New Equine Consortium
Embargo: 4 p.m. CST Wednesday, August 9, 2006
Jan Williams, University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, 612-624-6228, Pager: 612-534-4740
Heidi Jeter, Morris Animal Foundation, 303-708-3404
Morris Animal Foundation to Raise $2.5 Million for University of Minnesota to Lead Consortium to Study Equine Diseases
Minneapolis/St. Paul (August 9, 2006) – Morris Animal Foundation has selected the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine to receive funding for the first-ever Equine Consortium for Genetic Research grant. The goal of the grant is to bring together the world’s best researchers in a focused, collaborative effort to improve equine health.
The consortium grant proposal, led by University of Minnesota professors Jim Mickelson and Stephanie Valberg, received the highest score out of 27 multi-institutional applications reviewed by the foundation, and could rapidly advance the health and welfare of horses worldwide. The University of Minnesota was identified as the lead institution, with 32 scientists from 18 academic institutions in nine countries collaborating on the development of the proposal.
The Equine Consortium for Genetic Research will greatly enhance the ability of clinical and basic scientists to study genetic processes contributing to high priority equine diseases and enhance knowledge regarding normal cellular processes governing equine biology. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently awarded a research team led by scientists at the Broad Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology funding to pursue the Health Horse Genome Sequencing Program, which will sequence the genome of the domestic horse, Equus caballus, along with seven different horse breeds. The Broad Institute is also one of the institutions that will collaborate with the University of Minnesota on the Equine Consortium for Genetic Research.
Researchers from the Equine Consortium for Genetic Research will use the sequenced horse genome to study and identify those genes and mutations that contribute to heritable diseases such as musculoskeletal disease, laminitis, recurrent airway obstruction, and bone disease.
“This project will benefit the entire horse industry, offer new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to reduce animal suffering, and promote equine health and welfare,” said Jim Mickelson, consortium director. “We will be able to do for the horse what we already can do for human and canine research.”
“With these great minds working together, we hope to make significant advances in equine health and welfare,” said Dr. Patricia N. Olson, Morris Animal Foundation president and CEO. “We are very excited the University of Minnesota’s project was chosen by our review board, especially in light of their goals to build a new equine research center. Genetic diseases affect horses from every breed, so this project has tremendous potential for preventing and treating diseases with heritable risk factors.”
Morris Animal Foundation has begun a major fund-raising campaign for this grant and hopes to secure half of the funding by the beginning of 2007.
“Receiving this major funding from Morris Animal Foundation will allow our researchers the resources necessary to advance the health of horses through the development and application of new diagnostic and therapeutic techniques,” said Jeffrey S. Klausner, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. “It is through our strong partnerships with organizations such as Morris Animal Foundation that we can expand scientific knowledge that directly benefits horse health.”
- end –
Morris Animal Foundation, established in 1948, is dedicated to funding research that protects, treats and cures companion animals and wildlife. The foundation has funded more than 1,250 humane animal health studies with funds exceeding $44 million. One hundred percent of all annual, unrestricted contributions support animal health studies, not administration or the cost of fund raising. For more information, call 800-243-2345 or visit www.MorrisAnimalFoundation.org.
The College of Veterinary Medicine improves the health and well-being of animals and people by providing high-quality veterinary training, conducting leading-edge research, and delivering innovative veterinary services. For more information, visit www.cvm.umn.edu.