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Burt Staniar Lab

Research efforts are focused on how nutrition and management influence metabolic regulation in the horse.

At the center of this work is the chemical communication network that regulates metabolism in response to changes in the environment. Currently we are working to characterize the mechanisms that link nutrition to skeletal development so that diets may be more precisely managed to optimize cartilage and bone for athletic production and health, improving a critical factor in the welfare of growing equine athletes. In previous studies, I have characterized skeletal growth and quantified associated changes in hormonal systems that control growth, as well as examined other aspects of nutrition in relation to growth including protein quality, different dietary energy sources, and quantity of energy supplied during growth.

Ongoing research projects in my lab are investigating the horse’s glycemic and insulinemic response to meals and the postprandial cascade of hormones and metabolites that relate to cartilage cell metabolism.

I also am a member of the newly formed Center for Reproductive Biology and Health (CRBH).  I bring expertise in the areas of nutrition and metabolic regulation to this group. Animal reproduction and nutrition are both research focuses for the Department of Animal Science. I am interested in the studying potential links between energy balance and early embryonic loss in the horse. Poor reproductive performance in the horse highlights an opportunity for me to work with other scientists in the CRBH to address how nutrition and management may be optimized to improve reproductive efficiency.

Penn State is the perfect setting for the research I am currently pursuing, as the equine industry in Pennsylvania is diverse and strong.  Pennsylvania has the 9th largest equine population on a statewide basis and is arguably the most diverse. The segments of the industry that are seeing the largest growth are breeding and racing.  My research focus on nutrition and metabolic regulation of growth and reproduction should provide applicable benefits to these segments.  Students that work with me on this research will be trained with skills important to this growing part of the industry.  I am eager to build Penn State’s equine research program to match the strength of the horse industry in Pennsylvania.

Lab Funding:

  • MARS Horsecare