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Exotic Species Cancer Research Alliance

ESCRA logo

ESCRA aims to stimulate research and collaboration amongst researchers and clinicians to find the common causes of cancer across all species. This holistic view will help us better understand various cancer models and ways to treat both human and animal cancers.


We can always accomplish more when we work together. 

This is especially true when dealing with new and emerging fields and in areas where few people are experts.The field of oncology for exotic species is really in its infancy. When we compare what we know about cancer in humans, and even in dogs and cats, exotic animal veterinarians are often working in the dark. We are expected to extrapolate treatment protocols, prognostic information and diagnostic planning from humans, dog and cats, but have very little data to suggest that these extrapolations are appropriate.

Our patients deserve better.

They deserve to have a dedicated team of clinicians, researchers, and others who are interested in discovering the basic biology behind their diseases, how they will respond to cancer therapies, disease markers and prognostic indicators and ways to improve treatment for species that are currently under-represented in cancer research.

Human research benefits from research in cancer in other species. 

Few people realize that many of the advances in human cancer research were made by studying cancer-causing viruses in other species, including chickens. Many of the basic genetic alterations that cause cancer occur in genes that are highly conserved across a wide range of species, because these genes are important for essential biological functions.

We all know cancer research needs better, more faithful models. Many of the most powerful cancer genes are highly conserved and the NIH and other groups are recognizing the power of comparative oncology. Lessons from canine tumors have informed human cancer treatments. A whole world of novel cancer biology awaits in companion exotic and zoological species.
Cancer therapy for humans and animal will only improve with advanced knowledge.

Lead Investigators:

Ashley Zehnder (Stanford): Companion exotics. Contact:
Tara Harrison (North Carolina State University): Zoo and Aquaria species. Contact: 

Exotic Tumor Database: 

In partnership with leaders in biomedical research, zoological parks, and colleges of veterinary medicine we are collecting the data necessary to improve cancer treatment outcomes in exotics and contribute to improving outcomes for all species.

How You Can Help:

Tell us about your cases.
By sharing the type of species, diagnosis, treatment, and outcome, we will be able to better serve our patients and the field of comparative medicine. 

Exotic Tumor Database