Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation Commits $1.16 Million to Equine Studies

The board of directors of Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation has approved a budget of $1,160,556 to fund equine research in 2016. The budget will fund 11 new projects, eight second-year projects, and two Career Development Awards to encourage young scientists. The 2016 funding brings the foundation’s totals since 1983 to 335 projects at 42 universities for an aggregate of $23.3 million.

“Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we again are able to provide well over $1 million to fund the top projects among those that our Research Advisory Committee recommended to the board,” said Edward L. Bowen, president of Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation.

The 11 new projects address an important range of issues, including dorsal displacement of the soft palate, the importance of latency in outbreaks of Equine Herpes Virus-1, foal pneumonia, prevention of strangles, training and surface factors in preventing injury, and underlying mechanisms of disease. The eight projects entering a second year of research include other aspects of pneumonia and EHV-1, plus laminitis, colic, and placentitis.

Details on the new projects are available below.

The Career Development Awards program was initiated in 2006 with the first Storm Cat Award. This was named for the famous stallion that stood at Overbrook Farm, the family farm of foundation board member Lucy Young Hamilton. Mrs. Hamilton personally underwrites the $15,000 stipends to assist in specific research by young candidates for career paths in equine research. The 2015 Storm Cat Career Development winner is Dr. Elaine Norton of the University of Minnesota.

Last year, the family of the late Elaine Klein inaugurated another Career Development Award in memory of the distinguished equestrienne. The Klein Family Foundation is based in Louisville, Ky. The recipient of the second $15,000 Elaine Klein Career Development Award, in 2016, is Dr. Amanda Zeigler of North Carolina State University.

Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation is a leading source of private funding for equine medical research that benefits all breeds of horses. Additional information about the foundation is available

2016 Funded Research Projects

Thyro-Hyoid Muscle Training to Treat DDSP

Normand Ducharme, Cornell University (DDSP is dorsal displacement of the soft palate.)

A better knowledge of DDSP mechanism will give the basis for new treatment options and prophylactic training methods to prevent or reduce the occurrence of DDSP in young horses starting training.

A Novel Vaccine Against Equine Strangles

Noah Cohen, Texas A&M University

We have a new concept for a vaccine to protect horses against the disease known as Strangles and have good preliminary data suggesting this vaccine will be safe and effective.

Fitness and Persistence of Drug Resistant R. equi

Steeve Giguere, University of Georgia

We will determine if drug-resistant Rhodococcus equi can persist in the environment and if resistant strains are more likely to cause disease than susceptible strains.

Novel Analgesic Combination in Horses

Alonso Guedes, University of Minnesota

We propose to study a novel, likely more efficacious and potentially safer approach than currently available options to manage pain in horses.

Training and Surfaces for Injury Prevention

Susan Stover, UC Davis

Risk for bone fracture in the fetlock joint due to training program and race surface properties will be determined using computer models that simulate bone damage and repair

PET Imaging of the Equine Distal Limb

Mathieu Spriet, UC Davis (PET means position emission tomography.)

PET imaging is a diagnostic tool, newly available to the horse, that will allow detection of lesions not identified with other techniques.

Host-directed Control of R. equi Foal Pneumonia

Angela Bordin, Texas A&M University

We propose to use an inhaled product applied directly into the lungs to increase immune responses to protect foals against Rhodococcus equi, a bacterium that causes severe pneumonia in foals.

Unraveling Complex Traits by Defining Genome Function

Carrie Finno, UC Davis

This proposal defines the critical next step to understand underlying mechanisms of disease by developing a database of tissue–specific gene expression and regulation in the healthy adult horse.

Validation of Stall-side Strangles Diagnosis Using LAMP

Ashley Boyle, University of Pennsylvania (LAMP means loop–mediated isothermal nucleic acid amplification.)

We aim to validate a stall–side test that could be used for fast, sensitive, accurate, and cost efficient diagnosis of strangles (S. equi) carriers (a highly infectious equine respiratory disease).

