Lincoln, Neb. —Bruce Brodersen, director of the Nebraska Veterinary Diagnostic Center (NVDC) and professor of veterinary medicine, retired Feb. 28 after 31 years of service to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Brodersen joined what was then called the Department of Veterinary Science, now the School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, in 1985 as a graduate student and pathology resident. He began his work toward a master’s and then a Ph.D. and was hired as an instructor at UNL in 1992. He was ultimately promoted to professor.
His graduate work focused on respiratory diseases of cattle, including bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV), one of the costliest cattle diseases worldwide. While writing his dissertation, he read a journal article that demonstrated if a calf was persistently infected with BVDV, the virus could be found in any tissue. Brodersen believed ear notches, obtained more easily than blood or other tissue, could be used as a specimen. He pioneered a BVDV immunohistochemistry test for ear notches that reduced the turnaround time for results from several weeks to the next day. This test is recognized by the beef industry as a top achievement in cattle health.
Brodersen brought to UNL a strong background in swine health, having worked as a veterinarian in a practice with a caseload that was 70 percent swine. As part of the NVDC, he collaborated with researchers working to develop vaccines for swine. For 13 years, he chaired the popular George A. Young Swine Conference for producers.
In early 2019, Brodersen was named director of the NVDC. Under his leadership, the NVDC became a Level I National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) lab, elevating the status of the laboratory and opening avenues for increased funding.
A significant change for the NVDC came in September 2020 when Brodersen received a phone call from the chancellor’s office asking if the NVDC could set up a lab for SARS-CoV-2 testing of students, faculty, and staff. Doing so required outfitting empty lab space with the needed equipment, obtaining Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certification to allow the samples to be processed, and hiring over 40 people to staff the lab. In three months, it was operational with a capacity to test 5,000 samples per day with a turn-around time of 24 hours or less.
Brodersen had a lasting impact as a professor of pathology in the UNL Professional Program in Veterinary Medicine. Students named him Faculty of the Year in 2019.
“Dr. Brodersen is an excellent advocate to veterinary students,” said one current veterinary student. “He always made sure to include us on cases to gain hands-on learning experiences. Above that, Dr. Brodersen checked in and cared about our well-being as individuals.”
The Nebraska Veterinary Medical Association selected Brodersen for the Distinguished Service Award and named him Veterinarian of the Year.
“I always liked what I did,” Brodersen said of his time at UNL, “because I could stay connected with practitioners and develop relationships with them. I liked the people I worked with and the students, who become colleagues. It’s the relationships that make everything worthwhile.”
“Dr. Brodersen has had an amazing career as a veterinarian, veterinary pathologist, and as an excellent director of the Nebraska Veterinary Diagnostic Center,” said Scott McVey, director of the School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “Through all of this he was also a great colleague, teacher and mentor.”
Dustin Loy will serve as the next NVDC director.