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PVM Professor of Oncology Embarks on Old Grey Muzzle Tour 2013

March 8, 2013

Purdue Veterinary Medicine Professor of Oncology David Waters is in the midst of a cross-country scientific trek to study 12 of the oldest-living Rottweilers in their homes, with the conviction that the oldest pet dogs living among us can shed light on a surer scientific path to discovering the secrets of successful aging and cancer resistance.  Dr. Waters, who is the associate director of the Purdue Center on Aging and the Life Course, began his expedition in Homer, Alaska, March 4 and will finish April 12 in West Lafayette.  The 40-day itinerary of “The Old Grey Muzzle Tour 2013” includes 12 scientific stops to visit dogs and 11 additional stops, which include two academic lectures and nine celebration events where Waters will meet with groups inspired by his research. 

Dr. Waters also serves as the director of the Center for Exceptional Longevity Studies at the Gerald P. Murphy Cancer Foundation, based at the Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette.  The Center is home to the Exceptional Longevity Database, the first systematic study of highly successful aging in pet dogs in which Waters' research team has catalogued the lifetime health and medical histories of almost 250 canine "centenarians" - Rottweilers that have lived at least 13 years, which is more than 30 percent longer than breed average and equivalent to humans reaching 100. 

Dr. Waters explains that, “A notable aspect of highly successful aging is the delay or avoidance of diseases such as cancer.” He adds, “The exceptionally long-lived Rottweilers we are studying have figured out how to side-step cancer, hold it in check. Our autopsy studies have shown that, although few of these dogs die of cancer, more than 90 percent of them are harboring one or more types of cancer at the time of death."  Through dedicated research - the detailed examination of tissues and careful identification of markers circulating in the blood - Waters and his team hope to discover how they do it, so pets and people can walk around with cancer as a nuisance instead of a lethal killer.  Click to view the complete news release about The Old Grey Muzzle Tour 2013.  To follow the tour on Facebook, click here.

Writer: Kevin Doerr, pvmnews@purdue.edu