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Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases

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The Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) at Kansas State University was established in 2010 to help protect the nation’s agricultural and public health sectors against high-consequence foreign animal, emerging and zoonotic disease threats.  CEEZAD has four principal missions:

  • Development of novel, safe, efficacious and DIVA-compatible vaccines for prevention and control of high-impact emerging and zoonotic diseases that can be manufactured in the U.S.
  • Development and expansion of technologies and platforms for laboratory and point-of-need pathogen detection.
  • Development of models to predict high-consequence disease behavior in the U.S. to aid prevention or outbreak control.
  • Development of education and training programs for students, veterinarians, first responders and researchers in high-impact animal diseases and animal emergencies.

News/Events Highlights

July 24, 2017

CEEZAD conducts annual Summer Training Program at KSU

Ten students in veterinary medicine and various areas of infectious disease research took part in the 2017 BSL-3 Training / Transboundary Animal Diseases Summer Program sponsored by the Center of Excellence For Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) June 12-21.  The program is funded by the Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate.

The Summer Program is an annual exercise in which CEEZAD gathers experts in the fields of biosecurity, pathobiology, virology, high-containment research and related fields in order to prepare promising students who are interested in infectious animal disease research.  The sessions took place at the Biosecurity Research Institute at Kansas State University. The program also featured visits to various businesses within the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor.

Students cite preparing for a career working with infectious agents and zoonotic diseases as major reasons for participating in the CEEZAD program.  

Here are brief biographical sketches of the student participants:

Christal Clements (DVM, BS, Animal Sciences, Tuskegee University)

• Current program: Combined Clinical Microbiology Residency/PhD student, Washington State


• Research: Anaplasma phagocytophilum


Jim Duehr (BA, Biological Sciences, The College at the University of Chicago)

• Current program: PhD student, Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai;

• Research: Generation of novel antibody reagents against Hanta- and Ebolaviruses

• Goals: “I want to do a post-doc, probably in high-containment research.”


Melissa Dulcey (DVM, Washington State University; BS, Biology, Animal Science, University of Nevada)

• Current program: PhD student, Public Health, One Health Concentration, University of Florida

• Research: Bacterial pathogenesis – Shigella and Chlamydia


Michael Fink (DVM, BA, Communication and Psychology, University of Missouri)

Current program: Combined Comparative Medicine Residency/PhD student, Veterinary Pathobiology, University of Missouri

Research: Comparative ophthalmology: investigation of corneal wound healing in humans, dogs and horses; collaborative BSL-3/ABSL-3 containment studies on models of

BSL-3 and BSL3-Ag containment.


Andrew Golnar (BS, Biology, University of Denver; MS Entomology, Texas A&M University)

Current program: PhD student, Entomology, Texas A&M University

Research: The impacts of parasite interactions on infectious disease dynamics for vector-borne disease transmission.


Elle Holbrook (BS, Environmental Health, Colorado State University)

Current program: 2nd year DVM student, Colorado State University

Research: Involved in a project on arbovirus diagnostics and evolution at CSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory use whole genome sequencing to characterize the epidemiology of vesicular stomatitis virus in Colorado.

• On the Summer Training Institute: “The hands-on containment training…will make me more comfortable in any future positions I have.”


Joshua Lorbach (DVM, BS, Animal Science, The Ohio State University)

Current program: Combined Veterinary Pathology Residency (Anatomic)/PhD student, The Ohio State University

Research: Influenza A virus surveillance and epidemiology at the human-animal interface, including swine and avian species; and mouse models of influenza A virus disease.

• On the Summer Training Institute: “It was an interesting opportunity for us to train and learn about bio-security.”


Alexandra Medley (DVM, The Ohio State University; BA Music, Voice, Oberlin College Conservatory)

Current program: MPH student, The Ohio State University

Research: HPAI wild bird surveillance evaluation (USDA CEAH); rabies projects in Ethiopia, Haiti, and Tajikistan

• On veterinary training: “Veterinarians are the most collaborative people…the most supportive.”


