Genetics and Biochemistry

Dr. Alison Starr-Moss

Alison Starr

Research Assistant Professor and Undergraduate Academic Advisor

Ph.D. Genetics
2007, Texas A & M University

Contact Information
Office:151 Robert F. Poole Agricultural 
Phone: (864) 656-6877

Research Focus Areas
Canine Genetics


Research Activities

All knowledge, the totality of all questions and all answers, is contained in the dog.  ~Franz Kafka

I am a researcher in the laboratory of Dr. Keith Murphy. Our laboratory is part of the Clemson Canine Genetics Research group, which studies hereditary diseases in the domestic dog. Among mammals, the domestic dog (Canis lupis familiaris) is the most diverse species, unequaled with respect to its varying morphology, coat color, and behavior. Selective breeding practices have produced more than 300 breeds of dog. These breeds were borne from a desire to create companion animals with specific behavioral and physical characteristics. Each breed is a closed population, and as such, has limited genotypic and phenotypic heterogeneity caused by founder events, population bottlenecks, and the use of popular sires. Over 480 naturally-occurring hereditary diseases have been described in the dog and more than 200 of these have decidedly similar clinical presentations to corresponding diseases of the human. Almost half of the hereditary diseases in the dog occur largely in one or a few breeds. The unique population structure, clinical similarity to humans, detailed pedigrees, and superior medical surveillance makes the dog a uniquely suited animal model for the dissection of genetic traits.

One specific aim of our research is the development of genetic tests predictive for hereditary diseases. The development of a definitive test has the potential to improve existing diagnostic procedures and ensure the patient receives prompt, appropriate, and effective therapy. Determination of affected and carrier individual allows tailored breeding programs aimed at reducing the incidence of disease without major detriment to breed characteristics. Additionally, because many canine diseases occur in the human as well as dog, results from this work have the potential to be used in translational studies, thus providing contributions to scientific understanding in several areas.

Grant Support

Canine Health Foundation
Association mapping study of Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease in the West Highland White Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier, and Miniature Pinscher

Canine Health Foundation
Genome-wide Association Mapping Study of Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy in Irish Setters

Association mapping study of Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease and Patellar Luxation in the Toy and Miniature Poodle

Courses Taught

GEN 1030
Introductory Genetics

GEN 4700/6700
Human Genetics
(Guest Lecturer)

GEN 4100/6100
Fundamentals of Genetics
(Guest Lecturer)

GEN 8140
Advanced Genetics
(Guest Lecturer)



Recent Publications

Nowend, K., Starr-Moss, A., Lees, G., Berridge, B., Clubb, F., Kashtan, C., Nabity, M. and Murphy, K. (2012), Characterization of the Genetic Basis for Autosomal Recessive Hereditary Nephropathy in the English Springer Spaniel. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. doi: 10.1111/j.1939-1676.2012.00888.x

Tsai, K.L., R.E. Noorai, A.N. Starr-Moss, P. Quignon, C.J. Rinz, E.A. Ostrander, J.M. Steiner, K.E. Murphy and L.A. Clark (2012). Genome-wide association studies for multiple diseases of the German Shepherd Dog. Mammalian Genome 23:203-211.   

Starr, A.N., K.L. Nowend, and K.E. Murphy (2011) Exclusion of COL2α1 in canine Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease. Animal Genetics, published online June 6, 2011.

Nowend, K.L., A.N. Starr-Moss and K.E. Murphy (2011). The function of dog models in developing gene thearpy strategies for human health. Mammalian Genome 22:476-485.

Clark, L.A., K.L. Tsai, A.N. Starr, K.L. Nowend and K.E. Murphy (2011). A missense mutation in the 20S proteasome B2 subunit of Great Danes having harlequin coat patterning. Genomics 97: 244-248.

Clark L.A., A.N. Starr, K.L. Tsai and K.E. Murphy (2008). Genome-wide linkage scan localizes the harlequin locus in the Great Dane to chromosome 9. Gene 418 1-2: 49-52.

Starr, A.N., T.R. Famula, N.J. Markward, J.V. Baldwin, K.D. Fowler, D.E. Klumb, N.L. Simpson and K.E. Murphy (2007). Hereditary evaluation of multiple developmental abnormalities in the Havanese dog breed. Journal of Heredity 98: 510-517. (work featured on cover)