Dr. Karl Dawson is the vice president and chief scientific officer at Alltech and directs activities at the company’s bioscience centers around the world, including Alltech’s Center for Animal Nutrigenomics and Applied Animal Nutrition, where he is the co-director. He handles the administration and scientific programs within Alltech’s research department, which employs more than 140 team members. He also oversees the company’s external contract research, which includes programs for 30 graduate students around the world annually and the activities of Alltech’s more than 20 global research alliances.
Dawson is an adjunct professor of nutritional microbiology and served as director of the nutritional microbiology laboratory in the department of animal sciences at the University of Kentucky for 20 years. He has also served as the research coordinator for the department of animal sciences and the chair of the Agricultural Biotechnology Coordinating Committee at the University of Kentucky. He received a bachelor’s degree in bacteriology from Utah State University, a master’s degree in microbiology from the University of Wyoming and a Ph.D. in bacteriology from Iowa State University. He worked for two years as a microbiologist at the National Animal Disease Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, and was employed by the University of Kentucky for 21 years before joining the research team at Alltech in 1999.
His research has focused on strategies for improving animal performance and health by altering microbial activities and digestive processes in the gastrointestinal tract. Studies in his laboratory have examined microbial population changes and digestive activities in ruminants, horses, pigs and poultry. Of particular interest are strategies that use antimicrobials and substrate availability to beneficially alter microbial growth in the digestive tract.
In recent years, Dawson has provided leadership for nutrigenomics research initiatives, which have led to strategic programs that use epigenetic switches to more effectively control nutrient utilization and improve animal health. These nutritional programming strategies are being tested as alternatives to the use of growth promotants and are changing the face of nutritional science in agriculture.