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EHRF directs $225,000 to horse health

Goodale Farm: horse's eyesThe Equine Health Research Fund will invest more than $225,000 in equine health research and specialized training programs at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine during the next 12 months — the largest annual amount ever awarded by the 30-year-old fund.

More than $122,000 of the western Canadian-based research fund’s investment is directed toward eight new equine health research studies in reproduction, orthopedic surgery, pathology and internal medicine that will be conducted by WCVM scientists.

“These projects target health issues such as laminitis, endotoxemia, osteoarthritis and sarcoids that commonly occur among horse populations in Western Canada and across North America,” points out Dr. Norman Rawlings, WCVM’s associate dean of research.

“By supporting these eight studies, the Equine Health Research Fund is giving WCVM scientists the opportunity to explore new theories in diagnosing and treating these existing problems. The long-term impact is that results from their work may lead to valuable improvements in horse health care.”

The rest of the fund’s 2007-08 financial support focuses on specialized, equine-related training for graduate and undergraduate students at WCVM: $95,500 toward the EHRF research fellowship program and $8,100 for the fund’s undergraduate summer student research program.

The money allocated to the EHRF fellowship program will support the training of Drs. Luca Panizzi, Tal Raz (above) and Chris Bell. All three are residents in WCVM’s Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences and will conduct equine-related research as part of their graduate degree programs.

The EHRF has annually sponsored two research fellows in previous years, but the creation of an additional fellowship became possible after the fund received a $125,000 contribution from the Heather Ryan and L. David Dubé Foundation. The contribution was part of the foundation’s $1.07-million gift to WCVM’s equine and companion animal health programs in August 2006.

The EHRF undergraduate summer student research program provides a WCVM veterinary student with hands-on research experience in the equine health field. This summer, first-year WCVM student Hayley Lang of Humboldt, Sask., will work alongside her mentor, large animal surgeon Dr. Spencer Barber.

During the 16-week program, Lang will be directly involved in planning and developing a research project, conducting experiments, collecting and summarizing results, then writing and editing a research report.

The Equine Health Research Fund has played a major role in making the Western College of Veterinary Medicine a national centre for horse health research and specialized training.

With grassroots support from Western Canada’s horse industry, the fund has helped to train nearly three dozen equine specialists and has supported more than 150 equine health-related studies. EHRF-sponsored research and training programs have also encouraged many undergraduate veterinary students to pursue equine health-related careers in private practice, research, academia and industry.

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