Equine Viral Diseases Laboratory

Viruses are of tremendous concern to horse owners. A generous donation to study newly emerging and re-emerging viral diseases was made by Dr. Bernard and Gloria Salick of Thousand Oaks, Calif., to the University of California, Davis. In turn, the Bernard and Gloria Salick Equine Viral Disease Laboratory (EVDL) was established in April of 1999.

The EVDL evolved from an existing program that James MacLachlan, BVSc, MS, PhD, developed in 1991 primarily to study Equine Viral Arteritis (EVA). The Salicks’ donation allows the laboratory to have more in-depth studies of viral disease.

“Our strength is in funding basic and applied research in equine virology using contemporary techniques of molecular biology,” MacLachlan says. He hopes the lab will become a world leader, serving as a hub for information while continuing cutting-edge research.

One of the current studies involves the development of novel forms of equine vaccines using viral genes for protein immunization. This is considered the “next generation of vaccines.” Researchers are encouraged by the preliminary data. “The focus is on EVA as our prototype, and this can be logically applied to any virus,” MacLachlan explains. “Our goal is to see if we can get beyond modified live viruses.  Any new generation vaccine has to be as good as the modified live with fewer disadvantages.”

The EVDL plans to disseminate information about research in several ways, including a web site at www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/evdl. The lab is not a master of every viral disease, so it has strategic national and international alliances with other laboratories.

MacLachlan hopes to ensure that endowment funds remain in perpetuity by seeking permanent revenue. “The Salicks generously gave a donation to begin the permanent endowment process as well,” MacLachlan says. “We are at all times looking for sponsors. Without that kind of generosity, a lab like mine would be working in human virology.” To learn more or to help with funding research, visit the web site.

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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