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NAFV Unsung Veterinary Excellence Award - CAPT Sean Altekruse

NAFV Unsung Veterinary Excellence Award - CAPT Sean Altekruse

Human Resources News

CAPT Sean Altekruse, DVM, MPH, PhD, Diplomat AVCPM, Epidemiology Specialty Board 

     The National Association of Federal Veterinarians is pleased to announce the awarding of the Unsung Veterinary Excellence Award to CAPT. Sean Altekruse, retired. Dr. Alterkruse was nominated by CAPT. Marvin L. Thomas for his substantial contributions to the veterinary field across multiple federal agencies over thirty years of service with the Commissioned Corps of the United States Public Health Service.

     CAPT Altekruse has continuously learned and applied new skills before and during his 30 years of service in the PHS. At a school in Northern Ireland he completed a year of college courses in English, Chemistry, and Biology. Two years later he earned a certificate in Biological Science at the University of Canterbury while abroad from the University of South Carolina. During veterinary school at the University of Georgia he externed at the Columbia Zoo, Plum Island and CDC. 

     As a new veterinarian he interned in the Animal Resources Program and studied public health at the University of South Carolina, with an MPH thesis on rabies serology in racoon trappers. As a USDA Public Veterinary Practice Career Program Officer in 1999, he studied brucellosis in Alabama then transferred to APHIS Headquarters in Hyattsville to work on control of foodborne Salmonella infections from eggs.  His work linking human salmonellosis to implicated farms led the way to the USDA Salmonella taskforce. 

     CAPT Altekruse received a U.S. Public Health Service Commission in 1991, with the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, where he worked on Salmonella control and nutritional label rules. He was acting Epidemiology Branch Chief for 1.5 years before serving in Atlanta as FDA’s liaison to CDC for Foodborne Diseases from 1994-1998. At CDC he coordinated interagency response to human infections from eggs, produce, dairy, and seafood and published research on emerging foodborne diseases. Since CFSAN also regulates cosmetics, he collaborated with American Cancer Society epidemiologists in Atlanta on studies of hair dye use and cancer.  In 1998, Sean began a three-year PHS Epidemiology Fellowship with the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine. During those years he completed his PhD dissertation in Veterinary Medical Sciences at Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland and published resulting research on bacterial subtyping, antimicrobial resistance, and a Bayesian model to study pathogenic E. coli in turkeys. At CVM, he also worked on regulation to halt the emergence of fluoroquinolone resistant campylobacters and establish retail surveillance for foodborne pathogens.  

     From 2001-2004, Sean worked on a National Cancer Institute vaccine trial that led to FDA approval of the GSK human papillomavirus vaccine. From 2004-2009 he worked at the Food Safety and Inspection Service to design new Salmonella performance standards for meat and poultry, for which he received the USDA Secretary’s Award and PHS Outstanding Service Medal. In his next tour, as an epidemiologist at NCI from 2009-2016, he reached his 150th publication milestone. For his commitment to mentorship and his success in building an NCI cancer registry biospecimen repository he received the PHS Veterinarian of the Year Award and PHS Meritorious Service Medal. Since 2016, he has led the Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute MACS/WIHS study of comorbidities associated with HIV, coordinating with 14 NIH Institutes to award $100 M to MACS/WIHS research per year, including $4 M for COVID-19 in 2020.  

     After a meritorious career, CAPT Altekruse retired from the PHS in March 2021.  In recognition of his substantial contributions across multiple agencies over 30 years and his gentle personal character, I wholeheartedly recommend CAPT Altekruse for the 2020 NAFV Unsung Veterinarian of the Year Award.


The Unsung Veterinarian award recognizes federal veterinarians who have positively influenced a program or organization from behind the scenes with a positive attitude, a willingness to help in whatever capacity necessary, and a commitment to excellence. The Unsung VeterinarianAward is presented to an individual who performed their job in an extraordinary manner; who has made a substantive yet unrecognized contribution to his/her organization, public health,or society as a whole. 

The award is broad in its reach and by design meant to recognize those not usually recognized through traditional awards criteria. The nominee must have contributed behind the scenes with their skill, time, and effort towards furthering the vision, mission and strategy of the agency and/or NAFV. Nominations must be submitted by NAFV members.  Those chosen are special people who go out of their way to improve procedures or help their fellow peers without expecting extra pay, praise, or recognition. 

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