UK Graduate Student Spotlight: Elizabeth M. Woodward

UK Graduate Student Spotlight: Elizabeth M. Woodward

Elizabeth Woodward

Photo: University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment

Elizabeth Woodward

Elizabeth M. Woodward

Name: Elizabeth M. Woodward

From: Philadelphia, PA

Degrees and institute where received: BS, Equine Science, 2005, Delaware Valley College
PhD candidate, Veterinary Science, 2012, University of Kentucky

Elizabeth Woodward chose to come to the University of Kentucky (UK) Gluck Equine Research Center because of the facilities, faculty, and its reputation for veterinary research. Woodward has focused her research on endometrial inflammation after breeding. She is working toward her doctorate under the supervision of Mats Troedsson, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACT, director of the Gluck Center and chair of the UK Department of Veterinary Science.

Endometritis is an inflammation of the interior lining of the uterus and a significant cause of infertility in the mare. Woodward said literature suggests about 10 to 15% of mares suffer from this failure in their uterine defense mechanism to eliminate inflammation in a timely fashion and are considered susceptible to endometritis.

It is normal for a transient local inflammatory response to occur after breeding, to clear excess semen and debris accumulated during insemination/breeding, Woodward explains. In most cases, the inflammation resolves within about two days, allowing for a healthy uterus by the time the conceptus migrates into the uterine body. However, some mares fail to clear the inflammation, develop a persistent breeding induced endometritis (PBIE), and consequently have compromised fertility because the inflammation creates a harmful uterine environment that damages the embryo, Woodward said.

"Our current project looks at uterine inflammatory gene expression in mares susceptible and resistant to PBIE at several time points within the first 24 hours after breeding," Woodward said. "In addition, we are conducting a study looking into the effects that immune modulation has on endometrial inflammatory gene expression in susceptible mares after treatment with immune modulators.

"I hope that the information obtained from the projects can enhance the understanding of the timing and progression of PBIE. With this knowledge, treatment strategies can be improved for the susceptible mare."

Woodward said she wants to stay in the research field and is currently looking for a postdoctoral position.

"I will hopefully pursue a career in academia afterwards," she said.

Shaila Sigsgaard is a contributing writer for the Bluegrass Equine Digest.

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