Archived News


November 15, 2000

What do the new and re-emerging infectious diseases of horses and other animals have to do with better public health in humans? Plenty, according to the UC Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, whose faculty will seek new knowledge regarding those diseases thanks to a newly established research laboratory.

The Center for Equine Health is pleased to announce the receipt of a $1.2 million grant from the *Bernice Barbour Foundation of Hackensack, N. J. for a basic scientific study of communicable disease.

The 4-year grant of $300,000 per year will be used to create the Bernice Barbour Communicable Disease Laboratory within the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Veterinary researchers from varying scientific disciplines-pathology, virology, toxicology, epidemiology, genetics, and biomechanical engineering, among others-will combine their talents to study:

  • What are the mechanisms by which pathogenic microbes survive and propagate outside the mammalian body?
  • How do those pathogens transport themselves from place to place through the environment?
  • What are the methods utilized by pathogens to invade the bodies of humans and animals and produce disease?
  • What are the natural defense mechanisms employed by the targeted host against invaders?

“This mechanistic approach to the study of infectious processes rather than research targeted at specific diseases represents a novel line of attack in the study of communicable diseases,” says Gregory L. Ferraro, director of the Center for Equine Health.

The Center for Equine Health will oversee administration of the program and provide leadership. “Our first investigations will deal with equine pathogenic agents and immunological reagents, but this work will not be confined solely to the horse,” states Ferraro. “We anticipate that the knowledge gained from the investigations will contribute to the control of disease in all species.”

Participating faculty in this comprehensive program are based in several school units associated with the Center: the Bernard and Gloria Salick Equine Viral Disease Laboratory, the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory, the Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center at Tulare, and the Centers for Comparative Medicine and Vector-Borne Disease Research. “The future of public health,” says Ferraro, “requires an intensification of research into the basis of how disease is fostered -- including the genetic components and transmission characteristics of microbes which infect all mammalian species, including humans.”

*The Bernice Barbour Foundation is an independent charitable foundation focused primarily on the preservation and care of domestic and companion animals and the prevention of cruelty to animals. UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine is California’s prime resource for information on animal-related health topics, including specialized research in equine medicine and comparative medical studies regarding infectious diseases afflicting animals and humans.

Gregory L. Ferraro
Director, Center for Equine Health
(530) 752-2787