Free Testing for Standardbreds and Haflingers

February 1, 2023

Albuquerque, New Mexico

A collaborative research team assembled by researchers at EquiSeq will end its offer of free testing for Standardbreds and Haflingers on March 31, 2023.

The project is aimed at studying the K1 variant of COL6A3, which is present in high frequency in these breeds. The K1 variant affects the structure of collagen in muscle tissue. Collagen is part of the connective tissue that surrounds muscle fibers. Human patients with similar mutations have a myopathy called COL VI-related dystrophy.

The K1 variant affects the organization of connective tissue in a cell culture assay, as reported by Chief Scientific Officer Paul Szauter at the 20th Anniversary Symposium of the Genome Sciences Department at the University of Washington in November 2022. Kirsten Dimmler, formerly a Bioinformatics Analyst at EquiSeq and now a graduate student with Dr. Molly McCue at the University of Minnesota, reported additional findings at the Plant and Animal Genomes conference in January 2023.

The free testing program is open to all Standardbreds and Haflingers in the United States. Horse owners seeking testing will receive a consent form and hair sample pack by mail.

To participate, send an email to with the number of Standardbreds or Haflingers you have. Include your postal mailing address.

Paul Szauter Invited to Speak at Genome Sciences Symposium

October 21, 2022

Seattle, WA

Paul Szauter, EquiSeq’s Chief Scientific Officer, has been invited to speak at the Genome Sciences 20th Anniversary Symposium at the University of Washington in Seattle. The Symposium will be held November 10 – 11; the schedule includes presentations by Bill Gates, Francis Collins, George Church, and Genome Sciences Chair Robert Waterston.

Dr. Szauter received his PhD in Genetics from the University of Washington in 1980. Following an academic career as a Drosophila geneticist, he made a career transition to mammalian genomics and bioinformatics at The Jackson Laboratory in 2000. In 2011, he moved to New Mexico, where he worked at the University of New Mexico before entering the private sector in 2014. He founded EquiSeq in 2015.

Dr. Szauter will present current research on the genetics of exercise intolerance in horses, including new results on COL6A3 and MYOZ3. The presentation, scheduled for 3:50 pm Pacific time on November 11, will be livestreamed on Zoom.

Free Testing Expands Standardbred Genetics Research

March 1, 2022

Albuquerque, New Mexico

EquiSeq has expanded its research program on the genetics of Standardbreds by offering free testing to owners of purebred horses. Standardbred owners in the United States can receive EquiSeq’s Myopathy Panel at no cost. 

Standardbred owners received consent forms and sample kits beginning in December 2021, expanding an earlier survey of the breed.

Cumulative data on over 75 Standardbreds show that the breed appears to be free of the P3 (FLNC), P4 (MYOZ3), and P8 (PYROXD1) genetic variants. Standardbreds have a high incidence of the P2 (MYOT) and K1 (COL6A3) genetic variants.

Current research is focused on identifying Standardbreds that are homozygous for the K1 variant (K1/K1). These horses, along with n/K1 horses and n/n controls, will undergo veterinary examinations to increase our understanding of the disease state.

Human patients with Bethlem Myopathy or Ullrich Congenital Muscular Dystrophy have comparable mutations in COL6A3.

Owners of Standardbreds in the United States can participate in the study by sending an email to EquiSeq’s Chief Scientific Officer, Paul Szauter (, giving their postal mailing address and the number of Standardbreds that they have. They will receive consent forms and hair sample packs.

Connemara Pony PSSM Research Group Partners with Generatio GmbH

February 4, 2022

Bergen, Norway

The Connemara Pony PSSM Research Group is now registered as a DNA Program with Generatio GmbH – Center for Animal Genetics (CAG). The research group is a small international group of knowledgeable Connemara-people independent of any breed society. We are gathering data with the aim to map the prevalence of the genetic variants associated with PSSM1 and PSSM2 within the breed. We are also looking at pedigrees as well as the correlation between the genetic variants and symptoms.

By enrolling your pony in this DNA Program you will get the PSSM2 test at a reduced price, but you also agree that the data will be gathered by the group for research purposes. We kindly ask that you provide all known information about the pony in the animal record, such as DOB, parentage, UELN. You may also be asked by the researchers to provide information about symptoms at a later stage. Please note that the pony must be a purebred Connemara to be eligible for participation in the program.

Please get in touch with Hild Elisabeth Hoff ( if you have any questions.

