Embryo Transfer Pioneer Dr. John Hurtgen Dies

John P. Hurtgen, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACT, the father of modern embryo transfer, died early this morning while helping a mare to foal at his Nandi Farm in Pennsylvania.

Hurtgen, 62, is reported to have collapsed while assisting the foaling. A heart attack is suspected.

A native of Wisconsin, Hurtgen graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in 1972. He received a Master of Science degree in 1976, and a PhD in theriogenology in 1979, both from the University of Minnesota. After serving as an instructor in theriogenology at the University of Minnesota from 1972-1980 and an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine from 1980-1983, he opened Nandi Farms in New Freedom, Pa., in 1983.

Hurtgen has published extensively on the reproduction of horses and swine. He was one of the authors of the Society for Theriogenology's original manuals on the breeding soundness evaluation of the stallion and the boar. But his greatest gift to horse breeding was likely his advancement of embryo transfer, allowing many challenged mares the opportunity to produce foals without having to carry them.

A member of the U.S. Trotting Association, Hurtgen was elected in 2007 to the board of directors for the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association.

"In addition to his renowned work, Dr. Hurtgen was a great friend to so many in this industry and a good man," said PHHA President Sam Beegle. "He will be sorely missed."

He also served on the American Association of Equine Practitioners' board of directors from 2006-2008.

"Dr. Hurtgen was a great contributor to the AAEP through his service on our board and he was tremendously respected by his colleagues," said David L. Foley, AAEP executive director. "The AAEP and the veterinary community will miss him."

Hurtgen's wife, Linda, sought to assure the industry that Nandi Farm's commitment to and participation in Standardbred breeding will continue, although it will no longer perform embryo transfers.

In addition to his wife, Hurtgen is survived by their daughters, Clare (Derek) and Maureen (Saleem); and grandchildren, Julia, Toby, and Paloma. He was preceded in death by his son, Peter.--Nicole Kraft, communications director, United States Trotting Association

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