Expert on Emerging Infectious Zoonotic Diseases Joining K-State as a Regents Distinguished Professor

Saturday, September 1, 2007 General News
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MANHATTAN, Kan., Aug. 31 Juergen Richt, leadscientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Animal DiseaseCenter and an adjunct professor at Iowa State University, will be joiningKansas State University as a Regents Distinguished Professor.

Richt's appointment begins in April 2008.

The Regents professorship, which is in the College of Veterinary Medicine,is the most prestigious of all academic appointments in the Kansas Regents'system of universities and colleges. The appointment comes with generousfunding support, as well as the chance to direct the appointment of at leasttwo additional new supporting faculty positions.

Richt is a veterinary microbiologist who has worked with multiple agentsof zoonotic potential. Zoonotic diseases can be transmitted from animals tohumans. Richt has published extensively on topics including the microbiologyof bovine spongiform encephalopathy, chronic wasting disease, animal flu,borna virus and other emerging zoonotic diseases. He's been widely publishedin more than 60 journals, including Nature Biotechnology, Journal ofExperimental Medicine, Journal of Virology and Science.

Richt's appointment further strengthens the nexus of expertise at K-Statein the animal health and food safety and security arenas.

"Dr. Juergen Richt will be a brilliant addition not only to our faculty inthe College of Veterinary Medicine, but for the entire university and thestate of Kansas," said Jon Wefald, K-State president.

"Dr. Richt's experience and reputation will contribute tremendously to ouruniversity-wide commitment to animal health and food safety and security,"said Ralph Richardson, dean of K-State's College of Veterinary Medicine. "Hisresearch will greatly advance K-State as a center of research excellence ininfectious diseases of livestock.

"In many ways, he will position us to play an important role in protectingthe public from emerging infectious diseases such as avian influenza,"Richardson said.

Richt received a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University ofMunich, and a doctorate in veterinary virology from the University of Giessenin Germany under the guidance of the late Dr. Rudolf Rott, considered one ofthe most eminent veterinary virologists of the last century. Richt'spostdoctoral studies were conducted at Johns Hopkins University from 1989 to1991.

In 1991, he returned to the Institute of Virology at the University ofGiessen's College of Veterinary Medicine and established an independent andwell-funded research program in molecular virology. Richt moved to the U.S. in2000 to work as a veterinary medical officer at the National Animal DiseasesCenter, a federally-funded laboratory with broad goals similar to those of K-State's animal health and food safety and security programs. At the federalcenter, Richt worked in two areas: emerging viral diseases of swine and priondiseases, such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also called BSE or mad cowdisease. He was the first in the U.S. to describe "atypical" BSE cases.

Richt has developed novel diagnostic tests to detect major swinerespiratory pathogens, as well as developing novel vaccination conceptsagainst flu viruses. He also has studied the interspecies transmission ofprion agents. Because of his research expertise, he has begun rapidly movinginto the field of animal influenza research and is being recognized for hisunderstanding of avian/swine/human viral transmission.

As a Regents professor, Richt said he plans to establish a new researchprogram at K-State's Biosecurity Research Institute. The opportunity, he said,was a major factor in his decision to come to K-State.

"K-State's commitment to working on major livestock diseases istremendously important for both the agricultural community and nationalsecurity," Richt said. "I am looking forward to contributing to t

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