To our Dog Aging Project family,
Years ago, when the three of us began planning the research that would become the Dog Aging Project, we couldn’t have imagined being where we are right now. As 2020 draws to a close and we reflect on the community we’ve built, we are filled with gratitude.
We are grateful to our team of over 70 people from all around the globe who have risen to the incredible challenges posed by the pandemic (and by the inherent complexity of this project). Each and every one of them has worked tirelessly toward our shared goals, overcoming many challenges along the way.
We are grateful to the National Institute on Aging and private donors for funding the largest canine health study in the world. Nothing on this scale has ever been attempted before, and we needed resources to make it a reality. We’re grateful that our funders believe in us and share our commitment to making the world a better place through science.
Most of all, however, we are grateful to YOU! Whether you are a participating member in our research or a dog-loving supporter of our mission, we couldn’t do this work without you. Our rock star team relies on this community to be our scientific partners as we strive to unlock the secrets of healthy aging in dogs.
In the past year, nearly 90,000 people have nominated a dog for inclusion in the project and been invited to set up a personal research portal. (Thank you for being so patient during this process!) Over 25,000 of you have set up your portal, completed the Health and Life Experience Survey, and joined the Dog Aging Project Pack. More than 10,000 Pack members have also uploaded their dog’s veterinary electronic medical records (an optional step that makes the dog eligible for additional studies like our genetic research).
In 2021, we are looking forward to new milestones:
- Members of the Pack will be receiving their first Annual Follow-Up Survey. Our most powerful tool in the study of canine aging is our ability to follow dogs through their entire lifetime. Through annual follow-ups, we will be able to study timing and onset of disease and decline and identify factors that influence this process.
- We will begin enrolling Pack members in additional studies (with smaller numbers of dogs) that dig deeper into the genetic and physiological underpinnings of health. Invitations to join these studies are based on the need to include dogs of specific ages, sizes, and genetic backgrounds.
- To meet our scientific targets for these additional studies, we’ll be recruiting dogs with certain characteristics such as more giant (80+ lbs) dogs, more puppies, more dogs from urban and rural settings, and dogs with unusual genetic backgrounds. Stay tuned for a promotional video about the Dog Aging Project premiering soon!
As a thank you to our Pack members for their contributions to science, we are launching an online community called the Dog Park. In this forum, Pack members can interact with each other and with members of our staff and research team. Whether you want to share cute dog pictures, arrange local meet-ups, or participate in exclusive learning opportunities with our scientists, the Dog Park is the place to be!
So here we are, gathered at the close of an unprecedented and often difficult year. Many of us have weathered some incredibly hard times, and many of us have relied on the love and comfort of our dogs to get us through. We are so grateful for our furry best friends and for each and every one of you who have helped us bring this ambitious dream into reality.
With our best wishes for the holidays and the New Year,
Kate Creevy, Matt Kaeberlein, and Daniel Promislow
Founders of the Dog Aging Project
Cover image by John Salzarulo