Nat’l Mastitis Council Announces Eight Scholarship Recipients

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Source: NMC news release

Winners conduct research in the United States, Italy, Denmark, Belgium, Chile

New Progue, MN (September 1, 2023) – The National Mastitis Council (NMC) named:

*Michelle Buckley, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa;

*Andrew Sommer, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.;

*Tana Jo Almand, University of California, Davis, Calif.;

*Mary Jane Drake, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square, Pa.;

*Alessandro Bellato, University of Torino, Grugliasco, Piedmont, Italy;

*Desiree Corvera Kløve Lassen, Technical University of Denmark, Kongens Lyngby, Denmark;

*Lien Creytens, Ghent University, East Flanders, Belgium; and Brandon Alfredo Gonzalez-Cordova, University of Concepcion, Chillan, Region de Nuble, Chile; as its 2024 Scholars. The graduate students won an expense-paid trip to attend the 63rd NMC Annual Meeting, scheduled for Jan. 29-Feb. 1, in Dallas. This program strives to support the development of future udder health, milking management and milk quality specialists.

Buckley, a veterinarian, focuses on improving antimicrobial stewardship and milk quality in dairy goats. Her research project includes pharmacokinetic studies and evaluations of milk and tissue residues of dry cow products. Buckley also evaluates treatment efficacy and development of antimicrobial resistance. The final phase of her research is to develop resources for dairy goat producers to translate research into meaningful, actionable items, which producers can implement to improve milk quality and antimicrobial stewardship. One resource is a podcast: “Baas and Bleats.” She is also developing a website focused on improving dairy goat milk quality.

A microbiologist, Sommer’s research seeks to understand the role of biting Stomoxys calcitrans (stable fly) in the transmission and persistence of mastitis-causing bacteria. Flies have long been implicated as potential vectors of bovine mastitis-causing bacteria due to their close association with raw manure and soiled bedding, which sustain large fly populations and serve as a reservoir for opportunistic bacterial pathogens. His research uses sequencing and traditional microbiological techniques to characterize biting fly-associated microbial communities and to determine the associated incidence of mastitis pathogen carriage.

Raised on a livestock operation, Almand’s research focuses on surveying and assessing the implementation of different dry-off protocols in California dairies and their impact on subsequent lactation incidence of mastitis, somatic count cells, culling and productive and reproductive performance. Furthermore, she plans to study the impact of selective dry cow therapy on antimicrobial resistance. Almand managed a milk quality lab in California’s Central Valley. Her responsibilities included managing lab technicians, reading and reporting milk culture results, performing sanitation audits, investigating contagious mastitis outbreaks and developing preventative protocols.

Prior to becoming a veterinarian, Drake earned a PhD in virology while studying how viruses co-opt cellular proteins and pathways to enter cells. She translated that interest into a better understanding of pathogen-host interactions at the organismal and population level. Drake is fascinated by the interaction of bacterial organisms, the udder and the cow’s immune system. During her food animal residency, she has performed milk quality assessments for several herds, developed protocols to control mastitis and routinely evaluated records to monitor milk quality parameters.

With a bachelor’s degree in livestock sciences and master’s degree in veterinary medicine and epidemiology, Bellato is pursuing a doctorate in veterinary sciences for animal health and food safety, along with a residency from the European College of Veterinary Medicine. Bellato’s research focuses on agents of bovine intramammary infection (IMI) in Italy’s mountain areas. For the most part, this area – the Apennine Mountains – is mainly abandoned and underutilized. In a small area of the Apennines, dairy farming is thriving – due to the production of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, which is a major factor for the area’s economic viability.

Lassen’s research in Denmark carries a three-prong approach – characterize bacterial agents of mastitis to increase the understanding of what bacterial species are most often involved with mastitis, understand their virulence factors and study bacterial agents’ tolerance toward antibiotics. Given the importance of prudent antibiotic use, Lassen is using MALDI-TOF MS (matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry) and whole-genome sequencing to generate genotypic profiling. The genetic analyses focus on subtyping and the distribution of genes involved with virulence and antibiotic resistance.

Creytens grew up with an interest in animals – particularly the milking process. She became a veterinarian and spent four years working in a veterinary practice. Creytens discovered the importance of making her clients aware of using antibiotics more responsibly. As a graduate student, she is investigating the outcomes of implementing selective treatment of non-severe clinical mastitis via an “on-practice culture” approach. The research team is training veterinarians in conducting rapid tests for bacteriological culture in their “on-practice” lab and in giving advice to dairy producers regarding substantiated use of antibiotics.

A farm boy and veterinarian, Gonzalez-Cordova is working on a milk quality research project focused on evaluating the removal of biofilms in milking equipment on dairy farms. From this experience, the research team learned that biofilms in milking equipment can lead to milk contamination, degradation of milk components and pose a risk of pathogen exposure to susceptible cows. Thus, they found that preventing and removing biofilms is essential to improve milk quality, minimize microbial contamination and reduce intramammary infections on dairy farms. Biofilm control will improve herd health, milk safety and human health.

National Mastitis Council is a professional organization devoted to reducing mastitis and enhancing milk quality. NMC promotes research and provides information to the dairy industry on udder health, milking management, milk quality and milk safety. Founded in 1961, NMC has about 1,000 members in more than 40 countries throughout the world. For more information, go to: www.nmconline.org.