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Biological Sciences Division
Staff Awards & Honors

April 2008

International Scientific Collaboration Earns Honorary Professorship

Dr. Dick Weller of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory recently was awarded a diploma by the Scientific Council of the Institute of Veterinary Medicine in Veterinary Science in Kyiv, Ukraine, conferring upon him the title of "Honorary Professor of the Institute of Veterinary Medicine." Weller is only the second person ever to be so honored in the history of the Institute. Weller received the diploma while at the Institute to deliver an invited presentation, "Veterinary Oncology: A Short History."

"It was a tremendous honor to be invited to present a lecture to the prestigious governing body of the Institute," Weller said.

Weller promotes scientific collaboration between PNNL and other US institutes and supports veterinary education.  Over the last five years, he also has worked closely with the Ukraine Academy of Agrarian Science, in particular with its major veterinary institutes—the Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine (in Kharkov) and the Institute of Veterinary Medicine (in Kyiv)—both educational centers as well as research and development (R&D) institutes.

Working with professional colleagues at each institute, Weller has helped determine how to upgrade their biosecurity and biosafety practices related to R&D conducted to improve ways to diagnose, treat, and control animal diseases that could affect food safety and pose a public health concern.  He helped develop plans for how to manage and safely handle disease-causing organisms used when conducting research activities at the institutes. Together, they have developed proposals for different but related ways of improving biosecurity and biosafety practices such as the proper use of protective clothing, the proper use of biological safety cabinets, and changing work flow patterns to minimize the number of people coming in contact with potentially dangerous microorganisms.

Engaging with peers in the biological world to build bridges that will sustain common understanding and mutual respect over time has been particularly rewarding for Weller.  "I listen as a scientific peer, because my personal and professional interest is in trying to help solve professional problems," he said.  "We have laid the groundwork for trust and a dogged stewardship of what we think they [the Institutes] deserve to have done" in the interests of biosecurity and biosafety.

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