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7-29-05


Dr. Anderson,
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 andym@binghamton.edu
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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