Biological Data Analysis Wins Top Award
By Jim Core
December 14, 2001
Agricultural Research Service animal
geneticist L. Dale Van Vleck has won an agency award for his research proposal
to develop a computer system to extract and analyze biological data for the
genetic evaluation of livestock.
Van Vleck proposed developing procedures identifying valuable economic
traits associated with genomic markers in livestock. These traits are called
quantitative trait loci (QTL). Van Vleck will work with colleague R. Mark
Thallman to track QTL through a population of animals. The resulting computer
program will permit more effective and efficient statistical analysis of
inherited traits to determine location and effects of important genes.
Van Vleck won the T. W. Edminster Research Associate Award for the
top-ranked proposal out of 50 proposals selected by ARS for its 2002
Postdoctoral Research Associate Program. The program provides postdocs an
opportunity to work closely with an experienced researcher in their field of
interest. At the same time, postdocs get a chance to perform valuable research
to help solve agricultural problems.
Van Vleck and colleagues at the Genetics and Breeding Research Unit in Clay
Center, Neb., evaluate livestock to develop efficient breeding programs.
Theyve developed genetic maps for beef, sheep and swine. The research
unit is part of the Roman L. Hruska U.S.
Meat Animal Research Center.
ARS, the chief scientific research agency in the
U.S. Department of Agriculture, has
allocated $4 million to fund 50 projects selected from a list of more than 400
proposals. Each ARS scientist whose proposal was accepted will receive $80,000
to provide a two-year appointment of a postdoc for high-priority research.
Other winning proposals included:
- Development of drought assessment tools incorporating improved monitoring
and assessment of soil moisture using a new generation of satellite microwave
remote sensing instruments.
- Development of a system to reduce the time and cost for determining how
naturally occurring pest control products work.
- Research into how one of the most important plant pathogens, Xylella
fastidiosa, colonizes root tissue in citrus and grapevine crops.
- Creation of techniques to detect, and strategies to reduce, the occurrence
of a pathogen, Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis (MAP), causing
intestinal disease in dairy cattle and linked to Crohns disease in