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Equine Specialist Translates Research to Clinical Application

December 15, 2014

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Dr. Nicola Pusterla is often called upon by the media to provide expert analysis of equine-related news stories.

When it comes to equine infectious diseases, the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital is fortunate to have on its faculty one of veterinary medicine’s leading experts in the field. Dr. Nicola Pusterla has devoted the majority of his 20-year career to the discipline. His research focuses on selected aspects of diseases with an emphasis on epidemiology, clinical disease understanding, diagnostics, prevention, and treatment. He has become one of the foremost authorities in the world on many facets of the broad subject of equine infectious disease.

Dr. Pusterla’s experience in infectious diseases and molecular epidemiology has allowed his lab to develop a structured concept on how to approach, investigate and control infectious disorders, independent of their cause. His ongoing research focuses on equine herpesvirus-1, equine influenza, equine coronavirus and equine protozoal myeloencephalitis. Dr. Pusterla’s clinical experience allows him a first-hand look at some of the most concerning aspects of these diseases in horses, including how they change patterns and how viruses skirt immunity induced by vaccination. 

As these infectious diseases continue to plague the equine world, a team approach is what is needed to combat these diseases, explained Pusterla. Not just with academic colleagues, but also staying connected with the equine industry to tackle these pertinent issues.

One of the most challenging aspects of his work is getting to outbreaks early enough to collect samples for studies, but with the help of technological advancements, the school’s Center for Equine Health and the multitude of research opportunities, they are gaining a better understanding of the immune system of horses and continually making progress toward best practices for diagnosing, treating and preventing these diseases. 

About the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital
The William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis—a unit of the School of Veterinary Medicine—provides state-of-the-art clinical care while serving as the primary clinical teaching experience for DVM students and post graduate veterinarian residents. The VMTH treats more than 47,000 animals a year, ranging from cats and dogs to horses, cows and exotic species. To learn more about the VMTH, please go to Timely news updates can be received on its Facebook ( and Twitter ( pages.

Rob Warren
VMTH Communications & Marketing Officer