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Revolutionary Technology Key to One Health Grand Challenge Project Aimed at Changing Lives Around the World

Posted October 27, 2014

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – As an established leader in electron beam technology, Dr. Suresh Pillai, director of the National Center for Electron Beam Research within the Texas A&M College of Agriculture & Life Sciences (COALS) Department of Poultry Science, along with an interdisciplinary team of investigators were recently awarded funding through the competitive One Health Grand Challenge proposal process to pursue novel applications for this innovative technology.

“The faculty in our college are well-positioned to facilitate progress at Texas A&M in this area,” said Dr. Bill Dugas, Acting Vice Chancellor for Agriculture and Life Sciences and Acting Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “They have the training, skills, and abilities to integrate the environment, animal, and human aspects of a problem to solve the complex but very important grand challenges facing our society, such as improving our health.”

The One Health Grand Challenge was offered as an opportunity for Texas A&M schools and colleges to plan and implement an inter/transdisciplinary collaborative approach to helping improve the lives of all species—humans and animals—by addressing health and their connections between natural and man-made environments.

The One Health Grand Challenge identified four major One Health research themes and implementing a plan to bring together teams to propose research initiatives under these themes.

The interdisciplinary team includes faculty from the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine (TAMHSC), Texas A&M College of Agriculture & Life Sciences (COALS), Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Texas A&M College of Architecture (ARCH), Texas A&M Bush School of Government (BUSH), the Dwight Look College of Engineering (ENG), the Texas A&M University System Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC), the Mays Business School (MAYS), Texas A&M College of Geosciences (GEO), the Texas A&M Institute of Biosciences and Technology (IBT) the National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing (NCTM), the Texas A&M Institute for Genomic Medicine (TIGM), and the Texas A&M Institute for Preclinical Studies (TIPS). They included Pillai and Rosemary Walzem, co-principal investigator (COALS); Christine Alvarado, Jeff Tomberlin, Keyan Salzman, Yongheng Huang, and Joseph Awika (COALS); Jenna Anding (Agrilife Extension); Andre Thomas (ARCH); Arnold Vedlitz (BUSH); Saurabh Biswas and Brett Cornwell (OTC); C. Sriskandarajah (MAYS); Arul Jayaraman, Victor Ugaz, Bill Batchelor, and Halit Uster (ENG); Magnus Hook (IBT); Daniel Goldberg (GEO); Robert Alaniz (TAMHSC); Michael Pishko (NCTM); Benjamin Morpurgo (TIGM); Matthew Miller (TIPS); and Noah Cohen and Jan Suchodolski (CVM).

The focus of this initiative is to develop novel uses for the one-of-a-kind electron beam technology aimed at eradicating water borne, food borne, and feed borne infectious diseases in humans and animals through the development of new vaccines and other therapeutics; ensuring global food supply security through new packaging, treatment, and processing methods; and exploring the use of this technology in improving food and water quality.

“This technology uses commercial electricity, which is transformed by stripping off electrons,” explained Pillai. “What makes it a truly paradigm-shifting technology is that it creates both reduction and oxidation processes simultaneously without the addition of chemicals. The frequency levels of electron beam are adjustable, which allows us to use it at the lower end for killing insects and pests, at the mid range for treating food and water for dangerous pathogens, and then at the higher end to create memory shape plastics that may be used in medical applications.”

The proposed project in electron beam technology leverages Texas A&M University’s unequaled strength characterized by the combination of technological capabilities and expertise. This unique collaborative effort will initiate strategic partnerships between academia, private industry, non-governmental organizations, entrepreneurs, global financing institutions, eBeam equipment suppliers, and national and international regulatory agencies that will take advantage of the technological potential of this platform in healing, cleaning, feeding, and shaping this world in way not seen before.

“The proposal submitted by Dr. Pillai and this team of investigators holds great promise in creating the next generation of killed vaccines, developing new methods for cleaning the environment and improving the sustainability of our natural resources, and protecting the global food supply from massive loss,” said Dr. Michael Chaddock, assistant dean for One Health and Strategic Initiatives at the CVM. “Interdisciplinary approaches such as this that advance knowledge that will improve global health is at the very core of the definition of One Health.”

The One Health Initiative was started at Texas A&M in 2011 to be a collaborative effort of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally, and globally to attain sustainable optimal health for the ecosystem. It's driven by agents of change which include, but are not limited to, population growth; nutritional, agricultural and trade practices; globalization; shift in land use; accelerated urbanization; deforestation; encroachment on wildlife; and climate change.

“This research program represents well what the One Health Grand Challenge at Texas A&M University is all about,” said Dr. Eleanor M. Green, the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine at the CVM. “Facilitated by Dr. Michael Chaddock, investigators came together from across campus to form the research team dedicated to finding extraordinary solutions for diseases of importance to Texas and beyond. Equally impressive is the funding of this project, which was also a team approach. Dr. Glen Laine, vice president for research at Texas A&M, matched voluntary contributions from the involved colleges to fully fund this challenge proposal.”

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About the Texas A&M One Health Initiative: The initiative is dedicated to the discovery, development, communication, and application of knowledge in a wide range of academic and professional fields providing the highest quality undergraduate, graduate and professional programs to prepare students to assume roles in leadership, responsibility and service to society. It builds on the strength of the university and the state of Texas from discovery to application and commercialization allowing for the discovery, learning and applied research to meet societal needs. Learn more about the One Health Initiative at http://onehealth.tamu.edu.

 

Contact Information:
Megan Palsa
mpalsa@cvm.tamu.edu
979-862-4216
979-421-3121 (cell)



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