DENVER — Morris Animal Foundation, a non-profit organization that funds and conducts research to improve the health of pets and wildlife, has launched a database, Data Commons, that is based on its Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. Researchers at universities, other non-profits and government agencies will be able to access the database for free.
“We are sharing study data based on the philosophy that the greatest possible positive impact comes from broad collaboration,” said Dr. Janet Patterson-Kane, chief scientific officer for Morris Animal Foundation. “We hope to inspire scientists to further their research initiatives and build critical knowledge addressing health concerns for dogs. The database also has implications for human medicine as dogs and people share many of the same diseases and genetics, as well as cohabit in the same environments.”
Focused on veterinary medicine, the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is “one of the largest, most comprehensive prospective canine health studies in the United States,” according to Morris Animal Foundation. More than 3,000 Golden Retrievers across the US are enrolled in the study aimed to identify risk factors for cancer and other canine diseases that are linked to nutrition, environment, lifestyle and genetics.
“We hope to inspire scientists to further their research initiatives and build critical knowledge addressing health concerns for dogs," said Dr. Janet Patterson-Kane, chief scientific officer for Morris Animal Foundation.
Dog owners and veterinarians alike contribute behavioral, health and environmental data to the study. The study began in 2012 and $32 million has been invested so far. Overall, the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is expected to last for 14 years — putting it on track to conclude in 2026 — and include more than five million points of data.
“Many large datasets and biological sample collections exist for human medicine and have aided in discovery of new diagnostics, treatments and even cures for a myriad of diseases. They also have created public awareness around lifestyle factors that increase or reduce cancer risk,” said Michael Cinkosky, vice president of information systems for the foundation. “Morris Animal Foundation, the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, and now the Data Commons, are here to improve the discovery process for animals, too.”
Data Commons will provide data in 11 key areas: activity, behavior, dental, disease diagnoses, diet, environment, grooming, geographical locations, medications, physical exams and reproduction. Biological samples are also available upon request.
Next year, genomic sequencing data will be added to this list, thanks to a partnership between Morris Animal Foundation and V Foundation for Cancer Research.
Since its founding in 1948, Morris Animal Foundation has invested $155 million toward more than 2,700 animal health studies to develop diagnostics, treatments and disease prevention benefitting dogs, cats, horses and wildlife on a global scale.
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