Agricultural Research Service (ARS) - Midwest Area

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) - Midwest Area

Agency/Department

FLC Region

Security Lab

No

Address

1815 North University Street
Peoria, IL 61604
United States

Laboratory Representative

Description

Today agricultural research has a direct impact on nearly all aspects of modern life. Scientists at the Agricultural Research Service ( ARS) not only study crops and livestock to improve both quality and quantity but they devise new ways of using those crops to add value, increase exports, improve human health, and protect the environment. We in ARS, like all Americans, are very concerned about safe and nutritious food. We study the bugs that cause food-borne illness and find ways to reduce or eliminate the unwanted pests from the food supply. If agricultural problems arise such as a new disease of crops or livestock, we have the capacity to respond rapidly to find safe and appropriate solutions. We care deeply about the environment. There are extensive programs in our area focused on preserving and improving soil, air, and water quality. We are finding new and innovative ways to address animal waste management issues, prevent soil erosion and eliminate pesticides from surface and ground water. We are just as concerned about animals. We are finding new ways to measure health and well-being in livestock to ensure that all farm animals are treated in a humane and caring way. These examples represent only a few of the research programs in the Midwest Area and ARS that are dedicated to maintaining and enhancing the economic strength of American agriculture while improving the quality of life for each and every citizen.

 

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Mission

The Midwest Area includes locations in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The Area Director provides executive leadership of the Area's scientific program and management of personnel and infrastructure required by the multidiscipline research programs. The Area Director participates with the ARS Administrator and Deputy Administrators in determining, prioritizing and developing the research programs; staffing, implementing, coordinating and evaluating accomplishments of the multidiscipline programs; leadership and operational accountability within the Area for all programs and related activities, workforce safety, and environmental protection. Leadership responsibility includes operational planning, direction, and evaluation of research to implement programs in the Research Management Units. The Area Director participates in development of a complex national strategic plan for agricultural research in the Agency, assures the plan is executed with coordination, cooperation, and integration of research associated with land-grant organizations, other federal agencies, public entities, and private and international sector institutions.

Tech Areas

Available Technologies
Displaying 1 - 10 of 20
A Novel Clostridium Species That Converts Wheat Straw and Switchgrass Hydrolysates Into Butyric Acid
A Transgene Construct To Improve Fusarium Head Blight Resistance In Wheat and Barley
Anti-Corrosion Coating Utilizing Bacterial Precipated Exopolysaccharides
Heavy Metal Remediation Via Modified Bio-Oils
High Oleic Acid Soybean Seeds
Methods and Strains For Producing Bioproducts In Aureobasidium Pullulans
Methods and Yeast Strains for Conversion of Lignocellulosic Biomass To Lipids and Carotenoids
Methods of Producing Calcined Coke From Bio-Oil and Calcined Coke Produced Thereby
Mutated Salmonella Enterica
Nanoparticles and Films Composed of Water-Insoluble

Pages

No Funding for this lab
No Programs for this lab
Facilities
Displaying 1 - 6 of 6
Cereal Crops Research Unit
National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research Pilot Plant
National Soil Erosion Research Lab
Soil Management Research
U.S. DAIRY FORAGE RESEARCH CENTER
U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center
No Equipment for this lab
No publications for this lab
Success Stories

Dextran and Xantham Gum: One Woman's Remarkable Contributions

Science can do more than improve people’s lives; sometimes it can save them.

Consider the contributions of the late Allene Rosalind Jeanes, an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) chemist at what is now the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois. Her efforts are particularly worth celebrating this Veteran’s Day.

Jeanes studied polymers (large molecules composed of many repeated subunits) found in corn, wheat and wood. She spent long hours investigating how bacteria could produce polymers in huge fermentation vats. Eventually, she found a way to mass produce dextran, a type of polymer, so that it could be used as a blood volume “expander” to sustain accident and trauma victims who have lost massive amounts of blood and need to get to a hospital for a transfusion.

The technology is credited with saving the lives of numerous battle-wounded Americans in Korea and Vietnam, and is one reason why Jeanes, who died in 1995, is still remembered by some of her former colleagues in Peoria.

“She was a very quiet and very distinguished person, and she happened to be a brilliant scientist who saw the potential for what turned out to be critical work. It is an interesting story,” said ARS chemist George Inglett, who was chief of the research laboratory in Peoria where Jeanes spent her later years.

The annals of history are replete with important discoveries sparked by serendipity, and this present story is no different. This particular serendipity involved—of all things—a batch of bad root beer. Jeanes had been interested in dextran for years, but it was hard to find in quantities large enough for meaningful research. That changed when a soft drink company in Peoria sent Jeanes a sample of their product wanting to know why it had become thick and gooey. The root beer turned out to have been contaminated with a type of bacteria that produced dextran. The discovery of the dextran-producing microbes meant Jeanes could produce all the dextran she needed for research.

Meanwhile, researchers in Sweden and England had been investigating the use of dextran as a potential blood volume expander. While it can’t carry oxygen to vital organs as healthy blood cells do, it might, thought the researchers, temporarily help accident and trauma victims suffering massive blood loss by restoring lost electrolytes and maintaining blood pressure.

When the Korean War broke out in 1950, Jeanes and her colleagues were able to make a dextran-based blood volume expander that the Army put to use. The blood volume expander had many advantages: it could be kept longer than blood plasma without refrigeration, it could be sterilized to prevent infections, it was one-third the cost of plasma and it remained viable in the blood long enough to keep patients alive until they could get a transfusion. It was approved for U.S. military use in 1950 and for civilian use in 1953.

Research would later show that dextran wasn’t perfect and the U.S. Government no longer uses dextran as a blood expander. But at a critical juncture in history—and absent viable alternatives—Jeanes’s discovery saved many lives.

Jeanes and her colleagues also discovered xanthan gum, a polysaccharide (or polymeric carbohydrate molecule) synthesized by bacteria that is used to thicken and improve the consistency of ice cream, salad dressings, lotions, cough syrups and many other products. It is also used in the oil and gas industry to extract fossil fuels from the earth.

Jeanes was awarded 10 patents, produced 60 publications and became the first woman to win the USDA’s Distinguished Service Award in 1953. In 1999, she was posthumously inducted into the ARS Science Hall of Fame. She was also awarded the Garvan Medal from the American Chemical Society in 1956 and the Women’s Service Award from the U.S. Civil Service Commission in 1962.

We should all be thankful for the work done by Jeanes and other scientists like her. They’ve not only helped save lives, but they have also made our lives better with new products and technologies.