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USDA-ARS Inducts Veterinary Medicine Expert into Hall of Fame

Contact: Jessica Ryan
Email: Jessica.Ryan@usda.gov

WASHINGTON, April 24, 2024 – The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) inducted David Suarez, Research Leader for the Exotic and Emerging Avian Viral Disease Research Unit at the U.S. National Poultry Research Center, into its Science Hall of Fame for his outstanding research on avian influenza, Newcastle disease, and emerging zoonotic viruses.

ARS established the Hall of Fame program in 1986 to honor senior agency researchers for outstanding, lifelong achievements in agricultural science and technology. Nominees must be retired or eligible to retire to receive the award.

"Dr. Suarez is being recognized for his dedication and exemplary work that has had significant impact on the agricultural sector and general public through his innovative approaches to problem-solving," said ARS Administrator Simon Liu. "He exemplifies the values that have made ARS the premier agricultural research organization it is today."

David SuarezDavid Suarez

Suarez played key roles in responding to outbreaks of avian influenza, Newcastle disease and other emerging pathogens. He helped characterize viruses to provide information to state and federal partners to help control these diseases.

His most impactful work was developing and supporting the implementation of rapid molecular diagnostic tests for the avian influenza virus and Newcastle disease virus that changed the way these diseases were diagnosed in the U.S. and worldwide.

The tests developed were sensitive, specific, and rapid. This allowed for effective use in veterinary diagnostic laboratories responding to disease outbreaks.

The tests became a cornerstone of eradication efforts by providing fast and scalable testing. The tests produced in Suarez’s laboratory were the first assays adopted by the National Animal Health Laboratory Network and have been used millions of times both in the U.S. and internationally.

David Suarez working with chicken eggs in the lab.
In efforts to control or eradicate avian influenza, veterinary medical officer David Suarez provides expertise and guidance to several Southeast Asian and eastern European countries to set up practical and effective laboratory systems. (Photo by Peggy Greb, ARS)

Suarez also prioritizes mentoring the new generation of researchers. He served as a major professor for three Ph.D. students at the University of Georgia and has been the major professor for two master’s degree students (one at the University of Georgia and one at Tuskegee University). He also works with both universities in providing summer research internships to veterinary students.

Suarez has also been recognized by federal agencies and industry organizations for his scientific advancements. Industry awards include the American Veterinary Medical Association Public Service Award (2016) and United States Animal Health Association Federal Partnership Award (2023).

The Agricultural Research Service is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific in-house research agency. Daily, ARS focuses on solutions to agricultural problems affecting America. Each dollar invested in U.S. agricultural research results in $20 of economic impact.