Hankenson Named First Richardson Professor in Equine Disease Research

The University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) is pleased to announce that following an international search for a uniquely qualified candidate, Kurt D. Hankenson, DVM, MS, PhD, has been appointed as the first incumbent of the Dean W. Richardson Professorship in Equine Disease Research.

The Dean W. Richardson Professorship was established by Mr. and Mrs. M. Roy Jackson, following the hospitalization of their 2006 Kentucky Derby winner, Barbaro, at Penn Vet's New Bolton Center. Their desire to contribute to the treatment and elimination of laminitis was the catalyst for their gift to endow the professorship.

The Jacksons commented, "We are very pleased that this position has been filled and are confident that under Dr. Hankenson's leadership significant steps forward will be made in the study of laminitis and other equine musculoskeletal diseases. We have faith in Penn Veterinary Medicine's ability to do the kind of in-depth work that will bring about positive results."

Hankenson did his undergraduate work at the University of Illinois, where he earned his BS in 1990, and then he earned his veterinary degree at University of Illinois' College of Veterinary Medicine in 1992. Following his time as an equine clinician, he returned to academia and completed a Master of Science degree at Purdue University's School of Veterinary Medicine in 1997. He received a PhD from the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Washington's School of Medicine in 2001.

Hankenson's career has included an impressive range of clinical and academic positions at both human and veterinary healthcare institutions, and currently holds a faculty position at Penn Vet and at Penn's Perelman School of Medicine.

"I'd like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Jackson for supporting the research mission of Penn Vet by providing this professorship," Hankenson said. "I am thrilled to be entering a new phase of my research and teaching career at New Bolton Center, and to be expanding my research program to focus on equine musculoskeletal diseases, particularly laminitis.

"I will capitalize on my background as an equine practitioner and basic scientist, and will utilize established relationships with scientists and veterinarians in the Philadelphia region and around the world to develop new diagnostics and treatments to prevent disease, and to expedite regeneration and return to normal function," he continued. "The Richardson Chair is a unique and unparalleled opportunity for New Bolton Center, Penn Vet, and the equine industry. It will permit me to develop and sustain a research program focused on equine health."

Surgeon Dean W. Richardson, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, and his team cared for Barbaro from May 2006 until January 2007. Richardson noted, "We are very excited to attract a scientist of this caliber to this position. In today's research environment, it will be an enormous advantage to have someone like Dr. Hankenson, who has a proven record of both research funding and productivity. He has a wide range of connections both here at Penn and throughout the scientific community. Dr. Hankenson's roots are in the horse world and he is sure to make major contributions to equine research."

Joan C. Hendricks, VMD, PhD, the Gilbert S. Kahn Dean of Veterinary Medicine, said that she is especially pleased with Hankenson's appointment.

"This is another example of Penn Vet's ability to attract and retain the very best and brightest in the field of veterinary medicine," said Hendricks. "I am thrilled that Dr. Hankenson will be leading this endeavor and am confident that under his leadership, Penn Vet will remain at the forefront of discovery for this debilitating disease."

The goal of the Dean W. Richardson Professorship is the development of a world-leading research program directly applicable to equine diseases, with particular emphasis on improving the understanding, prevention, and treatment of equine laminitis. A debilitating, painful, and uncompromising condition, laminitis is the second leading killer of horses worldwide and is presently uncurable. Winner of the 2006 Kentucky Derby, Barbaro suffered a catastrophic fracture during the running of that year's Preakness Stakes. After undergoing successful surgery at New Bolton Center, he developed severe laminitis that eventually led to his death. This professorship was designed to uphold Barbaro's lasting legacy.

Disclaimer: Seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian before proceeding with any diagnosis, treatment, or therapy.