Equine veterinarians acknowledged for accomplishments
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The American Association of Equine Practitioners honored the 2014 recipients of several awards Dec. 9, 2014, at its 60th Annual Convention in Salt Lake City.
Dr. Terry L. Blanchard (Kansas State ’76) renowned researcher and longtime professor of theriogenology at Texas A&M University, received the Distinguished Educator (Academic) Award.
His research interests have focused on testicular function and development of new approaches for diagnosis and treatment of stallion subfertility. He has published numerous manuscripts relating to stallion reproduction, is primary author of the popular textbook “Manual of Equine Reproduction,” and remains a sounding board for practitioners and researchers alike within the field of equine reproduction.
Dr. Terry D. Swanson (Colorado State ’67) was presented with the Distinguished Life Member Award for his leadership and considerable volunteerism within the association during his 46 years as a member.
Dr. Swanson served as AAEP president in 1996, and during that time, the association deployed a new governance structure, developed a position statement on the stewardship of the horse, and funded the first AAEP website.
He currently serves on the President’s Advisory Council and previously volunteered his time as a member of numerous AAEP committees.
A longtime partner in Littleton Equine Medical Center in Littleton, Colorado, he sold his ownership interest in 2011 but continues to practice with emphasis on lameness and performance horses.
A pair of past presidents who were pivotal in the development and growth of the AAEP’s On Call program, Drs. Larry R. Bramlage (Kansas State ’75) and C. Wayne McIlwraith (Massey ’70), were honored with the Distinguished Service Award.
Created in 1991, the On Call program has media-trained veterinarians respond to crisis situations and answer questions about the health of the equine athlete during nationally televised equestrian events.
Throughout their 23 years of On Call service, Drs. Bramlage and McIlwraith elevated the program to its current status within the racing industry and, by extension, the AAEP to its position as a respected authority on equine health and welfare. The 2014 Breeders’ Cup was the pair’s final On Call assignment.
Dr. Bramlage is an internationally recognized orthopedic surgeon and a partner at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky.
Dr. McIlwraith is a Colorado State University distinguished professor of orthopedics and founding director of the university’s Orthopaedic Research Center.
Broadcaster Robbie Timmons has received the Lavin Cup—The AAEP Equine Welfare Award.
Timmons’ equine advocacy originates from her reporting on the fate of Thoroughbred racehorses following the closure of a Detroit area racetrack. In 2007, she helped form the Communication Alliance to
Network Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses, which places Michigan racehorses into new careers. The initiative has expanded to 13 chapters across the country.
Of the more than 20,000 Thoroughbreds placed into new homes through CANTER’s free online listing service, over 3,500 have been owned by CANTER through an owner-relinquished horse adoption program. Timmons currently serves as treasurer of CANTER USA.
The inaugural recipient of the Research Award is Dr. Donald P. Knowles (Illinois ’82), who devised and confirmed efficacy of imidocarb dipropionate as a treatment that eliminates Theileria equi from horses infected with equine piroplasmosis.
Dr. Knowles is a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Pathology at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine and research leader of the Animal Disease Research Unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Following an outbreak of equine piroplasmosis on a Texas ranch in 2009, Dr. Knowles was involved with the emergency response to contain and eradicate the disease. As a result of this involvement, his research team helped to identify a new tick vector (Amblyomma cajennense) for equine piroplasmosis, developed a treatment to effectively eliminate one of the causative agents (Theileria equi) from infected horses, developed novel diagnostic techniques, and characterized protozoal strains that may have previously eluded identification using existing diagnostic tests.
Dell Hancock, who has been instrumental in obtaining funds for equine research as chairman of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, has received the George Stubbs Award.
Hancock has chaired the Lexington, Kentucky–based foundation since 2005, and during her leadership, the foundation has raised more than $9 million to support university research on a wide range of relevant and topical equine maladies. In 2014, the foundation underwrote 19 projects for approximately $1 million.
Hancock is a member and former steward of The Jockey Club and serves on its Thoroughbred Safety Committee. Additionally, she is a past president of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders, former trustee for the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, and former member of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
North Carolina State University postdoctoral candidate Dr. Liara Gonzalez (Cornell ’06) and University of Minnesota postdoctoral candidate Dr. Elaine Norton (Colorado State ’09) each received a Equus Foundation Research Fellowship, which comes with a $5,000 grant to support the researcher’s endeavors in exploration of horse health care topics.
Dr. Gonzalez’s research aims to identify regenerative medicine therapies for horses with intestinal ischemia. This condition worsens the prognosis for horses with colic. With limited available therapeutic options, her study investigates the use of intestinal epithelial stem cells as a possible therapeutic target, given their capacity to regenerate the mucosal epithelial barrier.
Dr. Norton’s research seeks to identify genetic risk loci and potential candidate genes in horses with equine metabolic syndrome by phenotyping 100 Welsh Ponies and genotyping them on the new equine 670,000 single nucleotide polymorphism genotyping array. The study has the potential to substantially expand understanding of the genetic and molecular factors that contribute to the pathophysiology of EMS and improve the ability to predict disease risk and identify animals that could benefit from management changes or therapeutic intervention.
University of Kentucky doctoral candidate Dr. Emma Adam (London ’93) received the AAEP Foundation Past Presidents’ Research Fellowship, which also comes with a $5,000 grant, for her research into articular cartilage repair of degenerative joint disease, the leading cause of lameness and retirement in all breeds and disciplines of equine athletes.
Dr. Adam’s research seeks to enhance understanding of articular chondrocytes’ exact gene expression to recapitulate them experimentally as therapy cells for articular cartilage lesions. Using RNA-sequencing scrutiny of the genes expressed in cartilage at the various stages of development, she seeks to obtain new insight and knowledge into what defines a mature, robust articular chondrocyte. Such understanding will advance therapeutic efforts to generate and support fully functional articular cartilage cells during tissue repair.
Dr. Rick Arthur (California-Davis ’76) received the President’s Award. He owns Rick M. Arthur DVM & Associates, a racetrack veterinary practice in Sierra Madre, California, and serves as equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board.
In presenting the award, 2014 AAEP President Jeff Blea praised Dr. Arthur’s representation of the AAEP and racetrack practitioners on the varied and complex issues unique to racing medicine.
“He helped put together a clinical study to benefit practitioners at the racetrack and was influential in involving practitioners in the uniform model rules process, among many of his other numerous activities on behalf of AAEP and the horse,” Dr. Blea said.
Dr. Arthur has served two terms on the AAEP’s board of directors, culminating with a term as AAEP president in 1997. Dr. Arthur has been a longtime member of the AAEP Racing Committee and serves on the President’s Advisory Council. He previously served on numerous other association committees.