Joseph Modarelli (BS, Biomedical Science, Texas A&M University)

Current program: PhD student, Genetics, Texas A&M University

Research: (1) Development and application of a canine real-time PCR assay for diagnostic detection of tick-borne pathogens; (2) Surveillance for tick-borne pathogens using multiplex qPCR in brown dog ticks


MaRyka Smith

Current program: Undergraduate student, Animal Sciences and Industry, Kansas State University; KSU College of Veterinary Medicine Early Admissions Scholar Fall 2018

Research (Undergraduate Research Assistant): investigation of how Rift Valley Fever virus damages ruminant kidneys: Development of a Silver Methenamine Masson Trichrome (SMMT) stain for use in sheep kidneys.

• On the Summer Training Institute: “I’d never been formally trained in how to work in a bio-safety cabinet, so having he Bio Security Research Institute officers giving us tips and hints was the biggest thing I’ll be taking away.”

The students had the opportunity to train for one week at the Biosecurity Research Institute on operational techniques used in BSL-3 and BSL-3 Ag settings.

Among invited speakers contributing their expertise to the program were:

Dr. Alfonso Torres, Cornell University; Dr. Young Lyoo, Konkuk University, Seoul, South Korea; Dr. Keith Hamilton, Kansas State University; Cheryl Doerr, Kansas State University; Dr. Chris Detter, MRI Global; Dr. Alan Young, South Dakota State University, Medgene Labs; Dr. Byron Rippke, USDA Center for Veterinary Biologics; Dr. Jonathan Arzt, Plum Island Animal Disease Center; and Dr. Emmie DeWit, NIH, Rocky Mountain Laboratories.

In addition to valuing the BSL-3 training received, students report networking opportunities with invited speakers and other students participants to be valuable experiences from the program.

July 21, 2017

Researcher undertakes second summer of work on nanoparticles

It’s been a busy and productive year for a Mississippi Valley State University researcher involved with the Center of Excellence For Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases (CEEZAD).

Dr. Matthewos Eshete, an associate professor of chemistry at Mississippi Valley State, is spending this summer right back where he was last year, working in the lab of Dr. Seong-O Choi and Dr. Santosh Aryal at Kansas State University. He is continuing his researcher into the binding interactions between proteins and biodegradable nanoparticles via a follow-up award to work he was involved with last summer using a Department of Homeland Security grant. CEEZAD sponsored Eshete’s work both summers through its Minority Serving Institution program.

Biodegradable nanoparticles are polymers containing great potential in developing therapeutic molecules such as vaccines and drugs to target cells. A nanoparticle is defined as being between one billionth of a meter and 10 millionths of a meter in size. The study of nanoparticles is playing a major role in the advancement of modern medicine because their interaction with proteins is consequential for drug delivery and the immune system.

Following his experience last summer, Dr. Eshete, who is a chemistry professor at MVSU, returned to his classroom where he was able to apply the lessons learned during that summer work. He also presented findings from his research to the Mississippi Academy of Science in February, and to the 2nd Global Nanotechnology Conference in Las Vegas in December.

“It was a good review,” he said of his published finding, which is titled, “Interaction of Immune System Protein With Pegylated and Unpegylated Polymeric Nanoparticles.” In addition to Dr. Eshete, the co-authors include Kayla Bailey, an MVSU student who joined him during his 2016 summer research, Dr. Choi, Dr. Aryal, and Tuyen Nguyen. It has been accepted for publication in Volume 6 of Advances in Nanoparticles, a peer-reviewed publication.

This summer at KSU, Dr. Eshete is expanding the work he did last summer, trying to test the efficacy of different modifications. The hope is that one or more of the modifications will hone scientists’ abilities to deliver drug to the affected tissue or cell in the body.” At present, one of the limitations of both drug-delivery and vaccinology-related research is the precision with which the affected tissue or cells are targeted.

