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The Shine On Project: A Novel Way to Approach Cancer

The vision “to create a world where we no longer fear cancer” drives the work of Dr. Jaime Modiano and his colleagues in the Animal Cancer Care and Research Program of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. The “Shine On” study represents a turning point in their efforts to achieve this vision, by finding a way to prevent hemangiosarcoma, an aggressive, malignant tumor of blood vessel cells, in dogs. To do this, Modiano’s group plans to use a test to find hemangiosarcoma cells in the blood of dogs at risk for the disease. His group will then treat the dogs that have hemangiosarcoma cells in their blood with a new drug that kills the those cells before they ever have a chance to form a tumor.


The Milestones for Shine On

Shine On became a reality thanks to funding from the Golden Retriever Foundation, American Boxer Charitable Foundation, Portuguese Water Dog Foundation, and AKC Canine Health Foundation.  


The study is divided into three phases, each of which represents one of the three milestones that Modiano’s group expects to achieve.

  • Phase 1, the first milestone, is to confirm that testing for the presence of hemangiosarcoma cells in the blood of dogs will help distinguish dogs that have the disease from dogs that do not.
  • Phase 2, the second milestone, is to determine if testing for the presence of hemangiosarcoma cells in the blood will be useful in predicting when tumors become resistant to treatment, therefore helping to predict which patients will relapse and when.
  • Phase 3, the third milestone, is to find hemangiosarcoma cells in the blood at the earliest stages of the disease and to treat dogs that have these cells with a drug called eBAT to eliminate the hemangiosarcoma cells from the blood before tumors have a chance to form.


Progress and Early Results

Modiano’s team began working on the Shine On project in March 2016. A major challenge was to refine the blood test so that hemangiosarcoma cells in the blood could be detected not only in dogs with tumors, but also in dogs that had not yet developed tumors. Researchers spent the first six months investigating how to do this, identifying several molecules that they believe will improve the sensitivity and specificity of the test for early detection.


In the next six months, they made substantial progress toward the first two milestones. Modiano’s team screened blood samples from 54 dogs in Phase 1. Thirty-one dogs were unaffected and the other 23 dogs had hemangiosarcoma, another type of cancer, or a spleen mass that was due to a condition other than cancer. They defined the smallest number of hemangiosarcoma cells that the test could detect in a routine blood sample and confirmed that hemangiosarcoma cells are not detectable in the blood of otherwise healthy dogs at low risk for the disease.


Early results from Phase 2, where researchers tested samples from dogs that are undergoing treatment, suggest the patented blood test could show when a treatment might not work as well. In preparation for Phase 3, they established the safety of eBAT, a drug developed at the University of Minnesota to treat hemangiosarcoma and other cancers, in two clinical trials. They also documented the ability of eBAT to eliminate the cells responsible for initiating and maintaining hemangiosarcoma. eBAT’s remarkable safety record, potential to directly kill the cells that form hemangiosarcoma tumors, and ability to modify the cellular environment so it becomes inhospitable for tumor growth and survival make it a highly desirable drug for hemangiosarcoma prevention.


Next Steps

The plan is to continue enrolling dogs in Phase 1 and Phase 2 of Shine On for the duration of the study. Modiano expects enrollment for Phase 3 to begin in fall 2017. Golden retrievers, boxers, and Portuguese water dogs from the lower 48 states that are at least 6 years old and have no evidence of disease will be eligible to participate in Phase 3. Owners will receive information about how the test is done, how to interpret results, and options after testing. Complete information on eligibility and rules for participation is available on the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine Clinical Investigation Center website at


eBAT chemoprevention therapy will be available exclusively at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, for eligible dogs participating in Phase 3 of the Shine On study. These dogs must have had two consecutive positive tests for hemangiosarcoma cells in the blood and have no detectable tumor. Their owners must consent to the dog’s treatment with eBAT.



Shine On represents a shift in both the way we think about cancer and the way we conduct research. The project is progressing on schedule, and Modiano’s team is optimistic, as the results so far are consistent with their predictions.



