Tilahun Yilma, DVM, Ph.D.
UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
Tilahun Yilma is the Founding Director of the International Laboratory of Molecular Biology (ILMB) and has been with UC Davis since 1986. The mission of the ILMB is to conduct and coordinate a research program that brings together experts in molecular biology, in order to facilitate work on the pathogenic mechanisms of human and animal tropical diseases. The long term goal of the ILMB is to facilitate and implement the transfer of technologies in molecular biology to developing countries that can lead to self-sufficiency. Yilma is noted for developing what the journal Nature described as one of the two outstanding vaccinia virus recombinant vaccines in the world. The vaccine is highly effective against rinderpest, a devastating viral disease of cattle in Africa and Asia. In addition, his team has developed a number of recombinant vaccines and rapid diagnostic kits for important diseases of livestock in the tropical regions of the world. He is also noted for developing a method for enhancing the safety and efficacy of recombinant vaccines with the use of cytokines as attenuating and adjuvant genes.
Yilma has received many honors including the Ciba-Geigy Award, the highest international award in animal science, and the UC Davis Faculty Research Award (Highest Research Award). Yilma is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. Yilma has served on the Council of the NIH-NCRR, as a Member of the NSF Advisory Committee for the Office of International Science and Engineering, and is a Member of the Scientific Advisory Board for Center for Bio-Security Science, Los Alamos National Lab. Yilma is widely recognized for his work on the development of safe and efficacious recombinant vaccines and rapid diagnostic kits for both human and livestock diseases. Yilma has worked with a number of International Organizations including the WHO, FAO, OIE, AU, and was senior advisor to the Deputy Director of the IAEA. He is a member of the Board of Trustees, Science for Peace, Fondazione Umberto Veronesi, Milan, Italy. He has also worked with governments in both Asia and Africa including China, India, Egypt, Israel, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Senegal, etc.