The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine has appointed Michael Ziccardi, DVM MPVM PhD, as executive director of the One Health Institute (OHI). Ziccardi, a wildlife veterinarian, epidemiology professor and scientist, will serve a five-year term through July 2025.
As executive director, Ziccardi will lead the OHI in its mission to solve complex problems impacting health and conservation such as zoonotic disease emergence, food insecurity and biodiversity loss.
The largest research center in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, the OHI arose in 2009 out of the School’s deep commitment to the One Health approach, which recognizes the interconnection between the health of people, animals, plants and their shared environment.
The OHI has been on the forefront of the global response to COVID-19, providing legislative guidance in the U.S. as well as laboratory support and workforce training in some of the least resourced regions of the world, through pandemic preparedness and response projects including USAID PREDICT and USAID One Health Workforce-Next Generation.
“This new leadership opportunity is truly an honor,” Ziccardi said. “In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, society has experienced first-hand the key importance of pursuing large-scale issues with a One Health focus, as well as the amazing expertise and cutting-edge science that OHI staff and faculty continues to bring to the problem. I look forward to helping keep the OHI at the forefront of critical global health issues, and also exploring how we can better use our skills to address other societal problems.”
In addition to assuming oversight of COVID-19 response activities for the OHI, Ziccardi will be responsible for the Institute’s administrative stewardship and facilitation, which comprises four main centers, including at its core the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, and several programs, projects and initiatives. Ziccardi’s main responsibilities to the School will be to work to ensure a supportive environment for OHI faculty, staff and students while promoting a culture of equity, diversity, and inclusion that embraces the UC Davis Principles of Community.
For the past six years, Ziccardi has served as co-Director of the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, the OHI’s flagship center. As an associate director of the OHI, he has been an active member of the Institute’s leadership team since its inception in 2009.
Ziccardi continues to direct the Oiled Wildlife Care Network, a partnership between California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) and the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center. Under his leadership since 2003, the OWCN is widely recognized as an international leader in oil spill response with more than 40 member organizations throughout California, including world-class aquaria, universities, scientific organizations and rehabilitation groups.
A veteran of more than 50 spills worldwide, Ziccardi helped establish and lead the Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Unit during the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 for more than five months. He wrote National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s oiled marine mammal response plan in 2005 for rescuing and treating oiled marine mammals, and oversaw a complete revision after the 2010 incident.
“Dr. Ziccardi brings experience in leadership, strategic planning and operational management to his new role,” said Michael Lairmore, dean and distinguished professor of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. “His knowledge, advocacy experience, and vision will help expand partnership opportunities for the One Health Institute.”
A UC Davis alumnus, Ziccardi obtained his doctorate in veterinary medicine in 1993, his master’s degree in preventive veterinary medicine in 1994 and a Ph.D. in epidemiology in 2001. A Professor of Clinical Wildlife Health in the Department of Medicine & Epidemiology, Ziccardi also teaches globally on wildlife health and conservation.
Ziccardi maintains an active research program investigating emergency response involving animals in crisis and the One Health effects of petroleum in the environment. He currently serves as Chair of the NOAA Working Group for Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events as well as the industry-funded Global Oiled Wildlife Response System.
A two-time recipient of the Pacific State/British Columbia Oil Spill Task Force Legacy Award, Ziccardi was also honored by the UC Davis Cal Aggie Alumni Foundation with the Outstanding Alumnus Award in 2016.
“I enthusiastically welcome Dr. Michael Ziccardi as the OHI’s new leader,” said Jonna Mazet, founding executive director of the One Health Institute since 2009. “I anticipate great success as he leads the OHI into its next phase, pursuing a healthier, more equitable and more sustainable future for humanity and the planet.”