Auburn, Ala. (EETV) - Auburn will receive more than $2.5 million in the next five years to fund the new Animal Health and Agro-/Bio-Defense (AHAD) Program.

Auburn University's College of Veterinary Medicine will be the home of the new AHAD Program through funding from the USDA-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS).

This 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 locally, nationally and globally. It will also be positioned to serve as a southern regional node in the Coalition for Epi Response Engagement Science (CERES) that now includes primarily universities in the Midwest and West.

"As part of that nationwide 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 charged to ensure national security and public safety," said Bartol, Alumni Professor and Associate Dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Veterinary Medicine. "It will work closely with partners in the allied federal space and will leverage the capabilities of a National Animal Health Laboratory Network-supported program established at the Alabama State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, adjacent to the veterinary campus.

"Auburn subject matter experts with significant food animal research experience already include specialists in internal medicine, virology, immunology, molecular diagnostics, vaccinology, and zoonotics. We hope that establishment of AHAD will further enable expansion of this program to include of an epidemiologist/informatics specialist and one or more specialists in microbiomics/pathogenomics."

AHAD will focus on the biodefense mission, that includes:

  • predicting the emergence of pathogens in livestock and associated wildlife
  • understanding the ecology of exotic emerging and reemerging pathogens
  • incident response research
  • development of veterinary medical countermeasures for early detection
  • prevention and treatment of foreign and emerging email diseases

“Over the years, the Auburn College of Veterinary Medicine has established working relationships with a number of federal agencies operating in the agro-/bio-defense space,” Bartol said. “AHAD will work closely with its partners to meet the CERES mission to ‘protect and defend America’s agricultural industry against global health threats and provide innovation for food security, now and into the future.’”