Dr. Eshete intends to continue his research when he returns to MVSU in the fall. Moreover He has recruited two students to work on the project with him. He hopes that in addition to answering some of the scientific question, the research project will help rekindle students’ interest in science and technology and prepare them for 21st century work force.

 June 28, 2017

Current status report

The current status report is a weekly update on the status of all ongoing or recently resolved zoonotic disease outbreaks in the world. It is compiled by CEEZAD from information made available by the World Organization For Animal Health and other entities, and is organized first by major world region, then by disease, and finally by nation. Find it under world news on the CEEZAD website. 

 June 23, 2017

CEEZAD co-sponsors conference for rural veterinary practitioners

An inaugural event in Manhattan, Kansas, has helped educate rural veterinarians on how to respond and work together in the event of a potential transboundary emergency situation.

Held June 4 at the Hilton Garden Inn, the Rural Veterinary Practitioner Conference was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture with collaboration from the Beef Cattle Institute, Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases, National Agriculture Biosecurity Center (NABC), College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University and the Kansas Department of Agriculture.

The conference’s theme was “Preparing for Disease Challenges” and featured a variety of speakers such as Dr. Justin Smith, Kansas’ animal health commissioner. He has responsibility for directing the statewide response outbreaks of emerging or transboundary disease(s). He noted that Kansas is particularly vulnerable, in part, due to the annual shipment of more than 4.5 million head of cattle into the state (not counting cattle shipped purely for purposes of slaughter).

Dr. Smith said contingency plans in Kansas are based on the possible outbreak of foot and mouth disease, as it represents a worst-case scenario. He said, “If we can stop that, we can stop anything.”

Dr. Smith explained the first element of such contingency plans is to stop movement of the animal, which is a key element in controlling the spread of any potential outbreak. He emphasized how veterinarians in Kansas would play key roles in the event of any such outbreak since the state’s full-time manpower is sufficient to cope with the needs in an emergency.

Dr. Smith said the state response would involve a permitting process, but added that the state does not want any of its plans to damage the ability of farmers and ranchers to participate in the market.

“We want to make sure we can move product as soon as possible,” Dr. Smith said. “The issue is doing it at the speed of commerce.”

Dr. Ken Burton, director of project coordination for the Biosecurity Research Institute at Kansas State University and program director for the NABC, noted that with about 320,000 viruses capable of infecting mammals, potential concerns are abundant. He pointed out the nation’s agricultural sector is responsible for about 1 in 10 jobs, contributing $835 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product. With that level of activity, Dr. Burton said it’s easy to understand why the job of protecting the nation’s animal food supply from potential transboundary and emerging threats is so vital.

Other Kansas State University animal health experts spoke at the conference including Dr. Natalia Cernichiaro, assistant professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology, who discussed the use of data to investigate outbreaks. Dr. Mike Sanderson, a professor in the same department, outlined the Secure Beef Supply program.

Dr. Mike Miesner, clinical associate professor and section head of Livestock Services discussed common diseases that can look like more serious trans-boundary diseases. Professor emeritus Dr. Jerome Nietfeld  reviewed differential diagnoses of transboundary diseases, and Dr. Lina Mur, research assistant professor in infectious diseases epidemiology, gave an overview of the global movement of transboundary animal diseases.

Dr. Gregg Hanzlicek, assistant professor and director of Production Animal Field Investigations, spoke about disease trends as determined by diagnostic submissions to the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Winding up the conference was Dr. Bob Larson, professor of production medicine, who covered clinical diagnostic interpretation.

 June 21, 2017

Scientists learn history of 1918 Spanish Flu at Ft. Riley

 By Season Osterfeld | 1ST INF. DIV. POST

   More than 25 scientists from around the globe visited Fort Riley May 10 to hear the history of the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak at the installation and tour the museums.

