Canine Kidney Research Continues Thanks To Contributors

COLLEGE STATION, May 8, 2006 – The Canine Hereditary Nephritis Research Project, now in its 14th year at Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, has been possible due to the generosity of its founding contributors. The college recently honored Vera Stewart of Dallas, Addi Pittman of Alice, and Laura and Danny Weaver of Navasota at a luncheon to recognize their special contributions to this ongoing research enterprise.


Laura and Danny Weaver receive special thanks and a plaque from Dr. George Lees and Dean H. Richard Adams. Vera Stewart is recognized with a plaque from Dr. George Lees and Dean H. Richard Adams. Addi Pittman receives a plaque for her dedication to the project from Dr. George Lees and Dean H. Richard Adams.
One primary goal of the research is focused on identifying the mutation that leads to the juvenile-onset of chronic kidney failure in English Cocker Spaniels. In recent months, Dr. Keith Murphy’s Canine Genetics Laboratory at the college discovered the genetic cause of this disease which has led to the development of a test for genetic carriers of the trait that breeders of English Cocker Spaniels can use to eliminate it from the breed.

Dr. George Lees, research project coordinator, along with Dr. H. Richard Adams, dean of the college, Dr. Oscar “Bubba” Woytek, senior development officer, and Dr. Sandee Hartsfield, department head of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, hosted the luncheon and presented each of the honorees with a plaque. “The canine hereditary research project would never have existed, much less become successful, without the gifts and assistance so generously provided by the honorees,” said Dr. Lees.

Ms. Vera Stewart was cited for being the founding contributor for the English Cocker Spaniel Kidney Disease Research Project. “Ms. Stewart gave us our first monetary donations and two of the first dogs we studied,” Lees said. “If it were not for her, we would never have begun.”

Ms. Addi Pittman was recognized for her extraordinary dedication as the leading proponent for the English Cocker Spaniel Kidney Disease Research Project. Ms. Pittman has been the chairperson for the Health Education Committee for the English Cocker Spaniel Club of America (ECSCA) throughout the 14-year period, according to Lees. “She first arranged for me to present the plan for the research project to the ESCA at its National Specialty Show in Frederick, Maryland, in May 1993,” said Lees. “Addi’s unflagging advocacy of the project has been a key element in maintaining the club’s commitment to the project of the years. Overall, the ECSA and its members and friends have provided us with approximately $188,000 in monetary support.”

Laura and Danny Weaver were cited for being the founding contributors for the Canine Hereditary Nephritis Project. “In the summer of 1993, they brought us the first dog with the X-linked form of the disease that we now study,” explained Lees. “The Weaver family’s contributions permitted us to establish the canine HN research colony at the university in 1997. To date, we have raised a few more than 500 dogs in this colony, which as been supported by three National Institute of Health (NIH) grants.”

“This research project is an extraordinarily unique program in that it originated from a single canine clinical patient diagnosed by Dr. Lees, and through his subsequent diligence and teamwork with other faculty and staff, developed a major research project supported by the National Institutes of Health,” said Dean Adams. “What a tremendous accomplishment this is.”

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