The primary objectives of the University of Georgia Equine Programs are to enhance equine health and well being through research and education, and to disseminate information and outcomes of research to practicing veterinarians, research scientists, and equine enthusiasts and owners.
P.O. Eric Mueller, DVM, PhD, DACVS
Director of Equine Programs
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Georgia
501 D.W. Brooks Drive
Athens, GA 30602-7385
Our primary research occurs in four main areas:
We chose these areas because they are critical diseases of the horse.
Laminitis is a debilitating disease that occurs in horses with severe cases of colic and in horses that have to bear an excessive amount of weight on one limb; the most common example of the latter is a horse recovering from repair of a fracture it its leg.
Presently, the mechanisms responsible for the development of laminitis are unknown. As a result, treatments are directed towards relieving the symptoms rather than the cause.
We recently have determined that the small veins in the horse’s foot function abnormally in the earliest stages of laminitis, at the same time there is local evidence of inflammation.
Our goals are to identify the underlying reason for this functional abnormality in the laminar veins, to identify the link, if any, with the inflammatory response, and to test the ability of well-targeted therapies to prevent these changes from happening.
While the inflammatory response is a normal component of tissue healing and repair, it can also be deleterious. Inflammatory white blood cells entering the tissue can release damaging enzymes, and result in the tissue destruction.
The effects of inflammation are particularly evident in horses in which bacterial endotoxins move from the intestine into the blood stream. These endotoxins stimulate a variety of responses involving white blood cells, endothelial cells that line blood vessels, and circulating proteins. Many of these responses are due to changes in the activity of the genes involved in the inflammatory response.
Because horses are exquisitely sensitive to the ill effects of endotoxins, our goals are to identify the specific ways endotoxins stimulate horse cells and test new treatments designed to interfere with these inflammatory responses.
Pneumonia is the leading cause of sickness and death in foals in the U.S., and many of these animals are infected with Rhodococcus equi, a pathogen that lives and replicates inside macrophages in the foal’s lungs.
We have performed in vitro studies with macrophages obtained from normal, healthy foals, and have determined that the foal’s macrophages respond differently to the Rhodococcus equi organisms than do macrophages from adult horses.
We currently are studying the effects of inflammatory proteins secreted by macrophages from adult horses on the response of the foal macrophages to the organisms. We hope that the results of these studies will move us closer to development of a vaccine against this devastating disease.
Coagulation, or blood clotting, is a normal process that prevents excessive blood loss after blood vessels are damaged. However, coagulation also can be detrimental, especially if it occurs in the absence of direct trauma to a vessel.
Sick horses, especially those with colitis (inflammation of the colon), often develop blood clots that impair organ function or prevent the intravenous administration of fluids needed to restore their circulating blood volume.
To address these problems, we are using new techniques to evaluate blood coagulation in horses and are evaluating new drugs that are designed to regulate coagulation.
by Sue Myers Smith
Dr. Steeve Giguère’s interest in equine medicine arose from growing up around horses. However, his interest in research really took off after seeing some unusual cases of partial paralysis in foals. As an intern, Dr. Giguère encountered several foals infected with Rhodococcus equi that presented with abscesses compressing their spinal cords. R. equi typically manifests as pneumonia with abscesses in the lungs, but in these cases, the compression caused by the abscesses paralyzed the foals’ hind limbs. Dr. Giguère became fascinated with the pathogen and, as a result, published a series of case studies; he also made it the topic of his doctoral research.
Dr. Giguère, the first recipient of the Marguerite Thomas Hodgson Chair of Equine Studies at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, has since become an award-winning researcher and teacher, most recently receiving the Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health Applied Equine Research Award at the World Equine Veterinary Association Congress held in Guarujá-SP, Brazil in September. He comes to the College from the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine, where he was a professor of large animal medicine and head of the neonatal unit.
“The main reason (I was interested in working at UGA) was that many people work in similar areas of research — inflammation, immunity and infectious diseases — so there will be more opportunities for team work and collaborations,” said Dr. Giguère.
His education has taken him from the University of Montreal, where he completed his doctorate in veterinary medicine and internship in equine medicine and surgery, to the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center for a residency, then back to Canada to complete a Ph.D. in veterinary microbiology and immunology at the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph.
