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Unravelling analgesic sensitivity in the horse – a genetic approach


Unravelling analgesic sensitivity in the horse through whole-genome sequence analyses and a deep understanding of equine physiology


Dr Brandon Velie .

Research location

School of Life and Environmental Sciences


The ability to appropriately manage equine pain in chronic and acute settings remains limited, constrained by challenges in cost, side effects of analgesia, and lack of robust evidence regarding efficacy. Moreover, weight tapes and formulas currently used for the estimation of horse bodyweight have very limited accuracy, compounding the challenges experienced by veterinarians, even when isometric dosing of analgesics are applied. Commonly administered analgesics have also failed to produce consistent antinociceptive results, and the effectiveness of analgesics on healthy, pain free horses typically varies greatly from those seen in the presence of pain in a clinical setting. In other species, mediated responses to analgesics have been associated with genetic variants, many of which influence a range of biological processes and molecular pathways. In this project, we will combine state-of-the-art genomic technologies (whole-genome scans, next-generation sequencing, and advanced bioinformatics) with deep knowledge on the physiology of the horse to identify genetic variants associated with analgesics sensitivity in horses, further opening the door to the application of precision medicine in equids. 

Additional information

Although this project will be based on the Camperdown campus, it is also likely to involve some sample collection in the field. Experience working with horses is highly beneficial. 


HDR Inherent Requirements

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

-       Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;

-       Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);

-       Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;

-       Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);

-       Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;

-       Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);

-       Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;

-       Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);

-       Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;

-       Hold a current scuba diving licence;

-       Hold a current Working with Children Check;

-       Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 3014

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