Adam Krull and Mike Roof
Adam Krull and Mike Roof in a lab at Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica’s research center in the ISU Research Park. Photo: John C. Thomas
Deepening the Talent Pool

By Veronica Lorson Fowler
forward Magazine, Iowa State University Foundation

On the front line of protecting the nation’s food animal agriculture industry are the people in the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Thanks to a vast network of experts and research, cutting-edge technology, and powerful partnerships and programs, Iowa State is guiding key national strategies and training food-animal experts around the world.

One of these people is Adam Krull, clinical assistant professor. A 2008 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine graduate, he returned to Iowa State in 2010 to pursue a doctorate in veterinary microbiology, studying the causes of digital dermatitis or hairy heel wart, which can lead to decreased milk production and decreased reproductive efficiency in dairy cattle. As part of his program, he received the Graduate Fellowship in Bovine Infectious Diseases through Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., a global leader in the animal health industry located in the ISU Research Park. The company’s long-term relationship with Iowa State has helped make Ames the epicenter for animal health research in the country.

Krull has a special appreciation for the commitment, collaboration and continuity Iowa State and BIVI bring to tackling digital dermatitis and many other animal diseases. “A lot of people might approach the problem by simply taking samples and instantly trying to create a vaccine,” he says. Instead, Iowa State and BIVI are studying the organisms causing diseases like this over a period of years, and working together to treat and prevent them.

In fact, Krull has continued his research in digital dermatitis – and made promising breakthroughs in treating the disease.

Attracting and training knowledgeable, passionate researchers in veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine like Krull is at the center of the Iowa State-BIVI partnership. BIVI has funded graduate fellowships, a professorship, summer programs for food-supply veterinary students, research projects, and other efforts and programs in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Among its recent support in the study of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus, which has produced losses well over $600 million annually in the U.sS. swine industry alone.

Michael Roof, executive director of biologics research and development and head of the research center at Ames’ BIVI facility, and an affiliate professor at Iowa State, said providing support for people is critical. “People are the link between what technology provides and what industry needs. They’re the bridge that brings forward practical tools and adds value. Iowa State has been a great partner for us to develop these tools so we can then get them into customer’s hands.”

Pat Halbur, chair of veterinary diagnostic medicine and executive director of the VDL, echoes Roof’s statement. “BIVI helps keep us on the cutting edge by investing in our training programs through funding graduate students and post-doctoral students. That allows us to be creative and innovative in pursing interesting things or gaps in knowledge. Between the VDL and BIVI, there are likely few diagnostic challenges too big for us to work together and solve.”