$10 Million Gift Establishes Cornell Canine Genomics Program

A single donation of $10 million to Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine will establish the world's first canine genetics program.

The recent anonymous donation of $10 million to Cornell was the largest ever received by the College of Veterinary Medicine. The gift will ultimately fund research that will enhance the ability of scientists to fight cancer and other diseases that affect animals and humans. After hundreds of years of selective breeding, canine genetics is quite unique and holds information not available in other genomes.

"We know that each breed possesses a unique and highly similar collection of genes, which confer susceptibility to certain diseases and constitute a stunning opportunity for gene association studies that cannot be performed in people. These investigations can be done non-invasively in dogs and will inform our understanding of the specific genes that result in susceptibility to some of our most serious diseases," Michael I. Kotlikoff, the Austin O. Hooey Dean of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell, told Cornell’s ChronicleOnline.

"The recognition of the commonality of disease between animals and man precedes modern medical education and continues to drive discovery that informs animal and human health. What better gift could ‘man’s best friend’ provide than the information necessary to more fully understand and combat these devastating human and animal diseases. This inspiring gift will have an enormous impact on both canine and human health and is testimony to the vision and generosity of one of the college’s most committed friends," continued Kotlikoff.

The initial investment from the gift will recruit a faculty member in biostatistics to lead the comparative genomics effort and then to recruit a new faculty member in cancer biology. The gift will ensure that both posts will be permanent positions.

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