Faculty member receives federal food safety grant

Dr. Kariyawasam
Dr. Subhashinie Kariyawasam

A faculty member from the UF College of Veterinary Medicine recently received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture aimed at improving food safety.

Dr. Subhashinie Kariyawasam, a professor of microbiology and chair of the UF College of Veterinary Medicine’s department of comparative, diagnostic and population medicine, has received a three-year grant for $464,360 to pursue development of a vaccine to provide protection against multiple salmonella serovars and a high throughput rapid diagnostic tool for the detection of salmonella in shell eggs.

“Nontyphoidal salmonella is the leading bacterial foodborne pathogen in the U.S., with many outbreaks tracing back to shell eggs, poultry meat, and other poultry products,” she said. “As a result, implementation of effective strategies for reducing salmonella contamination of poultry and their products has become a critical public health and economic objective.”

Despite the regulatory programs and vaccination practices in place for decades against salmonella, foodborne outbreaks due to salmonella continue to increase, indicating that more effective vaccines and diagnostic tests are urgently needed, Kariyawasam added.

“Also, antibiotic-resistant salmonella are frequently implicated in these outbreaks, necessitating the exploration of novel non-antibiotic interventions to counteract the pathogen in reservoirs, including poultry. In this context, the overall goal of this proposal is to provide new avenues for reducing the incidence of foodborne salmonella through developing both a novel vaccine effective against multiple salmonella serovars and a rapid diagnostic tool for the detection of salmonella in shell eggs.”

In June 2020, Dr. Raphael Bisinotto, an assistant professor in the department of large animal clinical sciences, also received a NIFA grant for research focusing on the impact of fertility-based selection on key physiological pathways that control reproduction in dairy cattle.

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