When it comes to equine reproduction, no name rings louder than Dickson Varner, DVM, PhD, DACT. The author of more than 500 manuscripts, research abstracts and textbook chapters relating to horse reproduction, Varner is one of the most widely respected theriogenologists in the world, having delivered numerous lectures on horse reproduction nationally and internationally. He is an authority in all aspects of equine reproduction, from fertility issues to assisted reproductive techniques.
Now, Varner will bring his expertise to the faculty of the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo as a visiting professor of theriogenology. He began his duties on November 1.
"I am quite excited to be part of a program that has as primary goals the graduation of practice-ready veterinarians and a steadfast focus on the rural and regional communities of Texas," Varner said. "Only good things can emerge from this educational approach. These are exhilarating times for the veterinary profession."
Varner recently retired after spending the past 34 years on the faculty of the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, working his way from assistant professor to serving the past 19 years as the Pin Oak Stud Chair of Stallion Reproductive Studies and Director of the Equine Reproduction Laboratory.
He still travels worldwide as a consultant on stallion reproduction.
"Dr. Varner is the world's leader in stallion fertility," said Dr. Kurt Harris, a veterinarian, Texas Tech University alumnus and former Masked Rider. "Dr. Varner and his lab have made more advances in mare and stallion fertility over the past 30 years than any institution in the world. His passion to educate and develop veterinary students and practitioners along with his knowledge in equine theriogenology will instantly put the Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine on a world stage."
Since 1992, Varner also served a joint appointment in the Department of Animal Science in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and since 1995 was a member of the interdisciplinary faculty of reproductive biology.
He earned his bachelor's degree and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Missouri and spent four years (1978-1981) practicing in Lexington, Kentucky, before completing a two-year residency in animal reproduction at the University of Pennsylvania. He spent the next three years as a lecturer at Penn before begin named Director of the Hoffman Center for Reproductive Studies in 1983 and the Director of Endometrial Biopsy Interpretation Service in 1984.
Varner then joined the Texas A&M faculty in 1986 and earned his Master's degree in veterinary anatomy in 1990.
"During his time at Texas A&M, Dr. Varner impacted the lives of many, many students. It is hard to imagine we have such an iconic individual as part of this already great team," said Britt Conklin, associate dean for clinical programs and a former student of Varner. "Dr. Varner is beloved by almost every student who has been under his instruction. He is a true professional and a man of integrity, and I couldn't be more excited to see him here at Texas Tech."
Among his numerous publishing credits, he has authored or co-authored the textbooks, "Diseases and Management of Breeding Stallions" and "Manual on Equine Reproduction" as well as serving as co-editor of the two-volume textbook "Equine Reproduction."
He has presented at the Milne Lecture for the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the Bain Fallon Memorial Lecture for the Australian Equine Veterinary Association, the AndroFest for the International Symposium on Spermatology, and the Nick Mills Memorial Lecture for the Lloyd's Market Association.
"Dr. Dickson Varner is one of the very best," said Guy Loneragan, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine. "In addition to all his expertise, Dr. Varner also brings an incredibly deep sense of place and community to the school. The West is alive and well—and thriving—in Dr. Varner. Not only does he get our mission, he lives our mission. Our faculty, staff and students will benefit in so many wonderful ways from having Dr. Varner part of our school."
A Diplomate of the American College of Theriogenologists since 1984, Varner also has served as past president of that College as well as earning the organization's Theriogenologist of the Year Award in 2002 and the Bartlett Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theriogenology in 2016. He was inducted into the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Hall of Fame in 2018.
In addition to the American College of Theriogenologists, Varner also is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the Society for Theriogenology and the American Society of Andrology.
"As an equine reproduction veterinarian myself, I am beyond thrilled that Dickson can join our team," said Dr. John Dascanio, senior associate dean for academic and student affairs. "I had the opportunity to be taught by Dickson at the University of Pennsylvania, and I have worked with him through the American College of Theriogenologists and the Society for Theriogenology over the years. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, combined with the respect of his peers that is unequaled. He is a great teacher, mentor and researcher who will help to take the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine to new heights."
Varner joins a growing and vibrant team of faculty and staff at the School of Veterinary Medicine. Additional team members will continue to be added over the next few months as the school prepares to welcome its inaugural class in the fall of 2021.
About the School of Veterinary Medicine
Thanks to the generosity of Amarillo and communities across Texas, and the commitment of legislators from around the state, the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo was established in 2018. In September, the school was granted a Letter of Reasonable Assurance from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Council on Education and has begun the admissions process in preparation for classes to begin in August.
The School of Veterinary Medicine will recruit and select students with a passion to serve rural and regional communities. Its curriculum is focused on the competencies and skills necessary for success in practice types that support these communities. Texas Tech's innovative and cost-efficient model partners with the wider community of veterinary practices across the state to provide clinical, real-world experiential learning.