Renowned for his research on equine laminitis, equine veterinarian Andrew van Eps joined the faculty of Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center in December as associate professor of equine musculoskeletal research.
Van Eps has spent the majority of his career at The University of Queensland in Australia, most recently as director of the equine hospital and associate professor of equine medicine. The university also is his alma mater; he graduated with his veterinary degree (BVSc) in 1999 and his PhD in 2008.
The move marks a return to New Bolton Center, where he completed his residency in large animal internal medicine in 2008 and spent another year as a lecturer and clinician.
“We are fortunate to have attracted Dr. van Eps to Penn Vet,” says Gary Althouse, chairman of the Department of Clinical Studies at New Bolton Center. “He comes to us both as a seasoned clinician and an equine researcher of international caliber.”
The focus of van Eps’ research is improving the understanding, prevention, and treatment of equine laminitis and other musculoskeletal diseases. Laminitis, the No. 2 killer of horses after colic, is a painful, debilitating condition with no known cure.
“The position at New Bolton Center is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me,” van Eps says. “Although I have always had a strong interest in research, it has taken a back seat to clinics, teaching, and administrative work in recent years. This position at New Bolton Center allows me to prioritize research, which for me is very exciting.”
Van Eps, who is board certified in internal medicine, will also become part of the New Bolton Center hospital clinical staff. He says he was drawn by the “great clinical caseload and brilliant colleagues,” as well as the opportunities made possible by the new robotics-controlled imaging system.
New Bolton Center was the choice for his residency because he considered it to be “the best place in the world to train in large animal internal medicine,” he says.
“I couldn’t have hoped for a better residency program,” van Eps says. “I was very lucky to train under some of the most highly regarded and skilled clinicians in the world, and I am very grateful.”
A prolific researcher, van Eps has co-authored nearly 50 peer-reviewed publications along with 15 additional publications. He’s given more than 60 presentations, primarily on topics related to laminitis, in places from Hong Kong to Palm Beach. He’s been a co-investigator on 15 research grants.
“Andrew will bring an added dimension and depth to our existing expertise at New Bolton Center, which will perpetuate our mission of being an international leader in the field of equine musculoskeletal research and, in particular, in our goal of finding a cure for laminitis,” Althouse says.
Van Eps says he believes his work in the development and scientific validation of foot cooling (digital hypothermia/cryotherapy) as a preventative and also a treatment for acute laminitis is the most significant contribution of his work thus far.
“Laminitis used to be a common and fatal complication of systemic illness,” he says. “Now, with the widespread use of digital hypothermia, this is much less common.”
Van Eps’ research also focuses on solving supporting-limb laminitis, the type that led to the death of 2006 Kentucky Derby winner, Barbaro, who was treated at New Bolton Center for a catastrophic leg fracture during the Preakness Stakes that year.
“We have made some significant inroads with regards to the cause of supporting-limb laminitis and potential preventatives,” he says. “I hope to continue this work and develop some practical solutions at New Bolton Center.”