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Vet Gazette

Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine eNewsletter

Research Profile-Dr. Anna Jolles

February 1st, 2010

Dr. Anna Jolles – Veterinary Epidemiology

Dr. Anna Jolles with a buffalo skull

Dr. Anna Jolles with a buffalo skull

Dr. Anna Jolles received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Oxford University in England in 1996. She completed a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University in 2004, focusing on disease dynamics of bovine tuberculosis in African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) under the mentorship of Professors Andy Dobson and Simon Levin. She joined Professor Han Olff’s group at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, as a postdoctoral researcher for two years, studying the role of infectious disease in savanna ecosystems. Currently, she is an assistant professor at Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine where she teaches students, and pursues research projects involving African buffalo, lions, small mammals and a multitude of parasites and pathogens.

Dr. Jolles’ NSF-funded (co-PI: Dr. Vanessa Ezenwa, U. Montana) buffalo project focuses on immunological interactions between different types of parasites, and their effects on disease dynamics and host health. The project is based in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, and involves a large-scale field experiment that follows immunity and infection profiles, as well as body condition and reproductive performance of 200 free-ranging buffalo over four years. The buffalo are captured by Dr. Jolles’ field team every six months and half of them treated with a long-lasting anthelmintic drug, to test the hypothesis that relieving hosts of their worm burdens will reduce their susceptibility to microparasitic infections such as bovine tuberculosis. Graduate students Dr. Brianna Beechler and Erin Gorsich are studying viral pathogens (Rift Valley fever and foot-and-mouth disease) and brucellosis within this framework; and veterinary students Austin Bell, Kadie Anderson, Heather Broughton and Craig Seyler have participated in the project investigating innate immunity, ectoparasites, and schistosomes in the buffalo.

Kadie Anderson photographing a buffalo

Kadie Anderson photographing a buffalo

A new project initiated in 2009 with graduate student Dr. Rhea Hanselmann investigates the immunological basis for disease dilution – the observation that more biodiverse ecological communities often carry reduced disease risk. They hypothesize that “fast-living” species – i.e., those with short life span, high reproductive output and intrinsic rate of increase, may invest minimally in defense against infections. These species may thus be the most competent hosts, capable of spreading infection throughout the community. Fast-living species also tend to do well in disturbed ecosystems. Consequently, species able to persist in degraded and species-poor ecosystems might also be more likely to carry high pathogen and vector burdens. The disease dilution project is based in SW Oregon and NW California, where we are characterizing immune profiles and host life history patterns in small mammal communities. Veterinary student Ryan Hill is hoping to join this project during the coming summer.

Luca's lioness1 vg

Luca's lioness

The newest addition to the Jolles’ lab’s research portfolio will assess how feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) interacts with other pathogens and parasites to affect population health of African lions. This will be a collaborative effort with Drs. Danny Govender and Sam Ferreira of South African National Parks, and Dr. Paul Funston from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. The first lion captures are about to begin in February, and initial disease screening using samples collected between February and August 2010 will involve DVM student Heather Broughton working with Drs. Jolles and Govender.

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