The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

Dr George Gunn

George Gunn is an excellent example of the wide variety of careers available to our exceptionally talented graduates who gain a first degree in veterinary medicine.

A man and woman in acedemic robes

Early Years

George was born and brought up on the Shetland Islands. His father was a shepherd, working on the same farm for all of his working life. That farm was where George spent his childhood learning about sheep, cattle and crops.

In September 1968, George left Shetland for the first time to study at the Dick Vet. At the age of eighteen, on his 18 hour journey to Edinburgh, George was to see trains, traffic lights and double-decker buses for the first time.

Practice and disease control

During his studies, George gained a great appreciation for the range of opportunities available to him. His main ambition had always been to become a large animal practitioner and he spent his first three years in practice, in Stonehaven, and then in Cupar.

George then moved to the Ministry of Agriculture as a Veterinary Officer based in Stafford. During his six years there, he worked on the control of various endemic diseases such as sheep scab, TB and brucellosis.

The training and experience that he acquired during these early years fired a passion in George for disease control, resulting in a move to the pharmaceutical industry as a technical adviser.

He initially worked for The Wellcome Foundation, then moved to Coopers Animal Health and on to Janssen - the pharmaceutical arm of Johnson & Johnson (J&J).

Commercial career

He was then persuaded to join the commercial side of J&J where he successfully managed businesses in the UK, Ireland, Belgium and ultimately across Europe. His experience extended from animal health to human pharmaceuticals and from over-the-counter medicines to nutraceuticals.

After fifteen years at J&J, he left to become President of Pharmacia Animal Health, based in Michigan. In the three years that he led this business, Pharmacia Animal Health became the fastest growing company in the industry.

He then moved to Switzerland to Novartis to lead their global Animal Health business. In less than five years, their pipeline has been transformed, and the business has now grown from number eight to number five in the worldwide rankings, exceeding one billion dollars in annual sales.

George’s career has involved him in a number of industry and public organisations. He is the current Chairman of the International Federation of Animal Health - the global body which represents the worldwide Animal Health industry.


He has earned a number of industry and corporate accolades, including the 2002 Chairman’s Leadership Award at Pharmacia and the 2006 Talent Excellence Award at Novartis.

George has recognised and grasped the opportunities given to him by his broad-based training, and his horizon has not been limited. We are proud that he graduated from our School.