Reprinted from The Horse Report with permission from the Center for Equine Health, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis.

This year's James M. Wilson Award was presented to Carrie Finno, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, for her work on neuroaxonal dystrophy (NAD), an inherited neurologic disease that affects all breeds of horses. The Wilson Award is given each year to an outstanding equine research publication authored by a graduate academic student or resident in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Finno received the award for her publication, "Electrophysiological Studies in American Quarter Horses with Neuroaxonal Dystrophy." 

Horses affected with this disease appear to be normal at birth but develop signs of neurologic disease, including incoordination (ataxia) and an abnormal posture (standing with limbs crossed or base-wide) during the first two years of life.

Some horses will also develop an abnormally quiet or dull mentation, often appearing sedated. Equine degenerative myeloencephalopathy (EDM) is considered a more severe variant of equine NAD and therefore, the disease is typically termed NAD/EDM.

Although there is strong evidence that NAD/EDM is inherited, it appears that dietary vitamin E plays a role in the development of the disease. When foals are predisposed to developing NAD/EDM due to their genetic makeup and they do not receive enough vitamin E during the first year of life, they appear to develop more severe neurologic abnormalities than foals with the same genetic "risk" that received enough vitamin E.

Finno received her DVM in 2004 from the University of Minnesota, where she also completed an internship in large animal medicine and surgery. During that time, she developed a strong background in equine genetic research. She then completed a residency in large animal internal medicine at UC Davis and obtained her board certification in internal medicine in 2008. Most recently, she obtained a PhD in comparative pathology, for which she performed clinical and genetic investigations of equine NAD. She is currently continuing her research into the genetics of equine NAD at the University of Minnesota.<

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