LeBlanc Named Theriogenologist of the Year

Michelle M. LeBlanc, DVM, Dipl. ACT, a professor at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine and member of The Horse's Editorial Advisory Board, was recently named 2000 Theriogenologist of the Year by the American College of Theriogenologists (ACT). She received the award at the ACT's annual meeting.

LeBlanc's contributions to the field include her studies using the naturally occurring hormone oxytocin to help with uterine clearance. A mare's reproductive tract can be contaminated from breeding, resulting in a case of endometritis--an inflammation of the endometrium (the inner layer of the uterus that is responsible for nourishment of the fetus). Mares susceptible to this inflammation are unable to clear the uterus of this bacterial contamination, and often will require 96 hours or more to clear the uterus of contaminants, while normal mares will clear the contamination within 24 to 48 hours. This inflammation must be cleared within 96 hours if an embryo is to survive. LeBlanc discovered that administering oxytocin intravenously after breeding enhanced uterine clearance of these contaminants, thus increasing the chances of conception.

Her research has benefited the entire equine industry, since reproductive problems potentially cost horse breeders millions of dollars. She also holds the patent on the equine colostrometer, an instrument used to measure antibody content in mare's first milk. Foals can absorb the antibodies from colostrum in the first 24 hours of life only, and the colostrometer enables an owner or farm manager to determine if supplemental colostrum is needed when the foal is born.

LeBlanc is currently researching placental infections in mares in late gestation. "Older mares may develop uterine infections late in gestation because bacteria that normally reside in the vagina ascend into the cervix (causing ascending placentitis, or inflammation of the placenta)," she said. "These mares then deliver their offspring prematurely." LeBlanc and her colleagues have developed a model of ascending placentitis in ponies to determine what happens in the disease and to develop possible treatments.

LeBlanc received her veterinary degree in 1977 from Michigan State University and became board-certified in theriogenology in 1982. The award, which consists of a plaque and an honorarium, is funded by the Monsanto Corporation and was developed to recognize outstanding achievement in the field of clinical animal reproduction.

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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