July 26, 2022 – It’s hard to believe, but the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is about to turn 10 years old! Many of us can remember the Study’s early days of recruiting participants and working out the kinks and complexities of data and sample collection. The first nested study. The first cancer diagnosis. The first hero dog lost.
Fast forward 10 years and the Study continues to hum along thanks to the dedication of our participant owners, Study veterinarians, and the tireless work of our Foundation staff, past and present.
The story of the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study begins in 2007, with a conversation that included Bette Morris, Morris Animal Foundation Trustee and wife of the late Dr. Mark L. Morris Jr.; Dr. Rod Page, Director of Colorado State University’s Flint Animal Cancer Center; and Dr. Patricia Olson, a former Foundation President/ CEO. The trio discussed doing something never before attempted on a large scale in veterinary medicine – conduct a long-term, prospective study focused on understanding the risk factors for cancer development. The planning was complicated and took several years, but in 2012 the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study began enrolling its first dogs.
Full enrollment was reached in 2015, overshooting the enrollment target of 3,000 with 44 additional dogs for good measure. In 2017, the first nested study was approved. That study, conducted at the University of Colorado, Denver, also tested our team’s ability to retrieve samples and pull stored data. Since then, we’ve collaborated with many other researchers across the country, providing samples and data to answer research questions as wide ranging as the genetics of obesity to the link between diet and heart disease. We’ve expanded our calls for proposals and continue to improve our data and sample retrieval process.
Study partners have played a key role in providing funds and in-kind donations since 2012. These collaborations are helping our team leverage the data to accelerate discovery and lead to health advances that could impact not just golden retrievers but all dogs.
In 2020, we moved all Study operations in-house. Our team designed a new participant interface as well as created a dashboard that allows Study participants to monitor Study endpoints.
In 2021, the team started Golden Zoomies, a webinar series devoted to important issues for our Study participants including nutrition, obesity and caring for senior dogs. The Golden Age project, also started in 2021, is providing a deeper dive into canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome and osteoarthritis, both important conditions for our aging hero dogs. Golden Oldies, a companion study, is using samples from non-Study dogs over the age of 12 as controls for our Study dogs. And there is much more on the horizon. Most recently, we completed genomic sequencing on all Study dogs, opening the door to even greater research opportunities and impact.
We know that the Study would not be a success without our dedicated participant owners and Study veterinarians. In addition to the countless hours spent arranging Study visits, collecting samples and filling out questionnaires, our participants also provide support to each other. In 2022, we relaunched the GO Team to provide additional support and resources for Study participants.
Thanks to everyone who’s made the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study a success – we couldn’t do it without you!