• PL 63 (Haartmaninkatu 8), 4023

    HELSINGIN YLIOPISTO

    Finland

  • PL 66 (Agnes Sjöbergin katu 2)

    00014

    Finland

  • Finland

  • Viikinkaari 5, Biocenter 2

    00790 Helsinki

    Finland

19992021

Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Description of research and teaching

Our research is focused on the development of canine models of human complex diseases. We take advantage of an experiment initiated by man ~15,000 years ago, taming of the wolf and, more recently, generating 400 strictly inbred pure dog breeds.  Canine pure breeding has resulted in highly uniform genomes within each breed, in which the “noise” of background genetic variation is reduced making it easier to detect genetic “signals” that contribute to disease.  That alone would not be very helpful without the fact that several of the essential components of most disease phenotypes can be found and measured in dogs. The dog is a large animal and clinically and physiologically close to humans than typical laboratory rodent models. Dogs develop biologically analogous, if not homologous, conditions to human genetic disorders. Canine disorders usually respond to human medications and also other clinical and phenomenological studies suggest that these traits may share biological mechanisms across species. We aim to utilize this unique genetic system to identify new genes for morphology, behavior, and various disorders.  Towards our aims, we have established one of the largest Dog DNA biobanks in the world with >80 000 samples from 330 different breeds. 
Although we work with many genetic traits in dogs, our research focuses on neurological, neurodegenerative, and neurobehavioral conditions such as common epilepsy, ataxia, and anxiety.  We have mapped several new loci and genes in these disorders and believe that the natural canine models provide clinically and physiologically relevant models to corresponding human diseases. Comparison of the identified loci, genes, and pathways across species will establish dogs as novel therapeutic models to understand the molecular pathogenesis of these complex traits. Meanwhile, breeders will benefit from the new DNA markers developed to identify the carriers for improved breeding plans. Our research has facilitated the development of novel commercial diagnostic innovations such as the first advanced gene panel test for dogs, MyDogDNA (www.mydogdna.com), and an NMR-based serum metabolomics test, PetMETA. These high-resolution tests are transforming diagnostics in veterinary medicine and breeding programs globally.

More on our research:

www.koirangeenit.fi

www.kissangeenit.fi

External positions

Adjunct Professor, University of Guelph

May 2013 → …

Fields of Science

  • 3111 Biomedicine
  • 1184 Genetics, developmental biology, physiology
  • 413 Veterinary science
  • 3112 Neurosciences

International and National Collaboration

Publications and projects within past five years.