Dr. Linda J. Saif is a Distinguished University Professor at The Ohio State University (OSU) in the Center for Food Animal Health Research (CFAES, OARDC) and the Veterinary Preventive Medicine Department (CVM, OSU). She is co-Director of the Virus and Emerging Pathogens Program of the OSU Infectious Diseases Institute. She received her BA degree from The College of Wooster in Ohio and her MS/PhD degrees from OSU. She is a virologist and immunologist, whose research focuses on comparative aspects of enteric and respiratory viral infections (coronaviruses, rotaviruses and caliciviruses) of food animals and humans including mucosal immunity and vaccine development. An ongoing focus is on the impact of malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies (vitamin A) on vaccines and interactions of probiotics and the gut microbiota with the neonatal immune system, vaccines and viral pathogenesis. Dr. Saif’s coronavirus research spans 4 decades and includes her graduate research on swine coronaviruses, passive immunity and maternal vaccines. Dr. Saif is known nationally and internationally for her work on enteric and respiratory viruses (rotaviruses, caliciviruses and coronaviruses) that affect food producing animals, wildlife, and humans [Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)] and their zoonotic potential and mechanisms of interspecies transmission. Dr. Saif was an advisor to the WHO and CDC during the 2003 SARS outbreak and her laboratory is a WHO International Reference Lab for Animal coronaviruses in the SARS network. She was an advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture in Saudi Arabia on MERS in camels and control strategies. She is an elected member of the US National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Inventors. She is an elected Fellow of the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Microbiology. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Ghent, Belgium. She was a Fulbright Scholar (Argentina) and is an elected member of the Argentine Academia Nacional de Agronomía y Veterinaria. In 2015, she was the first woman to receive the Wolf Prize in Agriculture. Dr. Saif has coauthored over 400 referred journal publications and 78 book chapters. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she is providing One Health expertise about SARS-CoV-2, including diagnostics, interspecies transmission, vaccines and control strategies.

Research Interests

As a virologist and immunologist, my research focuses on comparative aspects, including the zoonotic potential, of enteric and respiratory viruses (coronaviruses, rotaviruses and caliciviruses) of food animals and humans. A related focus is mucosal immunity to these viruses and vaccine development. Our laboratory discovered the gut-mammary immunologic axis, a new concept leading to recognition of a common mucosal immune system in animals and humans. We exploited this concept to design vaccination approaches to prevent enteric viral infections of neonates. We continue to elucidate the immunologic interrelationships, T and B cell memory responses and maternal antibody impact among distinct mucosal tissues to devise new vaccine strategies for neonates. A current emphasis is on bioengineering of rotavirus-like-particle vaccines with immunomodulators to prevent rotavirus diarrhea, a leading cause of morbidity in young animals and mortality in infants. Our lab discovered, characterized and developed novel cultivation methods and diagnostic assays for new fastidious enteric viruses including group C rotavirus, a bovine torovirus and porcine and bovine enteric caliciviruses. Using our recently developed infectious viral clones, we are pursuing the genetic basis for in vitro replication and in vivo virulence of enteric caliciviruses. This research should unlock new avenues of investigation for uncultivable human caliciviruses, leading causes of food-borne illness worldwide. Besides comparative pathogenesis studies of animal and human enteric viruses in gnotobiotic animals, we are also investigating their antigenic and genetic relationships to assess their zoonotic potential and mechanisms for interspecies transmission and disease exacerbation

Membership Type


Election Year


Primary Section

Section 61: Animal, Nutritional, and Applied Microbial Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 44: Microbial Biology