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Our Research

Science has the power to change the world

As the global leader in supporting scientific research that advances veterinary medicine, Morris Animal Foundation has invested more than $100 million toward more than 2,400 studies to improve the health and well-being of dogs, cats, horses, llamas/alpacas and wildlife.

At any given time, Morris Animal Foundation is managing more than 200 active studies. Each year, we also fund about 30 veterinary student scholar projects. Search our health study database by species or area of study to learn more about research that will make a true difference in the lives of animals—today and tomorrow.

To sponsor a study, please contact a member of our sponsorship team for the most up-to-date status on our research projects at or call 800.243.2345. 

Search Results

Accelerating treatment discovery for complex feline viruses

Researchers will use DNA sequencing technology to better understand biological mechanisms that help cats fight off viral infections; highly applicable for the development of the next generation of vaccines.

Principal Investigator: Paul R Hess, DVM, PhD, North Carolina State University


Study ID: D17FE-031

Analyzing Factors Leading to Heart Disease

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common type of heart disease in cats. A common complication of this disease is the development of blood clots that dislodge from inside the heart and block blood flow in the large arteries. These clots cause severe pain, nerve and muscle damage, and often lead to death. Current therapies are only minimally effective. This study will analyze the activation of blood platelets in cats with HCM and compare these data with the presence of heart disease and its severity. The goal is to use this information to determine how to detect HCM early in the disease, so it can be better treated.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Fern Tablin, University of California/Davis

Sponsors: Co-sponsor: Hill's Pet Nutrition in honor of Dr. Rachel Boltz, 2008 Thank Your Vet for a Healthy Pet® winner, and in memory of Sam

Study ID: D08FE-056

Analyzing Gene Therapy for Treating Anemia

Kidney failure is a common problem in aging cats, and chronic anemia is often a secondary result. Current state-of-the art treatments for kidney failure–associated anemia are inadequate. This study assesses the safety and efficacy of a novel gene therapy system aimed at resolving anemia and improving other associated symptoms in cats.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Brian G. Murphy, University of California–Davis, First Award


Study ID: D13FE-302

Analyzing Mutations in the Virus that Causes Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)

Researchers will identify mutations in the virus that causes feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), allowing for improved diagnosis and treatment of this fatal infectious disease in cats.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Gary R. Whittaker, Cornell University


Study ID: D15FE-028

Analyzing Mutations in the Virus that Causes Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)

Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is fatal to domestic cats and is especially devastating to young cats in catteries or shelters. The disease is difficult to diagnose, and there are currently no effective treatments. Researchers will identify mutations in the FIP virus and determine how these mutations help the virus invade critical cells of the immune system, thus allowing it to spread throughout the cat’s body. Identification of mutations is a critical step toward the development of a diagnostic test and preventive drugs for FIP.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Gary R. Whittaker, Cornell University


Study ID: D15FE-028

Assessing chronic pain in osteoarthritic cats to improve treatments

Humans and dogs with osteoarthritis often experience central sensitization, a state of increased and enhanced pain central to driving chronic pain. Quantifying various aspects of the pain state helps clinicians and veterinarians gauge treatment successes and failures. Unlike in dogs, no approved therapies for effectively treating chronic pain exist for cats, due in part to the difficulty in measuring pain in these often stoic animals. Researchers will investigate the use of two new methods, successfully used in other species, to objectively detect and measure central sensitization associated with degenerative joint disease in cats. Being able to measure central sensitization opens up tremendous opportunities for developing better treatment strategies, ultimately improving the quality of life for thousands of cats suffering with chronic joint pain.

Principal Investigator: B. Duncan X. Lascelles, BVSc, PhD, MRCVS, North Carolina State University


Study ID: D17FE-401

Assessing Ways to Prevent Viral Transmission to Kittens

Feline infectious peritonitis, a fatal disease of cats, is caused by a mutant form of a common cat virus, feline enteric coronavirus (FECV). This study assesses the viral presence and measures antibody levels of FECV in female cats and their newborn kittens. Results may lead to modification of current methods for early weaning and isolation of kittens to prevent viral transmission from their mothers.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Colleen A. Lambo, Zoological Society of Cincinnati, Pilot Study


Study ID: D13FE-804

Categorizing Mammary Tumors to Provide Better Prognostic Assessment

Mammary tumors are the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in cats. These tumors share many similarities with human breast cancers, and as in people, mammary cancers in cats vary greatly in outcome and response to therapy. Unlike human medicine, however, veterinary medicine has very little available information to help guide treatment in feline patients. Researchers will investigate whether highly aggressive feline mammary cancers that have a poor prognosis show different patterns of DNA defects compared with tumors having a more favorable outlook. The ability to better categorize feline mammary tumors will help veterinarians provide a more comprehensive diagnosis and prognostic assessment. This would allow owners and veterinarians to optimize clinical care of cats diagnosed with mammary cancer.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Rachael Thomas, North Carolina State University


Study ID: D14FE-008

Comparing Cat Breeds to Identify Genetic Reasons for Bone Disease

Scottish Fold and American Curl cat breeds are easily identified by their unusual ears, which are an inherited trait. Although Scottish Folds have forward-folding ears, American Curls have ears that curl toward the center of the back of the skull. In American Curls, only the ear cartilage is malformed, whereas Scottish Folds can suffer from bone malformations and crippling arthritis that greatly affects their long-term quality of life. Based on existing pedigree analyses, two independent gene mutations appear responsible for the folded ear. it is possible that both mutations have occurred in the same gene or in genes belonging to the same signaling pathway. researchers will genotype cats from both breeds and identify the genes and chromosomal regions responsible for the folded-ear traits. The outcome of this study is of particular importance in understanding cartilage physiology, and it could provide new information regarding the much broader problem of osteoarthritis in these cats.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Bianca Haase, University of Sydney, Australia


Study ID: D12FE-021

Determining the Effectiveness of Stem Cell Therapy in Cats

Mesnechymal stem cells (MSCs) show promise for treating a variety of chronic inflammtory diseases in cats. This study identifies the in vitro and in vivo effects of feline MSC treatment on the immune system and evaluates the safety and effectiveness of its use in cats with idiopathic cystitis or inflammation.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Maciej Parys, Michigan State University, Fellowship Training


Study ID: D13FE-405

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