The CCMG dates from 1974 when an Animal Models Core was funded through the NIH Human Genetics Center grant. In 1985 a grant was awarded by the NIH National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) to establish the National Referral Center for Animal Models of Human Genetic Disease, which is the main mechanism through which new genetic diseases are identified and characterized. The multi-departmental Section of Medical Genetics was the forerunner and model for the center concept developed in the School of Veterinary Medicine in the 1990’s. The program was formally designated as the Center for Comparative Medical Genetics in 1994. Dr. Donald Patterson was the founder and director of this program for 25 years until his retirement in 1998, when Dr. Wolfe was appointed to succeed him. In 2003 Mr. Walter Flato Goodman committed an endowment for future support of the center and it was named in his honor. Mr. Goodman is a long time dog breeder, judge, and member of the American Kennel Club. He is also a member of the Board of Overseers of the School of Veterinary Medicine.
Investigators at Penn's Veterinary School have been at the forefront of comparative medical genetics research for over three decades. The contributions fall into two broad categories in terms of application of the knowledge gained: 1) contributions to the diagnosis and control of genetic diseases within animal populations, particularly the dog and cat; and 2) contributions to the understanding and treatment of human disease using the animal homologs as models for research in areas such as gene therapy. This includes the discovery of more than 50 new animal homologs of human genetic diseases in various species. Many of the findings have been published in leading scientific journals. Scientists in the CCMG have been highly successful in attracting grant funding from federal and private sources. Since genetics is basic to all disciplines in the medical specialties and the basic biological sciences, the CCMG investigators interact with faculty and programs throughout the Veterinary School and the University.