Patricia Gaffney, DVM, MPVM, Ph.D., Diplomate ACVP

Director of Disease Investigations

Dr. Patricia Gaffney serves San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance as Director of Disease Investigations. She oversees five labs—Wildlife Pathology, Histology, Molecular Diagnostics, Epidemiology, and Amphibian Disease—which function as a unit to carry out disease investigations for San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance's animal collections and field conservation programs. Her primary research interests include amyloid diseases of mammals, pathology of endangered canids, dynamics of disease on the ecosystem level, and disease risk assessments for recovery programs.

She manages collaborative pathology investigations for field conservation programs and participates in the recovery programs for Hawaiian forest birds, Pacific pocket mice, San Bernardino kangaroo rats, and mountain yellow-legged frogs. She oversees disease surveillance efforts in Northern Kenya, aimed at conservation of the critically endangered Hirola antelope and Grevy’s zebra. Her conservation research with island foxes utilizes proteomics, genomics, bioinformatics, and epidemiology to understand genetic predisposition to disease in bottlenecked species. She serves as pathology advisor to the Island Fox Recovery Team and Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan.

She has a B.S. in animal physiology and neuroscience from the University of California, San Diego, cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa. She received her doctorate in veterinary medicine and master's degree in preventive veterinary medicine from the University of California, Davis. She completed the joint pathology residency program at UC Davis and SDZWA as the Steel Endowed Pathology Resident, and is board certified in anatomic pathology. As the first recipient of the ACVP/STP Linda Munson Fellowship for Wildlife Pathology Research, she earned a Ph.D. in integrative pathobiology from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, followed by NIH-sponsored postdoctoral research at UCSD’s Center for Veterinary Sciences and Comparative Medicine. She has skills in population level infectious disease diagnostics, control and prevention as a former pathologist with the AAVLD certified California Animal Health and Food Safety laboratory system. Professional affiliations include ACVP, AAZV, WDA, and IAAAM.