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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 Mutations Responsible for Heart Disease in Cats

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common form of heart disease diagnosed in cats. Researchers will perform genetic analysis to look for a genetic cause for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in several cat breeds, including the Sphynx, Bengal, Siberian, British Shorthair and Norwegian Forest Cat. Identification of causative genetic mutations for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy will allow for early detection and genetic screening to reduce the prevalence of this disease. Information gained from this study will also help researchers improve treatments and clinical management strategies for cats with heart disease. 

Principal Investigator: Dr. Kathryn M. Meurs, North Carolina State University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D15FE-009

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

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

Using Genomic Technologies to Discover Causes of Feline Disease

With many feline infectious diseases, it is difficult to identify the specific pathogen involved. In a previous pilot study funded by Morris Animal Foundation, the research team developed a genetic assay that detected and characterized multiple feline pathogens. In this study they will evaluate the test’s application as a diagnostic method by using it to identify the pathogens associated with three common feline diseases: lymphoma, leukemia and chronic anemia. Modern genomic technologies such as this type of test have revolutionized human medicine but are still underused tools in veterinary medicine. The researcher’s goal is to discover new causes of feline disease, which could lead to better diagnostic tests, therapies or vaccines for conditions that are currently incurable.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Sue VandeWoude, Colorado State University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D14FE-007

Using the Latest Genetic Technology to Conserve African Wildcat Populations

The wildcat, an ancestor of the domestic cat, lives in the same areas as domestic cats throughout Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa. Several subspecies of wildcats occupy these areas, and the African wildcat is the subspecies considered to be the most influential in cat domestication. Because of the extensive habitat overlaps, populations of European wildcats are breeding with domestic cats, causing hybridization between the populations. Conservation programs throughout Europe are attempting to preserve true wildcat populations, but identifying pure wildcats can only be accomplished by genetic tests. Conservation programs are trying to find the strongest diagnostic markers to help develop population management programs for the wildcats. The new Illumina Infinium Cat DNA test uses SNP chips, a type of DNA chip  that contains single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), genetic footprints found in DNA, , could provide the most accurate measure for wildcat and domestic cat hybridization. Using this tool, conservationists will be able to identify pure wildcat populations for conservation within Europe. A secondary goal of the research is to identify regions of the genome that may be involved with the domestication process of the cat. The project could identify the genes that are contributing to boldness and tameness and are influencing cat domestication.

 

Principal Investigator: Dr. Leslie A. Lyons, University of California–Davis

Sponsors:

Study ID: D12FE-505

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