EP 16: Christa Lafayette | Etalon Diagnostics, Accelerating Equine Genetic Discovery

Episode 16 was not only an immersive learning experience, but we also had a blast with the vibrant Christa Lafayette, a co-founder of Etalon Diagnostics.


This episode is different from all our previous as we weren’t visiting with a barrel racing professional, but rather a scientist from Silicon Valley! Christa hails from an extensive background in Biotechnology. Christa has always been a lover of horses despite not growing up with them. There came a time recently where she realized she was at a place in her life she could in fact have a horse, and her passion blossomed from there.

What’s makes up your horse?

After going through a registration process with one of her stallions getting a DNA test, Christa was disappointed with the difficulty, insufficient information, and expense of the process. With her extensive background in science and research, she had an idea to bring forth an easier, less expensive commercially funded equine genetic research project that could combine all the currently available genetic testing (color, diseases, etc) and combine it into a simple panel. She reached out to her friend, Stanford University Professor of Genetics and Founding Director, Dr. Carlos Bustamante (who happened to also own Pasa Fino horses) if this idea could hold water. He quickly agreed to join and asked Dr. Samantha Brooks to come on board as well. Dr. Brooks at the time was an assistant professor at Cornell University responsible for the Equine Biology and Management program and is an active competitor in eventing. She now is an Associate Professor at the University of Florida in Equine Physiology.

Photo L-R: Dr. Carlos Bustamante, Chuck Adams, Dr. Scott McClure (Midwest Equine PC), Dr. Beau Whittaker (https://bveh.com/), Dr. Charlie Pinkham (https://www.pinkhamequine.com/), Dr. Samantha Brooks, Christa Lafayette, Dr. Kent Allen (https://vaequine.com/) & Erica Lundquist.

Now with a dream team assembled, it was time to research. In 2015 Christa sent off her first emails out to friends and close colleagues asking for horse hair samples for a trial run…the rest is history! Etalon now has a laboratory and storefront and offers two comprehensive DNA panels at two different price points:

Sample Collection Process

To order a DNA Sample from Etalon is easy! Simply visit their website etalondx.com/services and you can order your DNA panel from there! Be sure to use code: REVIP20 for $20 off theEtalonDx DNA MiniPanel. Check out the video below to see how to collect your horse’s DNA sample.

A helpful hint: do not put the hair in a plastic bag! It can contaminate your DNA sample. Paper will not bother it!


As always we want to thank our sponsors for the podcast Classic Equine and Martin Saddlery! Be sure to check out all the new products they have for 2020 in the new online catalog.

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