Mapping Future Of Cancer Research

Gordon H. Theilen is looked at as one of the most prominent forefathers in veterinary oncology.

Dr. Gordon H. Theilen, seen in 2004, is viewed as one of veterinary oncology’s most prolific forefathers.

Courtesy of UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine

Oncology and pet hospice have been the focus of my practice career since I completed the first-ever, though unofficial, oncology residency program under the guidance of Gordon H. Theilen, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM (oncology), at the University of California, Davis.

Veterinary oncology has grown rapidly over the past 15 years because of the amazing foundation set forth by our great forefathers, Dr. Robert Brody, Dr. Greg MacEwen, Dr. Amiya K. Patnaik, Dr. Edward Gillette and my mentor, Dr. Theilen. We are so fortunate to have had the opportunity to celebrate Theilen’s 80th birthday with a first-of-its-kind cancer research symposium at UC Davis.

The Theilen Tribute Symposium honored the visionary “One Medicine” career of Theilen. He is considered one of veterinary oncology’s most prolific and internationally appreciated forefathers. He contributed diverse pivotal research in cancer virology, initiated the first veterinary clinical oncology service, contributed the world’s first reference textbook, “Veterinary Cancer Medicine,” and mentored many who became leaders in their respective fields, touching millions of lives worldwide.

Theilen based his research and teaching career at UC Davis, where he was influential in the growth of the veterinary and medical facilities. His research work and visionary philosophy attracted top comparative oncology and research scientists for both the medical school and the veterinary school.

As professor emeritus at UC Davis, Theilen remains active in the American Kennel Club, leads his champion Brittanys in field trials, and is responsible for advancing Brittany genomics research.

Internationally known researchers and clinicians assembled to share information and collaborate during the symposium’s scientific program, titled “50 Years of Cancer Research: How Close Are We to Cure?” Speakers reviewed breakthrough research and discussed cancer genomics and therapies for the future.

We thank the sponsors such as Morris Animal Foundation, Merial and others who made the symposium possible. We thank the devoted staff at for creating the opportunity for the world to read many of the presented papers in the special Journal 6A 2008. We thank Antoinette Passaretti, editor of Clinician’s Brief, for allowing me to select and edit symposium abstracts for the Capsules series in the June and July 2008 issues.

The symposium pulled various biosciences together under the One Medicine philosophy. We held a wrapup collaborative session facilitated by Patrica Olson, DVM, president and CEO of Morris Animal Foundation, with the purpose of generating a forward-looking consensus statement on cancer research.

This statement, reprinted on Page 28, is independent of the UC Davis faculty.

We hope that future symposia such as this one will continue the tradition of honoring great contributors to the field of veterinary oncology and genetics research. We hope that the “Think Thank” exchange that was generated may ultimately help to create a more collaborative spirit within and move the field a bit faster and further to aid research work that will ultimately arrest cancer’s fatal agenda.

Theilen Symposium’s Consensus Statement

“Many issues were highlighted during the Theilen Tribute Symposium and some of the struggles of conducting research were discussed during the ‘Think Tank’ session that followed the tribute.

“The symposium encourages the interest and freedom of young researchers to investigate the fringes of what we know and think about cancer. The symposium encourages teaching future scientists to think beyond the known horizons about how cancer mobilizes to kills its hosts.

“Future efforts in comparative cancer research should focus on understanding the causation of cancer and the biochemical and biomolecular mechanisms that lead to malignancy. Understanding the role of key proteins such as p53 and processes such as methylation, epigenetics, receptor function and cell signaling may provide keys for researchers to open channels to target intrinsic mechanisms of malignancy for future therapy.

“Research in cancer prevention that illuminates genetic, immunological, nutritional and stem cell protections should be encouraged and funded with large-scale studies. The symposium encourages funding of public education to inform people to restrict exposure of animals to known carcinogenic agents and activities.

“The future treatment of cancer should inflict less toxicity to patients. Future research must enhance immunological and genetic methods to develop vaccines that will generate the host response to rid its body of destructive cancer cells.

“Large, multi-group clinical trials should be encouraged that will answer questions regarding treatment efficacy in out bred populations.

“It is extremely important to generate funds to conduct animal cancer research.

“The human-animal bond drives generous donations from interest groups, organizations and society for quality and quantity of research in animal cancer. The medical community has grown to accept that dogs and cats are excellent models for the human cancer experience in the One Medicine model. Future collaborative research is destined to bring animal cancer research to its highest level, thus enhancing society’s overall well being and survival.”

How to Help

Anyone who would like to fund cancer research can make gifts to the Dr. Gordon Theilen Fund for Comparative Cancer Research.

Checks may be made payable to UC Regents. They should indicate the Gordon Theilen Fund for Comparative Cancer Research and be sent to:

Center for Companion Animal Health,

School of Veterinary Medicine

UC Davis, Davis, CA 95616.

Gifts to the fund are tax-deductible


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