Marvin J. Grubman
ARS Scientist Wins Award for FMD Research
Elstein February 9, 2005
WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
chemist Marvin J.
Grubman has been named by ARS as a Senior Research Scientist of
2004 for his work to develop vaccines against foot-and-mouth disease. ARS
is the U.S. Department of Agricultures
chief scientific research agency.
Grubman, based at the
Island Animal Disease Center in New York, will be honored here today as the
agencys top senior scientist for its
Atlantic Area, which includes Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maine,
Maryland, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island,
Vermont and West Virginia. He will receive a plaque, a cash award and
additional research funding during a ceremony at USDA headquarters.
Grubman is being honored for his research leading to improved delivery
of the foot-and-mouth (FMD) vaccine he invented in 1999. Animals receiving his
original vaccine took nearly a week to develop protective immunity. Because the
FMD virus spreads very quickly through livestock, a vaccine with quicker action
Aerial view of Plum Island Animal
The new vaccine delivery involves the use of an antiviral, called
interferon alpha, which takes only hours to impart immunity and can last for
three to five days. The antiviral/vaccine combination can induce both rapid and
long-lasting protection, potentially preventing many animals from being
In addition, it was previously difficult to differentiate between
animals that had been vaccinated against the FMD virus and those that had been
infected. Grubmans vaccine--which contains only a portion of the FMD
virus--can utilize a diagnostic test that has already been approved to easily
distinguish between infected and vaccinated animals.
The new vaccine contains only virus coat particles. These particles,
called empty viral capsids, lack the infectious viral nucleic acids, so the new
vaccine cannot cause disease. This, in turn, means the vaccine can be produced
on the U.S. mainland.
FMD is a highly contagious disease of cloven-hoofed animals such as
cattle, swine and sheep. Humans do not get the disease, but can act as
mechanical carriers for the virus. Animals afflicted with FMD usually do not
die, but the disease is very debilitating. An infected animal develops
virus-filled blisters around its mouth and hooves, making it difficult for the
animal to walk and generally decreasing the animal's productivity.
There has not been an FMD outbreak in the United States since 1929.
ARS has a foreign animal disease research program at the Plum Island
center, which is now operated by the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security.