Michael J. Blackwell, DVM, MPH

Dr. Michael Blackwell
James Berglie/For The HSUS

Dr. Blackwell has had a distinguished career in public service and as an educator. He was educated at Tuskegee University in Alabama, obtaining both a Bachelor of Science degree and a doctorate of veterinary medicine. After private veterinary practice, he took a post with the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. During his 20 years with the FDA, Blackwell served in both its human and veterinary medicine branches. He served as chief of the Restorative Devices Branch and as chief of the Investigational Device Exemptions Staff of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health. During his last five years with the agency, Blackwell served as deputy director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine.

From 1994 to 1998, Blackwell served as the chief veterinarian of the United States Public Health Service. In this role, he was the chief advisor to the Surgeon General of the United States. He became the chief of staff of the Office of the Surgeon General, managing day-to-day operations of the office. In 1997, Blackwell was promoted to the rank of Assistant Surgeon General (Rear Admiral) of the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service.

Blackwell left the Office of the Surgeon General to become the dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He led the college for eight years, during which he aggressively promoted the role of veterinary medicine in public health and also served as vice chair of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production from 2006 through 2008. He followed that experience by working to reorganize the animal shelter for the Knoxville region.

Dr. Blackwell has received numerous awards, among them the Distinguished Service Medal, the highest personal honor award of the USPHS, as well as the Meritorious Service Medal, the second highest personal honor award. In addition, Blackwell twice received the Surgeon General's Exemplary Service Medal.

He is currently the Senior Director of Veterinary Policy and chief veterinary spokesperson for The Humane Society of the United States. Dr. Blackwell also serves on the USDA Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Animal Health, and is a member of the HSVMA Board of Directors.

Learn about Dr. Blackwell's views on the role of the veterinary profession in promoting animal welfare»