EquiSeq CEO Departs to Head Circular Genomics

December 14, 2021

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Dr. Alex Hafez, CEO of EquiSeq, left his position in October 2021 to head a new company, Circular Genomics. Circular Genomics uses technology that Dr. Hafez developed in his dissertation research under the direction of Dr. Nikolaus Mellios. On November 30, Circular Genomics closed a $4.5 million investment round that included local venture capital firms Tramway Ventures and Cottonwood Technology Fund, as well as out-of-state venture capital firms and private investors.

Circular Genomics is developing diagnostic tests for psychiatric disorders using circular RNA. Circular RNA is a recently discovered form of RNA that can serve as a biomarker in diagnostic tests. The company’s first target is depression, a disorder that affects tens of millions of Americans every year.

Dr. Hafez served as EquiSeq’s CEO from February 2018 through October 2021. Under his direction, EquiSeq added new genetic tests to its Myopathy Panel, signed a licensing deal with Generatio GmbH – Center for Animal Genetics, and filed an additional patent application. The company also increased its research efforts by establishing collaborations with university researchers around the world.

Dr. Paul Szauter, EquiSeq’s founder and Chief Scientific Officer, assumed the position of Acting CEO during a search for a successor. Hafez remains on EquiSeq’s board, where he has a role in shaping the company’s scientific and business strategy.

EquiSeq and Haw Creek Animal Hospital Raise $10,000 for Wilderwood Equine Therapy and Rescue

October 30, 2021

Peralta, New Mexico

Paul Szauter, EquiSeq’s Chief Scientific Officer, attended an event at Wilderwood Equine Therapy and Rescue on October 30, to present Wilderwood with a donation from EquiSeq toward their equine therapy program.

EquiSeq and Haw Creek Animal Hospital staged a joint fundraiser that raised $10,000 for Wilderwood.

Wilderwood’s equine-assisted programs are an innovative and integrative approach designed for autistic adults and children (aged 8 and up) to strengthen authentic self-perception, self-possibility, and self-realization through mind/body interoceptive and somatic understanding combined with the philosophy of Hautism, which embraces and celebrates the innate connection between horses and autistic people.

Wilderwood also rescues unwanted horses, provides them a lifetime loving home, and educates the community about horses and autism.

Wilderwood adopted Lady Faith from EquiSeq. Lady Faith is n/K1 and free of other variants. She is the mare in which the K1 allele of COL6A3 was discovered by whole-genome sequencing.

EquiSeq and Haw Creek Animal Hospital Join Fundraiser for Wilderwood Equine Therapy and Rescue

August 18, 2021

Albuquerque, New Mexico

EquiSeq and Haw Creek Animal Hospital will join a charity fundraising effort for Wilderwood Equine Therapy and Rescue. EquiSeq will donate 10% of sales for the entire month of September 2021 to Wilderwood. Haw Creek Animal Hospital, in Asheville, North Carolina, stages a Labor Day Charity fundraiser every year, and this year will donate to Wilderwood from Labor Day sales.

Wilderwood’s equine-assisted programs are an innovative and integrative approach designed for autistic adults and children (aged 8 and up) to strengthen authentic self-perception, self-possibility, and self-realization through mind/body interoceptive and somatic understanding combined with the philosophy of Hautism, which embraces and celebrates the innate connection between horses and autistic people.

Wilderwood also rescues unwanted horses, provides them a lifetime loving home, and educates the community about horses and autism.

EquiSeq became aware of Wilderwood when the charity agreed to adopt Lady Faith, a horse that has been part of EquiSeq’s research program for several years.

Please watch this outstanding video about Wilderwood.

Anyone wishing to donate to Wilderwood can reach out directly. Donations are tax-deductible. EquiSeq and Haw Creek Animal Hospital will publicly disclose their combined charity donation before the end of October.

German Warmblood Associations Include Testing for EquiSeq Genetic Variants in Genotyping Platform

April 24, 2021

Albuquerque, New Mexico

The International Association of Future Horse Breeding (IAFH), a group of five German Warmblood associations, has developed a large-scale genotyping platform (a SNP array) for breed improvement. They have added tests for the variants in EquiSeq’s Myopathy Panel to the array. Results will be available to horse owners through Generatio GmbH – Center for Animal Genetics, which holds the exclusive license for EquiSeq’s tests in the EU and the UK.

Below is a translation of their press release.