     The scientists were in Manhattan, Kansas, May 7 to 10 for the 8th In­ternational Conference on Emerging Zoonosis hosted by staff of Kansas State University. The conference is held every three years and consists of an interdisciplinary forum of physi­cians, veterinarians, epidemiologists, immunologists, virologists, microbi­ologists, public health experts and oth­ers. During the event, the transmission of infectious diseases from animals to humans and the economic impact of transboundary diseases were discussion topics.

     With the assistance of retired Lt. Col. Arthur DeGroat, director of mili­tary affairs at Kansas State University, and Capt. Jamie Pecha, 1st Infantry Division preventive medicine officer, the international scientists received the history of the H1N1 Influenza, or Spanish Flu, that struck Fort Riley and spread across the world in 1918.

     Fort Riley is believed to be the ori­gin of the world-wide epidemic that killed millions, said Robert Smith, di­rector of the museum division at Fort Riley.

     “It was probably the greatest pan­demic the world has ever seen,” he said. “They (researchers) think it killed be­tween 2 and 4 percent of the world’s population. It was even greater than the bubonic plague back in the 14th century.”

     Over lunch at Demon Dining Fa­cility, Smith presented the history of the Spanish Flu at Fort Riley, as well as background on the installation and liv­ing conditions of Soldiers at that time. With a smirk, Smith told the scientists that patient zero was an Army cook named Albert Gitchell.

     “They thought it mutated from pigs and then infected some Soldiers, some draftees, from Pascal County, Kansas, and they came here to train at Fort Riley and then the first recorded flu case here was a cook of all people,” he said.

     Stephanie Hober, grant specialist, Kansas State University Center of Ex­cellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases, said the tour and his­tory were enjoyable and gave the group local background information on an epidemic several have studied.

     “They’re getting to see the histori­cal significance of Fort Riley in the outbreak of the Spanish Flu and the impact it had on the surrounding area here in the time it happened and the advances they’ve made since that time,” she said.

     Understanding the history of the 1918 Spanish Flu and how it spread through a military installation, across the nation and internationally helps scientists develop a larger picture on how viruses and diseases transform into pandemics and on to epidemics, said conference co-host Dr. Jürgen Richt, from Kansas State University’s Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases.

     “It’s history and it’s very good that Fort Riley is a historic place and has a historian who is very able to describe well the history of how from Fort Riley these disease evolved and causes mil­lions and millions of deaths,” Richt said. “It’s very important to have this historical perspective.”

     Richt said the conference gets the scientists and experts communicating across disciplines when they normally would not. They can exchange information and work together to understand, treat and prevent diseases that travel between humans and animals.

     “We have to bring these people together, they often don’t speak,” he said. “The medical doctors don’t speak with the veterinarians and vice versa and we can solve these problems so far. These zoonosis can become epidemics … We have to understand, not only from the human side, but also what’s going on in the animal reservoirs, and only then can we have a clear picture of what the risks are for these diseases to spread and come to our shores and what we need to stockpile now, like (Middle East Respi­ratory Syndrome) vaccines … These are the kinds of ques­tions we have to address and that’s why we bring together epidemiologists, virologists, bacteriologists and so on.”

 June 15, 2017

KSU President Myers visits CEEZAD 
Kansas State University President Richard Myers met June 13 with members of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) staff for a presentation on the Center’s operations.
Juergen Richt, the Regents Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University and CEEZAD director, delivered an approximately half-hour presentation outlining CEEZAD’s history and mission. CEEZAD is a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence established at Kansas State University in 2010 to help protect the nation’s agricultural and public health sectors against high-consequence foreign animal, emerging and zoonotic disease threats.
Also taking part in the presentation, which included a brief discussion on CEEZAD’s role going forward, were Dr. Tammy Beckham, Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at KSU, and Dr. Derek Mosier, Interim Head of the Department of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology at KSU. In addition to Dr. Richt, CEEZAD staff members and consultants in attendance were Dr. Jean-Paul Gonzalez, CEEZAD’s Deputy Director; Dr. Igor Morozov, Dr. Jessica Green, Stephanie Hober and Bill Felber.
May 9, 2017

Workshop looks at Level 4 priorities and needs in anticipation of NBAF’s opening

When the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF) opens in Manhattan, it will present a host of opportunities to advance scientific research into emerging and zoonotic threats to the nation’s animal food system, and to protect public health.