With more than 70 refereed papers to his credit — more than half of those on various diseases and conditions affecting foals — as well as numerous book chapters and a book on antimicrobial therapies, Dr. Giguère has researched everything from vaccines to diagnosis and treatment of infections such as R. equi, a treatable pathogen that seldom affects adult horses. He recently has focused on how to treat foals infected with antimicrobial-resistant strains of the disease, and also trying to better understand why it is that foals are susceptible to the pathogen while adults are resistant. His other research areas have included the use of antimicrobials in horses and the study of cardiovascular monitoring in neonatal foals.
His teaching credentials are equally impressive, and he has received numerous teaching awards stretching from his days as a resident at New Bolton all the way to the highest veterinary teaching honor bestowed each year: the Carl Norden-Pfizer Distinguished Teacher Award, which he received from the veterinary college at the University of Florida in 2006.
“Dr. Giguère is a talented researcher, teacher, and clinician — a genuine triple threat,” said Dr. Andrew Parks, head of the College’s department of large animal medicine.
For Dr. Giguère, teaching was not his original intent, but rather a manifestation of a self-discovery.
“I always intended to work in an equine practice after veterinary school. However, during my internship I really enjoyed teaching students and I decided to pursue advanced training in order to remain in an academic environment,” he said, adding: “There is nothing more gratifying than seeing the evolution of a veterinary student from their first day on clinics, when they have much theoretical knowledge that they do not know how to apply, to their last rotation, when they have evolved into astute young clinicians.”
Athens, Ga. — The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine recognized four alumni with awards for service to the College and to the veterinary profession.
The awards were presented by the Alumni Association of the College of Veterinary Medicine during the college’s 54th Annual Veterinary Conference and Alumni Weekend.
The association recognizes alumni contributions to animal and human health-related public service; involvement in the local community, state or nation, veterinary educational research and/or service to veterinary associations at various levels; contributions to the college’s alumni association; and professional service.
Jarred M. Williams (DVM 2006), of Athens, Georgia, has amassed an impressive set of credentials and secured his foothold in veterinary academia, specifically in the budding area of large animal emergency and critical care medicine, during the 11 years since his graduation.
A Triple Dawg, Williams earned his bachelor’s (’00), master’s (’02) and DVM (’06) degrees at UGA. He returned to Athens in 2013 as a clinical assistant professor of large animal emergency medicine and surgery.
During his time away, Dr. Williams honed his focus. He first undertook an internship in equine medicine and surgery at the Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center in Los Olivos, California. He then tackled two residencies and a PhD program—within a span of six years—at the Ohio State University. He is among a handful, but growing number, of faculty at the UGA CVM who are board-certified in two veterinary specialties. Dr. Williams is board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, in Large Animal, and by the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care.
Still early in his career, Dr. Williams has already presented at more than 20 professional conferences, contributed more than a dozen peer-reviewed articles to veterinary journals, and has authored several chapters for large animal textbooks.
His selection to be a UGA Teaching Academy Fellow in 2014 is the most recent accolade atop an already long list. Other highlights include the Veterinary Orthopedic Society Mark S. Bloomberg Memorial Resident Research Award, bestowed to him twice, in 2010 and 2013; the Ohio State University Hospital Service Award, in 2010; and the Ohio State University Resident Representative Award, which he also won twice, in 2010 and 2013.
Jamie C. Brown (DVM 2007), of San Antonio, Texas, currently serves as chief of surgery at the Department of Defense LTC Daniel E. Holland Military Working Dog Hospital. He oversees surgical care of more than 800 dogs in training and a worldwide referral network for military and governmental agency working dogs.
Dr. Brown earned his bachelor’s degree from the UGA College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences in 2002, followed by his DVM in 2007; he graduated from the CVM cum laude. He returned to the CVM in 2013 for a small animal surgical residency and became board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons in March 2017.
Dr. Brown entered the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps as a captain; in 2012, he was promoted to major—the only member of his cohort to be promoted early. He has deployed to Mali, Africa and Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, where he provided humanitarian support, coordinated evacuation plans for working dogs, and trained human emergency personnel for veterinary emergencies. He served five years supporting special operations forces including the 75th Ranger Regiment. As regimental veterinarian he designed and implemented canine trauma training for handlers and medics and ensured deployment readiness for working dogs. His professional military education includes the Army Command and General Staff College.