Horse breeders have health in mind

The health of the riding horses is important for every breeder. The International Association of Future Horse Breeding (IAFH) is dedicated to it. The focus is also on hereditary diseases such as PSSM2. The IAFH provides fundamental scientific work that leads to breeding measures to ensure the health of horses in the future.

With the availability of differentiated molecular genetic laboratory analysis, the possibilities to assess the genetic predisposition of individual horses are growing. This applies to all characteristics that have been influenced by hereditary factors in their form, regardless of whether they follow simple or complex inheritances and whether they relate to performance, appearance, or health. Especially for the monitoring of hereditary diseases, this means an extension of studies that enable genetic or genomic screening and thus represent a significant improvement.

At the turn of the year, a groundbreaking course was taken in this direction: by switching the routine pedigree check to a technology that relies on genetic markers (so-called single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs for short), which are spread over the entire genetic material of the horse. This provides the basis for answering scientific questions and in-depth studies. In doing so, the IAFH’s close contacts and proven cooperation with partners from academia and business ensure that they make full use of the opportunities offered and thus fully assume their responsibilities towards their members. 

This includes a solid refurbishment based on carefully planned and long-term in-depth studies, which are particularly essential for late-stage and multi-layered hereditary diseases such as PSSM 2 (Polysaccharides Storage Myopathy Type 2). And it is precisely this complex of hereditary muscular diseases that is already in the sights of breeding: In conjunction with the holder of the European patent for the PSSM2 test panel, Generatio GmbH – Center for Animal Genetics, the IAFH is dedicated to the urgent issues that need to be clarified in order to secure and specifically support breeding decisions. In the strong network of IAFH shareholders, the riding horse breeders’ associations of the Oldenburg, Westphalia, Trakehner, Holsteiner and Oldenburg show jumping horses as well as the data centre VIT, the breeders are well equipped to be able to provide themselves with reliable information in the future.

Horse Breeding Associations Support Genetic Research on PSSM2

March 26, 2021

Vechta, Germany

PSSM2 (Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy Type 2) is a much discussed topic. Now the horse breeding associations for Holstein, Trakehner, Hanoverian, Oldenburg and Westphalia want to make genetic material available for research purposes to a project of the International Association of Future Horse Breeding GmbH & Co KG (IAFH).

Muscle wasting, lameness, stiff gait, ataxia – PSSM2 has many symptoms, and probably more causes. The muscle disease is moving more and more into focus (we deal with it in detail in the May issue of St.GEORG). Now, for the first time, there is a joint initiative by the four largest breeding associations and the Trakehners.

It’s about providing genetic data for research. For this purpose, the International Association of Future Horse Breeding GmbH & Co KG (IAFH), founded in Vechta in 2017 and based there, will cooperate with the licensee of the European patent for EquiSeq’s PSSM2 test panel, Generatio GmbH – Center for Animal Genetics.

PSSM2 only occurs in older horses, which is why the associations involved find it important to investigate this hereditary disease first in the joint project. The research activities are to be coordinated by the data experts of the VIT (United Information Systems for Animal Husbandry) in Verden.

Differentiated molecular genetic laboratory analysis facilitates the collection of data on the genetic makeup of individual horses. The range is wide: coat color, gender, appearance, or health-related factors are reflected in the genes. The keyword is “genetic or genomic screening.

The cooperation was preceded by a step: since 2021, a technology that analyzes genetic markers (SNPs, Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms) has been used for the routine parentage check of born foals – or older horses. These genetic locations are distributed over the entire genetic makeup of the horse.

Investigating PSSM2 is a prelude. Hereditary diseases such as Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome (WFFS) are increasingly becoming the focus of Warmblood horses. In other horse breeding populations, from Arabians to Quarter Horses to Draft breeds, genetic tests for genetic defects have been carried out for some time, depending on the breed.

Please see the original press release, in German.

EquiSeq’s Chief Scientific Officer Speaks to Entrepreneurs

January 15, 2021

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Paul Szauter, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of EquiSeq, will present via Zoom at One Million Cups in Albuquerque on Wednesday, January 20, at 9:00 am MST. The format is a six-minute presentation followed by twenty minutes of questions and discussion. The presentation is open to the public via Zoom.

Based on the notion that entrepreneurs discover solutions and engage with their communities over a million cups of coffee, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation developed One Million Cups in 2012 — a free program designed to educate, engage and inspire entrepreneurs around the country. Through the power of volunteers, One Million Cups has grown to more than 160 communities.

