Auburn is home to new agro- and biodefense program

Published: 28 Oct 2021

A new federally funded program for preventing diseases threatening U.S. food animals and public health will be headquartered at Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, the college announced this September.

Dr. Bartol
Dr. Frank Bartol

The Animal Health and Agro-/Bio-Defense Program is a new element in the national network of U.S. government agencies and land-grant universities, focused on safeguarding economically important animals from disease.

“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 (U.S. Department or Agriculture) and other federal agencies charged to ensure national security and public safety,” said Dr. Frank Bartol, AHAD co-director, in a statement.

The USDA Agricultural Research Service has provided Auburn’s veterinary college with more than $647,000 in initial funding for the program and a commitment of an additional $2.5 million over the next five years.

The AHAD program will focus on the four strategic areas of the National Biodefense Strategy identified by the ARS: predicting the emergence of pathogens in livestock and associated wildlife; understanding the ecology of exotic, emerging, and reemerging pathogens; research on incident response; and developing veterinary countermeasures for early detection, prevention, and treatment of foreign and emerging animal diseases.

Research in the AHAD space will involve a collaborative partnership with ARS scientists through the U.S. National Poultry Research Center.

The AHAD-ARS partnership will advance the education and training of next-generation scientists at Auburn, filling a critical need in this important domain, said Dr. Bartol, who is also associate dean for research and graduate studies at Auburn’s veterinary college.