Veterinary Medical Officer Wins Award for Research
By Sharon Durham
February 13, 2002
BELTSVILLE, Md., Feb.
13David L. Suarez, a veterinary medical officer with the
Agricultural Research Service, has been
named the Herbert L. Rothbart Outstanding Early Career Research
Scientist by the agency for research explaining how chickens and turkeys
contract avian influenza. Suarez also contributed to the development of several
new types of vaccines for avian influenza.
Dr. Suarezs work has redefined our understanding of how
influenza viruses evolve in poultry, which should allow us to better predict
when a mildly pathogenic influenza will shift to the highly pathogenic form of
avian influenza, said Edward B. Knipling, ARS acting administrator. ARS
is the chief scientific research agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In 1997, a new strain of influenza (H5N1) appeared in both the chicken and
human populations of Hong Kong. As a result, 18 people were hospitalized and
six people died. Also, 1.4 million chickens were destroyed to stop further
spread of the disease to humans.
Suarez was one of several ARS scientists, at the request of the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
that conducted studies to determine which strains of H5N1 isolated from people
in Hong Kong couldvia injection in the labbe transmitted to
poultry. This research has continued with the more recent 1999 H5N1 viruses
from Hong Kong to determine the threat these viruses have for avian and human
Suarez is involved in the eradication efforts associated with the live bird
market in the northeast United States. He serves on the Live Bird Market
working group and developed a rapid detection system for influenza used in a
planned emergency eradication effort by USDAs
Animal and Plant Health Inspection
Service, Veterinary Services in April 2002 in the northeast United States.
A rapid diagnostic test using standard molecular genetics technology was
developed by Suarez to accomplish rapid subtyping of influenza viruses by
diagnostic laboratories that do not work with influenza viruses on a routine
Suarez and other ARS scientists were presented the USDA 2000 Silver Plow
Award for their research that advanced understanding of the pathobiology and
epidemiology of the H5N1 avian influenza.
A native of Montgomery, Ala., Suarez received a Ph.D. from
Iowa State University and a doctorate of
veterinary medicine from Auburn University. He
joined ARS in 1995 as a post- doctoral research associate.
In 2000, Suarez received the Bayer-Snoeyenbos New Investigator Award, a
national award from the American Association of
Avian Pathologists recognizing research accomplishments in poultry health
by a researcher during the first 7 years post-Ph.D. Suarez has previously won a
USDA certificate of merit for high superior service and has been a two-time
winner of a certificate of merit for outstanding performance.
Suarez is the lead scientist for the avian influenza research project at the
Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory
and was the lead author of the first comprehensive publication on the 1997
poultry and human H5N1 outbreaks in Hong Kong, which included an in-depth
phylogenetic analysis of all eight influenza genes, experimental chicken
inoculations and pathology studies.