(Edited Racing Medication and Testing Consortium press release)
The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) board of directors has approved the funding of Dr. Heather DiMaio Knych and Dr. Mary Robinson for its post-doctoral research fellowship program. This commitment fulfills one of the main goals of the RMTC Drug Testing Initiatives Task Force, established in 2008 as a wide-ranging effort to improve drug testing and racing integrity.
The RMTC board committed $450,000 over three years toward the fellowship program. The University of California-Davis and the University of Pennsylvania have agreed to match the grant.
“This is another major step by the RMTC to implement the recommendations that I made at The Jockey Club Round Table Conference in August 2008 toward an improved drug testing program for U.S. racing,” said RMTC Vice Chairman Alan Foreman. “We are beginning the process of developing our next generation of scientific experts in the equine industry who will be working with us on emerging medication problems. We hope the research of Drs. DiMaio Knych and Robinson will help us better regulate corticosteroids and shock wave therapy, which will be a major step in protecting the health and welfare of our equine athletes and the interests of the wagering public.”
Corticosteroids and shock wave therapy can have significant analgesic effects and their misuse can put horses and riders at risk during training and racing.
DiMaio Knych, DVM, Ph.D. in Toxicology, has gained recognition nationally and internationally in the field of equine pharmacology over the past year. She oversees the Kenneth L. Maddy Equine Analytical Chemistry Laboratory’s Equine Pharmacology Research Laboratory at UC-Davis and has published several research papers on pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of drugs in the horse. During the fellowship period, she will research the pharmacokinetics, clinical effects and biomarkers of corticosteroids in horses.
“Dr. DiMaio Knych’s research will provide fundamental information that will become textbook material in equine pharmacology,” said Dr. Scott Stanley, director of the UC-Davis Kenneth L. Maddy Laboratory.
Robinson will receive her V.M.D. and Ph.D. in Pharmacological Sciences from the University of Pennsylvania this month. She is graduating from the university’s Veterinary Medical Scientist Training Program, which is a seven-year National Institute of Health-sponsored program conducted for outstanding students to acquire a Ph.D. in a basic science discipline and a veterinary degree. Robinson will be researching the detection of extracorporeal shock wave therapy usage in the racehorse using biomarkers at the University of Pennsylvania during her fellowship period. The Association of Racing Commissioners International’s Model Rules currently prohibit the use of shock wave therapy within 10 days of racing; however, there is no recognized method of detecting its use at this time.
“The purpose of the program at the University of Pennsylvania is to encourage young, well-trained veterinarians to become involved in the racing industry’s research and forensic program,” said University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine professor Dr. Larry Soma.
The RMTC consists of 25 racing industry stakeholders and organizations that represent Thoroughbred, Standardbred, American Quarter Horse, and Arabian racing. The organization works to develop and promote uniform rules, policies and testing standards at the national level; coordinate research and educational programs that seek to ensure the integrity of racing and the health and welfare of racehorses and participants; and protect the interests of the racing public.