Educational webinar about Distichiasis with Dr. Rebecca Bellone from UC Davis!

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Distichiasis is hereditary eye disorder that affects Friesians.  It is characterized by eyelashes growing from an abnormal position on the edges of the eyelids. These misplaced lashes can come in contact with the cornea, leading to ocular problems that may impact vision. Signs of distichiasis include squinting, excessive tearing, and corneal ulcers, though some horses may show no signs.

The genetic variant associated with distichiasis was discovered in 2020 by an interdisciplinary team lead by VGL’s Director Dr. Rebecca Bellone. Since 2020, a DNA test has been available to assist owners in intelligent breeding selections to reduce the potential of producing an affected horse and can also identify which horses should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist for signs of disease.

This webinar will cover information about distichiasis, signs and symptoms, treatment options, genetic inheritance of the disorder and testing information.

About  Dr. Bellone:

Rebecca Bellone, Ph.D. – Director, UC. Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory

Dr. Bellone’s interest in genetics began as an undergraduate student; she earned her bachelor’s degree in 1997 from the University of Florida in agriculture specializing in biotechnology and completed an honors thesis project on the genetics of equine coat color. She went on to earn her doctoral degree in equine genetics from the University of Kentucky studying at the Gluck Equine Research Center. After earning her doctorate, she joined the faculty at University of Tampa, in Tampa, Florida, and spent twelve years teaching courses in biology, genetics, and molecular biology, while also conducting research and making important scientific discoveries to advance the understanding of genetics and genomics. While at the University of Tampa, she was a recipient of three Outstanding Scholar Awards and one Outstanding Student Research Supervision Award. Her research work has identified several causal mutations for both pigmentation traits as well as several genetic disorders in horses. She currently leads a research team of graduate and undergraduate students who are investigating several pigmentation and ocular disorders in horses and other species.

In 2014, she joined the School of Veterinary Medicine faculty at UC Davis and the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory team where she has expanded both the research and educational programs of the VGL. Dr. Bellone joined the leadership team as the Associate Director of Education and Outreach in 2016 and was appointed Director in November of 2017. She directs and oversees all operations as they relate to the mission of the unit

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