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$1.5 Million Donation Supports MU’s Canine Genetics Lab

Today, the University of Missouri announced a $1.5 million donation from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). The donation will help fund a new director of the MU College of Veterinary Medicine’s Canine Molecular Genetics Laboratory, which works to find the causes of genetic diseases in dogs.

“The College of Veterinary Medicine has been associated with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals for more than 50 years, shortly after its inception in 1966,” said Carolyn Henry, dean of the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. “Over the past two decades, this collaboration has been more than mutually beneficial, it has meant better health and improved lives for countless dogs and the people who love them. Thanks to the generosity of the OFA and the vision of its Board of Directors, our partnership will continue.Together, we will continue to provide testing services to veterinarians, breeders and dog owners, while pursuing the search for the genetic causes of inherited diseases.

Gary Johnson is the current director of the Canine Molecular Genetics Laboratory at MU.

The lab performs nearly 40 different DNA tests for specific mutations found in various recessive diseases, including degenerative myelopathy, a disease that affects the spinal cord and leads dogs to lose control of their paws, bladders and legs. intestines.

“The people of Missouri and their pets across the state benefit from the research conducted and services provided at the University of Missouri,” said Darryl Chatman, chair of the University of Missouri Board of Trustees. “This donation will support efforts to find the causes of genetic diseases in dogs to improve their health and highlights Mizzou’s values ​​as a Tier 1 Research, Land Grant, AAU, Flagship University.”

Each year, the lab performs nearly 9,000 tests for the OFA, dog breeders, veterinarians and dog owners.

“Research at MU has demonstrated how uncovering the genetic basis of disease in animals can benefit both animals and humans,” said Mun Choi, president of the University of Missouri. “For example, recent work here at the University of Missouri on a degenerative genetic disease in dogs will also benefit humans who suffer from ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. This donation enables our scientists to pursue their groundbreaking discoveries that can lead to new therapeutic and clinical treatments, ultimately leading to better health for millions of animals and people across the state and nation.

The lab currently has around 150,000 samples stored in its freezers, and researchers around the world are requesting these samples for their own investigations.

“For 20 years, our lab’s primary mission has been to discover the mutations responsible for inherited canine diseases and to provide veterinarians and dog owners with DNA testing for these mutations,” said Gary Johnson, associate professor at MU College. . of Veterinary Medicine and current Director of the Canine Molecular Genetics Laboratory. “I am extremely grateful to the OFA Board of Trustees for their gift to the University of Missouri which establishes the Dr. EA(Al) Corley OFA Endowment Program in Canine Molecular Genetics. The endowed program provides a means for our lab’s mission to continue after I am too old to lead the lab.

The lab is also involved in researching various types of Batten disease, a class of rare, fatal, and inherited disorders of the nervous system. One of the lab’s accomplishments has been to identify genetic mutations in dogs that are comparable to the defect in the genes that cause the human forms of the disease.

“This donation is a remarkable investment in the future of Mizzou and the College of Veterinary Medicine,” said Jackie Lewis, Vice Chancellor for Advancement. “We are proud of the work that our faculty and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals have done together, and this donation will allow us to add a quality researcher who will only strengthen this partnership and our university.

The announcement comes on One Health Day, which highlights the interconnectedness between people, animals, plants and their shared environment with the ultimate goal of improving health outcomes.

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