Mission and History
The Center Of Excellence For Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) was created in 2010 as a lead center for the Department of Homeland Security program on zoonotic and animal disease defense. It was tasked with addressing four pillars of biodefense: threat awareness, vulnerability assessments, surveillance and detection, and response and recovery. Specifically it is designed to conduct research, develop technology and train a specialized workforce to help defend U.S. agricultural systems against agroterrorism and other catastrophic events caused by high-threat transboundary, emerging and zoonotic pathogens.
CEEZAD-funded and coordinated research is presently conducted at more than 15 U.S. and international universities as well as governmental agency and industry partners. CEEZAD also leverages Kansas City Animal Health Corridor Resources, among them the Biosecurity Research Institute at Kansas State University, Department of Agriculture facilities, and private industries.
Major goals include:
- Development of vaccines for Rift Valley Fever Virus, highly pathogenic avian influenza, and African swine fever.
- Advancement of next-generation sequencing and multiplex detection technologies.
- Development of novel epidemiologic decision tools and creation of workforce development programs to advance these goals.
Over the course of its history, CEEZAD has committed more than $25.5 million to its efforts – more than 60 percent of that amount devoted to development of vaccines or diagnostics. CEEZAD’s accomplishments to date and ongoing programs include:
Rift Valley Fever Vaccine Development: CEEZAD collaborates with scientists at Kansas State University, the USDA-ARS Arthropod-Borne Animal Diseases Research Unit and a private industry to develop a novel, DIVA-compatible RVFV vaccine. The vaccine, currently undergoing commercial scale-up, would allow for a diagnostic assay to differentiate infected from vaccinated animals, an important component of outbreak control.
RVF Outbreak Mitigation Strategies: Using mosquito population surveillance data, climate data and simulation models of RVFV transmission in cattle, scientists at Kansas State University and the USDA-ARS Center For Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology in Florida are developing an early warning model system and testing efficient mitigation strategies for potential RVF outbreaks in the U.S., including the effects of mosquito control and livestock movement regulations.
High Path Avian Influenza Vaccine Development: Researchers supported by CEEZAD have developed live and inactivated Newcastle Disease virus-vectored vaccine candidates that protect chickens against H7N9, H5N1, and novel H5N2 avian influenza virus challenge.
African Swine Fever Vaccine Development: Coordinated by CEEZAD, researchers at KSU and in Spain are investigating novel sub-unit approaches to vaccine development for ASF, a disease for which no vaccine presently exists.
Laboratory Multiplex Detection Technologies: With CEEZAD support, scientists at Columbia University and KSU are developing MassTag multiplex PCR technology to rapidly screen laboratory samples for several pathogens simultaneously including both endemic and exotic pathogens.
Point-Of-Care Diagnostics: CEEZAD, KSU and federal researchers are working with industry partners to develop a portable iiPCR assay to detect RVFV, FMDV, ASFV and CSFV.
Biosurveillance and Simulation Tool Interoperability Network: CEEZAD is assisting researchers at the University of Washington with efforts to interface epidemiologic modeling tools and surveillance data sources for infectious diseases such as RVFV and avian influenza to facilitate information sharing and thus a more flexible outbreak response.
Web-based Continuing Education: With the Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University, CEEZAD supports the development and implementation of web-based animal health emergency preparedness and response continuing education courses for veterinarians and animal health and homeland security professionals.
Career Development: CEEZAD provides graduate-level career development fellowships in the form of stipends, tuition support and internship opportunities within its network of partners, among them Tuskegee Institute, where a CEEZAD project focuses on the development of nanotechnology-based detection devices.
BSL-3 Training/Transboundary Animal Disease Summer Program: CEEZAD provides a summer short course for DVM and graduate students who are interested in transboundary and zoonotic animal diseases and high-contaminant research at the Biosecurity Research Institute.
National Pork Board: In cooperation with the National Board, CEEZAD is working to develop vaccines and diagnostics for potentially devastating trans-boundary diseases of swine.