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Dr.Tom E.Porter
University of Maryland
Title: Future Challenges and the Need for Poultry Science Research: A Global Perspective



Research over the past six decades resulted in dramatic increases in feed efficiency, product yield, and animal health in poultry.   However, many challenges face global production in the coming decades.  Estimates predict that global food production must double by 2050.  Simultaneously, global warming will likely affect food production in many regions.  Demand for antibiotic-free poultry products and concerns about poultry welfare are increasing.  Approaches to address these concerns have implications on food safety.  While poultry production is becoming more globalized, consumer preferences vary regionally.  These issues present significant challenges that warrant equally significant investment in poultry science research worldwide.

Dr. Tom Porter received his Ph.D. in Animal Physiology from the University of Minnesota in 1988.  He conducted research as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Cell Biology & Anatomy at the Medical University of South Carolina.  In 1993, he joined the Department of Poultry Science at Texas A&M University as an Assistant Professor, and in 1997, he was recruited to the Department of Animal and Avian Sciences at the University of Maryland, where he was subsequently promoted to Associate Professor and Professor.  He served as Chair of the Department of Animal and Avian Sciences at the University of Maryland for 8 years.  Dr. Porter served as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Poultry Science for the past 6 years (2010-2016).

Dr. Porter’s research interests center on molecular and cellular endocrinology in poultry.  Early in his career, he demonstrated that the production of steroid hormones in the ovaries of birds requires three different cell types, a situation which is different from that in mammals.  One major focus of his research over the past 20 years has been on the mechanisms controlling cellular differentiation within the anterior pituitary gland during chick embryonic development.  The overall goal of this research is to improve growth characteristics in broiler chickens through an increased understanding of the regulation of the bird’s own growth hormone production.  Dr. Porter’s group has developed a working model for the regulation of growth hormone cell differentiation that involves hormones from other endocrine glands as well as nuclear transcription factors and signal transduction cascades.  A second major focus in Dr. Porter’s laboratory has included genome-wide analysis of gene expression in the neuroendocrine system.  The long-term goal of this research is to increase our understanding of global patterns of gene expression in the hypothalamus and pituitary gland and to identify the genes and gene networks controlling growth rate, body composition and feed intake in broiler chickens.

Dr. Porter is the author of 82 refereed scientific papers, 21 book chapters or reviews, and 129 abstracts.  His publications have been cited more than 1,700 times.  He and his collaborators have submitted 35,452 nucleotide sequences to GenBank and five cDNA microarray platforms to GEO (Gene Expression Omnibus).  Dr. Porter’s research and teaching accomplishments have been recognized with the Junior Faculty Excellence Award, Alumni Excellence in Instruction Award, and Dean Gordon Cairns Award for Distinguished Creative Work and Teaching in Agriculture from the University of Maryland and the Research Award and the Embrex Fundamental Science Award from the Poultry Science Association.  More recently, he was named Fellow of the Poultry Science Association in 2016.

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