Martin Nielsen, DVM, PhD, joined the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Center as an assistant professor in parasitology in August. Below is an introduction from Nielsen about his research interests.

I graduated as a veterinarian from the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University in Denmark in 2001 and started working as an equine veterinary practitioner in Copenhagen. After three years as a practitioner, I decided to pursue an academic career and enrolled in graduate school at the University of Copenhagen.

As a veterinary student I was fascinated with parasites, so it was natural for me to choose a PhD project in equine parasitology. The PhD project brought me to the United States where I established invaluable contacts to leading scientists within my field. As a part of my training, I spent an invaluable six months with Ray Kaplan, DVM, PhD, at the University of Georgia. Upon my graduation in 2007, I was hired as a junior faculty member in the Department of Large Animal Sciences at the University of Copenhagen. During 2008-2010 I was fortunate to receive a postdoctoral scholarship from the Danish Research Council, which allowed me to spend a six-month sabbatical at the Gluck Center, where I worked with Dan Howe, PhD, and Eugene Lyons, PhD.

In my research I have focused on diagnostic methods for detecting equine helminth parasites and resistance to anthelmintic drugs. I have developed a novel real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay for diagnosing the equine bloodworm Strongylus vulgaris, and I have validated several existing diagnostic tools to provide a better foundation for interpreting their results. I have studied anthelmintic resistance in the field and worked with colleagues to develop more accurate methods for classifying anthelmintic resistance on farms. Lastly, I have studied and evaluated the outcomes of different anthelmintic treatment regimens.

I am truly excited about the opportunities as a faculty member at the Gluck Center. The research in equine parasitology performed by Harold Drudge, DVM, ScD, former chair of the Department of Veterinary Science, and Lyons over the past half century is legendary, and the department possesses a high level of expertise and excellent research facilities.

My future research focus will remain on anthelmintic resistance, parasite control programs, and diagnostic methods. We now know that the traditional approaches for parasite control are not sustainable, and we need to identify alternative approaches. I will take novel genomic approaches for characterizing parasite populations to provide a better understanding of anthelmintic resistance. In addition, I intend to study the interaction between equine parasite burdens and the immune system of horses to learn whether the parasites might render horses more susceptible to viral and bacterial infection.

Martin Nielsen, DVM, PhD, an assistant professor at the Gluck Equine Research Center, provided this information.

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