(SCHAUMBURG, Illinois) August 4, 2022—The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) today honored Dr. Yrjö Gröhn, professor of epidemiology at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, as the winner of the 2022 AVMA Lifetime Excellence in Research Award.
Established in November 2005, this award recognizes a veterinary researcher on the basis of lifetime achievement in basic, applied or clinical research. Winners are selected on the total impact their career has had on the veterinary or biomedical professions.
“Through his research, Dr. Gröhn has earned his outstanding reputation in national and international veterinary medicine and the biomedical sciences, and has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to excellence in research and scholarship throughout his academic and professional career,” said Dr. Lori Teller, president of the AVMA. “It is a tremendous honor to announce his selection as this year’s AVMA Lifetime Excellence in Research Award winner.”
Dr. Gröhn is a world-leading scientist and recognized expert in analytical epidemiology, with an emphasis on applying mathematical modelling and other quantitative methods to livestock diseases and foodborne pathogens. He has enriched food supply veterinary medicine with cutting-edge research, the goal of which has been to identify economically optimal ways to manage health for animals and humans. During his academic career, Dr. Gröhn’s research interests have evolved from studies of basic metabolism in ruminants and genetics to veterinary epidemiology, economic modeling and food safety. Currently, his two main areas of research and scholarly activity are mathematical modeling of zoonotic infectious disease and optimizing dairy herd health and management decisions.
Dr. Gröhn’s enormous contributions to advancing food supply veterinary medicine stem from his systems approach to the food supply chain and strategic application of tools from molecular biology, applied mathematics and social sciences. For example, Dr. Gröhn is widely known for his pioneering work on mixed models and dynamic programming to improve control of lameness and mastitis as well as to improve dairy cattle breeding.
In recent years, Professor Gröhn has developed a very productive research program on the importance of controlling antimicrobial resistance in animal populations. This research has shown to be of great importance in developing acceptable policies to optimize antimicrobial usage and reduce antimicrobial resistance in food animal populations.
Equally important to global health is Dr. Gröhn’s research interest in zoonotic infectious diseases, which has led to his inclusion in a series of the NSF Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases International Partnership workshops. The timely product of these discussions was a co-authored publication to emphasize the central role that cooperation plays in understanding the ecological and evolutionary drivers of disease emergence relative to anticipating and managing zoonotic spillovers in China, the United States and worldwide (EcoHealth 17, 160–173, 2020).
Dr. Gröhn’s national and international reputation and impact can also be recognized by his participation in multi-institutional research projects and invitations to offer training programs and seminars. Dr. Gröhn’s work has resulted in more than 300 peer-reviewed publications, many of which have had a strong impact on the field of veterinary medicine. For example, his seminal paper about epidemiology of reproductive performance in dairy cows, published in 2000, has been cited more than 500 times. Similarly, his paper on the effect of pathogen-specific clinical mastitis on milk yield in dairy cows, published in 2004, has been cited more than 400 times.
Dr. Gröhn’s scientific work has been funded by numerous research awards, and, since 1995, he has had continual funding from the USDA, the National Science Foundation or National Institutes of Health for his research. One notable example was serving as the leading investigator for the Cornell Zoonoses Research Unit, funded through a $6.6 million grant from the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Food and Waterborne Disease Integrated Research Network. This seven-year program funded numerous projects at Cornell, substantially increased the visibility and impact of zoonotic research work at the university and also fostered strong collaborative research programs with other institutions. Dr. Gröhn exhibited excellent leadership in securing and maintaining the funding and fostering successful research projects.
During his academic career, Dr. Gröhn’s impactful contributions to research and scholarly activity were recognized by several major professional awards and honors. He was appointed as a F.C. Donders Chair for outstanding visiting scholars while he spent a sabbatical year as visiting professor at the University of Utrecht in The Netherlands from 1994-1995. He received the AVMA Samuel F. Scheidy Memorial Award in 1999 and the Calvin W. Schwabe Award for Lifetime Achievement in veterinary epidemiology and preventive medicine in 2013. Subsequently, Dr. Gröhn’s major contributions to the field of analytical epidemiology were honored by receiving the University of California-Davis Alumni Achievement Award and by being named the James Law Professor of Epidemiology at Cornell University in 2014. In 2019, Dr. Gröhn was awarded honorary diplomate status of the American Veterinary Epidemiology Society.
Dr. Gröhn has always been a devoted teacher and is passionate about educating veterinary and graduate students in advanced methods of epidemiology, clinical biostatistics and other areas of his expertise. In accordance with Dr. Gröhn’s highly successful research work, he has a long list of accomplished mentees. His areas of research offer opportunities for training in epidemiological and mathematical modeling, genetic analysis and economic methods and have attracted many young researchers to spend time and seek their advanced academic degrees under Dr. Gröhn’s mentorship.
During his tenure at Cornell, he has been the major advisor to 15 PhD students and 38 postdoctoral fellows. Dr. Gröhn has also trained many veterinary students participating in summer research programs or the dual DVM/PhD program. He was instrumental to the career of many of his trainees. Several of Dr. Gröhn’s trainees have transitioned successfully to faculty positions or careers in industry or government and are highly accomplished themselves.
Dr. Gröhn has served in college leadership as department chair for 14 years and on numerous other academic committees. His tenure as department chair has been marked by successful recruitment of key faculty members, and significant expansion of Cornell’s research activities with a very fair, thorough and organized leadership style.
“It was a great surprise and joy to be chosen as the recipient of the 2022 AVMA Life Excellence in Research Award; I am truly humbled,” said Dr. Gröhn. “I would like to thank all of the veterinarians and non-veterinarians I have worked with over the years, particularly my Ph.D. students, postdoctoral and research fellows. It has been wonderful, exciting lifetime work, for which I am very grateful. I have been blessed.”
For more information, contact Michael San Filippo, media relations manager, at 847-732-6194 (cell) or msanfilippoavma [dot] org (msanfilippo[at]avma[dot]org).