French Government Moves to Enhance Equine Research Facilities

New scientific partnerships and facilities will be added in the coming years to the French equine research hub in Lower Normandy in order to maintain its position on the international level, according to the French Minister of Agriculture and Fishing.

Faced with growing competition from other worldwide horse health markets, including Lexington (U.S.), Newmarket (UK), and Hanover (Germany), in addition to emerging markets in Arab countries and China, Agriculture Minister Michel Barnier announced in early February his three-tier plan to reinforce the Calvados-based hub.

In collaboration with the Veterinary School of Maisons-Alfort just outside Paris, a "high-level" teaching hospital, specializing in equine pathologies and particularly equine surgery, will be created in the Calvados area, according to the announcement. International interest groups will also be established there in order to "amplify scientific cooperation among all the partners." And finally, ties between the French Agency for Food Health and Security (AFSSA) and the Franck Duncombe laboratory will be strengthened so as to develop a national reference center for the study of equine viral arteritis (EVA).

"This is a very intelligent decision that's going to allow these two laboratories to work together efficiently on the same project (EVA) instead of working separately in parallel," said Pierre-Hugues Pitel, DVM, PhD, chief of services in animal health virology, hematology, and immunology at Franck Duncombe. "This kind of collaboration is what can help us prevent another outbreak to the scope of what we saw last summer."

In July 2007, EVA struck Normandy causing clinical symptoms not previously seen in France, Pitel said. (For more on this see French National Stud Recovering from EVA Outbreak.)

Although full realization of the project could take up to five years, some of the steps, such as a graduate student exchange program with the University of Kentucky, are already in progress, according to Romuald Glowacki, PhD, project leader for the hub.

French equine research hub

About the Author

Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA

Christa Lesté-Lasserre is a freelance writer based in France. A native of Dallas, Texas, Lesté-Lasserre grew up riding Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Shetland Ponies. She holds a master’s degree in English, specializing in creative writing, from the University of Mississippi in Oxford and earned a bachelor's in journalism and creative writing with a minor in sciences from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She currently keeps her two Trakehners at home near Paris. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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