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DENVER/September 17, 2020 – Morris Animal Foundation, a leader in advancing animal health, has awarded nearly $1 million in large animal health research grants, supporting 14 projects. The studies will help veterinary scientists improve the well-being of horses through improved prevention and treatment of numerous health challenges, including eye cancer, heart arrhythmias and risks for injury from air transport.

“We were very impressed with the quality of proposals received this year and we believe they have the potential to drive significant improvements in the well-being of our equine companions,” said Dr. Janet Patterson-Kane, Morris Animal Foundation Chief Scientific Officer. “We are very proud to support these enterprising researchers in their endeavors.”

Through this year’s grants, the Foundation is supporting teams at 13 universities and institutions, including the University of Minnesota, Colorado State University and the University of Calgary. The Foundation’s Large Animal Scientific Advisory Board reviewed all submitted grant applications and selected, based on scientific merit and impact, the studies with the greatest potential to save lives, preserve health and advance veterinary care. Large animal studies funded for 2020 include:

Working Toward a Genetic Test for Heart Arrhythmias

Researchers will investigate if genetic variants can help identify horses at high risk of developing potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmias. If successful, the team will use this information to develop genetic tests, as well as other screening protocols, for early identification of at-risk horses for the condition.

Developing Health and Well-Being Guidelines for Air-Transported Horses

Researchers will determine how horses can be managed when transported by air to optimize their welfare, identifying factors that increase or decrease the risk of health and behavioral problems. Findings will be used to inform guidelines to improve the health and welfare for horses traveling by plane.

Understanding Changes in Gut Microbiome and Health

Researchers will study gut microbiome variation as it relates to the health and wellness of a well-studied group of feral horses living on Sable Island, Canada. Data generated will provide a large baseline platform to spur further research and discoveries about associations between gut bacteria and health in horses.

Evaluating a Novel Treatment for Eye Cancer

Researchers will investigate the efficacy of a novel treatment for ocular surface squamous neoplasia, a type of eye cancer in horses. Findings will help advance our understanding and treatment of this cancer.

Morris Animal Foundation is one of the largest nonprofit organizations worldwide that funds health studies benefiting cats, dogs, horses, llamas, alpacas and wildlife. The Foundation currently is funding 150 studies encompassing a broad spectrum of species and diseases.

About Morris Animal Foundation

Morris Animal Foundation’s mission is to bridge science and resources to advance the health of animals. Founded by a veterinarian in 1948, we fund and conduct critical health studies for the benefit of all animals. Learn more at