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K-State Researchers Bringing Expertise to Kansas City Symposium on Disease and National Security

MANHATTAN, Kan., Sept. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kansas State University's expertise on diseases transmitted between animals and humans is being tapped for a prestigious symposium in Kansas City, Mo.

Nearly half of the experts featured at the Zoonoses and National Biosecurity Symposium, Monday, Sept. 17, are affiliated with K-State. The symposium, at the Kansas City Convention and Entertainment Center, is being organized by the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute.

Drs. T.G. Nagaraja, Bob Rowland and Roman Ganta, all professors in the department of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology at K-State's College of Veterinary Medicine, will speak at the symposium, as well as Dr. Juergen Richt, K-State's new Regents Distinguished Professor.

"The symposium's presenters are internationally recognized for their expertise," said Ralph Richardson, dean of K-State's College of Veterinary Medicine. "Tapping that many of our faculty underscores K-State's status in the field of bioscience, and it's one of the primary reasons that the federal government should build the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan."

Richt, will kick off the symposium at 8:30 a.m. with "BSE Prions and Flu Viruses: Two Distinct Zoonotic Agents." This presentation will provide a basic understanding of prion diseases, especially bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease. He'll discuss the molecular features of typical and atypical cases of mad cow disease, the molecular nature of influenza virus evolution and will introduce a novel concept to vaccinate against influenza viruses. Richt is currently lead scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Animal Disease Center and is an adjunct professor with Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Microbiology and Preventative Medicine. He will officially join K-State's faculty in April 2008.

Nagaraja will present "Escherichia coli 0157 and Food Safety" at 9 a.m. He will discuss how Escherichia coli O157 has emerged as a major foodborne pathogen. Nagaraja studies the ecology of E. coli O157 in cattle and is working to identify intervention strategies at the farm level that will ultimately reduce the risk of human disease.

Rowland presentation at 9:40 a.m., "Emerging Diseases in Swine," will be on how the rapid emergence, widespread distribution and evolution of infectious diseases affects the modern swine operation, as well as the challenges posed by the zoonotic potential of new and re-emerging viruses.

At 11:05 a.m., Ganta will present "Zoonotic Infections by Tick-Transmitted Rickettsiales of the Genera Ehrlichia and Anaplasma: Challenges and Opportunities." Ganta's specialty is in tick-borne rickettsial pathogens, which have been recognized as the persistent concern for the health of several companion animals and livestock. During the last two decades, several zoonotic pathogens causing infections in people have also been reported. Ganta will discuss the future direction of zoonotic diseases caused by tick-transmitted rickettsiales.

The symposium's keynote address will be delivered by Alfonso Torres, associate dean for public policy at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University, who will present "Globalization of Biosecurity Concerns: Are We Prepared?"

K-State's experts at the symposium also will be joined by other veterinarians from the University of Missouri and the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa.

"Missouri has already endorsed Manhattan as the preferred home for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility and, along with the unparalleled concentration of medical schools, research institutes, and animal health and nutrition companies located within the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor, we can boast of a level of expertise and research capability on these topics that is simply outstanding," Richardson said. "This program will undoubtedly be viewed as one of great importance."

K-State's expertise in the field of bioscience research is ever-growing. Today, more than 150 K-Staters are actively involved in the food safety and animal health arenas, and more than $70 million has been invested in related research since 1999.

The free, half-day symposium begins at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 17 and is affiliated with the Central Veterinary Conference in Kansas City. More information is available at

The Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute is a nonprofit organization assisting with the transformation of Kansas City into a center of excellence in life sciences' research and development and commercialization.

Pronouncer: NAGARAJA is Nah-gah-rah-jah; and JUERGEN RICHT is Yer-gen Rickt

SOURCE Kansas State University
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