News Release

U of M Chronic Wasting Disease Resource Center names fourteen international experts to executive committee


The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota established the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Resource Center in August 2019. The purpose of the Resource Center is to provide a comprehensive, authoritative and current source of information on all aspects of CWD in a single web-based location. The best available CWD information from government, academia and professional and hunter-based organizations is linked on the Resource Center, as well as original content and current news from CIDRAP.

CWD is a prion disease that affects several cervid species: deer, elk, reindeer, and moose. CWD was first identified in 1967 in a captive deer living in a Colorado research facility. In 1981, CWD was detected for the first time in a wild cervid. Since these initial detections, CWD has been identified in 26 states and four Canadian provinces. It has also been detected in Finland, Norway, South Korea, and Sweden.

To advise the CIDRAP CWD team on developing and maintaining the Resource Center, an Expert Advisory Group (EAG) that includes 54 nationally and internationally distinguished leaders in public health, medicine, science, wildlife, and agriculture was enlisted. Dr. Michael Osterholm, University of Minnesota Regents Professor, McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health and director of CIDRAP, noted, “We believe this breadth of representation on the EAG is necessary to effectively address an issue such as CWD, which is a relevant concern for many fields.”

To more effectively address evolving CWD news, research and policy and funding challenges, CIDRAP has named an EAG Executive Committee, comprised of 14 selected members. Members were selected to represent the perspectives of various stakeholders in regard to CWD. Jason Bartz, PhD, with Creighton University and an internationally recognized expert on CWD, will serve as Chair of the Executive Committee. “CIDRAP is a source of science-based policies and practices that is very useful for groups with a wide range of interests to better understand and manage CWD,” said Professor Bartz.

Members of Executive Committee include:

  • Wiktor Adamowicz, PhD – Professor and Vice Dean, Agricultural Life and Environmental Sciences, Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta
  • Brian Appleby, MD – Associate Professor and Director of the National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center, School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University
  • Jason Bartz, PhD (Chair) – Professor, Associate Dean of Academic and Faculty Affairs, and Vice Chair, Medical Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine, Creighton University
  • Ermias Belay, MD – Associate Director for Epidemiologic Science, Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Neil Cashman, MD – Professor, Department of Neurology, University of British Columbia, and Academic Director, Vancouver Coastal Health ALS Centre
  • John Collinge, MD, FRCP, FRS – Director, Medical Research Council Prion Unit and Institute of Prion Diseases, University College London
  • Colin Gillin, DVM – State Wildlife Veterinarian, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Terry Kreeger, DVM, PhD – Former Wyoming State Wildlife Veterinarian, Wyoming Game and Fish Department
  • Russell Mason, PhD – Executive in Residence and Adjunct Professor, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Michigan State University, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Debbie McKenzie, PhD – Associate Professor, Centre for Prions and Protein Folding Diseases, University of Alberta
  • Nick Pinizzotto, MA – President and CEO, National Deer Alliance
  • Krysten Schuler, PhD – Wildlife Disease Ecologist and Assistant Research Professor, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Kelly Straka, DVM, MPH – Section Supervisor and State Wildlife Veterinarian, Wildlife Health Section, Michigan Department of Natural Resources
  • Mark Zabel, PhD – Professor and Associate Director, Prion Research Center, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University

The Executive Committee will provide routine input on CWD to ensure that the CIDRAP content is comprehensive, authoritative and current. Discussions with the EAG Executive Committee will be a catalyst for identifying and analyzing gaps that exist in CWD research and policy, whether it pertains to the health of wildlife, domestic animals and/or humans.

Since CWD is established in several areas of North America, proactive steps should be taken to limit distribution of CWD to new areas, limit transmission among animals and reduce potential human exposure. Although CWD has not yet been found to cause infections in humans, health agencies recommend that people should not consume CWD-positive animals.

Since 1997, the World Health Organization has recommended that agents of any prion disease should not enter the human food chain. Likewise, the U.S .Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Canada and multiple provincial and state health and natural resources agencies recommend that people should not consume the meat of an animal found to be positive for CWD.


About the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy

The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy is a global leader in addressing public health preparedness and emerging infectious disease response. Founded in 2001, CIDRAP is part of the Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of Minnesota.                                 

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