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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

Controlling itch and inflammation in dogs with atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis, a chronic, relapsing allergic skin disease, affects about 10 percent of all dogs. Even with treatment, atopic dogs can suffer from lifelong itching and inflammation which can lead to self-trauma.  Nearly nothing is known about the mechanisms of itch in the dog, making it difficult to develop new therapies. Researchers will investigate the itch-inducing role of a small protein released in response to inflammation. Recent studies have shown that this protein plays a central role in the initiation and maintenance of atopic dermatitis in other species and may be a valuable, new therapy target to control symptoms of itch and inflammation in atopic dogs.

Principal Investigator: Wolfgang Baeumer, DrMedVet, North Carolina State University

Sponsors: Rex and Nelle Jackson Foundation, Pekingese Club of America, Newfoundland Club of America Charitable Trust

Study ID: D16CA-048

Determining the prognostic value of identifying genetic mutations in dogs with lymphoma

In human patients diagnosed with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, evaluation of the MYC gene for genetic alterations is considered a critical component of patient management. MYC gene alterations in people are associated with shorter remission times. Identifying high-risk patients allows these individuals to receive more aggressive therapy earlier in their disease process. In this study, researchers will screen archived samples collected from dogs with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and determine if MYC gene aberrations correlate with poor prognosis. Findings will help oncologists select the most appropriate and effective treatment to extend the duration and improve quality of life for their canine cancer patients.

Principal Investigator: Matthew Breen, PhD, North Carolina State University

Sponsors: Newfoundland Club of America Charitable Trust

Study ID: D16CA-023

Improving seizure monitoring in dogs with epilepsy

Epilepsy is a common problem in dogs that typically requires lifelong medical attention. However, the majority of dogs do not become seizure-free with treatment, and a consistent worry for caregivers is the risk of seizures occurring when a dog is alone.  Researchers will evaluate the use of a commercially available, collar-mounted accelerometer to reliably detect seizure activity in epileptic dogs. The availability of an easily worn, inexpensive device to detect seizures will provide valuable data to help veterinarians make informed treatment adjustments, and reduce the risk of injury or death from unobserved seizures for their canine patients.

Principal Investigator: Karen R. Muñana, DVM, North Carolina State University


Study ID: D16CA-025

ACC Cancer Biology Program

The ACC Cancer Biology Program is a multidepartmental and multicollege program designed to train scientists whose focus is on the translation of basic science into the clinical areas of cancer causation and prevention, diagnostics, therapeutics and risk assessment. Admittance to the program is highly competitive and targets applicants with degrees in veterinary medicine who have an interest in obtaining a Ph.D. and conducting research as clinical scientists.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Stephen J. Withrow, Colorado State University


Study ID: D05CA-500

Advancing Knowledge of the Molecular Mechanisms of Mast Cell Tumors

Mast cell tumors account for up to 20 percent of all skin cancers in dogs. The research fellow hopes to identify the underlying molecular mechanisms of mast cell tumor and to narrow down the genomic regions that are important in the initiation and progression of this cancer. Better understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms of mast cell tumors will provide diagnostic, prognostic or therapeutic benefits for dogs with the disease. This Fellowship Training Grant will also provide the researcher with the experience necessary to succeed in a career in veterinary molecular oncology. The fellow’s ultimate goal is to discover better management of animal cancers by conducting an independent clinical research program using molecular oncology approaches.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Hiroyuki Mochizuki, North Carolina State University, Fellowship Training Grant


Study ID: D14CA-401

Alternative and Complementary Treatments for Osteoarthritis

An estimated 20 percent of adult dogs suffer from osteoarthritis. Many drug therapies are available, but some dogs do not respond to these medications or cannot tolerate them. As a result, alternative and complementary treatments are increasingly recommended, although there is little or no evidence that they work in dogs. This research will evaluate complementary and alternative treatments for chronic osteoarthritis in dogs, including transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, low-level laser therapy and acupuncture. This study will provide scientific proof as to whether these treatments are effective and should be used in dogs.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Darryl L. Millis, University of Tennessee

Sponsors: Co-sponsors: Dr. Mary Carlson; Doreen Jakubcak and Michael Malchow; Patricia Bennett Hoffman; Dr. Amy Hunkeler; Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America; Ms. Ann Campbell; Debbie Davenport and Martin Drey

Study ID: D08CA-061

Analyzing Causes of Behavioral Changes in Belgian Malinois

Some Belgian Malinois may experience seizures and unpredictable behavioral changes, including eyes glazing over, a lack of response to environmental stimuli and a loss of behavioral inhibition characterized by such behaviors as owner-directed biting. Dogs with severe behavioral changes may be euthanized because of their threat to humans and other dogs. the researchers hope to identify a mutation in a neurotransmitter-related gene that may play an important role in seizures and extreme behaviors. identifying dogs with this mutation would allow breeders to select against these traits and carefully target homes for puppies according to buyer background and experience. This breed is increasingly used in working environments that involve substantial interaction with the public, so a genetic test would provide an objective genetic measure that is strongly predictive of health and behavioral issues at early ages.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Anita M. Oberbauer, University of California–Davis


Study ID: D12CA-054

Assessing a Diagnostic Tool for Eye Diseases

This study assesses the capabilities of a camera adapter used to diagnose and treat human eye diseases to determine how well it performs a diagnostic technique in canine eyes. Validation of this new technology could enhance diagnostic and therapeutic capabilities, thereby improving the outcome for dogs with eye diseases.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Chris G. Pirie, Tufts University, Pilot Study


Study ID: D13CA-802

Assessing How a Protein Helps Hemangiosarcoma Cells Survive

Canine hemangiosarcoma is a common and highly fatal cancer in dogs. Recent evidence suggests that populations of cancer stem cells give rise to tumors, promote tumor growth and are the main culprits behind drug resistance and disease recurrence. This study examines how a protein expressed by stem cells contributes to the maintenance and survival of hemangiosarcoma stem cells.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Erin B. Dickerson, University of Minnesota

Sponsors: Co-sponsors: Rainier Agility Team; Flat-Coated Retriever Foundation; Anonymous; Portuguese Water Dog Foundation

Study ID: D13CA-062

Assessing Immune Stimulation as a Potential Therapy for Osteosarcoma

Osteosarcoma is the most common bone cancer in dogs. Researchers will evaluate a specific form of immune stimulation that uses toll-like receptors. Stimulating these receptors in immune cells usually enhances anticancer immunity; however, stimulating these receptors in cancer cells could accelerate cancer progression. Thus, stimulating toll-like receptors can provide both positive (immune stimulation) and negative (osteosarcoma progression) effects. This balance has not been thoroughly evaluated in dogs with osteosarcoma, so the researchers will study the biological effects of toll-like receptors in canine osteosarcoma to determine this therapy’s potential use in dogs diagnosed with osteosarcoma.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Timothy M. Fan, University of Illinois


Study ID: D14CA-035

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