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December 7, 2015 – Dr. Josh Stern didn’t know that an after-school job as a kennel boy would lead to a lifelong career in the service of animals. Cleaning cages led to taking dogs to their veterinary appointments, and eventually to his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. He then went on to develop an interest in cardiology, and embark on a research career in molecular genetics. That research career was possible, in part, due to assistance from Morris Animal Foundation.

“I was the recipient of a fellowship that supported my salary throughout my Ph.D. program” said Dr. Stern. “After completing veterinary school and an internship, most veterinarians find it really difficult financially to continue on as traditional Ph.D. students. Morris Animal Foundation took that worry off my plate.”

With the costs of veterinary graduate schools skyrocketing, many promising students have to forego further training for financial reasons. Without new scientists pursuing advanced degrees, research slows, resulting in fewer and fewer discoveries that can benefit the animals that are dear to us.

Morris Animal Foundation is working to change that. Thanks to our many loyal donors, we have been a key source of financial support for outstanding graduate students like Dr. Stern who are conducting groundbreaking research.

Dr. Stern’s research was focused on looking for the genetic defect responsible for a heart disease that affects large-breed dogs. His work led to the discovery of the gene responsible for heart disease in Newfoundland dogs. This work is helping others look for similar genetic defects.

Unfortunately, many other talented students are unable to pursue careers in research due to lack of funding. In 2014, Morris Animal Foundation was only able to fund one in four worthy training programs, but we want to do more.

Dr. Stern currently runs a thriving molecular genetics laboratory. Now it’s his turn to be the mentor. He currently is training three cardiology residents, one master’s degree student, on the Ph.D. committees of two students, and has just welcomed a postdoctoral scholar onto his team.

“Morris Animal Foundation played an integral role in helping me obtain my current position at the University of California, Davis,” said Dr. Stern. “With the training that the foundation provided I was able to compete for a tenure-track faculty position at the number one veterinary school in the world.”