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Full NameProfessor Vivienne Duggan

Veterinary Medicine

University College Dublin

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Research Fields
  • infectious disease and the immune system
  • physiology and non-communicable disease
  • epidemiology/population health research
  • one health
  • nutrition
  • preventive medicine/behavioural change interventions
Postgrad Medical Specialties
  • Veterinary Medicine
Medical Subspecialties
  • Endocrinology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Veterinary Epidemiology
My Work

Our lab is primarily involved in clinical research in the field of equine medicine. We are exploring what diseases are most problematic in Ireland for different classes of horses and ponies and also, from a One Health perspective, how diseases in horses and ponies affect their owners and keepers.
Various recent studies have looked at parasitic disease (Acute Larval Cyathostomiasis), tick borne disease (Equine Lyme disease) and heritable disease (Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome).
One particular focus at the moment is an endocrine disease, Equine Metabolic Syndrome, in Connemara ponies. We are looking at this condition from many aspects - hereditability, nutritional influences, intestinal microbiome influences, management influences, owner effects, treatment and prevention. In particular, we are looking in a longitudinal fashion at how changes in management (feed and exercise) can improve the quality of life of horses and ponies that are susceptible to this condition.
Another major focus of the research group is parasitic disease in the equine gut and how parasites interact with the immune system and the intestinal microbial environment and how these in turn influence tissue health and disease in other body systems.
This research is often undertaken with national and international collaborators.

Potential Projects

We are currently investigating Equine Metabolic Syndrome in Connemara ponies in Ireland.
We would like to expand this research to other native Irish horse breeds, such as the Kerry Bog pony and the Irish Draft horse. We would like to evaluate the prevalence of this condition and its heritability in these breeds and to look at management and husbandry factors that might influence it.
This would involve travelling around Ireland to visit breeding farms and other equine premises to collect samples and then storing these samples appropriately for later processing. It would also involve a lot of interaction with equine breeders and keepers to elucidate relevant information on their management and care. Finally, a longitudinal study would evaluate how changes in management can improve the effects of the disease and the quality of life of the horses and ponies involved. Laboratory work would include measurement of insulin and other biochemical markers, intestinal microbiome analysis and heritability studies using DNA extracted from blood and/or hair samples.