Department of Infectious Disease and Global Health
Chris Whittier, DVM, PhD
Research Assistant Professor &
Director of Master’s in Conservation Medicine Program, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University &
Research Associate, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
I joined Cummings School faculty in 2013 as a research assistant professor and Director of the MS in Conservation Medicine Program (MCM). I also assist with the RESPOND project, serve as a Co-director of the Tufts Institute for the Environment, and retain a research associate position with the Smithsonian. My most recent experiences have included training in wildlife health, disease, surveillance, epidemiology, and participatory epidemiology in Thailand, Vietnam and Gabon as well as conducting field research on emerging infectious diseases in rodents in Gabon. I previously completed my PhD and six years working in central Africa for the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project. I have been continuing field veterinary work with gorillas in the Central African Republic where we delivered the first prophylactic vaccination campaign in wild apes (with an ongoing aim of protecting them from Ebola infection), as well as the first outbreak treatment and snare removal of wild western lowland gorillas.
I enjoy the mix of research, field work and training the next generation of wildlife health professionals and feel fortunate to be doing so at Cummings School where our work is done in the context of one-health and conservation medicine.
Directing the MCM program is really fulfilling to me because I started my conservation medicine career at Tufts before we really even called it conservation medicine and before Tufts established the CCM. Part of the reason I chose to come to Tufts as a student was to be trained in this arena, and I think it’s critically important that we broaden conservation medicine training and thinking beyond veterinarians and any other boundaries. I especially love being able to interact in our small group setting with the very intelligent, passionate, and diverse group of students that we attract to the program every year.
I’d like to think that along with my couple decades of experience and contacts in field conservation, particularly in central Africa, that I bring an equal amount of enthusiasm and dedication to what the students bring. As a broadly trained mix of conservationist, scientist, veterinarian, biologist, epidemiologist and artist, I think I’m able to work across the different traditional disciplines encompassed in our program and help the students see the importance and value of a trans disciplinary conservation medicine education.
- Cummings School