History of Successes in Infectious Diseases Research

A three photograph collage depicting a scientist wearing a hairnet and mask holding a pink sample in a test tube above a centrifuge; Dr. Yamamoto holding and looking down at a cat; and Dr. Burridge feeding a cow, wearing rubber boots

History and Scope:

    The College of Veterinary Medicine at UF (CVM) was established in the 1970’s with a major research focus on infectious diseases. Faculty were recruited to address the concerns of the agricultural community in Florida, a state particularly vulnerable to the introduction of foreign animal diseases. The CVM has expanded this focus, Its activities are now global in scope and span the scientific spectrum from discovery and characterization of emerging infectious diseases, to their control and prevention.
    Our mission is to advance animal, human, and environmental health. Our college faculty are frequently on the front lines with regard to recognition of emerging pathogens. The clinics, laboratories, and pathology services of the UF Veterinary Hospitals handle a caseload approaching 40,000 animals/year, representing a de facto surveillance program for the detection of emerging diseases. Molecular characterization of pathogens, understanding the pathogenesis of emerging diseases, and vaccine development are strengths within the CVM that will be expanded in collaboration with our partners in the Emerging Pathogens Institute.

Some notable achievements involving our departmental faculty:

  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) vaccine commercialized in 2002: This is the first commercialized lentivirus vaccine ever produced. It employs UF intellectual property licensed to Fort Dodge Animal Health. FIV vaccine based upon HIV p24 antigen patent application in 2002; Commercial license agreement with Intervet, Inc in 2004: The discovery of epitopes on the HIV p24 antigen that provide protection against FIV infection offers a basis for finding HIV protective epitopes among the lentivirus antigens of other species.
  • Canine influenza discovered in 2004: Canine influenza is a newly emerging respiratory infection in dogs caused by an influenza A subtype H3N8 virus that originated from the transfer of the complete genome of an influenza virus from horse to dog, followed by adaptation of the virus to dogs. Department faculty played a major role in the recognition of this new virus disease. UF has licensed this intellectual property to two companies for vaccine and diagnostic test production.
  • A vaccine for canine influenza entered the US market in the summer of 2009.
  • AppliGator® technology licensed worldwide in 2004: This self-medication technology enables control of a broad variety of internal and external parasites of wild and domestic animals that are vectors of emerging diseases. Other advances include the Tick Decoy, a patented technology using phermomones to greatly reduce the amount of acaracide required to eliminate ticks on livestock; and a treatment protocol to prevent introduction of exotic ticks on imported reptiles.
  • Heartwater vaccine in production in 2005: This patented vaccine developed by our faculty in UF laboratories located in Zimbabwe and South Africa is the first killed vaccine against this ehrlichial disease of ruminants. The disease limits livestock production in Africa and threatens Florida and the U.S. mainland. Onderstepoort Biological Products is producing the vaccine for use in Africa.