Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Suzan Murray, DVM, DACZM

Program Director, Smithsonian Wildlife Health program

Dr. Murray heads the Smithsonian’s Wildlife Health program, which will address urgent global needs and opportunities in emerging diseases and conservation medicine. Already Smithsonian scientists are engaged in a variety of studies related to climate change, biodiversity, and wildlife health, and by adding a field veterinary component, we can enhance the scope of such efforts exponentially through the collection of more critical data from a different but inextricably linked dimension.

Dr. Murray is the Smithsonian Institution’s principal investigator on a prestigious USAID Emerging Pandemic Threats program which combines wildlife surveillance and international training in the quest to predict and prevent the next major emerging pandemic threat to humans. She is a member of the federal Foreign Animal Disease Threats subcommittee of Office of Science and Technology Policy which helps protect US agriculture from animal diseases. Her team helped respond to and mitigate the effects of the Gulf Oil Spill in 2011, and she recently received an internal Grand Challenges award to help foster internal Smithsonian Institution cooperation and joint research in conservation medicine and wildlife health. With current demands and the increasing recognition of the effects of global climate change and emerging infectious diseases, the demand for her team’s expertise and services have increased dramatically.

Dr. Murray created a veterinary SWAT team capable of responding to wildlife emergencies globally—from removing a poacher’s snare from an endangered gorilla to assisting elephant training programs in Myanmar. The demand for her team’s time and expertise has continued to grow, Recent examples of this growing interest include trips to Vietnam and Bhutan to provide pathology and wildlife training and surveillance techniques, a trip to China to help develop preventative medicine and diagnostic protocols for giant pandas, trips to Mpala Ranch in Kenya to support primate field research and to enhance relationships with Kenya Wildlife Services, and the development of a wildlife pathology laboratory in Uganda.

These critical endeavors have generated acclaim and have helped further define and position the Smithsonian as a global leader in wildlife health.

Dr. Murray was SCBI’s chief wildlife veterinarian for more than 13 years, where she managed the international veterinary work and helped to create and foster Smithsonian’s International Veterinary Training program–a unique initiative in which veterinarians from developing nations come to the United States to learn the latest techniques in wildlife diagnostics, surveillance and treatment.