Mid West Area
Avian Disease and Oncology Laboratory
East Lansing, MI.
History of USDA-ARS-MWA-Avian Disease and Oncology
Laboratory, East Lansing, Michigan
The Avian Disease and Oncology Laboratory (ADOL) previously known as
the Regional Poultry Research Laboratory was originally established to
study avian leukosis, a group of cancer-like diseases that were and still
are among the most important causes of mortality and lower productivity
in chickens. Two important diseases of this group that have been studied
extensively by laboratory scientists are Marek's disease, caused by a
herpesvirus, and lymphoid leukosis, caused by a retrovirus. These diseases
are less prevalent now because of accomplishments by laboratory scientists
leading to vaccines for Marek's disease and the partial eradication of
lymphoid leukosis. These diseases, however, still cause important losses
in chickens due to mortality, reduced egg production, and broiler condemnation.
Scientists at the Laboratory are conducting research to further reduce
losses from these and other viral diseases in chickens and turkeys to
make poultry food products cheaper and of higher quality for consumers.
Established by the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department
of Agriculture on August 8, 1939, the Laboratory supports and complements
the efforts of Federal, State, and industry scientists throughout the
United States. Located on a 50 acre tract bordered by Michigan State University,
the Laboratory houses about 45 full time employees, including 8 scientists.
The site permits close cooperation among personnel of the Laboratory,
the Michigan State Agricultural Experiment Station, and the teaching,
research, and extension facilities of Michigan State University. Disciplines
represented by the laboratory scientists include genetics, virology, immunology,
pathology, epidemiology, and molecular biology.
Research programs at the ADOL are conducted in laboratory facilities,
equipped with state of the art instrumentation. Individual research units
equipped for the conduct of molecular biology, virology, immunology and
other procedures are located within the 15,000 square foot main laboratory
building. The ADOL has a library, and maintains specialized collections
of viruses, cell lines, and other biological materials. ADOL grounds also
include 24 additional buildings, mostly for housing breeding and experimental
ADOL has prided itself on its scientific achievements which include,
among others: a) development of the widely-used vaccine named turkey herpesvirus
(HVT) against Marek’s disease; b) identification of avian leukosis
virus (ALV) as the causative agent of lymphoid leukosis; c) development
of diagnostic reagents essential for ALV eradication programs; d) development
of chicken strains resistant or susceptible to exogenous and endogenous
ALV; e) development of in ovo vaccination; f) development of first transgenic
chicken; and g) development of the first molecular genetic map of the
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