As a program of the Kauffman Foundation, One Million Cups works with entrepreneurs, empowering them with the tools and resources to break down barriers that stand in the way of starting and growing their businesses.

Dr. Szauter founded EquiSeq in 2015 with no background in business. He was introduced to Albuquerque’s entrepreneurial community when he won a pitch competition in September 2014. He completed the ABQid Accelerator program in 2015. After a couple of years of regularly attending One Million Cups Albuquerque, he became one of the group’s volunteer organizers, recruiting and coaching other entrepreneurs.

Dr. Szauter has previously presented EquiSeq at One Million Cups in Albuquerque NM, Lubbock TX, Amarillo TX, El Paso TX, Ft. Collins CO, and Greenville SC. Each of these presentations has offered new opportunities for learning and collaboration.

The Kaufman Foundation’s guidelines for organizers of One Million Cupsask them to limit presentations to companies that have been in operation five years or less. This will therefore be the last time that EquiSeq will be presented at One Million Cups.

Generatio GmbH – Center for Animal Genetics Adds P8 and K1 Tests

November 30, 2020

Tübingen, Germany

Generatio GmbH – Center for Animal Genetics (CAG) has added the P8 variant of PYROXD1 and the K1 variant of COL6A3 to its Variant Panel. These tests are now available to horse owners in the EU and UK.

The launch followed licensing of these tests from EquiSeq. Generatio GmbH – Center for Animal Genetics (CAG) has the exclusive rights to these tests in the EU and UK.

For horses already tested for P2 (MYOT), P3 (FLNC), P4 (MYOZ3), and Px (CACNA2D3), a test for P8 (PYROXD1) and K1 (COL6A3) is available.

Horse owners in the EU and UK can order the  6-Variant Panel online from the Animal Trust Center (ATC).

Podcast and Videos Explore Muscle Disease

July 30, 2020

Albuquerque, New Mexico

July 2020 was a great month for horse owners seeking to understand muscle disease.

Eden River Equestrian interviewed Paul Szauter, EquiSeq’s Chief Scientific Officer, for episode 86 of their Come Along for the Ride podcast. In the interview, Dr. Szauter talked about the effects of the genetic variants that are included in EquiSeq’s Myopathy Panel, with an emphasis on symptoms that will be evident to horse owners.

He specifically recommended a video on PSSM & MFM Symptoms at canter by Christine Lola Mahon of the PSSM & MFM Awareness Group on Facebook.

After the podcast was aired, Christine Lola Mahon posted a detailed video showing the progression of PSSM2/MFM, The Harsh Reality of PSSM2.

The Equine Extension Program at the University of Minnesota hosted a set of four seminars by Dr. Molly McCue of the Equine Genetics and Genomics Laboratory. The seminars were held as Facebook Live events. Horse owners watching in real time were able to post questions and comments. The seminars are available as Facebook videos as listed below.

Part 1 Introduction to Muscle Disease

Part 2 PSSM

Part 3 RER & MFM

Part 4 HYPP & IMM

Dr. McCue encouraged horse owners to participate in the University of Minnesota muscle disease study. Please see their FAQs or contact Kendall Blanchard at with questions.

EquiSeq’s Kirsten Dimmler Accepted to PhD Program at the University of Minnesota

April 17, 2020

Albuquerque, NM

Kirsten Dimmler, a Bioinformatics Analyst at EquiSeq, has accepted an offer of admission to graduate school in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota. Kirsten will be entering the laboratory of Dr. Molly McCue, a leading veterinary expert in the field of equine genetics and genomics. Her admission to graduate school was originally scheduled for the fall of 2020, but has been deferred to January 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kirsten began her career at EquiSeq with an internship while still an undergraduate biology major at the University of New Mexico. Following her graduation with a B.S. in Biology in December 2017, she began work at EquiSeq in bioinformatics. Her research involved evaluating potentially pathogenic mutations discovered in whole genome sequence data from horses with symptoms of exercise intolerance. The work led to a patent filing and the development of commercial genetic tests for horses.

Kirsten was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She has a passion for animals and had a goal of one day becoming a veterinarian. She purchased her first horse, an Appendix Quarter Horse mare named Esperanza, as a teenager and went on to compete in hunter/jumper with her. When Esperanza developed symptoms of PSSM2, Kirsten became involved with the research being done at EquiSeq and discovered a passion for research that led her to applying to the University of Minnesota for her PhD.

