Induction is Oct. 9
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 19, 2014) — The University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Foundation will induct three scientists into the UK Equine Research Hall of Fame Oct. 9 at the UK Hilary J. Boone Center.
Michelle LeBlanc, a posthumous inductee formerly of Rood and Riddle Equine Institute, Ernie Bailey, professor at the UK Gluck Equine Research Center, and Elwyn Firth, a professor at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, were selected for their contributions to equine science and research. Nominated by their peers and colleagues, LeBlanc, Bailey and Firth were selected by past Hall of Fame inductees.
LeBlanc’s career extended over 35 years and included teaching, administration and mentoring. She was a theriogenologist, reproductive specialist, with interests in mare infertility, embryo transfer, placental infections in mares and acupuncture in infertile mares. LeBlanc was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Equine VeterinaryAssociation in 2011 and was named 2000 Theriogenologist of the Year by the American College of Theriogenologists. She died in April 2013 after a battle with ovarian cancer.
According to her nomination letter, LeBlanc “led research in the development of innovative equipment and the development of novel research and treatment techniques in mares and foals. Her contributions as a teacher, administrator and mentor defied quantification. Her passion for the horse and for equine research up to her untimely passing makes her a very worthy recipient.”
Bailey joined the Department of Veterinary Science at UK in 1979 and established a research program for horse genetics. Beginning in the 1990s, Bailey, with his students and colleagues, conducted gene-mappingresearch and provided leadership for the international horse genome project. This work led to sequencing of the horse genome at the National Human Genome Research Institute in 2006. The tools resulting from these initiatives empowered all areas of equine research. With his students and co-workers, Bailey used molecular genetic tools to uncover mutations responsible for coat color patterns, developmental defects, cytogenetic abnormalities and genes influencing viral susceptibility in horses.
His nomination letter said, “Over the past 35 years, Dr. Bailey’s direct research contributions, combined with his vision, cultivation, facilitation and leadership of the international community of scientists working on horse genetics and genomics, has had a profound impact on equinescience. Just as our understanding of the human genome is changing all aspects of human health, equine genomics is proving to be transformative for equinebiomedical disciplines.”
Firth has worked in North America, The Netherlands and New Zealand in university research, teaching and surgical referral clinics. He classified bone infection in foals and studied other bone and joint diseases of the young horse. This led to the quantification of bone, joint and tendon changes in young foals exposed to exercise or confinement early in life, and in 2-year-olds trained for racing. A later multi-national collaborative study showed that appropriate early exercise in pastured foals was not harmful and had positive effects on tissues, on adult musculoskeletal health and on the welfare of the horse.
Firth’s nomination letter said, “Dr. Firth has made outstanding contributions to research in equine musculoskeletal disease and comparative knowledge emanating from that.”
Equine Research Hall of Fame nominees can be living or deceased, active or retired in the field of equine research. Established in 1990, the Equine Research Hall of Fame honors international scientific community members biennially who have made equine research a keypart of their careers, recognizing their work, dedication and achievements in equine research.