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Dr. Todd Holbrook pictured with a horse.

Vet Med Faces of Research: Dr. Todd Holbrook

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Media Contact: Derinda Blakeney | College of Veterinary Medicine | 405-744-6740 | derinda@okstate.edu

Dr. Todd Holbrook started doing research about 25 years ago during his equine residency at the University of Georgia and never stopped.

A professor board certified in both veterinary internal medicine and sports medicine and rehabilitation, Holbrook holds the June Jacobs Chair in Veterinary Medicine at Oklahoma State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

“I’m a clinician scientist,” Holbrook said. “I primarily perform internal medicine duties in the equine clinic at the college’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital and teach veterinary students, interns and residents. My research always relates back to my specialty in either equine internal medicine and/or sports medicine.

“Some of my research is diagnostic-type investigations where we collaborate with multiple institutions or private practices to study specific diseases. For example, we worked with nine teaching hospitals and four private equine hospitals in the United States investigating viral causes of liver failure in horses. Our findings revealed that parvovirus was the primary virus associated with liver failure. As a result, the industry that supplies plasma products and blood products for the treatment of horses has tried to eliminate this virus from their donor herds, which can greatly impact the health of horses in the future.

“My hypothesis driven research focuses on endurance exercise and cardiology, linking back to my two specialties — internal medicine and sports medicine. We have investigated the impact of exercising and fitness on cardiac function in endurance horses and the impact of long distance exercise in horses on cardiac stress, metabolism and intestinal motility.”

“Disseminating the knowledge that we gain from collaborative research to practicing veterinarians leads to the improvement of equine welfare and health. For example, working with six different colleges across the U.S., our research on persimmon impactions as a cause of colic in horses identified important treatment options that successfully managed that cause of colic.”

Holbrook’s intellectual curiosity feeds his pursuit of research.

“It’s stimulating to work with other bright minded clinicians and scientists to improve equine health. That’s the root of all research … the excitement of pursuing an answer that could potentially improve the health of a horse.

“Many diseases that affect horses are in dire need of further research. Unfortunately, most diseases I deal with as an internist don’t have a significant overall impact on the horse industry economy to warrant grant agency support. So I’m really grateful for people like the Jacobs, who support research through endowed chairs, and to OSU for the opportunity to do important research and pursue answers to what may seem like smaller questions, as far as the industry is concerned, but which can really impact the health of the horse.”

Vet Med Faces of Research is a monthly series designed to inform the public about the impact of the numerous studies being conducted at Oklahoma State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Advancing knowledge and understanding for the benefit of the lives and livelihoods of the people of Oklahoma is a critical element of OSU’s land-grant mission. If you would like to support research at the college, please contact Ashley Hesser, director of development with the OSU Foundation, at 405-385-0715 or ahesser@osugiving.com.

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