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The Foundation for the Horse Awards Over $190,000 in Support of Exceptional Science by Accomplished Researchers

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Dec 16, 2022

Helping advance promising research focused on improving the lives of all equines, The Foundation for the Horse has awarded its inaugural Innovation and Discovery Research Grants to four established equine investigators who shared in awards totaling $190,383.

Announced in the spring, the Innovation and Discovery Research Grants program is made possible by a generous gift from Mrs. Penelope Knight and her Coyote Rock Ranch. In addition to this year’s recipients, a minimum of two projects will each receive up to $50,000 in funding through the program in 2023; the 2023 application window will open next summer.

“Increasing support for seasoned researchers is an important next step for The Foundation for the Horse and promises to pay meaningful dividends for the health and welfare of horses of all uses in the years ahead,” said Anthony Blikslager, DVM, Ph.D., DACVS, Foundation Research Working Group chair. “These specific projects have the potential to yield a new means of diagnosing and treating hip and back problems, a more effective and cost-efficient treatment for endotoxemia, an effective alternative to currently available antibiotics, and new protocols for steroid use to treat laminitis.”

The supported projects, with researcher names, affiliations and brief descriptions follow:

  • Sweeping planar beam imaging of the equine spine and pelvis

Adam Biedrzycki, BVSc (Hons), Ph.D., BSc (Hons)
University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine

We have developed a standing unit with an industrial X-ray tube that can 3D image thick tissue such as the pelvis and spine without emitting more radiation than traditional radiography. This technology will allow us to image and precisely inject areas such as the sacroiliac joints.

  • Development of single-domain antibodies (sdAb) to block endotoxin in horses

Christopher Cebra, VMD, MA, MS, DACVIM
Oregon State University Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine

Endotoxemia is the leading cause of death in horses with colic. Previous attempts to block endotoxin with antibodies have been unsuccessful. However, the development of smaller “nanobodies” are more capable of penetrating tissues. We will generate a library of nanobodies to bind endotoxin, with the goal of creating a novel therapeutic for endotoxemia in horses.

  • Antibacterial effects of lyophilized platelet lysate

John Peroni, DVM, MS, DACVS
University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine

Platelets are small circulating blood cells that initiate clotting, and a first defense toward infection. An equine platelet lysate (PL) from donor horses has shown promise as an antibiotic alternative. We will now determine if PL can be stored on the shelf as a powder, and if this will work as an antibiotic against important equine infectious organisms.

  • Mitigating the risk of corticosteroid-induced laminitis

Lauren Schnabel, DVM, Ph.D., DACVS, DACVSMR
North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine

Laminitis is devastating in horses and has been associated with steroid injection. However, this is poorly understood, possibly related to differences in absorption at different injection sites. We will compare absorption of steroids following knee and sacroiliac joint injection, and determine what metabolic effects this has on the horse so that we can develop guidelines for safe steroid use.

Although not a requirement for funding, awarded investigators are strongly encouraged to publish their results in a refereed journal and/or submit abstracts for presentation at the American Association of Equine Practitioners Annual Convention. Additional information about this research grants program is available at https://www.foundationforthehorse.org/innovation-discovery-research-grants.

About The Foundation for the Horse

Established in 1994, The Foundation for the Horse is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to improving the welfare of the horse through Education, Research, and help for Horses at Risk. It is governed and stewarded by world-renowned equine veterinarians and equine stakeholders. In 2022, and for the second consecutive year, The Foundation awarded over $1 million in scholarships and grants to impact equine health and well-being throughout the U.S. and developing countries. To learn more, visit www.foundationforthehorse.org.