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DENVER/January 18, 2023 – A new grant hopes to shed light on the genetics underlying subvalvular aortic stenosis (SAS) in Newfoundland dogs. The study, funded by Morris Animal Foundation, will be conducted by a veterinary team at Michigan State University.

Led by Dr. Vilma Yuzbasiyan-Gurkan, Professor, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics and Small Animal Clinical Sciences and the project’s Principal Investigator, the study will employ advanced genetic tools to discover genetic determinants of SAS in Newfoundland dogs. If successful, findings could be used to genetically screen dogs for this disease and inform breeding decisions.

“SAS is a devastating and puzzling disease – devastating for the dogs and their families and puzzling for the geneticists, “ said Dr. Yuzbasiyan-Gurkan. “We hope our cutting-edge genetics and genomics approaches will provide some clear and useful answers and reveal the genetic basis of this disorder. We appreciate partnering with Newfoundland Club of America Charitable Trust and Morris Animal Foundation to achieve this goal.”

Subvalvular aortic stenosis is a serious, congenital heart disease of dogs. Several breeds have a high incidence of SAS, including Newfoundland dogs. SAS is characterized by the development of abnormal tissue that obstructs the flow of blood from the heart. Dogs with the disease often have shortened lifespans and sometimes succumb to sudden death. Current treatment options are limited to medication to improve quality of life.

“Understanding the genetics of this serious disease could lead to advances in diagnostic tests and help inform breeding decisions, eventually leading to fewer dogs suffering,” said Dr. Kathy Tietje, Morris Animal Foundation Vice President, Scientific Operations. “Results from this study could have implications for all dog breeds affected by SAS.”

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 more than $149 million in nearly 3,000 critical studies across a broad range of species. Learn more at

Media contact: Kelly Diehl, DVM, MS