HK$14 million first funding granted by HKJC Equine Welfare Research Foundation for equine health and welfare research
The Hong Kong Jockey Club Equine Welfare Research Foundation Limited (the Foundation) has granted funding of HK$14 million to thirteen highly-competitive equine welfare research projects from six countries to promote equine health and welfare. This is the first round of grants since the establishment of the Foundation.
The funding goes to research projects that have the potential to make important contributions in several areas key to equine welfare: the reduction of injuries and diseases, promotion of racehorse safety during training and racing, and improved quality of life for horses after retirement.
More than half of the 13 projects have received a grant ranging from HK$1.3 million to almost HK$2 million, including two focused on developing young researchers to promote interest in the field of equine welfare research and clinical care among the next generation of scientists.
The winning research proposals were chosen from a total of 67 submissions in the Foundation’s first annual grant cycle, following detailed scrutiny by the Foundation’s Veterinary Advisory Committee (VAC) and 120 international specialists who undertook peer review. The Foundation’s Board of Directors considered the advice of the VAC when selecting the final 13 projects, which were judged to be of the highest scientific merit with potential to positively impact the quality of life of horses and were tied closely to the Foundation’s objectives.
The 13 projects granted research funding are led by scientists from institutions in Australia, Belgium, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. They are categorised into four major topics:
- Musculoskeletal injuries in athletic horses: Six projects will develop improved methods of treating osteoarthritis, identify genes that are associated with a higher risk of fracture and develop improved methods for screening horses in training in order to identify those that may be at higher risks of sustaining injuries.
- Conditions that affect the heart and lungs: Four projects will focus on preventing horses from developing illnesses or sustaining injuries through better understanding of disease pathways so that problems can be identified and managed before they become serious. One will look at ways of helping veterinarians to identify horses that have subtle heart abnormalities, which are currently not detectable yet may lead to more serious problems. One will investigate the disease pathways that lead to horses becoming “Roarers” and two others will study common ailments of the lungs of athletic horses.
- Horse behaviour and wellbeing: One project will work on the development of a tool that can be used to quantify a horse’s state of wellbeing.
- Equine medicine and infectious disease: One will investigate better use of medications to treat or prevent stomach ulcers in horses, while the other will look into the damaging effects of equine flu on cell lining in horse’s airways.
The Foundation’s second call for applications closed at the end January and the selection exercise is currently in process. Further calls will be made annually, over December and January.