STARKVILLE — The Morris Animal Foundation has named Dr. Cyprianna Swiderski, associate professor in the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, chair of its Large Animal Scientific Advisory Board.
Swiderski, an equine internist who studies airway disease in horses, credits Morris Animal Foundation with the early support of her research that helped to give it credibility. The foundation is a nonprofit organization and is the largest private funding source for research to advance the health of companion animals, horses and wildlife.
“Unlike many funding agencies, whose funding initiatives are not comprehensive for companion veterinary species, Morris Animal Foundation has a broad commitment to funding research that improves companion animal and equine health, species that are directly relevant to the mission of our clinical sciences department,” Swiderski said.
“The organization is also very forward-thinking and has developed funding programs specifically tailored to foster the next generation of animal health researchers,” she said. “Funding by this body is highly competitive and is synonymous with excellence.”
The foundation relies on its board members to review research proposals and select which projects to fund. This service requires a significant amount of time and scientific expertise. Swiderski has served on the large-animal board for three years and will spend her fourth and final year as the chair. She will coordinate the board’s review of proposals related to horses and other large animals.
“I credit the foundation for helping our college to improve clinical research in small animals and horses,” Swiderski said. “Their commitment helped to support a more diverse academic research program — the critical mass we have built upon.”
The foundation has supported the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Summer Research Experience program for the last seven years. Through the program, veterinary students are paired with faculty mentors in the students’ areas of interest. After students choose research projects, they formulate study plans, conduct research, analyze the results and present their findings at a national symposium.
“This type of research support helps build careers,” Swiderski said. “I’m honored to be part of Morris Animal Foundation. Their commitment to animal health and to facilitating research careers within this discipline is unparalleled.”
Swiderski studies pasture heaves, also called Summer Pasture-associated Recurrent Airway Obstruction, a disease that causes severe respiratory distress in horses maintained on pastures during summer in the Southeast. Her research has advanced this equine disease as a model of human asthma, providing an avenue to identify new asthma treatments.
“Dr. Swiderski’s commitment to engaging students in research and her expertise in equine health and translational medicine make her an excellent choice to chair the large-animal board,” said Dr. Kent Hoblet, dean of the veterinary college. “We are proud of her work, and her position with such a prestigious national organization really elevates the research programs here at our college.”
Swiderski attended the University of Maryland and earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. After a year in an equine practice, she completed an internship at North Carolina State University. She also completed an equine medicine residency program and then earned a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University in 1998.
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