Iowa State University Alumni Association

Delbert "Hank" Harris 2016

BS '63 Pre-Veterinary Medicine
DVM '67
PhD '70 Veterinary Microbiology
Ames, Iowa

Dr. Hank Harris is one of the world’s foremost authorities on infectious disease of swine; his discoveries and innovations in the veterinary field have transformed swine production and health worldwide. In the early 1970s, his discovery of swine dysentery contributed to the near eradication of the disease. Just one decade later, his development and implementation of multiple site pig production changed swine production methods on a global scale, and solidified his mark on the industry.  

During his illustrious career, Harris founded two successful vaccine companies with international footprints – NOBL Labs and Harrisvaccines, Inc. Harris also served on the Iowa State University faculty from 1970 to 1982, and again from 1992 to 2014. His work within the Iowa State University Research Park at Harrisvaccines was truly groundbreaking. In 2009, Harrisvaccines was the first to develop and market a vaccine for pandemic influenza, H1N1. In the years following, Harrisvaccines received a number of impactful USDA licensures and developed vaccines for disruptive diseases, such as PEDv in swine and avian influenza in poultry. Harrisvaccines’ unprecedented strides in the animal health field were widely recognized. The company received many honors, including the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Tibbetts Award, Technology Association of Iowa’s Technology Company of the Year Award, and an impressive spot on the 2015 Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies in America.

Harrisvaccines was also recently awarded a $6 million contract from the USDA to manufacture stockpile vaccine for avian influenza. NOBL Laboratories was sold to Boehringer Ingelheim VetMedica in 1992, and Harrisvaccines was acquired in late 2015 and is now a subsidiary of Merck Animal Health – both companies remain located in the Iowa State University Research Park today.

Harris personally holds nine patents, with more pending, and has been invited to participate in more than 20 international scientific meetings and conferences in 18 countries. Additionally, Harris has authored more than 90 refereed publications, 50 non-refereed publications, one book, and 14 book chapters. His accolades include recognition by National Hog Farmer as one of the 50 most outstanding contributors to the industry over five decades.

Harris has received a number of additional honors for his personal and business accomplishments over the years, including the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for manufacturing in the Upper Midwest in 2015, the Henry A. Wallace Award for contribution to international agriculture in 2004, and the Howard W. Dunne Award for outstanding service to the swine industry in 1990.

A Fellow of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases from 1968 to 1970, Harris served as president of the 17th International Pig Veterinary Society Congress held on the Iowa State University campus in 2002. He also delivered the First Alexander Lecture at the International Pig Veterinary Society 2009 and 2010 conferences in Bristol, U.K., and Vancouver, Canada.

Harris and his wife, Isabel (Iowa State University, D.V.M. 1975; Ph.D. 1981), live on a farm in Boone County and are members of the Order of the Knoll Campanile Society and the Iowa State University Alumni Association. Their sons, Joel and Dillon, are actively involved in the management and operation of Harrisvaccines. Harris also has two daughters, Wendi Harris, MD, of Ankeny, Iowa, and Susan Marschke of St. Paul, Minnesota.


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