Irit Davidson

  • Born: 1953 (Israel)
  • Inducted: 2017
Dr Irit Davidson is a leading senior researcher (A+ equivalent to Full Professor) and has studied avian viruses for 37 years at the Division of Avian Diseases, Kimron Veterinary Institute, Bet Dagan, Israel. Her studies have made a major contribution to poultry veterinary science in improving the understanding and control of poultry viral infections and the development of new diagnostic assays that were introduced immediately. Irit Davidson has studied avian oncogenic and immunosuppressive viruses, including leukosis (ALV), reticuloendotheliosis (REV), Marek's (MDV), chicken anaemia (CAV), fowlpox (FPV), laryngotracheitis (ILTV), turkey flavivirus TMEV and avian influenza H9N2, in separate, or in multiple-infections, focusing on understanding virus biology in single and multiple infections. To facilitate identification of natural multiple virus-infections she developed molecular assays for simultaneous multiple virus detection and for differentiation of wild-type viruses from vaccine strains (DIVA).

Two main topics that were woven into her studies on these viruses were:

1) Establishment of the feathers as a major organ for detection and study of chicken viruses, including the latest findings on feather use to evaluate the application efficacy of live vaccines.

2) Molecular recombination between herpes and retroviruses events in commercial birds, showing the formation of chimeric molecules. That finding reflected on general virology, as herpes and retroviruses co-exist in many animals, including humans. Further, molecular integration of REV fragments into fowlpox, revealed that most FPV isolates contain REV fragments.

These studies were published in 154 publications and reported in local and international scientific meetings, including several invitations for keynote lectures; the last one was in Beijing 2016 at the WPC. Her contribution to science also includes active participation in international scientific panels for competitive grants (European Union and BARD), Editorial Boards for Scientific Journal (Virus Genes, Tumor Viruses, World Journal of Virology, Peer J, Israel Journal of Veterinary Medicine, serving as Head of the Institute Scientific Committee and academic supervision of MSc and PhD students. Dr Irit Davidson’s studies were funded by 20 international and 15 Israeli national competitive grants. For these studies Irit won two International Awards, the AAAP P. P. Levine, and the WPSA Research Award.

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