UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory Welcomes New Scientist

The newly-renamed University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL) recently welcomed scientist Erdal Erol, DVM, MSc, PhD, as the laboratory's new head of diagnostic microbiology.

Originally from Turkey, Erol's unique background in both field veterinary medicine and a variety of microbiology disciplines made him a rare candidate for the position, according to VDL director Craig Carter, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVPM.

Erdal Erol

Dr. Erdal Erol is the VDL's new head of diagnostic microbiology.

"We are extremely fortunate to recruit Dr. Erol, as he brings us strong research and service experience in microbiology and rich clinical experience as a veterinarian," Carter said. "He's a very valuable person because he not only has postgraduate training and experience but also is a veterinarian and can bring the clinical picture together. He has both sides of that equation."

At the VDL Erol oversees bacteriology, virology, and molecular genetics departments, working with the scientists and technicians in each area to provide timely and accurate test results for clients and farmers. He is also developing and validating new tests that can be offered to help diagnose and treat various animal diseases.

Since he joined the VDL faculty in July, Erol has made available a new real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay for leptospirosis, a serious disease of horses that can cause abortion and eye problems. The new test will identify carrier animals as well as those with active infections.

Erol said he recently validated tests for Salmonella spp. and Rhodococcus equi, both of which are major infectious agents in horses.

"I believe that my clinical training and experience combined with my laboratory expertise will greatly aid UKVDL in improving current diagnostic technologies in support of the Kentucky animal industries and to help protect the U.S. from infectious agents found in animals," Erol said.

Erol spent six years as a field veterinarian in Turkey working with large and small animals in an environment he said "allowed him to observe a huge variety of diseases."

"Turkey is a kind of a bridge between East and West," Erol said. "We were having so many infectious agents coming from Asia to Europe. I had a very good opportunity to see [the infectious agents] firsthand."

These experiences served to sharpen Erol's curiosity about microbiological agents. As a result, he returned to school to expand his knowledge by earning an MSc degree at the University of Missouri and a PhD from Texas A&M University, both in microbiology. Erol then accepted a job at the Texas Veterinary Medicine Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) to develop testing methods for different types of infectious agents, as well as proficiency tests for pathogenic infectious agents for the USDA. Furthermore, he helped establish a Biosafety Level 3 laboratory (BSL-3) at TVMDL.

"This is a specialized laboratory facility that makes it safe to work on highly infectious agents and prevents dangerous microorganisms from leaving the laboratory," Erol explained.

Erol has been a consultant for the USDA and the European Union. He also is an expert on avian influenza, and he has trained many veterinary scientists on proper testing procedures for the disease.

Natalie Voss is a UK equine communications intern and undergraduate student in equine science and management.

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