Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine has received a four-year, $900,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to support research within its DNA Bank. The bank, established to better understand the genetic basis for canine diseases, contains almost 3,000 DNA samples collected from pedigreed canines visiting the Cornell University Hospital for Animals.
The grant will be used to establish a DNA archive of control and diseased purebred dogs; to genotype diseased and control purebred dogs; and to encourage multi-institutional mapping collaborations and share genotypes with the genetics community.
“The secret to the success of an excellent DNA archive is collaboration among a wide group of researchers as well as cooperation among the entire staff, " said said Rory Todhunter, professor of surgery at the college.
"[That staff] includes licensed veterinary technicians, interns, resident and faculty who look after the dogs admitted to the Cornell University Hospital for Animals and who ascertain the diseases the dogs carry, and collect the blood samples from which the DNA of each animal is isolated with owner permission and cooperation.
“In addition, the dog owners are key to the project’s success, as they must provide AKC numbers and pedigree information about their dogs.”
Greg Acland, professor of medical genetics and principal investigator, and other Cornell faculty plan to map the genetic locus of up to 12 complex genetic traits. This information should help breeders and researchers produce the best dogs for specialized tasks, reduce disease risk and develop treatments and interventions sooner, according to the college.