Pomeroy Chair in Avian Health
The Pomeroy Chair in Avian Health was created in May 1985 in honor of Professor Emeritus Benjamin Pomeroy (1911 – 2004). The only endowed poultry chair in the U.S., it is associated with the College of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Sciences and the College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Pomeroy’s accomplishments include groundbreaking work that helped control salmonella, mycoplasma, and other potentially devastating infection that once threatened the poultry industry.
Support for this chair has come from many friends and professionals in the agricultural industry, including the late Robert Sparboe, a longtime advocate for and friend of the University who generously lent his time, resources, and expertise to several areas of the University.
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Carol Cardona, D.V.M., Ph.D., joined the University as the Pomeroy Chair in Avian Health on March 1, 2010. Dr. Cardona, an expert in avian influenza and other viral diseases in poultry, succeeds Dr. Jagdev Sharma, who retired in January 2009 after holding the Pomeroy Chair for more than two decades, during which time he invented the in ovo vaccine delivery system that benefited the poultry industry worldwide.
In addition to her expertise in avian influenza, Dr. Cardona is interested in zoonoses (infectious diseases that are transmitted between animals and humans) and the role that poultry play in human health and well being, especially in developing countries. She also serves as codirector/coprincipal investigator of the Minnesota Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance at the University.
As the Pomeroy Chair, Dr. Cardona collaborates with practitioners in Minnesota’s poultry industry, other scientists and veterinarians, and the Minnesota Board of Animal Health. Through this outreach work and the partnerships that result from it, she is able to advance strategic apporaches to animal health and well-being that would be beyond the reach of an individual researcher.
Dr. Cardona has thus identified three critical large-scale issues—gut health, respiratory health, and animal welfare—for the Pomeroy Chair to focus on with its partners, and projects for each of these issues currently are underway.
The health of the gastrointestinal system of poultry is critical to their ability to grow or produce eggs. Thus, gut health is arguably the most important health-related issue in food production. Understanding and improving gut health is a key initiative I have undertaken as the Pomeroy Chair.
Respiratory health is another critically important area for avian species, particularly those raised in large groups. The respiratory systems of birds are unique and the process of domestication has resulted in a low respiratory capacity to body size ratio in meat birds. The result is that respiratory health is important to achieving bird productivity and well-being and is a significant direction for the Pomeroy Chair.
There is a movement today toward a social contract with producers to provide humanely raised animals for food. The change in how to raise animals has been both resisted and embraced by veterinarians. The public looks to veterinary professionals in their communities for guidance, and on a day to day basis, veterinarians are the guardians of animal welfare. Addressing a veterinary approach to animal welfare is a critical direction for the Pomeroy Chair.