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CVM Faculty Members Helps Direct Farm Animal Health R&D Company

Dr. Simon Wheeler, an adjunct professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University and managing director with Novartis Venture Funds, has been appointed to the board of directors of Advanced Animal Diagnostics (AAD), a developer of technologies for the diagnosis of farm animal diseases.

AAD recently closed an $11 million Series B round of equity financing. According to the company, the financing—which included Norvartis Venture Funds—represents the largest single investment in research and development to diagnose mastitis, the costliest disease for dairy producers worldwide.  AAD expects the financing to support hiring for key positions, production and manufacturing, and on-farm economic trials of its first product line focusing on improving milk production and quality.

“Novartis Venture Fund is confident that with its new technology, AAD will bring significant benefits to the dairy industry and enhance food production worldwide,” say Dr. Wheeler. “The investment meets the aim of our fund to provide innovative patient benefit and supports the Novartis mission to save, prolong and improve animal lives.”

AAD technology represents an advance for control of mastitis because it allows early identification of infected quarters, or glands, immediately after calving, when the highest incidence of mastitis occurs.  With AAD’s rapid on-farm test that works on colostrum, infected cows can be treated immediately and clear the withdrawal period before they’re turned into the milking herd. Early treatment ensures that cows start the lactation cycle healthy, minimizes long-term gland damage that reduces milk production and eliminates the high cost of discarded milk and treatment during lactation. 

AAD says it expect to bring to market a new generation of diagnostics technologies that will revolutionize the way farmers approach animal health, allowing them to detect and diagnose diseases in their animals more quickly and efficiently than ever before.

AAD was founded in 2001 and started with a USDA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant. It received funding from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center including a Collaborative Funding Grant for research at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. The company previously raised a $1.1 million Series A round of funding from private investors.

In addition to his adjunct professor position and managing director responsibility with Novartis Venture Funds, Dr. Wheeler has held several commercial, clinical, educational and management roles in academia and the animal health industry. His veterinary specialty is neurology and he has authored several textbooks and more than 115 articles in research, education, and text books. He has also lectured throughout the world on veterinary neurology and neurosurgery.

March 26, 2011