Rhodococcus equi Researcher Receives $200K Grant from USDA

David Horohov, PhD, the William Robert Mills Chair in Equine Immunology at the University of Kentucky's Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center, has received a $200,000 grant from the USDA-CSREES (United States Department of Agriculture-Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service) Competitive Grants Program to study the development of immunological responses in foals.

Newborn animals of all species, including the horse, are susceptible to a number of bacterial and viral infections despite the presence of maternal immunoglobulins. The unique susceptibility of young foals to infection with Rhodococcus equi is a well-recognized example of this age-dependent phenomenon.

"I'm happy that the USDA continues its support for equine research and gratified that my project was selected for funding," Horohov says. "Infections caused by Rhodooccus equi continue to be a major problem for the horse industry and more effective measures for preventing this disease in foals are needed. By understanding the underlying reasons for the foal’s susceptibility to this infection, we should be able to develop new approaches for preventing this disease."

Horohov's research has shown that the immaturity of the foal’s immune system likely contributes to its reduced resistance to this bacterium. The current research project will further characterize the development of immune function in the lungs of foals with a focus on those cells that play a crucial role in stimulating immunity to pathogens such as R. equi.

The goal of this work is to identify more effective approaches for protecting foals against R. equi and other infectious diseases. Infections due to R. equi represent a priority in the USDA’s mission to improve equine health.

David Horohov, PhD, is the William Robert Mills Chair in Equine Immunology at the Gluck Center.

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More information on Gluck Equine Research Center, and UK's Equine Initiative.

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