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Cancer Research

Cancer refers to a group of diseases caused by uncontrolled proliferation of cells. It is common in dogs, cats and horses, and the study of “spontaneous” cancer in pets contributes to our understanding and improved therapy of cancer in humans. Conversely, advances in cancer therapy in human medicine are used to provide more effective treatments for pets. Causes of cancer vary, but include both genetic and environmental factors. The predisposition of certain breeds of dogs to particular types of cancer is strong evidence for the genetic underpinning of cancer. The Purdue Comparative Oncology Program (PCOP) conducts clinical trials in pets aimed at improving the therapeutic outcome of cancer. Through sophisticated genetic engineering, models of cancer can also be induced in laboratory mice and zebra fish, and provide insights into the molecular pathways and genetic basis of cancer.

Research in the College of Veterinary Medicine focuses on several forms of cancer, with a special emphasis on urinary bladder cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, lymphoma, nasal tumors and brain tumors. The research ranges from fundamental investigations at the molecular and cellular level to clinical trials.


Brain tumors

  • Bentley, Tim (VCS) – surgery, chemotherapy, neuroradiology
  • Mendrysa, Susan (BMS) – molecular biology of medulloblastoma
  • Packer, Rebecca (VCS) - surgery and chemotherapy in dogs
  • Yang, Jer-Yen (BMS) - molecular biology

Breast cancer

  • Chang, Alice (BMS) – cancer stem cells; molecular biology
  • Lelièvre, Sophie (BMS) – molecular biology; nutrition and prevention
  • Mohammed, Sulma (CPB) – early detection; biomarkers; breast cancer in Africa


Nasal tumors

Prostate cancer

  • Crist, Scott (CPB) – role of inflammation; diagnostic biomarkers
  • Ratliff, Tim (CPB) – role of inflammation; diagnostic biomarkers

Urinary bladder cancer

  • Knapp, Deborah (VCS) – genetic and environmental risk factors; therapy in dogs

Molecular Biology and Genetics


  • Jones, Yava (CPB) – pathology of genetically engineered mice
  • Ramos-Vara, Jose (CPB) – immunohistochemistry of tumors in domestic animals