Briles Information Network

Dr. Worthie Elwood Briles

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Dr. Worthie Elwood & Ruth Wilson Briles

The Briles Information Network is proud to display this very special "Famous" Briles page for Dr. Worthie Elwood & Ruth Wilson Briles. Many thanks to Susan Briles Kniebes for sharing this with us.

Worthie Elwood Briles
Adjunct Professor
Biological Sciences
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, Illinois

Ruth W. Briles
Formerly Instructor and Research Associate
Biological Sciences
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, Illinois

Worthie Elwood Briles* (b. 1918) and Clara Ruth Wilson Briles (b. 1919) were married in June 1941 while attending the University of Texas in Austin, from which they both graduated with B.A. Degrees in Genetics that same year. Shortly after graduation, they started graduate school in the Genetics Department at the University of Wisconsin in the Madison. World War II interrupted their studies when Elwood joined the Army Air Forces, serving in the U.S. in Amherst, Massachusetts, and Mitchell Field, New York. During the War, their oldest two children, Susan Marie and David Elwood Briles**, were born.

After the War, Elwood and Ruth and their oldest two children returned to the University of Wisconsin, from which Elwood received a Ph.D. in Immunogenetics and Ruth received a M.S., also in Immunogenetics, in 1948.

Elwood worked at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, from 1948 through 1957, as Assistant (1948-1951) and Associate (1951-1957) Professors of Poultry Science. While Elwood was at A&M, his and Ruth's third child, Sara Jean, was born.

In 1957, the family moved to DeKalb, Illinois, where Elwood was Head of Immunogenetic Research at the DeKalb Agricultural Association through 1970. From 1958 through 1968, Ruth worked with Elwood as a Research Associate for Immunogenetics Research. Then, from 1968 through 1970, she was an Instructor in Biological Sciences at Northern Illinois University (NIU).

From 1970 through 1987, Elwood was a Professor of Biological Sciences at NIU. Since his supposed retirement in 1987, Elwood as remained an Adjunct Professor at NIU, where he currently (2007) almost daily works with a graduate student and laboratory technician to continue his research on avian immunogenetics. Ruth worked with Elwood at NIU from 1970 through 2000, where she was a Research Associate in Biological Sciences.

The American Association of Avian Pathologists houses biographies which is part of a project to preserve biographical information on persons who have contributed to poultry medicine for succeeding generations of scientists and historians interested in poultry medicine. You can view Dr. Briles biography by clicking on this link!

Research Focus
Throughout his career, Elwood's work—sometimes done in collaboration with a variety of researchers from all over the world (including his wife Clara Ruth Wilson Briles and his brother Dr. Connally Oran Briles)—led to the discovery of additional chicken blood groups and of the relationship between chickens' blood types and their resistance or susceptibility to various diseases that plagued poultry breeders. Some of these diseases were Marek's Disease, avian leucosis-sarcoma virus, avian RNA tumor viruses, vaccina virus, RSV-induced tumors, Rous sarcoma, and coccidiosis. His work also determined the relationship between chickens' blood types and other characteristics of chickens of interest to poultry breeders such as hatchability, egg production, egg weight, and livability. Some of his later work involved determining the blood types of a variety of other avian species, including Florida Sandhill Cranes, Siberian Cranes, Ringneck Pheasants, and two subspecies of Bobwhite quail.

Publications, Memberships, and Honors
As of November 2007, during his career, Elwood has authored or coauthored over 208 publications, those coauthors sometimes including his wife Clara Ruth Wilson Briles and/or his brother Dr. Connally Oran Briles. Of these 207 publications, seven were book chapter, 114 were journal articles, and 86 were abstracts in scientific journals or in the proceedings of scientific meetings.

During her career, Ruth coauthored 45 publications, those coauthors sometimes including her husband Worthie Elwood Briles. Of those 45 publications, two were book chapter, 45 were journal articles, and 17 were abstracts in scientific journals or in the proceedings of scientific meetings.

During his career, Elwood has been a member of the following professional organizations:
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (Elected Fellow)
  • American Association of Immunologists (Elected)
  • American Genetics Association
  • International Society of Animal Genetics
  • Genetics Society of America
  • Poultry Science Association (Elected)
  • Sigma Xi (Elected)

    He received the following honors:
  • Recipient, Poultry Science Research Prize - 1951
  • Honorary Member of International Society for Animal Genetics
  • Elected Fellow of Poultry Science Association - 1988
  • Recipient, Merck Award for Research Achievement in Poultry Science - 1994
  • Formal recognition as one of the early contributors to the study of Marek's disease at the 5th International Symposium on Marek's Disease, East Lansing, Michigan, September 1996
  • Elected to the Poultry Science Hall of Fame - 2001
  • Along with his wife, Ruth Wilson Briles, Recognized for Significant Contributions to the Knowledge of Avian Disease Resistant Genetics by the USDA's NE-1016 Project, "Genetic Basis for Resistance and Immunity to Avian Diseases" - October 9, 2004

    In May 2006, Janet E. Fulton, Robert L. Taylor, Jr., et al., dedicated an article titled "Molecular genotype indentification of the Gallus gallus major histocompatibility complex" in the journal "Immunogenetics" as follows: "This manuscript is dedicated to W. Elwood and Ruth W. Briles in recognition of more than five decades of research dedicated to the discovery and understanding of avian blood groups. Dr. and Mrs. Briles continue to conduct exceptional research, share their expertise, and inspire scientists to investigate the intricacies of avian immunogenetics."

    Other professional information for Elwood includes the following:
  • Member of Expert Panel of Blood Group Scientists of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, 1963-1981
  • Invited conferee and lecturer at the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Animal Production, Madrid, 1974
  • Invited conferee and lecturer at an international conference under the sponsorship of the European Common Market on "Resistance and Immunity to Marek's Disease," Berlin, 1978
  • Participant in workshop on nomenclature for the chicken major histocompatibility complex held at the Institute for General and Experimental Pathology, Innsbruck, Austria, 1981
  • Member of editorial board of "Animal Blood Groups and Biochemical Genetics," International Society for Animal Blood Group Research, 1978-1988
  • Contributing member of NE-60, a technical committee sponsored by the USDA to study the genetic bases of avian diseases
  • Associate Editor of Poultry Science, 1988-1993
  • Member of Editorial Board of Immunogenetics, 1990-1997
    *He is the son of Worthie Harwood Briles, another "Famous Briles." The BIN is currently working his biography for the "Famous Briles" section.

    **David is another "Famous Briles." You can click here to view his photo.