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Federal Government Invests $1.5 Million in U of G Genomics Projects

Mike Lohuis, Vice President, Genetics R&D, Semex Alliance, Prof. Bonnie Mallard, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, minister of science and sport.(Left to right) Mike Lohuis, Vice President, Genetics R&D, Semex Alliance; Prof. Bonnie Mallard, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, and the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, minister of science and sport.

Healthier consumers, animals and ecosystems are the focus of three University of Guelph genomics research projects that will receive federal funding worth $1.5 million.

Prof. Bonnie Mallard at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College, heads up one of the projects receiving funding under the announcement. 

The investment was announced on campus on Feb. 4 by Kirsty Duncan, federal minister of science. In total, Duncan announced funding for 37 Genome Canada projects.

“Since taking office, our government has worked hard to return science and research to its rightful place. Today’s announcement is another step in that direction,” Duncan said.

“Genomics research is driving innovation across many sectors, including health, forestry, agriculture, fisheries, mining, energy and the environment. These exceptional projects we are investing in today encourage strong research partnerships and will help our economy and communities thrive.”

U of G president Franco Vaccarino said that such funding support from governments and other partners is critical for university research.

“From plant and animal science to food science to human health and genetics, life science research at this University has already benefited people, animals and our planet,” Vaccarino said.

“Now we’re building on those strengths to help address important challenges, notably feeding the world while sustaining the planet.”

Prof. Bonnie Mallard, Ontario Veterinary College, University of GuelphProf. Bonnie Mallard, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph

Two awards will come from Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program.

Mallard, in OVC’s Department of Pathobiology, received $426,622 to adapt high immune response technology developed for dairy cattle to help improve beef cattle health and welfare. The technology earned Mallard a 2017 Governor General’s Award for Innovation.

Dairy breeders use her patented test to identify animals with better natural disease immunity. Heathy livestock require less antibiotic treatment, combatting increasing antibacterial resistance and benefiting consumers.

She will work with the Semex Alliance, the Canadian Angus Association and the American Angus Association to adapt the test to combat bovine respiratory disease (BRD) in beef cattle. North American producers lose about $1 billion a year to BRD, the most common and costly disease of beef cattle raised on feedlots.

Integrative biology professors Mehrdad Hajibabaei, Sarah Adamowicz and Paul Hebert also received funding for projects. 

Read the entire news release on the University of Guelph website.