UK Graduate Student Spotlight: Lingshuang Sun

UK Graduate Student Spotlight: Lingshuang Sun

Lingshuang Sun

Photo: University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment

Name: Lingshuang Sun
From: Mudanjiang, Heilongjiang, China
Degrees and institute where received: Veterinary Medicine, Northeast Agriculture University, 2003

Lingshuang Sun came to the University of Kentucky Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center because of her interest in infectious diseases of large animals, including horses. "To work with horses seemed the best choice initially, but it truly turned out to be a perfect decision," she said.

Gluck, being ranked among the top institutes in equine diseases, as well as its location in Lexington, Ky., made it perfect for working with horses, Sun explained.

Sun's research field is immunology with a focus on the regulation of interferon gamma expression in foals and its role in resistance to Rhodococcus equi (R.equi). R. equi is one of the most serious causes of pneumonia in young foals and is of great concern to breeding farms. While adult horses are resistant to R. equi, foals exhibit an age-related susceptibility. This susceptibility is associated with decreased expression of interferon gamma, an important protein produced by the immune system that is necessary for R. equi resistance. Increased expression of interferon gamma is associated with increased resistance to R. equi infection.

For her dissertation research, Sun characterized the molecular regulation of interferon gamma expression. Her results were the first to show that interferon gamma expression is increased following exposure to microbes in the environment.

Sun said the next research step might be to identify the microbial components that promoted interferon gamma expression in the foals.

"Ultimately, if we could find a way to increase interferon gamma expression in foals, we could significantly prevent mortality and economic losses due to R. equi infections," she said.

Sun plans to either continue postdoctoral training in the United States or return to China and continue academic research.

Shaila Sigsgaard is a contributing writer for the Bluegrass Equine Digest.

Want more articles like this? Sign up for the Bluegrass Equine Digest e-Newsletter.

More information on Gluck Equine Research Center and UK Ag Equine Programs.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from Learn More