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International researchers Nuradji and Koynarski complete science program

The National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense (FAZD Center) acknowledged two international researchers with certificates of completion for their scientific studies conducted through a program jointly organized by the FAZD Center and the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture. Harimurti Nuradji, DVM, Ph.D., from Indonesia, and Tsvetoslav Koynarski, Ph.D., from Bulgaria both completed customized 11-week training programs.

The educational program is in its third year providing international researchers an opportunity to study in the United States. With the graduation of Dr. Nuradji and Dr. Koynarski, 29 participants from 10 countries have completed the program.

“The program provides opportunities for visiting scientists to gain new knowledge and skills in infectious diseases which benefits animal health,” said Heather Simmons, DVM, and FAZD Center education and outreach program theme leader.

Dr. Nuradji’s study centered on diagnostic testing for the detection of animal diseases. Currently, he works for the Indonesian Research Center for Veterinary Science, a referral laboratory for animal diseases in Indonesia, and plans to take the knowledge gained back to improve, update and establish diagnostic tests, especially a test for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

“Right now we don’t have BSE in Indonesia, but we have to prepare,” said Dr. Nuradji. “I would like to establish a BSE test and the knowledge I gained studying here will allow me to help prepare my institution. It is important to maintain cooperation between our institution and international research centers like at Texas A&M. It would be great to collaborate in the future with the FAZD Center and [Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory].”

Through the course of the program, Dr. Nuradji worked with many veterinary health officials, including Dr. Simmons and Texas AgriLife Extension Service Program Coordinator for Livestock and Food Systems, Thomas Hairgrove, DVM. At TVMDL, he worked with diagnostic specialists in the bacteriology, serology and pathology sections.

Dr. Nuradji, at right, completed field testing on Black Angus cattle while mentoring with Dr. Hairgrove, center, and Dr. Robert Conney in North Texas.

Dr. Nuradji achieved his goals of learning standard operating procedure for BSE diagnostic testing with either ELISA or Western Blot methods. Along with Dr. Hairgrove, he traveled to ranches in the state, learning about agriculture and U.S. farming systems and completing cattle testing in the field.

The FAZD Center took Dr. Nuradji to San Diego, Calif., to attend the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians annual meeting. Both Dr. Nuradji and Dr. Koynarski traveled to Des Moines, Iowa, with the Borlaug Center to attend The World Food Prize Symposium.

Dr. Koynarski applied to the program with the intention of gaining technical and analytical skills in the field of modern biotechnology. The skills will aid him at Trakia University, where Dr. Koynarski serves as an assistant professor of animal genetics in the veterinary medicine department. Additionally, he is in his last year of training at the University of Plovdiv, where he focuses on animal genetics, molecular biology and biotechnology.

“Although used for decades in the Western world, DNA cloning is a relatively new procedure for [my] country,” says Dr. Koynarski. “The lack of scientists working in this field slows the development of our agriculture, so I hope to bring home a new way of thinking and product development.”

During his study, Dr. Koynarski worked with FAZD Center’s Associate Director Melissa Berquist, Ph.D.; Waithaka Mwangi, Ph.D., and assistant professor in the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences worked with him three weeks on gene transfer and vaccine technologies. Lance Ford, Ph.D., BIOO Therapuetics vice president of research and business development, and Martin Dickman, Ph.D., and Director of Institute for Plant Genomics and Biotechnology at the University, also mentored him.

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Dr. Koynarski works in the laboratory at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University. (photo by Larry Wadsworth)

Dr. Koynarski was able to learn to set up an experiment based on DNA cloning, is now familiar with commercially available cloning kits and learned to determine appropriate genes for gene cloning when developing a recombinant vaccine.

The joint program provides international researchers with the rare opportunity to develop their skills in advanced technologies with foremost experts in that field. Not only do the researchers benefit, so does the country in which they came.

For more information on the international program, contact Dr. Simmons at hlsimmons@ag.tamu.edu.

Dr. Nuradji poses with a few of his mentors: Dr. Hairgrove, left, Sandy Rogers, Dr. Nuradji, Feng Sun, Dr. Simmons and Dr. Mike McWhorter. (photo courtesy the Bourlaug Institute)

Dr. Koynarski presents his final report to both FAZD Center and Borlaug Institute mentors.

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