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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


OARDC Scientist Earns International Poultry Group Honor

August 13, 2008

WOOSTER, Ohio — Ohio State University scientist Sandra G. Velleman, an international leader in the study of the extracellular matrix in poultry and in muscle development, received the 2008 Embrex Fundamental Science Award from the 3,500-member Poultry Science Association (PSA) at the group’s annual conference June 20-23 in Niagara Falls, Ontario.


The award recognizes outstanding achievement in a basic discipline, such as genetics, genomics, or molecular, cellular or developmental biology. It is given each year to a PSA member who has made sustained, high-quality contributions to fundamental science that advances the field of poultry science.

A professor of animal sciences based at Ohio State’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) in Wooster, Velleman studies the molecular and cellular mechanisms regulating muscle growth in chickens and turkeys with an emphasis on extracellular matrix gene expression.

The extracellular matrix, connective tissues and fibers located outside of and around cells, gives cells structural support and regulates cell gene expression critical in maintaining tissue function.

Velleman has investigated the regulation of muscle growth and structure by the differential expression of extracellular matrix genes; the cellular mechanisms by which extracellular matrix genes involved in growth factor signaling affect skeletal-muscle growth; the role of the extracellular matrix in meat tenderness; and the effect of genetic selection of poultry for increased growth rate on muscle formation.

She has written 86 full-length peer-reviewed scientific publications; has received grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the poultry industry; and received the National Turkey Federation Research Award in 2006 and the PSA Research Award in 1998.

Before joining OARDC in 1995, she was an NIH post-doctoral fellow with the University of Pennsylvania’s Medical School Connective Tissue Research Institute and an assistant professor in residence in the University of Connecticut’s Department of Animal Sciences.

A native of Malden, Mass., Velleman holds a doctorate with a specialization in cell and developmental biology from the University of Connecticut and a bachelor of arts degree with distinction in biology from Boston University.

PSA’s members are educators, scientists, Extension specialists, administrators and producers from around the world.

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Kurt Knebusch
Sandy Velleman