SAT APRIL 27
9:45-10:45 AM LECTURE | LH2
Session II: The Science of Human-Canine Teams
Performance and Working Dogs
Jessica Hekman, DVM, PhD
FENZI DOG SPORTS ACADEMY
The Working Dog Project and the Genomics of Behavior
Working dogs, because they are selectively bred for behavioral traits, provide an ideal population for investigating the genomics of behavior. While studies of human behavioral genetics require massive sample sizes, working dog studies should provide results with much smaller (though still relatively large) populations of dogs - in the thousands rather than the tens of thousands. Additionally, markers associated with behavioral traits can be used by working dog breeding and training organizations for mate selection or pathway decisions, making it easier to identify the appropriate career for puppies earlier than previously possible. The Working Dog Project is a collaborative initiative focused on tackling this challenge. By combining data from many types of working dogs, and from pet dogs, our goal is to develop well-validated genomic tools accessible to any organization.
Jessica Hekman, DVM, PhD is a postdoctoral associate at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and teaches online classes about the biology and genetics of canine behavior. Jessica received her Ph.D. in Animal Sciences (Genetics, Genomics, and Bioinformatics) in 2017 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she studied canid behavioral genetics. Previously, Jessica graduated from the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in 2012 with a dual DVM/MS degree. Her Master's work was on the behavior and cortisol responses of healthy dogs to being hospitalized overnight. She also completed a shelter medicine veterinary internship at the University of Florida Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program. Jessica's current work focuses on the genetics of behavior in both pet and working dogs through a citizen science approach.