Leman Chair in Swine Health and Productivity
The Allen D. Leman chair in Swine Health and Productivity was established in 1995 to honor the career of an outstanding faculty member at the University of Minnesota. The position comes with the expectation that it will significantly influence how the swine industry adapts to change. In addition, this individual will be expected to act as a catalyst for innovation and change within the University of Minnesota swine faculty. The chair is considered to be one of the most prestigious faculty positions in the world involving swine medicine. The position is one of great significance to the swine industry of Minnesota.
In May 2009, Dr. Montserrat Torremorell, D.V.M., Ph.D., joined the College of Veterinary Medicine’s faculty as the Allen D. Leman Chair in Swine Health and Productivity. Dr. Torremorell has a long relationship with the U of M, having received her Ph.D. from the College of Veterinary Medicine in 1999, working with the late Dr. Carlos Pijoan.
“The Leman Chair is a great platform because it combines research and outreach. Dr. Leman was a great advocate for the industry, and to honor his legacy I strive to conduct impactful research to help producers and veterinarians. I also strive to make this research accessible through outreach initiatives and to bring together people to discuss and advance on the issues faced by the industry.”
Describing the 2010–2011 academic year, she says, “It’s been a very busy year!” Working with a team of four Ph.D. students, she continues to expand her research on influenza, its transmission in pigs, and the ways that viruses spread and are maintained in pig populations. She also devotes significant time to address Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), which continues to be a serious concern for producers in Minnesota.
Dr. Torremorell’s research will help scientists and producers better understand the epidemiology and ecology of flu in pigs, and ultimately will help producers and veterinarians make better decisions to control flu and mitigate its impact.
“Our research findings are just starting to provide the answers necessary to address flu more effectively,” she says. “In the next year, I hope that our results will significantly change how we view flu, and that they might become the foundation to address flu more efficiently in the field. We certainly do not want to see repeated what happened in the last pandemic and our research is crucial to help producers and veterinarians deal with flu.”
PRRS Elimination Work
During the past year, Dr. Torremorell has helped develop the infrastructure to move forward with the Voluntary PRRS Regional Elimination Program in Minnesota. “PRRS virus is costing producers significant money, and elimination of the virus will only be possible if we—meaning producers, researchers, and industry— all work together,” she says. Dr. Torremorell welcomes the opportunity to partner with producers in their efforts to eliminate the virus, and looks forward to expanding the program to new areas next year.
Major Activities in the 2009-2010 Academic Year
• NIH-funded project in response to the flu pandemic. The project furthers understanding of how flu virus transmits and the factors that affect its transmission, including the role of vaccines.
• Project with Dr. Joni Scheftel from the Minnesota Department of Health to better understand the risk of influenza transmission between pigs and people.
• Organized several meetings bringing together Minnesota practitioners with public health officials and academics to provide a forum for discussing sensitive issues, such as influenza.
“I’m very proud of the graduate students and professional students here at the University. They all bring a tremendous amount of energy and creativity that significantly propels our research findings and our swine education.
“I’m also very proud of the faculty at the College of Veterinary Medicine who share the common vision to help our producers and veterinarians to have healthier systems for swine.”
Dr. Montserrat Torremorell