$10 million gift will fund canine genomics research

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A multimillion-dollar gift to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine will establish a canine genomics program.

The Ithaca, N.Y.-based college announced the anonymous gift—one of the largest private gifts in the college's history—in September.

The $10 million will support endowed professorships, DNA sequencing, and the DNA Bank, an archive of DNA and medical information that defines inherited diseases. Research conducted through the program will further scientists' understanding of, and ability to, fight cancer and other diseases that affect animals and humans, according to a college press release.

"With this gift, we will leverage the information embedded in canine genetics—available after hundreds of years of selective breeding—for the benefit of animals and humans," said Dean Michael I. Kotlikoff. "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 noninvasively in dogs and will inform our understanding of the specific genes that result in susceptibility to some of our most serious diseases."

Faculty and alumni identified advancing translational research as a strategic priority for the college this past year. With the initial investment from the gift, Cornell will search for a faculty member in biostatistics to lead the comparative genomics effort. Then, the college will begin recruiting for a second faculty position, in cancer biology. The gift will endow both positions indefinitely, providing the opportunity to secure additional research funding, according to the press release.