USDA Awards Major Grant to U of M
Contact: Molly Portz, Academic Health Center, 612-625-2640
Jan Williams, College of Veterinary Medicine, 612-624-6228
U OF M Named USDA
To Study Devastating Cattle And Swine Diseases
MINNEAPOLIS/ST.PAUL (April 14, 2004) - The University of Minnesota has received the two largest grants ever to be awarded for animal disease research from the United States Department of Agriculture, Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service. The grants, totaling $8.8 million over four years, are to study Johne?s disease in cattle and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome in swine.
"Minnesota has been nationally recognized for its expertise in these diseases for many years," said Jeffrey Klausner, D.V.M., M.S., dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. "We take great pride in our outstanding faculty members, who distinguish themselves both for scientific leadership and for their commitment to building a healthy agricultural economy."
Johne's disease (JD) is a bacterial infection in cattle and ruminants (sheep, goats, and deer) that causes chronic gastrointestinal inflammation.Because of the significant economic impact of JD, the National Research Council of the National Academy of Science urged the USDA to designate JD a high priority problem and allocate substantial resources to its study and prevention. Approximately 40 percent of all dairy farms in the United States are infected with the bacterium that causes JD, resulting in more than a billion dollars of economic loss every year. The impact is especially severe in larger dairy herds, and is estimated to cost up to $200 per year for each cow in the herd.Several studies also suggest a link between the bacterium that causes JD and a severe autoimmune disease, Crohn?s disease, in humans.
The JD project is led by Vivek Kapur, BVSc, Ph.D., professor of microbiology at the Medical School and co-director of the University?s Biomedical Genomics Center, and includes several University faculty members from the Colleges of Veterinary Medicine, Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, and the Institute for Technology.A total of 72 researchers from 23 other universities, state and federal governmental agencies, and stakeholder groups (such as the National Milk Producers Federation and the National Cattlemen?s Beef Association) will also participate.
The research goals are to understand how JD is transmitted; to develop new diagnostic tools to track the disease in herds; to study how JD progresses; and to develop a vaccine or methods of boosting herd immunity.
"We have brought together leading scientists in the field to form a comprehensive, multi-institutional, interdisciplinary collaboration that is committed to using cutting-edge tools to finding solutions to better diagnose, treat, prevent, and control JD.We aim to help reduce the timelines for translating basic science research into useful products and procedures for this devastating malady," said Vivek Kapur, principal investigator of the project.
Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS)
Identified by the National Pork Board as the most serious infectious disease facing pork producers, PRRS virus causes severe reproductive failure in sows and pneumonia in growing pigs, resulting in slow and stunted growth.Annual farm losses from PRRS are estimated at $600 million nationwide.
Crucial elements researchers need to better understand are how PRRS arrives on a farm, how it spreads among pigs, and how pigs resist infection.Researchers need to develop better diagnostic tools to track the PRRS virus and to measure the immunity of the herd.Once these elements are in place, researchers can begin evaluating disease elimination strategies in the field.
"PRRS is, by far, the most significant disease affecting swine," said Michael Murtaugh, Ph.D., principal investigator and professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine. "We are working with the swine producers, veterinarians and allied industries to maximize the resources available to solve this problem and reach our ultimate goal -- eliminating PRRS regionally, if not nationally."
"Dealing with the PRRS virus costs a pork producer about six dollars a market pig," says Eric Neumann, D.V.M., M.S., director, swine health research and information, National Pork Board. "This collaborative work is an efficient use of everyone's resources and contributes to keeping costs lower for the producers."
Eleven faculty members from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences join 57 other researchers from 19 academic institutions collaborating on the PRRS project.
For more information on the two grants go to: http://www.cvm.umn.edu/researchandgradprog/research/funded/home.html
The Academic Health Center is home to the University of Minnesota?s seven health professional schools and colleges as well as several health-related centers and institutes, including the College of Veterinary Medicine and Medical school.Founded in 1851, the University is one of the oldest and largest land grant institutions in the country. The AHC prepares the new health professionals who improve the health of communities, discover and deliver new treatments and cures, and strengthen the health economy.