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I would appreciate if you would consider posting this call for participation to your camelid health network. I am especially interested in vets becoming aware of my requests. I can forward my CV to anyone who is interested and would be happy to discuss this further. I posted this initially on alpacasite, and have begun to receive samples weekly since the posting.
I am actually faculty at Ohio State University as well, having an courtesy appointment in Anthropology there since 1997. Looking forward to hearing from you. I would be willing to give a talk related to this as well if that would help procure more samples and cooperation. Cheers, Andy Merriwether
Call for Participation: I have started a DNA bank for future use mapping potentially genetic diseases and phenotypic traits in alpacas and other camelids. Now that the alpaca genome project is almost finished, we will have at least a rough road map of the alpaca genome to start searching for genes involved in camelid health, disease, and various phenotypes. To this end I thought it would be prudent to start banking blood samples from any animals that have any unusual traits, or are born with defects (even born dead). I currently have grants in review to map the genes for camelid coat and skin color, and to map the Suri allele, with the goal of developing genetic tests to offer the industry. If I can accumulate enough samples (blood or tissue, and fiber), I will submit grants to map the gene(s) for choanal atresia and wry face, and polydactyly. To do this, I need blood or tissue samples from the animals born with CA or wry face or polydactyly, as well as from the dam and sire (if possible), and ideally also from other unaffected siblings. This would all be strictly confidential. I have already received dozens of samples, but will need 50-100 cases and their parents for each trait to map any of these. Llamas are fine also. The animals do not have to be registered. It would help me to have any vet information describing the condition, and if any of the animals (affected or not) have ARI or CLCC numbers it would help me to have them as well. Again, this is strictly confidential. I am not restricting it to these problems. I have collected samples from polydactyl animals and animals with multiple limbs, as well as animals with nursing problems. If anyone has run into this, or does run into it in the future, I would appreciate receiving samples. In general, I am interested in any potentially disease-related phenotypes or unusual non-disease-related phenotypes (traits). I will be happy to talk to anyone about this on the phone or by email. Phone at home is 607-785-8226. Lab is 607-777-6707. Email is firstname.lastname@example.org
For now, I am establishing this registry with my own funds (ie doing the extractions from blood and tissue samples and storing them at -80C). If enough samples materialize, I will be able to apply for funding to help pay for this. For now, it is based on your generosity to spend the money to draw the bloods and mail them to me. Blood should be in a lavender top tube (EDTA Vacuutainer) , ideally 1-5 mls. It should be overnight mailed to me within 72 hours of drawing it. It should be refrigerated (not frozen) until it is mailed, and can be sent with a blue-ice pack or room temperature if it is not too hot. You need to email me to warn me it is coming, and all related paperwork should accompany the samples, which should be labeled clearly so I know what is what. Also include your name and contact information in the package.
Express mail to: D. Andrew Merriwether Lab Department of Biology Binghamton University 210 Science III Bldg. Parkway East PO Box 6000 Binghamton, NY 13902-6000 Lab Phone: 607-777-6707
Background on me: I am currently an associate professor of anthropology and biology at Binghamton University (since 2002). I have a BA in Medical Anthropology, a BS in Biology, an MS in Genetics, a Ph.D. in Human Genetics, and three years postdoctoral training at the Keck Center for Advanced Training in Computational Biology. I was an assistant professor in two departments and two centers at the University of Michigan from 1996-2002 (Anthropolgy, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, the Center for Statistical Genetics, and the Center for Molecular and Clinical Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases (MACEPID)). With my wife, Ann Merriwether (Faculty in Psychology Dept. and in the School of Human Development at Binghamton University), I co-own Nyala Farm Alpacas, where we currently have 23 alpacas (22 Huacayas and a demonstration model Suri, with two more due this year). We have owned alpacas for about three years now. I have served on the Alpaca Research Foundation Board of directors, the ARI genetics committee under Shauna Brummet, and the Breed Standards Committee for the Empire Alpaca Association. Ann and I have written numerous articles on alpaca genetics for various alpaca and camelid trade journals.
Conflict of Interest: I hope to develop commercial tests to test for the presence of various traits and diseases that I think will benefit the industry and be desirable to alpaca owners and breeders. I also hope some of them will benefit me financially someday as well, but if not, I love solving a good mystery.
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