Dr. McCue’s laboratory uses the latest molecular genetics and genomics tools to study complex genetic disease, physiological variation, and genetic diversity in equine populations. Their goal is to improve equine health through the understanding of complex genetic disease, allowing veterinarians to better predict, diagnose, and treat genetic disease, and to improve human health through the use of the horse as a biomedical model.

University of Minnesota Opens Study of Genetic Basis of Muscle Disorders in Horses

January 27, 2020

Saint Paul, Minnesota

The Equine Genetics and Genomics Laboratory at the University of Minnesota is conducting a study using 3,000+ horses to study the genetic mechanisms behind different muscle disorders in horses and how diet and exercise may impact these disorders. The results of this study will provide veterinarians, researchers, and horse owners with information on genetic and management factors that influence muscle disease and aid in developing treatment strategies for muscle disease in individual horses. This will be the largest study of muscle disease ever conducted in the horse. To make this unprecedented study happen, we need help from the owners of horses affected by muscle disease.

For more information about the study, FAQs, and detailed instructions about how to participate, please visit our study website .

To contribute to this important effort owners will to need to:

1) Provide information in our Muscle Disease in Horses survey for a horse on your property with suspected or diagnosed muscle disease. 

2) Provide the same information in the same survey for another horse of similar age and breed on your property without suspected or diagnosed muscle disease.

Here is the survey .

3) Upload photos, videos, blood test results with creatine kinase (CK) and aspartate transaminase (AST) values, muscle biopsy results, and genetic testing results for each horse from the survey to our secure file-receiving folder on 

Dropbox .

4) Mail in hay, grain, supplement, and hair root or blood samples for each horse from the survey to our laboratory.

EquiSeq adds P8 and K1 to Myopathy Panel

October 13, 2019

Fayetteville, AR

At the Al Khamsa Annual Meeting and Convention  today in Fayetteville, Arkansas, EquiSeq announced that it has added the P8 and K1 tests to the Myopathy Panel at no extra cost. EquiSeq’s Myopathy Panel, priced at $249, now includes tests for P2, P3, P4, Px, P8, and K1.

The P8 and K1 genetic variants are missense alleles of undisclosed genes of known function. P8 and K1 are known to be pathogenic as a result of EquiSeq’s internal validation process. The genes will be disclosed in a peer-reviewed scientific publication.

The P8 genetic variant is prevalent in Arabians, but has also be found in Thoroughbreds, stock breeds (Quarter Horses, Paints, and Appaloosas), Icelandics, and other breeds.

The K1 genetic variant is prevalent in Arabians, but has also been found in Morgans, American Miniatures, Haflingers, and Standardbreds. It is rare in stock breeds (Quarter Horses, Paints, and Appaloosas) and appears to be absent in Thoroughbreds.

Tests for the P8 and K1 genetic variants will be included at no extra cost in EquiSeq’s Myopathy Panel through January 31, 2020. After that, the price of the Myopathy Panel will increase to $299.

UNM Alumni Magazine Features EquiSeq

March 3, 2019


EquiSeq decodes equine genetics for better health and performance
By Leslie Linthicum

At the core of most living things is the genome, the package of genetic materials stored in long molecules of DNA. It’s what makes a person, a whale or a blob of algae grow and develop different characteristics. And it is at the core of developing more effective disease treatments and cures.

Scientists around the world have collaborated to map the human genome and continue to work in laboratories to tease out longer pieces of DNA and more complete genomes and to apply genomic discoveries to helping mankind.

UNM Professor Jeremy Edwards and retired biology Professor Paul Szauter pursue those ideals, but they also apply those same scientific questions and techniques to horses.

Partners in the Albuquerque-based startup EquiSeq, they have already patented and licensed four genetic tests that will allow breeders to screen for common but devastating muscle diseases in horses.

And they have hit on a trade secret that could revolutionize Thoroughbred racehorse breeding. It began with a simple question: What made Secretariat, the fastest horse in racing history, run so fast? The answer is that his heart was more than twice the size of a normal horse’s heart. Bigger heart, better cardiovascular performance, faster speeds.

The EquiSeq team went looking for the gene responsible for larger equine hearts and found it. A test for that gene is just one of the performance trai tests the company plans to market.

Of all the genetic puzzles to try to unlock, why horses?

The founders knew that the human genome marketplace was crowded and competitive. So instead of competing as one fish in a big pond, they decided to become the big fish in a small but lucrative pond.

