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Department of Veterinary Medicine

Cambridge Veterinary School

The Department of Veterinary Medicine offers an outstanding environment for world-class research that maintains a portfolio of excellence in veterinary science, fully integrated with the wider University of Cambridge. Our researchers are drawn from a breadth of disciplines, encompassing human and veterinary medicine, fundamental biology, translational research and mathematics. We strive to promote a culture that actively exploits new methodologies, developing expertise to address the priorities and ambitions of stakeholders in animal health, agriculture, public health, and veterinary medicine for the benefit of society.

Since 2014 our Unit has pursued a research strategy that builds on existing strengths and research priorities leading to a substantial growth in research activity, evidenced by increases in research income, industrial collaborations, new spinout companies, key appointments, and new investments in research infrastructure. A sustained effort and investment in targeted support has led to a substantial increase in research funding from £4.4M in 2014 to £6.34M in 2020 (exceeding £7M in 2019), with large awards in areas of international strategic importance from BBSRC, DfID, MRC, Innovate UK, Wellcome Trust, and industry. Our research laboratories, fully embedded within the outstanding core facilities of the University of Cambridge, provide the environment, equipment and support for world class research in disease and infection biology. This includes access to state of the art equipment and facilities across the University. We have extensive local, national and international collaborations including in Europe, USA, Africa and China.

An interdisciplinary, collaborative environment

The majority of researchers are housed in our Department’s buildings on the University’s West Cambridge Site – primarily a physical sciences and technology campus, offering opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaborations with Engineering, Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. Other researchers are based across the Schools of Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences and Clinical Medicine as part of intra-university collaborations and interdisciplinary research. Our researchers are supported in the development of external opportunities for interdisciplinary and comparative biomedical research, and are strongly encouraged to integrate with the excellent local research laboratories in cognate disciplines.

Cambridge’s global reputation in Veterinary Medicine recognised in REF 2021


The results from the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF) have highlighted the global impact of Cambridge’s research in the field of Veterinary Medicine.


91% of the Department’s overall submissions within the Agriculture, Food and Veterinary Sciences Unit of Assessment have been rated as ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, demonstrating the major impact that researchers in our department are making every day.

The REF is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions and is undertaken by the four UK higher education funding bodies, including Research England.

Among the data submitted by universities and other institutions are case studies that describe the impact of their research – where they have made a difference to society, health, the economy, for example.

The Department of Veterinary Medicine returned some 63 researchers to the REF (51.9 FTE), an increase of 50% compared to the previous exercise in 2014. The overall weighted score for the Cambridge submission to the Unit of Assessment was 50% 4* and 41% 3* (91% 3* or 4*, up from 80% in the 2014 REF). Within the unit of assessment, 52% of Cambridge’s research outputs were awarded the highest rating of 4* overall, meaning they are ‘world-leading’. This is double the number from the 2014 REF (26%). A further 41% of outputs were rated 3* overall (internationally excellent).

The average output score – the ‘grade point average’ – for Veterinary Medicine has increased to 3.4 reflecting the high quality of the researchers and their outputs in the Department. This compares to 3.0 in 2014.

Impact case studies were submitted as examples of how our research makes a difference including research on bovine tuberculosis, antibiotic resistance, improving the health of dog breeds and veterinary diagnostics, which were scored at 90% 4* and 3*.

Professor James Wood, Head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine, said:

The outcome of this exercise has demonstrated that real improvements have been achieved in veterinary medicine since the last evaluation in 2014.  The outputs and impacts of our work have been scored very highly which is a direct result of the talent and hard work of our researchers.  We took a very inclusive approach to submitting everyone eligible, particularly ensuring that the contributions made by early career researchers and senior research associates were fully recognised in our return. In all, the results demonstrate that Cambridge researchers continue to deliver excellence in research that creates real impact for society. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their sustained contribution over the last 7 years.

Professor Anne Ferguson-Smith, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, added: I would like to congratulate and thank everyone who has taken part in this year’s REF for all their hard work, which we believe has paid off in these results. What we see today is not just the excellence of Cambridge research, but also the breadth of its impact, with researchers across many disciplines bringing a fresh perspective on how we tackle major problems facing our world today.” For the purpose of the REF, each academic discipline is assigned to one of 30 out of a possible 34 units of assessment such as Clinical Medicine, Chemistry, Business and Management Studies and Philosophy. Each unit is judged by three criteria – outputs (such as publications, performances, and exhibitions), their impact, and the environment that supports research.