Associate Professor Keren Dittmer staff profile picture

Contact details +64 (06) 356 9099  ext. 85233

Associate Professor Keren Dittmer PhD, BVSc, Diplomate ACVP

Associate Professor and Team Manager

School of Veterinary Science

After graduating with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science from Massey University, New Zealand in 2001, Keren spent 4 years in large and small animal practice in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.  In late 2005 she returned to Massey University to do a PhD on inherited rickets in Corriedale sheep, and this was completed in 2008. She is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists and is currently a senior lecturer in both anatomic and clinical veterinary pathology, as well as team manager of pathobiology in the School of Veterinary Science at Massey University. Keren has a particular interest in skeletal pathology, vitamin D and genetic diseases, and has published more than 50 peer-reviewed articles in these areas.  She is a co-author of the Bone and Joints chapter in the 6th edition of Jubb, Kennedy & Palmer’s Pathology of Domestic Animals, the Tumors of bone chapter in the 5th Edition of Tumors of Domestic Animals and the Genetic Diseases of Cattle chapter in the 2nd Edition of Diseases of Cattle in Australasia, plus the author of the Metabolic Bone diseases chapter in the 1st Edition of Small Animal Medicine, and the Inherited Rickets in humans and domestic animals chapter in the 2nd Edition of Brenner’s Encyclopedia of Genetics. She is an Editorial Adviser for the Journal of Comparative Pathology.  Keren was secretary for the NZ Society for Veterinary Pathology for 7 years before retiring in 2019, and is currently secretary of the International Veterinary Pathology Coalition.

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Contact details

  • Ph: +64 6 3569099 extn 85233
    Location: 7.3, Veterinary Tower
    Campus: Turitea


  • Doctor of Philosophy - Massey University (2009)
  • Bachelor of Veterinary Science - Massey University (2002)

Fellowships and Memberships

  • Member, American College of Veterinary Pathologists (Full) (2011)

Research Expertise

Research Interests

Keren Dittmer's current research interests include:

  • vitamin D metabolism in animals - including horses, cattle and sheep, and wildlife
  • FGF23 and the phosphatonin system in veterinary species
  • genetic diseases - including dwarfism (chondrodysplasia) in cattle and sheep, episodic ataxia in sheep, retinal degeneration in sheep, segmental axonopathy in sheep, cataracts in cattle, inherited rickets in sheep, lysosomal storage disease in dogs
  • angular limb deformities and osteochondrosis in deer
  • humeral fractures in dairy cows - see our facebook page @masseyheiferfracture
  • bone issues associated with fodder beet feeding
  • dropped hock syndrome in dairy cows
  • osteoporosis in sheep
  • bone tumours in dogs
  • osteoarthritis in horses
  • bone growth and development in farm animals


21st Century Citizenship, Health and Well-being, Future Food Systems

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Agricultural And Veterinary Sciences (070000): Veterinary Pathology (070709): Veterinary Sciences (070700)



Skeletal pathology

Vitamin D

Fibroblast growth factor 23

Congenital skeletal abnormalities

Genetic or inherited diseases



Research Projects

Summary of Research Projects

Position Current Completed
Not Specified 0 1
Project Leader 2 12
Team Member 0 2

Completed Projects

Project Title: Feline haemoplasma infections in New Zealand

Haemoplasmas are small bacteria that sit on the surface of red blood cells and infect a wide variety of mammalian species, including humans. Haemoplasma infection in cats has the potential to cause a severe, life threatening anaemia. Three haemoplasma species have been identified in cats, Candidatus Mycoplasma haemominutum (CMhm), Mycoplasma haemofelis (Mhf) and Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis (CMt), each with variable ability to cause disease, response to antimicrobial therapy and ability to form a carrier state. The aim of this study was to evaluate feline haemoplasma prevalence, and determine any associations between haemoplasma infection and possible risk factors, in a convenience sample of New Zealand domestic cats. DNA was extracted from 200 surplus feline blood samples submitted to a diagnostic laboratory for routine haematology over a 12 month period. Testing identified 62 cats (31 %) that were positive for haemoplasma DNA; 49 (24.5 %) for CMhm, 15 (7.5 %) for Mhf, and 9 (4.5 %) for CMt. Twelve of the positive cats had dual infections; 11 CMhm/Mhf and one CMhm/CMt. Twenty cats (10 %) were feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) positive and 11 cats (5.5 %) were feline leukaemia virus positive. Positive FIV status, male gender and non-pedigree breed were significantly associated with haemoplasma infection. The results of this study demonstrate that New Zealand feline haemoplasma prevalence correlates with previous overseas studies, with CMhm being the most common infection. This is the first report of CMt in New Zealand.
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Date Range: 2009 - 2011

Funding Body: Massey University

Project Team:

Research Outputs

Teaching and Supervision

Teaching Statement

227.411 Veterinary Anatomic and Clinical Pathology II

BVSc V Necropsy roster

193.204 Pathology for Veterinary Technologists

193.303 Advanced Clinical Studies

Courses Coordinated

  • 193.204 Pathology for Veterinary Technologists

Summary of Doctoral Supervision

Position Current Completed
Supervisor 1 1
Co-supervisor 2 2

Current Doctoral Supervision

Supervisor of:

Co-supervisor of:

  • Michaela Gibson - Doctor of Philosophy
    Growth and development of dairy Heifers
  • Luca Panizzi - Doctor of Philosophy
    Biomarker profiling of biologic fluids and tissues from horses with induced carpal osteoarthritis

Completed Doctoral Supervision

Supervisor of:

  • 2017 - Sara Azarpeykan - Doctor of Philosophy
    Vitamin D and Calcium Metabolism In Horses in New Zealand

Co-supervisor of:

  • 2019 - Komkiew Pinpimai - Doctor of Philosophy
    Klebsiella pneumoniae in New Zealand sea lions
  • 2017 - Neroli Thomson - Doctor of Philosophy
    Felis catus Papillomavirus Type 2 Infection and Skin Cancer in Domestic Cats

Media and Links


  • 23 May 2016 - Magazine
    Equine globe-trotters may feel effects of jet lag
    Article mentioned in horsetalk
  • 04 Sep 2019 - Online
    Foals having fun
    Foals having fun: There’s a serious side to all that frolicking
  • 04 Apr 2016 - Magazine
    Jet Lag and Circadian Rhythms
    Mentioned in an article for Equine News
  • 01 Nov 2019 - Online
    Bull Management

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