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Morris Animal Foundation, a leading nonprofit funder of research to advance animal health, the Blue Buffalo Foundation, and the Petco Foundation recently announced a two-year research fellowship to improve our understanding of how nutritional status influences cancer in small companion animals.

The fellowship was awarded to Lauren Young, DVM, who currently is in the veterinary nutrition residency program at the University of Missouri’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Her faculty mentor is Robert C. Backus, DVM, PhD, MS.

“Nutrition plays a critical role in keeping our pets healthy, but also can improve outcomes for dogs undergoing cancer treatment,” said Barbara Wolfe, DVM, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer for Morris Animal Foundation. “This fellowship helps us to advance our knowledge in small animal nutrition, particularly as it relates to cancer, while providing a valuable opportunity for us to invest in the career development of a new veterinary researcher.”

The project Dr. Young and the University of Missouri team are working on investigates the use of calcidiol, a vitamin D metabolite, to safely and rapidly improve vitamin D status in dogs, with the goal of determining the potential for use of calcidiol as an adjunct treatment for various forms of canine cancer.

“Ultimately, we want to test if oral supplementation with calcidiol is beneficial during treatment of dogs with specific cancer types,” said Dr. Young. “These types of cancer locally convert calcidiol to calcitriol, a vitamin D metabolite that has significant anti-cancer activity in preclinical models, and could prove to be an important adjunct therapy.”

The Blue Buffalo Foundation, in partnership with the Petco Foundation, has supported cancer studies in small companion animals since 2003 and is dedicated to gaining a greater understanding of the causes, treatments and prevention of dog and cat cancers.

“This grant is part of our Foundation’s ongoing support for research on the causes, treatments and prevention of cancer in dogs and cats,” said David Petrie, President of the Blue Buffalo Foundation. “So many of us have lost beloved pets to this deadly disease and we want to make a difference in the fight against pet cancer. We are pleased to partner with Morris Animal Foundation to fund innovative studies that will help pets live longer, healthier lives.”

About Morris Animal Foundation

Morris Animal Foundation is a global leader in funding scientific studies that advance the health of companion animals, horses and wildlife. Since its founding in 1948, the Foundation has invested more than $103 million toward 2,500+ studies that have led to significant breakthroughs in diagnostics, treatments, preventions and cures to benefit animals worldwide. Learn more at Morris Animal Foundation.

About The Blue Buffalo Foundation

The Blue Buffalo Foundation (“Foundation”) was established in 2003 by the founders of Blue Buffalo Company, Ltd. (“Blue Buffalo”) a manufacturer of natural dog and cat foods under the BLUE™ brand names. Helping to find a cure for pet cancer is a top priority for Blue Buffalo because its founders have had very personal experience with this disease. “Our dog Blue, a large breed Airedale and a great pal, had three bouts with cancer,” said Bill Bishop, Blue Buffalo’s founder. “After Blue’s battles, we wanted to do something meaningful to help find a cure for this devastating disease. So one of the first things we did after starting our pet food company was to establish the Foundation to raise money for pet cancer research, and raise awareness among pet parents of the early warning signs of this disease.” Visit to learn more.

About the Petco Foundation

At the Petco Foundation, we believe that every animal deserves to live its best life.  Since 1999, we’ve invested more than $167 million in lifesaving animal welfare work to make that happen. With our more than 4,000 animal welfare partners, we inspire and empower communities to make a difference by investing in adoption and medical care programs, spay and neuter services, pet cancer research, service and therapy animals, and numerous other lifesaving initiatives. Through our Think Adoption First program, we partner with Petco stores and animal welfare organizations across the country to increase pet adoptions. So far, we’ve helped more than 5 million pets find their new loving families, and we’re just getting started. Visit to learn more about how you can get involved.