On November 3, 2022, the University of Missouri announced a $1.5 million gift from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). The gift will help fund a new director of the Canine Molecular Genetics Laboratory at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, which works on finding the causes of genetic diseases in dogs.
“The College of Veterinary Medicine has had an association with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals for more than 50 years, shortly after its founding in 1966,” said Carolyn Henry, dean of the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. “Over the past two decades, this partnership has been more than mutually beneficial, it has meant better health and better lives for countless dogs and the people who love them. Thanks to the generosity of OFA and the vision of its board, our partnership will continue. Together we will continue to provide testing services for veterinarians, breeders and dog owners, while advancing research to find the genetic causes of inherited diseases.”
The lab conducts nearly 40 different DNA tests for specific mutations found in various recessive diseases, including degenerative myelopathy, a disease that affects the spinal cord and causes dogs to lose control of their legs, bladder and bowels.
“Missourians and their pets from 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 Curators. “This gift will support efforts to find the causes of genetic diseases in dogs to improve their health and highlight Mizzou’s values such as world-class research, land grant, AAU, flagship university.”
Each year, the lab performs nearly 9,000 tests for OFAs, dog breeders, veterinarians, and dog owners.
“Research at MU has shown how discovering 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 suffering from ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. This gift allows our scientists to continue their breakthrough discoveries that could 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 require these samples for their investigations.
“For the past 20 years, our lab’s primary mission has been to discover the mutations responsible for inherited diseases in dogs 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 establishing the Dr. EA (Al) Corley OFA Endowed Program in canine molecular genetics. The endowment program provides a means for our lab’s mission to continue after I am too old to run 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 laboratory’s achievements was to identify genetic mutations in dogs comparable to the defect in the genes that cause the human forms of the disease.
“This gift is a significant 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 our faculty and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals have done together, and this gift 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 of people, animals, plants and their shared environment with the ultimate goal of improving health outcomes.
For more information Contact: Brian Consiglio, 573-882-9144, Consigliob@missouri.edu