NIA Request for information and comments on possibility of using domesticated dogs to advance the study of aging

Notice Number: NOT-AG-10-003

Key Dates
Release Date: November 9, 2009
Response Date: December 9, 2009

Issued by
National Institute on Aging (NIA), (

This Request for Information (RFI) is for informational and planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the Federal Government, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and/or the National Institute on Aging (NIA).  The NIA does not intend to make any awards based on responses to this RFI or to otherwise pay for the preparation of any information submitted or for the Government's use of such information. 

Purpose and Objectives

The NIA is soliciting input from the scientific community and the general public about the possibility of using domesticated dogs to advance the study of aging. The possible use of dogs is based on overlapping features between the lives of dogs and humans, including their shared living environments, similarities in physiology, pathophysiology and chronic diseases for which, in turn, there are similarities in medical treatments and clinical practices.  Suggestions and ideas are also welcome from intramural NIH scientists and staff at other NIH Institutes and Centers.


The domesticated dog (Canis lupus familiaris, including pet and feral dogs) shares the human environment to a greater extent than any other mammal. Humans and pet dogs (in particular) often inhabit the same living spaces, eat the same or similar foods, take the same medicines, experience the same clinical interventions, suffer from similar chronic diseases, and are subject to significantly overlapping end-of-life issues. Approximately half of the inheritable diseases of dogs are clinically similar to those found in humans. There are approximately 350 recently-derived domestic breeds (developed over approximately 15,000 years of selective breeding, but most derived within the past few hundred years) and seven closest-relative wild-dog populations including the grey wolf from which domesticated dogs were derived. There are millions of pet dogs under veterinary care, and therefore extensive medical (veterinary) records exist. Recent scientific advances have established a dog genome which is the basis for comprehensive genetic understanding of phenotypes in dogs. There is substantial breed-to-breed variation for aging rates and for diseases. Thus, dogs show many features of health and aging that are similar to those of humans, but there are large populations of dogs that are more genetically homogeneous than comparable human populations, and thus studies in dogs may be more tractable than in humans. A better understanding of genetic variations in health and aging for dogs would benefit these pets directly and the outcomes should be readily translated into healthier aging for humans.

Information Requested

NIA seeks information in several areas that will focus on basic and/or translational research that will employ domesticated dogs for aging research. The information gathered may be used for developing a research opportunity for extramural investigators to promote and advance the research in the development and application of studies on aging using domesticated dogs. The NIA seeks information on:


Responses will be accepted through December 9, 2009. Interested persons, groups, and organizations are invited to submit responses. These should be limited to three pages and marked with this Request for Information identifier NOT-AG-10-003. Responses are preferred in electronic format and may be e-mailed to

If you are willing to do so, please indicate your primary affiliation/role from the categories listed below:

Small Business
Pharmaceutical or Biotechnology Industry
Pet Food Industry
Federal Government
State Government
Healthcare Professional (e.g., veterinarian)
Patient Advocacy Group
Kennel Club

Respondents will receive an email confirmation acknowledging receipt of their response, but will not receive individualized feedback.

All individual responses will remain confidential.  Any identifiers (e.g., names, institutions, e-mail addresses, etc.) will be removed when responses are compiled.  Only the processed, de-identified results will be shared internally with scientific working groups convened by the NIA, as appropriate.  Nonetheless, no proprietary information should be submitted.


Inquiries regarding this RFI may be directed to:

Ronald A. Kohanski, Ph.D.
Deputy Director, Division of Aging Biology
National Institute on Aging, NIH
7201 Wisconsin Avenue
Suite 2C231
Bethesda, Maryland 20892-9205
Phone: 301-496-6402

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