After a worldwide search for faculty pursuing cutting-edge research into the structure and function of animal genomes, the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has announced that two internationally distinguished experts in animal genomics will join its faculty this summer. Dr. Jorge A. Piedrahita, Associate Director of the Center for Animal Biotechnology and Genomics at Texas A & M University, will become a professor of genomics in the Department of Anatomy, Physiological Sciences and Radiology. Dr. Matthew Breen, molecular cytogeneticist at the Animal Health Trust in the United Kingdom, will take a position as associate professor in the Department of Microbiology, Pathology and Parasitology.

Dr. Piedrahita’s laboratory was among the first to clone pigs and cattle, with the primary interest being the development of transgenic animals for use in human and veterinary medicine, and in agriculture. His laboratory employs techniques in cell biology, embryo manipulation and molecular biology. Of particular interest to the CVM is the development of technologies that provide precise genetic modification of domestic animals such as pigs and cattle. The technologies will allow the generation of pigs that may provide a source of compatible organs for human transplant, bioreactor cattle that can generate large amounts of pharmaceuticals in their milk, and animals resistant to various afflictions, such as “Mad Cow Disease.”

Dr. Matthew Breen is a recognized leader in the characterization of the genomes of the dog and horse. In the last five years, Dr. Breen and his colleagues have systematically catalogued small pieces of the dog and horse genomes and employed these gene fragments to produce the first comprehensive maps of these species. Dr. Breen’s research efforts have also focused on the identification of candidate genes whose inactivation via mutation leads to various forms of canine cancers. The study of such genes will provide information vital for the diagnosis and treatment of cancers in humans as well as dogs.