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Denver/March 28, 2024 – Morris Animal Foundation announced the selection of 12 new grant recipients who will advance the Foundation's commitment to improving the lives, health and well-being of cats.  

"We invest deeply in saving cats by researching common health conditions, like diabetes, kidney disease and infections," said Dr. Kathy Tietje, Chief Program Officer at Morris Animal Foundation. "We’re grateful to our dedicated scientific advisors who selected these awards, and all researchers committed to improving cat health."

Dr. Ran Nivy, a principal investigator for one of the approved studies, examines a cat as part of his project.
Dr. Ran Nivy, Morris Animal Foundation-funded investigator, examines a cat as part of his research project.

“Despite great advances in feline medicine, diagnosing the cause of anemia can sometimes be challenging in cats,” said Dr. Ran Nivy, a principal investigator for one of the approved studies. “With the generous support of Morris Animal Foundation, we hope our current study will offer a novel laboratory test for cats, which might reduce diagnostic errors and help veterinarians decide which treatments best suit their anemic feline patients."

The grant awardees and summaries of their projects are:

  • Dr. Penny Regier, University of Florida - Researchers will assess whether a new imaging technique used during surgery can successfully determine if cats with small intestine foreign-body obstructions need intestine removal.
  • Dr. Gregg Dean, Colorado State University - Researchers are working toward developing a fast and reliable test to diagnose feline infectious peritonitis, a deadly disease caused by a feline coronavirus.
  • Dr. Timothy Fan, University of Illinois - Researchers will investigate the safety and anticancer effects of a new combination of radiation and drug therapy for treating cats with oral squamous cell carcinoma, one of the most frequently diagnosed tumors in cats.
  • Dr. Danielle Gunn-Moore, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom - Researchers will develop a cat owner questionnaire to help veterinarians detect feline cognitive dysfunction syndrome, also known as cat dementia.
  • Dr. Bianca Lourenço, University of Georgia - Researchers will develop and validate a test to improve our understanding of chronic kidney disease in cats and support future research into new treatments.
  • Dr. Patrick Barko, University of Illinois - Researchers will study the microbiome (gut bacteria) in cats with inflammatory bowel disease to inform the development of safer and more effective therapies.
  • Dr. Muhandiram Weeratunga, Cornell University - Researchers will develop an intestinal organoid model, miniature 3Dorgan-like structures grown from stem cells, to study cat coronaviruses.
  • Dr. Ran Nivy, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel - Researchers are investigating a promising new way to diagnose cat hemolytic anemia.
  • Dr. Heather Walden, University of Florida - Researchers will collaborate with trap-neuter-return organizations to obtain tissue samples from the ear tipping of free-roaming cats living in Florida, which helps identify cats after surgery. Researchers will use these samples to screen for vector-borne diseases.
  • Dr. Sophie Binks, University of Oxford, United Kingdom - Researchers will study seizures caused by autoimmune encephalitis in cats to learn more about the cause of the disease and to help identify new and more effective treatments.
  • Dr. Rodolfo Leal, University of Lisbon, Portugal - Researchers will study adrenal gland hormone profiles in cats with chronic kidney disease and learn how they affect disease progression.
  • Dr. Dana LeVine, Auburn University - Researchers want to know if cats diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis are more likely to develop exocrine pancreatic insufficiency and diabetes over time.

About Morris Animal Foundation    
Morris Animal Foundation's mission is to bridge science and resources to advance the health of animals. Founded in 1948 and headquartered in Denver, it is one of the largest nonprofit animal health research organizations in the world, funding nearly $160 million in more than 3,000 critical animal health studies to date across a broad range of species. Learn more at

Media Contact: Annie Mehl