Govindarajan Dhanasekaran wins 2004 Sarber Award from American Society for Microbiology

04/30/04

WASHINGTON, DC--APRIL 23, 2004--Govindarajan Dhanasekaran, B.V.Sc., of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Maryland, College Park, will receive the 2004 Raymond W. Sarber Award from the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). Two Sarber Awards are presented each year to microbiology students at the undergraduate and predoctoral levels to recognize research excellence and potential.

Dhanasekaran is honored for important research on infectious diseases that affect poultry. At the University of Maryland, he has nearly completed mapping all the genetic information contained in avian pneumovirus (APV), an emerging pathogen that causes severe respiratory tract illness in turkeys and chickens. No vaccine against the APV virus currently exists, and the virus has had devastating economic effects on the U.S. poultry industry. He is now at work on recovering infectious virus entirely from cloned DNA, which will help in the development of a recombinant virus vaccine.

He has also studied how Newcastle disease virus (NDV), which also infects chickens, causes cells to die. This project has great potential for human medicine, because NDV could be used to kill off cancer cells. Dhanasekaran presented the results of this research at the Conference of Research Workers in Animal Diseases in 2002, receiving an award from the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists for his outstanding work.

Dhanasekaran holds a bachelor's degree in veterinary science from the Madras Veterinary College in Chennai, India. He is a recipient of the prestigious R. F. Davis Memorial Scholarship at the University of Maryland, as well as a two-year graduate fellowship, and numerous prizes and awards for academic excellence from the Madras Veterinary College. He plans a career researching RNA viruses (viruses that contain the genetic material RNA, instead of DNA) that cause diseases in humans and animals, in order to produce recombinant vaccines against them.

The Raymond W. Sarber Awards will be presented at the 104th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), May 2327, 2004, in New Orleans, Louisiana. ASM is the largest single life science society, composed of over 42,000 scientists, teachers, physicians, and health professionals. Its mission is to promote research and training in the microbiological sciences and to assist communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public to improve health, economic well-being, and the environment.

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