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News Article

Open-data, community science study explores canine health and longevity


Project aims to understand how genes, lifestyle, and environment influence aging

An article published in Nature describes the goals and design of the Dog Aging Project (DAP), which will follow tens of thousands of companion dogs for ten years.

The DAP, founded in 2018, will collect extensive survey data, environmental information, electronic veterinary medical records, genome-wide sequence information, clinicopathology and molecular phenotypes derived from blood cells, plasma and faecal samples. The open-source dataset will give veterinarians and scientists the tools to assess how well a specific dog is aging and will set the stage for further research into healthy aging, in both dogs and people.

Researchers at Princeton University are leading the genetics work for the DAP.

“We are sequencing the genomes of 10,000 dogs,” said Joshua Akey, a professor in Princeton’s Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics. “This will be one of the largest genetics datasets ever produced for dogs, and it will be a powerful resource not only to understand the role of genetics in aging, but also to answer more fundamental questions about the evolutionary history and domestication of dogs.”

To date, more than 32,000 dogs have been recruited to the DAP.

“We are still recruiting dogs of all ages, all breeds — purebred or mixed breeds, all sizes, all across the United States,” said William Thistlethwaite, a graduate student who works with Akey in the Lewis-Sigler Institute. “Especially puppies and young dogs up to 3 years old.”

Within a few months, the team plans to open their fully anonymized dataset to share with scientists around the world. Researchers from different fields will have the opportunity to contribute to the study in different ways, based on their interests.

“It is an honour to share our work with the scientific community,” said Kate Creevy, lead author on the paper and DAP’s chief veterinary officer. “The Dog Aging Project is creating a resource with the power to transform veterinary medicine, aging research, and many scientific and non-scientific fields of inquiry.”

Article: Creevy, K. E., Akey, J. M., Kaeberlein, M., Promislow, D. E. L., The Dog Aging Project Consortium (2022). An open science study of ageing in companion dogs. Nature, 602, 51-57, doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-04282-9

Article details

  • Date
  • 03 February 2022
  • Source
  • Princeton University
  • Subject(s)
  • Dogs, Cats, and other Companion Animals