Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the distinction between the American Kennel Club and the independent American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation.
In the face of diminishing government support for biomedical canine research, the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation has selected five canine research fellows for sponsorship.
The foundation is providing a total of $60,000 to five colleges of veterinary medicine to fund the fellowships. Each fellow will receive $10,000 to continue canine research projects and $2,000 to travel to a national conference and present findings.
The foundation established the program to assist researchers committed to canine health and “make sure that there is a focus for that,” said Shila Nordone, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of the Raleigh, N.C.-based foundation.
“Veterinary biomedical research has been hit pretty hard in comparison to human medical research,” Dr. Nordone said.
Funding to biomedical animal research has shifted at the national level to human research through the National Institutes of Health, Nordone added.
“We have to do what we can to nurture the next generation [of researchers],” she said. “We need to be supporting the next generation with our donations and start to see these individuals as people instead of as research projects.”
The fellows, announced Tuesday, were selected by their schools, which were chosen by the foundation based on their production of high-impact research studies and publications.
The fellows, their areas of expertise and their projects include:
• Kristin Manning, DVM (internal medicine), North Carolina State University. Dr. Manning's research project will evaluate regenerative medicine approaches to the treatment of urinary incontinence.
• Guillaume L. Hoareau, DVM (emergency and critical care), University of California, Davis. Dr. Hoareau aims to develop tools for the diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) and the severity of OSAS in dogs.
• Lance Visser, DVM (cardiology), Ohio State University. Dr. Visser will study right ventricle (RV) systolic function in dogs to improve risk assessment for heart and lung disease.
• Jill Schappa, DVM (clinical pathology), University of Minnesota. Dr. Schappa's research concerns the protective effects of exercise on the bone marrow after treatment with radiation and chemotherapy.
• Melanie Hezzell, VetMB, PhD (cardiology), University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Hezzell is conducting a multicenter study that will determine whether the use of blood markers improves the standard of care in dogs with mitral valve disease.
Additional donations may be made to the fellows through the “Adopt a Researcher” section of the foundation website.