AKC Canine Health Foundation recognizes Johnson’s commendable strides in canine genetic research
The AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) has named Gary Johnson, DVM, PhD, assistant professor in the department of veterinary pathobiology at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, a recipient of the 2023 Asa Mays, DVM Excellence in Canine Health Research Award.1
This biennial award is named after Asa Mays, DVM, a member of CHF's first board of directors in 1995. It is gifted to a research investigator displaying “meritorious achievements in furthering the mission of identifying, characterizing, and treating canine disease and ailments.”2
“Asa’s dedication to canine health and the sport of purebred dogs has inspired us all,” said Wayne Ferguson, the president of CHF in 2005 when the Asa Mays, DVM Excellence in Canine Health Research Award was established. “I can think of no better way to honor that spirit than through the annual presentation of this award. The pioneering effort of these researchers is a wonderful testament to Asa’s vision for conquering disease in all dogs.”2
Johnson has been doing research to find genetic mutations responsible for heritable diseases in domestic animals since the early 1990’s. In 2013, Johnson and his colleagues were some of the first to use whole genome sequencing to detect mutations responsible for heritable canine diseases. They have leveraged this technology to identify the genetic causes for heritable canine diseases such as degenerative myelopathy, neuronal storage diseases, glaucoma, and more.1
"Dr Johnson's pioneering research in canine genetics brought a new era to canine health," expressed CHF chief executive officer Stephanie Montgomery, DVM, PhD, DACVP. "His groundbreaking career not only decoded genetics, it also deepened the connections we have with our canine companions."
With Johnson getting close to retirement, a donation from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) will create the Dr. E. A. (Al) Corley OFA Endowed Program in his recognition to ensure a bright future for canine molecular-genetic research at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine. A program director, who has not been named yet, will spearhead the program into an era of artificial intelligence-assisted research to find the genetic mechanisms underlying complex canine diseases and behaviors.1
"Dr Johnson has become a household name in the world of canine health research," stated Eddie Dziuk, OFA Chief Operating Officer.1 "He is undoubtedly one of the most prolific researchers making genetic discoveries leading to DNA tests for various canine diseases. At the end of the day, no one can question the fact that Dr Johnson's work and dedication have absolutely made our dogs healthier."
The award will be presented by Laura Liscum, PhD, CHF scientific review committee chair, and Carolyn Henry, DVM, MS, ACVIM (Oncology), from the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, during the 2023 AKC Canine Health Foundation National Parent Club Canine Health Conference on Saturday, August 12, 2023.