UW Medicine

The Dog Aging Project

The Dog Aging Project is an innovative project that brings together a community of dogs, owners, veterinarians, researchers, and volunteers to carry out the most ambitious canine science health study in the world. Our work is centered on two fundamental goals: understanding how biology, lifestyle, and environment influence aging and intervening to increase healthspan, the period of life spent free from disease. 

The DAP team of 40+ researchers is led by HALO Faculty Member Dr. Daniel Promislow and Former HALO Director Dr. Matt Kaeberlein at the University of Washington and Dr. Kate Creevy at Texas A&M. They have built a collaborative, open data research platform that harnesses the power of citizen science, allowing dog owners to participate in our research efforts. This culture of collaboration fosters creative partnerships, which include experts from diverse disciplines and top research institutions around the world.  Major sources of funding include the Donner Foundation, the Irish Wolfhound Association of New England (IWANE), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH grant U19AG057377).  

Currently there are four major research components:

Project 1. Defining frailty and successful aging in dogs. Unlike in humans, there are no clearly defined metrics to determine how well a dog is aging, no canine equivalent of the chair stand test or grip strength, nor predefined age-specific ranges for clinical chemistry measures. To fill this gap, we will develop new metrics of canine aging. 

Project 2. Genetic analysis of aging in dogs. Genome sequence data for >10,000 canine participants will be integrated with health measures and behavioral traits to carry out comprehensive genome-wide association studies.

Project 3. Systems biology of healthy aging in dogs. We will identify molecular biological predictors of disease and longevity and develop an epigenetic clock that predicts biological age in dogs.

Project 4. TRIAD—Rapamycin Intervention Study. We will conduct a large-scale trial of FDA-approved rapamycin, a drug shown to increase lifespan and delay the negative effects of aging in mice. We will test the effects of the drug on cognitive function, heart function, immunity, and cancer incidence in 500 middle-aged dogs.

To learn more, please visit the Dog Aging Project website.