Dr. L. Garry Adams values collaboration to achieve greater goals in research and organized veterinary medicine. On July 22 at AVMA Convention 2017, he received the AVMA Award for his contributions in the latter arena.
In 2012, Dr. Adams received the AVMA Lifetime Excellence in Research Award. Throughout his career in academia at Texas A&M University, the professor also has been active in the AVMA and other veterinary organizations.
Dr. Sam G. Miller Jr. nominated Dr. Adams for the AVMA Award on behalf of the Texas VMA. Dr. Miller wrote, "One of the most accomplished veterinary professionals in the world, Dr. Adams is also one of the nicest, most unassuming individuals I have had the pleasure of meeting during my career in veterinary medicine. He is truly one of those people who leads by example and whose quiet confidence has helped build and strengthen the reputation of every organization that has had the privilege of his service."
Dr. Adams grew up in a small mountain town in Texas, and he always had livestock and pets. He worked for two local practitioners who encouraged him to attend Texas A&M to become a veterinarian.
At the university, he earned his veterinary degree in 1964 and his doctorate in veterinary anatomic pathology in 1968, then joined the faculty. Working with the Rockefeller Foundation and U.S. Agency for International Development, he went to Colombia to develop diagnostic tests and vaccines for anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and trypanosomiasis. Along the way, he became a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists. He returned to campus after five years to teach pathology and continue studying infectious diseases.
Dr. Adams' research has focused on diseases such as brucellosis, tuberculosis, and salmonellosis. When pathogen meets host, he said, there are spectacular lesions and specific patterns and reactions. He said, "This is a very remarkable interaction of two different organisms, two different genomes. It's a genome-to-genome interaction, and as a consequence of that, both have survived for a long, long time. How did this occur, why did it occur, and how can we know more about it—and perhaps unbalance the interaction of host and pathogen in favor of the host?"
In the past decade, researchers have begun to understand the interaction on a molecular level. Dr. Adams' curiosity keeps getting deeper.
Dr. Adams said he is engaged in the AVMA because of his commitment to the veterinary profession. He has been a member of the Council on Research, Council on Education, and Committee on International Veterinary Affairs. He served on the working group that developed the concept for the AVMA Animal Health Studies Database launched last summer, and he served on the organizing committee for the AVMA Global Food Security Summit held early this year.
With the Texas VMA, Dr. Adams has been a member of the Research Committee for many years. Among other activities in organized veterinary medicine, he served on the board of directors of the American Association of Veterinary Immunologists.
Dr. Adams lives by a "team of teams" collaborative approach to complex issues. He relies on his personal team, faith team, academic team, and professional team. To share some of his thoughts on collaboration in research, he published "Putting together a scientific team: collaborative science" in the September 2014 issue of Trends in Microbiology.
He encourages his students to stay engaged in the veterinary profession through local, state, and national associations. Through organized veterinary medicine, he has formed lifelong networks and continues to find inspiration from interacting with his colleagues.