“Nobody was working this area. It was wide open,” Edwards says. “And horse owners invest a lot of money in their horse. To get a Thoroughbred to age two or three, it’s a couple hundred thousand dollars. And you can make millions of dollars in stud fees. So they are looking for technology to protect that investment.”

EquiSeq turned to UNM Ph.D. student Alex Hafez (’14 BS) to run the company.

Hafez spends his time working out human problems – his doctoral research in the biomedical sciences focuses on trying to find a molecular basis for leukemia and lymphoma, which he hopes will have real-world implications in faster drug discoveries. His only experience with horses was taking a ride at Boy Scout camp.

But he also has an interest in business and completed his coursework for the Anderson School MBA. Through Anderson he met Szauter and got the opportunity of a lifetime – to start in a business at the top, as CEO, while still a student.

Szauter, a longtime biology professor, left UNM to found the company and serves as the Chief Scientific Officer. Edwards holds the unusual title of “Chief Visionary Oracle.”

“My role,” says Edwards, “is meeting with them and dreaming up new ideas and applications of technology.”

Their search for genes associated with other performance traits and diseases continues.

Center for Animal Genetics licenses new genetic tests for horses from EquiSeq

August 1, 2018


CAG GmbH – Center for Animal Genetics has signed an agreement with EquiSeq to be the exclusive testing center for their Equine Myopathy Panel in Europe. Horse owners can now test their animals without requiring an invasive blood draw or muscle biopsy.

Equine Myopathy Panel tests for mutations in three genes associated with Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy type 2 (PSSM2) and a mutation in one gene associated with Recurrent Exertional Rhabdomyolysis (RER). These mutations have been detected in affected horses of many breeds, including Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, Warmbloods, Arabians, Gaited Horses, Draft Horses, and many pony breeds. Affected horses often do not show symptoms until they have already been used for breeding or have had many years of investment in training.

Using genetic testing, owners and breeders can identify an affected horse prior to breeding or extensive training for sport. Veterinarians and other horse health professionals can make specific diagnoses and management plans. Although the diseases cannot be cured, a horse’s quality of life can be substantially improved with a correct diagnosis and the development of an appropriate management plan.

More information about the disease and tests can be found on the CAG website . Tests can be ordered and paid for through the CAG webstore . Samples sent to CAG will be tested in the in-house accredited laboratory.

“We are very pleased to be able to offer the Equine Myopathy panel to our customers,” said Melissa L. Cox, Ph.D., CAG Scientific Lead. “The diseases collectively known as PSSM2 are difficult to diagnose, because symptoms can vary in severity and age of onset. There are many horses and owners who will benefit from having correct, early diagnoses.”

EquiSeq’s Myopathy Panel, developed by researchers in New Mexico, USA, is the first commercial offering by the company, which is currently researching additional genetic variants affecting horse health and performance.

CAG GmbH is an animal genetics testing and research company specializing in horses, dogs, and cats, located in Tuebingen, Germany. It was founded in 2014 by CeGaT GmbH, a human molecular genetics testing company, and dw Sportpferde, a sport horse breeder. CAG’s research program has also identified new mutations responsible for muscle diseases in dogs.

EquiSeq Names New CEO, Signs Licensing Deal with CAG.

July 23, 2018

By Collin Krabbe – Technology reporter , Albuquerque Business First
Jul 23, 2018, 2:33pm MDT 

Albuquerque-based biotechnology company EquiSeq has been busy with two new developments: the hire of a new chief executive and a fresh licensing agreement.

Alex Hafez is the firm’s new CEO. He is pursuing a dual-degree from the University of New Mexico in business administration and biomedical science. “I think research is really interesting… [but] I’m more interested in management of biotech companies,” Hafez said. “Growing up, I’ve always found myself in positions of leadership.”

The 26-year-old Oregon native said being educated in both the business and science fields gives him a different perspective on the cost of conducting research and development for a private company. The new CEO will not earn a salary in his new position, but will rather be given an undisclosed amount of equity in the company.

Business First reported in January that the firm’s previous CEO, Lexi Palmer stepped down due to concerns about the distribution of funds in Albuquerque’s startup scene.

Hafez said his appointment comes at an exciting time for EquiSeq, which produces genetic tests for horses. The firm just entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with Germany’s Center for Animal Genetics, according to Chief Scientific Officer Paul Szauter.

