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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

ARS 50th Anniversary Celebration

Logo Image for "A R S : The Future Grows Here"Agricultural Research Service
50th Anniversary

Local Event

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 chickens.

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 chicken genome.




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Last Modified: 9/8/2015