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USDA awards grants to ISU for genomic research, Extension


The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded competitive grants to Iowa State University for projects in animal genomics research and Extension.

The three Iowa State projects were awarded grants through the National Research Initiative Animal Genome Program, which seeks to develop sound, practical, science-based knowledge that can be shared with other researchers, farmers and consumers of U.S. animal products. The grants totaled $1.7 million.

The Bioinformatics to Implement Genomic Selection project will develop Web-accessible software for statistical analysis of genomic data in beef cattle to provide breeders with information to increase the likelihood of selecting young livestock with desirable production traits. The project's research team includes principal investigator Dorian Garrick, and Jack Dekkers and Rohan Fernando, all from the animal science department, and Dan Nettleton, statistics department.

Another project will examine the immune response of pigs to salmonella bacteria with the goal of genetically identifying animals with greater immunity to reduce the shedding of the bacteria in manure at the farm. Chris Tuggle, animal science, is the researcher leading the Developing Predictive Models for Identifying Pigs with Superior Immune Response and Improved Food Safety project. His collaborators at Iowa State include Dan Nettleton, statistics; Michael Wannemuehler, veterinary microbiology and preventive medicine; Vasant Honavar, computer science; Annette O'Connor and James McKean, veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine; as well as scientists at USDA's Agricultural Research Service labs in Ames, Shawn Bearson, and in Beltsville, Md., Joan Lunney.

Another grant will help support a symposium for experimental and computational scientists and engineers on systems biology, which is the study of complex interactions in biological systems. Drena Dobbs, genetics, development and cell biology; Marit Nilsen-Hamilton, biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology; and Chris Tuggle, animal science, are organizing the symposium, which will feature 19 speakers June 11 to 14 from across the United States and several foreign countries.

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