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MU Experts Available to Discuss Spread of Swine Influenza A (H1N1)

May 6, 2009

Story Contact:  Emily Smith, (573) 882-3346,
Kelsey Jackson, (573) 882-8353,

COLUMBIA, Mo. - As the number of people infected with swine influenza A (H1N1) continues to increase, U.S. health authorities are combating the illness. Several University of Missouri faculty members are experts on disease threats and human health, including epidemiology and disease transmission. Contact information for each faculty member is provided below:

Expertise: biomedical and geospatial informatics
Chi-Ren Shyu, director of the Informatics Institute and Shumaker Endowed Associate Professor for Biomedical Informatics
Shyu has extensive research experience in computational identification of genetic interactions in avian influenza viruses and finding patterns to correlate virus genetic information with geospatial information. He was a keynote speaker for the 2008 European Space Agency and European Union Satellite Centre Conference in Information Mining for Pursuing Automation of Geospatial Intelligence for Environment and Security.
Contact information: Office phone - (573) 882-3884 E-mail -

Expertise: biological weapons and biological agents
Mark Prelas, professor of nuclear engineering and director of research at MU's Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute
Prelas has served as a science advisor for the Bureau of Arms Control at the U.S. Department of State. He has studied potential scenarios for the release and spread of biological weapons, including bacteria and viruses. He has written several chapters in books on biological weapons and biological agents.
Contact information: Office phone - (573) 882-9691 E-mail -

Expertise: emergency preparedness and surveillance of emerging infectious diseases
Annette Sobel
, adjunct professor of family and community medicine
Sobel's 20-year career has focused on civil and military biodefense, homeland security, border security, and surveillance of emerging infectious diseases. She has coauthored several books on biological defense, participated in National Academy panels on these topics, and was a keynote speaker for several international conferences in Jordan, Kazakstan and Egypt where she spoke about healthy security.
Contact information: Office phone - (573) 884-0896 E-mail -

Expertise: farm business management
Ron Plain
, D. Howard Doane Professor of Agricultural Economics and extension economist
Plain has agricultural experience in 16 foreign countries and has authored more than 470 published materials. His research has focused on livestock marketing, farm business management and swine production. Recently, he has published an analysis on the economic impact of the U.S. pork trade.
Contact information: Office phone - (573) 882-0134 E-mail -

Expertise: genetic and reproductive management of swine
Tim Safranski
, state swine extension specialist and associate professor of animal science
As a swine breeding specialist, Safranski provides statewide leadership for producers, regional extension faculty, veterinarians and other industry support personnel in the areas of genetic and reproductive management of swine. He is a member of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and was awarded the National Pork Producers Council Swine Industry Award for Innovation in Education in 2001.
Contact information: Office phone - (573) 884-7994 E-mail -

Expertise: public health and communicable diseases
Lynelle Phillips
, field placement coordinator and faculty member in the Master of Public Health Program and adjunct faculty member at the Sinclair School of Nursing
Phillips has worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in areas including environmental health, immunization and tuberculosis control. She also worked at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services as a nurse consultant and CDC field assignee to the tuberculosis program.
Contact information: Office phone - (573) 884-8976 E-mail -

Expertise: retrovirus assembly
Marc Johnson, assistant professor of molecular microbiology and immunology
Johnson has studied how viruses put themselves together and has published several papers relating to this topic. His work focuses on three model retroviruses: human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), murine leukemia virus (MLV) and Rous sarcoma virus (RSV).
Contact information: Office phone - (573) 882-1519 E-mail -

Expertise: veterinary diagnostic medicine and avian medicine
Alex Bermudez, director of the MU Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory and associate professor of veterinary pathobiology
As director of the Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (VMDL), Bermudez is familiar with the full scope of veterinary diagnostic medicine. The VMDL tests for a broad range of swine diseases, including swine flu. Bermudez is a board-certified member of the American College of Poultry Veterinarians. Throughout his veterinary career, he has been involved in avian influenza prevention, diagnostics and surveillance.
Contact information: Office phone - (573) 882-6811 E-mail -