The research training fellowship will enable Dr. Ed Smith to establish a working collaboration with Dr. Elaine Ostrander's group at the NHGRI's Cancer Genetics Branch, a premier Comparative Canine Genomics Research lab in the world. The research training will help him extend investigations in his laboratory at Virginia Tech beyond candidate gene-based disease mapping for phenotypes like oxidative stress and the role of the mitochondria in diseases. In the past five years, his lab has used birds to investigate the genetics of cardiomyopathy and oxidative stress. Dr. Ostrander's lab uses diverse approaches to identify genes associated with phenotypic differences in dogs that would be useful in his future research that will include dogs and sarcomas. The overall research objective is to identify genomic regions associated with the incidence of malignant histiocytosis (MH) in the Flat Coated Retriever dog. Identification of these regions using genome wide association studies will provide a resource for fine mapping and gene identification for a sarcoma that also affects humans. The research training will help the fellow develop skills for working with the dog and to establish independent research to understand the hereditary basis of MH.
Dog pedigrees are large, multigenerational, and the result of directed matings, all of which favor the expression of recessive disorders such as cancer. The clinical presentation, histology, and biology of many canine cancers very closely parallel those of human malignancies;comparative studies of canine and human cancer will be of significant clinical benefit to the health of both humans and companion animals.