An international livestock disease research program has created the David A. Benfield Student Travel Fellowship, which recognizes the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center’s associate director and noted virologist for his contributions to food animal health research.

The fellowship will support international doctoral students participating in the 2009 Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) International Symposium, set for Dec. 4-5 in Chicago.

The fellowship was created by the PRRS Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP) – a research initiative involving the U.S. Department of Agriculture, commodity groups and universities around the world, which organize the yearly symposium.

PRRS remains the most economically significant pig disease in the United States, costing the industry an estimated $650 million annually in production losses.

Benfield co-discovered and described the PRRS virus in the early 1990s and helped develop the first vaccine against the disease. He continues to be actively involved in PRRS research efforts and remains an active member of PRRS-CAP.

Students interested in applying for this fellowship must electronically submit a curriculum vitae, a one-page description of research interests and a copy of the abstract for the PRRS symposium to Raymond Rowland at browland@vet.k-state.edu.

Deadline for applications is Sept. 8. The fellowship will award up to $1,000 in travel expenses.