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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

Searching for Genetic Risk Factors for Equine Metabolic Syndrome

Equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) is a complex disease, influenced by multiple genetic and metabolic factors. In a previously funded Morris Animal Foundation study, researchers identified more than 180 regions in the horse genome containing genes associated with EMS. In this study, the team will analyze circulating metabolites (substances essential to metabolism and metabolic processes, such as glucose) and gene expression data. Combined analyses will help the team prioritize genetic regions of interest, narrow down the search for candidate genes, and identify risk markers for EMS. Understanding genetic risk factors for EMS will help veterinarians identify animals that can benefit most from management changes and early therapeutic intervention.

Principal Investigator: Molly E. McCue, DVM, PhD, University of Minnesota

Sponsors:

Study ID: D17EQ-019

Searching for Genetic Risk Factors for Equine Metabolic Syndrome

Equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) is a complex disease, influenced by multiple genetic and metabolic factors. In a previously funded Morris Animal Foundation study, researchers identified more than 180 regions in the horse genome containing genes associated with EMS. In this study, the research fellow will help the team analyze circulating metabolites (substances essential to metabolism and metabolic processes such as glucose) and gene expression data. Combined analyses will help prioritize genetic regions of interest, narrow down the search for candidate genes, and identify risk markers for EMS. Understanding genetic risk factors for EMS will help veterinarians identify animals that can benefit most from management changes and early therapeutic intervention.

Principal Investigator: Elaine Norton, DVM, University of Minnesota

Sponsors:

Study ID: D17EQ-402

Searching for the Genetic Mutations Associated with Tying Up in Horses

Recurrent exertional rhabdomyolysis (RER), commonly known as tying up, is a musculoskeletal disorder that affects the health and performance of 5 to 10 percent of Thoroughbred and Standardbred horses. Horses with this condition experience painful cramping and muscle cell damage after partaking in mild to moderate exercise. Researchers hope to identify genes and genetic mutations that may increase risk of tying up in Thoroughbred and Standardbred horses. The information they learn would help identify susceptible horses and could be used to decrease the incidence of this painful muscle disorder through informed breeding practices.

Principal Investigator: Dr. James R. Mickelson, University of Minnesota

Sponsors:

Study ID: D15EQ-031

The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study

Summary: Morris Animal Foundation’s Golden Retriever Lifetime Study will help identify major nutritional, genetic and environmental risk factors for cancer and other important diseases in dogs.

Description: Morris Animal Foundation’s Golden Retriever Lifetime Study – the largest prospective, longitudinal study in veterinary medicine in the United States – is following a cohort of more than 3,000 purebred golden retrievers throughout their lifetime. The Foundation, with the help of veterinarians and dog owners, is collecting annual health, diet, environmental and behavior data on enrolled dogs. Results will provide comprehensive data on diseases and other health challenges in dogs, including cancer. 

Principal Investigator:

Sponsors:

Study ID: D10CLP-001

Understanding Genes That Cause Disease

The first-generation alpaca genome map and the sequence of the alpaca genome are completed. This study will expand the utility of these tools by mapping 500 evolutionarily conserved genes to the alpaca chromosomes. Researchers will also compare the alpaca genome map to other mammalian genome maps to help transfer information from the genomes of human and other well-studied species to the alpaca genome. This work will provide a foundation for the discovery of genes associated with congenital disorders, genetic diseases and other traits, which will lead to the development of valuable tools for breeders to improve the health and welfare of alpacas.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Terje Raudsepp, Texas A&M University

Sponsors: Co-sponsors: Alpaca Research Foundation, Inc.; Linda Taylor, In Memory of Rusty; Greater Appalachian Llama & Alpaca Association (GALA)

