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USDA Animal Physiologist Honored by Research Agency / February 7, 2001 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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Mohammad Koohmaraie (left) observes as technician steam-vacuums beef carcass: Link to photo information


USDA Animal Physiologist Honored by Research Agency

By Ben Hardin
February 7, 2001

CLAY CENTER, Neb., Feb. 7—Mohammad Koohmaraie, an animal physiologist with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service here, has won an agency award for his research and project leadership to enhance meat quality and safety.

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA’s chief research agency, named Koohmaraie as an “Outstanding Senior Research Scientist of 2000." He’s now serving as Acting Center Director of the Roman L. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) in Clay Center, Neb.

Koohmaraie’s key accomplishments include leadership in research on meat tenderness and development of a rapid tenderness-based beef classification system, a rapid method to predict salable meat from a beef carcass and ways to reduce pathogenic bacteria on meat. He’s best known among scientists for his pioneering studies on enzymes that affect muscle growth and meat tenderness.

In cooperative research with the beef industry, Koohmaraie and colleagues found consumers are willing to pay extra for beef classified as tender according to a rapid simple method to measure tenderness that the MARC team developed. Several companies, which are currently developing branded beef programs are planning to use the MARC tenderness classification system which can be automated.

Under Koohmaraie’s leadership MARC scientists were the first to show that moist heat is the most effective carcass treatment to eliminate pathogens from meat and they continue to seek further improvements. Now almost all beef processing plants use multiple steam vacuum units to assure microbiological quality of meat. The team also developed improved ways to detecting microbial contamination. Consequently, in the March 2000 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they reported that the incidences of the potential deadly pathogen E. coli O157:H7 in live animals are much higher than previously believed but interventions at beef processing plants to reduce the incidences on beef carcasses are highly effective.

In 1992, Koohmaraie was selected as one of the ARS Young Scientists of the Year. Currently, he is one of eight senior scientists of the year to be recognized in a February 7 awards ceremony at the agency’s Henry A. Wallace Beltsville (Md.) Agricultural Research Center. Each scientist will receive a plaque, a cash award and additional research funding.

Koohmaraie received a bachelor’s degree from Pahlavi University, Shiraz, Iran, a master’s degree from Texas A & M at Kingsville and a doctorate in meat science and muscle biology from Oregon State University, Corvallis. He has worked with more than 30 graduate students from 11 state universities and six foreign countries, nine postdoctoral associates and numerous domestic and foreign visiting scientists. He has authored or coauthored more than 300 publications.

Scientific contact: Mohammad Koohmaraie, Roman L. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, Clay Center, Neb., phone (402) 762-4100, fax (402) 762-4111,

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