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ARS Scientists Honored for Tech Transfer EffortsBy Jim Core
January 23, 2004
WASHINGTON, Jan. 23--Scientists who developed a diagnostic test for avian influenza and a faster-growing catfish won the Agricultural Research Service's top technology transfer awards for 2003. ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief in-house scientific research agency.
The winners of the research agency's "Outstanding Effort in Technology Transfer in 2003" are members of research teams. The Avian Influenza Rapid Diagnostic Test Team includes David L. Suarez, Erika Spackman and Suzanne M. DeBlois of the ARS Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory in Athens, Ga., and Dennis A. Senne of USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in Ames, Iowa. The Catfish Genetics Research Team in Stoneville, Miss., consists of William R. Wolters, Geoffrey C. Waldbieser, Brian G. Bosworth and Jeffrey T. Silverstein.
"This year's winners continue to show how effective ARS scientists are in moving technology from the laboratory to the marketplace, where consumers and industry benefit," said Edward B. Knipling, acting ARS administrator. He awarded the winners yesterday during a ceremony in New Orleans, La.
Avian influenza, a viral disease with symptoms varying from mild to highly fatal, is a serious disease of poultry. Outbreaks that occurred in the northeastern United States during 1983-84 resulted in the destruction of more than 17 million birds at a cost of nearly $65 million.
The team developed a test based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR), in which genetic material can be copied and quickly identified. The PCR test was used in March 2002 to test samples during an outbreak in Virginia. The total cost of that eradication program was estimated at $160 million. Because the test allowed faster diagnosis, quarantines of infected farms were issued sooner and flocks were depopulated faster, which prevented the virus from spreading to additional farms.
The new catfish line, NWAC103, was named in recognition of the Thad Cochran National Warmwater Aquaculture Center (NWAC) in Stoneville, where it was released jointly in 2001 by ARS and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. During performance trials, NWAC103 catfish consumed 10 percent more feed and grew 10 to 20 percent faster than commercial catfish.
The catfish industry in the United States has a farm-gate value of about $409 million, the highest value of any cultured aquatic species. Until the release of NWAC103, genetic improvement has had little impact on commercial catfish production. Since its release, NWAC103's popularity has grown, and in 2002 it held 14 percent of the market.
One other researcher and five research teams were honored for "Superior Effort in Technology Transfer in 2003" at yesterday's ceremony. They are:
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