Contact Information



  • B.S. Biology (equivalent; Vordiplom), Institut fūr Biology, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, München, Germany, 1986-1988
  • DVM (Approbation); Licensure for Practicing Veterinary Medicine., Tiermedizinische Fakultät, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany, 1988-1992
  • Internship in small animal medicine, Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands, 1992
  • Post-graduate program, The Animal Medical Center, New York, USA, 1993
  • Doctoral Dissertation (Ph.D.), Tiermedizinische Fakultät, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany. “Magna cum laude”, 1993-1995
  • Post-doctoral fellowship, School of Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1995-1996
  • Board Certification by the American Board of Veterinary Toxicology Diplomate (ABVT), 1999

Dr. Puschner received her veterinary degree [1992] and her PhD [1995] from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen, Germany. She practiced in mixed and small animal practice before returning to research at the University of Michigan as a post-doctoral fellow. After completing a residency in veterinary toxicology at the University of California, Davis she became board-certified by the American Board of Veterinary Toxicology [1999]. From 2000 to 2018, Dr. Puschner was a faculty member at UC Davis and served as chair of the Department of Molecular Biosciences [2013-2018] in the School of Veterinary Medicine, UC Davis. She served as dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University [2018-2023], and is currently a professor of Toxicology in the Department of Pathobiology and Diagnostic Investigation and the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Michigan State University.

Research/Creativity Focus

Dr. Puschner has a national and international reputation as a diagnostic and research toxicologist who studies the pathophysiologic mechanisms, detection methodology, and public health significance of toxicoses in animals. Her key investigations of new and novel toxicants, poisonous plants, environmental toxins, and algal toxins have led to a large number of high-quality publications in excellent venues, and her work has been well funded by extramural grants. Dr. Puschner’s research reflects sustained contributions to detection and confirmation of toxicants causing animal diseases and mechanistic studies evaluating environmental toxicants, including microcystins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE). In doing so, she has enhanced understanding of the pathophysiology of diseases caused by toxicants, improved methods of toxicant detection, and contributed data of public health significance about animal and human exposures to persistent organic pollutants.

Teaching/Mentoring Focus

Dr. Puschner is heavily engaged in the educational programs at the post-graduate/resident and professional levels. She has a long-standing interest in use of technology to enhance teaching effectiveness and has received awards from UC Davis to develop blended online/face-to-face and fully online courses in pharmacology and toxicology. Dr. Puschner has demonstrated a strong commitment to innovative teaching and mentoring, has served as a graduate advisor for many graduate students in Pharmacology/Toxicology. Trainees in her laboratory, including MS and PhD students, have the opportunity to integrate experimental approaches ranging from analytical chemistry to whole animal studies. Her graduate students and residents have received awards, fellowships, and moved into successful careers.


Dr. Puschner’s early publications directly addressed the correlation of diagnostic findings in the work-up of toxicoses. With the advancement in analytical techniques and tools, diagnostic investigations have made substantial progress since the 1990s and there are reasons to believe that these technologies will continue to enhance analyses of biological matrices. Her publications document the advancement over time and evaluate the impact on diagnostic criteria. By providing evidence of exposure, this body of work has changed the standards for establishing diagnoses and assessing exposure risks and will continue to provide assistance in exposure studies well into the future.

Dr. Puschner directly documented the mechanism of action of melamine and cyanuric acid that led to the so-called melamine scandal in humans and animals. These studies emphasized in vivo approaches to uncover pathogenesis.

Dr. Puschner has also researched adverse health effects following prenatal and early life exposure to PBDEs and PCBs. Both animal and human studies indicate disruption of thyroid homeostasis after either prenatal or postnatal exposure. Numerous studies have reported higher PBDE and PCB levels in North American human biospecimens, wildlife, and environmental samples compared with Europe and elsewhere. Her research has generated data on PCB and PBDE levels in specimens from humans, bovine milk and felines to assess levels and possible exposure sources. The studies in humans are associated with pre-existing risk factors for neurodevelopmental diseases in children.


Dr. Puschner has served on many national and international committees and advisory groups, has been active within the American Board of Veterinary Toxicology, the National Academy of Sciences (Risk-Based Decision Making at the Food and Drug Administration), and the WHO. She currently serves as a reviewer for many journals, and is a member of the Editorial Board of Toxicology Communications.

CVM Articles by Birgit Puschner

Puschner: My First-generation Student Experience - November 12, 2021