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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Welcome to the Avian Disease and Oncology Laboratory News & Events Webpage!  


To read USDA Agriculture Research Service News and Events, click here.


The News and Events of Avian Disease and Oncology are posted below on a timely manner as they occur.



ADOL to celebrate its 75thAnniversary in July 2014.


Plans are being made for the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of USDA-ARS Avian Disease and Oncology Laboratory (ADOL). A Reception to celebrate this Milestone event of one of USDA-ARS historic laboratories with long history of significant scientific achievements and worldwide recognition in Poultry Genetics, Genomics, and Tumorous diseases is scheduled for 6:00 - 9:00 pm on Monday, July 21, 2014 at Michigan State University (MSU) Broad Art Museum. The fact that this event is planned for one evening during the 10th International Symposium on Marek’s disease and Avian Herpesviruses (hosted by USDA-ARS-ADOL and MSU) will assure that scientists from various countries around the world who are working on Marek’s will be able to participate in this celebration.


10th International Symposium on Marek’s disease and Avian Herpesviruses will be held in East Lansing Michigan in July 2014

USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS)-Avian Diseases and Oncology Laboratory (ADOL) and Michigan State University (MSU) are hosting the 10th International Symposium on Marek’s Disease and Avian Herpesviruses scheduled for July 20 to July 23, 2014 at MSU Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing Michigan. For further information please visit Symposium web site:


Current Visitors, Students, Postdoctoral Research Associates

  • Dr. Shuhong Sun, Visiting Scientist from Shandong Agricultural University, China is spending a 18-months sabbatical leave at ADOL (Drs. Dunn and Fadly Laboratories)
  • Dr. Sudeep Perumbakkam, Postdoctoral Research Associate (Dr. Cheng’s laboratory)
  • Cari Hearn, Alec Step, and Evin Hildebrandt, Graduate Students (Dr. Cheng’s laboratory)
  • Supawadee Umthong Rotating student (Dr. Cheng’s laboratory).

ADOL Welcomes a New Addition to its Staff

Dr. Alexis Black-Pyrkosz has accepted USDA-ARS offer for 13 months term appointment as a Computational Scientist at ADOL. This is a new service position that will help all of ADOL scientists who need expertise in Computational Biology.


New AFRI Grants received by ADOL Scientist

  • An AFRI grant titled "Genome biology of Marek’s disease: Viral integration and genome alterations in genetically resistant and susceptible stocks"  and in the amount of $500,000 was recently awarded with Dr. Hans Cheng of ADOL as PI, and co-PIs Dr. Mary Delany (University of California, Davis) and Dr. Bill Muir (Purdue University)
  • An AFRI grant titled "Improving The Chicken Genome Assembly and Annotation" in the amount of $486,000 was recently awarded with Dr. Wes Warren PI (Washington University in St. Louis), and co-PIs C. Titus Brown (Michigan State University.), and Dr. Hans Cheng of ADOL.

Bits and Pieces of Recent Research:


Identification of key genes and pathways involved in cellular transformation by a Marek’s Disease Virus Oncoprotein, Meq


Recently, Dr. Suga Subramaniam who successfully completed the requirements of her Ph.D. degree under the supervision of Dr. Cheng authored a paper entitled "Integrated Analyses of Genome-Wide DNA Occupancy and Expression Profiling Identify Key Genes and Pathways Involved in Cellular Transformation by a Marek’s Disease Virus Oncoprotein, Meq.” The paper was published and highlighted in the August 2013 issue of Journal of Virology. Please contact Dr. Cheng at Hans.Cheng@ARS.USDA.GOV if you have any question about these key genes and pathways involved in transformation by Marek’s disease virus.


Simplifying detection of two important avian tumor viruses, Marek’s disease and reticuloendotheliosis.


ADOL scientists developed a modified DNA based test, named polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for detection of Marek’s disease and reticuloendotheliosis viruses in formalin preserved tissues. The modified PCR allows any laboratory to extract virus DNA from preserved tissues to detect both viruses. The new test also offers an alternative to current cumbersome biological and molecular tests that require use of frozen or fresh tissues; and therefore, alleviates the need for shipping frozen tissues to diagnostic laboratories, as formalin-preserved samples can be shipped by regular mail. Please contact Dr. Fadly at ALY.FADLY@ARS.USDA.GOV if you have any question about this new simplified test to detect these avian tumor viruses.


Marek’s disease Virus Replication and Virulence


Pathotyping of Marek’s disease virus is critical to our understanding and response to virulence shifts in the field, however it is an expensive and time-consuming process. ADOL scientists evaluated the potential of measuring virus replication rate as a faster and cheaper alternative for pathotyping. There are three levels that Marek’s disease virus strains are classified based on their virulence. ADOL scientists found that the lowest level could be distinguished from the higher two levels, but the highest two levels could not be distinguished from each other. It was concluded that virus replication might be used as a threshold for choosing strains that are a certain level of virulence for pathotyping, but cannot be used as a stand alone alternative for classical pathotyping. Please contact Dr. Dunn at John.Dunn@ARS.USDA.GOV if you have any question about the relationship between virulence and virus replication.


