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Equine Genetics 101


Recent advances in genetic technology, starting with the sequencing of the human genome in 2001, have lead to a much greater understanding of genetics in all species. Now more than ever before, scientists and physicians are recognizing the important role of genetics not only in visible traits, but most importantly in invisible traits that have a great influence on health and disease. The same techniques used to sequence the human genome and understand the genetic basis for human traits are now being applied to domestic animal species. This led to the sequencing of the horse genome, which was completed in early 2007. In the last two years since the sequencing of the equine genome, the small, but hard working equine genetics research community has capitalized on this new knowledge and rapidly developed the genetic tools necessary to research both simple and complex genetic traits in horses. These tools are already driving new discoveries and improving the health of horses worldwide. These new discoveries and this new understanding of the genetic influences on both desirable traits and equine health can be overwhelming. In this webinar, we will review the basic genetic principles that apply to both desirable traits as well as equine diseases, discuss the diseases that can currently be identified through genetic testing and how genetic testing is being used diagnostically by veterinarians, and talk about the application of genetic testing to breeding programs and how to make sound breeding decisions when there is potential for genetic disease.

Presenter Information

Dr. Molly McCue DVM, MS, PhD is an Assistant Professor in veterinary population medicine and a Morris Animal Foundation Fellow at UMEC. Molly McCue was three years old when she decided to be a veterinarian.

"It is one of my first memories, and I never changed my mind," said McCue, who was raised in a suburb of Kansas City, Kansas where she began riding horses as a small child. "As long as I can remember I have loved horses and wanted to ride," she said. "My parents took me to my first lesson at five, and I loved them from first the moment I was around them."

McCue took riding lessons through high school, rode hunter jumper and saddle seat and then got into western performance events. She bought her first horse - a quarter horse gelding named Doc's Triangle, a team penning and roping horse - the summer after high school.

True to her dreams, she graduated in 1998 from Kansas State University (KSU) with a B.S. degree in veterinary medicine and animal science and in 2000 received her DVM degree. She followed this in 2000-2001 with an internship at the University of Georgia, Athens and both a Master¿s degree and a residency (2001-2004) in equine internal medicine at KSU.

McCue came to the University of Minnesota to pursue her doctoral degree in comparative and molecular biosciences and became part of the UMEC team lead by Dr. Stephanie Valberg and Dr. Jim Mickelson that discovered the genetic basis of polysaccharide storage myopathy (PSSM) in horses.

Watch the recorded webcast below!

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