Quick Links-


Brain Tumor Information
Brain Tumor Genetics

Paul C and Borghild T Petersen Foundation
Research Laboratory

UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
Dedicated November 15th 2000

Director: Dr P J Dickinson


The major goal of the laboratory is to advance the treatment of brain tumors in companion animals and humans through basic research and clinical translation of novel therapeutic strategies. The laboratory collaborates with researchers both at UC Davis, and throughout the United States.

Of Mice and Men ….and Dogs

Brain tumors occur in humans and dogs at a very similar rate. Moreover, canine brain tumors have striking similarities to their human tumor counterparts. Because of this similarity, advances made in the understanding and treatment of canine brain tumors can help to advance treatment of human tumors, and our pets and companions can benefit from the tremendous advances being made in human medicine.

How can I help to cure brain tumors?

The Neurology/Neurosurgery service at UC Davis [LINK to clinical data and contacts andd below]] has state of the art treatments for brain tumors and clinical trials that your animal may be eligible to enroll in. These trials have already had some exciting successes and are supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) . Financial assistance to cover MR imaging, diagnostic and treatment procedures is available for dogs enrolled in the trials. Dr Dickinson will be happy to discuss all the treatment options with you and your veterinarian, and to review any diagnostic information such as MRI scans.

Without DNA samples or tumor samples from brachycephalic, and other breeds affected with brain tumors, we will not be able to map the abnormal genes. The more samples we have the easier, quicker and more accurate the search will be.

If you have a dog that is suspected, or confirmed to have a brain tumor, Dr Dickinson and Dr Banasch will be very happy to discuss how you can help to eliminate this disease from the brachycephalic breeds.

Even if you decide not to pursue therapy or enter into a clinical trial you can help to advance our understanding of this disease and potentially help future patients by providing a DNA sample from your dog. For the DNA sample to be useful it is essential that we know exactly what type of tumor your pet has. If your dog comes to UC Davis for treatment this will be determined as part of the treatment. Although it can be a difficult and painful decision to make, if the time for euthanasia arrives, we will provide an autopsy to determine the cause of the pets problem and can discuss this with your veterinarian. Although there is no direct benefit for your pet, many owners get comfort from knowing that they are helping to generate data that should benefit dogs, and potentially humans in the future.


Current current trials supported by the Petersen Research Laboratory

Brain Tumor - CPT-11 clinical trial

Brain Tumor - Toca 511 clinical trial


Our Research Team

PictPeter J Dickinson BVSc, PhD, Diplomate ACVIM (Neurology)
Peter Dickinson graduated from Liverpool University Veterinary School in 1989. Following 1 year in mixed general practice he completed a 2 year surgery/anesthesia internship at Glasgow University Veterinary School. He received his PhD in developmental neuroscience in 1995, also at Glasgow University, before completing a Neurology/Neurosurgery residency at the University of California, Davis. He is currently Professor of Neurology/Neurosurgery at UC Davis Veterinary School, Director of the Petersen Brain Tumor Research Laboratory and has been a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Medicine (Neurology) since 2000. His clinical and research interest has been in the field of neurooncology and the development of novel therapies for canine and human brain tumors.

Richard A LeCouteur BVSc, PhD, Diplomate ACVIM (neurology),
Diplomate ECVN
Dr. LeCouteur graduated from the University of Sydney, Australia, in January 1975. After a year in private small animal practice in Sydney, Australia, he completed an Internship and Residency in Surgery at the University of Guelph in Canada. Dr. LeCouteur then completed a Residency in Neurology and Neurosurgery at the University of California, Davis. From July 1980 through January 1984, Dr. LeCouteur completed a PhD in Comparative Pathology at the University of California in Davis. The area of study was Spinal Cord Injury. From January 1984 through August 1989, Dr. LeCouteur was a faculty member at Colorado State University. In September 1989 Dr. LeCouteur returned to Sydney, Australia, to establish a Specialty Practice in Neurology and Neurosurgery. In January 1995 he returned to the USA to assume the position of Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at the University of California at Davis. Dr. LeCouteur is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (Neurology), and a Diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Neurology (ECVN). He currently is Chair of the Board of Regents of the ACVIM, and serves on the Board of Directors of the North American Veterinary Conference (NAVC).

Robert J Higgins BVSAc, MS, PhD, Diplomate ACVP





Daniel York
Dan graduated with a B.A. in neuroscience from Manhattanville College (Purchase NY) in 2003, and spent a year at the Borne Behavior Lab in White Plains NY studying metabolic behavior in hamsters. He moved to California in 2004 where he researched cancer pharmacology while employed by a biotech company in the bay area. In 2006, he relocated to Davis, where has been working as a research associate and lab manager for the Peterson Brain Tumor Lab. In 2008, he was accepted into the Comparative Pathology Graduate Program at UC Davis with a research focus is in brain tumor stem cells


Dr Krystof Bankiewicz, MD, PhD UCSF Medical Center

Dr Danika Banasch

Dr Matthew Breen

Dr Kit Lam

Dr Waldemar Debinski

Dr David Gutmann

Tocagen Inc