In The News

Thursday, February 27, 2003


Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation Announces 2003 Grants; Two-Decade Total Tops $10 Million


Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation's board of directors has approved funding of $748,116 for a slate of 19 research projects for 2003, increasing the organization's total for equine research since 1983 to more than $10 million.

The research funded in 2003 will take place at 11 universities in the United States and Canada and includes the launch of 10 new projects and the conclusion of nine two-year projects begun last year.

The 2003 budget raises the total provided since 1983 to $10,297,575. This amount has underwritten 178 separate projects at 31 universities.

The Foundation board, chaired by John Hettinger, met in Florida recently to act on the recommendations of Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation's 33-person Research Advisory Committee. The committee, chaired by Dr. Larry Bramlage, involves private veterinary practitioners and university research veterinarians from across North America. It annually evaluates all proposals sent to the Foundation and ranks them for the board on the basis of the excellence of scientific methodology and impact on the horse industry.

The new slate of projects addresses key issues of health and soundness which affect a great many horses of various uses and breeds. These include laminitis, West Nile Virus, pneumonia, and cartilage repair.

Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation is the leading source of private funding for equine health and soundness research and welcomes all individuals interested in horses as members of the organization. Membership information is available from Grayson Jockey Club Research Foundation, 821 Corporate Drive, Lexington, KY 40503. Phone: (859) 224-2850.

Following is a list of the new projects being launched with Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, as well as those projects entering their second year.

New Projects Funded In 2003

Key factors in the cause of laminitis

$53,430 (one-year project)

Dr. Rustin Moore - Louisiana State University

These investigators made huge strides toward understanding the causes of laminitis in previous work funded by GJCRF. This project continues that effort. The goals are to document the blood flow to the foot, before and after laminitis develops, and to test a therapeutic approach to controlling that blood flow. Controlling and preventing laminitis is a realistic objective, which appears to be attainable.

Specific immune functions involved in protecting against herpesvirus-1

$50,450 first year; $45,200 second year

Dr. Paul Lunn - University of Wisconsin

This is another logical step forward in creating a truly protective vaccine against this important equine disease complex. Herpesvirus is responsible for severe respiratory problems, abortion, and some neurological disorders. This group, with GJCRF support, has narrowed the scope of the problem to specific immune cells in the body, which recognize and block the virus. Identifying the mechanisms of immunity by these cells is critical to the design of vaccines.

Vaccine development for Rhodococcal pneumonia

$48,140 first year; $42,923 second year

Dr. Diana Stone - Washington State University

Progress in designing an effective vaccine against this very damaging disease has been slow. As a result, this disease continues to be a major, life-threatening problem in foals. The mechanisms of immunity are extremely complex. This group has made strides toward that goal, and now propose a sophisticated approach, DNA vaccine. Their preliminary information is promising, and this could be the major step in the process.

Toward a better strangles vaccine

$46,500 (one-year project)

Dr. John Timoney - University of Kentucky

Commercial strangles vaccines have disappointing efficacy against field exposure to this significant disease. There are also serious complications that can arise from the vaccines. Dr. Timoney is the world expert in this field, and has worked diligently (with GJCRF support) on improving the vaccine. He has now identified 16 proteins on the organism which participate in immunity. This project will identify those components which affect specific portions of the immune response, with the goal of incorporating them in a new generation of intranasal strangles vaccine.

Effects of early exercise on bones and joints

$34,732 first year; $33,791 second year

Dr. Chris Kawcak - Colorado State University

This is a portion of a collaborative effort to assess the effects of exercising young foals as a means of strengthening bones, muscles, and joints to reduce future injuries and breakdowns. The international cooperative was described in our newsletter of August 2000. Preliminary work has shown that the exercise, beginning at 10 days of age and continuing through six months, does not cause any problems to the foals. This study evaluates the changes in the tissues as a result of the program and compares them to foals reared in usual fashion. The overall project involves an orthopedic research group from the USA, United Kingdom, New Zealand and the Netherlands. Total funds committed are in excess of $500,000.

Variations in EPM, and how they relate to the causative organism

$32,647 first year; $19,808 second year

Dr. Linda Mansfield - Michigan State University

A big puzzle related to EPM is the variations in how the disease is expressed in horses. The parasite that causes the disease apparently is comprised of several different strains, some of which produce different clinical pictures, or perhaps just antibodies in the blood without disease. This project seeks to define the differences in the organism to help understand these variations, and eventually lead to a multi-strain vaccine against this debilitating and often fatal disease.

Hoof growth and development: New revelations

$32,100 first year; $32,541 second year

Dr. Robert Bowker - Michigan State University

This diligent scientist (previously funded by GJCRF) has preliminary evidence that the hoof wall grows primarily from the underlying tissue (the epidermal laminae) and only secondarily from the coronary band. Also that the sole originates from the bars of the foot, and moves forward to surround the point of the frog. This study seeks to confirm these findings. The importance of this information is that much of the success in treating foot ailments, such as laminitis, is not because of our understanding of the biological functions of the hoof wall and sole, but due to "Mother Nature" and her abilities to heal. Better understanding of these processes will greatly improve the outcome of horses afflicted with these conditions.

Laminitis: Changes in the small arteries of the foot

$29,000 first year; $27,000 second year

Dr. Stephen Lewis - University of Georgia

Work under way at the University of Georgia (funded by GJCRF) has led to the concept of inflammation in these small arteries being the first change to take place in the onset of laminitis. Early detection of laminitis would be a major step in combatting the malady. This study will focus on the biochemical changes involved, and the development of therapeutic strategies to reverse the inflammation.

Managing damage to joint cartilage resulting from exercise

$26,105 first year; $23,610 second year

Dr. Michael Orth - Michigan State University

This is an in-depth scientific evaluation of two common anti-arthritic medications in horses. The study will determine optimum doses, and methods of treatment for glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. Recent work has shown that these compounds assist in repairing joint cartilage, but the mechanisms and details of their actions need to be defined.

Immunity in foals vaccinated for West Nile Virus

$21,281 (one-year project)

Dr. David Wilson - University of California-Davis

The goal of this project is determination of the age at which to vaccinate foals against West Nile Virus. Antibodies which foals receive via colostrum are detrimental to producing immunity from the vaccine. This project will determine the duration of the "passive" immunity, and clearly identify the appropriate age for vaccination

Two-Years Projects Funded For Second Year

Accelerated regression of endometrial cups


Dr. Doug Antczak - Cornell University

Effect of airway inflammation and mucus on racehorse performance


Dr. Susan Holcombe - Michigan State University

Respiratory immune responses of foals


Dr. David Horohov - Louisiana State University

Role of Streptococcus bovis exotoxins in equine laminitis


Dr. Philip Johnson - University of Missouri

Colonic pathophysology in horses administered phenylbutazone


Dr. Rebecca McConnico - Louisiana State University

rowth factor gene transduced stem cells for cartilage repair


Dr. Alan Nixon - Cornell University

Functional analysis of equine laminar artery


Dr. John Peroni - University of Georgia

Electrical cardioversion of atrial fibrillation in the horse


Dr. Peter Physick-Sheard - Guelph University

Equine genes, microarrays and responses to Gram-positive toxins


Dr. Michel Vandenplas - University of Georgia

Contact: Edward L. Bowen
(859) 224-2850