“This was one odd,” Szauter said, adding that prior to the agreement, he was expecting that the company was going to have to publish their discoveries in a peer-reviewed journal before striking a deal. But that was not the case. “These guys really wanted the exclusive marketing rights [for the European market].”

Szauter declined to disclose the exact amount of the contract’s worth, but did saw that in addition to an upfront payment, EquiSeq will receive a certain percentage of sales from the Center for Animal Genetics. That amount, he said, is less than 10 percent.

“That percentage is about as much as we’d take home [after] setting up over there [in Germany],” Szauter said.

According to the American Horse Council, an association that works with federal agencies on issues impacting the equine sector, the U.S. horse industry had an economic impact of approximately $122 billion and support 1.74 million jobs.

EquiSeq is making other efforts as well. Just this week, the company is planning to file more product patents. Other potential deals are also on the horizon.

“We’re working with several breeders now,” Szauter said, confident that several licensing deals would be made once their research was published in a scientific journal.

Also on the docket is a product that will screen for the “X-factor,” or an enlarged heart, one of the main factors behind decorated racing horse Secretariat’s dominance, according to Hafez.

But Szauter, while excited for the future, is anticipating “massive pushback” from breeders not dependent on fast, accurate genetic testing but rather the hope that a stud will pass on favorable genes to its offspring.

“The horse community will fight back,” Szauter said.


March 8, 2018

Albuquerque, NM

EquiSeq today disclosed the genes affected by the P2, P3, and P4 genetic variants that are part of its Myopathy Panel. The genetic variants are in part responsible for Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy type 2 (PSSM2), also known as Myofibrillar Myopathy (MFM). The genes affected by the P2, P3, and P4 genetic variants were disclosed at a poster presentation at the 2018 BioVenture Partnership Event at the University of New Mexico on March 7.

The P2 genetic variant affects MYOT, the gene encoding myotilin. The P2 variant is a missense allele that causes a nonconservative amino acid substitution in a highly conserved position in the myotilin protein. Myotilin is an actin-binding protein that is part of the Z disc, the part of the sarcomere to which actin thin filaments are anchored. Mutations in human myotilin are the cause of Myofibrillar Myopathy 3 and Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy 1A.

The P3 genetic variant affects FLNC, the gene encoding filamin C. The P3 genetic variant is a pair of missense alleles that cause two nonconservative amino acid substitutions in highly conserved positions in the filamin C protein. Filamin C is a muscle-specific member of the filamin family, an actin-binding protein that is also part of the Z disc. Mutations in human filamin C are the cause of Myofibrillar Myopathy 5 and two forms of hereditary cardiomyopathy.

The P4 genetic variant affects MYOZ3, the gene encoding myozenin 3. The P4 genetic variant is a missense allele that causes a nonconservative amino acid substitution in a highly conserved position in the myozenin 3 protein. Myozenin 3 is a component of the Z disc that binds other Z disc proteins. It has been shown to be important for myogenesis in cultured mouse cells, but pathogenic variants in human have not yet been identified. About half of the cases of human Myofibrillar Myopathy cannot be assigned to any of the eight known genes; it is possible that variants of human MYOZ3 are the cause of some cases.

EquiSeq has not yet disclosed the specific amino acid substitutions caused by these genetic variants, and has also not disclosed any of the supporting evidence that these variants are pathogenic. These data will be presented in a future peer-reviewed scientific publication.

It is clear that there are other genetic variants associated with equine myopathy. EquiSeq’s research team is currently evaluating several newly-discovered genetic variants that may become part of its Myopathy Panel in the future.

All questions should be directed to EquiSeq’s Chief Scientific Officer, Paul Szauter, Ph.D. (

EquiSeq Offers Free Testing for Registered Thoroughbreds

December 8, 2017

EquiSeq is conducting a study of the effect of myopathy variants (P2, P3, and P4) on Thoroughbred performance.

We seek registered Thoroughbreds of any age for this study.

To have your Thoroughbred included in the study, you must be a horse owner in the United States with one or more registered Thoroughbreds.

Your Thoroughbred must be included in the Pedigree Online Thoroughbred Database.

You must be willing to submit a 10 ml EDTA blood draw at EquiSeq’s expense. We will cover all costs, including vet fees.

If your horse is selected for the study, you will receive results for P2, P3, P4, and Px at no cost to you.

If you have a horse that meets these criteria, please email Paul Szauter at

Please feel free to share this message.