Molecular manipulation of a commercially available Marek’s diseae vaccine virus leads to a better protective ability


ARS recently approved a license agreement with a private company to develop a commercial Marek’s disease vaccine named CVRM2 that had been developed at ADOL by a former scientist, Dr. Sanjay Reddy. A state-of-the art molecular technology was used to generate, the new vaccine, named CVRM2 from the commercial vaccine—CVI988.  In both laboratory and field trials, the new vaccine was as effective or superior to the commercial vaccine in protecting chickens against highly virulent Marek’s disease viruses. This indicated that the vaccine could be developed safely and efficiently. Please contact Dr. Fadly at ALY.FADLY@ARS.USDA.GOV if you have any question about the new and improved vaccine candidate.


Endogenous subgroup avian leukosis virus (ALV-E) renders chickens more susceptible to serotype 2 Marek’s disease vaccine-induced  enhancement of spontaneous lymphomas.


ADOL scientists explored role of ALV-E in serotype 2 Marek’s disease vaccine-induced enhancement of spontaneous lymphomas. Results from recent experiments provided evidence that chickens harboring ALV-E are more susceptible to enhancement of spontaneous lymphoid leucosis-like tumors than chickens lacking ALV-E following vaccination with serotype 2 Marek's disease virus at hatch. Please contact Dr. Fadly at ALY.FADLY@ARS.USDA.GOV if you have any question about spontaneous lymphoid leukosis-like tumors.



Standard Operating Procedure for shipment of blood, plasma or tissues to ADOL


Blood: A minimum of two (2) ml of whole blood from adult birds or one (1) ml of whole blood from birds less than 3 weeks of age should be stored at 4C before shipping, double-bagged in sealed bags and shipped next-day air on cold packs.  DO NOT FREEZE.  Whole blood must be shipped within 24 hours of collection.


Plasma:  A minimum of 0.5-1.0 ml of plasma should be frozen at –80C or liquid nitrogen immediately after collection and shipped next-day air on dry ice.


Tissues:  Fresh tissues need to be frozen at –80C or liquid nitrogen immediately after collection and shipped next-day air on dry ice.


Important Notice to Shippers: All samples must be accompanied a copy of USDA-APHIS permit issued to our laboratory to receive infectious material from various Laboratories in the USA. Please contact us to receive a copy of such permit before shipping your samples to us.  


More information about ADOL:

·        Research Projects and ADOL Scientists. Two research projects are conducted at ADOL. The Tumor Virus project includes Aly Fadly (pathologist and research leader), Mohammad Heidari (immunologist), and John Dunn (pathologist). The Genomics and Immunogenetics project includes Hans Cheng (geneticist and lead scientist), Huanmin Zhang (geneticists) and Henry Hunt (immunologist).

·        ADOL Fertile Eggs and Chicks. ADOL Specific Pathogen-Free (SPF) fertile eggs and day-old chicks are unique resources and are available for researchers at other Government and non-Government laboratories. Please note the following information if you are interested in ordering ADOL SPF fertile eggs or day-old chicks.


1.  SPF hatching eggs and chicks from various B-congenic, recombinant and other MHC defined ADOL pure lines are produced from January through June each year.


2.  Fertile eggs are priced at $5.00 each, and day-old chicks are priced at $10.00, each; plus charges for handling, overnight shipping, and any other charges required by Local/State/, or Foreign Country regulations.


3.   These charges for fertile eggs and newly hatched chicks are assessed to help defray part of the production costs.


4.  USDA-ARS guidelines require that a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) between ARS and the non-Government laboratory receiving fertile eggs or day-old chicks to be signed and in place before shipping of the materials.


5.  Due to limited numbers of the eggs and chicks produced every year, it is highly recommended to call Farm Manager (see below), and check the availability; as absolute priority for supplying fertile eggs and chicks is given to ADOL in-house research projects. 


Farm Manger:  Raj Kulkarni

Voice: 517-337-6614

FAX: 517-337-6776

E-mail -





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ARS News Articles

Test Alteration Simplifies Diagnosis of Poultry Diseases
Nov 24, 2014
ARS Gene Collections Vital to Animal Research Efforts
Jan 13, 2010
Using Comparative Genomics to Manage Marek's Disease
Dec 06, 2006
Using Comparative Genomics to Manage Marek's Disease
Dec 06, 2006
Michigan Lab on Path to New Marek's Disease Vaccine
Jul 27, 2006
Michigan Lab on Path to New Marek's Disease Vaccine
Jul 27, 2006
Scientists Probe Genetic Makeup of Chickens
Dec 15, 2004
Virus Test Kit for Chickens
Aug 13, 2001
USDA Picks Vegetables for the Hungry
Nov 24, 1999
USDA Announces Fall Harvest Gleaning from Research Labs
Nov 24, 1998
Researchers’ Egg Vaccines Protect Billions of Chickens
Dec 17, 1997
Last Modified: 7/2/2014