Irish Equine Genomics Researcher Receives Entrepreneurial Award

Emmeline Hill, PhD, an equine genomics scientist at the Animal Genomics Laboratory at University College Dublin (UCD), Ireland, and a co-founder of the UCD spin-out company Equinome, has been named the Irish Tatler 2012 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year.

Equinome, an equine genomics company, is based at NovaUCD, the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs at University College Dublin (UCD).

The Irish Tatler Women of the Year Awards were designed to recognise and reward Ireland's most influential and successful women. In total fourteen awards are presented annually to some of Ireland's leading women from the worlds of business, media, entertainment, fashion, and music. This year represents the first occasion that a dedicated Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award has been presented.

On receiving the award at a ceremony in Dublin, Ireland, Hill said, "I am delighted and honored to be the first recipient of this prestigious award. I am thrilled for science, innovation and entrepreneurship to be celebrated among women, and it is a privilege to share a stage with the other remarkable women who have been recognised for their amazing achievements."

Hill hails from a family synonymous with horse racing and breeding in Ireland. Her grandmother, Charmian Hill, owned Dawn Run, the only racehorse to have completed the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle (1984) and Gold Cup (1986) double.

Hill joined UCD in 2002 as a post-doctoral researcher. In 2004, she received a Science Foundation Ireland award which supported a 5-year program of work at UCD to investigate the genomics of performance in Thoroughbred horses.

In 2009, this research led to the world's first known identification of a gene contributing to a specific athletic trait in Thoroughbred horses. This gene, called myostatin, was found to have an association with sprinting ability and stamina potential, which can suggest to owners if an animal is more genetically suited to be a sprinter, middle-distance or long-distance racehorse.

Hill established Equinome in 2009 to commercialise the results of this research, through the Equinome Speed Gene Test, in partnership with racehorse trainer and breeder Jim Bolger.

Using the results of the company's second test, Equinome Elite Performance Test, Thoroughbred horse owners and breeders have the option to test for genetic markers that could indicate if foals and yearlings are likely to perform at the elite level.

Equinome has worked with clients from countries around the world, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, United Kingdom, France, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

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