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Jitender Dubey
Jitender Dubey
Ronald Horst
Ronald Horst

Dale Van Vleck
Dale Van Vleck

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Three Scientists Named to USDA-ARS Science Hall of Fame

By Marcia Wood
September 15, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Three outstanding U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have been named to the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Science Hall of Fame for research that has helped to control parasite-caused diseases of people, farm animals, and pets; prevent milk fever disease of dairy cows; and increase knowledge of livestock genetics. ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency of USDA.

Microbiologist Jitender P. Dubey, physiologist Ronald L. Horst, and animal geneticist L. Dale Van Vleck will be honored tonight at a ceremony in Greenbelt, Md.

ARS established its Science Hall of Fame in 1986 to recognize agency researchers for lifelong achievements in agricultural sciences and technology, according to ARS Administrator Edward B. Knipling. Recipients must be retired or eligible to retire to receive the award.

In highlighting the accomplishments of this year's Hall of Fame inductees, Knipling noted that, during a career of nearly 30 years with ARS, Dubey "has greatly expanded our knowledge of the biology and control of three major, parasite-caused diseases affecting people and animals-toxoplasmosis, neosporosis, and equine protozoal myleoencephalitis. His findings have improved human health, have helped farmers and ranchers worldwide, and have benefitted a veritable Noah's Ark of farm and companion animals, including cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, horses, and dogs. Dubey's investigations of toxoplasmosis, as an example, have saved many lives and have prevented thousands of children from suffering mental retardation, seizures, and blindness."

Dubey, who works at the ARS Animal Parasitic Diseases Research Unit at Beltsville, Md., joined ARS in 1982.

Horst and his colleagues at the ARS National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa, "conducted pioneering studies of how dairy cows absorb and use vitamin D, calcium, and potassium," Knipling said. "Their work led to commercial development of a feed ingredient that provides a safe, relatively simple, practical, and inexpensive means to prevent a disorder known as milk fever. The approach is widely used in the U.S. dairy industry today.

"Other discoveries by Dr. Horst and associates have led to a new way to indirectly measure vitamin D levels in plasma, which has been of interest not only for veterinary medical research, but also for human health research into disorders that vitamin D may help counteract, such as osteoporosis," Knipling noted.

Horst retired from ARS in 2008 after a 29-year career with the agency.

Van Vleck is being honored for "developing science-based theory and techniques for worldwide genetic improvement of farm animals, including beef and dairy cattle, pigs, and sheep," said Knipling. "The easy-to-use software that Van Vleck and colleagues created for evaluating inheritance of economically valuable traits in livestock benefits producers and consumers around the globe. The software allows faster, more complex statistical analyses of more genetic data--from more animals--than was previously possible."

Van Vleck joined ARS in 1988 after retiring from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. He retired from the ARS Roman J. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb., in 2007.