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Veterinary college names first endowed chair recipient

Subramaniam Srikumaran, a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has been named the first ever recipient of an endowed chair in the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

A cellular and molecular immunologist, Srikumaran is also a veterinarian and is originally from Sri Lanka. Since 1985, he has attracted nearly $2 million in research funding, produced 152 scientific papers and presentations, and successfully mentored 20 graduate students.

This week he accepted the Rocky Crate D.V.M. and Foundation for North American Wild Sheep Endowed Chair in Wild Sheep Disease Research based in WSU’s veterinary college. The privately-funded position is dedicated exclusively to research on wild sheep diseases and graduate education. Srikumaran will start Oct. 1.

“We are very excited about Sri joining us,” said David Prieur, chair of the WSU Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology. “WSU once again has attracted a world-class scientist and graduate student mentor. Dr. Srikumaran’s extensive research experience on both the immune system of multistomached animals like cattle and the microorganisms that cause a fatal bleeding pneumonia of bighorn sheep uniquely positions him for success in this chair.”

Dr. Rocky Crate was a 1969 WSU veterinary alumnus and Foundation for North American Wild Sheep member. In 1998, he donated more than $1.5 million from his estate to the university and FNAWS before his death due to cancer.

“What I’d really like to see is WSU and FNAWS find a way to prevent the contraction and spread of pneumonia in wild sheep; their number one killer,” said Crate shortly before his death. “That’s it, that’s what I want. It’s all about putting more sheep on the mountain.”

His generosity established the college’s first endowed chair. Investment of the Crate gift provides permanent funding for a program chair and research activities directly related to understanding, prevention and control of wild sheep diseases.

The gift in part recognizes the work of one of Crate’s friends, WSU veterinary parasitology professor Bill Foreyt, who is among the world’s undisputed leaders in wild sheep disease research. Srikumaran joins Foreyt in the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology.

The department is home to WSU’s world-renowned bighorn sheep research herd used to study fatal diseases that have decimated wild sheep populations the world over. In addition, the department is a key component of WSU’s reputation for internationally renowned research on infectious diseases of animals.

The last two consecutive recipients of the Distinguished Veterinary Immunologist Award given by the Veterinary Immunology Committee of the International Union of Immunological Societies are faculty members in the department. Srikumaran currently serves as the secretary and treasurer of this international organization.

Wild sheep hunters and FNAWS are the world’s most generous contributors to wildlife conservation. Their mission is to promote and enhance increasing populations of indigenous wild sheep, to safeguard against their decline or extinction, and to fund programs for professional management of these populations while keeping administrative costs to a minimum. To date, FNAWS has raised nearly $50 million dollars to fund projects related to these goals.

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