Rod Page Q & A
A message from Dr. Rod Page
Rod Page, DVM, is Director of the Flint Animal Cancer Center (FACC) at Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Page also received his DVM from Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine, before entering the clinical oncology residency program at the Animal Medical Center in New York City. Prior to coming to FACC, Dr. Page taught at Cornell University where he was the founding director of the Sprecher Institute for Comparative Cancer Research.
Let’s begin with how you became involved in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study?
I had received some grants from Morris Animal Foundation, and in 2007 I was asked to join the Small Animal Study Advisory Board. I was part of the initial discussions surrounding the need for a large, longitudinal study that would follow a defined group of dogs for their entire life. We assembled a team of experts to craft a protocol for such a study, the result being the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study.
What is your experience with cancer in Golden Retrievers? Have you seen any changes in cancer rates, age of onset, or other parameters in your practice?
I don’t know if I see many changes. Golden Retrievers have been recognized as a breed that has a high incidence of cancer – we’ve known this for a long time. It was this increased incidence that was part of our decision to select this breed for study.
What happens to the questionnaire data and samples once they are collected?
Some test results are run immediately, and those results are returned to the study veterinarians. Then any remaining sample is stored for future analysis. The questionnaire data is actually analyzed on a running basis every six months; in other words, it isn’t being put aside for evaluation at a later date. There is also a possibility we will analyze some of the data more frequently as the study progresses. As we look at this data, we plan on disseminating the results as trends emerge. To help us with this, we are hiring a veterinary epidemiologist onto the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study team. Our goal is to get the findings out as quickly as possible, once we feel comfortable that the statistics support a solid trend.
The interesting part about the data is that it provides a lifetime story for one individual. This banked data can be looked at in a number of different ways. Once a dog’s “life story” is known, researchers can retrieve the data and analyze a specific patient. Researchers can also look at a precise point in that dog’s life – for example, you can look at a sample of dogs at the same stage of life; what changes are present in bloodwork, or behavior or fecal bacteria? Another potential use of the data is to confirm an observation. Suppose someone finds a gene they think might be associated with a disease. They can look at a sample of dogs from the study to look for the gene – did these dogs get sick or exhibit signs of the disease in interest?
How will the saved samples be used by researchers?
Researchers will be able to submit grants requesting access to the data through the grant submission process already in place. Their proposals will go through the same approval process as any other grant application. The questionnaire data will be handled a bit differently; we have some partners that will have access to the questionnaire data early in the collection process; then the data will be available to other researchers and interested scientists.