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Genetics of Cancer: Modiano Lab (University of Minnesota)

NOTE: These are lab research studies. For information on open clinical trials, see links at lower left.


The study is funded by various sorces, including the Golden Retriever Foundation, Morris Animal Foundation, and the AKC Canine Health Foundation.

Study Goals
The goal of these studies is to improve our understanding of how heritable traits influence cancer risk, progression, and response to therapy. If your dog is newly diagnosed with lymphoma or hemangiosarcoma*, you and your dog may be eligible to participate in these studies. Please check the eligibility criteria below.



The samples we are currently seeking include fresh tumor biopsies and come from as yet untreated dogs affected with hemangiosarcoma or lymphoma. In the case of lymphoma, untreated also means no prednisone. (International samples: Although we hate to say no to a sample from anyone willing to help us further our research, at this time we are unable to accept international samples.)

*NOTE: We are currently directing osteosarcoma tumor samples from dogs that are not participating in a clinical trial at the U of M to the Breen Lab at NCSU; please contact for osteosarcoma sample submission information.

Biopsy sample collection kits: Fresh tumor biopsies are required for cell culture, which is what we do in our lab. When a fresh biopsy from a hemangiosarcoma or lymphoma case will be available, we overnight veterinarians a "kit" containing cold transport medium specific to the tumor type. This medium keeps the fresh biopsy sample in the best possible condition for transport to our lab. Unused transport media can be kept refrigerated (not frozen) for use for up to two years.

Complete sample submissions to our lab include:

1) A fresh tumor biopsy sample: aseptic, representative sample, about the size of a blueberry or slightly smaller, taken during surgery (or post mortem within 20 minutes of death) and placed in specific transport medium (provided in kit).

2) A preserved tumor biopsy sample: clean, blueberry-size or slightly smaller sample placed in a jar of 10% formalin (provided in kit). We will submit this sample to our histopathology lab for a definitive diagnosis. The report from this sample will be forwarded to the dog’s attending vet when it becomes available, but, because of the backlog of samples, it should NOT be considered a substitute for the report from the vet’s diagnostic lab if time is of the essence for treatment.

3) A whole blood sample: 5-10 ml in EDTA purple top tubes (provided in kit). (NOTE: Serum and pericardial fluid are not useful to our studies.)

4) Completed paperwork: Dog information sheet and consent form. (These forms can be emailed or faxed to owners/vets ahead of time, or they will be included in the kit.)

Emergency surgery/euthanasia (no kit available):

Samples taken without our specific transport media are not ideal for our studies. However, if an owner is willing to contribute a fresh tumor biopsy and blood samples from a dog in an emergency situation (as hemangiosarcoma often is), and the vet is willing to create a homemade transport medium, the vet should contact Mitzi Lewellen ( or 612-626-6890, ext. 1) at the Modiano Lab for a recipe and submission instructions. Likewise, if a sample must be taken late on a Thursday, on a Friday, or over a weekend, please contact Mitzi for submission instructions.

Because fresh biopsy samples are our highest priority and need to be overnighted, we pay the cost of shipping the kit both ways. We can receive samples at the lab Tuesdays through Fridays (excluding holidays), but we ask for 24 hours’ advance notice that an overnight sample is coming so that we can have the personnel ready to process it.

Blood-only samples: Although we consider all samples important and useful, blood without fresh tumor biopsies is of somewhat lower priority to our lab. Blood samples from pedigreed dogs with a definitive diagnosis of one of the cancers we are researching are welcome for susceptibility mapping studies and will generally be directed to our collaborators at the Broad Institute (information at, which may have additional criteria for inclusion. Blood from healthy close relatives of affected pedigreed dogs in our studies is also useful, to a somewhat lesser extent. Also, blood from affected pedigreed dogs that are being treated by chemotherapy is acceptable, if the blood draw can be scheduled to occur at the longest interval between treatments.

All blood samples received will be banked, even if they are currently ineligible (for example, when they are excluded because of age or breed), as they may be vital for future research efforts.

 The first step to any sample submission to a Modiano Lab research study is contacting Mitzi Lewellen at or 612-626-6890, x1. She coordinates sample submissions and will provide you with paperwork, and, if appropriate, will provide your vet with a biopsy sample collection kit, including sample collection and shipping instructions.

If you have questions about the above information, email us at

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