of animals in research.

As she transitions to her new responsibilities at Purdue, Dr. Hickman will report directly to Dr. Mayer, who will assume the role of the University Institutional Official for animal care and use. The animal resources team and the central animal facilities team, both focused on the care and welfare of animals, will report to Dr. Hickman, while the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), which provides protocols for proper animal care, will continue to report to Dr. Chris Agnew, the associate vice president for regulatory affairs. “This structure is in line with best practices across the animal care community,” Dr. Mayer explained.

In addition, Dr. Hickman will take on the role of attending veterinarian from Dr. Bill Ferner, the current director of Laboratory Animal Program, who will retire at the end of July. Dr. Mayer noted that Dr. Ferner provided more than 20 years of exceptional service to the university, and that during his tenure, Purdue’s animal resources program has maintained full AAALAC accreditation by exceeding the high standards set by the organization.  “Please join me in congratulating Bill and in welcoming Deb to this new role,” Dr. Mayer said.

Writer(s): Purdue Veterinary Medicine News | pvmnews@purdue.edu

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