Food Innovation Center

Collaborating for a healthier, hunger-free world.

Barnard contributes to finding a cure for pets with cancer

 Sandra BarnardCancer is a major cause of death in pets - 45% of dogs that live to ten years of age die of cancer, and is the cause of one in four deaths regardless of age.  Sandra Barnard, veterinary oncologist at The Ohio State University, hopes that her research will decrease this number drastically.  “There is probably an increased prevalence of cancer in pets as they live longer as a result of vaccinations, improved nutrition, and better routine and advanced veterinary care,” she said.

Sandra Barnard graduated from the University of Sydney, Australia in 2004 with a First Class Honors in Bachelor of Veterinary Science.  She moved to the United States in 2007 for a residency in medical oncology at Cornell University.  In 2010, Barnard arrived at The Ohio State University, eager to teach students about oncology and conduct research in the clinical, ‘bed-side’ setting.

Currently, Barnard is conducting a study on canine Transitional Cell Carcinoma (TCC) of the urinary bladder.  Two drugs, Palladia and Vinblastine, are being used to test which method, computerized tomography (CT) or ultrasound, is more efficient in measuring tumor response.  Her prediction is that CT is the most effective technique.  Awarded a Canine Grant, the study is funded and she is able to save pet owners money.  

Barnard is especially interested in the role that obesity and nutrition play in cancer.  “It is fascinating that relatively simple changes can have such a huge impact on a human’s health.  Today we put so many additives in our foods to make them taste better, stay preserved longer, etc.  However, as some of these additives are linked to an increased risk for cancer, I feel it would be beneficial to go back to the basics.  I would like to discover the effects this has on our companion animals,” she stated.

In the future, Barnard would like to do a controlled trial to see the outcome of particular foods on an pet’s health.  “Clients demand nutritional advice for their sick pets because they often feel guilty for their sickness, and diet is something an owner can easily influence,” she claimed.  “I would love to look at how specific foods affect their cancer risk and well-being.”

Barnard explained that the Food Innovation Center has helped to peak her interest and broaden her horizons.  After reading about FIC’s recently funded seed grant projects, she is very excited to see how the new projects develop.

“The Food Innovation Center is great because it allows for a multidisciplinary approach to chip away at big problems,” Barnard stated.  “I am looking for a way to collaborate to learn about current research on nutrition and cancer in humans.  I would like to apply that information to my patients and test the results.  If we all work together, there is no limit to what could be achieved.”


Written by Kayla Stucke
Posted September 21, 2011