College of Veterinary Medicine

Agricultural Animal Health Program (AAHP)

Agricultural Animal Health Program (AAHP)

Land Grant Colleges have an historic and unique mission to serve the agriculture industry. The College of Veterinary Medicine(CVM) plays a vital role in that mission as a provider of animal health investigative, diagnostic, and research support to the agricultural animal industries.

With the advent of the genomic era, science is providing powerful new tools to solve long standing as well as emergent health problems that compromise animal and human well-being. However, to maximize benefits from these tools and to develop new ones requires focus, consolidation, and a multidisciplinary approach.

The College of Veterinary Medicine Agricultural Animal Health Program (AAHP) provides programmatic oversight of College agricultural animal health activities to ensure that efficient and productive use of scarce resources results in maximum impact.The AAHP oversees the College's efforts on behalf of animal industries, establishes College priorities for comprehensive disease investigation, and enables fiscal support of targeted projects in support of priorities identified by academic and industry representatives.

Existing CVM programs have been integrated into partnerships that bridge traditional departmental and unit lines. Component units of the AAHP include the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (WADDL), Field Diseases Investigation Unit (FDIU), Animal Health Research Center (AHRC), and USDA-ARS Animal Disease Research Unit (ADRU).


To enhance the well being of agricultural animals and wholesomeness of food animal products through integrated disease diagnosis, field investigation, and research.

Statement of Purpose

The AAHP bridges existing segments of the College to consolidate disease control efforts on behalf of the agricultural animal industries in the State of Washington. This program has the unifying purpose of responding to diseases and disease agents that threaten the well-being of food animals and the safety of food animal products through comprehensive control efforts extending from the field to the basic research laboratory. It is a multidisciplinary program with expertise in individual animal and population medicine, field epidemiology, laboratory diagnostics, and research. Unification of purpose and consolidation of efforts focuses disease control on priorities identified by the veterinary medical and animal production communities, enhances utilization of existing resources, and promotes expansion of targeted programs.

Through the integrated efforts of component units, the AAHP strives to provide enhanced infrastructure for:
  • Recognition of emergent animal and public health problems
  • Response to disease outbreaks
  • Industry access to disease control methods and research results
  • International marketability and economic return to producers
  • Provision of a wholesome and safe food supply
  • Leverage of federal and private research dollars


The AAHP is coordinated by Dr. Terry F. McElwain, who is appointed by and reports to the Dean. Dr. McElwain also serves as Executive Director of the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (WADDL) and Director of the Animal Health Research Center (AHRC). The AAHP coordinator is responsible for overseeing and organizing all aspects of the AAHP, including the AHRC operations and personnel budgets, Safe Food Initiative, intramural research funds (as an ad hoc member of the research committee), section 1433 formula funds and any other funds obtained for support of the program. These funds do not include individual investigator initiated grant monies, or the CVM budgets provided as direct support for other component parts of the AAHP, including WADDL and the FDIU.

A key part of the AAHP organization is an external Advisory Board. The AAHP Advisory Board includes representatives of the dairy, beef, poultry, aquaculture, swine, small ruminant, and equine industries; the State Veterinarian; the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association; and the College of Agriculture and Home Economics. The purpose of the AAHP Advisory Board is to serve as a resource for information on state, regional, and federal animal health issues affecting industry; to provide guidance in establishing research and investigation priorities; and to represent the interests of the AAHP to state, regional, and federal organizations.

Within the CVM, an academic advisory group representing WADDL, AHRC, FDIU, and USDA-ARS ADRU provides advice and guidance to the Coordinator.

Working Concept: Disease Control From the Field To The Laboratory and Back

The AAHP is a College resource with efforts divided into two principal areas: [1] disease diagnosis, consultation and field investigation; and [2] research.

The first working area of disease diagnosis, consultation, and investigation has primary responsibility for regional monitoring of animal health, identification of emergent diseases and changing disease patterns, rapid response to disease outbreaks, and communication of known and emergent disease trends to the animal and public health communities. Once identified, diseases without appropriate control methods that significantly affect the well-being of agricultural animals or safety of animal products become the focus for new research projects. These research projects are coordinated under the AHRC, may involve the USDA ADRU, and in most cases will be multidisciplinary. As new diagnostic, management, and preventive methods of control become available, they will be transferred back into the field through WADDL and FDIU. We recognize that this approach to disease control is not novel; rather, it is classical and traditional to solve disease problems through a combination of epidemiologic investigation, laboratory diagnosis, and development of immunoprophylactic or other preventive techniques through research. Our goal is simply to facilitate this classic approach through a unified and cohesive College effort.

Programs of Research

The CVM and USDA ADRU have internationally recognized faculty in the fields of microbiology, immunology, population medicine and epidemiology. Current projects are all oriented toward disease control by identification of management factors affecting disease occurrence, development of improved diagnostic and immunologic control methods, and understanding the basis for the protective host immune response. Expertise extends from the molecular level to the herd, and the importance of each to disease control efforts is emphasized.
Established programs of research are multidisciplinary, and are in research areas targeted as priorities for funding by federal animal and human health study groups, including genomics, emerging diseases, food safety and antimicrobial resistance. These priority areas have broad animal production industry support and application, and are predicted to become increasingly significant with expanded international trade opportunities. Programs of Research are grouped under the following umbrellas:

Research Programs Program Leader
Food Safety and Zoonoses Program Tom Besser
Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE's) Don Knowles
Vector-Borne Diseases Guy Palmer
Immunology and Vaccine Development Wendy Brown
Program in Genomics Doug Call, Kelly Brayton
Last Edited: Aug 28, 2009 3:54 PM   

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