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What is GDC?
In 1990 a group including veterinarians, scientists, dog breeders and owners associated with the International Elbow Working Group (I.E.W.G) created the non-profit Institute for Genetic Disease Control in Animals (GDC) as the first national and international open registry for canine orthopedic genetic diseases.
The GDC registry was modeled after the Swedish open registry for canine hip dysplasia that contributed to a significant reduction in that disease in Sweden during the 1980s. GDC expanded on the Swedish idea, creating a computer-based registry flexible and sophisticated enough to include all breeds and any known or suspected genetic diseases that breeders, veterinarians and researchers would want to collect data on.
At the request of various breed groups, GDC established additional registries including eye, heart, cancer and other genetic diseases and has expanded the original orthopedic registry. GDC also created a number of research registries for suspected genetic diseases.
Paul Poulos, DVM, PhD, DACVR, served as executive director of GDC until May 2002. Dr. Poulos has served as Associate Professor of Radiology at University of Utrecht and Professor and Chairman of the Dept. of Radiology and Comparative and Experimental Pathology at the University of Florida. He has written extensively on subjects ranging from veterinary imaging to ultrasound guided biopsy techniques.
GDC currently maintains only Eye and Tumor registries, as of July 2002.
Information in the GDC data base includes information from all the registries thatGDC has maintained. including:
GDC was created to gather the information from veterinary screening of individual dogs for genetic diseases and to make that information available to responsible breeders, owners, veterinarians and researchers.
A significant number of genetic diseases have a devastating impact on the health of dogs and impose increasingly huge medical and emotional costs on breeders and owners. The list is long, but some of the most common and destructive genetic diseases are hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, eye diseases such as progressive retinal atrophy, several types of cancer, heart disease, and deafness.
The only point of attack against genetic disease is through responsible and informed breeding. There is no other way to control and reduce the presence of the disease genes among the families of dogs and breeds where they occur.
GDC registers phenotypic data on both affected and unaffected dogs.
A GDC KinReport on a particular dog links it with all close relatives in the database, providing genotypic information--in effect, a genetic pedigree--for an entire family of dogs.
Because the KinReport shows the prevalence of genetic disease in a dog's parents, siblings, litter mates, half-siblings and offspring, breeders and owners can assess a particular dog's risk for acquiring or handing down genetic disease.
All dogs carry some genes for genetic disease.
The good news is that, working together, we have the know-how to control the spread of disease genes in purebred dogs.
Those of us who love dogs, whether we are breeders, owners or veterinarians, understand that each puppy turns out the way it does, in large part, because of the genes it inherits from its parents. Among the 40,000 to 100,000 genes each puppy is born with are genes that are exclusive to its breed, as well as genes that are common to all dogs.
Unfortunately, along with the genes that determine coat length or hunting instinct, every single puppy also gets several genes that may cause genetic disease. Many dogs never get a genetic disease, even though they carry the genes. But when the dice roll the wrong way, the puppy is the loser.
A dam and a sire, for example, who have been certified to be free of hip dysplasia, can pass along the combination of genes to some of their puppies that will cause the disease.
Ten years ago GDC (a group of breeders, veterinarians and researchers) pioneered a new type of genetic disease registry in the U.S. We collect the full range of information available from the screenings of each GDC-registered dog. And we provide controlled access to that information to help breeders and owners make smart choices by tracking the genetic diseases in a dog's family.
\We also maintain research databases for use by veterinary researchers. With recent advances in canine genetics, the GDC registries have become a crucial part of the work to improve the health of our dogs.
GDC has merged its data bases with OFA as of August, 2002, and we encourage breeders to use the OFA "choice" option to continue sharing information openly with others in the purebred dog community.