Understanding equine PPID - a hormonal disease in horses

Study level


Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Professor Martin Sillence
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Dr Melody de Laat
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty


Equine pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID) is a disease found in horses that is similar to Parkinson's disease in humans. It occurs where a a gradual failure of the pituitary gland leads to an imbalance of hormones in the body, including cortisol, insulin and dopamine.

This project aims to develop a better diagnostic test for the disease and to better understand the way in which this hormone imbalance impacts on the animal's health. In doing so, new treatment opportunities may be created.

You will work within a global team team of analytical chemists, biologists, endocrinologists and veterinarians based in Australia, the UK, the USA, England and Germany. You will get the opportunity to interact with two of the largest nutrition and pharmaceutical companies in the world on this major project which is co-sponsored by industry and the Australian Research Council.

Research activities

As part of the project, you will be involved in the following activities:

  • work with horses to apply treatments, gather blood samples and clinical data
  • analyse hormone concentrations using sophisticated laboratory techniques
  • learn and apply statistical analysis methods
  • prepare written technical reports and journal articles


As a result of this project, we expect the outcomes to include:

  • a new diagnostic test
  • new knowledge about PPID, metabolic syndrome and insulin dysregulation
  • concepts for future therapies.

Skills and experience

To be considered for this project, you should:

  • be comfortable working indoors in a laboratory setting and outdoors with large animals
  • have prior laboratory experience
  • have excellent written communication skills.

We would also prefer it if you have a driving licence.


You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.

Annual scholarship round



Contact the supervisor for more information.