Congratulations to Dr. Patricia Conrad who is recognized with the 2017 AVMA Lifetime Excellence in Research Award for her research and contributions to the veterinary profession, taking a One Health approach that address the interconnectedness of humans, animals and the environment. An expert on how disease-causing single-celled parasites are transmitted, Conrad is known worldwide for her new insights on babesiosis, a tick-transmitted parasitic disease that afflicts humans, domestic animals and wildlife. Her experience working on tick-transmitted theilerial diseases of cattle in Scotland and Kenya led to the discovery of two new species of related babesial parasites in humans (B. duncani) and dogs (B. conradae) in the United States.
Conrad and the collaborative team at the California Animal Health and Food Safety System were the first to obtain isolates from cattle of the newly recognized Neospora parasite. Together, their work improved the diagnosis and control of neosporosis, a major cause of abortion in cattle that significantly impacted the dairy industry in California and many other countries. Conrad also leads the diagnostic test development as part of an innovative team working on Equine Protozoal Myeloencephatitis (EPM), a neurological disease caused by Sarcocystis neurona and Neospora hughesi, a new species identified in the Conrad laboratory.
In addition, Conrad has led a team of researchers investigating the presence of disease-causing parasites in freshwater, marine and coastal ecosystems in California. Of particular interest are parasites, most notably Toxoplasma and Sarcocystis, that find their way into the coastal waters and undermine the health of sea otters and other marine mammals.
Her scholarship is reflected in more than 220 peer-reviewed scientific publications and book chapters, and more than 100 invited scientific presentations worldwide. She is a recipient of numerous prestigious teaching and research awards, and was inducted into the National Academy of Medicine (2011) and elected to Fellowship in the American Academy of Microbiology (2012).
Conrad was appointed the school’s first Associate Dean of Global Programs in 2014 and Co-Director of the University of California Institute of Global Health for the 10 UC campuses. In these leadership positions, she mentors professional and graduate students, and promotes collaborative research, education and community engagement—locally and globally.
Conrad graduated from Colorado State University (B.S. 1977, DVM 1980), then completed graduate academic training in Tropical Animal Health and Protozoology at the Centre for Tropical Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh (Ph.D. 1984). After completing her postdoctoral training at the International laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases (ILRAD) in Nairobi, Kenya she joined the school’s faculty in 1988. In 2004, she became the first veterinarian to receive the prestigious Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellowship for her work on biological ‘pathogen pollution’ and its impact on the health of the Southern sea otter. She continues to be committed to conveying science to policymakers and the public to improve animal and human health, and environmental sustainability.