Scientists Scramble to Keep Dog Aging Project Alive

In late 2019, scientists began searching for 10,000 Americans willing to enroll their pets in an ambitious new study of health and longevity in dogs. The researchers planned to track the dogs over the course of their lives, collecting detailed information about their bodies, lifestyles and home environments. Over time, the scientists hoped to identify the biological and environmental factors that kept some dogs healthy in their golden years — and uncover insights about aging that could help both dogs and humans lead longer, healthier lives.

Today, the Dog Aging Project has enrolled 47,000 canines and counting, and the data are starting to stream in. The scientists say that they are just getting started.

“We think of the Dog Aging Project as a forever project, so recruitment is ongoing,” said Daniel Promislow, a biogerontologist at the University of Washington and a co-director of the project. “There will always be new questions to ask. We want to always have dogs of all ages participating.”

But Dr. Promislow and his colleagues are now facing the prospect that the Dog Aging Project might have its own life cut short. About 90 percent of the study’s funding comes from the National Institute on Aging, a part of the National Institutes of Health, which has provided more than $28 million since 2018. But that money will run out in June, and the institute does not seem likely to approve the researchers’ recent application for a five-year grant renewal, the scientists say.

“We have been told informally that the grant is not going to be funded,” said Matt Kaeberlein, the other director of the Dog Aging Project and a former biogerontology researcher at the University of Washington. (Dr. Kaeberlein is now the chief executive of Optispan, a health technology company.)

A spokeswoman for the National Institute on Aging said that the N.I.H. does not comment on the decision-making process for individual grant applications.

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