Equine Researchers from North Carolina State, University of Minnesota Receive EQUUS Foundation Research Fellows

North Carolina State University doctoral candidate Liara Gonzalez, DVM, DACVS, and University of Minnesota doctoral candidate Elaine Norton, DVM, MS, received the 2014 EQUUS Foundation Research Fellows for their work to advance equine veterinary knowledge.

Gonzalez and Norton were recognized Dec. 8 during the Frank J. Milne State-of-the-Art Lecture at the AAEP’s 60th Annual Convention in Salty Lake City, Utah. Each received a $5,000 fellow to support their endeavors in equine research and a $500 stipend to support their travel to Salt Lake City. Instituted in 2011 and supported in partnership by the AAEP Foundation and the EQUUS Foundation, the $5,000 fellows emphasize the importance of assisting equine researchers in their exploration of horse health care topics. 

“We sponsor the EQUUS Foundation Research Fellows program to emphasize the importance of equine research, reward researchers for their contributions, and meet the increasing need to train future equine veterinary researchers,” said Jenny Belknap Kees, EQUUS Foundation chairman of the board.

Gonzalez’ research aims to identify new and effective regenerative medicine therapies for horses diagnosed with intestinal ischemia, a condition that worsens the prognosis for colic cases. With limited available therapeutic options, her study investigates the use of intestinal epithelial stem cells as a possible therapeutic target due to their capacity to regenerate the mucosal epithelial barrier.

Gonzalez received her DVM from Cornell University in 2006. She completed her large animal surgery residency at North Carolina State in 2010.

Norton’s research seeks to identify genetic risk loci and potential candidate genes in horses with equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) by phenotyping 100 Welsh Ponies and genotyping them on the new equine 670,000 single nucleotide polymorphism genotyping array. The study has the potential to substantially expand understanding of the genetic and molecular factors that contribute to the pathophysiology of EMS and improve ability to predict disease risk and identify animals that could benefit from management changes or therapeutic intervention.

Norton earned her DVM at Colorado State University in 2009 and her Master’s in Biomedical Sciences from Auburn University in 2013. She completed her internal medicine residency at Auburn in 2013.

For more information about this program and other scholarships offered through the AAEP Foundation, please visit www.aaepfoundation.org and select “Scholarships” in the “Apply for Funding” drop-down menu.

The EQUUS Foundation (www.equusfoundation.org), a 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2002, is dedicated to improving the quality of life of horses, retraining horses for multiple careers, making equine therapy available to more people and educating the public about the horse’s unique ability to empower, teach and heal.

The AAEP Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization created in 1994, serves as the charitable arm of the American Association of Equine Practitioners to improve the welfare of the horse. Since its inception, the Foundation has allocated more than $3 million to support its mission.

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