Support the mission–critical research of the Working Dog Project!


Our Community

Great science is not done in isolation. The challenge ahead of us is daunting but solvable, and we know we can tackle it because of the strength of our community. Working Dog Project derives our strength from an amazing community of scientists, partners, supporters, and individual working dogs. Importantly, our project enables individual working dog owners to participate through our working dog portal powered by Darwin’s Ark.

Leading this innovative effort to address the need for more successful working dogs is the Theriogenology Foundation, a global non-profit which engages specialists to develop and leverage the most cutting edge biotechnologies to improve the breeding of animals for greater effectiveness, productivity, and health.

The Team


Elinor Karlsson


As the Principal Investigator, Dr. Karlsson is responsible for the scientific direction of the project. She is the Director of Vertebrate Genomics at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and Assistant Professor in the Bioinformatics and Integrative Biology Program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Dr. Karlsson is a world-renowned canine computation geneticist. She led the first genome-wide association studies of complex traits in dogs, linking genetic mutations to osteosarcoma and compulsive disorders.


Jessica Hekman

D.V.M., Ph.D.

As Lead Research Scientist, Dr. Hekman is responsible for implementing the project’s scientific protocols. Dr. Hekman is a postdoctoral associate with Karlsson Laboratory. She graduated from veterinary school in 2012 with a dual veterinary/Master’s degree, and continued to a veterinary shelter medicine internship before earning her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research focus is on the genetics of canine behavior.


Michele Koltookian


As Project Manager, Mrs. Koltookian is responsible for the day to day operations of the project. She has two decades of life sciences experience, 12 years specifically in canine genetics. She held primary responsibility for wet lab work for various canine cancer projects, investigating canine hairlessness and degenerative myelopathy. In addition to the Working Dog Project, Ms. Koltookian currently manages Darwin’s Ark and Zoonomics, a collaboration with Broad Institute and Zoo New England.


Brittney Logan


As Senior Research Specialist, Ms. Logan is responsible for the management of alliances in the Working Dog Project. Along with guiding organizations through the Working Dog Project, Ms. Logan handles the sample and data collection. She has her degree in Animal Behavior and has previously worked with service dogs at NEADS. Ms. Logan is also responsible for the day to day operations of Darwin’s Ark Project, which powers the working dog portal for the Working Dog Project.


Charlie Lieu

M.S., M.B.A.

As Operations Director, Ms. Lieu is responsible for the administrative management of the project. She is the Director of Program Operations for the Dog Aging Project at the University of Washington Medical Center, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Clinical Informatics at Texas A&M University. Ms. Lieu has launched or participated in some of the world’s most ambitious endeavors including the International Space Station, the Human Genome Project, the Cancer Alliance and Darwin’s Ark.


David Matsas

D.V.M., Diplomate American College of Theriogenologists

As Chair of the Theriogenology Foundation Genomics Initiative committee, he facilitates awareness and support of the project from the canine community worldwide. Dr. Matsas is an Assistant Professor and clinician at the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. He is also the Principal Investigator of the Rare Breeds Preservation Project at the SVF Foundation. Dr. Matsas has nearly four decades of experience in veterinary reproductive medicine as a clinician, researcher, and educator.


Anita M Migday

D.V.M., M.S.

As President of the Theriogenology Foundation, Dr. Migday oversees and coordinates the sponsors, donors, and partnerships that sustain the project. In addition to operating her own private veterinary practice for nearly 40 years, she hosted the national PBS series, “Cats & Dogs”, served as the President of the Board of Directors of NEADS, and was appointed by Governor Michael Dukakis to the Board of Registration in Veterinary Medicine for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She raises, trains and breeds Bullmastiff dogs as companions and for conformation and performance events.