Researchers combat human disease

SEATTLE – WSU researchers know that in order to prevent the outbreak of devastating dis
ease and maintain global human health, it is critical that researchers take on the source of the majority of new human diseases: infections that begin in animals.
Those efforts are the focus of a trio of scientists—Guy Palmer, Terry McElwain and Thomas Besser—who conduct a variety of scientific investigations designed to understand and eventually stop animal-related diseases that have the potential to wreak havoc with global human health.
The three will discuss their research in “Preventing Disease: A Prescription for Global Health” from noon to 1:30 p.m. Oct. 11 at The Rainier Club, 840 4th Ave., Seattle.
Tickets are $30 per person and include lunch from noon to 1:30 p.m., with registration to begin at 11:30 a.m. To reserve a spot, visit or call toll free, (877) 978-3868.
While the three combine their research to better understand and prevent disease outbreak, their individual efforts take different directions.
Palmer focuses on gaining global control of persistent infectious diseases, such as Babesia (or cattle fever), a tick-borne cattle disease that causes symptoms in cattle analogous to malaria in humans. Development of an effective immunization to prevent Babesia would not only protect herds of cattle, particularly in developing countries, but also preserve the livelihood of citizens who often rely on herds of three to six cattle for their economic well being.
The nation’s food supply is under the watchful eyes of McElwain, executive director of the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory. He oversees a laboratory that is equipped and trained to monitor and respond to possible exotic disease outbreaks affecting livestock or wild animals in the United States.
Besser, a professor in the Zoonosis Research Unit at WSU, devotes substantial efforts to researching food-borne bacterial diseases affecting humans, including those caused by Salmonella and E. coli, which live in one or more animal species. Understanding how pathogens evade the immune response and persist will lead to an improved understanding of diseases and to solutions that improve global health.

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