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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

ARS Scientist Wins Award for Poultry Research / January 22, 2004 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

Photo: Immunizing chicks against coccidia. Link to photo information
Immunizing chicks against coccidia. Click image for caption and other photo information.

 

National news release

Magazine feature about Lillehoj's research (Jan 99)

ARS Scientist Wins Award for Poultry Research

By Rosalie Marion Bliss
January 22, 2004

NEW ORLEANS, La., Jan. 22—Hyun S. Lillehoj, a microbiologist with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), was recognized by the agency today as an “Outstanding Senior Research Scientist of 2003.” ARS is celebrating its 50th anniversary as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's principal in-house scientific research agency.

Lillehoj has pioneered novel technologies for the development of nonchemical methods to control avian coccidiosis, a major parasitic disease that costs the U.S. poultry industry more than $700 million annually. Coccidiosis is caused by multiple strains of Eimeria, a genus of tiny, one-celled protozoan parasites that infect the birds' intestines.

Lillehoj, honored with other ARS scientists at a ceremony here today, will receive a plaque, a cash award and additional funding for her research programs.

Lillehoj works at the Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory in the Animal and Natural Resources Institute, located at ARS’ Henry A. Wallace Beltsville (Md.) Agricultural Research Center (BARC).

During two decades with ARS, Lillehoj researched multiple approaches to blocking the spread of avian diseases. She produced recombinant chicken antibodies and recombinant chicken cytokines for immunotherapeutic use against coccidiosis and other poultry diseases. Her focus on cytokines--hormonelike chemicals that immune cells secrete to fight parasites--has led to potential umbrella protections against the multiple Eimeria strains that infect chickens.

She has also used recombinant Eimeria antigen to vaccinate chickens against coccidiosis. The antigen is a two-timing protein made by Eimeria. The antigen's betrayal lies in the fact that it helps the parasite enter host cells while evoking an attack response from the chicken's immune system.

“Dr. Lillehoj has assembled a team of scientific collaborators worldwide to test and validate new technologies to defeat costly avian diseases," said Edward B. Knipling, ARS acting administrator. "Her studies looking into the interactions between parasites and hosts have led to the development of novel, internationally recognized, immunological and molecular biological concepts in the control of coccidiosis."

Lillehoj and ARS coworkers are the named inventors on six patents aimed at benefitting the poultry industry--three issued, and three pending. Several of the team's patents are now licensed by industry.

Lillehoj received her doctorate in immunology in 1979 from Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Mich., where, in 1980, she was a National Institutes of Health post-doctoral fellow. In 1975, she earned a master of science degree in microbiology from the University of Connecticut–Storrs. She received a bachelor of science degree in biology in 1974 from the University of Hartford, Hartford, Conn.

Last Modified: 2/19/2014