Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation Launches New Projects
Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation (GJCRF) has announced that a slate of 17 research projects will be funded during 2011. The slate includes nine projects to be launched this year and eight which will be in their second year of funding, with a total allocation of $841,023.
The foundation is the leading source of private funding for veterinary research specifically for the horse, and the 2011 funding brings its totals since 1983 to $18.1 million to fund 279 projects at 40 universities.
Among new projects to be launched this year with Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation funding is work addressing piroplasmosis, a blood parasite disease that was widely believed not to exist in North America before an outbreak appeared in the U.S. in 2010. Dr. Robert Mealey of Washington State University is beginning a two-year project aimed at identifying the immune responses necessary to protect horses against piroplasmosis.
Among additional subjects addressed by the new projects are avoidance of supporting-limb laminitis and early detection of laryngeal neuropathy (roaring).
The fifth annual ElastikonTM Research Award is being presented as part of the foundation’s funding to Dr. Laurie Goodrich of Colorado State University. The ElastikonTM Award is supported in part by a donation to GJCRF from Johnson & Johnson’s Consumer Products Division, manufacturer of ElastikonTM tape and other equine products.
Dr. Goodrich’s project will address osteoarthritis, a malady common to horses. She will use gene therapy to attempt to produce beneficial protein that will allow cartilage to heal.
In addition to the grants, the foundation is presenting the Storm Cat Career Development Award, created to provide an early boost to an individual considering a career in equine research, to Kyla Ortved, a doctoral student at Cornell University who will work with Prof. Alan Nixon on gene therapy. This $15,000 award was inaugurated in 2006 and since its inception has been underwritten by Mrs. Lucy Young Hamilton, a GJCRF board member whose family stood the distinguished stallion Storm Cat at its Overbrook Farm.
“It is very gratifying that one of our earlier Storm Cat winners, Dr. Martin Vidal, is already making a mark in equine research and is being supported this year as principal investigator of a foundation-funded project at University of California-Davis,” said Edward L. Bowen, president of the foundation. “One of our directors, Dr. Hiram Polk Jr., drew on his experience as a distinguished practitioner in human medicine in suggesting we begin such an award, and Mrs. Hamilton has come through annually to help make it a reality.”
Dr. Vidal’s project seeks to identify the optimal cell type to use in tendon and ligament repair.
“The Storm Cat Award was granted to me at a critical point in my career development,” said Dr. Vidal. “The award allowed me to focus on and complete my graduate studies, provided a foundation for research collaborations, and enabled seamless transition from my graduate program into an academic position, all of which was critical for a novice researcher such as myself. Therefore, the Storm Cat Career Development Award was important for my success, and I hope this opportunity will continue to be available for others in the future.”