Featured Profile: Randall Prather
University of Missouri scientist Dr. Randall Prather advances agriculture and medicine through swine research.
Prather is considered an international authority in using biotechnology to study and genetically modify swine embryos. His globally renowned research program incorporates multiple disciplines – genomics, proteomics, transgenics and nuclear transfer among them — to investigate molecular, cellular and physiological changes in fertilization and growing embryos.
One of Prather’s goals is to increase reproductive efficiency in swine. Currently, only about 70 percent of embryos conceived are born in a litter. Prather focuses his attention on early development, before the embryos are implanted in the uterus, to identify root causes of these losses.
Prather has won acclaim for his groundbreaking work in producing several lines of genetically modified pigs. He cloned a variety that make their own omega-3 fatty acids, linked to lower incidence of heart disease. He also adapted a way to track genetic modifications using green fluorescent tissue, and he developed a line of pigs with specially modified immune systems – both stepping stones to transplant therapies in humans. His latest triumph: a line of pigs resistant to the incurable Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome virus.
Dr. Randall Prather is Curators’ Professor of Reproductive Biotechnology in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and director of the National Swine Research and Resource Center. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
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