Public Release: 

Morris Animal Foundation awards $750,000 for new studies benefitting horse/alpaca health

Morris Animal Foundation

Morris Animal Foundation has awarded grants totaling nearly $750,000 to eight research projects in horse and llama health, the organization announced today. The studies will help veterinary scientists improve the health and well-being of horses through improved prevention and treatment of numerous health challenges including foal pneumonia, laminitis and septicemia. The Foundation also is funding one study in alpacas looking at health problems found in grey alpacas.

"We were very impressed with the quality of research proposals we received this year, particularly in areas of equine health where we can make a significant improvement in the well-being of our horse companions," said Dr. Kelly Diehl, Senior Scientific and Communications Adviser at Morris Animal Foundation. "Horses hold such a special place in our hearts and imaginations, and Morris Animal Foundation continues to invest in excellent science that will give them healthier, longer lives."

Through this year's grants, the Foundation is supporting eight researchers at seven universities, including the University of Minnesota, North Carolina State University and Curtin University, Australia. The Foundation's Large Animal Scientific Advisory Board reviewed all submitted grant applications and selected, based on scientific merit and impact, the studies with the greatest potential to save lives, preserve health and advance veterinary care. Large animal studies funded for 2018 are:

Developing a Prevention Strategy for Foal Pneumonia: Researchers will investigate if vaccinating mares will protect their newborn foals against pneumonia caused by the bacterium Rhodococcus equi.

Understanding the Roles of Diet and Insulin in Horses at Risk for Laminitis: Researchers will investigate how diet influences a horse's gut bacteria (microbiome) and metabolism (metabolome) and impacts insulin, key information to understanding how to feed horses at risk for laminitis.

Improving Stem Cell Treatment Success: Researchers will manipulate the expression of immune markers on stem cells to develop safer and more effective therapies for horses with musculoskeletal injuries.

Determining Optimal Antibiotic Dosing for Septic Foals: Researchers will determine the optimal intravenous and intra-articular dosing protocol for amikacin, an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections in foals.

Investigating Antibiotic-resistant Foal Pneumonia: Researchers will investigate the mechanisms leading to development and transmission of antimicrobial resistance in Rhodococcus equi.

Combating Persistent Joint Infections: Researchers will investigate a new strategy using platelet-rich plasma to improve treatment of persistent joint infections that cause inflammation and osteoarthritis in horses.

Correlating Different Mast Cell Subtypes to Equine Asthma Diseases: Researchers will investigate differences in mast cell subtypes found in the airways of heathy and asthmatic horses to help identify better diagnostic and treatment strategies for equine asthma.

Unraveling the Genetics Behind Health Problems in Grey Alpacas: Researchers will study the genetic causes of health problems in grey-colored alpacas, critical steps toward the development of a genetic screening test to improve the overall health of these animals.

Open Call for Grant Proposals

Proposals are now being accepted for the next round of large companion animal research funding. Grant types are established investigator, first award, fellowship training and pilot studies. Proposals are due by Wednesday, July 11, 2018. For more information visit the Morris Animal Foundation grants page.


About Morris Animal Foundation

Morris Animal Foundation's mission is to bridge science and resources to advance the health of animals. Founded by a veterinarian in 1948, we fund and conduct critical health studies for the benefit of all animals. Learn more at

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