Johnson receives award from AKC Canine Health Foundation

Dr. Gary S. Johnson
Dr. Gary S. Johnson (Photo courtesy of Don Connor)

The AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) announced August 9 that Dr. Gary S. Johnson is the recipient of the 2023 Asa Mays DVM Excellence in Canine Health Research Award.

Dr. Johnson is an associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology and director of the Canine Molecular Genetics Laboratory at the University of Missouri (Mizzou) College of Veterinary Medicine, where he earned his veterinary degree and has been a faculty member at since 1980.

He has been researching the genetic mutations responsible for heritable diseases in domestic animals since the 1990s.

In 2013, Dr. Johnson and his colleagues were among the first to use whole genome sequencing to identify mutations responsible for heritable canine diseases. This technology has been used to find the genetic causes for diseases such as degenerative myelopathy, neuronal storage diseases, glaucoma, and more.

“I’ve been unable to convince my friends that the Asa Mays Award is the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for canine genetics; however, I consider it to be a great honor and an acknowledgment that DNA testing to avoid the production of puppies predestined to develop heritable diseases has substantially improved the collective health of our canine pet population,” Dr. Johnson said.

Last November, the university announced a $1.5 million gift from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) to help fund a new director of the Canine Molecular Genetics Laboratory. Upon Dr. Johnson’s retirement, the gift from OFA will establish the Dr. E. A. Corley OFA Endowed Program in his honor to ensure canine molecular genetic research at Mizzou continues.