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NC State College of Veterinary Medicine Researcher Named to Puccini Foundation Board of Directors

Dr. Matthew Breen, professor of genomics at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, has been named to the Board of Directors of the Puccini Foundation for Comparative Oncology.

Formed in 2007 by Linda Cohen Wassong in honor of her cocker spaniel, the Puccini Foundation seeks to educate the public and raise funds for comparative oncology. The Foundation supports researchers of animal and human medicine in the collaborative study of cancer that naturally occurs in animals. The ultimate goal is to help speed the discovery of novel and innovative cancer treatments and cures for humans as well as animals.

Dr. Breen, a member of the CVM Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences and a researcher with the NC State Center for Comparative Medicine and Translational Research, is a leader in the field of genomics and comparative medicine.

The Breen Lab researches the cellular aspects of canine cancer and explores how its discoveries can be applied to more effectively treat human cancer. Dr. Breen’s writings on genetics and comparative medicine have been widely published, and he lectures on the similarities between the canine and human genome and links between canine and human cancers.

Dr. Breen also serves on the Board of Directors of the Canine Comparative Oncology and Genomics Consortium,  a not-for-profit organization established to promote the role of the dog in comparative biomedical research, and is a regular reviewer for numerous scientific journals.

“I am thrilled that a number of leaders in the human and animal oncology fields, as well as various experts in many fields, support our cause and have joined our Board of Directors and Scientific Advisory Council,” says Linda Wassong.  Animals and people get many of the same kinds of cancers. Our members will help give a voice to this promising science.”

In addition of Dr. Breen, other members of the Puccini Foundation Board of Directors include:

Dr. Antonella Borgatti, University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine;

John Bradley, principal, Torreya Partners, a life sciences advisory firm;

Dr. Craig Clifford, director of clinical research, Red Bank Veterinary Hospital;

Dr. Alan Manevitz, clinical associate professor, Payne Whitney-Weill Cornell Medical Center;

Dr. Joshua Schiffman, medical director and pediatric oncologist, Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah.

Background on the Foundation

In 2006, Wassong’s cocker spaniel and longtime companion, Puccini, was stricken with melanoma, the same dangerous skin cancer that humans endure. Puccini participated in clinical trials as part of a partnership between veterinarians at New York’s The Animal Medical Center and human oncology researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC).

Puccini’s quality and quantity of life were extended through the trials and the treatment he received became the first and only USDA-approved, therapeutic vaccine for the treatment of cancer in animals or humans. The information from the canine clinical trials is being used in ongoing research by MSKCC to investigate potential implications for a human treatment.