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Veterinary Medical Officer Wins Research Award / February 13, 2002 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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National news release

Story about Palmer's research


Veterinary Medical Officer Wins Research Award

By Jim Core
February 13, 2002

BELTSVILLE, Md., Feb. 13, 2002--Mitchell V. Palmer, a veterinary medical officer with the Agricultural Research Service, has been named a 2001 Early Career Research Scientist by ARS, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific research agency.

Palmer was selected for his leadership and outstanding contributions to the understanding of the diagnosis, control and pathogenesis of tuberculosis in domestic livestock and wildlife.

Palmer will be honored today at the agency’s Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. He and other award winners will receive a plaque, a cash award and additional research funding.

Palmer studies the pathology of infectious diseases, especially those important at the interface between wildlife and livestock, at the National Animal Disease Center’s Bacterial Diseases of Livestock Research Unit in Ames, Iowa.

Tuberculosis has been nearly eradicated from cattle in the United States since programs were initiated in 1917. However, white-tailed deer in northern Michigan were found to be a host species of Mycobacterium bovis in 1994 and pose a serious threat to national efforts to eradicate TB from domestic livestock. Continuing confirmations of the disease in northeast Michigan cattle herds cost the state about $35 million a year because of increased testing requirements and loss of trading markets. The presence of the disease in one state impacts the rest of the nation because of the concern about disease transmission to animals in other states through movement of cattle.

“Because tuberculosis in white-tailed deer had never been described, there was a complete lack of basic information that could be used to address the problem,” said Edward B. Knipling, ARS acting administrator. “Dr. Palmer recognized this problem and led research that enabled ARS to respond rapidly to the emergence of this new disease threat.”

Palmer conducted the first and only controlled studies on tuberculosis in white-tailed deer. He developed an experimental model for challenging deer with M. bovis so a disease is produced that mimics disease characteristics of naturally infected deer. The model allowed him to examine the routes of disease transmission and the ability of infected deer to transmit M. bovis to uninfected penmates. He demonstrated infected deer can shed M. bovis in saliva, nasal secretions, urine and feces. These can contaminate feed and become a source of infection. Results of his research on TB transmission have been used by regulatory officials to ban winter feeding of deer.

Palmer and other scientists are using information on the immune response of white-tailed deer to M. bovis to select and screen potential vaccines that protect deer from TB infection.

The “early career” award is given to ARS scientists who have made outstanding scientific contributions while having been with the agency 7 years or less and completed their highest academic degree within the past 10 years. Palmer is the winner for the agency’s Midwest Area, which includes research locations in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.

He has been with ARS since 1995. He is also an assistant professor at Iowa State University in the Department of Veterinary Pathology.

Palmer is a native of Bountiful, Utah. He received an A.A. in animal science from Snow College in 1983, a B.S. in Bioveterinary Science from Utah State University in 1985, a D.V.M from Purdue University in 1989 and a Ph.D. in veterinary Pathology from Iowa State University in 1996.

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Last Modified: 2/13/2002
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