Morris Animal Foundation introduces Data Commons

dvm360dvm360 November 2019
Volume 50
Issue 11

What do you get when you offer veterinary researchers free access to data from a longitudinal study of 3,000 golden retrievers? A serious opportunity to learn!


Image courtesy of the Morris Animal Foundation

Mac, Hero No. 2690 in the Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, runs with a ball at a park. In what Morris Animal Foundation is calling a “golden opportunity for researchers,” the organization has launched Data Commons, a new database built from the foundation's Golden Retriever Lifetime Study.

One of the largest studies of its kind undertaken in veterinary medicine, the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is collecting data on more than 3,000 golden retrievers. Its overarching goal is to identify nutritional, environmental, lifestyle and genetic risk factors for canine diseases, including cancer.

“We are sharing study data based on the philosophy that the greatest possible positive impact comes from broad collaboration,” says Morris Animal Foundation's Chief Scientific Officer Janet Patterson-Kane, BVSc, PhD, FRCVS, in a release from the organization. “We hope to inspire scientists to further their research initiatives and build critical knowledge addressing health concerns for dogs.”

Because dogs and people have common genetics, live together and are affected by many of the same diseases, Data Commons is available to anyone affiliated with a veterinary or human medical research institution, such as a university, nonprofit organization or government agency.   

“Many large datasets and biological sample collections exist for human medicine and have aided in discovery of new diagnostics, treatments and even cures for a myriad of diseases. They also have created public awareness around lifestyle factors that increase or reduce cancer risk,” Michael Cinkosky, the foundation's vice president of information systems, says in the release. “Morris Animal Foundation, the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, and now the Data Commons, are here to improve the discovery process for animals, too.”

The $32 million study, which began in 2012, is expected to last 14 years and collect more than 5 million data points. Data Commons includes historical data from the study cohort in 11 distinct areas: activity, behavior, dental, disease diagnoses, diet, environment, grooming, geographical locations, medications, physical exams and reproduction. Biological samples also are available.

In addition, thanks to a new partnership with the V Foundation for Cancer Research, genomic sequencing data will be added to the Data Commons in next year.

For more information about the Data Commons, click here or email

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