Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine is home to the new Animal Health and Agro / Bio-Defense (AHAD) program with funding from the USDA-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS).

The program will focus primarily on diseases affecting economically important domestic animals that pose a threat to public health or impact national security and economic stability at local, national and global levels.

The partnership was made possible through a non-assistance cooperative agreement with the USDA-ARS. Auburn’s initial funding is $ 647,529, with planned funding of over $ 2.5 million over the next five years.

Initially, research in the AHAD space will involve a collaborative partnership with USDA-ARS scientists through the United States National Poultry Research Center in Athens, Georgia. This will allow subject matter experts at Auburn to benefit from the expertise of their peers in the federal space and allow access to state-of-the-art Level 3 biosecurity facilities needed to safely advance animal health solutions. and agro- / bio -the challenges of defense.

According to Dr. Frank “Skip” Bartol, former professor and associate dean for research and graduate studies at the College of Veterinary Medicine, who heads AHAD with Dr. Paul Walz, head of the Department of Pathobiology, Auburn’s AHAD program will be positioned to serve as the southern regional node in the Coalition for Epi Response Engagement Science, or CERES, which now primarily includes universities in the Midwest and West.

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

The newly created AHAD program complements and extends the advanced continuing education of next-generation scientists at Auburn who will define the workforce of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, which will soon be opened in Manhattan, Kansas, by the ‘USDA Intermediate-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Scientist Training Program.

The NBAF will be the first laboratory in the United States to provide Maximum Biological Containment Space (BSL-4) to enable the study of high-impact zoonotic diseases affecting large livestock and will support the pilot-scale development of vaccines and other medical countermeasures designed to mitigate threats. to agro-security.

As part of this national effort, Auburn’s AHAD program will expand the mission and capacity of the College of Veterinary Medicine’s existing animal health research to include research complementary to the goals of the USDA and other federal agencies. responsible for ensuring national security and public safety, ”Bartol said. “It will work closely with allied federal space partners and leverage the capabilities of a program supported by the National Animal Health Laboratory Network established at the adjacent Alabama State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. at the veterinary campus.

The AHAD will focus on the biodefense mission, in accordance with the four strategic areas of the national biodefense strategy as identified by the USDA-ARS. These areas include predicting the emergence of pathogens in livestock and associated wildlife; understand the ecology of exotic, emerging and re-emerging pathogens; search for intervention in the event of an incident; and the development of veterinary medical countermeasures for the early detection, prevention and treatment of exotic and emerging animal diseases.

Source: Auburn University

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