Study ID: D14LA-004

Understanding the Genetic Basis for Urinary Stones

Urinary stones are common in dogs, especially in Miniature Schnauzers, which are 10 to 20 times more at risk than other breeds. Surgical removal of the stones is usually the only cure for this painful disease. Preventive measures are lacking and recurrence rates are high. Pedigree analysis of Miniature Schnauzers enrolled in a previous pilot study revealed substantial familial associations for urinary stones and high rates of the disease independent of diet or environment. These previous findings suggest that there may be an underlying genetic basis for urinary stones. the current study will evaluate the DNA from Miniature Schnauzers and seven other breeds at high risk for developing urinary stones: Yorkshire Terriers, Lhasa Apsos, Bichon Frises, Shih Tzus, Pomeranians, Malteses and Miniature Poodles. Researchers from the university minnesota hope to identify a chromosome area associated with the disease trait with the goal of developing a genetic screening test for the disease. Results from this study will also help veterinarians select specific drugs or diets to prevent urinary stones in the breeds most prone.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ned Patterson, University of Minnesota

Sponsors: Co-sponsor: Orthopedic Foundation for Animals; Bichon Frise Club of America; Versatility in Poodles

Study ID: D12CA-031

Understanding the Genetic Role miRNAs Play in Cancer

Cancer is a leading cause of death in cats. Understanding the genetic basis of cancer is crucial for improving diagnosis, treatment and prevention. Small non–protein-coding RNAs, called microRNAs (miRNAs), have recently been implicated as having a major role in gene regulation and cancer development (as well as development of many other diseases) in humans. These miRNAs have widespread effects on gene regulation and expression and have been shown to have great potential for treatment and diagnosis. Researchers will identify feline miRNAs using genome-wide computational analyses and will sequence the expressed miRNAs using next-generation (deep) DNA-sequencing technology. This study will help improve understanding of the role miRNAs  play in cat health.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Thomas J. Rosol, Ohio State University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D12FE-015

Understanding the Role of Genetics in Feline Heart Disease

Feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common cause of heart disease in adult cats. Affected cats are at risk of sudden death, breathing difficulties or blood clots. Increasingly, feline HCM is noted to be inherited, and examples have been reported in the Maine Coon, Ragdoll, Sphynx, Siberian and Norwegian Forest Cat breeds, among others. Using a new genetic tool called a SNP chip, researchers will perform a genome-wide association to identify a genetic marker to HCM in the Sphynx breed. The SNP chips are a type of DNA chip that contain single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), genetic footprints found in DNA, to identify disease causing mutations. The identification of a genetic cause for HCM in the Sphynx can be used to reduce the prevalence of this disease in this breed, and it is also very likely to provide information on this disease in many other breeds of cats.

 

Principal Investigator: Dr. Kathryn M. Meurs, Washington State University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D12FE-515

Unravelling genetic mechanisms associated with corneal eye disorder in Friesian horses

Summary: Researchers will investigate a genetic predisposition in Friesian horses to an eye disorder, bilateral corneal stromal loss, that can cause vision loss.

Description: Horses with bilateral corneal stromal loss develop lesions on approximately the same location of the cornea, or outer surface, on both eyes. While these lesions typically respond well to surgical repair, if left untreated, horses are at-risk for cornea rupture and vision loss. Researchers will investigate suspected genetic mechanisms associated with BCSL in Friesian horses, a breed with an increased risk for this eye disorder. Identifying genes involved in disease development is a critical first step toward developing a screening test to improve diagnosis and lower disease incidence in Friesian horses.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Rebecca R Bellone, University of California/Davis

Sponsors:

Study ID:

Using a Novel Approach to Understand Genetic Factors of Renal Disease

Reflux nephropathy is a condition in which the kidneys are damaged by the backward flow of urine into the kidney. Renal failure is a relatively common health problem in cats, but scientists recently recognized an inherited type of reflux nephropathy in Ragdolls. The affected cats have a failure to thrive and are often euthanized before the age of 6 years. Researchers from the University of Helsinki will use a genome-wide association-mapping approach with feline single nucleotide polymorphism gene chip arrays to identify the genetic background of reflux nephropathy in Ragdolls. The identification of the causative gene would enable the development of a DNA test for breeding purposes to eradicate the disease from the breed and to test its possible presence in other breeds with renal failures.

 

Principal Investigator: Dr. Hannes Lohi, University of Helsinki, Finland

Sponsors:

Study ID: D12FE-511

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