Awards for Advancing Research in Respiratory Disease Celebrates Key Findings and Outstanding Research Proposals Selected for 2021

Since the Awards for Advancing Research in Respiratory Disease (AWARRD) program’s inception more than 16 years ago, Boehringer Ingelheim has provided more than $1.5 million in support of the development of less costly, innovative diagnostic testing and sampling processes; identified more effective biosecurity practices; sought to better understand respiratory diseases; and developed risk assessment tools, intervention programs and vaccination strategies. This year, to continue expanding the swine industry’s knowledge of respiratory diseases, three outstanding research proposals were selected to receive $35,000 each.

“We’ve seen the tremendous impact that projects funded by the AWARRD program have had on the swine industry,” said Montse Torremorell, DVM, Ph.D., Diplo. ACVP, University of Minnesota, and Respiratory Disease Research Board member. “All it takes is one look around a pig farm to see the many best practices and key learnings producers and veterinarians have implemented as a direct result of findings from the more than 55 projects the program has funded. The proposals selected this year will continue to build upon that progress and help the industry understand the complexities of a wide range of respiratory diseases.”

Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) continues to challenge the swine industry, both in management and profitability, but it’s not the only respiratory disease attacking producers’ bottom lines. Starting in 2016, AWARRD (formerly PRRS Research Awards) announced an expansion of the program to include projects related to porcine circovirus Type 2 (PCV2), Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae (Mhp) and influenza A virus in swine (IAV-S).

The Respiratory Disease Research Board, consisting of seven independent swine veterinarians and researchers, reviewed several exceptional proposals before making its final decision. This year’s recipients are focusing on research related to PRRS and Mhp.

Boehringer Ingelheim congratulates the following recipients of the 2021 Awards for Advancing Research in Respiratory Disease:

Tanja Opriessnig, DVM, Ph.D., Iowa State University, Ames, IA

  • Understanding the importance of the gut microbiome on PRRSv efficacy

Jeff Feder, DVM, Swine Vet Center, St. Peter, MN

  • Assessing the risk of spreading PRRS-positive manure next to sensitive sites

Maria Pieters, DVM, Ph.D., University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

  • Identifying the critical clinical threshold of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae infections

“As our industry continues to evolve, respiratory pathogens follow suit and present new challenges and questions that demand answers,” explained Reid Philips, DVM, PRRS technical manager, Boehringer Ingelheim. “We’re honored to be a part of a collaborative effort that continues to deliver groundbreaking, field-applicable findings that ultimately improve the health of pigs and profitability of producers.”

The Respiratory Disease Research Board also granted research completion awards to the following individuals for successfully completing past projects funded by the AWARRD program:

Juan Sanhueza, DVM, Ph.D., University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

  • Toward the best testing strategy for PRRSv stability – Time-to-negative processing fluids in breeding herds

Mariana Kikuti, DVM, Ph.D., University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

  • Genetic diversity of PRRSv in piglets during an outbreak

Alyssa Betlach, DVM, Swine Vet Center, St. Peter, MN

  • Spatial and temporal detection patterns for Mycoplasma hyopneumoniaeunder controlled aerosol exposure for gilt acclimatization

Applications for the 2022 awards will be open for submission in late 2021. For more information on how the AWARRD program is advancing the swine industry’s knowledge of respiratory diseases through game-changing research, tools and more, visit

About the Respiratory Disease Research Board 

The Respiratory Disease Research Board, an independent group of swine veterinarians and researchers, selects the Awards for Advancing Research in Respiratory Disease annually. Board members for the 2021 award selection process include:

  • Luc Dufresne, DVM,Seaboard Foods, Shawnee Mission, Kansas
  • Tim Loula, DVM,Swine Vet Center, P.A., St. Peter, Minnesota
  • Daryl Olsen, DVM,AMVC, Audubon, Iowa
  • Montse Torremorell,DVM, Ph.D., Diplo. ACVP, University of Minnesota, St. Paul
  • Darin Madson, DVM, Ph.D.,JBS Live Pork, Greeley, Colorado
  • Mary Battrell, DVM,2020 AASV President-elect, Smithfield Foods, Smithfield, Virginia
  • Wesley Lyons, DVM,2020 AASV Young Veterinarian of the Year, Pipestone Veterinary Services, Pipestone, Minnesota