What is the WCORC?

The Evan and Sue Ann Werling Comparative Oncology Research Center (WCORC) in the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine was formed to transform and grow research to improve the outlook for pet animals and humans facing cancer. The Center builds on a strong foundation in comparative oncology research that started with the Purdue Comparative Oncology Program in 1979. 

Clinician scientists identify forms of naturally-occurring cancer in pet dogs that are similar to those same forms of cancer in humans. Subsequent studies are designed to be a "win-win-win" situation: the affected dog benefits by getting treatment for their cancer, the outlook for other dogs with that cancer may improve, and the successful results in dogs may lead to advances in humans with cancer.

The WCORC is also committed to providing compassionate care for pet animals with cancer, and for training the comparative oncology team of the future including veterinarians, veterinary technicians, veterinary oncology specialists, and other scientists.

Virtual Opening of the NEW Werling Comparative Oncology Research Center

In October of 2023, we proudly introduced the Werling Comparative Oncology Research Center (WCORC), formally known as the Purdue Comparative Oncology Program (PCOP).

This special opening was available to the public to engage with our distinguished oncology specialists as they detailed the program's inception and its transition to a recognized center. Our esteemed clinicians provide insight into their specialized research domains and address the most pressing inquiries in the field today.

Hear more about the team's current and future goals and their dedication to comparative oncology research advances in the video below:

Bladder Cancer Clinic

The WCORC has specific emphasis areas in cancer research, including one in urinary bladder cancer. Urothelial carcinoma, or "TCC" (short for transitional cell carcinoma), has been heavily researched by veterinary oncologist and Director of the WCORC, Dr. Debbie Knapp. She has spent decades of her career making giant leaps in survival times and treatment methods for dogs with bladder cancer.

Although more common in canines, the WCORC offers services for both dogs and cats with TCC, such as cystoscopic biopsy for diagnosis, diagnostic imaging evaluation, and treatment options. In addition, Dr. Knapp and her team offer clinical trials for canine patients that qualify with this type of cancer.  

Beginning in 2024, Dr. Knapp and her team will be hosting bladder screening clinics that will help dogs that are considered high-risk for bladder cancer. Ultrasound is a useful diagnostic tool for bladder cancer patients. It has helped Dr. Knapp determine specific treatment regimens for her patients and is used routinely to check the status of their disease. Ultrasound can also be used to help detect bladder cancer early and can be used as a preventative measure in these high risk breeds.

Learn more about ultrasound screening.

 Knapp Lab Background







Basic Cancer Research Applied to Answer Clinical Questions

In addition to diagnosing and treating cancer in pet dogs and cats, the WCORC team diligently works in a laboratory setting to discover new ways to prevent and treat cancer.

Dr. Deepika Dhawan, head research scientist of the Knapp Lab, and Alex Enstrom, laboratory technician, conduct specific tests on samples from the patients involved in clinical trials. The WCORC has gained extensive knowledge that have produced new developments in cancer research not just for pets, but humans as well. The Center often joins forces with human research scientists and medical professionals to maximize their potential for new findings in a variety of cancer types. 

Research Team with Knapp