CVM Researchers Receive Grants from Morris Animal Foundation

Dr. Noah Cohen in a suit in front of a grey background
Dr. Noah Cohen

Two faculty researchers at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) have received funding from Morris Animal Foundation for studies they began last spring with the goal of improving equine health and the future of the veterinary industry.

Dr. Noah Cohen, a professor in the CVM’s Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (VLCS), and Dr. Terje Raudsepp, a professor in the CVM’s Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences (VIBS), are leading two of the 12 projects receiving grants from Morris Animal Foundation this year.

Cohen’s study, “Exploring a New Vaccine Strategy for Strangles,” began April 2019 and is projected to last for two years. Morris Animal Foundation is granting Cohen more than $152,000 to investigate the effectiveness and safety of a new vaccine against strangles, an infection caused by the Streptococcus equi bacteria.

“Strangles is a highly contagious upper respiratory tract infection and the most frequently diagnosed infectious disease in horses worldwide,” Cohen said in the study’s description. “A safer and more effective vaccine strategy against strangles will greatly improve the prevention of this global equine health challenge.”

“Although strangles is an ancient disease of horses, a safe and effective vaccine has remained elusive,” said Cohen, who also serves as associate department head for research and graduate studies and Patsy Link Chair in Equine Research at the CVM. “We are hopeful the new approach we’re taking might address this need to be able to improve the health and well-being of horses.”

Dr. Terje Raudsepp in a black sweater in front of a grey background
Dr. Terje Raudsepp

In March 2019, Raudsepp began her new three-year study titled “Exploring the Genetics Behind Stallion Fertility, the Missing Link.” With more than $121,000 from Morris Animal Foundation, this study is investigating the role of the male-specific Y chromosome, which is not present in the current reference genome that was based on a female horse.

“Findings will inform breeding decisions and the development of novel interventions to prevent genetic defect transmissions, not only in domestic horses but also in wild related-species, including endangered Grevy’s zebras and Przewalski’s horses,” Raudsepp said in the study’s description.

This year’s grants from Morris Animal Foundation will support researchers at 10 universities who seek to benefit equine and alpaca health through improved prevention and treatment of numerous health challenges.

Cohen and Raudsepp’s studies were selected for funding by the Foundation’s Large Animal Scientific Advisory Board for their potential to save lives, preserve health, and advance veterinary medicine.

“Each of these studies has the potential to improve the lives of horses in significant ways, and we are very proud to support these innovative researchers in their efforts,” said Dr. Janet Patterson-Kane, Morris Animal Foundation Chief Scientific Officer. “Our equine and alpaca companions deserve the healthiest lives we can give them.”

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Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Interim Director of Communications, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science; jgauntt@cvm.tamu.edu; 979-862-4216