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Gookin Awarded Feline Health Research Grant

cat rests on visitor

Jody Gookin, an internal medicine professor at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine, has been awarded a grant for research on probiotic treatment for cats.

Gookin’s study is one of just 11 research projects worldwide to receive the latest research grant awards from the Winn Feline Foundation, a New Jersey-based nonprofit supporting improvement of cat health.

The study evaluates how intestinal bacteria, or probiotics, play a role in preventing a Tritrichomonas foetus infection, which causes chronic diarrhea in cats. The research may lead to improved probiotic-based treatment plans for the disease.

Jody Gookin, FluoroScience Distinguished Professor in Veterinary Scholars Research Education .

Gookin, the CVM’s FluoroScience Distinguished Professor in Veterinary Scholars Research Education, is collaborating on the project with principal investigator Katie Tolbert,  small animal clinical sciences assistant professor at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, and Rachel Dickson, a fourth-year UTCVM student.

“I know I speak on behalf of myself and Dr. Tolbert in saying we will never cease to be humbled by the generous support we have received from the Winn Feline Foundation,” said Gookin. “We only hope to help complete their tireless efforts to improve the lives of every cat, every day.”

Tolbert, who completed her small animal internal medicine residency at NC State, said Dickson is interested in becoming a clinician scientist because of her work for the grant.

“Winn-funded research continues to allow for the development of a new generation of clinician scientists dedicated to improving health,” said Tolbert.

As co-director of the CVM’s Veterinary Scholars Program with colleague Sam Jones, Gookin is a passionate mentor for future veterinary clinician scientists and an advocate for the importance of laboratory research.

A nationally recognized expert in gastroenterology, Gookin especially focuses on researching infectious causes of feline diarrheal disease. With her colleagues, she is credited with being the first to identify T. foetus as a cause of diarrhea in domestic cats. She has spent nearly two decades studying T. foetus infections, evaluating their worldwide impact and establishing protocols for diagnosis and treatment.

Gookin has received numerous grants and awards for her research, including an American Veterinary Medical Foundation/Winn Feline Foundation Research Award in 2011. In December, she received a two-year grant from the Morris Animal Foundation to investigate the development of canine gallbladder disease.

Gookin arrived at the CVM in 2000 as a post-doctoral researcher in the department of anatomy, physiological sciences and radiology, subsequently joining the faculty of the department of molecular biomedical sciences and the department of clinical sciences. She holds a DVM from the University of California, Davis, and earned a Ph.D. in gastrointestinal physiology from NC State.

A total of $214,000 was awarded to the 11 health studies recognized by the Winn Feline Foundation. According to the group, it has funded about $6 million in cat health at more than 30 partner institutions worldwide.

For more information on Gookin’s T. foetus Diagnostic Laboratory, go here.

~Jordan Bartel/NC State Veterinary Medicine