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Barbaro's owners give $3m: laminitis key target

February 15, 2007

Barbaro and Dr Dean Richardson.
Picture: University of Pennsylvania
The owners of Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, euthanized this month after complications arising from his injuries, have gifted $US3 million to endow a chair at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The new position will be a cornerstone in a major push to fight laminitis - the complication that proved fatal to Barbaro's chances.

Roy and Gretchen Jackson endowed the chair in the name of Dean Richardson, the veterinary surgeon who cared for Barbaro for the eight months after the colt shattered a hind leg near the start of the Preakness Stakes.

In acknowledging the gift, Penn President Amy Gutmann said: "Gretchen and Roy Jackson have already done so much for veterinary medicine through their commitment to giving Barbaro every possible opportunity to recover from his catastrophic injuries.

"People throughout the world now understand that veterinary medicine - and Penn veterinary medicine in particular - shares in the advances that define today's biomedical science. Now, with this generous gift, Gretchen and Roy Jackson not only promote continued progress, but they pay tribute to the doctor who, like them, gave his heart to a magnificent horse."

"This endowed chair," said Joan Hendricks, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine, "is a strong recognition of the power of translating fundamental scientific advances into new real-world treatments. With a new faculty position dedicated to the study of equine disease, we will be better positioned to fight deadly conditions like laminitis."

The endowed chair is an important part of a major new Penn Vet initiative to fight laminitis, which afflicted Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro. Laminitis is a severe, painful condition in horses that can be fatal. The laminitis initiative will foster training programmes and studies for new treatments of equine diseases.

"We are very pleased to make this commitment in support of the School of Veterinary Medicine's research of equine diseases," Gretchen Jackson said. "Our close relationship with Dr. Richardson over the last eight months persuaded us to name the chair in his honor. We are indeed grateful to him, and we especially look forward to a future without laminitis."

Roy and Gretchen Jackson have a long and close connection with Penn and the School of Veterinary Medicine. Both are Penn graduates, and they have been dedicated supporters of Penn's athletic, medicine and veterinary programs for many years. In addition, Gretchen Jackson serves on the Penn Vet Board of Overseers.

"I am deeply honored by this generous and important gift," said Richardson, chief of surgery at Penn's George D. Widener Hospital and leader of the team that treated Barbaro. "The Jacksons' remarkable philanthropy will translate into better outcomes for injured and ill horses in the future."

The Penn School of Veterinary Medicine is a leader in the development of new treatments and technologies to improve the health and care of both companion and large animals and is at the forefront of training students and veterinarians in diagnosing, preventing and curing animal diseases.



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