Cohen Receives Top-Level AVMA Clinical Research Award

Dr. Noah Cohen, a professor of large animal internal medicine in the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (CVM) Large Animal Clinical Sciences Department (VLCS), has been recognized with the 2019 Clinical Research Award from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) for his contributions to equine medicine.

The AVMA selected Cohen for the award because “his knowledge and expertise in the design and analysis of research and clinical trials is well regarded, and he is renowned nationally and internationally in the field of equine health,” according to the AVMA.

Cohen, who also serves as associate department head for research and graduate studies and Patsy Link Chair in Equine Research at the CVM, has participated in and led numerous research studies in the fields of equine colic, equine racing injuries, and equine infectious diseases, including pathogenesis, immunity, epidemiology, control, and prevention of Rhodococcus equi (R. equi) infections.

“This award is a great honor and reflects more about the environment for clinical research at Texas A&M University and my co-workers than about any individual,” Cohen said. “The support and resources that we’ve received has been the cornerstone of our success.”

As director of the Equine Infectious Disease Laboratory at the CVM, Cohen has made great strides toward the prevention or treatment of R. equi pneumonia, which can cause severe disease or death in young foals.

Though antibiotics are the usual method for treating R. equi, Cohen and his team of researchers, including collaborators from Harvard Medical School, have developed the first vaccine effective against this form of pneumonia. The use of immunotherapeutics (such as vaccines and antibodies), rather than antibiotics, can provide a basis for control and prevention while reducing the risk of antibiotic resistance.

“In collaboration with colleagues at the University of Georgia, the Equine Infectious Disease Laboratory has documented the emergence of R. equi resistant to antibiotics in many states, including Texas,” Cohen said. “In one recent study, 76 percent of 100 farms surveyed in central Kentucky had antibiotic-resistant R. equi in their soil.”

They are also exploring the use of host-directed immune responses as another option to treat R. equi, which would allow the host to attack the pathogen without the need for antibiotics.

Cohen, who earned his Veterinariae Medicinae Doctoris (VMD) degree from the University of Pennsylvania and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, has dedicated his career to equine internal medicine and has contributed to more than 283 publications.

The Clinical Research Award is one of several Excellence in Research Awards through which the AVMA recognizes the expertise of veterinarians, honors and rewards them for their work, and provides a showcase for veterinary research that is not always in the public eye.

The awards were presented at the National Veterinary Scholars Symposium, where Cohen received $2,500 and a crystal award.

The Clinical Research Award was established in 1955 and is presented annually to an active AVMA member who has made significant contributions to the diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of diseases in animals.

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Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Interim Director of CVM Communications, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science; jgauntt@cvm.tamu.edu; 979-862-4216