We are work with breeders and breed groups to further research diseases of interest to their breed all the time! There are two different routes to take:
1. Citizen science
Dogs are tested by owners and breeders for general purposes, and phenotypic information is collected via the research surveys we have in each dog's profile. We occasionally add additional surveys in order to capture more health and trait information. This process takes longer but requires very little organization.
2. Research projects
Structuring a research project is most easily done with a breed club or organization, but it can be done with a group of dedicated breeders as well (i.e. Facebook group, breeders that work closely together).
Typically, one or two breeders take the lead on a project like this, collect funds from individual breeders and place bulk orders themselves; we do offer discounts for bulk purchases. They then distribute the swabs to other breeders either in person at events or via regular mail.
The next component of this is collecting and organizing phenotypic data. A spreadsheet compiled by the organizer(s) is a good way to start, and we can ask for follow-up medical records if needed. This brings up privacy, which is dependent on the group mentality. The organizer can register all of the swabs and give shared access to each owner/breeder or, each owner/breeder can register each swab individually. As time allows, we can develop a breed-specific research survey that is submitted to those that have participated in the group or anyone with that breed that has tested with Embark.
For most studies, we ask for 100 dogs to start. We need affected dogs (30-50), their normal littermates, and their sire/dam for the best chance at discovery. For conditions that are likely polygenic, more samples may be needed. For rarer diseases or traits, we know the sample size of affected dogs may never be greater than a few.
If you need more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re interested in a breed club partnership, please get in touch with our Breed Club Relations Specialist Alison Ruhe at email@example.com.