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About Us


Our laboratory was founded in the mid-1980’s by Ronald J. Martens.  Dr. Martens, a veterinarian with advanced training in neonatology and pediatrics, was interested in developing methods for the control and prevention of bacterial infections in horses, with an emphasis on Rhodococcus equi infection of foals.   Dr. Martens was a proponent of inter-disciplinary research that would incorporate advances in basic sciences for solving clinical problems, and a strong advocate of a team-based approach to research.  His optimism, passion for biomedical research, and strong leadership skills provided the vision and set the course for the Equine Infectious Disease Laboratory.


  • First to document that transfusion of hyperimmune plasma could prevent R. equi pneumonia in foals; though not uniformly effective, this remains the only acceptable method available for controlling R. equi pneumonia
  • First to develop genus-specific primers to detect Salmonella in fecal samples, including horses and poultry
  • Documentation that serologic testing is not effective for diagnosis of R. equi
  • Demonstrated that a metal-based compound gallium maltolate was effective against R. equi pneumonia
  • Documented that density of mares and foals is a risk factor for R. equi pneumonia at breeding farms in the United States
  • Characterized widespread genetic diversity of R. equi isolates, providing evidence that there were not farm- or even foal-specific strains infecting individual farms or foals
  • Demonstrated that innate immunity plays a key role in immunity to R. equi
  • Showed that stimulation of innate immune responses using pattern recognition receptors could be achieved in neonatal foals
  • Shifted the paradigm for when foals become infected with R. equi from age 1 to 2 months to shortly after birth on the basis of epidemiological modeling, clinical evidence, and experimental observations
  • Developed a vaccine that protects foals against experimental intrabronchial infection with R. equi