Gerald P Murphy masthead

Purdue Research Park

March 30, 2007

New program offered by Murphy Foundation gives veterinarians insight on geriatric pets

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., March 28, 2007 — The Gerald P. Murphy Cancer Foundation will be the host of the first training program of its kind March 30 to April 1 in West Lafayette to help veterinarians understand how aging affects dogs and cats. Just as humans are living longer and more productive lives today, dogs and cats are also living longer. Recent consumer research indicates that a top desire for pet owners is to maximize the healthy lifespan of their companion animals.

“Veterinarians everywhere are missing out on something — they receive no formal training in the biology of aging and longevity,” said David J. Waters, DVM, Ph.D., a professor of comparative oncology at the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine, associate director of the Center on Aging and the Life Course, and executive director of the Gerald P. Murphy Cancer Foundation, a Purdue Research Park-based company. “No course focusing on why pets and people age exists in the DVM curriculum of any U.S. veterinary school. Veterinarians who graduated last spring or 30 years ago are in the same boat.”

The three-day course, titled “Understanding the Biology of Aging: A Gerontology Training Course for Veterinarians,” is designed to train a select group of veterinarians to be the go-to experts on companion animal gerontology for their communities. In turn, veterinarians participating in this and future programs will form a care-provider network for further clinical studies on aging and cancer prevention conducted by the Murphy Foundation. By studying the aging process in pet dogs, scientists hope to determine the genetic and environmental determinants of exceptional longevity and how these factors influence the complex relationship between aging and cancer.

“This training course on the biology of aging will fulfill a huge unmet need,” Waters said. “Veterinary practitioners will get the opportunity to examine the strength of evidence that interventions, such as dietary antioxidant supplementation or caloric restriction, can actually slow down the rate of aging.”

The Murphy Foundation’s Center for Exceptional Longevity Studies is home to the Exceptional Longevity Data Base, the first nationwide database to systematically track the oldest pet dogs in the U.S. Scientists believe these studies of exceptional longevity in pet dogs directly complement the work of other investigators on human centenarians.

The training program is sponsored by the Murphy Foundation, P&G Pet Care, and the Center on Aging and the Life Course at Purdue University, an interdisciplinary program designed to foster research and education about the aging process. Purdue's Center on Aging seeks to optimize the aging experience by drawing upon the expertise of more than 50 faculty members leading scientific inquiries into why we age and how we can maintain or enhance physical and mental functioning over life.

Presentations will be made by world-renowned researchers specializing in both human and animal study, including Michael Hayek, Ph.D., associate director of P&G Pet Care’s research and development division as well as the following Purdue University researchers: Michael Flynn, Ph.D., professor of health and kinesiology; Gerald Hyner, Ph.D., professor of health promotion and director of the gerontology program; and Kenneth Ferraro, Ph.D., professor of sociology and director of Center on Aging and the Life Course, and Waters. The broad disciplinary strengths of these faculty include gerontology, physiology, cancer, obesity, health risk assessment, behavior modification, nutrition and pathobiology.

About the Gerald P. Murphy Cancer Foundation

The Gerald P. Murphy Cancer Foundation’s PATH to Progress® research program enrolls pet dogs into state-of-the-art clinical trials to test new, life-saving cancer treatments and that will ultimately lead to human application. The Murphy Foundation ( also is putting a spotlight on cancer prevention as a principal participant in the National Cancer Institute-sponsored Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT), which has recruited more than 32,000 men, making it the largest prostate cancer prevention trial ever conducted. Research by the foundation has shown that supplementation with the trace mineral selenium significantly reduces DNA damage in the aging prostate. This has led to a SeleniumHealth™, a simple toenail test that men can use to adjust their selenium intake to reduce their prostate cancer risk. The Murphy Foundation’s Center for Exceptional Longevity Studies works closely with Purdue’s Center on Aging and the Life Course to carry out its research and education missions.

About Purdue Research Park

Purdue Research Park ( encompasses 591 acres in West Lafayette, Ind., and is home to the largest university-affiliated, state-of-the-art business incubator complex in the nation. Within the park, 140 businesses, of which more than 90 are high-tech, employ more than 2,900 people. The Association of University Research Parks recognized Purdue Research Park for Excellence in Technology Transfer in 2005, and the park received the organization's Research/Science Park Company of the Year Award of Excellence in 2004.


Jeanine Phipps, media relations, Purdue Research Park, (765) 494-0748 (office), (765) 413-5579 (mobile),
David J. Waters, Director, Gerald P. Murphy Cancer Foundation, (765) 494-9271 (voice mail),