Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: January 6, 2011
Publication Date: January 18, 2011
Citation: Harhay, G.P., Harhay, D.M., Chitko Mckown, C.G., Smith, T.P. 2011. Biosurveillance at the United States Meat Animal Research Center [abstract]. Global Biosurveillance: Enabling Science and Technology 2nd Biothreat Nonproliferation Conference. Abstract No. 12.
The mission of the 50 scientists and 165 support staff at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) is to develop new technologies to increase the efficiency of livestock production and improve meat safety, quality, and animal health to benefit consumers worldwide. The facilities include 35,000 acres of farm and ranch land administered by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In our research programs, we utilize a breeding population of 6,500 cows of 18 breeds, 4,000 ewes of ten breeds, and 500 sows of two breeds. We collaborate with livestock producers and meat processors throughout the country to monitor the pathogen load carried by livestock, as well as carcasses in meat packing plants. USMARC environmental engineers work with livestock producers to mitigate the environmental impacts of animal feeding operations and to monitor cattle behavior as a potential measure of animal stress and illness. These relationships and ongoing activities provide a potential resource for inexpensive and efficient collection of samples relevant to the goals of a global biosurveillance program. USMARC’s historical strengths in livestock breeding and genetics have been augmented with expertise in genomics applied to livestock nutrition, reproduction, health, environmental impact, and food safety. Our IT infrastructure has been updated to accommodate “next-gen” sequencing (currently a Roche 454 instrument, with a Pacific Biosciences [PacBio] RS scheduled for June 2011 delivery). Importantly, we plan additional IT upgrades that include the deployment of a semantic web based laboratory information management system for managing and integrating disparate data with a user friendly “point and click” interface. We hope that this technology will facilitate collaboration with scientists both within and outside the ARS.