Committee(s): Academic Affairs
Gilbreath-McLorn Endowed Professor of Comparative Medicine
Department of Veterinary Medicine & Surgery
Leslie A. Lyons, PhD is the Gilbreath-McLorn Endowed Professor of Comparative Medicine at the University of Missouri – Columbia, College of Veterinary Medicine and recent Professor Emerita of the University fo California – Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Lyons received her graduate degrees from The University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health, Department of Human Genetics. In 1992, Dr. Lyons joined the National Cancer Institute, Laboratory of Genomic Diversity for her post-doctoral career focusing on developing genetic resources for comparative gene mapping across mammalian species, with emphasis in the domestic cat. During her tenure at the NCI, she worked closely with theriogenologists to produce a feline interspecies backcross between domestic cats and Asian Leopard cats for use as a gene mapping resource, initiating the Feline Genome Project. In addition, Dr. Lyons began curating DNA samples of cats with various heritable traits. In the fall of 1999, Dr. Lyons joined the University of California – Davis and recently joined the University of Missouri in 2013. Her laboratory’s major focus is the genetics of the domestic cat, including disease, inherited traits, and population diversity. Dr. Lyons’ research laboratory has had success with the identification of the gene causing Persian cat polycystic kidney disease, Burmese hypokalemia, the Burmese craniofacial defect, progressive retinal atropies, several coat traits in the cat and the mutation causing cat blood group B. Each of these mutations can now be used as a genetic test in cats. The Lyons’ laboratory has been used to confirm the cloned domestic cats and African wildcats and also the first green fluorescent protein (GFP) cats. Studies have included the analysis of the origin of cat breeds and the sites of cat domestication, which resulted in a documentary with National Geographic as an episode of Explorer entitled “The Science of Cats”. Dr. Lyons has a cooperative and collegial research program that is highly interactive with the veterinary community. At MU, Dr. Lyons has launched the 99 Lives Cat Genome Sequencing Inititative that is a public effort to enhance genomic resources for the cat and to perform whole genome sequencing on over 100 cats.