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Researchers receive Zweig Awards for Innovative Equine Research

The Harry M. Zweig Memorial Fund has given awards to Dr. Gerlinde Van de Walle to support her research into the wound healing capacities of equine stem cells and to Dr. Douglas Antzcak for his work to identify key regulatory elements in the horse genome, a vital step to developing the tools required to study equine diseases.

Dr. Van de Walle, the Harry M. Zweig Assistant Professor in Equine Health, received $141,714 to investigate the stem cell “secretome”, which is the collection of “bioactive factors” that the cells secrete, and explore its potential toward treating equine herpesvirus 1 infections. She also received $56,399 to continue analyzing the antimicrobial and wound-healing properties of stem cells for another year. Therapies using stem cells are already being clinically used, but without a good understanding of how these therapies may work or the scope of injuries that stem cells could treat.

In 2017, Van de Walle was named as a Harry M. Zweig Assistant Professor in Equine Health, a three-year position that supports junior faculty members who show great potential to make major contributions to the field of equine research.

“Without the continued support of the Harry M. Zweig Memorial Fund for Equine Research, we would not have been able to embark on this exciting research project related to the equine stem cell secretome,” said Dr. Van de Walle. “Moreover, their support not only puts us in a strong position to seek additional funding from external sponsors but also helps us to become a recognized group in the field of equine regenerative medicine.”

Dr. Douglas Antczak, the Dorothy Havemeyer McVonville Professor of Equine Medicine, has received continued funding in the amount of $60,083 for his project to identify regulatory elements that help control gene expression in the horse genome. This collaborative effort is building the foundations for multiple avenues of equine medical research. With the help of previous Zweig funding, Dr. Antczak was a major contributor to sequencing the horse genome, published in 2009.

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