IGGS(T) Antibodies Identify Foals at Risk for R. equi

David Horohov, University of Kentucky

This project involves the validation of a new test for Rhodococcus equi infections in foals

EHV-1 and Latency

Lutz Goehring, Ludwig Maximilians University

We will know about EHV–1 latency locations; about prevalence in horse populations, and if different latency stages exist. Finding ’stages’ will allow us to speculate on interventional strategies.

Second Year Projects Include:

A Guinea Pig Model of Rhodococcus Equi Pneumonia

Angela Bordin, Texas A&M University

A guinea pig model of R. equi pneumonia will help to better understand the disease in foals, and evaluate novel approaches for controlling and preventing R. equi pneumonia.

Immune Properties of Autologous and Allogeneic BMDMSCS

Laurie Goodrich, Colorado State University (Autologous means cells from the horse’s own bone marrow; allogeneic means from another, healthy horse.)

The completion of this project will answer the important question of whether allogeneic mesenchymal stem cells derived from bone marrow (BMDMSCs) are a viable alternative to autologous BMDMSCs in the horse.

Steroid / Neurosteroid Dynamics in Critically Ill Foals

Ramiro Toribio, The Ohio State University

This study will elucidate the importance of stress hormones as well as hormones that affect neurological function in the development and progression of diseases of newborn foals.

Inhibition of Type-1 Interferon Response by EHV–1

Thomas Chambers, University of Kentucky

This project explores the mechanism of equine herpesvirus-1 blockage of an immune defense pathway and its relationship to equine herpesviral myeloencephalopathy, a serious condition affecting horses.

Firocoxib Properties in Equine Pregnancy and Placentitis

Margo Macpherson, University of Florida

The potent anti–inflammatory properties of firocoxib have the potential to significantly inhibit inflammation, and subsequent preterm delivery of foals, from mares with placentitis.

Flunixin or Firoxoxib in Postoperative Colic Patients

Anthony Blikslager, North Carolina State University

This project will provide an evidence-based approach to the optimal treatment of horses with small intestinal strangulating obstruction in order to reduce endotoxemia and increase survival.

Microsphere Encapsulated EPCS and Wound Vascularization

Anne Wooldridge, Auburn University

Injectable hydrogel microsphere scaffolds containing endothelial progenitor cells are a potential novel therapy to decrease healing time in distal limb wounds in the horse.

Prevention of Supporting Limb Laminitis

Andrew van Eps, University of Queensland

It is anticipated that the results of this study will directly guide the design of devices and/or protocols that can be used in the clinical setting to prevent supporting limb laminitis.


The Storm Cat Career Development Award, inaugurated in 2006, is a $15,000 grant designed as an early boost to an individual considering a career in equine research. It has been underwritten annually by Mrs. Lucy Young Hamilton, a Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation board member whose family stood the retired champion stallion Storm Cat at Overbrook Farm. This year the award winner is:

Elaine Norton – University of Minnesota

Dr. Norton received her DVM from Colorado State and did a residency/ masters program in large animal medicine at Auburn University. She is currently enrolled in the PhD program at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. Her field of study is comparative and molecular biosciences.

She is under the mentorship of Dr. Molly McCue and her research project for the period of the award is the identification of the underlying genetic risk factors in horses with Equine Metabolic Syndrome. She presented an excellent plan for her year of study and her support letters were filled with accolades for her abilities and dedication to equine research.

The Elaine Klein Development Award is a competitive program intended to promote development of promising investigators by providing a one year salary supplement of $15,000. This program is restricted to one award per year and is named in honor of renowned horsewoman Elaine Klein. The grant is funded by $15,000 donations by the Klein Family Foundation.

The 2016 award winner is:

Amanda Ziegler – North Carolina State University

Dr. Zeigler is a graduate student at NCSU in the college of Veterinary Medicine’s Comparative Biomedical Sciences program. Her year of study was well defined and is being spent on a project funded by GJCRF in 2015 working under Dr. Anthony Blikslager. The project deals with improving drug selection for postoperative colic pain. She received excellent letters of support from faculty, mentors and the Dean of the college, Dr. Paul Lunn. This is a multi-institutional effort combining cases from N.C. State, Michigan State and New Bolton Center. It will help tremendously to know this information to improve the survival rate of surgical colics.

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