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Cornell professor named honorary Francqui Chair

schukken Dr. Ynte Schukken has been named an honorary Francqui Chair at the University of Ghent in Belgium and will be presented with the university medal at a formal ceremony on February 17, 2010. Chosen from an international pool of candidates, Schukken was nominated for the award by faculty at the University of Ghent’s College of Veterinary Medicine and appointed by the university’s president. He will present his inaugural lecture, Milk, math and molecules: epidemiology of endemic infectious disease in cattle, in the historical auditorium of the University of Ghent in a ceremony for members of the university community and invited guests.

To fulfil his role as chair, Schukken will spend a period of time in Belgium, during which he will offer 10 hours of presentations, begin a research collaboration, and help to organize various events, including a symposium and workshop.

“I expect that the work I begin in Belgium will lead to long-standing partnerships,” said Schukken. “I am looking forward to developing opportunities to further our understanding of issues such as mastitis that are critically important to the welfare of cows and the dairy industry.”

While serving as chair, Schukken will work with doctoral students and professional staff to statistically analyze antimicrobial resistance data as it relates to an emerging group of pathogens known as coagulase negative staphylococci. The team will compare the severity, pathogenicity, and the effectiveness of treating these emerging mastitis pathogens.

“When Ghent University asked the staff of our Faculty of Veterinary Medicine for candidacies for this chair, I immediately thought of Dr. Schukken,” said Dr. Sarne De Vliegher. “He is one of the most outstanding veterinary epidemiologists in the world and an excellent speaker. In my field of research, udder health and milk quality, he is one of the leading scientists and very much respected. His ability to combine his profound knowledge of the disease mastitis (and other diseases) and the statistical methods to study it, having an outstanding mathematical and epidemiological background, is admirable. I would expect someone of his calibre, someone who publishes many excellent papers each year, to never to leave his office, but he is still very active at farms and in his lab and manages the Quality Milk Production Services. To sum up in a few words, he is an outstanding example of someone who is combining research, farm services, training, teaching at the highest levels. Still, he is very modest and relaxed, always friendly and willing to help anyone, even the youngest PhD student who is trying to learn from his wisdom.”

Schukken is a professor of epidemiology and herd health at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and serves as the director of the Quality Milk Production Services, part of the College’s Animal Health Diagnostic Center. He earned his DVM and PhD at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. His research aims to improve the profession’s understanding of population dynamics of infectious diseases in animal populations; udder health in well managed dairy herds; and the application of epidemiological, statistical and mathematical methods to animal disease research.

“My approach to research has been a comprehensive application of epidemiological, mathematical and patho-biological methods,” said Schukken, who has been a principal investigator or co-principal investigator on more than 35 competitive grants and has published extensively in the area of endemic disease in dairy cows. “This integrated approach emphasizing strong collaborations with scientists in related but different disciplines has provided me with the most productive solutions to research questions. I enjoy working in the field and with animals. Often field data provide crucial information and hypotheses that lead to the formulation of research questions. However, field data are often crude with many potential biases. More precise measurements and study designs in controlled environments may provide further insight into the disease dynamics.”