WEST LAFAYETTE — A Brown County couple have made a matching donation to the Purdue Comparative Oncology Program based in the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Enthused about the success of PCOP’s bladder cancer studies in dogs, Evan and Sue Ann Werling have made a commitment to add to Brandi’s Cancer Challenge Fund, which supports the program’s work to improve the outlook for pets and humans with cancer.

The Werlings established the fund a year ago in memory of their Australian shepherd, which had undergone treatment for bladder cancer at the college’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Willie Reed, dean of the college, said the Werlings’ initial matching gift generated more than $500,000 in support for the program.

“The Werlings have generously made another matching gift, but the bar has been raised a little bit and the challenge is greater,” Reed said.

The Werlings are challenging the college to leverage their gift to generate an additional $900,000 in support of the oncology program by the end of the year. “And should this challenge be met, they will give an additional gift to the program.”

Evan Werling described the quality of treatment that Brandi received for bladder cancer as phenomenal.

“We are making a long-term commitment to Purdue,” Werling said. “But we want other partners to be involved so we have sustainable programs, … so we can focus on our research and cures, not just for dogs, but cures that are going to reach into the human aspects of life that affect you, me and our families.”

PCOP Director Deborah Knapp said the additional support is especially timely, given the progress that has been made.

“We have already taken bladder cancer in dogs from being a disease with an average survival of zero days to one with an average survival of 450 days. But we are really poised to do much more than that,” Knapp said.

In the past six months, her team has launched an early detection, early intervention study, with “astounding results.” Working with collaborators, they have made progress in the realm of targeted therapies and have two trials ongoing.

Information about giving to the fund can be found at vet.purdue.edu/pcop.