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K-State Today

April 12, 2019

College of Veterinary Medicine presents research excellence award to Wenjun Ma

Submitted by Joe Montgomery

Dr. Frank Blecha present Zoetis Research Award to Dr. Wenjun Ma

The College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University presented its highest research award during its annual Phi Zeta Research Day activities on March 26: The 2019 Zoetis Animal Health Award for Research Excellence. Wenjun Ma was chosen as this year's recipient. He is an associate professor of virology in the diagnostic medicine and pathobiology department. 

Ma's laboratory is interested in viral diseases of animals, with an emphasis on emerging zoonotic viral infections. His current research focuses on understanding mechanisms of pathogenesis and developing vaccines and/or antivirals for different viral pathogens, such as Influenza virus, Rift Valley Fever virus, porcine circovirus 3, African swine fever virus and other viral infections in livestock and poultry.

"I am very honored to be the recipient of this prestigious research award," Ma said. "Influenza and other viral diseases are very important for human and animal health. Better understanding of biology and basic features of these viral pathogens will promote the development of countermeasures, including vaccines and antivirals, as well as accurate and rapid diagnostic tools that can be used to protect public and animal health."

"Dr. Ma is an exceptional molecular virologist, working at the forefront of many important viral diseases of domestic and wild animals and humans," said Frank Blecha, associate dean for research. "His research is particularly focused on influenza virus where he studies mechanisms of infection, pathogenesis, surveillance, genetic aspects of influenza virus virulence and transmissibility, and animal models. Dr. Ma supports his extensive research program with funds from several agencies, but primarily from the National Institutes of Health; receiving over $4 million from the NIH over the last five years. His most recent NIH grant aims to understand the ecology of bat influenza A-like viruses and address their potential threats to other species, including humans."

Ma also studies the development of rapid detection systems for different viral diseases. His laboratory research has been supported by funds from the National Institutes of Health, Department of Homeland Security, United States Department of Agriculture, Kansas Bioscience Authority, National Pork Board and industry partners. He has published more than 70 papers in peer-reviewed prestigious journals, and has been invited to give presentations by national and international universities, research institutes and conferences.

Ma received his bachelor's degree at the Northeast Agricultural University in Harbin, China. He earned a master's degree in preventive veterinary medicine at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing, China. Then he studied in Germany where he completed a doctorate in molecular virology and biology at Justus Liebig University in Giessen. He performed postdoctoral studies at Iowa State University and the National Animal Disease Center in Ames. He has taught at K-State from 2008 to 2010, and from 2011 to present.