Dr. Emily Kathambi Kiugu receives prestigious Next Gen Leadership Award
February 3, 2023
Dr. Emily Kathambi Kiugu (DVM), first year PhD student in Veterinary Medicine, has been awarded the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology (AGBT) Agriculture Next Gen Leadership Award for her presentation "Genome Biotechnologies as Cattle Breeding Tools in Africa." She will receive the award and present her research at the upcoming AGBT Agricultural meeting, a high-impact global conference that brings together the world’s leading genome researchers, data scientists, breeders, policy influencers, funders, and technology innovators.
Dr. Kathambi is a PhD student in Dr. Peter Larsen’s lab and is supported through a Gates Foundation award to Acceligen. She was recruited directly by Dr. Larsen and Dr. Tad Sonstegard, Acceligen Chief Executive and Scientific Officer, to conduct research that addresses production issues and genetic improvements in African cattle. Her dissertation focuses on precision breeding and aims to address the current challenges with respect to cattle production in Africa. The market for dairy is growing in Africa, and the current yield of African cattle breeds cannot currently meet that demand. In addition, major disease and environmental challenges impact cattle production potential. For example, most breeds are naturally adapted to tolerate Africa’s typical climatic conditions, but not the extreme heat that is becoming increasingly common.
Dr. Kathambi’s work also focuses on editing cattle cell lines to improve milk production as well as resistance to disease and extreme heat. The goal of the research is to combine these traits into one or several cell lines. As Dr. Kathambi notes, “With the high contribution of livestock to Africa’s economy, being able to successfully introduce high-yield dairy cattle resilient to harsh climatic conditions and tropical diseases to African breeding programs would exponentially improve food security and economic development in the region.”
Congratulations to Dr. Kathambi on this prestigious award!