Colorado State University Receives $1 Million to Start First Program of Its Kind in Cancer Biology

Colorado State University today announced a $1 million gift allocated to start a cancer biology program of study within the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The graduate program will become the first program of its kind in the country.

The anonymous donor requested that the gift be administered through Morris Animal Foundation, based in Englewood, to fund curriculum development. The new program will rest within the college’s prestigious Animal Cancer Center, the largest center of its kind in the world. The Animal Cancer Center is home to significant cancer research that benefits both animal and human patients.

"This gift allows the university to provide educational and research opportunities for students in a field where few opportunities to learn are available today," said Dr. Lance Perryman, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. "The understanding of cancer at the whole animal, cellular and molecular level is critical to our ability to continue to successfully solve problems related to prevention, treatment and diagnosis of cancer."

The program will train scientist whose focus is on the basic science of the causes and prevention of cancer, in addition to cancer diagnosis, therapies and risk assessment. Funding for the program will be matched by the university’s Animal Cancer Center.

"We have done a great job for years in training clinical oncologists to work in the worldwide market," said Dr. Stephen Withrow, director of the Animal Cancer Center at

Colorado State. "What this gift and the creation of the first veterinary Cancer Biology program does is train the next generation of clinical scientists to teach, mentor and do cancer research. This gift invests in the future of comparative veterinary oncology."

The program will consist of five courses in basic cancer biology and will be integrated as an area of specialization within graduate studies in the cell and molecular biology concentration, which is an interdisciplinary graduate degree program that incorporates classes across four colleges.

"Morris Animal Foundation is pleased to distribute the funds and provide oversight for this worthy training program," said Dr. Patricia Olson, president and CEO of Morris Animal Foundation. "Our expert scientific advisory boards will ensure the donor that progress is optimal. By matching donors to good science, we believe that the cause of cancer in dogs can be found. Scientists have powerful, new tools now that the canine genome has been sequenced. With the support of Morris Animal Foundation, new researchers will be trained to find answers to age-old questions."

To obtain a Ph.D. degree in this program, students must complete 72 credit hours in courses such as biochemistry, science and ethics, disease epidemiology and advanced cell biology and molecular genetics. Students also will complete new courses such as cancer genetics, environmental carcinogenesis and clinical oncology.

Colorado State’s Animal Cancer Center, with the world’s greatest wealth of knowledge and expertise regarding cancer in animals, handles more than 7,000 appointments and 1,500 new pet cancer patients each year. The center focuses on treating animals with cancer as well as researching new methods to diagnose, treat and prevent cancer. Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in pets, and 50 percent of dogs and 30 percent of cats develop cancer in their lifetime.

Doctors at Animal Cancer Center have developed new cancer treatment tools such as a revolutionary limb-sparing surgical procedure used worldwide on humans and animals and pioneered surgical, chemotherapy and radiation protocols. Through research, the centered developed a diet for pets that reduces their cancer therapy side effects and improves their quality of life, and also instituted one of the first services in the country that offers emotional support and counseling to pet owners making decisions about their pets.

Morris Animal Foundation has provided funding for several studies focused on companion animal and wildlife heath issues at Colorado State.

The center has trained more veterinary surgical, medical and radiation oncologists than any other veterinary institution.