Colorado State University Receives $3 Million Gift to Establish Chair in Equine Orthopedic Medicine

(received via press release and posted in its entirety)

Colorado State University today announced a $3 million gift to establish a university chair in equine orthopedics in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The gift is from Abigail K. Kawananakoa of Hawaii; the chair marks the second in equine programs at the university this semester.

The Abigail K. Kawananakoa University Chair in Equine Musculoskeletal Integrative Therapies will reside in the university’s prestigious Gail Holmes Equine Orthopaedic Research Center. The chair follows the August announcement of a chair in equine reproduction, marking two such $3 million gifts to the college to support equine research and medicine this semester and the third such chair in the Orthopaedic Research Center.

A faculty member has not yet been named to the position.

“This generous gift reflects Abigail Kawananakoa’s deep love of horses and commitment to advancing the frontiers of equine orthopedics,” said Colorado State President Larry Penley. “This is a commitment shared by Colorado State faculty who are at the forefront in expanding knowledge of human and animal musculoskeletal health. The creation of the Kawananakoa chair offers the opportunity to expand our equine research program while also providing critical support for students from Hawaii with a passion for veterinary medicine.”

The Orthopaedic Research Center at Colorado State is known worldwide for its research and clinical work to prevent joint problems in equine athletes such as racehorses and cutting horses and for researching ways to heal orthopedic injuries including gene therapy and novel cartilage healing techniques, with some recently expanded work in human athletes.

“This gift supports important research at Colorado State that benefits both horses and humans,” said Dr. Lance Perryman, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “The university’s Equine Orthopaedic Research Center is known internationally for its innovative research that addresses orthopedic injuries and osteoarthritis including better methods of early diagnosis and new therapeutic targets. In addition, faculty and staff at the center apply that knowledge to equine athletes and share their discoveries with experts in human orthopedic medicine.”

The gift to Colorado State will likely directly benefit veterinary medicine in Hawaii, Kawananakoa’s home state. The university has a strong tuition exchange program arrangement with Hawaii through the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. The WICHE program allows students from states without veterinary programs to compete for slots at Colorado State University with fees paid by their state of residency. Since the program’s inception in 1972, more than 160 students from Hawaii have graduated from Colorado State’s veterinary program and have returned home to practice.

“This chair completes our strategic plan in acquiring scientific support for rehabilitative manipulative therapies for musculoskeletal conditions, an area that is lacking in scientific based evidence for the horse,” said Dr. Wayne McIlwraith, director of the research center. “I have had a long and rewarding relationship with Abigail and we are pleased and honored to house the chair in Miss Kawananakoa’s name and look forward to the research discoveries and treatments to equine and human athletes the chair will support.”

Kawananakoa has bred and raced multiple champion quarter horses. Her horses have won the two biggest quarter horse races in the U.S.; the All American Futurity with A Classic Dash and the Los Alamitos Million with Evening Snow. Both of these horses had arthroscopic surgery by Dr. McIlwraith.

The Equine Orthopaedic Center treats injuries of the world’s finest horses. Successes include After Market, arguably the best Thoroughbred on grass in the United States this year. After Market came back from arthroscopic surgery by McIlwraith for a sesamoid fracture and won the Grade 1 Charley Whittingham at Hollywood Park and the Grade 1 Eddie Read Handicap at Delmar this summer. He is on his way to the World Championship Thoroughbred Breeder’s Cup Races.

Other recent successes include CD Lights, a renowned cutting horse who developed problems in the right hock. After surgery at the center, he made good progress and in 2006 was the National Cutting Horse Association World Champion stallion as well as Reserve World Champion and Open World Finals Champion.

Note to readers: Reading between the lines, the Abigail K. Kawananakoa University Chair in Equine Musculoskeletal Integrative Therapies is not fully disclosed in this press release. “Integrative therapies” is a term used to describe traditional and non-traditional medical concepts; it is a euphemism popularized by human doctor and author Andrew Weil, among others. I believe this will be the first such chair in equine medicine and hope that CSU will issue more details on how the Chair might be involved in the diagnosis and treatment of lameness problems at CSU. This is probably the bigger “news” in this story, in the long run and I will share more with you when I know more. –Fran Jurga)




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