Sian Durward-Akhurst, BVMS, MS, PhD

Assistant Professor, Large Animal Cardiology, Internal Medicine, Veterinary Clinical Sciences


Large Animal Internal Medicine Residency, University of Minnesota

BVMS, University of Glasgow

PhD, University of Minnesota

MS, University of Minnesota


Junior Clinical Training Fellow, 2010, Royal Veterinary College

Licensures and Certifications

Diplomate ACVIM - Large Animal Internal Medicine

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Dr. Sian Durward-Akhurst is an Assistant Professor of Genetics, Genomics, and Large and Internal Medicine. Her primary interests include cardiovascular disorders, in particular cardiac arrhythmia's that contribute to sudden cardiac death. Her research focuses on understanding the genetic and electrophysiologic mechanisms of these arrhythmias in horses. She also investigated other detrimental diseases in horses that are similar to simple inherited diseases in humans.

Awards & recognition

  • Morris Animal Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellow
  • The Elaine and Bertram Klein Development Award
  • The EQUUS Foundation Research Fellow
  • NIH T32 Comparative Medicine and Pathology Fellow
  • ACVIM Foundation Advanced Clinical Research Training Fellow


Research summary/interests

  • Genetic diseases
  • Cardiovascular disease - in particular arrhythmia's in racehorses
  • Sudden cardiac death
  • Precision medicine
  • Translational research - in particular naturally occurring animal models of human disease, with the goal of improving the diagnosis and management of these diseases in both human and animal patients

Research funding grants

  • 2021 - 2022, Minnesota Racing Commission, Improved identification of racehorses at risk of arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death, role: PI
  • 2021 - 2023, Grayson Jockey Club Foundation, Predicting exercise associated arrhythmias with resting ECGs, role: co-I
  • 2020 - 2021, Minnesota Racing Commission, Identification and validation of mutations responsible for cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death in Thoroughbred racehorses, role: PI
  • 2020 - 2021, Morris Animal Foundation, Identification and Validation of alleles responsible for cardiac arrhythmias including atrial fibrillation, role: PI


* Indicates first author a mentored student

  • Hisey EA, Hermans H, Lounsberry Z, Avila F, Knickelbein K, Durward-Akhurst SA, McCue ME, Kalbfleisch T, Lassaline ME, Back W, Bellone RR. (2020). Whole genome sequencing identified a 16 kilobase deletion on ECA13 associated with distichiasis in Friesian horses. BMC Genomics. 21, 848
  • *Welch Huston B, Durward-Akhurst SA, Norton EM,Ellingson L, Rendahl AR, McCue ME (2020). Comparison between a smartphone electrocardiograph and standard three-lead base apex electrocardiography in healthy horses. Vet Rec. Oct 31;187(9):e70. doi: 10.1136/vr.105759.
  • Gorenberg EB, Johnson AL, Magdesian GK, Bertin FR, Costa LRR, Theelen MJP, Durward-Akhurst SA, Cruz Villagran C, Carslake H, Frank N, Tomlinson JE(2019) Diagnosis and Treatment of Confirmed and Suspected Primary Hyperparathyroidism in Equids: 17 cases (1999-2016) Equine Vet. J. Apr. doi: 10.1111/evj.13120
  • Durward-Akhurst SA, Schultz NE, Norton EM, Rendahl AK, Besselink H, Behnisch P, Geor RJ, Mickelson JR, McCue ME (2019) Associations between endocrine disrupting chemicals and equine metabolic syndrome phenotypes. Chemosphere 218:652-661.
  • Finno CJ, Gianino G, Perumbakkam S, Williams Z, Bordbari MH, Gardner KL, Burns E, Peng S, Durward-Akhurst SA, Valberg SJ (2018) A mutation in MYH1 is associated with susceptibility to immune-mediated myositis in Quarter Horses. Skeletal Muscle 8 (1) 7.
  • Durward-Akhurst SA, Valberg SJ (2018) Immune-mediated muscle diseases of the horse. Vet Pathol 55 (1) 68-75.
  • Durward-Akhurst SA, Finno CJ, Barnes N, Shivers J, Guo LT, Shelton GD, Valberg SJ (2016) Major histocompatibility complex I and II expression and lymphocytic subtypes in muscle of horses with immune-mediated myositis. J Vet Intern Med 30 (4) 1313-1321.
  • Durward-Akhurst SA, Mair TS, Boston R, Dunkel B (2013) A comparison of two antimicrobial regimens on the prevalence of incisional infections after colic surgery. Vet Record 172 (11) 287-290.
  • Naylor RJ, Durward-Akhurst SA (2012) Use of the Accutrend Plus point-of-care monitor for blood triglyceride measurement in the horse. Vet Record 170 (9) 228-229.


Teaching areas

  • Equine problems
  • Translational animal models


Clinical interests

  • Cardiology
  • Neonatology
  • Renal disease
  • Neuromuscular disease