Representative Subtheme Challenge:

FAI-03: Protecting Plants and Animals to Sustain the Planet

Imagine a future where a visit to a farm or orchard unveils a revolution in agriculture. This change is propelled by breakthroughs in plant and animal health, such as advanced genomic editing, creating robust, disease-resistant species. Remote delivery of vaccines for wildlife has substantially decreased disease spill over into human and animal populations. AI-driven disease prediction models coupled with new diagnostics have allowed for early detection of diseases and timely application of appropriate preventives or therapeutics in plants and animals. These developments, emerging from collaborative biotechnological and computational research, have fortified global food security and bolstered ecosystems. This advancement has substantial economic impacts, and affirms the U.S. as a worldwide leader in agricultural technology. This future, once an ambitious goal, is now a reality, demonstrating the impact of persistent research and innovation.

There is a pressing need to enhance agricultural vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics through innovative tools and approaches. Challenges in this area are numerous, including the need for low cost, problems with cold-chain logistics, and reluctance from producers. As in human vaccine production, predicting which pathogens will be circulating in any one season can present production challenges. The application of AI/ML to vaccine design for agriculture is ripe for innovation.

CASA-Bio stakeholders representing government, industry, and non-profit sectors, identified areas of mutual interest where concerted effort among them may lead more quickly to the realization of the envisioned future. These are a few of their ideas. Key research and development needs include, greater input from academic, industry, and federal sectors to bolster basic research and applied research, development of AI/ML technologies tailored to agriculture, and improved modeling in the agricultural vaccine industry. There's a need for expanded studies of pathogen genomes and a better understanding of pathogen biology and target species immunity. Technologies aimed at reducing the cost of goods should be prioritized, as well as new, improved diagnostic, preventive and therapeutic technologies that allow for the lack of cold chain or hands-free delivery. Additionally, there is a critical need for R&D of new vaccine technologies for animal health. Workforce education is crucial to drive these technologies forward. Additionally, educational outreach and socio-economic research is needed to promote producer buy-in and acceptance of these advances. We emphasize that this list is not comprehensive; we need you to help us think deeper within this subtheme!

As a member of the R&D community, you too are a CASA-Bio stakeholder, and providing your insight on R&D projects that undergird this sub-theme and lead to solutions is critical. Your ideas will matter! Your individual project ideas and those developed as part of the collaborative Town Hall process will be combined to produce an aggregate view. This view will help us understand not only the interests of the R&D community, but also what they are willing to do to advance the bioeconomy. Topics among the R&D project ideas we receive will help government, industry, and non-profit stakeholders see the potential of the US R&D community to address critical future needs and help define topics for future exploration through workshops and roadmapping.

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CASA-Bio is based upon work supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation under Contract No. 49100423P0058. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. National Science Foundation.
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