UK Graduate Student Spotlight: Breanna Gaubatz

UK Graduate Student Spotlight: Breanna Gaubatz

Breanna Gaubatz

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

Name: Breanna Gaubatz
From: Syracuse, New York
Degrees and institute where received: BS Animal Health Technology, Murray State University, 2010
MS Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky, 2013

Breanna Gaubatz came to the University of Kentucky to combine her love of horses with continuing her education. With the Gluck Equine Research Center’s reputation for equine research, it seemed like a perfect fit in the heart of horse country, Gaubatz said.

Gaubatz’ research focused on equine protozoal myeloencphalitis (EPM), a progressive neurologic disease of horses caused by the parasite Sarcocystis neurona. More than half of the horses in the United States are seropositive for S. neurona, while only 0.5-1% of horses actually develop the disease.

“My thesis research consisted of two projects that were conducted to identify factors involved in the development of EPM in horses,” she said. ”The first project explored a possible genetic susceptibility to EPM by attempting a genome-wide association study (GWAS) using DNA from archived tissue of definitively-positive EPM horses.”

In her second project she evaluated an artificial infection method in creating a reliable equine EPM disease model. She also assessed the immune systems of the horses in the study for their response to the challenge infection, she said.

Hopefully, the discovery of factors involved with EPM development could lead to better diagnosis, treatment, and ultimately prevention of this devastating disease in horses, Gaubatz said.

What Gaubatz plans next in her career is still up in the air. “At this point, I am unsure if I will pursue a doctoral degree in equine research or seek a veterinary degree. Currently, I am gaining experience working in the field of equine veterinary medicine,” she said.

Shaila Sigsgaard is an editorial assistant for the Bluegrass Equine Digest.

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