VMBS Researcher Noah Cohen Awarded 2023 American Association For The Advancement Of Science Fellowship

Story by Courtney Price, VMBS Communications

Dr. Noah Cohen with a foal
Dr. Noah Cohen

Dr. Noah Cohen — Texas A&M University Distinguished Professor, Regents Professor of Large Animal Internal Medicine, and Dr. Glen Blodgett Chair of Equine Studies in the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (VMBS) — is one of 502 individuals elected to the 2023 class of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellows.

AAAS Fellows are a distinguished cadre of scientists, engineers, and innovators who have been recognized for their achievements across disciplines, from research, teaching, and technology to administration in academia, industry, and government. These individuals are known for their excellence in communicating and interpreting science to the public.

Fellows have included famous individuals like inventor Thomas Edison and sociologist W.E.B. DuBois.

Cohen has received this honor for his distinguished contributions to the field of veterinary medicine, and particularly for clinical applications of epidemiology, infectious disease epidemiology, and epidemiological studies of racing injuries and colic in horses.

“We are exceptionally proud of Dr. Cohen and his work,” said Dr. John R. August, the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine. “Dr. Cohen has spent many years conducting research in several critical areas of equine medicine, has mentored graduate students as they study colic and the equine microbiome, and has assisted regulatory organizations to promote the well-being of racehorses. These efforts make him very deserving of this prestigious fellowship.”

“I’m so pleased that Dr. Cohen has attracted this recognition,” said Dr. Michael Criscitiello, a professor in the VMBS’ Department of Veterinary Pathobiology and associate dean for the VMBS’ Office of Research & Graduate Studies. “He is a model for prolific and rigorous clinical research using veterinary models with results impacting interventions for animal and human health.”

Fighting Foal Pneumonia

For many years, Cohen has been researching ways to control and prevent pneumonia in foals caused by Rhodococcus equi, a type of bacteria that lives in the soil and manure of horses. The pneumonia produced by R. equi is often difficult to detect until it produces clinical signs, and by that point, it may already be too late to treat.

Cohen and his team have used epidemiological, immunological, microbiological, molecular genetic, and pharmacological methods to improve prevention and treatment of this disease. One important example was the use of epidemiological evidence to indicate that foals are infected with R. equi very soon after birth, rather than when they were one to two months of age as had been the longstanding belief.

This discovery was important because it meant that methods to prevent this disease — such as giving transfusions of anti-rhodococcal plasma to foals — needed to be shifted to earlier ages. This contribution to the field not only changed understanding of the disease but also veterinary medical practices.

Cohen’s laboratory has also developed novel diagnostic tests for equine infectious diseases (some of which are in commercial use), novel antimicrobials to treat rhodococcal infections, and vaccines for rhodococcal pneumonia. Recently, they have used mRNA as a method to deliver monoclonal antibodies to foals. Cohen has also made important contributions to understanding factors contributing to equine colic and equine racing injuries.

A Distinguished Career

Cohen earned his Veterinariae Medicinae Doctoris (VMD) degree (equivalent to a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983, followed by two years in private practice, and then a Master of Public Health and Ph.D. in epidemiology from Johns Hopkins University in 1986 and 1988, respectively.

He joined the VMBS faculty in 1988, completed a large animal internal medicine residency at Texas A&M in 1991, and became a board-certified member of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (Large Animal Internal Medicine) in 1992.

Since joining the VMBS’ Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, he has taught numerous courses for undergraduate, graduate, and veterinary students on topics such as equine infectious diseases, host-pathogen interaction, and large animal clinical skills. In addition, he has served as a mentor for many undergraduate and graduate students, veterinary residents, and postdoctoral researchers.

Cohen has received numerous awards in recognition of his exemplary performance; in 2021, he was named Distinguished Professor at Texas A&M University; in 2022, Cohen was selected to hold the Glenn Blodgett Equine Chair in recognition for his unparalleled efforts in equine medicine research and teaching; and in 2023, he became one of just 306 faculty members named as a Texas A&M University System Regents Professor.

Only four other VMBS faculty members are also AAAS Fellows — Dr. Stephen Safe, a distinguished professor in the Department of Veterinary Physiology & Pharmacology; Dr. William Murphy, a professor in the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences (VIBS) and assistant dean for the VMBS’ Office of Research & Graduate Studies; Dr. Fuller Bazer, a VIBS distinguished professor; and Dr. Barbara Gastel, a VIBS professor and coordinator of the Science & Technology Journalism Graduate Program.

“I am humbled to receive this honor from the AAAS because of the excellent work the Association has done to advance scientific discovery and education,” Cohen said. “I only received this honor because Dr. Stephen Safe nominated me and because Drs. Warwick Bayly and Katrina Mealey, AAAS Fellows and distinguished veterinary scientists, supported my application. I am very fortunate for the resources for clinical research available at the VMBS and to work with Dr. Angela Bordin and a team of wonderful staff and students working hard for a common goal of helping improve the health and welfare of horses.”


For more information about the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at vetmed.tamu.edu or join us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of VMBS Communications, Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, jgauntt@cvm.tamu.edu, 979-862-4216

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