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Center of Excellence in Livestock Diseases and Human Health

The center is an accomplished Tennessee Higher Education Commission Center of Excellence that is housed in the UT College of Veterinary Medicine (UTCVM) in the UT Institute of Agriculture (UTIA). The center was created in 1984 to promote interdisciplinary activities designed to improve the quality of human life through better animal health; expand livestock disease research capabilities in the UTCVM and the UTIA; identify and characterize animal diseases that are similar to human diseases; and develop new strategies for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease.


  • Comparative Medicine
  • Pathobiology
  • Large Animal Clinical Sciences
  • Small Animal Clinical Sciences
  • Animal Science
  • Microbiology

Sponsors FY 2004–2008

  • Tennessee Higher Education Commission
  • Federal sponsorship of research grants and contracts
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Energy (including UT-Battelle-ORNL)
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Science Foundation
  • United States Department of Agriculture
  • Corporate sponsorship of grants and contracts
  • Fort Dodge Animal Health
  • Hill’s Pet Nutrition
  • Merck-Merial Limited
  • Pfizer Animal Health
  • Pharmacia/Upjohn/Elanco
  • Philip Morris
  • Purina

Private/Foundations (sponsorship of grants and contracts)

  • Alzheimer’s Association
  • American Cancer Society
  • American Heart Association
  • American Kennel Club
  • American Quarter Horse Association
  • Morris Animal Foundation
  • Winn Feline Foundation
  • World Health Organization

Achievements FY 2004–2008

  • 399 Scientific journal publications
  • 218 Invited presentations
  • Total (all years) awards: $19.6 million
  • Yearly expenditures from grants and contracts (average): $3.6 million
  • Average return on investment: 6.8:1 (ratio of external source expenditures to state investment)


The center has developed successful programs that affect the understanding, treatment, and prevention of livestock and human diseases. These programs focus predominantly on molecular and cellular approaches to research in infectious diseases, toxicology, host defense, molecular genetics, and carcinogenesis.

The center has developed investigative strengths along innovative, sophisticated, and contemporary lines in two general areas: animal models and comparative medicine; and mechanisms of disease, pathogenesis, and immunity.


To foster interest in biomedical research, the center provides opportunities for up to 20 veterinary students to perform a summer research project. In addition, the center promotes graduate and advanced undergraduate education through sponsorship of invited speaker graduate courses. Over the past five years the center has sponsored five such courses in the areas of laboratory animal pathology (’08), microbial pathogenesis (’05, ’07), and mechanisms of disease (’05, ’07). The center sponsored the visits of 39 outside experts as speakers for these courses. The center also cooperates with the UTCVM, the Graduate School of Medicine, AgResearch, and the UTK Office of Research to sponsor the Comparative and Experimental Medicine Summer Research Symposium, where graduate and postdoctoral students gain experience in presenting their research results in meeting format.

Outreach / Economic Development

To promote understanding of the significance and need for biomedical research, the center participates in the publication of three UTCVM publications. Discovery is a quarterly research newsletter that targets UTCVM faculty and staff as well as benefactors and associates of the college. Veterinary Vision is an annual magazine that is written for a general audience, including the national veterinary community, and carries features concerning ongoing center research activities. Volunteer Vet is a quarterly newsletter that features research activities and results and is distributed to donors, advisory board members, and college employees. All of these publications are available to the general public.

In addition to providing a substantial payroll for the local economy, the center works closely with the UT Research Foundation to promote development of intellectual property resulting from members’ research.


The center maintains core facilities for flow cytometry/cell sorting, tissue culture, and microscopy. In addition, the center maintains a secure biosafety level-2 microbiology research laboratory.

The Future

The center will continue to expand its contributions in promoting basic biomedical research and graduate education. The center has a long history of promoting translational research and will continue to promote and pursue collaborative projects with other units to enhance research that supports its objectives.

Contact Information

Leon Potgieter

Phone: (865) 974-7262



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