Texas A&M CVM's Varner Inducted Into UK Equine Research Hall of Fame
Posted October 22, 2018
Dickson Varner, a professor of
equine theriogenology and the Pin Oak Stud Chair of Stallion
Reproductive Studies in the Texas A&M College of Veterinary
Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), is one of three
scientists who has been inducted into the University of Kentucky’s
(UK) Equine Research Hall of Fame.
Varner and fellow inductees Thomas Divers and the late Steeve
Giguère were recognized during a ceremony on Oct. 31 at the Hilary
J. Boone Center, on the UK campus.
The three were selected by past hall of fame inductees for their
contributions to equine science and research after being nominated
by their peers and colleagues.
“I am so moved to be inducted into the University of Kentucky
Equine Research Hall of Fame,” Varner said. “I began my veterinary
career in Lexington under the tutelage of Dr. H. Steve Conboy; I
recall speaking at the inaugural induction ceremony regarding my
mentor, the late Dr. Robert M. Kenney.
“It is such an honor to be included in the same hall of fame as
someone who was my guiding light during my fledgling years as an
equine reproductive specialist and continues as an inspiration to
me to this day,” he said. “The hall of fame abounds with esteemed
scientists, and it is such a humbling, but fulfilling, experience
to be included among them.”
Varner, an Aggie alumnus who has called the CVM his “home” for
the past 33 years, has focused his translational research on
understanding mammalian sperm function, identifying stallion
fertility probes, expanding in vitro methods for preserving
stallion sperm in both cooled and frozen forms, developing assisted
reproductive techniques and assessing/managing subfertility in
Among his most recognized accomplishments, Varner identified a
defect in the sperm’s acrosome, the “cap” on the sperm’s head that
secretes enzymes required to penetrate the egg, which severely
interferes with fertility of some stallions. He also helped develop
the use of Computer-Assisted Sperm Analysis (CASA) for semen
evaluation and a variety of ways to improve storage, transport and
insemination of stallion sperm.
These techniques have profoundly improved reproductive success
Varner earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1976 and his
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1978 at the University of
Missouri. He also earned a Master of Science degree from Texas
A&M in 1990. He is a diplomat in the American College of
He worked as an assistant resident veterinarian at Castleton
Farm in Lexington from 1978-1981 before completing his residency
and lectureship positions at the University of Pennsylvania.
In addition to the UK’s Equine Research Hall of Fame, Varner has
been recognized with the American College of Theriogenologists’
Theriogenologist of the Year Award in 2002 and the Bartlett Award
for Lifetime Achievement in Theriogenology in 2016. He has
presented plenary lectures on the topic of stallion fertility at
several venues worldwide, and serves an international consultant
regarding evaluation and management of breeding stallions.
Established in 1990, the UK Equine Research Hall of Fame honors
international scientific community members biennially who have made
equine research a key part of their careers, recognizing their
work, dedication and achievements in equine research. Equine
Research Hall of Fame nominees can be living or deceased, active in
or retired from the field of equine research.
“Induction into the UK Equine Research Hall of Fame provides the
opportunity to recognize the many important contributions these
individuals have made to the health and well-being of horses in the
areas of pathophysiology, infectious disease and reproduction,”
said David Horohov, chair of the UK Department of Veterinary
Science and director of the Gluck Equine Research Center.
A list of past inductees can be found here.
For more information on the UK Gluck Equine Research Center,
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