COLLEGE STATION, TX – Dr. Jason Osterstock in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences has received one of two Richard Merkal Memorial Fellowships awarded by the International Association for Paratuberculosis.
The fellowship will sponsor Dr. Osterstock’s participation in the 9th International Colloquium on Paratuberculosis (IAP) to be held in Tsukuba, Japan in October 2007. During this symposium, Dr. Osterstock will provide a platform presentation on his submitted research abstract entitled “Assessing the familial aggregation of paratuberculosis in beef cattle of unknown pedigree”.
“The award is certainly very important to me and our research program in paratuberculosis because it gives us an opportunity to present information to an international audience with considerable influence in policy development and research in this area,” said Dr. Osterstock. “We feel that the work we have completed provides valuable information in helping to understand familial risk for paratuberculosis and the ability to share this information with the IAP members attending this colloquium will open opportunities for collaboration and showcase the work done at Texas A&M.” Dr Osterstock, who will complete his PhD degree in December, had been working on this project under the direction of his major professor, Dr Geoffrey Fosgate of the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences.
Texas A&M’s paratuberculosis research program is a bit unique in that the majority of our work is done in beef cattle, providing a different perspective to this disease and presenting some additional challenges that the majority of researchers in this area working with dairy cattle do not face. Additionally, the specific work that will be presented is a novel approach to assessing family associations with disease status that will contribute generally to the field of genetic epidemiology in livestock infectious disease.
“We are very proud of Dr. Osterstock and his research efforts,” said Dr. H. Richard Adams, Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine. “This opportunity will place Texas A&M on an international stage in the fight to understand and eradicate paratuberculosis.”
Paratuberculosis, commonly referred to as Johne’s disease, is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease of ruminants including cattle, sheep, goats, and deer caused by Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis. It has been associated with substantial economic losses in the US beef and dairy cattle industries with estimated losses exceeding $250 million annually in decreased production, decreased value of animals at slaughter, cost of diagnostic tests and control programs, and loss of potentially valuable genetics.
A selection committee comprised of members of the International Association for Paratuberculosis awards the fellowships in honor of Dr. Richard Merkal, a leader in paratuberculosis research during the 1970’s and 80’s and a former researcher at the National Animal Disease Center in Ames, IA who is considered a founder of the IAP.
This award is given every two years to two graduate students in paratuberculosis research and is awarded on the basis of their submitted abstract, ongoing work, and potential future contributions to the field of paratuberculosis research.
Dr. Osterstock is currently completing a PhD in Biomedical Sciences in the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences. His primary research focus is genetic epidemiology of paratuberculosis in Texas beef cattle. His collaborators in these research projects include Drs. Geoffrey Fosgate, Allen Roussel, Noah Cohen, and James Derr.