UK Researcher Launches Equine Sports Science Initiative

The Equine Sports Science Initiative is a collaborative and research-based initiative is designed to advance the health and well-being of equine athletes.

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

James N. MacLeod, VMD, PhD, a professor and the John S. and Elizabeth A. Knight Chair at the University of Kentucky’s Gluck Equine Research Center, has launched a collaborative and research-based initiative that aims to advance the health and well-being of the equine athlete.

Named the Equine Sports Science Initiative (ESSI), the program will center on racing and other elite athletic disciplines.

“I think of ESSI as a multidisciplinary collaboration within UK Ag Equine Programs that includes scientists, clinicians, pathologists, regulatory veterinarians, and others focused on making progress for equine athletes on important health challenges by generating new knowledge,” MacLeod said. “Discussions and debate about the many issues that impact the health and welfare of equine athletes are valuable, but to really move forward, we need to generate new knowledge and new understanding through science.”

Current research projects include establishing a national database of equine athlete pathology, which has attracted involvement from the Jockey Club; bone density studies; articular cartilage repair research; and research into a slew of “omics:” genomics, transcriptomics (the study of the complete set of RNA transcripts that are produced by the genome), proteomics (large-scale study of proteins, particularly their structures and functions), and the emerging field of metabolomics (systematic study of the unique chemical molecules that specific cellular processes generate).

As an initiative through a land-grant university, ESSI will be committed to disseminating new knowledge across the spectrum of horse professionals and to the general public. There will also be student learning and research opportunities.

Founding members of ESSI working with MacLeod include Emma Adam, B.Vet.Med, Dipl. ACVIM, ACVS, from the Gluck Center; Katie Garrett, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, from Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital; Jennifer Janes, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVP, assistant professor of anatomic pathology from the UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory; Laura Kennedy, DVM, Dipl. ACVP, UKVDL pathologist from the UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory; Chip Johnson, DVM, equine veterinary practitioner; and Megan Romano, DVM, and Mary Scollay, DVM, from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

Holly Wiemers, MA, APR, is communications director for UK Ag Equine Programs.

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More information on Gluck Equine Research Center and UK Ag Equine Programs.

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