Charles R. Looney, president and founder of OvaGenix of Bryan, Texas, has established a graduate assistantship in the Department of Animal Sciences. The first recipient is Casey Ballard from Atlanta, Texas, who began his program of study fall semester 2004.
Looney received his Ph.D. from LSU in 1983 in reproductive physiology, a program established by Robert Godke, his major professor.
“The best opportunity for success is right here,” Looney said of the LSU Ag- Center’s Embryo Biotechnology Laboratory, which is part of the Reproductive Biology Center near St. Gabriel, La., where Ballard will conduct his research. “This is one of the leading scientific centers in the world.”
The two-year assistantship will lead to a master’s degree and includes the cost of research support and supplies, said Richard Denniston, the center’s director. Ballard, who is a graduate of Texas A&M University, will concentrate his studies on the use of cryopreservation in Brahman breeding. Cryopreservation, a process of subjecting live tissue to extremely low temperatures, is used in the cattle industry as a way to preserve embryos.
“We have limited success in trying to cryopreserve the embryos from Brahman cattle,” Denniston said. “We need to find out why. Cattle breeders are much more successful with Angus, for example.”
Cryopreservation in animal breeding is extremely important, Denniston said, because of new restrictions on transporting cattle across state lines and international borders.
“The threat of BSE has changed the rules,” Denniston said. BSE stands for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease. A few instances of this disease in recent years have had devastating effects on the cattle industry.
Brahman and Brahman-influenced cattle make up 60 percent of the cattle population in the world, Denniston said.
OvaGenix, which began operation in 1999, is a biotechnical company specializing in cattle breeding.
Linda Foster Benedict
(This article was published in the winter 2005 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture