Dr. Michelle White DVM, Ph.D, Head of Genomics, FidoCure
What was your experience working with FidoCure® prior to joining the team?
In my first virtual meeting with members of the FidoCure team, I was struck by how interested each member of the team seemed to be in understanding the approaches that the Karlsson Lab and others at the Broad Institute were using to analyze tumor genomes and troubleshoot problems that arose in the process. Their shared enthusiasm for the science and potential of precision medicine made the meeting both rewarding and fun. When I eventually met several members of the team in person, I was struck by how much respect they had for each other. I found that our goals were beautifully aligned ethically and scientifically.
Why did you join FidoCure?
I joined the team because I share the excitement and urgency to use precision medicine to help dogs and humans now. I’m also passionate about using all that we learn along the way to make better recommendations to the next patients (and the next, and so on). Our knowledge and our success rates will get better with time, of course, but I believe that we should offer pet parents and their veterinary teams our best recommendations today with full transparency so that they can choose from all of the potential treatment options for their pet.
What got you interested in veterinary field?
I wanted to understand all that I could about animals: how to read their body language, help them when they’re sick, understand what makes them happy... the works!
What is the most rewarding part of being a geneticist/genomicist?
What’s not to love? There is a seemingly endless supply of puzzles to solve within our genomes, and the data is coming in faster and faster as we get better at analyzing it. I have no hope of narrowing it down to one best part.
Tell us all about your pets.
Squirrel, mighty hunter of loose threads and Michelin-star biscuit maker, is our snuggly 12-year-old cat who purrs like a lawn mower and snores like a full-grown man. She was found at 3 weeks old and adopted (and bottle-fed) by my now-husband. She spends a lot of her time on the catio watching birds.
Merlin, our 12-year-old retired research beagle, joined our family most recently (in 2017). His complete dedication to enjoying retirement has made him a celebrity in our families and neighborhood. He’s a picture of athleticism when he’s enjoying the smells or zeroing in on a morsel of food, but as soon as he’s done, he flops onto the grass or sidewalk to be carried home. He’s also capable of detecting the plushest blanket or cushion from miles away.
Right out of college, I adopted my “little sunshine,” Sophie Von Cat. She is a brilliant, feisty patched tabby that rules the roost. She’s now 17 years old and attends almost all of my virtual meetings from a chair that I thought I had purchased for myself. She was the first pet I adopted on my own, and learning to communicate with her and earn her trust has been more rewarding than I ever could have imagined. In many ways, Sophie has inspired my dedication to precision medicine; when I’ve had to make decisions about Sophie’s care, I’ve never been satisfied to only know what works best for most cats. I feel strongly that I’d like to use everything we know about Sophie to choose a plan most likely to help her.
Our three little beasts bring me so much joy every day with their big personalities and unique ways of showing affection. I know how fortunate we are to have shared so many years together, and I hope for many more.