Modiano and his team are interested in expanding eligibility to participate in Shine On to dogs from other breeds, funding permitting. If you wish to help expand and accelerate recruitment and progress by contributing financially to this important research, please contact Andrea Fahrenkrug at


Position Title – GRF Director of Planned Giving

Committee of: One

  • Contact Person/Organization: GRF Treasurer
  • Equipment Required:  Computer
  • Supplies Needed:  Stationary*, postage*, e-mail, word processing, spreadsheet capability
    (for example, Excel) and access to the internet.
Skills Required:
  1. Proficient on a computer and with professional electronic correspondence.
  2. Excellent verbal and written skills.
  3. Knowledge of wills and trusts would be beneficial.
  4. Fundraising experience, especially with locating and courting donors.
  5. Innovative and enthusiastic.
  6. Respectful of the need for privacy of donors.
  7. Good organizational skills.
  8. Limited expense accounting.
  9. Willingness to contact persons of means in the Golden Retriever fancy to encourage donations
    to GRF in their wills or trusts.  
  • Maintaining files.
  • Providing necessary documents for GRF’s inclusion in wills and/or trusts.
  • Answering inquiries from the public
  • Contacting established donors to encourage planned giving.
  • Communicating with the GRF website and Facebook liaison to communicate through these social medias.

Additional comments:  The work load would be approximately 5 hours a week, however an enthusiastic,
energetic volunteer could expand this with our encouragement.  It would be advantageous for the Director to attend the National Specialty and develop contacts and relationships with potential donors during this time.
*GRF will provide
Resumes should be sent to Golden Retriever Foundation Treasurer, Shirley Peskie, at
The deadline for applications is January 31, 2017.

Click here for downloading the word doc.

AKC's "Canines and Cocktails"

At the AKC Canine Health Foundation "Canines and Cocktails" event in Orlando FL this past December, the Golden Retriever Foundation was honored as one of the top 5 organizations for donations to canine health. The GRF and the American Boxer Charitable Foundation were the highest donation groups of all the Distinguished Research Partners to be so recognized.
"These clubs and organizations are making a lasting impact on canine health, said Dr. Shila Nordone, CHF's chief scientific officer. “Their donations to CHF are supporting research that addresses some of the most prominent health concerns for our dogs." Among those listed by Dr. Nordone were cancer, subvalvular aortic stenosis (SAS, a heart disease that afflicts Goldens), hypothyroidism, and bloat. "Together, we are working to provide better treatments and more accurate diagnoses for all dogs."
Susan Lilly, CHF's CEO, said, "We are deeply indebted to these organizations for their commitment to canine health, and we greatly value their partnership over the past 20 years."
The Golden Retriever Foundation is extremely proud of the $1,163,612 that we have given to the AKC Canine Health Foundation to battle canine diseases. Won't you join us by making your own donation to the health of our Goldens? Donate today at

AmazonSmile now rewards GRF!

Clicking thru the "Support Us" button on the bottom right of the website.  If you go thru Amazon here, they donate 3% - HUGE difference than going just thru the Amazon Smile.

Select ‘Golden Retriever Foundation’, and log in with your login and password. Once logged into, you will see a comment about your support for GRF! You only pay for your product. But actually, you are not making the donation; Amazon is making the donation so there is no additional money to pay other than what you want to buy.

How does AmazonSmile work? When first visiting AmazonSmile, customers are prompted to select a charitable organization – in this case “Golden Retriever Foundation”, from almost one million eligible organizations. In order to browse or shop at AmazonSmile, customers must first select a charitable organization. For eligible purchases at AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 3% of the purchase price to the customer’s selected charitable organization.

What is the AmazonSmile Foundation? It’s a 501(c)(3) private foundation created by Amazon to administer the AmazonSmile program. All donation amounts generated by the AmazonSmile program are remitted to the AmazonSmile Foundation. In turn, the AmazonSmile Foundation donates those amounts to the charitable organizations selected by customers. Amazon pays all expenses of the AmazonSmile Foundation; they are not deducted from the donation amounts generated by purchases on AmazonSmile.

We have some interesting research information for you this month (July 2015). 

