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Gut-sy Research: 2019 AFNC Grants Support Swine, Disease Projects

AFNC grants graphic with a microscope and lightbulb

The Animal Food & Nutrition Consortium (AFNC) has announced its 2019 grant awards: Matt Koci, Professor in the Prestage Department of Poultry Science, and Sung Woo Kim, Professor and University Faculty Scholar in the Department of Animal Science at NC State were each awarded grants for the 2019-2020 cycle.

Asked about their projects, Koci and Kim discussed topics related to gut health.

head shot of Matt Koci
Matt Koci

“[Our lab is] interested in understanding how viruses and bacteria interact with the host, mostly in the gut, to cause disease,” Koci explained.

Kim also has his sights set on the digestive tract, focusing on “monogastric [one stomach] nutrition and digestive physiology primarily using swine.”

Their projects are timely – there have been over 2,000 articles on “gut health” indexed by PubMed since January of this year. Over 500 of those have focused on animals.

The AFNC is a good place for projects seeking to extend current knowledge about what’s going on in the gut: according to Koci, the AFNC call for proposals was “one of the few” that recognized the current lack of tools for understanding host-pathogen interactions in food animals and was “willing to support projects specifically to try and fill this gap.”

Koci plans to pursue the creation of a validated assay (a test to determine something’s ingredients or quality) that will let researchers “assess the impact nutritional additives have on gut health.”

head shot of Sung Woo Kim
Sung Woo Kim

Kim also found the AFNC a good fit for his research target: a “meta analysis of research during the last 5-6 years that [he] has been waiting for.”

AFNC members have pre-competitive access to research project results. Look for an announcement about 2018’s projects, which will be ending soon.

AFNC Research Project Coordinator Adam Redhead is excited about the new projects. “[They] should produce preliminary data applicable to the animal food and nutrition industries. These projects are designed to have a short turn-around time, providing maximum potential for application,” he said.

Based here at NC State, the only university in the world with a mini-integration infrastructure, the AFNC is uniquely able to support “industry-relevant scenarios, integrated data collection and real-world solutions.”