The Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases (IIAD) performs research and develops products to defend the nation from high-consequence foreign animal and zoonotic diseases. Founded in April 2004 as a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Center of Excellence, IIAD leverages the resources of multiple major universities, Minority Serving Institutions, national laboratories, and partners in state and federal government.
The Institute focuses on research, education and outreach to prevent, detect, mitigate and recover from exotic animal, emerging and/or zoonotic (transmissible between animals and humans) diseases, which may be introduced intentionally or through natural processes.
At least 60 percent of all human pathogens are zoonotic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and 75 percent of recently emerging infectious diseases that affect humans are of animal origin. The most dangerous of these animal diseases pose catastrophic risks to human health, livestock health and the global agricultural economy, which employs one out of every three workers worldwide, according to the United Nations.
IIAD champions the One Health concept with its research on the high-consequence diseases that are transmissible between animals and humans, and through its partnerships with CDC and other government agencies.
The Institute is headquartered at Texas A&M University, the nation’s sixth-largest university by enrollment. The IIAD was renewed as a co-lead with the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) at Kansas State University in 2010, and the DHS cooperative agreement extends through 2016.
In 2014, IIAD was recognized by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) as a collaborating centre in the specialty of biological threat reduction. IIAD is the only centre of this kind in OIE’s America’s region and the only OIE collaborating centre within the Texas A&M University System.
IIAD is a multi-institutional organization with a wide range of national and international partners. The Institute’s portfolio is also closely aligned with the DHS Science and Technology Directorate, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the USDA Agricultural Research Service, agricultural and allied industries, the private sector, bio-pharmaceutical companies, additional federal agencies, national laboratories, and other DHS Centers of Excellence.
The Institute’s team of scientists conducts cutting-edge, inter-institutional and interdisciplinary research across three areas of emphasis:
- Research – Vaccines, screening tools, diagnostic assays and universal sample preparation/preservation platforms to help meet the goals of early detection, diagnosis, prevention, response and recovery.
- AgConnect® – A suite of customizable data integration and analysis products designed to enhance situational awareness.
- Education and Outreach – Graduate programs, early responder training, K-12 education and stakeholder workshops to provide the next generation workforce for agriculture, public health and homeland security.
The Institute serves the interests of homeland security by developing products that help to protect the U.S. from outbreaks of high-consequence animal diseases along many fronts:
- Outbreak response – Advancing the nation’s ability to respond quickly and effectively to animal disease outbreaks
- National security for critical infrastructure – Creating the tools and training the workforce that will protect agriculture, the economy and the food supply.
- Business continuity – Developing tools to ensure that animal agriculture maintains production and movement of livestock, poultry and their products.
- One Health – Confronting the risks associated with animal diseases at the intersection of veterinary and public health.
- Workforce development – Educating the next generation of scientists and training the current generation of responders to help combat outbreaks of animal disease.