First, from Rhonda Hovan, Research Facilitator, Health & Genetics Committee:

Golden Retriever Genetic Diversity Project

The Golden Retriever Foundation is excited to announce that it has asked Josh Stern, DVM, PhD, Niels Pedersen, DVM, PhD, and the research team in the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory (VGL) at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine to develop a genetic diversity study of Golden Retrievers. The project will survey DNA from North American Goldens, with a focus on selecting dogs that represent all or nearly all of the genetic variety available in this population. A report at the end of the study will detail the frequency of key haplotypes (groups of genes that tend to be inherited together) that are indicators of the genetic health of a population, and will identify subpopulations that have maintained richer diversity versus those with potentially risky loss of diversity.

The 1998 GRCA/GRF Golden Retriever Health Survey gave us invaluable insight into the state of clinical disease and health of our breed, and it remains a gold standard source of data that helps guide research priorities.  Similarly, this DNA survey will provide insight into the genetic health of the breed, and will be a lasting resource to inform and guide breed planning.  This may help us reduce harmful practices that cause loss of diversity, and allow us to develop a rational strategy to improve the long-term viability of the gene pool.

In addition to reporting on diversity in the breed as a whole, VGL will provide participating owners with individual reports on their dogs.  This will enable the identification of dogs that have rare genes whose diversity value to the breed is highly desirable, so that special effort or consideration can be made to preserve those dogs/lines going forward.  Over time, as the database matures, it may help breeders select breeding pairs that will produce a higher level of healthy diversity in their puppies.

It is said in medicine that one cannot change or impact what one doesn’t measure, and thus GRF has initiated this study to measure the current state of genetic diversity in the North American Golden population.  A long-range goal is that we will obtain data that will allow us to be better caretakers of the breed. 

Phase I of this research is already underway, and Golden owners and breeders are encouraged to participate by submitting a DNA sample that will help to build the database.  During the research phase, cost is discounted to $50 instead of the regular rate of $100, and additional information can be found at:

From Morris Animal Foundation – MADGiC Project:

Dog breed susceptibility to certain cancers has been recognized for years, but understanding the relationship between inherited traits and the likelihood of developing cancers has been elusive.  With funding from Morris Animal Foundation and the Golden Retriever Foundation, Dr. Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, Dr. Jaime Modiano and Dr. Matthew Breen have discovered a potential link between certain mutations in the DNA of golden retriever and future cancer development.

Their three year, $1 million project examined genetic traits associated with risk and progression of two of the most common and deadliest cancers diagnosed in golden retrievers – hemangiosarcoma and lymphoma.  They uncovered two specific gene regions that predispose golden retrievers to both cancers.

Now that candidate genetic mutations have been identified, researchers need to test more golden retrievers with and without cancer to see if these observations remain valid in the larger population.  Once validated, a genetic test can be developed to identify individuals at higher risk of disease.
For a full copy of the article, contact Morris Animal Foundation, 720 S. Colorado Blvd., Suite 174A, Denver, CO 80246.  Request Animal NEWS Vol. 15-2.

Golden Retriever Lifetime Study:  To celebrate enrollment of 3,000, MAF is having a party! For information please go to: and click on Events.

From David Haworth, President & CEO Morris Animal Foundation:

I’m pleased to let you know that Sharon Albright, DVM, CCRT, will join Morris Animal Foundation in August as study veterinarian for the Canine Lifetime Health Project. In her new role, she will be responsible for many of the veterinary science as well as canine health aspects of our Golden Retriever Lifetime Study.

Dr. Albright received her DVM from Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in 2000 and her canine rehabilitation certification in 2011. She’s been in clinical practice for 15 years and is coming to us from South Arundel Veterinary Hospital in Edgewater, Maryland.

In addition to her veterinary expertise and experience, Dr. Albright is an active member of the golden retriever community, particularly with the Potomac Valley Golden Retriever Club. She currently has two golden retrievers competing in obedience, rally, and hunt tests, and recently started showing her 9-month old golden puppy in conformation.


Donate to the National GRF Art Auction.

