Auburn College of Veterinary Medicine home to new Animal Health and Agro-/Bio-Defense Program

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Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine is home to the new Animal Health and Agro / Bio-Defense or AHAD program funded by the USDA-Agricultural Research Service or USDA-ARS.

Initial funding for Auburn is $ 647,529 with more than $ 2.5 million planned over the next five years. The partnership is made possible through a collaborative, non-assistance collaboration agreement with the USDA-ARS.

The program will complement and expand the impact of ongoing work in this area as a new element in the national network of US government agencies and land grant universities, focusing primarily on diseases that affect economically important pets and pose a public health or threat Effects represent national security and economic stability on a local, national and global level.

According to Dr. Frank “Skip” Bartol, Alumni Professor and Deputy Dean for Research and Graduate Studies at the College of Veterinary Medicine, who together with Dr. Paul Walz, director of the Department of Pathobiology, which leads AHAD, will position Auburn’s AHAD program to serve as the southern regional node in the Coalition for Epi Response Engagement Science (CERES), which now primarily includes universities in the Midwest and West.

Initially, research in the AHAD space will include a collaborative partnership with scientists from USDA-ARS through the US National Poultry Research Center in Athens, Georgia. This will allow subject matter experts in Auburn to leverage the expertise of colleagues in the federal area and provide access to state-of-the-art biosecurity level 3 facilities required to safely advance animal health and agro / organic product solutions – defense challenges.

The AHAD / ARS partnership will advance the education and training of the next generation of scientists and, according to Bartol, meet a critical need in this important area.

The newly established AHAD program complements and expands the ongoing training of next-generation scientists in Auburn who will define the workforce at the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), which will soon be in Manhattan, Kansas, through the USDA Animal . is opened and training program for scientists of the phytosanitary inspection service.

The NBAF will be the first laboratory facility in the United States to offer a maximum biocontainment space (BSL-4) to enable the study of high-impact zoonoses affecting large farm animals, and will develop vaccines and other medicinal products Countermeasures on a pilot scale to contain threats support agricultural security.

“As part of this nationwide effort, the Auburn AHAD program will expand the mandate and capacity of the College of Veterinary Medicine’s existing animal health research to include research that complements the goals of the USDA and other federal agencies involved in ensuring national safety and security public security. “Said Bartol. “It will work closely with allied federal partners and leverage the capabilities of a National Animal Health Laboratory Network-supported program established at the Alabama State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory adjacent to the Veterinary Campus.

“Auburn’s subject matter experts with significant experience in food animal research already include specialists in internal medicine, virology, immunology, molecular diagnostics, vaccinology and zoonosis. We hope that the establishment of AHAD will enable this program to be expanded further to include the recruitment of an epidemiologist / computer science specialist and one or more microbiomics / pathogenomics specialists. “

AHAD will focus on the bio-defense mission, in line with four strategic areas of the National Bio-Defense Strategy as defined by the USDA-ARS. These areas include predicting the occurrence of pathogens in farm animals and related wildlife; Understand the ecology of exotic, emerging and recurring pathogens; Incident response research; and the development of veterinary countermeasures for the early detection, prevention and treatment of alien and emerging animal diseases.

In addition to working with the US National Poultry Research Center, the AHAD program in Auburn is strengthened by its proximity and engagement with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. The work will advance the USDA-ARS National Program 103 Action Plan, which aims to protect and ensure the country’s agriculture and food supplies through improved disease detection, prevention and control, as well as services as education to this area of ​​national needs center for the next generation of veterinary researchers and basic scientists in animal health.

“Over the years Auburn College of Veterinary Medicine has developed working relationships with a number of federal agencies active in the agro / bio-defense field,” said Bartol. “AHAD will work closely with its partners to accomplish the CERES mission of ‘Protecting and Defending America’s Agricultural Industry from Global Health Threats and innovating for food security now and in the future.'”

(Written by Mike Jernigan)