Zweig Professors

Julia Flaminio  - Harry M. Zweig Assistant Professor in Equine Health 2006-2008 

 For more information visit the faculty page.

Dr. Julia Felippe

How Does the Immune System of the Foal Fight Against Rhodococcus equi Infection?

Flaminio came to Cornell as a PhD student to work with Professor Doug Antczak, VMD, PhD, on equine immunology.  She joined the faculty in 2002.   She had earned a DVM at the Universidade Estadual Paulista in Sao Paulo State, Brazil in 1989 and an MS at Kansas State University in 1997.  

This is the first time that a junior faculty member has been named by the Zweig Committee in recognition of outstanding commitment and dedication to equine research. Flaminio, 39, will hold the title for a three-year term that began in 2005.

Although most parts of a horse’s immune system develop during fetal life, foals are very susceptible to infection in their first five months. Assistant Professor of Clinical Sciences Julia Flaminio, DVM, MS, PhD, DACVIM, seeks to identify a way to augment the immune system of foals to reduce their susceptibility.  She has been named the first Harry M. Zweig Assistant Professor of Equine Health.

Flamino’s research begins with the fact that the degree of a foal’s susceptibility to infection in the neonatal period is partially dependent on the adequacy of transfer of maternally-derived antibodies through the colostrum.

 “The horse placenta does not allow transfer of antibodies during gestation; hence the foal is born essentially devoid of antibodies,” Flaminio explains. “The maternally-derived antibodies absorbed in the first few hours of life confer short-lived, limited protection against environmental pathogens for the initial one to two months of life. After this, the maternal antibodies reduce to very low levels, and the foal must depend on its own immune system to resist infections.” 
(read more here) 

Bettina Wagner - Harry M. Zweig Assistant professor in Equine Health 2009-2011

For more information visit the faculty page.

Dr. Bettina Wagner

Aanalysis of Innate Immune Response to EHV-1 Infection

Dr. Bettina Wagner, assistant professor of immunology at the College of Veterinary Medicine, has been named the Harry M. Zweig Assistant Professor in Equine Health. The three-year term endowed position recognizes a junior faculty member who shows promise and productivity in the field of equine research.

Dr. Wagner is the director of the serology section at the New York State Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell. She obtained her DVM degree and habilitation (PhD) in Hannover, Germany, and spent several years researching and teaching at the Institute of Genetics in Cologne and at the School of Veterinary Medicine in Hannover. In 2002, she came to Cornell University as a visiting scientist to work on projects in equine genetics at the Baker Institute for Animal Health. In 2004, she became a senior research associate at the Baker Institute, and in 2006, she was hired as an assistant professor in the Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences.

Dr. Wagner’s research focuses on equine immunology. She studies the regulation of the immune system and the relationship between the innate and adaptive immune responses. The innate immune system is the horse’s first line of defense against invading organisms while the adaptive immune system acts as a second line of defense as well as protecting the horse from re-infection from harmful pathogens. Funded with grants from the USDA and the Zweig Fund for Equine Research, Dr. Wagner’s lab is credited with developing several reagents that are available to the global research community. Reagents are used in immunological procedures to detect, measure or examine the innate immune response in health and disease. The new tools are used in the lab to study the immune response to Equine herpesvirus type I and the mechanisms leading to immunity and protection from disease in foals.

“The new immune reagents have the potential to revolutionize the field of equine immunology,” said Dr. Wagner, who began riding horses at age 12 and is pleased to have found an opportunity to combine two of her passions: horses and research. “We were not able to look at many functions and cellular responses of the equine immune system because we did not have the tools to do so. The reagents facilitate scientific exploration in areas such as neonatal immunology, inflammatory and infectious diseases, vaccine development, and equine allergies.” Read the article.

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