Following the announcement in July 2020 of the closure of the Animal Health Trust, The Kennel Club Canine Genetics Centre will officially re-open and be located at the University of Cambridge where its vital research into dog genetics and inherited canine conditions can continue.
The Kennel Club Charitable Trust has funded the centre since its initial launch at the Animal Health Trust in 2009. The new centre will continue to be led by Dr Cathryn Mellersh, and will resume its mission to develop DNA tests and breeding tools for some of the most common and debilitating inherited conditions in dogs.
Professor James Wood, Head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge, said: “We are delighted that the important work by Cathryn and her team, funded by The Kennel Club Charitable Trust can now continue through the Canine Genetics Centre at Cambridge Vet School. We look forward to working together for the health and welfare of our much loved canines.”
The Kennel Club and the canine genetics team will work together to ensure that the centre’s research targets conditions that have the greatest impact on the health of dogs. The Kennel Club’s breed health and conservation plans, a project that gathers all available health information and data about each breed, will play a vital role in guiding the centre’s objectives and areas of research.
During its time at the Animal Health Trust, The Kennel Club Canine Genetics Centre had a significant impact on the health of numerous breeds. Researchers at the centre developed 25 different DNA tests for canine inherited diseases that affect over 50 breeds. Research into the impact of some of these tests revealed that over a ten year period, thanks to uptake of these tests by responsible breeders, the frequency of disease-causing genetic variants in some breeds reduced by a staggering 90%.
Close collaboration with breed clubs and breeders is essential to the success of the centre, as is the collection of over 40,000 DNA samples that has been developed over the last twenty years. These samples, along with valuable scientific and DNA sequence data have now been secured and transferred to the University of Cambridge for further analysis.
Dr Cathryn Mellersh, head of The Kennel Club Genetics Centre said: “The last ten years have been incredibly important to dog health and, thanks to the University of Cambridge, especially Professor James Wood at the University of Cambridge for all his assistance in safeguarding our resources and The Kennel Club Charitable Trust, this work can now continue. Our work to support breeders in reducing health problems in dogs is essential and we are eager to continue this important work and are thankful to everyone for their support.”
Further information regarding The Kennel Club’s extensive work in the field of canine health and research can be found on The Kennel Club website.