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Featured Profile: Joan Coates


Joan Coats

University of Missouri veterinary neurologist Dr. Joan Coates conducts research that transcends animal medicine to advance human health.

Coates has discovered connections between neurological diseases in dogs and humans. She demonstrated that a DNA mutation responsible for degenerative myelopathy (DM) in dogs is the same mutation that causes some forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in humans.   ALS prompts neurodegeneration, leading to atrophied muscles and paralysis. In dogs, DM causes similar symptoms such as weakness and the inability to stand. Having an animal model for ALS will give human health researchers another disease model for understanding and treating the disease.

In collaborations with Dr. Martin Katz of the Mason Eye Institute, Coates has also worked to develop a treatment for Batten disease, a rare fatal genetic disorder that affects children and has also been found in dachshunds. The treatment has delayed onset and progression of symptoms in dogs with the disease – giving hope for a future treatment for children.

In addition to her work with canine genetics, Coates has joined forces with Dr. Teresa Lever from the School of Medicine to create the MU Voice Swallow and Airway Center. The interdisciplinary research center has made strides in treatments for hoarseness, dysphagia, aspiration and other throat-related issues in animals and humans.

Dr. Joan Coates is a professor of veterinary medicine and surgery and a member of the Comparative Neurology Program in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

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Related Initiative(s):
One Health/One Medicine