Maria M. Haugaard

PhD, DVM. Defended PhD May 2014

Research Profile:

The horse is a fascinating and academically challenging animal to work with and to me a truly magnificent creature. The area of equine physiology and internal medicine has been my primary interest since I graduated as DVM in 2007.

Since 2010 I have been enrolled as a PhD-student at the Department of Large Animal Sciences at University of Copenhagen with equine cardiology being the focus area of my research. My project is focused on cardiac electrophysiology in particular in relation to the heart disease atrial fibrillation (AF). AF is an arrhythmia characterized by rapid uncoordinated atrial contractions leading to non-rhythmic conduction of the cardiac action potential to the ventricles resulting in a chaotic ventricular contraction rate, decreased cardiac output and thereby decreased performance capacity. During my PhD I have implemented an induced short-termed AF horse model using programmed electrical stimulation methods which is the model I´m using in my research. The aim of the project is to investigate the antiarrhythmic and protective potential of different antiarrhythmic compounds in horses and to characterize changes in atrial refractory period (aERP) and AF-duration under the influence of these drugs.

My master´s thesis was in the research area of equine reproduction and was entitled “Genetic diversity amongst S. equi ssp. zooepidemicus and E. coli isolated from fossa clitoridis, vagina and uterus from mares using Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE)”. This and supplementary work led to a highly accessed publication in Veterinary Research in April 2013.



Streptococcus equi subsp. zooepidemicus isolates from equine infectious endometritis belong to a distinct genetic group. Veterinary Research 2013; 44(1):26.

Haugaard MM., Pehrson S., Præstegaard KF., Carstensen H., Madsen MF., Diness JG., Grunnet M., Buhl R. and Jespersen T. Electrophysiologic effects of flecainide in horses with induced atrial fibrillation (AF). BMI day 2013, Panum Institute, University of Copenhagen (Poster).


Haugaard M, Flethøj M, Pedersen PJ. Hjertets betydning for sportshesten - en årsag til nedsat præstation, Ridehesten Hippologisk, May 2012: 28-34 (article in Danish).


Atrieflimmer og elektrofysiologi hos heste. Kort beskrivelse af atrieflimmer hos hest og et nystartet ph.d-projekt på LIFE. Dansk Veterinær Tidsskrift (DVT), 12, 2011, 28-31.(Paper in Danish).

Haugaard MM., Jespersen T. and Buhl R. Cardiac electrophysiology of the horse. Characterization of the repolarization reserve in healthy horses and in horses suffering from atrial fibrillation. Dacra Summermeeting 2011 (Poster).

Haugaard MM., Jespersen T. and Buhl R. Cardiac electrophysiology of the horse. A characterization of the cardiac repolarization in the equine heart - in healthy horses and in horses suffering from atrial fibrillation. Cardiovascular Physiology Course, Sandbjerg August 2011.

Haugaard MM. Når hjertet er ude af trit - klinisk relevante arytmier hos hest. Abildgaard Symposium 2011 (Proceedings).


Genetisk fingerprintning af Streptococcus equi subsp. zooepidemicus isoleret fra hoppens kønsorganer ved brug af Pulsed Field gel Electrophoresis (PFGE). Dansk Veterinær Tidsskrift (DVT), October 2010, nr. 20, 18-23.(Paper in Danish).