Charles J. Arntzen, president emeritus of the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) for Plant Research Inc., located on the campus of Cornell University, was named Dec. 13 to President George W. Bush's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
Arntzen, who currently is a professor at Arizona State University, will serve on the council with 23 other scientists for a two-year term. The council was founded Sept. 30 to advise the President on matters involving science and technology policy.
Arntzen is best known for his research into edible vaccines. He and his collaborators at BTI have conducted pioneering human clinical trials in which volunteers ate uncooked potatoes to gain an immune response. His research group also is attempting to genetically alter bananas to contain vaccines, with a special interest in providing oral vaccination for children and adults in the developing worlds.
The council will be reviewing federal funding of those areas of science with strategic economic or military importance. "I am particularly interested in serving on a panel that will study bioterrorism. Our research at the Boyce Thompson Institute has been supported by federal agencies that have an interest in creating strategic U.S. reserves of vaccines that could be mobilized in the event of an anticipated or actual attack using new germs that cause disease," says Arntzen.
The importance of this research transcends military applications, Arntzen says. "There is also a real spin-off value in this research, since the technology may also be of worth in preventing diseases in the Third World where dangerous infectious diseases, such as ebola, are real health problems," he says.
Before joining BTI, Arntzen was professor of biochemistry and biophysics at Texas A&M University. He also served as an adjunct professor in physiology at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston. Before that he was the deputy chancellor for agriculture and dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M and served as director of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station.