Mark Neff, a professor at the University of California, Davis, participated in the Dog Genome Project at UC Berkeley as a postdoctoral fellow. More recently, he has been working to locate the genes that cause a variety of genetic disorders in domestic dogs. Among his research results is the identification of the gene that causes dwarfism in several breeds, and his findings continue to inform veterinary medicine about the inheritance of many canine diseases.
On the trail of human and canine cancer, Elaine Ostrander and her group map the genes responsible for cancer susceptibility in both. Earlier, as part of the Dog Genome Project, she searched for the genetic markers that make up the concept of a “breed,” and found that genotyping could be used to assign 99 percent of individual dogs to their correct breeds.
Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, co-director of the Genome Sequencing and Analysis Program at the Broad Institute, maps genes associated with cancer and autoimmune diseases in dogs. Her group developed a SNP chip that has been used to identify the genes for several canine diseases.
James Serpell, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society, is currently involved in researching the relationships between domestic animals—especially dogs—and people. He has also traced the natural history of the human-animal bond, including the processes by which various species have been domesticated.
Stanley Olsen, a pioneer in the discipline of zooarchaeology, was among the first to search for the origins of the domestic dog; his work laid the foundation for later studies that significantly pushed back his original 8,000 year date.
Geneticist Jasper Rine and his Dog Genome Project collaborators began with a theory that it was possible to map the chromosomes of the domestic dog and thereby discover the genetic basis of mammalian development and behavior. In his early research on purebred dog behaviors, he crossed a Newfoundland with a Border Collie, two distinct breeds with very different breed typical behaviors, and then bred the offspring to see how these various behaviors were inherited.
Through their words, art and photography, these creative people make tangible the intense and heartfelt connections we have with our dogs.
Mark Derr, journalist and author, set the “fancy” world spinning in 1990 with his Atlantic Monthly article about practices in the show-dog realm. In his seminal book, Dog’s Best Friend, he proved that his range of interests in all things canine extended far beyond that topic. With an investigative reporter’s love for unearthing a scoop balanced by a wide-ranging knowledge of his subject, he is highly regarded by dog aficionados (and a nudge to some). As Bark’s science editor, he has been an invaluable advisor and translator when it comes to the latest research and discoveries.
Elizabeth Marshall Thomas took a bite out of the bestseller lists with her original examinations of dogs. Fueled by her Husky’s ramblings through civilization, field work with wolves and anthropology training, Thomas described surprising behaviors that in ensuing years have been affirmed in studies. In The Hidden Life of Dogs and The Social Lives of Dogs, Thomas deployed her keen eye and novelist’s sensibility to shed light on the mystery of dogs without erasing their magic.