The Texas A&M University poultry science department won four of 12 national awards given at the Poultry Science Association meeting held recently in Indianapolis.
Dr. Lee Cartwright won an award for his research on an anti-fat antibody, while the Aggie Reps won an award for student recruitment. Dr. Alan Sams and Dr. John Carey each won career achievement awards.
Cartwright, who has worked for several years to develop the anti-fat antibody, is now in the process of pursuing a patent for his recent development.
The process of reducing fat occurs when certain kinds of monoclonal cells--antibodies that only bind with a single type of cell to fight foreign objects in the body--are exposed to chicken fat cells, destroying them. Birds and mammals carry many types of these monoclonal cells.
After Cartwright isolated six antibodies that bind specifically with fat cells, he was able to destroy the fat cells with these antibodies by injecting them into eggs or newly-hatched chicks.
Cartwright said the antibody has been proven in tests to reduce the amount of abdominal fat in chickens by up to 40%. Although this could have implications for fat reduction in humans in the long run, Cartwright said this process is hindered by the ethical concerns of injecting (human) babies with the antibody. However, simply cutting down on the amount of fat within food reduces calorie intake and indirectly affects humans, he said.
Cartwright was given the Broiler Research Award for his research in this area.
"It's quite a prestigious award that has been given to many outstanding researchers in the past," Cartwright said. "That really makes me proud to have received the award."
The Aggie Reps, a group of 10 students who serve as ambassadors for the Texas A&M poultry science department, were also honored with the national award for student recruitment.
"(Aggie Reps) is a popular program," said Sams, professor and poultry science department head. "Only about half of the applicants are chosen to be Aggie Reps, but we have a great bunch of students this year."
Sams was given the Poultry Science Processing and Product Quality Award for the improvements he has made to that sector of poultry science.
Since Sams began working for Texas A&M in 1987, he has developed a system of stunning chickens with carbon dioxide gas before slaughter to increase the quality of meat. He has also developed a method to prevent defective meat and a system for increasing the processing efficiency of poultry meat.
"Processing and product research is my area of specialization," Sams said. "It was an honor to receive this award. ".
Carey was also honored with the Phibro Extension Award for Outstanding Extension Programming, which recognized him for all the work he's done with the poultry science industry as well as with the general public.
According to Sams, Carey's focus is on the environmental impacts of waste management, egg quality and ultraviolet radiation to reduce E. coli and salmonella in chickens and turkeys.
"He works hard for the public, not just for the industry, and this award recognizes his efforts in both areas," Sams said. "Overall our department did pretty well. We won four national awards and they only give out 12, so we were pleased with the outcome."