Rebecca Legere, DVM, MS, DACVIM (LAIM), a doctoral student at Texas A&M University, received the EQUUS Foundation Research Fellow for her research into aerosolized messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccination to protect foals from Rhodococcus equi (R. equi) infection.
The $5,000 grant is awarded annually through The Foundation for the Horse to a doctoral or residency student who has made significant progress in the field of equine health care research. In addition to the financial reward, Legere received complimentary registration for the AAEP’s 66th Annual Convention held virtually.
A 2015 graduate of Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Legere developed primary cultures of equine bronchial epithelial cells, transfected these cells in vitro with mRNA, and recently transfected the upper and lower respiratory tract of foals in vivo using aerosolized naked mRNA. Administration of mRNA without a transfection agent greatly reduces the cost and complexity of delivering mRNA to the upper and lower respiratory tract for therapeutic or prophylactic purposes.
“Generating protective antibodies using the IVT mRNA platform within the lungs could provide a powerful new defense against R. equi infections during foals’ early, critical window of susceptibility,” said Legere. “This strategy could also be applied toward other respiratory pathogens impacting horses and foals, including those where effective vaccines and therapies are limited. This project represents a critical first step toward our ultimate goal of developing mRNA therapeutics for horses.”
“The health and welfare of America’s horses is core to the mission of the EQUUS Foundation. We are honored to partner with The Foundation for the Horse through the EQUUS Foundation Research Fellowship to support veterinarians who are dedicating their careers to equine research,” said Jenny Belknap Kees, EQUUS Foundation chairman.
For more information about this program and other scholarships offered through The Foundation for the Horse, visit foundationforthehorse.org.
About the EQUUS Foundation
The EQUUS Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2002, is the only national charity in the United States 100% dedicated to protecting America’s horses and strengthening the bond between horses and people.
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 Benevolence. Governed and stewarded by world-renowned equine veterinarians and equine stakeholders, The Foundation awards over $700,000 annually 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.