AVMA News

Morris awards four grants for research on aging dogs

December 12, 2022

Morris Animal Foundation announced Nov. 21 that is has awarded its latest Mark L. Morris Jr. Investigator Award to four researchers. Each researcher’s project focuses on issues affecting the health and well-being of aging dogs.

The selection of four proposals is a departure from previous awards, which were given to a single individual. The Mark L. Morris Jr. Investigator Award is designed to support impactful companion animal research for which there is a pressing need, with the potential to make rapid, meaningful progress.

An old female Golden Retriever smiling for the camera, isolated against a plain white background


The four awardees are:

  • Dr. Freya Mowat, University of Wisconsin-Madison, who will study the effect of toxic heavy metal burden on cognition and sensory decline in older dogs.
  • Dr. Anne Avery, Colorado State University, who will study age-associated inflammation and links to disease in aging dogs.
  • Andrei Gudkov, PhD, Vaika Inc., who will study genetically programmed aging clocks and anti-aging strategies in retired sled dogs.
  • Dr. Natasha Olby, North Carolina State University, who will conduct a clinical trial to assess whether exercise can improve frailty and health span in elderly dogs.

Projects are slated to begin in 2023 and will take two to three years to complete.

First awarded in 2016, the Mark L. Morris Jr. Investigator Award was created to honor the legacy of Dr. Mark L. Morris Jr., son of Dr. Mark L. Morris Sr., the foundation’s founder. Dr. Mark L. Morris Jr. was known for his pioneering work in small and exotic animal nutrition and for his dedication to Morris Animal Foundation’s mission to advance animal health through science.

A version of this article appears in the February 2023 print issue of JAVMA.