Free testing for registered Thoroughbreds will end on September 1, 2018. Thoroughbred owners who have initiated contact with EquiSeq prior to that time will receive free testing.

EquiSeq CEO Lexi Palmer Wins ABQid Ski Lift Pitch Competition

February 28, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque startup EquiSeq dominated the slopes this year at the third annual ski lift pitch competition, beating out 11 other companies to win a $10,000 prize at the Taos Ski Valley on Tuesday.
The competition, organized by Albuquerque’s ABQid business accelerator, is a novel twist on pitch competitions that places competing companies on Taos Valley’s Kachina Peak Lift alongside investors and entrepreneurs who judge their business presentations while riding up the slopes.

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Podcast Release: Talking with Paul Szauter and Lexie Palmer of Equisec

December 7, 2015

Episode 2 of Startup Spot with Sonja, I interview Paul Szauter, Chief Scientific Officer, and Lexie Palmer, CEO of Equiseq.

Hear about how their business is changing after researching their original direction.

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Anatomy of a Startup

November 4, 2015

EquiSeq is developing a test to determine whether a foal has a specific gene that causes a fatal muscle malady within the first few years of life.

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Pitch Fiesta 4.0

September 17, 2015

The room was packed, the wait staff was bustling around serving the 80+ attendees. There was electricity in the air. Then the pitches started and the energy level went through the roof.

Was it because of the amazing food at Standard Diner? Was it because the judges had been drinking? Was it because of the great prizes that were annouced (over $1250)? Was it the additional prizes for Trivia answers provided by CNM? Was it the comedy team of Nyika Allen and Lisa Adkins from the New Mexico Tech council with their set of Entrepreneurial jokes? Was the the eleven brave, nervous, anxious presenters?

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ABQid Demo Day

September 4, 2015

Last Friday was the ABQid Demo Day and it was a packed house at the Epicenter. I rarely get to see these type of activities, but my wife let me use some of my paternity leave to check it out.

The energy and excitement of these events blows me away every time. The presenters, sponsors and audience create an atmosphere that makes it real easy to believe a lot of great things are happening and going to be happening in Albuquerque.

This event allowed the 10 companies from the second ABQid accelerator class to pitch their company in 6 minutes. They all did a great job on their pitches and I feel lucky to have gotten to watch this.

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ABQid Demo Day

August 28, 2015

Paul Szauter of EquiSeq pitched his company to the crowd at Epicenter on ABQid Demo Day on August 28, 2015. 

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EquiSeq CEO Szauter says learning to pitch is ‘hand-to-hand combat’

August 14, 2015

Paul Szauter says he’s getting his pitch together “to get a second date,” with some of the investors that will be in the crowd at the ABQid Demo Day.

Demo Day for ABQid is still two weeks away, but the CEOs are just now putting the final touches on their six-minute pitches for the event.

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5 StartUps You Didn’t Know Existed In Albuquerque

May 6, 2015

New Mexico Technology Council and ABQid hosted a Scrappy Startup Challenge where 11 entrepreneurs pitched their ideas in front of a panel of venture capitalists/judges. 

The catch, they only had 3 minutes to sell their product and idea. Here are the winners of the competition…

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Scrappy Startups, V2V Edition

May 4, 2015

Value Proposition: EquiSeq analyzes the genetic material of horses to provide horse owners with information on their horse’s health, performance traits, and breeding. We will reach customers by providing high-value information to veterinarians and horse breeders, the key opinion leaders in this niche.

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Albuquerque’s Szauter flips the startup pitch on its head

May 4, 2015

Your startup pitch can be used to entice employees and customers just as much as bring in venture capital and investors. It’s a better way to pitch, says Paul Szauter, the CEO of EquiSeq – one of 11 startups that will compete at Monday’s Scrappy Startup Challenge at the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque.

It’s a change in thinking for many startups whose pitch contest is usually only focused on those with the money. EquiSeq has designed a new, fast way to sequence DNA for horses. Yes, he’s tuned his company’s pitch for investors, but he’s also looking to get more out of pitch events and contests – and thinks others would benefit too.

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Albuquerque entrepreneurs pitch for “Shark Tank”-like contest

April 4, 2015

Geneticist Paul Szauter thinks he has the next big thing.

The entrepreneur and scientist says his company EquiSeq will cater to a niche market with a lot of money to burn.

“We analyze the genetic material of horses to provide horse owners with information on health, performance and breeding,” said Szauter. “Join us and together we’ll build a super horse.”

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