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In Memoriam: Dr. Gavin Meerdink, Clinical Toxicology and Beef Expert

[Dr. Gavin Meerdink]

Dr. Gavin Meerdink, who held many roles at our college, passed away on July 4. Joining our faculty in 1989, Dr. Meerdink headed the clinical toxicology service within the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, served the state’s agricultural industry as an Extension veterinarian focused on beef and feed safety, and oversaw the Veterinary Medical Research Farm. He retired from the college in 2005.

“Dr. Meerdink was the mainstay of clinical toxicology for the college’s diagnostic laboratory for many years,” recalled Dr. Wanda Hashek-Hock, professor emerita. “He was sought-after for consultation on many legal and insurance cases that dealt with suspected toxicity cases worldwide. He was highly respected in the toxicology community and a strong supporter of the University of Illinois.”

Dr. Val Beasley, professor emeritus, noted that, “He was an expert in veterinary toxicology with a particular interest in trace elements, heavy metals and mycotoxins… He invested necessary time gathering extensive histories to gauge where and how exposures to various chemicals had occurred in order to establish diagnoses of acute and chronic problems, and to be able to protect animal health over the long term.”

Dr. Meerdink attended Iowa State University for both his undergraduate and veterinary degrees. He established a large animal practice in Iowa after graduation, but within a few years returned to Iowa State, where he taught and worked at the diagnostic laboratory for five years. In 1979, shortly after gaining diplomate status in the American Board of Veterinary Toxicology (ABVT), he joined the veterinary faculty at Michigan State University. In 1983, he became chief of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Dr. Meerdink was very active in professional organizations, serving as a member of the organizing committee for the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners and holding leadership roles in the ABVT, the American Academy of Veterinary and Comparative Toxicology, the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, the National Animal Poison Information Network Inc., the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, state and regional veterinary medical associations, and many other groups.

In 2002 Dr. Meerdink was honored with the prestigious E.P. Pope Memorial Award from the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians. He had served as president of that organization in 1990 and as editor of its newsletter from1991 through 1998. He played a role in establishing the organization’s Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation as well as its foundation. He was a strong proponent of members of a professional association working together to improve animal disease diagnosis and the safety and security of the nation’s animal agriculture industry.