The Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg has been awarded a $25,000 grant from Thoroughbred Charities of America and a $5,000 grant from the Maryland Horse Industries Board to help construct and equip new laboratory facilities designed to support its growing equine research program.

The new facilities will encourage greater collaboration among faculty and graduate students working at the Equine Medical Center, on the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine's College Park, Maryland and Blacksburg, Virginia campuses, and at Virginia Tech's Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension (MARE) Center on a broad range of equine health topics, according to Dr. Nathaniel A. White II, Interim Director of the Equine Medical Center (EMC).

"Virginia Tech President Dr. Charles Steger has set a goal for the university to be placed among the top 30 research institutions in the country by 2010," said Dr. White. "Equine Medical Center faculty, working here at the center and in collaboration with colleagues on our other campuses, are a part of the process that will achieve President Steger's vision. We are grateful to Thoroughbred Charities of America and the Maryland Horse Industries Board for their investment in this emerging area of emphasis for us."

Though widely regarded as a clinical center, the EMC has made significant clinical research contributions in the areas of colic and other gastrointestinal disorders, Equine Protozoal Myelitis (EPM), surgery, lameness and cardiopulmonary function over the past 20 years, White said.

The centralized Northern Virginia location of the Equine Medical Center's equine research laboratory will also facilitate collaboration with other private and public sector research groups interested in promoting the health and well being of horses in the mid-Atlantic region and beyond, according to White.

Founded in 1984, the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Virginia is one of three campuses operated by the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, a two-state professional school with major campus facilities at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and the University of Maryland at College Park. Consistent with the land-grant traditions of its parent universities, the EMC embraces a three-part mission of teaching, service and research.

Thoroughbred Charities of America (TCA), based in Middletown, Delaware, was founded in 1990 when a small group of Mid-Atlantic horse enthusiasts, including Ellen and Herb Moelis and Mrs. Allaire duPont, gathered together for a dinner and auction to benefit and promote the well-being of retired racehorses. Since that time, a board of directors was established and TCA's fundraising efforts expanded dramatically. Last year, the organization's annual auction of stallion seasons and equine and sporting artwork raised more than $1.1 million. TCA's Board of Directors distributed those funds to more than 60 rescue, retirement and research organizations.

The Maryland Horse Industries Board was created in 1998 to replace the State Board of Inspection of Horse Riding Stables. The purpose of the Board is to promote the horse industry in Maryland and to license boarding and rental facilities in the state. Grants are awarded each year from a fund produced by fees collected on the sale of equine feed. In 2003, the Board distributed more than $52,000 in grants to 29 organizations to help build awareness of and involvement in the horse industry through research, education and promotional activities. More than one-third of the horses treated at the EMC are from Maryland.

Additional information on the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center may be found at www.equinemedicalcenter.net. Information on Thoroughbred Charities of America and its annual auction held each December may be found at www.thoroughbredcharities.org. Information on the Maryland Horse Industry Board and the state's "feed fund" may be found at www.marylandhorseindustry.org.

This story was written by Ann Nadjar.