She is the director of the 99 Lives Cat Genome Sequencing Initiative and as part of that project, she and a group of colleagues, including Wes Warren at the University of Missouri and William Murphy at Texas A&M University, recently produced the most detailed genome of the cat to date, which surpasses the dog genome.
“For the moment,” Dr. Lyons said.
I spoke last week with Dr. Lyons, Dr. Warren and Dr. Murphy, who refer to themselves as Team Feline. Dr. Lyons was visiting Texas, and with two of her colleagues she talked about why the genomes of cats are important to medical knowledge.
I report on animal science, and over the years, I admitted to the members of Team Feline, I seem to have written more about dogs than cats. The dog-cat rivalry in genomic science is mostly a good-natured rivalry, but just to assess what I was getting myself into I first asked about the scientists’ nonscientific approach to cats and dogs.
The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
First, their personal preferences:
Dr. William Murphy: I do have cats and dogs as pets, but I prefer cats.
Dr. Wes Warren: I’m a dog owner. Unfortunately I’m allergic to cats.
Dr. Leslie Lyons: He has a very expensive dog that keeps having problems.