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Our Research

Science has the power to change the world

As the global leader in supporting scientific research that advances veterinary medicine, Morris Animal Foundation has invested more than $100 million toward more than 2,400 studies to improve the health and well-being of dogs, cats, horses, llamas/alpacas and wildlife.

At any given time, Morris Animal Foundation is managing more than 200 active studies. Each year, we also fund about 30 veterinary student scholar projects. Search our health study database by species or area of study to learn more about research that will make a true difference in the lives of animals—today and tomorrow.

To sponsor a study, please contact a member of our sponsorship team for the most up-to-date status on our research projects at sponsorship@MorrisAnimalFoundation.org or call 800.243.2345. 

Search Results

Identifying Antibody Responses Associated With Equine Intestinal Disease

Equine proliferative enteropathy (EPE), which is caused by the bacterium Lawsonia intracellularis, is an emerging intestinal disease that primarly affects recently weaned foals. This study will look for differences in the antibody response to L. intracellularis among horses with clinical EPE, subclinical EPE, no EPE but exposure to the bacterium, and no EPE or exposure to L. intracellularis. The findings may provide possible new targets for diagnostic improvements or vaccine development.

Principal Investigator: Dr. David W. Horohov, University of Kentucky

Sponsors:

Study ID: D13EQ-010

Identifying Bacteria Associated with Laminitis and Colic

Sudden increases of starch in the diet frequently result in laminitis and colic due to excessive growth of harmful bacteria. Researchers from the University of Massachusetts hope to identify beneficial bacteria that could prevent the buildup of the harmful bacteria associated with the development of laminitis or colic. If successful, results of this study will lead to improved feed formulations, management practices and treatment methods for affected horses.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Amy S. Biddle, University of Massachusetts, Pilot Study

Sponsors: Co-sponsor: Central Colorado Quarter Horse Association, Inc.

Study ID: D12EQ-814

Identifying Bacterial Factors That Contribute to Equine Disorders

Overconsumption of carbohydrates increases bacterial fermentation, microbial by-products and acidity in a horse’s gut and can lead to potentially devastating disorders, including colic, diarrhea and laminitis. This study examines how the hindgut bacteria respond to increased carbohydrate ingestion in order to identify bacterial factors that may contribute to development of various disorders. The information may lead to novel preventive practices or treatments.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jan Janecka, Texas A&M University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D13EQ-040

Identifying Breed Differences in Insulin Sensitivity in Horses

Equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) is characterized by high concentrations of insulin in the blood, which can predispose horses to developing laminitis. Certain breeds appear to be more susceptible to EMS. Preliminary data demonstrate that breeds differ in their response to insulin and in the effectiveness of insulin in controlling blood glucose levels (insulin sensitivity). Researchers will examine the metabolic characteristics of muscle and fat tissue in different breeds (Quarter Horses, Arabians, Tennessee Walking Horses and Welsh ponies) in relation to insulin sensitivity. Identifying unique breed-related differences in metabolism will help determine horses at-risk for EMS. 

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jane M. Manfredi, Michigan State University, Fellowship Training Grant

Sponsors:

Study ID: D14EQ-401

Identifying Cancer-Causing Genes for Squamous Cell Carcinomas

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the most common eye-related cancer in horses. Even with treatment, tumor recurrence is high, with approximately 1 in 5 patients experiencing cancer relapse. Researchers will evaluate three potentially cancer-causing genes associated with SCC. The team will determine if these genes are highly expressed in SCC tumors when compared to normal horse skin. This new information will allow for large-scale investigations on the use of these genes for early cancer detection and as new therapeutic targets to help treat SCC in horses. 

Principal Investigator: Jennifer Luff, VMD, PhD, North Carolina State University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D17EQ-817

Identifying Cause of Blood Clots

Equine herpesvirus (EHV-1) is a common virus that affects horses worldwide. It can cause spinal cord injuries that lead to devastating neurological disease. Mildly affected horses may only lose tail sensation, but severely affected horses are often paralyzed and must be euthanized. These injuries occur because blood clots form in the horse’s blood vessels, starving the spinal cord of oxygen. Why horses with EHV-1 develop these blood clots is unknown. Researchers will determine whether EHV-1 produces blood clots by infecting cells within the bloodstream or cells lining blood vessels, turning them into clot-forming agents. The findings will provide insight into why horses with EHV-1 infection develop neurological disease.

Principal Investigator: D09EQ-009

Sponsors:

Study ID: Dr. Tracy Stokol, Cornell University

Identifying Genes Involved in Eye Cancer of Horses

Ocular squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common cancer in horses, affects the eyes and can lead to visual impairment. Haflinger horses are particularly suspectible. Researchers will determine the incidence in this breed and the lines of horses affected. They will also identify what genes, if any, are involved. Understanding the genetics of this cancer may help decrease its incidence.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Rebecca R. Bellone, University of Tampa

Sponsors:

Study ID: D13EQ-808

Identifying Genes Involved with Foal Pneumonia

Rhodococcus equi causes life-threatening bacterial pneumonia in foals. It remains unclear why some foals become affected while other foals in the same environment remain healthy. Researchers from Texas A&M University suspect genes may play a role, and in this study, they will use a novel technique to identify genetic variants that correlate with increased susceptibility of foals to R. equi pneumonia. Results of this study will provide insight into the role of genetic variation in the immune response of foals to R.equi.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jessica Nerren, Texas A&M University, First Award Grant

Sponsors:

Study ID: D12EQ-305

Identifying Herpesvirus Strains That Contribute to Neurologic Disease in Horses

Equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy (EHM) is a serious neurologic disease associated with equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1). Researchers will compare different strains of this virus in an effort to identify viral and cellular factors that may contribute to the development of EHM. Results will indicate why certain EHV-1 strains are more likely to cause neurologic disease than others, and ultimately, this knowledge will help researchers to develop antiviral therapies or vaccines for EHM.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Arthur R. Frampton Jr., University of North Carolina–Wilmington

Sponsors:

Study ID: D13EQ-007

Identifying the Cause of Muscle Disease in Arabian Horses

Exertional rhabdomyolysis (ER), a painful exercise-induced muscle disorder, can cause severe muscle damage and be life-threatening. Up to 18 percent of Arabian endurance horses experience clinical and subclinical ER, but a specific cause in Arabians has not been identified. The investigators will examine muscle biopsies from affected and healthy Arabian horses to determine the specific characteristics of this disease in the Arabian breed. In addition, they will evaluate how this disorder influences muscle function during exercise on a metabolic and genetic level. Identification of a major cause of ER in Arabian horses would lead to a diagnostic test to screen horses for disease susceptibility and would guide the development of effective measures for decreasing the incidence of dangerous episodes of muscle damage during training and endurance competition. 

Principal Investigator: Dr. Erica C.McKenzie, Oregon State University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D14EQ-021

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