2022 DC Blood Oration

Veterinary Science in the 21st Century: Still fit for purpose?

Professor Colin Wilks.

Recognising the contribution of Professor Douglas Blood to Melbourne Veterinary School, the DC Blood Oration invites renowned scholars to present as part of the Faculty’s Dean’s Lecture Series.

This year the speaker was Professor Colin Wilks.

The purpose for founding the first scientifically informed veterinary school in 1761 was clear – to end the devastation caused by Rinderpest virus, also known as cattle plague. This disease ravaged cattle herds across Europe leaving a trail of food insecurity and economic and social disaster in its wake. With no school preparing veterinarians with the knowledge and skills needed to control it, the first veterinary school in Lyons, France was born.  In the 21st century, veterinarians operate in an incomparable number of spheres, including basic scientific research, emerging zoonoses, food safety and security, environmental sustainability, wildlife health and conservation, animal welfare, and companion animal medicine. In the intervening years, veterinarians have adapted to meet new challenges while still functioning within the original ‘social contract’ that has granted privileges and imposed responsibilities on the profession.

By examining the present challenges that veterinarians are expected to help solve, Professor Wilks explored whether the profession is still fit for purpose.

Watch below.

Professor Douglas Charles Blood was appointed Professor of Veterinary Medicine and Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Melbourne in 1962.  He was the founding Dean of the modern University of Melbourne Veterinary School. His remit was to re-establish the veterinary school and he became the driving force behind the initial curriculum, new buildings at Parkville and Werribee, selection of the first staff and students and establishment of the teaching hospital and ambulatory teaching clinic.

In recognition of Professor Bloods contribution to veterinary science and his work establishing the Melbourne Veterinary School we hold this annual oration.

Professor Colin Wilks

Professor Wilks graduated in veterinary science from Melbourne University in 1968 in the second cohort of students of the re-established (post World War II) School with Professor Blood as Dean. He spent a few years in rural practice before returning to start his post-graduate training and academic work in virology which he then continued at Cornell University (USA) and The Royal Veterinary College (UK).

Professor Wilks's career has included periods leading laboratory teams in disease diagnosis and research within the Victorian Department of Agriculture, at Massey University and at Melbourne University and as an international consultant for development agencies in Africa, Eastern Europe and in Central and South East Asia.

In retirement, he assists with PhD co-supervision and mentoring development and education programs in Cambodia.