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MSU Equine Respiratory Disease Research Endowment

The following is a press release from the College of Veterinary 
Medicine at Michigan State University:

October 30, 1998

Contact:	N. Edward Robinson, 
                   BVetMed, PhD, MRCVS
                  (517) 353-5978


                   Linda Chadderdon, Information Officer
                  (517) 355-5165

Wilson Fund Establishes Equine 
Research Endowment at MSU

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- The Matilda R. Wilson Fund of Detroit has
generously committed $1.5 million to create the Matilda R. Wilson
Equine Respiratory Disease Research Endowment in the College of
Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University.  

The endowment will be under the direction of Dr. N. Edward Robinson,
who holds the Matilda R. Wilson Chair in Large Animal Clinical
Sciences at MSU. The chair was established in 1988 by a $1 million
gift from the fund. 

Robinson, a native of England, has been a faculty member at MSU
since 1972 and is a world leader in the study of equine airway

 "The original gift from the Wilson Fund helped us to establish a
 program to understand the basic science of airway disease in the
 horse," said Robinson. 

"On the tenth anniversary of that gift, I'm happy to say that we've
gained an extensive understanding of the role of nerves, smooth
muscle, and the inflammatory response in disease of both the lower
and upper airway." 

What has lagged is application of this new knowledge to improve the
treatment of airway disease in the horse.

"External funding agencies have been interested in supporting the
basic science research, because the findings are also applicable to
people," Robinson said.  

In fact, by using pilot data generated by the original endowment,
Robinson was able to leverage an additional $3 million of external

 "But now that we're at the point of applying our findings to benefit
 horses, the funding isn't as easy to come by," he said. 

That's where the new endowment will help.  The $1.5 million will be
paid over a period of five years.  At the end of that time, the
income on the endowment will provide $100,000 per year to support
this work on a continuing basis.    

Robinson has some specific research projects already in mind.  Their
common aim is to improve diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of
airway disease. 

For example, his team is looking at better ways to identify horses
that are susceptible to airway disease.  By so doing, it will be
possible to manage such horses in order to maintain their
respiratory health.  This work will involve a search for genetic
markers and the identification of changes in the type of mucus in

He is also collaborating with researchers at the Karolinska Institute
in Stockholm, Sweden, who are world leaders in the study of
leukotrienes.  "These mediators of inflammation are important in
human asthma, and it is vital to explore their role in horse airway
disease," Robinson said.

He and his colleagues have previously worked with 3M Animal Care to
develop a device for the delivery of inhaled drugs to horses.  "The
ability to do so will revolutionize the treatment of airway disease
in horses," he said.  

The Pulmonary Lab team now wants to develop treatment protocols that
couple use of inhaled drugs with practical recommendations for
changes in management.

The upper airway will not be neglected and the lab team will
continue to explore the cause of obstructive diseases of the throat
such as soft palate displacement, Robinson said.  

"With the exception of lameness, respiratory conditions are the most
common problem affecting horses.  We are fortunate to have a
well-established group led by Dr. Robinson looking into respiratory
problems," said Dr. Lonnie King, dean of MSU's College of Veterinary

Matilda R. Wilson had a keen interest in the well-being of farm
animals and horses and in Michigan State University. The 2,600-acre
Meadow Brook Farm, which she established with her husband Alfred
Wilson, became nationally known for its Belgian draft horses, among
other things.  

She first met future MSU president John A. Hannah in the 1920s,
when, as a young agricultural agent, he helped her begin developing
Meadowbrook's poultry stock.  She served as an MSU trustee from 1931
to 1937 and was named trustee emeritus in 1960.  

In 1957, Matilda and Alfred Wilson gave most of their land holdings
and a $200 million endowment to MSU to found a branch of the
university in Oakland County.  This branch eventually became the
independent institution Oakland University.  Mrs. Wilson also
bequeathed $300,000 to help fund the John A. Hannah endowed chairs.  

She died in 1967 and left the bulk of her estate to the Matilda R.
Wilson Fund, a charitable trust she had established in Detroit in

"Endowments of this kind bring funding stability and allow us to
build nationally renowned programs that produce significant results
year after year," said Dr. Frederik Derksen, chairperson of MSU's
Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences.  

"With the original gift from the Wilson fund, we established a
strong foundation in equine respiratory research.  The new gift
builds on this strength and will yield great practical respiratory
health benefits for horses, which were so dear to Matilda Wilson." 
Judith Lessard
Editorial Assistant
Publications and Media Relations
College of Veterinary Medicine
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824

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