Page 74 - ShowSight, March 2020
P. 74

                Why do you think you’re drawn to red blood cells?
Hematology [the study of blood and blood disorders] is part of clinical pathol- ogy. There are two arms of pathology, ana- tomic pathology and clinical pathology. Most people think of anatomic pathologists as the people doing the autopsies, which in animals we call necropsy. The clinical pathologist is the one who’s looking at sam- ples while the animal or person is still alive. So, blood samples, fine needle aspirates of tumor samples, skin samples, different things like that. When I was in practice, I thought I wanted to be an ophthalmologist when I got out of vet school. Then I went into practice and I realized where I needed to know more was in clinical pathology. I needed to know more about what those blood test results meant and what those cytology test results meant. I was driven to go learn more about that.
That drive, is it born of curiosity?
That’s what my brothers tell me.
Somebody once asked me to name my most treasured possession, and I said it was my curi- osity. I enjoy learning new things.
Yes, constant learning.
The dog world can offer breeders plenty of opportunity for learning. Can you speak to the value of your work to breeders who are breeding to the standards and working to improve their dogs’ overall health? Any encouraging words?
Absolutely, because that’s really my pas- sion here. I’m driven to outcomes that are going to improve the health of all dogs, and the needs there vary greatly from the small breeds to the giant breeds. Some- times [the need] is very breed specific, and sometimes it’s for all dogs. Let’s take, for example, the number one neurological dis- ease across all dogs: epilepsy. We launched an epilepsy initiative because there’s still such a great need to have better medica- tions, better diagnoses and better genetic tests to diminish its prevalence and improve treatment for the quality of life for the dog as well as the owner. (If you’ve ever known anyone who has an epileptic dog, it’s prob- ably one of the most intensive labors of love.) So, that’s an example that benefits all dogs. Then you get to the more breed- specific concerns. [Some] breeds might have a concern over a particular heart defect or a particular eye defect. For those we’ve been able to target research specifically in those breeds to look at those conditions to find a
Dr. Diane Brown welcomes guests to the 2019 AKC CHF Canines & Cocktails event in Orlando, Florida.
genetic test. Responsible, health-conscious breeders can do those genetic tests and find a way to minimize that genetic defect in their breed. There have been some really great exam- ples of this. I’ll use exercise-induced collapse. EIC was first recognized mostly in Labrador Retrievers, but it also affects other breeds. AKC CHF-funded research actually led to the discovery of the gene [responsible for the disorder]. Sometimes you can find a single gene for conditions, sometimes it’s complex and multifactorial. But in this particular case, the EIC genetic test was developed and this condition has been significantly reduced in Retrievers.
How are the funds raised for this type of research program?
I like to look at everything that we do as a balance. So, we have a balanced research portfolio across breeds, across all dogs. We also take that approach to our fundraising. We have donors that know nothing about the AKC, that have never been involved with dog shows, but love their dogs. Sometimes those are purebred dogs they grew up with and sometimes they are mixed breed dogs that they now own. We’ve got these peo- ple who believe in what we do and believe in science driving good health. So, we have that constituency. Then we’ve got the 200 parent clubs of the AKC that also have dif- ferent things they’re concerned about. They will come to us looking to fund the best research to address the questions they have. Unfortunately, some of this leads to this per- ception out there in the world that purebred dogs are less healthy. I disagree with that. What I see instead is that the big investments in health often come from research for a par- ticular breed. When those studies are then done to examine that condition in that breed, they get published in a scientific research journal. Veterinarians and others read these and think, “Oh, well. This is a problem of Golden Retrievers.” No, it just happens to be that the Golden Retriever [people] funded this work through AKC CHF. They brought all the samples and participated in the research, and this is the outcome. We have to be careful that everyone understands that the investments and the passion from motivated breeders has pushed the science forward for all dogs.
There’s so much prejudice against purebred dogs today.
There can be. But let’s consider lymphoma. All dogs—including mixed breed dogs—get cancer, unfortunately.
You’ve mentioned lymphoma. My sister’s Rhodesian Ridgeback received treatment for this cancer from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. PennVet was work- ing with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to develop a vaccine that might one day be used to treat pediatric lymphoma. At the time, the vet school was waiting to launch a study using newly diagnosed dogs that had received no prior treatment. My sister, who is an RN and works at a cancer treatment center, was very motivated to participate in the study at her own expense.
That’s a really great example of how this works.
Through this experience I learned about the One Health approach to medicine that recog- nizes the connection between the health of animals, people and our planet. Can you speak to this interconnectedness as it relates to infectious diseases?

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