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Dr.Irit Davidson
Kimron Veterinary Institute
Title: Viruses, vaccines and feathers




Dr. Irit Davidson completed her Ph.D. in Virology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in 1989, studying Marek's disease virus pathogenicity and antigenicity. Since 1979 ID works at Kimron Veterinary Institute, Bet Dagan, Israel and since 2009 is a senior scientist, grade A+, equivalent to Full Professor.

ID study avian oncogenic viruses, avian leukosis (ALV), reticuloendotheliosis (REV), and Marek's disease, chicken anemia (CAV), fowlpox (FPV), laryngotracheitis (ILTV), turkey flavivirus TMEV and avian influenza H9N2, each virus in separate, or in multiple infections.

ID research focuses on understanding avian viruses biology in single and in multiple infections, and developing novel diagnostic assays. ID scientific activities can be described as "FROM THE FIELD TO THE LAB AND BACK TO THE FIELD".
Several research topics were:

Multiple virus infection in the same host: By PCR numerous flocks were shown to carry infections with multiple oncogenic viruses, resulting in synergistic  pathogenicity and molecular recombination between herpes and retroviruses. ID explored the event occurrence in vivo, in natural infections, showing that in multiple virus-infected birds, retroviruses can integrate into MDV, and form chimeric molecules. That finding reflected on general virology, as herpes and retroviruses co-exist in many animals, including humans. Further studies on molecular integration focused on REV fragments integrated into the fowlpox genome, showing that most FPV isolates contain REV fragments of various lengths. For these studies ID won two International Awards, the AAAP P. P. Levine, and the WPSA Research Award.

Establishment of the feathers as a major organ for chicken viruses. MDV presence in feathers was the starting point for several studies. ID showed for the first time that like MDV, also CAV spread horizontally by the feathers; she reproduced mucosal infection with both viruses using feather tip extracts, reflecting virus entry through mucous surfaces. ID studies showed for the first time the presence of more viruses in feathers, like ALV-J, ILTV and turkey meningoencephalitis virus. 

Discovery of the 3-dimensional structure of MDV and REV epitopes which affect serotype specific virus neutralizing activity.

Molecular studies on the turkey flavivirus Turkey Meningoencephalitis virus, culminating in demonstrating that TMEV synonymy to the Spanish Bagaza virus, representing the same virus under different names.

Development of multiplex molecular detection assays to diagnose multiple virus-infections.

ID findings were published in 152 publications (10 invited reviews, 101 peer-reviewed articles, 12 non-reviewed and 29 proceedings). ID won 8 awards, serves since 2000 as the KVI Scientific Committee Head and on Israeli and International scientific panels and acts in Editorial Board of 6 International Journals. ID was also member in committees of 12 international meetings, co-organizer of 2 international meetings on MDV and AIV (2002, 2008), and was invited to present keynote lectures.  ID studies were funded by 20 International and 15 Israeli National competitive grants. ID has supervised Students for their M. Sc. and Ph. D. degrees and hosted International scientists.

ID has broadened her scientific spectrum by spending 4 sabbaticals in leading Institutes, two in the US and two in Italy with world-recognized scientists.

 World's Poultry Science Association
 Chinese Association of Animal Science and Veterinary
 China Poultry Information Net



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