Each $5,000 scholarship is awarded annually to a doctoral or residency student who has made significant progress in the field of equine health care research. In addition to the financial reward, the honorees each received a $500 stipend to support their travel to the AAEP Convention, where they accepted the awards Nov. 20.
University of Illinois PhD Student Receives AAEP Past Presidents’ Research Fellow from The Foundation for the Horse
Rebecca Bishop, DVM, MS, a PhD candidate at University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, received the AAEP Past Presidents’ Research Fellow, awarded by The Foundation for the Horse, for her investigation into gastrointestinal diseases of horses.
As an equine veterinarian and future veterinary surgeon, Bishop has an ongoing interest in gastrointestinal diseases of horses, especially causes of acute abdominal pain (colic) and mitigation of postoperative complications in patients recovering from colic surgery. With her research she aims to quantity differences in peritoneal fluid protein expression between horses with colic attributed to strangulating and nonstrangulating intestinal pathology, which is an important first step toward identifying novel candidate biomarkers that may have future diagnostic or prognostic utility.
“My long-term goal is to become a faculty member at a veterinary teaching hospital where I can develop a robust independent research program and contribute to high-level patient care as well as teaching,” said Bishop. “I see clinician scientists as the necessary link between benchtop research and cutting-edge clinical applications, pursuing scientific advancements that are translated to tangible improvements in patient care.
“I plan to be involved in the development of safer and more effective treatment modalities as my career progresses,” she added. “I appreciate the opportunity provided by The Foundation and AAEP’s Past Presidents as I take the first steps towards this goal.”
Bishop graduated from Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in 2017. She completed a rotating internship in 2018 at Mid Atlantic Equine Medical Center, followed by an equine surgery internship in 2019 and equine surgery research internship in 2020—both at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, from which she earned her Master of Science in 2021, and is currently an equine surgery resident and doctoral student.
The AAEP Foundation, the forerunner of The Foundation for the Horse, established the Past Presidents’ Research Fellow in 2006. The award is made possible through the monetary contributions of AAEP past presidents.
“The veterinary profession strives to improve equine health and welfare through innovation, research discovery, and education,” said Anthony Blikslager, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, Foundation Research Working Group chair. “This award continues to be an important way to validate young veterinary graduates entering careers in research which will ultimately benefit horse welfare.”
Dual DVM/PhD Student at University of Illinois Awarded The Foundation for the Horse Research Fellow
Samantha Hammack, a dual DVM/PhD candidate at University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, received The Foundation for the Horse Research Fellow for her research into preventing racehorse fractures using early exercise and biomarkers.
Hammack’s current work focuses on racehorses and the opportunity for an early exercise intervention to promote the development of stronger bone in young growing horses, resulting in fewer fractures during their early racing career. While biomechanical forces placed on the bone by muscle are a significant factor in bone remodeling with exercise, another proposed method is an indirect effect of myokine secretion by muscle. Her long-term goal is to elucidate the biological crosstalk between muscle and bone in the context of early exercise intervention in foals.
“I went into my DVM/PhD program with a plan for my future career; I want to advance equine musculoskeletal research so that I can prevent catastrophic injuries from occurring to all equines, whether they are Olympic athletes or backyard trail horses,” said Hammack. “I want to continue pursuing research and teach the community at large how better to prevent injury in their equine athletes.”
Hammack earned her Bachelor of Science in 2013 from the University of California San Diego, where she went on to work in the university’s Haddad Laboratory and Suel Laboratory, as well as at Pacific GMP and STAT Veterinary Lab.
“We are delighted that donors continue to support and understand the need for bright veterinary students to remain engaged in equine research,” said Rick Mitchell, DVM, MRCVS, Dipl. ACVSMR, Certified ISELP, foundation chair. “This award will support yet another individual to explore a career in research discovery and innovation, which will ultimately benefit horse welfare.”
Equine Glandular Gastric Disease Researcher at LSU Awarded EQUUS Foundation Research Fellow
Linda Paul, DVM, DACVIM-LA, a PhD candidate in Biomedical and Veterinary Medical Sciences at Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine, received the EQUUS Foundation Research Fellow awarded by The Foundation for the Horse for her research into equine glandular gastric disease (EGGD).
Her current work focuses on identifying mechanisms of EGGD, a common disease of active horses that can lead to signs of colic or decreased performance. Treatment can be prolonged and involve multiple medications including antibiotics. The pathophysiology of EGGD is yet to be understood. Identification of mechanisms contributing to this disease could lead to the development of improved prevention and treatment strategies.
“My career goal is to obtain a position in academia or industry as a translational clinical scientist to collaborate across basic and clinical science disciplines,” said Paul. “By bridging this gap, clinically translatable evidence can be provided to improve the health and well-being of equids.
“The receipt of this fellowship will support my career in many ways and allow me to continue to reach my goals and remain focused on helping horses through research,” she added.
Paul graduated from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2017. She completed an equine medicine and surgery internship in 2018 and an equine internal medicine residency in 2021, both at Louisiana State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
“The health and welfare of America’s horses is core to the mission of the EQUUS Foundation,” said Jenny Belknap Kees, EQUUS Foundation chairman. “We are honored to partner with The Foundation for the Horse through the EQUUS Foundation Research Fellowship to support veterinarians who are dedicating their careers to equine research.”
For more information about these programs and other scholarships offered through The Foundation for the Horse, visit https://foundationforthehorse.org.