Feb 17, 2023

Updates to 2022 Equine Medical Research Fund Projects

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
USEA/Meagan DeLisle photo

Since 2014, over $300,000 in contributions have been made to the USEA’s Equine Medical Research (EMR) Fund through USEA member $1 starter fees and additional donations received. These funds are then allocated to accredited research studies being conducted by trusted parties of the USEA. For 2022, the EMR recommended three studies being conducted by the Morris Animal Foundation and the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation. In the August 2022 USEA Board of Governors (BOG) meeting, the following studies were presented to and approved by the BOG:

  • Understanding Risk Factors for Transport-Associated Colic in Horses | Morris Animal Foundation
  • Predicting Exercising Arrhythmias with Resting ECGs | Grayson Jockey Club Research Foundation
  • Studying Postoperative Ileus Associated with Colic | Morris Animal Foundation

The first of those three studies, “Understanding Risk Factors for Transport-Associated Colic in Horses,” was allocated $28,100 in support from the EMR’s available funds for the year. This study, which is projected to run over the course of two years, will allow researchers the opportunity to study whether changes to gut motility in horses are associated with post-travel colic and use this new information to improve management recommendations for the care of transported horses. The research team assigned to this project will collect data pre-travel, immediately after transport, and two hours following arrival to evaluate the gut motility data necessary to make recommendations for the welfare of horses during transportation in hopes of reducing the incidence of post-travel colic. The USEA's contribution of $28,100 fully funded this study.

Morris Animal Foundation is also conducting an additional research project with funding from the EMR titled, “Studying Postoperative Ileus Associated with Colic." This two-year study is a part of North Carolina State University’s fellowship program, established to support early career scientists. The Fellow assigned to this study will research the role of signaling cells in inflammatory processes associated with postoperative ileus, a life-threatening complication of colic surgery that results in the prolonged absence of bowel movement. Researchers are studying key biological mechanisms that may decrease intestinal wall function and trigger inflammation. The EMR designated $3,005.83 to aid with this study.

The sole research project being upheld by the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation under 2022 funding is actually a continuation of a 2021 project which was targeted to take two years before completion. The study, “Predicting Exercising Arrhythmias with Resting ECGs,” is utilizing resting echocardiograms to identify horses with irregular heart rhythms at exercise that can cause sudden cardiac death, allowing for increased monitoring and improved understanding of sudden cardiac death.

For 2021, $17,000 of EMR funds were allocated to this research, with an additional $15,000 in funds approved during the 2022 year to continue the important work being studied by the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation. In total, the EMR has contributed $32,000 towards the total research cost of $119,477.

For an update on studies previously selected for funding by the USEA Equine Medical Research Committee, click here. To learn more about how the Equine Medical Research Fund got started, click here. For additional information about the Fund, click here.

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