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Early Innovators

Early Innovators

Dr. Ival A. Merchant (1898-1985) DVM, MS, PhD, CPH

Dr. Merchant was one of the organizing members of the National Board of Veterinary Public Health. He joined the VMPM faculty in 1925, and early on he recognized the importance of veterinary medicine in public health. He spent a year (1933-34) at the School of Public Health, Yale University College of Medicine, receiving the C.P.H.

After returning to ISU, he wrote the textbook Veterinary Bacteriology, first published in 1940. Through six editions, Dr. Merchant's book was the primary microbiology textbook used in veterinary colleges for decades. The title in later editions expanded to Veterinary Bacteriology and Virology and included Dr. R. A. Packer as a co-author.

Dr. Merchant was head of the department from 1943 to 1952; and dean of the College from 1952 to 1963.

Dr. R. Allen Packer (1914-1999) DVM, MS, PhD

Dr. Packer was a distinguished professor and microbiologist whose career in veterinary medicine began with graduation from ISU in 1940. He taught microbiology from 1943 until his retirement in 1985. He served as VMPM Dept. Chair from 1952 to 1980.

Because of his worldwide reputation as a microbiologist, he was chosen as a section chair for the 18th World Veterinary Conference in 1967. He served as president for the World Association of Veterinary Microbiologists meeting in 1973.

Dr. William P. Switzer DVM, MS, PhD

Distinguished Professor Emeritus. Through his research, Dr. Switzer has made major contributions to our understanding of swine respiratory diseases. The vaccines he developed for atrophic rhinitis and kennel cough have had a major impact on the prevention of these important diseases. Those two patents rank in the top five of all ISU patents generating royalty income for the ISU Research Foundation.

Food Safety & Risk Assessment

Distinguished Professor Emeritus. Dr. George W. Beran has worked throughout the world as an expert in risk assessment related to food borne pathogens. Although he recently retired from teaching and now carries the title of professor emeritus, he continues to serve in significant appointments with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

As a WHO / FAO expert, he serves as a resource in food safety activities and leads expert panels on assessment of risk for microbiological food borne pathogens. Eighty (80) percent of food-borne diseases are from animal products, Dr. Beran explains; and there are about 250 diseases worldwide that can be transmitted from animals to humans.

Eliminating salmonella is a particular emphasis in Dr. Beran’s current work. He led ISU’s involvement and served as chair of the Food Safety Research Program, a component of a three-university Food Safety Consortium. He is director of ISU’s World Health Organization Collaborating Center in Risk Assessment and Hazard Intervention in Foods of Animal Origin, which is the only WHO center in Iowa.

Earlier in his research career, Dr. Beran played a leadership role in developing a program for the USDA to implement for the eradication of pseudorabies in swine. Dr. Beran has worked on disease control strategies in at least one foreign country every year for the last 43 years. In addition to food borne pathogens, he directs some of his attention to rabies control, which is a major problem in many developing countries.