This year, I am very excited to chair the 2017 Art Auction being held during the GRCA National Specialty Show in California and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for being such a valued member of the Golden Retriever Foundation family. Without the generous support and hard work of so many committed and dedicated golden lovers, we simply wouldn’t be as successful as we have been in supporting the GRF.

As you may know, the Art Auction is held in three parts:

  • Our fun On-line Auction allows people to support the GRF even if they can’t be present at the GRCA National. It is comprised of everything from signed books, jewelry, wine and prints to whimsical items and even a golden retriever toaster last year! What’s the coolest item you can find to donate?
  • Our exciting Silent Auction takes places at the GRF Booth during the week of the National. We are looking for wonderful limited edition prints, jewelry, stained glass, quilts and unusual handmade items. What can you create?
  • Our famous Live Auction, held in conjunction with the Top Twenty Gala event, brings out the “Best of Breed” in collectibles! Donations to this event are limited to one-of-a-kind, custom, and rare collectibles. This year we are hoping to mix things up a bit by adding in some “priceless experience” packages for the highest bidder.

If you would like play a big part in breaking last year’s record by donating to the 2017 Art Auction, kindly email me a description and photo of the item(s). Or if you have ideas and/or contacts to help us arrange “priceless experience packages”, I’d love to hear from you. We will be accepting donations until September 1st, 2017. Donations may also be mailed directly to me at the address below.

So, let’s get to work to continue the legacy of commitment and generosity to this vital foundation and to the breed that we all love so dearly! Thank you for your continued support. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Always Golden,
Susan Campia
GRF Art Auction Chair

Mailing Address:
2 Beech Plum Drive
East Falmouth,
Home: 508-548-1475
Cell: 617-605-5610

The Purina Program explained.

Through the PPCP Program, Purina and the AKC Canine Health Foundation work together to help parent clubs address priority health concerns for their breeds and areas not previously funded. Here's how the PPCP Program works:

Pro Club members redeem weight circles from bags of participating Purina brand dog foods. Purina tracks these weight circle submissions, and for every $100 of qualifying weight circle points earned by Pro Club members, Purina donates $10 to the participating national parent breed club.

Points are accumulated throughout a calendar year, and in February, a check representing 10% of the value of the submitted weight circles for the year is evenly split. Fifty percent will go to the Canine Health Foundation, in the name of the Golden Retriever Foundation (designated as a GRCA/GRF donor advised fund) and will be specifically directed for research of Golden Retriever health issues. These monies are eligible to be matched up to 100 percent by the Canine Health Foundation if it meets the Foundations funding guidelines. The remaining fifty percent will be issued to GRCA to be used for rescue, education and/or research as determined by the Club.

For the year 2014, we earned $17,851. Since the inception of this program in 2003 the total Purina has sent GRCA/CHF is $182,369. For more information on this program visit

The GRF is thrilled to announce that the joint research project with CHF, originally agreed in 2010 under the leadership of Dave Kinghorn of GRF and Terry Warren of CHF, is a reality!
The Request for Proposal process was arduous and rigorous. Many scientific experts weighed in on the approval, including CHF research scientists and our own GRCA Health and Genetics Committee.

Special GRF Update  --  Announcing a New Fund to Support Senior and Special Rescue Dogs

On Tuesday, May 28, 2013 CHF issued a press release specifying that our two foundations have agreed to fund a total of almost $1.5 million for the following two grant proposals:

Developing Markers to Diagnose and Guide Cancer Treatment in Golden Retrievers Based on Newly Discovered Heritable and Acquired Mutations

Investigators/Institutions: Dr. Jaime F Modiano, VMD, PhD, of University of Minnesota; Dr. Matthew Breen, PhD, North Carolina State University; Dr. Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, PhD, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

Grant Period: June 1, 2013 – May 31, 2016

Discovery of novel protein, blood, and epigenetic biomarkers of lymphoma risk, classification, and prognosis in Golden Retrievers

Investigators/Institutions: Dr. Jeffery N. Bryan, DVM, MS, PhD, of University of Missouri, Columbia; Dr. Anne Avery VDM, PhD, Colorado State University; Dr. Heather Wilson-Robles, DVM, Texas A&M University

Grant Period: June 1, 2013 – May 31, 2016


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