The research, carried at the University of California, will be especially aimed at eliminating Newcastle Disease, which in 2002 caused 4m deaths to birds in the US.
The project is part of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Genomics to Improve Poultry, which will aim to increase small farm and rural household chicken production in Africa.
Additionally, the programme aims to advance food security, human nutrition and personal livelihoods in Africa, where infectious diseases annually cause approximately 750m poultry deaths.
Director of the new innovation lab David Bunn said: “Developing a chicken that can survive Newcastle Disease outbreaks is critical to increase poultry, meat and egg production in Africa and in other regions of the world.
“Increasing the production of chickens and eggs can have a dramatic impact on the livelihoods of poor rural communities.”
The US Agency for International Development granted the lab $6m as part of the Feed the Future initiative.
Principal investigator for the program and an associate professor of animal science in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis Huaijun Zhou said: “We are thrilled by the opportunity to apply cutting-edge technology and advanced genomics to solve this problem in poor, developing countries.”