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Morris Animal Foundation Awards Two Fellowships to Promote Feline Health Research

Media Contact:

Tina M. Martinez
tmartinez@morrisanimalfoundation.org
800.243.2345, ext. 218

Fellows Fill Huge Need for More Research on Feline Health Issues

May 19, 2010

DENVER—Morris Animal Foundation granted Amanda Feline Fellowships to Dr. Jessica Quimby at Colorado State University and Dr. Smitha Pillai at the Ohio State University. Dr. Quimby will study chronic kidney disease therapy and Dr. Pillai will study oral cancer treatment. Each will receive $100,000 for her two-year fellowship.

First awarded in 2007, these fellowships—fully funded by an anonymous cat lover—honor a beloved cat, Amanda, who died at age 15. The donor knew there was a huge need for more health research to look at feline issues, and she wanted to encourage veterinarians and scientists to pursue this area of study. The fellowships are part of the Foundation's Happy Healthy Cat Campaign to increase funding for feline health research.

After practicing in a feline-exclusive clinic, Dr. Quimby became frustrated by the lack of information about cat health, so she decided to help cats in another way. Having completed a residency in internal medicine, she is now a PhD student at Colorado State University, focusing her energies on chronic kidney disease, one of the most common diseases in aging cats. She also works in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State.

"With this fellowship, I hope to discover why cats develop chronic kidney disease and to develop stem cell therapy for cats suffering from it," said Dr. Quimby.

Dr. Pillai is currently working as a postdoctoral fellow in feline cancer pathogenesis and treatment at the Ohio State University. She is examining a potential treatment for feline oral squamous cell carcinoma, a common and severely debilitating oral tumor that invades and destroys the jaw bones. She hopes the drug combination she is studying will reduce tumor growth and bone invasion in cats suffering from this painful oral cancer.

"This training experience will enable me to make significant contributions to the biomedical research community, specifically to animal patients suffering from invasive bone cancer," Dr. Pillai said.

Despite the cat's status as America's No. 1 pet—there are more than 82 million in U.S. homes—cats receive less veterinary care and research than dogs, and too few scientists are studying feline health issues. Morris Animal Foundation launched the Happy Healthy Cat Campaign in 2008 to raise pet-owner awareness of feline health issues and to increase funding for feline health research and scientist training.

For more information or to support the Happy Healthy Cat Campaign, visit www.research4cats.org. Keep up to date with Morris Animal Foundation on Facebook at "Morris Animal Foundation" and Twitter at "Morris_Animal."

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