Meet Laura Liscum, PhD - CHF Scientific Review Committee Vice-Chair

03/23/2020
Author: Sharon M. Albright, DVM, CCRT

Dr. Laura Liscum has been a member of the AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) Scientific Review Committee since 2017, and currently serves as Vice-Chair of the committee. While she may have joined the dog world more recently than other CHF team members, her extensive health research experience and scientific intellect make her an asset to CHF’s grant review process.

Laura earned her PhD in biological sciences from Columbia University in New York. She completed her post-doctoral training in molecular genetics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center before returning to the Northeast as a faculty member at Tufts University School of Medicine. As a cell biologist, Dr. Liscum focused mostly on human disease and applied for and reviewed research grants through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and American Heart Association (AHA). She retired from Tufts in 2016 as Professor Emeritus of Integrative Physiology and Pathobiology.

Laura
Dr. Laura Liscum and Dr. Jerry Faust with one of their PBGV's.

When Dr. Liscum and her partner Dr. Jerry Faust, also a scientist from Tufts medical school, decided to get a dog, careful research was completed. Dr. Liscum did not grow up with pets and adopted her first cat in her thirties. Dr. Faust grew up with Dachshunds and Basset Hounds. Throughout their dog-finding research, the breed that kept coming up was the Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen, or PBGV. With the dog’s breed decided, the duo then set out attending dog shows and contacting PBGV breeders to find their very own dog. In 2001, they brought home their first PBGV - Tibby.

The couple became involved with the PBGV Club of America and after attending a hunt weekend ‘on a whim,’ they were hooked on becoming more involved with the breed club. Given Dr. Liscum’s scientific background, she readily volunteered to help the PBGV Club of America Health Committee and the PBGV Health & Rescue Foundation review grants they could support through CHF and translate the science for members in the club’s publication, “Saber Tails.”  Dr. Liscum was able to attend an AKC Canine Health Foundation National Parent Club Canine Health Conference on behalf of the PBGV Club of America and was impressed by CHF’s value to the dog world and their stringent scientific processes. In 2015, Dr. Liscum contacted CHF to get more information about some grants that the PBGV Club of America was considering supporting. She had a chance to speak with CHF Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Diane Brown, and realized that their own scientific research projects had overlapped. The relationship was solidified and Dr. Liscum was soon asked to contribute on the CHF Scientific Review Committee.

“The AKC Canine Health Foundation’s focus on ‘how will this research help dogs?’ is unique and important,” Dr. Liscum says. “When I’m reviewing a grant, I often contemplate ‘Will dogs thank me for this?’ I have been impressed by how Scientific Review Committee members, with such varied backgrounds in clinical or basic research, come together to critically evaluate the research proposals submitted to CHF.”

In addition to contributing to CHF’s Scientific Review Committee, Dr. Liscum is proud to talk about CHF at dog shows, scent work trials, and even with other dog lovers she meets in her community. “When dog owners talk to me about their dog’s health problems, I let them know that CHF is funding research to better understand these disease processes in specific breeds and all dogs,” she says. “At American Kennel Club events, I am pleased to see how many people are active in their parent breed clubs. These clubs and dog owners need to have confidence in CHF’s research grant vetting process; and CHF provides the scientific rigor needed to responsibly use parent club funds.”

The AKC Canine Health Foundation, PBGV Club of America, PBGV Health & Rescue Foundation, and all dog owners are benefitting from Dr. Liscum’s scientific experience and contributions to canine health research. Thank you Dr. Liscum!

 

 

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