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Venta, Patrick

Venta, Patrick

Associate Professor

B.S., 1974, University of California at Irvine
Ph.D., University of Michigan
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Assistant Research Scientist, 1983-1990, University of Michigan


Our research program focuses on the genetics of purebred dogs. Our primary goal is to reduce the incidence of genetic diseases in the various breeds. We begin by locating and identifying the disease genes. We are then able to develop DNAbased diagnostic tests for carriers so that breeders can make informed decisions about which dogs to breed. The incidence of each disease can be substantially reduced by breeding only those dogs that are "clear" of the disease gene. There are three basic methods with which to locate and/or identify a disease gene: the direct approach, the candidate gene approach, and the linkage approach. We use all three approaches where they are applicable. With the direct approach, the mutated gene has already been identified and it is only necessary to find the mutation within the gene in order to develop a test for carriers. With the candidate gene approach, genes in which mutations might be the cause of a disease are selected. These genes are then examined for "co-segregation" of the disease gene within appropriate pedigrees. Once the correct gene has been identified, a carrier test can be developed. The linkage approach is the most universally applicable of the three approaches but requires more effort than the first two. Any simply inherited disease gene can be located using this method. The disease gene is tested for co-segregation with genetic markers that saturate all of the canine chromosomes. A marker that cosegregates with the disease gene is said to be "linked" to that gene. Such a marker can be used to develop a DNA-based test for that disease. We have spent the last several years developing more than 1000 genetic markers to cover all of the dog chromosomes. We are now beginning to use this resource to search for linkages to prevalent disease genes in the various breeds. We are also beginning to assemble the markers into a comprehensive "map" of the dog chromosomes which will be useful for answering basic scientific questions as well as the more practical aspect of our work. Please visit the Canine Molecular Genetics web site for more information.

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