Dr. Brown has already garnered numerous awards and decorations. In 2009, he became the first veterinarian to complete the Army’s most demanding and prestigious leadership course—Ranger School—earning his Ranger Tab. Other awards include the Meritorious Service Medal; two Army Commendation Medals; a National Defense Service Medal; two Afghanistan Campaign Medals; a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; the Army Service Ribbon; the NATO Medal, and, the Parachutist Badge (or “jump wings”).
David G. Pugh (DVM ’81), of Waverly, Alabama, earned his bachelor’s in biological and animal science (’76), master’s degree in nutritional physiology (’78), and his DVM (’81) from the University of Georgia. He was a postdoc at Virginia Tech, a resident at Texas A & M University, and completed a second master’s degree in entomology and external parasites from Auburn University—after he turned 60. He is board certified in the disciplines of theriogenology, nutrition and parasitology.
Dr. Pugh is currently the director of the Alabama Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System and a clinical professor in the Department of Pathobiology at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine.
As an equine and small ruminant veterinarian, Dr. Pugh has contributed to 14 textbooks as author and editor, and has authored or co-authored more than 600 publications. He has also served on more than three dozen committees with outcomes directly impacting animal health at the state, regional and national levels. He has been an invited lecturer, on the topics of parasitology and clinical nutrition, at 34 universities across North America and Great Britain.
An extraordinarily decorated veterinarian, his awards stem from his time as a student, teacher and clinician. His accolades include Western Veterinary Conference Food Animal Continuing Educator of the Year, 2012, 2014 and 2016; the North American Veterinary Conference Food Animal Educator of the Year, 1999 and 2001; the A.M. Mills Award, from the Alpha Psi chapter at the University of Georgia, in 2006; the Norden Distinguished Teacher Award, in 1994; and Outstanding Teacher Award, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University, 1992 and 1996.
Karen M. Bradley (DVM ’96), of Middlesex, Vermont, is a small animal practitioner and owner of Onion River Animal Hospital in Middlesex, Vermont. She is active in leadership roles at the state and national levels, and encourages other women to become leaders, too.
Recently elected to a six-year term as the District I Director on the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Board of Directors, Dr. Bradley has been involved with the AVMA since 2008, when the Vermont Veterinary Medical Association elected her alternate delegate to the AVMA House of Delegates. Since then, she has served as Vermont’s lead delegate; also, three years on the House Advisory Committee, as both vice chair and chair. From 2013-2014, she chaired the Governance Engagement Team.
In 2013, Dr. Bradley helped found the not-for-profit Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative, which inspires and supports women in seeking leadership, policy and decision-making positions within all areas of veterinary medicine. As an advocate, Dr. Bradley has spoken at more than a dozen conferences nationwide over the last three years. Her work with WVLDI led her to be listed on the “14 Vets to Watch in 2014” list by Veterinary Practice News.
Her involvement with organized veterinary medicine started when she became active with the VVMA. She served on the VVMA executive board from 2002 to 2015, including time as co-chair of its Animal Welfare Committee and chair its Legislative Advisory/Governmental Relations Committee.
Dr. Bradley has also served the Central Vermont Humane Society as a visiting shelter veterinarian, and her practice provides support for most of the shelter’s events. She has also spread her enthusiasm for small animals, veterinary medicine and leadership by volunteering at events hosted by schools in her community.
The Alumni Association of the College of Veterinary Medicine presents awards annually to alumni who have contributed to animal and human health-related public service; contributions to the local community, state or nation; professional service; involvement in veterinary educational research and/or service; involvement in veterinary associations at the local, state, or national level; contributions to the college’s alumni association. The 2017 awards were presented at the college’s annual conference, on March 24.
The UGA College of Veterinary Medicine, founded in 1946, is dedicated to training future veterinarians, to conducting research related to animal and human diseases, and to providing veterinary services for animals and their owners. Research efforts are aimed at enhancing the quality of life for animals and people, improving the productivity of poultry and livestock, and preserving a healthy interface between wildlife and people in the environment they share. The College enrolls 114 students each fall out of more than 1,100 who apply. For more information, see http://www.vet.uga.edu.
You are an integral component of our mission to improving horse heath and well-being. With your generous support we have established the “Love of the Horse” Research Endowment. One hundred percent of the proceeds of this endowment go toward supporting basic and clinical research investigating mechanisms of diseases and various conditions that adversely effect horses. With our combined efforts we continue to improve the well-being, and quality of life, of both horses and their owners.