The Molecular Respiratory and Equine Genetics Laboratory is directed by Susan Ewart, DVM, PhD, DACVIM. The overall goals of investigators in the laboratory are two-fold:

  1. To determine the molecular mechanisms of inherited diseases in the horse.
  2. To understand the genetic predisposition to respiratory tract diseases in all species.

To accomplish these goals, several diverse research projects are ongoing. One project focuses on the genetic mechanisms that predispose to asthma, a potentially fatal respiratory disease affecting humans and cats. The laboratory is studying mouse models of human asthma to identify candidate genes that underlie this disease. In a related project, the laboratory is developing molecular tools to use in the study of asthma in cats.

Genetic mechanisms also underlie a variety of equine diseases. Anterior Segment Dysgenesis is an inherited eye disease in the horse that we recently described. The laboratory has characterized the inheritance of this disease and is currently pursuing identification of the causative gene and defect. In a related project, the laboratory is developing molecular tools for use in mapping various equine genetic traits.

The laboratory is located in the National Food Safety and Toxicology Center on the campus of Michigan State University. The laboratory occupies 650 square feet with an additional 800 square feet of shared laboratory space, and is fully equipped for molecular and genetic research studies.