Dr. Michelle LeBlanc named Theriogenologist of the Year
Michelle M. LeBlanc, D.V.M., a professor in the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, has been named Theriogenologist of the Year by a national organization dedicated to the study of animal breeding.
The American College of Theriogenologists presented the award to LeBlanc, who developed the naturally occurring hormone oxytocin as the first effective treatment for a major cause of infertility in mares. Her findings have been of immense benefit to Florida’s equine industry because problems associated with endometritis – including the loss of offspring – are estimated to cost horse breeders millions of dollars.
LeBlanc also holds the patent on the equine colostrometer, an instrument used to measure antibody content in mare’s first milk. Unlike humans, foals do not receive any antibodies while they are in the uterus and rely on their mother’s first milk to protect them against disease for the first few weeks of life. Foals can absorb the antibodies only in the first 24 hours of life, after which their gut cannot absorb such large molecules.
“Some mares do not produce enough antibody, or they lose antibody before they deliver,” deliver,” LeBlanc said. “The colostrometer enables an owner or farm manager to determine if they will need to feed the foal supplemental colostrum when it is born.”
LeBlanc is currently researching the study of placental infections in mares in late gestation.
“Older mares may develop uterine infections late in gestation because bacteria that normally reside in the vagina ascend into the cervix,” she said. “These mares then deliver their offspring prematurely.” LeBlanc and her colleagues have developed a model of ascending placentitis in ponies to determine what happens in the disease and to develop possible treatments.
LeBlanc received her doctor of veterinary medicine degree in 1977 from Michigan State University and became board-certified in theriogenology in 1982. She has received international recognition for her professional activities relating to veterinary clinical reproduction, research and service to the horse industry.
The award, which consists of a plaque and an honorarium, is funded by the Monsanto Corp. and was developed to recognize outstanding achievement in the field of clinical animal reproduction.