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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 sponsorship@MorrisAnimalFoundation.org or call 800.243.2345. 

Search Results

Determining the Effects of Constant Light on the Feline Immune System

All organisms exhibit daily rhythms in activity, metabolism, immune responsiveness and endocrine secretion that are critical for maintaining health. Disruptions in an animal’s internal rhythms, which occur in intensive care settings (because of constant light) or through travel across time zones (because of jet lag), can have a significant negative impact on an animal’s health. Disturbed biological rhythms result in suppressed immunity, an increased rate of mortality and altered endocrine function. The lead researcher theorizes that cats housed in constant light conditions will have altered immune, endocrine and metabolic parameters compared with cats housed in a setting that provides a light/dark cycle. The data collected from this study could provide critical information for improving the health of cats in intensive care settings and furthering understanding of feline immunity and health.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Megan M. Mahoney, University of Illinois, First Award Grant

Sponsors:

Study ID: D10FE-306

Determining the Long-Term Effects of a Treatment for Chronic Herpesvirus in Cats

Keratitis and conjunctivitis are common ophthalmic conditions that affect many cats. Infection with feline herpesvirus-1 is commonly diagnosed as the cause of these eye problems. Because the virus remains in affected cats for life, they often have recurring infections or develop ocular disease that requires treatment. The antiviral drug cidofovir has been shown to be an effective treatment in cats with clinical signs of acute herpesvirus infection; however, the effects of longer-term use in cats with chronic disease have not been investigated. The long-term application of this drug is known to cause adverse effects in humans and other species. Researchers will evaluate the efficacy and safety of treating cats with chronic herpesvirus infection with topical cidofovir.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Cynthia C. Powell, Colorado State University

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Study ID: D14FE-028

Determining the Prevalence of a New Herpesvirus and Its Potential Link to Feline Cancers

In a previous pilot study, researchers discovered a new strain of feline herpesvirus that may be linked to lymphoma. In this study, they will develop blood tests for detecting the new herpesvirus in cats. They will then use these tests to determine the prevalence of this virus in cats in the United States and to evaluate potential risk factors for infection. They will also assess whether infection with this herpesvirus is associated with common cancers of cats. The study will provide critical information about this newly discovered potential disease agent and has the potential to lead to new vaccines or treatments for currently untreatable conditions in cats.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ryan M. Troyer, Colorado State University, First Award Grant

Sponsors:

Study ID: D14FE-301

Developing a New Model to Study Respiratory Viruses in Cats

Researchers will develop a novel cell culture model that will be used to test vaccination and therapeutic approaches to protect cats from common respiratory viruses, such as feline herpesvirus.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Gisela Soboll Hussey, Michigan State University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D15FE-004

Developing a New Model to Study Respiratory Viruses in Cats

Feline herpesvirus type 1 (FHV1) causes about 50 percent of diagnosed viral respiratory tract disease in cats. It is particularly problematic in shelters, where animals are housed closely together and the virus spreads quickly. Researchers will develop a cell culture system to help study feline immune responses to common respiratory viruses, including FHV1. This cell culture system will also be used to test a novel vaccination approach that has the potential to counter the immune suppression cats often have following FHV1 infection. Such a vaccine may protect these animals from future bouts of respiratory illness. 

Principal Investigator: Dr. Paulo Steagall, University of Montreal, Canada

Sponsors:

Study ID: D15FE-007

Developing a screening test for heart disease in cats

Summary: This study investigates ways to improve early detection of cardiomyopathy (heart disease) by primary care veterinarians in pet cats. 

Description: Cardiomyopathy, a common heart disease in cats, often goes undiagnosed until a cat develops heart failure or blood clots, at which point the disease is usually difficult to treat. Current methods of detection aren’t reliable, so it can be difficult to determine when a cat is at risk. Researchers will develop and test a simple screening method that veterinarians could use in their clinics to determine whether a cat has heart disease and whether it should receive a more in-depth evaluation by a veterinary cardiologist. Early identification of cardiac disease will benefit cats and their owners and may lead to better therapeutic approaches.  

Principal Investigator: Dr. Elizabeth A. Rozanski, Tufts University

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Developing a vaccine to help prevent feline infectious peritonitis

Feline infectious peritonitis is a uniformly fatal disease of cats. FIP is caused by feline infectious peritonitis virus by mutation from feline enteric coronavirus. FECV is highly prevalent in cats worldwide and usually causes only mild or subclinical infection. About 5 to 10 percent of FECV-infected cats will develop FIP. Young cats, particularly those housed with large numbers of other cats, such as in catteries, shelters or rescue groups, are at increased risk for developing the disease. There is no effective treatment for FIP, and despite intensive research efforts, development of an effective FIP vaccine so far has been unsuccessful. Looking for an alternative approach, researchers will explore the efficacy of a novel, noninvasive vaccination strategy in cats against feline enteric coronavirus which, in turn, will help prevent the development of FIP in cats.

Principal Investigator: Herman Egberink, DVM, PhD, Utrecht University

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Study ID: D16FE-510

Developing Antiviral Therapeutics for Feline Infectious Peritonitis and Calicivirus Infection

Feline infectious peritonitis and virulent, systemic feline calicivirus infection are life-threatening diseases for which there are no specific drug treatments. The investigators previously identified inhibitors that have broad-spectrum antiviral activities against these feline viruses. In this study, the researchers will identify additional potent protease inhibitors and characterize them to determine which would be the best inhibitors in cats. They will also investigate the roles of a specific cellular protein involved in propagation of feline calicivirus. This work will provide insight into the development of therapies for these two viruses.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Yunjeong Kim, Kansas State University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D14FE-012

Developing diagnostic tools for feline infectious peritonitis

Feline infectious peritonitis is a fatal disease of cats that can arise following infection with feline enteric coronavirus. FIP is a distressing disease for both cat owners and veterinarians, because diagnosis often is difficult and no effective treatment exists. Using biosamples collected over many years from cats with and without FIP, researchers will investigate the presence of two mutations in a viral protein previously shown to be FIP-specific. The results will determine whether the presence of these mutations are reliable indicators of the presence of FIP in cats – valuable information for the development of accurate diagnostic tests for FIP.

Principal Investigator:

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Developing Tests for Viruses that Cause Stomach Distress in Cats

Astroviruses are suspected to cause sickness in cats, especially young cats in shelters. This study looks for novel astroviruses in cats in order to identify associations between blood concentrations of the viruses and clinical signs, such as diarrhea, and to develop more rapid and inexpensive testing for these viruses. These tools will help veterinarians better diagnose and manage astrovirus infections in cats.

Principal Investigator: Dr. James F. X. Wellehan, University of Florida

Sponsors:

Study ID: D13FE-009

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