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Roth, James A.

Published onOct 14, 2021
Roth, James A.

(March 1, 1951 - )

Quick Facts

Alumnus James Roth is a veterinarian, immunologist and faculty member.


James A. Roth was raised on a livestock and grain farm near Hartwick, Iowa, James A. Roth earned a doctorate of veterinary medicine from Iowa State University in 1975. He subsequently received two other Iowa State degrees – a master’s degree in 1979 and a PhD in 1981, both in veterinary microbiology (immunology). He has devoted much of his career to studying the immunology of infectious diseases of livestock and management of foreign animal disease outbreaks.

Following his graduation with a DVM, Roth spent two years practicing veterinary medicine in Belle Paine, Iowa, before returning to Iowa State as a faculty member in 1977. He moved up through the faculty ranks, starting out as an adjunct instructor before being promoted to instructor, assistant professor, associate professor and professor. He was named a Clarence Hartley Covault Distinguished Professor of Microbiology and Preventive Medicine in 1995.

While at Iowa State, Roth has had many administrative and teaching responsibilities. He served as professor-in-charge of the Ames Center for Animal Health from 1987-2002, interim chair of the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Preventive Medicine from 1990-92, and assistant dean of international programs and public policy for the College of Veterinary Medicine from 2001-04. He has served as the major or co-major professor for 50 MS and PhD students and has authored or co-authored more than 210 refereed journal articles and book chapters and has edited 16 monographs.

The Institute for International Cooperation in Animal Biologics (IICAB) was established by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and Iowa State Unviersity in 1995 to better leverage the animal health investment and expertise in Ames to meet international needs. The Institute was named a World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) Collaborating Center for Diagnosis of Animal Disease and Vaccine Evaluation in the Americas in 1997. The IICAB offered the Veterinary Biologics Training Program since 1996 in collaboration with the USDA APHIS Veterinary Services (VS) Center for Veterinary Biologics. This program provides an overview of the USDA process for approving vaccines and diagnostics.

A few years later, in 2002, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided funds for the Center for Food Security and Public Health (CFSPH) at Iowa State. Dr. Roth established a team of veterinarians (many with MPH and/or PhD degrees) that focused on advancing veterinary medical education related to foreign animal diseases, zoonotic diseases and emergency response. The Center developed and delivers an online course available to every veterinary college in the U.S.. The CFSPH worked with the USDA APHIS Veterinary Services for 15 years to develop and deliver training materials for the USDA’s National Veterinary Accreditation Program for the more than 60,000 USDA-accredited veterinarians in the U.S. The CFSPH was named an OIE Collaborating Center for Day One Competencies and Continuing Education in 2016. CFSPH works with the OIE to develop online training for individuals from more than 200 countries who are tasked with reporting animal disease outbreaks in their country to an OIE online information system. This improves transparency of animal disease occurances throughout the world.

Dr. Roth and his team, in collaboration with state, federal and industry partners, developed programs and plans that have helped revolutionize the approach to foreign animal disease control, emergency preparedness and response, including the Secure Food Supply plans.

Roth’s influence has stretched well beyond Iowa State and the veterinarians he interfaces with, through the IICAB and the CFSPH. He served as President of Veterinary Resources, Inc., and Transboundary Animal Biologics Inc., private companies in Iowa. He has testified before Congress on agroterrorism and foreign animal disease preparedness and served on federal advisory panels and committees for the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science including the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity.

Roth is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists and has received numerous awards. In 2016, he was the first faculty member from the College of Veterinary Medicine to be elected for membership to the National Academy of Medicine. Two years later, Roth was named the recipient of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) Senator John Melcher, DVM Leadership in Public Policy Award, given for leadership in public policy which advances veterinary medical education on a national and international scale. The award is named for former Montana U.S. Senator John Melcher, a 1950 Iowa State veterinary medicine graduate.

He is the current holder of the Presidential Chair in Veterinary Microbiology and Preventive Medicine and is the former holder of the John G. Salsbury Endowed Chair in Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State. Among his other awards are the Distinguished Veterinary Microbiologist Award from the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists, The Distinguished Veterinary Immunologist Award from the American Association of Veterinary Immunologists, the USDA APHIS Administrator’s Award for Lifetime Contributions to Animal Health, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Public Service Award, and numerous research, teaching and service awards from Iowa State.

Roth is currently a member of the College of Veterinary Medicine faculty and is the Director of both the IICAB and the CFSPH.

Selected Sources


“ISU’s Roth named to National Academy of Medicine” Iowa State News (release), Oct 17, 2016.

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