Jon Beever, Urbana, Ill., has been working with the AHA researching genetic abnormalities. In 2008 Beever established a test for idiopathic epilepsy (IE), a genetic defect in Hereford cattle after years of studying the patterns of inheritance and then isolating the actual recessive gene that causes the condition.
Beever is a molecular geneticist and associate professor at the University of Illinois. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Illinois in 1986, 1989 and 1996, respectively, all in animal sciences. After earning his doctorate, he remained at the University of Illinois as a professor and researcher. His research emphasis has been on identifying genetic markers in animals, mostly cattle and swine, for diseases as well as economically important traits.
He has received more than 20 grants to further his research and has authored or coauthored 73 journal articles and more than 75 abstracts pertaining to research.
Many of the grants received were for a project Beever is working on with other scientists at the University of Illinois called the Livestock Genome Sequencing Initiative. This project was started about five years ago and is the first step in mapping and sequencing cattle and swine genomes.
In addition to discovering the genetic defect IE for the AHA, Beever worked to identify and develop a test to screen for the molecular defect causing Spider Lamb Syndrome in sheep and the genetic defect causing Tibial Hemimelia in bovines, among others. He is currently working on identifying the genetic defect called “Curly Calf Syndrome” for the American Angus Association.
Beever has done all this as well as teaching classes and advising undergraduate and graduate students.
He has also served on the board of directors for the Illinois Beef Association and the Illinois Partners for Agricultural Literacy.
Beever’s dedication to helping the AHA and the beef industry deal with genetic abnormalities is much appreciated by AHA staff and cattlemen everywhere. Director of Breed Improvement and Chief Operating Officer Jack Ward says, “His expertise in the area of molecular genetics has changed attitudes of cattlemen throughout the industry and has allowed breeders to make genetic improvement without the worries of incorporating genetic issues.”