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RESEARCH GRANTS: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service awarded almost $1 million total to three researchers in K-State’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Kansas State wins grants for animal disease studies

The federal grants will help fund research of foot-and-mouth disease and African swine fever.

High-priority diseases in cattle and swine will be tackled by three researchers in Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine with grants totaling nearly $1 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service.

Jürgen Richt, Regents distinguished professor and director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases, received a $150,000 USDA-ARS grant for "Evaluation of Novel Foot-and-Mouth Disease Virus Vaccine Candidates with Broad Breadth of Protection — Phase II."

With a $176,900 grant, Mike Sanderson, professor of epidemiology and associate director of the Center for Outcomes Research and Epidemiology, is leading the project "Simulation Modeling of Foot-and-Mouth Disease Outbreaks in Livestock in the U.S."

"Actions Supporting the Development of an African Swine Fever Virus Live Attenuated DIVA Vaccine" is under the direction of Jishu Shi, professor of vaccine immunology, with a $640,720 grant.

Both Sanderson's and Richt's projects focus on foot-and-mouth disease, which affects livestock production in many regions of the world, including much of Asia and Africa.

"Foot-and-mouth disease is a high-priority transboundary disease that would severely impair livestock health and production if introduced to the U.S.," Sanderson says. "The goal of this research is to model outbreak and control scenarios in the U.S. to improve preparedness and identify optimal disease response strategies to mitigate the impacts of a potential foot-and-mouth disease outbreak."

Because the foot-and-mouth disease virus is antigenically diverse, Richt says vaccines must be matched to target certain viral isolates to be effective.

"The objective of this research project is to support the development of novel foot-and-mouth disease virus vaccine candidates and determine their immunogenicity in its natural host," Richt says. "It will also help generate new knowledge on next-generation vaccines for this virus, with broader activity that will ultimately help to prevent and control foot-and-mouth disease."

Shi's research is centered on the development of control strategies against African swine fever, a threatening swine disease that has become a major issue in China and other Asian countries.

"The collaboration with USDA ARS is a valuable partnership for us in African swine fever vaccine research and highlights the importance of the K-State Biosecurity Research Institute [BRI] as a key facility for K-State researchers working on high-consequence animal diseases," Shi says. "It will strengthen our capability in research that will be related to the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, or NBAF, and provide new impetus for our long-standing partnership with USDA-ARS research scientists."

BRI is a biosafety-level 3 and biosafety-level 3 agriculture research facility that allows for the study of high-consequence pathogens affecting plants, animals and food products, including zoonotic pathogens that infect humans. NBAF will be the nation's foremost animal disease research facility and is being built by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security adjacent to K-State's Manhattan campus.

The two objectives of Shi's project are the development of accompanying differentiation of infected from vaccinated animals (DIVA) tests for the African swine fever virus live attenuated DIVA candidate developed by the ARS, and the development of a stable cell line supporting the replication of those vaccine candidates.

Source: Kansas State University News Service, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.
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