Dr. Gregory Juda was recently appointed lab director by the Montana Department of Livestock. As director, Juda will oversee managing the state’s only Veterinary Diagnostic Lab (VDL) located in Bozeman, Mont.
Juda comes into the position with ample experience in quality systems management. He received his undergrad from Virginia Tech and his Ph.D in Biochemistry from Montana State University. After conducting a brief postdoc, he took a position with a company based out of Belgrade, Mont., known as Xtant Medical. He held various positions with the company, starting out as a bench scientist and then in 2012 he became chief scientific officer. He was promoted again in 2017 to general manager of the operation.
“One of the key things we are excited about is Dr. Juda is really our first full-time administrator and manager. Having him on board gives us a unique opportunity to have someone with a science and managerial background who can commit his full efforts to making this lab operate as efficiently as possible,” Montana State Veterinarian Marty Zaluski said.
Juda is joining the VDL during an exciting time. The lab is looking for ways to expand their client base and do more outreach. In addition, the Montana Department of Livestock is exploring the idea of constructing a new facility, one that would replace the aging Marsh Laboratory where the VDL is currently held. The Marsh Lab, located across from the Montana State University campus, was constructed in 1961.
The idea of a new facility is still in the preliminary stages. There have been some bills passed during the recent Montana Legislative Session that have generated initial funding for the project. An engineering study has produced some preliminary schematics for a potential lab, however, nothing is definitive yet. The majority of efforts have been applied to solidifying funding, and once that becomes concrete, designing and eventually construction can take place.
Currently, the VDL serves as a tremendous resource to producers and veterinarians around the state, offering key diagnostic services. The lab provides a wide range of testing and even offers a milk lab for Montana’s dairy producers. A large portion of the lab is dedicated to serology, the diagnostic examination of blood serum. The Montana VDL tests over 90,000 blood samples a year from cattle associated with Montana’s designated surveillance areas (DSA). Coggins testing for horses is also performed in this section.
The VDL continues to find better ways to serve their customers and recently, they developed a web portal where producers and veterinarians have the ability to obtain test results much quicker.
“Moving forward you are going to be able to see several changes like that. We are developing an online submission for people that are more tech savvy. It’s going to simplify the sample submission process and automatically enter the data into our database,” Juda explained.
Further, the lab is working on a modifying their written submission forms into a fillable PDF and converting to flat-rate shipping. Having a standardized shipping rate will make billing and invoicing much easier for the VDL.
“We are wanting the lab to become more customer-centric and put more of a marketing focus on the lab itself,” stated Juda.
Both Dr. Juda and Dr. Zaluski are looking to the future with anticipation. They hope to accentuate what the lab is already doing and continue to build on its services. The goal is to better communicate with producers and veterinarians while increasing the lab’s efficiency.
“Look for more great things from the MVDL,” Zaluski concluded.