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Annemarie Rebel appointed as a Special Professor Healthy and Resilient Livestock

As of 1 July NCOH scientific director Smart and Healthy Farming Dr. Annemarie Rebel is appointed as a Special Professor Healthy and Resilient Livestock at Wageningen University & Research.

About Annemarie Rebel

Annemarie (J.M.J.) Rebel (born 1968) is head of the Animal Health and Welfare Department within Wageningen Livestock Research. She obtained her Master in Medical Biology at the University of Amsterdam and gained her doctorate from Erasmus University Rotterdam for the human medicine on the subject ‘Recurrence rate of bladder cancer’.

She subsequently did research at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore on metastasis of prostate cancer and at the Academic hospital in Utrecht, including 7 months Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Hospital, Boston, on host reactivity of repair after myocardial infarction. Following a switch to research in livestock she started at Infection Biology within the Central Veterinary Institute (now Wageningen Bioveterinary Research) and moved in 2015 to Wageningen Livestock Research.

At this moment Rebel is responsible for research into the interactions between animals and the environment, such as nutrition, pathogens, microbiome, stress and housing. Her expertise is used with the aim to improve animal health, resilience and welfare, with special emphasis on immunity and infection susceptibility. She is scientific director Smart and healthy farming at Netherlands Centre for One Health (NCOH).

This chair may lead to less disease outbreaks, reduce medicine use and supports the one health approach.

Prof. Annemarie Rebel

Towards animals that are able to cope with challenges

Annemarie Rebel focusses her research on a better understanding of resilience against disease and transitions which will result in tools to increase health and resilience in animals. During her whole career she did research on the differences in host response and the interaction to different challenges.

Rebel is intrigued to elucidate the mechanisms explaining the differences in responses between individuals, to similar (given) challenges. Why and how differ these responses, and can we steer those into directions of desired responses. She likes to collaborate with others researchers and to bridge expertise to find answers to complex questions, like resilience.

“With this special chair to study resilience of animals, the possibility to optimize the intrinsic capacities will lead to animals that are able to cope with challenges”, prof. Rebel says. “Moreover this may lead to less disease outbreaks and supports the one health approach, reduction of medicine use, and less disease susceptibility”.

Resilient animals

Individual animals and humans react differently to similar challenges such as pathogens or stress-full transitions. For example not all individuals will get high fever after a similar influenza challenge and recovery time after infection can be different. Animals that seem relatively unaffected by the challenge and/or quickly recover are often termed resilient animals. The variation in the response of the host leading to a more or less health state of long or short recovery times is not well understood. Prof. Rebel will therefore focus her research on mechanisms leading to resilient animals.

Intrinsic properties

The response to disease challenges and transitions is likely to be affected by the intrinsic properties, of the individual animal to mount an effective response. These properties seem to be shaped by interactions between different physiological systems such as systems regulating immunology response, mood, metabolic state, thermoregulation, diversity and complexity of the microbiome. Challenges or failure in one or more physiological system will impact the host’s reactivity to challenges explaining variation in response to disease and transitions.

Influencing intrinsic properties

The intrinsic properties of animals can be influenced by many factors; for instance experiences in early life, interaction of animals with the environment, housing and management conditions, feed, microbiome, genetics and programming via the mother. How these different factors interact and contribute to the intrinsic properties of the animals needs a complex systems approach connecting different physiological regulation mechanisms, factors that affect these physiological regulation systems and variation in response to challenges. Therefore one of the aims of this chair is to bridge different expertise through connecting and collaborating with other chairs and universities. The final objectives are to have animals that may better cope with challenges, reduction of antibiotic and medicine usages, and at the same time less outbreaks of diseases and a positive effect for animal health and human health: ‘One health’.