Gloria and Jorge Abad have individually and together significantly strengthened safeguarding agriculture and promoting safe trade by developing and using cutting edge technologies to detect and identify regulatory pathogens, and have enhanced crop security and safe trade through the development and implementation of advanced detection, identification, and therapeutic tools.
Gloria Abad was born in Lima, Peru. She earned a BS degree from National University Central Peru (NUCP), Huancayo, Peru in 1972, a MS degree in plant pathology from National Agrarian University La Molina (NAULM), Lima-Peru in 1984, and a PhD degree in plant pathology from North Carolina State University (NCSU) in 1993. She is currently senior principal investigator mycology, USDA APHIS PPQ Science and Technology (S&T) Beltsville Laboratory, MD with the role of implementing and validating robust molecular diagnostics tools for the detection and identification of pathogens of concern with emphasis on Oomycetes. She is also adjunct professor at Penn State University. Gloria Abad is an international leader in the systematics and identification of Oomycetes and developed an innovative and comprehensive toolkit to identify Phytophthora species using morphology and/or genetic data. Importantly and uniquely, the genetic data was based on sequences from ex-type collections, which is essential in establishing accurate and sound ID tools.
Many species of Phytophthora and other Oomycetes are pathogens of concern to USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ). Through Gloria's identification work and by producing tools that PPQ and others can use to rapidly and accurately identify Oomycetes, she has contributed significantly to safeguarding U.S. agriculture as well as supporting safe trade. She is a leader in evaluating and using new diagnostic and sequencing technologies, including the state-of-the-art Third Generation High-Throughput Sequencing (3G HTS), to barcode Phytophthora spp., regulatory significant Oomycetes, and other pathogens of regulatory concern. She is also using 3G HTS technology to implement whole genome sequences of the ex-types of Phytophthora, with emphasis on species of concern, to use them in comparative genomics in search of new diagnostic tools. Her work with the state-of-the-art technology creatively addresses safeguarding and regulatory challenges. Since 2004, Gloria has organized five of the six International Workshops on Oomycetes that bring together the world's experts to exchange knowledge and educate others on the latest in Oomycete research. She has sponsored numerous other workshops to train practitioners, mostly importantly first detectors, on how to identify Phytophthora.
Gloria Abad was instrumental in helping establish and operate the PPQ Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory (MDL) which was responsible for final federal identifications of pathogens of regulatory significance. The MDL provided final results in a timely manner which was essential for rapid response by officials and industry. While at NCSU, she established the Plant Pathology Identification Laboratory (PPIL) where she identified pathogens on more than 4000 specimens using morphology and molecular tools. She worked with USDA in resolving a long-standing disagreement between China and the United States over the occurrence of tobacco blue mold in the United States. She screened tobacco for the presence of the pathogen and, finding none, U.S. producers were again able to export to China.
Jorge Abad was born in Huancayo, Peru. He earned a BS degree from NUCP, Huancayo in 1975, a MS in plant pathology from NAULM, Lima-Peru, and a PhD in plant pathology from NCSU in 1991. He is currently the area director, Preclearance and Offshore Programs, USDA APHIS PPQ Riverdale MD. Jorge is an internationally renowned virologist who has applied his knowledge and skills to support safe trade and to safeguard U.S. agriculture. In his current position as the APHIS PPQ area director for the Caribbean, he is applying his skills to manage preclearance programs that intercept pathogens and pests at their origin rather than in the United States ports of entry, thus enhancing safe trade while safeguarding U.S. agriculture. As a result, a substantial number of agricultural products have been exported from Central America and the Caribbean to the United States with no interceptions of regulatory pathogens and pests. During his tenure, mango exports from that region significantly increased, providing a needed income to exporters.
From September 2015 to June 2018, Jorge Abad worked at the APHIS-PPQ-PHP's Pests, Pathogens, and Biocontrol Permits Branch (PPBP) within the Permitting and Compliance Coordination program, managing Plant Viruses, Bacteria and Pest biocontrol permits. In this role he extended numerous permits for regulated pathogens and represented PPBP in meetings with the National Potato Council and private companies. He also coordinated the APS/APHIS Widely Prevalent Committee Meetings (Viruses, Bacteria and Fungi) as the APHIS representative.
The local, regional, and international potato industry has benefitted tremendously for years from the work of Jorge Abad. From 2006-15, Jorge was the manager of the Potato, Sweetpotato and Cassava Quarantine Program at APHIS-PPQ's Plant Germplasm Quarantine Center. Only after undergoing his detection, identification, and therapeutic work could germplasm of these prohibited crops be released into the United States for research and/or commercial cropping. He developed and implemented several new state-of-the-art techniques that improved virus detection in that program, thereby protecting U.S. potatoes from exotic pathogens, some never previously detectable. Jorge Abad also helped harmonize detection protocols with countries such as Canada, Colombia, the Netherlands, Peru, and Scotland, which enhanced safe and fair trade. Abad participated in the description of several new viruses as well as the identification of the zebra chip disease-causing bacterium for the first time in the United States.
The Abads moved from Peru to the United States in 1986 with children Jorge Jr., Rocío, and Patricia, and now they have two grandchildren Alexander and Samuel and one great grandchild, Oliver. As a scientific team, Drs. Abad have organized and taught numerous international workshops where attendees learned techniques for morphological and molecular identification of Fungi and Oomycetes. They both contribute to internationally harmonized detection and identification protocols to facilitate safe trade. They are diligent, motivated, dedicated, and tireless scientists who have applied their talents to addressing the challenges and opportunities in safeguarding U.S. agriculture and the environment.
View Previous Awardees
View 2020 Awardees