The Founding of the Institute
The Baker Institute was born as the Veterinary Virus Research Institute in September, 1950, at a time when the study of viruses received very little attention in veterinary schools. Under the energetic and visionary leadership of its founding director, Dr. James A. Baker, the Institute made major contributions in its first two decades to the control of diseases of livestock, especially bovine and swine diseases.
First vaccine for infectious canine hepatitis
In early 1952, Baker announced the development of the first experimental vaccine against canine infectious hepatitis, a serious liver infection in dogs caused by canine adenovirus type-1.
First combined vaccines for dogs.
The vaccine for infectious canine hepatitis developed at the Institute was combined with the Snyder Hill strain of canine distemper virus (which was isolated at the Institute), thus becoming the first dual-virus vaccine for animals.
Development of national distemper
Combined vaccine developed
Combined vaccine developed containing BVD virus, IBR virus, parainfluenza virus, and Brucella and Leptospira bacterins.
Discovery of immunosuppression associated
with virulent CDV infection.
First practical test for diagnosis of
An important cause of reproductive failure in dogs, the disease is caused by the bacterium Brucella canis, an organism that was first isolated and characterized at the Baker Institute in 1966.
First vaccines for canine parvovirus-type 2.
Canine parvovirus, or "parvo", emerged in the United States, Europe, and Australia in 1978, causing a near-global outbreak among dogs. Baker Institute scientists first isolated the virus later that same year, and by 1979 had developed the first vaccine for parvo. By 1981, Baker Institute scientists had created an improved attenuated vaccine for the disease.
First successful transplantation of horse embryos
The birth of foals from mule surrogate mothers demonstrated that female mules, although infertile, can ovulate and cycle regularly. The work opened new doors for horse breeding programs.
Genetic mapping of the mutation that enabled
canine parvovirus to infect dogs.
Work at the Baker Institute uncovered the genetic differences between the parvovirus that has infected dogs since the first major outbreaks in 1978 and the progenitor virus, which infects cats.
First identification of a candidate gene for an inherited
eye disease of dogs, rod-cone dysplasia 1.
This inherited defect was once common among Irish setters and other breeds. Scientists at the Baker Institute were the first to identify the gene responsible for the condition, the first step toward developing a DNA blood test that could identify dogs that carry the gene. This tool has enabled Irish setter breeders to better select mating pairs and prevent carrying the defect over into younger generations.
First DNA blood test for an inherited eye disease
of dogs, rcd-1.
The hereditary eye defect is common in certain breeds, striking affected animals blind generally before they reach two years of age. DNA testing allows breeders to select breeding dogs that do not carry the gene and prevents the passage of this trait on to a new generation of pups.
First publication of a linkage map of the
The map was the initial resource for mapping canine traits of interest and served as a foundation for development of a comprehensive canine genetic map.
First gene therapy to restore sight in
congenitally blind dog.
Leber congenital amaurosis is an inherited disorder that leads to blindness in pups that carry two defective copies of a gene called RPE65. Using a virus designed specifically to carry a working copy of the RPE65 gene, Baker Institute scientists were able to treat dogs affected by the disorder and restore their sight. The method offers hope and gene therapy tools for treating a similar disorder in children.
Development of molecular markers for gene
mapping in the silver fox.
Baker Institute scientists developed a gene map for each of two types of specially bred silver foxes that enabled studies here at Baker, and around the world, to explore how genes affect behavior. The two colonies of foxes, one bred for tameness, the other for aggression, were developed by a team in Russia as part of a decades-long research program on the effects of genetics on behavior.
Baker Institute research mare "Twilight" selected
as the donor horse for the equine whole genome sequencing project.
Twilight was bred, born, and raised at Cornell’s McConville barn. The horse’s 2.7 billion base pair genome was fully sequenced in 2006, and has since served as a resource for genomics investigations around the world.
First successful transplantation of spermatogonial
stem cells in a dog.
The procedure enabled the transplant recipient to produce sperm that are genetically identical to the donor’s sperm. The procedure represents a step forward in efforts to develop male-specific fertility treatments.
The first puppy born from a frozen embryo.
Klondike was born from the fertilized frozen embryo of a beagle mother and lab father. The puppy’s birth is a breakthrough for developing improved assisted reproductive technologies for threatened species, including certain wolf species.