Texas Tech University

Veterinary Pharmacology Expert Joins Faculty of Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine

George Watson

July 15, 2020

vet school courtyard

Sarah Wagner has conducted research on the understanding, prevention and treatment of lameness in cattle.

For veterinarians, the motivation to enter a particular specialty can come from a variety of factors and experiences. For Sarah Wagner, it came from a job while in veterinary school at Michigan State University.

While in vet school, Wagner got a job milking cows at the university dairy. It was in that role where she developed an interest in dairy cattle, and she has carried that interest in bovine medicine and veterinary education throughout her academic and professional career. Now she's carrying it to the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo.

Wagner a board-certified veterinary clinical pharmacologist, brings her expertise to the School of Veterinary Medicine as a professor of pharmacology. She began her duties on July 1.

Sarah Wagner

"I am excited to join the faculty at the Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine," Wagner said. "The opportunity to participate in building a veterinary curriculum does not come along often. As a person with a keen interest in teaching, I am excited to work with the other faculty and school leadership to develop an outstanding veterinary program at Texas Tech."

Wagner comes to Texas Tech after spending the past 16 years on the faculty of the Department of Animal Sciences at North Dakota State University, where she taught courses in pharmacology, large-animal nursing and dairy production to students majoring in veterinary technology, animal sciences and pharmacy.

Her research in the area of pharmacology – the science of how drugs act on biological systems and how the body responds to the drug – and animal welfare has included projects funded by the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA), animal health companies and private foundations. That research has focused on understanding and prevention of lameness development in cattle and discovering safe, effective treatment therapies.

"Cattle lameness needs a solution," said Guy Loneragan, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine. "Dr. Wagner is leading the charge to discover and deliver practical solutions. She also is passionate about teaching; she really cares for her students. She exemplifies our school's mission to provide a world-class education and, at the same time, help support the livestock industries that are so important to us and to Texas. Dr. Wagner also brings invaluable experience to the school with which she will help shape our developing curriculum and mentor our junior faculty. We are fortunate she chose to join our team."

She has collaborated on research projects into beef cattle temperament, drug treatment in dairy calves and modified housing to improve swine health and well-being.

"I am looking forward to getting to know the livestock producers in the Texas Panhandle and working with them to develop a research program that will benefit animals, livestock producers and the public, and provide educational opportunities for veterinary students at Texas Tech," Wagner said.

Prior to her time at North Dakota State, Wagner served as an adjunct instructor and interim university veterinarian in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State University, where she earned her doctoral degree in physiology (pharmacology) in 2003. She led instruction in clinical bovine medicine, provided large-animal veterinary services and oversaw the use of livestock in research.

After earning her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Michigan State in 1994, Wagner spent five years as a mixed-animal practitioner at the Bedford Animal Hospital in Bedford, Virginia. She earned her bachelor's degree from Columbia University.

"Veterinary clinical pharmacology is about sifting out the pharmacology that matters to a practicing veterinarian," said Michael D. Apley, Frick Professor of Clinical Sciences at the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine and a close colleague of Wagner. "Dr. Wagner embodies this approach to science and combines it with an intense commitment to practicing veterinarians, students and the animals we care for. She will apply the thoughts of a scientist and the heart of a practitioner to the team. Be prepared for a very motivated new veterinarian on campus."

Wagner earned board certification from the American College of Veterinary Clinical Pharmacology in 2004.

While at North Dakota State, Wagner has earned teaching honors from the College of Agriculture, Food Science and Natural Resources as well as the Midwest region of the America Society for Animal Science/American Dairy Science Association.

"Dr. Wagner brings a broad background to the school, working in the areas of pharmacology, animal behavior, cattle lameness and clinical skills," said John Dascanio, senior associate dean for academic and student affairs. "I love her enthusiasm and commitment to engage the local dairy industry and students in her research. She will make a large impact across our program."

Wagner becomes the 20th faculty member for the School of Veterinary Medicine. Those already on the faculty are:

Additional faculty members will be added over the summer and fall.

About the School of Veterinary Medicine

Thanks to the generosity of Amarillo and communities across Texas, and the commitment of legislators from around the state, the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo, established in 2018, is working to enroll its first class in the fall of 2021, pending approval by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Council on Education.

The School of Veterinary Medicine will recruit and select students with a passion to practice and succeed in rural and regional communities. Its curriculum is focused on the competencies and skills necessary for success in practices that support these communities. Texas Tech's innovative and cost-efficient model partners with the wider community of veterinary practices across the state to provide clinical, real-world experiential learning.

In June 2019, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law the biennial state budget, which appropriated $17.35 million for the School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo that will go toward operational needs in order to get the school up and running. The appropriation included language directing Texas Tech to move forward in establishing the school.