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Cornell University Experts on Avian Flu

For interviews with Avian Flu experts and more information,
contact Sabina Lee, 607-255-3024, <>.

College of Veterinary Medicine

Department of Population Medicine & Diagnostic Sciences

Torres, Alfonso - Director Diagnostic Laboratory
A former U.S. chief veterinary officer and director of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, a high-security animal lab now under the Dept. of Homeland Security. As a leading U.S. health officials tracking the current progress of the avian flu, he is to speak at the Woodrow Wilson Center on 11/30 for avian influenza conference where he will bring together experts from public health, animal health, wildlife management and the poultry industry. Speaks Spanish.

Dubovi, Edward - Diagnostic Laboratory - Virology section
He is leading an effort that tests for virulent avian flu viruses.
Working with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, he and his colleagues have been trying to detect the footprint of the avian influenza virus from live samples from bird markets.

Lucio-Martinez, Benjamin Director of Veterinary Medicine Avian Disease Program, Poultry extension veterinarian, Extension Associate, Sr.
Expert on diagnosis and control of Poultry disease. He surveys commercial farms, backyard operations and pet birds and collaborates with the NY State Dept. of Agriculture and Markets to keep tabs on live bird markets in New York City. Speaks Spanish.

Trock, Sue - Veterinary extension epidemiologist, Extension Associate, Sr.
Expert in conducting field investigations for zoonotic (disease that humans can get from animals) and animal infectious disease agents. Currently overseeing the five filed technicians who took live bird samples from NYS bird markets at the NY State Dept. of Agriculture and Markets in Albany.

Kim, Sung Guk - Molecular Diagnostics director, Research Associate
He has been working closely with Dr. Dubovi. He is able to articulate PRC lab procedures relevant to avian influenza testing in both English and Korean.

Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Schat, Karel A. - Professor of Avian Virology and Immunology
He has funding for a 50% FTE release to work at the Australian Animal Health Laborotory (AAHL)/CSIRO Livestock Industries in Geelong, Victoria starting in April to work with the H5N1 virus to study the importance of the mutations in the endonuclease protein coded for by the PB2 genes. The change from glutamic acid to lysine in PB2 has been linked to isolates from avian origin that were obtained from humans. These changes have been linked to an increase in mammalian pathogenicity. He will study the effects of these changes in ducks and chickens using strains generated by reverse genetics and provided to him by Dr. Ruben Donis (PhD Cornell, 1987), Chief of the Molecular Genetics Section Influenza Branch of the CDC. He will be working in the high bio-security laboratories of AAHL side by side with scientists from AAHL in a joint project fo AAHL, CoDC and Cornell University. Questions of interest include: do the changes have an effect on the birds, does the virus change again once reintroduced to birds, and can the birds carry the mammalian pathogenic forms and hence become a vector for the spread to mammals, and of course humans. Speaks Dutch.

Whittaker, Gary - Associate Professor of Virology
He received a bachelor's degree in Biochemistry, and his Ph.D. in Microbiology from Leeds University U.K - studying the molecular biology and biochemistry of equine herpesvirus. He obtained postdoctoral training at Yale University in the laboratory of Dr. Ari Helenius, studying the cell biology of influenza virus replication. Dr Whittaker's laboratory is focused on the entry of influenza and coronaviruses into host cells and is funded by research grants from the American Lung Association and the National Institutes of Health.

New York: Weill Cornell Medical Center

Moscona, Anne Infectious disease expert, Professor of Pediatrics and of Microbiology and Immunology
She received her M.D. from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1982 and her residency and fellowship training at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She joins Weill Cornell following 23 years at Mount Sinai where she was a Professor of Pediatrics, served as Division Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases from 1997 to 2002 and Vice Chair of Pediatrics for Research since 2002, Director of the Pathogenesis and Mechanisms of Host Defense (Microbiology and Immunology) course in the medical school and Assistant Director of the MD/PhD program in the Graduate School of Biological Sciences. Recent publications include Neuraminidase Inhibitors for Influenza in The New England Journal of Medicine, in which she discusses avian influenza and pandemic planning.