But those opportunities will also present significant challenges as experts face the daunting task of prioritizing which of innumerable challenges to take on.

An international panel of experts  on the subject addressed those opportunities and challenges at a Level 4 BSL workshop hosted by the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) May 6-7 at Kansas State University.

Tim Barr, NBAF program manager, told attendees that construction of lab space at the NBAF, which began in 2015, will be completed by 2020, with the facility expected to go “on line” in May of 2021. He said the NBAF will enable the US to conduct comprehensive research, develop vaccines and anti-virals, and provide enhanced diagnostic capabilities to protect the nation from numerous foreign animal, emerging and zoonotic diseases.

That’s important because the ag and food industries contribute $1.5 trillion annually to the nation’s economy.

The NBAF will be the only BSL Level 4 facility in the nation targeted specifically at high-consequence threats to animals and humans.  It is designed to replace the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, an outdated Level 3 facility.

Research on pathogens now undertaken at Plum Island – including Foot and Mouth Disease, African Swine Fever and Classical Swine Fever – will be moved to the NBAF. Research into other, more serious potential threats – including Nipah Virus, Hendra Virus and Ebola, is expected to be begun. That research is not now conducted in the United States.

Martin Groschup, of the Friedrich-Loeffler Institute in Germany, said the most important pathogens to be worked on are those which are most threatening to the US agriculture industry and to the American people, those with a public scare factor, those with a risk of accidental pathogen incursion, those posing mortality threats, those with epidemic potential, those with an impact on the animal industry, and those with no vaccine availability.

Among diseases he specifically mentioned were influenza viruses, Henipaviruses, Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever, Filo viruses, and Zika.

Although little known in the United States, Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever – abbreviated as CCHF -- is a widespread tick-borne viral disease that is endemic in Africa as well as parts of Europe and Asia. In humans, its mortality rate can be as high as 40 percent. It is one of several virus diseases identified by the World Health Organization as a likely cause of a future epidemic.

“We have about one thousand cases in Turkey every year,” Groschup said. “We have it in Albania, in Kosovo, in Bulgaria, Romania.”

The first problem, researchers agreed, is prioritization since neither human, space nor financial resources permit studying everything.  In response to that, Heinz Feldmann, chief of the virology lab at Rocky Mountain Laboratories, said the NBAF should aim for all level 4 pathogens of concern.  

A second problem they agreed on was sustainability. However successful research is initially, it will not be useful if it cannot be taken into the field and implemented long-term.

Feldmann also identified gaps in emergency response capabilities that need to be considered. Those gaps include: obtaining pathogen strains and control samples; development of laboratory tests; fast-tracking pathways to animal modeling; a shortage of trained personnel; and support for clinical and basic research.

Workforce development is also a concern. Michael McIntosh, of the Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Plum Island, said a 2015 survey of personnel at that facility indicated that a significant number do not intend to relocate to Manhattan when Plum Island is closed and its work is transferred to the NBAF.  Beyond that, he said the anticipation is that numerous new positions will be created, the combined impact being significant workforce gaps. He said there will certainly be a need for increased expertise in zoonotics and epidemiology.

April 27, 2017

BSL4 workshop to be held May 6-7
The Center of Excellence For Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) will host a BSL4 Gap Analysis Workshop May 6 and May 7, 2017
The event will be held at the KSU Alumni Center, and will include presentations on numerous aspects of BSL4 lab work, with a focus on pathogens of interest, diagnostics, vaccines, biosurveillance, emergency response and workforce development. 
BSL4 labs are laboratories designated for work on high-consequence diseases affecting humans and animals for which there is no cure. The National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF), a laboratory operated by the Department of Homeland Security that will contain BSL4 space, is presently under construction at Kansas State University.

