Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases establishes endowment fund to help fight tick-borne diseases
Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021
MANHATTAN — A goal of developing vaccines to control several tick-borne diseases has inspired two new gifts to Kansas State University's Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Tick-borne diseases can affect companion and agricultural animals as well as people.
The CEVBD endowment fund was created with a $100,000 donation from Clint Severson, Celebration, Florida, and $75,000 from Kenneth Aron, San Francisco.
"We believe this will mark the great beginning to expand this endowment fund to its intended target of $2 million or more," said Roman Ganta, professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology and director of the Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases.
"We sincerely appreciate Drs. Severson and Aron for their generous gifts and valuing the importance of the center's mission goals," Ganta said. "The endowment will allow us to further advance knowledge on vector-borne diseases affecting companion and agricultural animals and humans."
Ganta said the center's foundation and endowment funds continue helping promote its visibility to the highest level and aid in developing new projects to tackle important emerging vector-borne diseases affecting animal and human health.
The endowment funds will help the center prepare the future generation of scientists with high-level expertise to investigate vector-borne diseases, offer continuing education workshops, and develop resources such as a repository to maintain culture stocks of vector-borne pathogens, Ganta said.
"Dr. Ganta is a visionary scientist with three decades of research on vector-borne diseases," Severson said. "He has the expertise required to progress from research to working vaccine. It gives me great pleasure to support the work of the Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases and its work to reduce the incidence of vector-borne disease and potentially eliminate them."
Aron said the center's work on vector-borne diseases is well-recognized.
"With climate change and with urban areas increasingly encroaching on animal habitats, vector-borne diseases will be a coming public health crisis, cause economic burden to cattle industry and emotional burden to pet owners," Aron said. "The Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases is at the forefront of investigating several important tick-borne diseases. I am delighted to offer my support for the active research pursued by Roman at the center."
The Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases is an interdisciplinary research center with a mission to combat vector-borne diseases. Established in 2015, its goals are to build an internationally recognized program in mitigating emerging threats of vector-borne diseases. During the last six years, the center has expanded research on various tick-borne diseases.
"Tick-borne diseases are a never-ending challenge for veterinary and human health," said Bonnie Rush, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. "Dr. Ganta has demonstrated tireless commitment to solving specific issues with transferable solutions. Through the development of the endowment fund, the Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases will continue to find more ways to control these important diseases in a foreseeable future."
Tick-borne diseases are among the most common vector-borne illnesses in the United States. Of these, rickettsial diseases caused by Ehrlichia, Anaplasma and Rickettsiaspecies pathogens are a growing concern in the U.S. and in many parts of the world. The diseases impact the health of people, companion and agricultural animals.
"Given the steady increase in numbers of ticks in close proximity to people and their ability to feed on a wide range of hosts, pathogens transmitted by ticks continue to impact the health of various vertebrate hosts," Ganta said. "Vaccination to confer protection is one of the most effective means of controlling diseases. The center has expanded vaccine studies to address several tick-borne diseases of people, dogs and cattle, including anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever."
Since the center's establishment, Ganta has generated $9.56 million in competitive research grant support, with the lion's share — $8 million — coming from the National Institutes of Health.
For more information on the Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases endowment fund, visit givecampus.com/campaigns/17493/donations/new or contact Emilie Fink, firstname.lastname@example.org, at the KSU Foundation.