The faculty listed below have ongoing research programs in the Louisiana Agricultural Center. They can be contacted directly with questions about their programs:
Kenneth R. Bondioli, Professor
Reproductive Physiology/Biotechnology. Embryo Biotechnology, Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, Genetic Modification of Animals, Stem Cell Biology and Epigenetic Regulation of Gene Expression.
Richard K. Cooper, Professor
Many live-attenuated or killed vaccines require a cold storage component in the supply chain which makes their use in remote areas difficult. In addition, some of these vaccines are priced beyond the financial ability of the poorer areas of our world that depend heavily on healthy animals to meet their dietary needs. DNA vaccines eliminate the need for cold storage and are significantly cheaper to produce.
Currently, our laboratory is developing a platform technology for delivery of DNA vaccines and gene therapy vectors. One goal of the project is a bacterial host\vector combination capable of eliminating the antibiotic resistance gene(s) prior to vector harvest. Accomplishing this goal will result in DNA vaccines that should gain approval more easily by the Food and Drug Administration since the potential for horizontal gene transfer will be eliminated. To test the system, DNA vaccines against Brucella spp. and Anaplasma marginale are being constructed and will be tested in animals to determine vaccine efficacy.
In conjunction with this work, we are developing transfection agents with more efficient DNA vector delivery. Through a combination of more natural, less toxic compounds and specific tissue targeting, our aim is to achieve transfection efficiency sufficient to require only one injection. One injection, coupled with eliminating the need for a cold storage component in the supply chain, would make this system ideal for remote areas in developing countries.
Philip H. Elzer, Associate Vice President for Animal Sciences & Natural Resources, Director for the School of Animal Sciences, Meraux Champion Livestock Professor
Dr. Elzer's area of research is bacterial pathogenesis focusing on host-parasite interactions and immunity. He has several projects involving brucellosis, including animal modeling, vaccine efficacy, in vitro bactericidal assays, serological testing, and novel therapeutic agents. The research is directed towards a variety of animal species including cattle, swine, goats, sheep, and wildlife, especially elk and bison. A mouse model for bovine and human brucellosis may be used as a primary screen to evaluate the host response. Several of the Brucella species are considered to be potential biological warfare agents due to the characteristic protracted debilitating disease caused by these organisms therefore current work focuses on the use of vaccine strains.
Research interests include the role of Cardiac fibroblasts in cardiac fibrosis, the impact of obesity and diabetes on skeletal muscle and depot-specific regulation of adipogenesis.
Research focuses on a better understanding of early embryo development to reduce reproductive loss in mammals. The central theme of this research is to study the epigenetic mechanisms by which a differentiated cell (both gametes and/or somatic cells) is reprogrammed to generate a pluripotent cell (zygote or cloned embryos). In this system, the oocyte is responsible for orchestrating the reprogramming mechanism for early cleavage during which the essential components of transcriptome, methylome, histone modification and chromatin architecture are regulated and drive the development of a whole individual. We use a comparative approach which includes different species (cattle, goat, mouse), different models of nuclear reprogramming (In vivo derived/IVF embryos, cloned embryos, and pluripotency stem cells), and state-of-art whole genome scale of single cell analysis. Overall, this capability lends itself well to comparative studies of epigenetics as it relates to oocyte and embryo viability, as well as the future application of this knowledge to assisted reproductive technology settings.
Kenneth W. McMillin, Mr. and Mrs. Herman E. McFatter Professor of Animal Science
Meat Science; projects study processing, packaging, recovery and safety of meat and muscles from food animal species and different production systems.
Vinicius R. Moreira, Associate Professor
Research includes efforts in Dairy Cow Nutrition to maximize efficiency of nutrient utilization for milk production. Specifically, strategic management of phosphorus feeding to lactating dairy cows in Louisiana and the impact of different feeds on manure nutrient content.
Projects also aim to develop and improve methods for manure management and recycling of nutrients, specifically the potential environmental impact of handling, storage and utilization of manure management. Also, wastewater sequential treatment in anaerobic/aerobic lagoons/constructed wetlands, and the effects of management practices on manure nutrient composition and losses.
Current work in waste management of small dairy operations includes surveying Louisiana dairy farmers on current dairy waste management practices and sampling dairy wastewater lagoon systems to evaluate treatment efficiency. This project’s report will propose possible procedures to improve the way manure is currently handled in small dairy operations in the Southeast Region of the US.
A project currently under development, examines the prevalence of mycotoxins in dairy feeds and dairy products in Malawi.
A long term project studies the use of floating islands to enhance dairy wastewater treatment in Southeast Louisiana to evaluate the effect of floating islands on wastewater treatment efficiency in a multistage wastewater treatment system.
Research focuses on Equine Reproductive Physiology and Endocrinology, especially as they relate to vernal transition in mares. Current research is aimed at identifying cellular changes in the ovary in response to stimulated prolactin as well as developing a simple, efficient and cost effective way to induce early ovulation in seasonally anovulatory mares.
Christine B. Navarre, Professor
Animal Health Research
Donald L. Thompson, Jr., Ralph and Lela Boulware Professor of Animal Sciences
Equine Reproduction, Endocrinology, and Metabolism; project studies the use of dopaminergic and anti-dopaminergic compounds in equine reproduction and metabolism.
Cathleen C. Williams, Professor
Ruminant Nutrition and Physiology; focus has been on Dairy Calf Nutrition and Management.