Sally Mortlock

Sally Mortlock

Sally Mortlock | PhD Student

Sydney School of Veterinary Science
Rm 505, RMC Gunn Building B19
The University of Sydney NSW 2006


Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Bioscience (Hons1)

Research Interests

Canine Cancer

Research Project

Lymphoma in Australian Bullmastiffs

Project Supervisor

Associate Professor Peter Williamson

Associate Supervisors

Professor Rosanne Taylor
Dr Peter Bennett
Dr Mehar Khatkar

About the project

Lymphoma is one of the most common cancers in dogs. Studies conducted overseas investigating incidences of lymphoma in dogs have identified an association between disease occurrence and breed, with some breeds exhibiting an extremely high rate of disease [1]. Bullmastiffs are one such breed that has been identified in some countries as having a high incidence of lymphoma [2, 3]. The high rate of disease in Bullmastiffs suggests a genetic predisposition to the disease and thus provides a unique opportunity to investigate the genetic mechanisms behind lymphoma susceptibility. After reports of a high incidence of lymphoma in families of Australian Bullmastiffs and thanks to the generous Maple Simmons Research in Lymphoma bequest, donated to the faculty by Katherine Howard and David Simmons in memory of their beloved Bullmastiff Maple, we were able to set up this project to investigate lymphoma predisposition in this breed.

The aims of this project are:

  • To identify the current health status, longevity and genetic diversity of the Australian Bullmastiff population.
  • To investigate lymphoma in Australian Bullmastiffs and investigate the genetic mechanisms behind lymphoma predisposition.

Identification of genes predisposing Bullmastiffs and other breeds to lymphoma will allow for prevention of the disease through breeding strategies. Screening of the parents for the presence of predisposing genes will prevent potential suffering of the progeny while avoiding potential treatment costs and loss of life. Understanding the nature of any genetic changes associated with the development of lymphoma may lead to new treatment options in the future.

We are currently seeking blood samples from Australian Bullmastiffs as a source of genetic material that will help us identify any genetic aberrations that increase the probability of lymphoma development in dogs. We are especially interested in samples from dogs with lymphoma and dogs over the age of 8 that have not had lymphoma. We are also seeking information on lymphoma cases past and present in the breed including age at diagnosis, pedigree information, type of lymphoma if known and any other known relatives with the disease. Information on any dogs that have reached 8 years and over without having had lymphoma is also valuable to the study. If you are a Bullmastiff owner and interested in contributing to our study by submitting a blood sample from your dog or providing information on your dog please email Sally (details above).

If you are interested in submitting a blood sample from your dog please download the forms below.

  1. Modiano, J.F., et al., Distinct B-cell and T-cell lymphoproliferative disease prevalence among dog breeds indicates heritable risk. Cancer Research, 2005. 65(13): p. 5654-5661.
  2. Villamil, J.A., et al., Hormonal and sex impact on the epidemiology of canine lymphoma. Journal of cancer epidemiology, 2009. 2009: p. 591753
  3. Edwards, D.S., et al., Breed incidence of lymphoma in a UK population of insured dogs. Veterinary and comparative oncology, 2003. 1(4): p. 200-6.