The Genetics and Health Committee (now known simply as the GHC) was formed in 1994 by the Akita Club of America to address the rising demand for specific Akita health information and support for the burgeoning of canine genetic disease research. The first chairperson was Barbara Bouyet. From its inception, this committee has tried to disseminate accurate, non-anecdotal breed information and support research projects with potential benefits for the Akita breed.
We began by trying to fund a genetic test for PRA. We participated in several seminal works completed at UC Davis on the Major Histocompatibility Complex. Initially, one committee person was the spokesperson for the project(s) and headed up collections. General information was submitted to the membership through the ACA website and through the Update. The original committee had only a few members and, although we've grown, we still retain this cohesive committee ethic.
In 2001, we officially supported our first joint Canine Health Foundation/ Akita Club of America sponsorship of a major research project. That project was research into Sebaceous Adenitis under Dr. Dunstan. The club contributed over $17, 000and over 100 samples to this project. Given the scope of the project, a major effort was undertaken to obtain samples and network with researchers to maintain open researcher communication and provide members with as much information as we could without breaking confidentiality rules.
A GHC committee member acted as liaison for the duration of the project and reports were filtered through the Canine Health Foundation. To further our efforts, this section of the ACA website was created and has been going strong ever since. Now, GHC efforts encompass an Akita Gene Bank, data collection and statistical analysis from OFA, CERF, CHIC and the VMDB, regular updates from funded researchers, reports from the Canine Health Foundation and ongoing review of upcoming research projects for the ACA board.
Our goals as a committee are continuing our support of worthwhile research projects, helping provide necessary samples for researchers, and informing the membership informed of the current and emerging health concerns of the Akita population. Because this knowledge benefit the entire breed, we keep as much information as possible on the website and also answer inquiries from owners and veterinarians whenever possible.