Researchers have had enormous success in furthering our understanding of aging through the study of short-lived animal models. However, there is a fundamental gap in our knowledge of how well these models can explain aging in humans. The long-term goal of this Network and Infrastructure Support proposal is to develop the domestic companion dog as a powerful model to better understand the biology of aging in humans. The specific objective of this application is to develop a comprehensive plan for a long-term, nationwide Canine Longitudinal Aging Study (CLAS). The rationale for the proposed work is that the domestic dog offers an ideal model system to identify the genetic and environmental factors that influence aging, using a species living in the same environment as humans. Our primary objective will be achieved by pursuing the following three aims: 1) to create a Canine Longevity Consortium, consisting of a collaborative, interdisciplinary network of researchers and clinicians with the expertise needed to design and implement the CLAS;2) to develop training opportunities in aging research for junior scientists, veterinarians, and the general public;and 3 to carry out a pilot projects whose goal is to obtain information regarding choice of breeds, and how best to collect, analyze and share large-scale data central to the CLAS. The work proposed here is innovative, because it develops a novel animal model for aging research, and a highly interdisciplinary and collaborative research network to carry out the research. The work proposed here is significant because it will develop a new and powerful model system, one which shares many genetic and environmental characteristics with humans, with which to carry out aging research. In the long-term, the population of dogs that make up the canine longitudinal study of aging will also offer unprecedented power for rapid, ethically sound testing of compounds identified through NIA's intervention testing program. Ultimately, the knowledge gained through such a project has the potential to greatly increase our understanding of aging, and our ability to prevent and treat age-related disease.
This project brings together a highly interdisciplinary team of expert scientists and clinicians to design a nationwide longitudinal study of aging in the dog. Companion dogs are well-characterized genetically, experience our own environment, and have health care second only to humans. A longitudinal study of aging in this species will thus be directly relevant to a better understanding of public health in humans.