Conference on Emerging Zoonoses to be May 7-10 in Manhattan
The Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) will host the 8th International Conference on Emerging Zoonoses (www.zoonoses-conferences.com), May 7-10 in Manhattan.
Conference co-chairs are Dr. Juergen Richt, the Regents Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University and CEEZAD Director, and Dr. Heinz Feldmann, Chief of the Laboratory of Virology at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories. 
The conference will include a variety of presentations on epidemiology, antimicrobial resistance, virology, microbial immunology, hemorrhagic fever viruses, pathology and vaccinology, along with roundtable discussions. Attendees will also be able to sign up for tours of Fort Riley, epicenter of the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic, and of the NBAF, now under construction in Manhattan. 

 April 20, 2017

BSL3 Safety Program for Engineering, Non-Medical Students

Enrollment is now open for a new CEEZAD-sponsored summer program designed to acquaint students in engineering and other non-medical fields with support careers at high containment facilities such as at the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, currently under construction in Manhattan, Kan.

The one-week program includes hands-on and classroom training, as well as invited guest speakers addressing topics including Risk Assessment, Facility Planning and Design, Structural and Containment Equipment, Information Systems, and Physical Security. An end-of-program group project will synthesize material learned during the week.

The application deadline is 5 p.m. CST April 24. Class size is limited to 6 students, and applicants must be current enrollees as a full-time undergraduate (junior or senior) or graduate student at a Kansas college or university.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens and must have a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or higher on a 4.0 scale. Use the link below to apply.



March 14, 2017

See our new blog section:



March 9, 2017

Application deadline for the CEEZAD BSL-3 Training/Transboundary Animal Disease Summer Program has been extended to Monday, March 13, 2017.

Apply online now!


March 3, 2017

Biosecurity Research Institute accepting applications for Transboundary Animal Disease Workforce Development Program

The Biosecurity Research Institute (BRI) is accepting applications for five research fellowship positions in the Transboundary Animal Disease Workforce Development program. The fellowship is designed to foster the de­velopment of research scientists to safely plan and execute research on transboundary animal diseases (TAD) in BSL-3, BSL-3Ag, and BSL-4 environments. This opportunity will leverage the expertise and resources of the BRI and the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory (NEIDL) to train next generation PhD, DVM, and post-doctoral researchers to work in high and maximum-containment environments on TADs.

To see the complete application requirements and details, please visit: www.bri.k-state.edu/education/TADFellowship.html

Complete application materials must be received by 11:59 p.m. central, March 31, 2017.

February 16, 2017

Gonzalez named CEEZAD's Deputy Director

Dr. Jean-Paul J. Gonzalez has been named Deputy Director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD).

Announcement of Dr. Gonzalez’ appointment, which is effective immediately, was made by Dr. Juergen Richt, the Regents Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University and Director of CEEZAD. Based at Kansas State University, CEEZAD is a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence specializing in prevention of emerging, zoonotic and transboundary threats to U. S. agricultural systems. Read more

January 31, 2017

CEEZAD in collaboration with Orion Integrated Biosciences announces Biodefense Internship Program

Orion Integrated Biosciences Inc. is a Biodefense Company advancing new analytical and visualization tools for the detection, characterization and mitigation of infectious diseases and the interpretation and contextualization of Big Data for Biodefense.

Part of the mission of Orion Integrated Biosciences Inc. is the establishment of a Biodefense Internship Program for junior computer scientists and software engineers in order to strengthen the next generation workforce in the areas of bioscience and national security. Read more

January 18, 2017

CEEZAD Grants Approach $5 million During 2016

The Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) (www.ceezad.org) received nearly $5 million in extramural funding during calendar year 2016. That represented a 34 percent increase from 2015, when the Center received about $3.65 million in research grants. Read more