Morris Animal Foundation announced today (Dec. 4) an equine initiative that will fund a maximum of $500,000 for the next five years on one specific area of equine research. The specific area of research–such as colic, laminitis, or gene mapping–will be determined by the quality of research ideas submitted to the foundation.

The foundation is seeking the best research pre-proposals from researchers around the world by Feb. 15, when it will determine the beneficiary of the funding. In other words, the pre-proposals will determine which area of research will receive the funding.

Researchers with pre-proposals in that specific area of interest will then be asked for a full proposal by June 15. Funding will be announced after those full proposals have been reviewed.

This is an opportunity to make a real difference in one area of equine health, noted Patricia Olson, DVM, PhD, President/CEO of Morris. This will enable multiple institutions around the world to collaborate in order to reach solutions to age-old equine problems. Olson said one scientist gave the example that the advances in gene mapping made in the last 12 years could have been made in five if funding had been more readily available.

The equine initiative was the result of a meeting of 40 individuals in May 2005, including scientists, intellectual property attorneys, business persons, and foundations. They identified several areas of interest in equine health, including colic, respiratory disease, genome project, and general inflammation. Researchers in those areas said with a half-million dollars pledged for five years, they could make a tremendous difference in the understanding, treatment, and prevention of diseases that affect horses.

Morris will also do an initiative for cancer in dogs along those same lines.

Morris has funded equine research since 1959, funding 237 equine health studies totaling nearly