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Major Areas of Research

The projects outlined below are by no means a complete list, and there is considerable overlap between areas of focus for some projects.

Agri-Food and Health Management

There are a large number of agri-food and health management projects underway at present. This research is supported by the OMAFRA contract and many external groups (Ontario Cattleman's Association, Dairy Farmers of Ontario, Ontario Pork, Manitoba Pork Council, Ontario Dairy Council, Dairy Farmers of Canada, Poultry Industry Council, the NSERC Industrial Partnership Program, and the pharmaceutical industry). Swine projects focus on control and eradication of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), on post-weaning diarrhea and growth problems, and on the economic and causative factors in pig weight variation from weaning to finishing. Dairy cattle projects include management and treatment practices to prevent mastitis, an evaluation of methods for the early detection (and treatment) of health and production problems in pari-parturient cows, and the relationship of milk acetone levels to genetic, environmental, health and nutritional factors. Beef cattle projects focus on etiology, treatment and management studies to control respiratory disease.

Companion Animal

There are over 50 individual Pet Trust funded projects active at any time, most often association with clinical doctorate (DVSc) projects. The projects span the range from basic to applied, and represent virtually all of the specialty discipline areas. Notable studies have been and are being carried out by Guelph faculty in the areas of NSAID pain control, evaluating the cardiopulmonary and clinical safety of various anaesthetic regimes, predictive and prognostic indicators for dilated cardiac myopathy in Dobermans, neurologic disease diagnosis, the use of functional MRI to assess vision in dogs, the comparative efficacy of various surgical approaches for the treatment of canine disc disease, the accuracy and limitations of using lithium chloride dilution for cardiac output measurement in dogs, new treatments for canine cancer, and the role of veterinarian-client communication skills in companion animal care.

Equine

There are over 20 individual equine projects where in College Faculty are acting as the principle investigator. These projects include ongoing research on R. equi pathogenesis and vaccinology, surfactant alterations in foal pneumonia, the role of Clara cells in equine airway disease, treatment of non-infectious respiratory disease in young performing horses, treatment of atrial fibrillation and testing of new vaccines for influenza and Herpes. Gastrointestinal and metabolic studies include glucose regulation in horses, the development of oral probiotics for horses, an evaluation of the impact of tapeworm manifestation, and the relationship between Helicobacter species and gastric ulcers. Reproductive investigations include ongoing studies on the molecular basis of early conceptus adhesion to the mare's edometrium and factors regulating ovulatory and anovulatory follicle development in the ovary. Surgical/anesthetic/analgesic research includes a comparison isoflurane and halothane for arthroscopic surgery, an evaluation of epidural morphine and Tramodol for pain relief, the development of a laparoscopic technique for the repair of ruptured bladders in foals, the development of a safer anesthetic regime for abdominal laparoscopy in foals, and an evaluation of plasma and peritoneal coagulation/fibrinolysis as a mechanism to minimize the development of abdominal adhesions associated with surgery.

Food Safety

Our food safety research is primarily focussed on pathogenesis and epidemiological factors related to verogenic E coli in animals and the development of antimicrobial resistance in mastitis producing bacteria. A number of our faculty are active participants in the new Canadian Research Institute for Food Safety on campus established by a recent CFI grant. There are also long established collaborative links with the personnel in the Health Canada Laboratory for Food borne Infectious Disease based in Guelph.

Host-Agent Response

Fundamental host responses are being investigated at the cellular and molecular level focusing on immunoglobulin gene function and the immunogenetics of antibody production in health and disease; the role of plasma lectins in innate host resistance to bacterial disease; natural defense mechanisms of the porcine lung; natural competitors of intestinal colonization by Salmonella; and cellular control of lentivirual infection in cats. The genetic control of broad spectrum disease resistance in pigs and cattle, and a method for determining and enhancing this resistance for practical commercial utilization are the focus of long standing, high profile studies within OVC. Host-agent interactions are being studied in relation to avian coccidiosis, bovine pasteurellosis, Strep. canis infections, PRRS infections in pigs and bovine coronovirus.

Infectious Disease

Our infectious disease research program has a long history of strength, and is closely linked to studies on host-agent response, public health and food safety. OVC faculty are responsible for the E. coli and Actinobacillus components of the National Swine Bacterial Diseases Network; there is a strong research program in bovine coronovirus and avian adenovirus disease; an ongoing high profile research program directed towards the development of a vaccine for control of R. equi infections in foals; investigations on the role of Clostridium difficile in canine diarrhea and equine colitis, on the incidence and role of Neospora infection in bovine abortion; and an ongoing surveillance and research program in wildlife disease associated with the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre.

Mechanisms of Disease

In addition to host agent investigations that address the mechanism of infectious disease, there is a strong comparative medical research program focussed on genomics and protenomics in relation to non-infectious disease. This work includes investigations of angiogenesis, vascular dependence and tumor microenvironment in relation to tumor growth and mutogenesis; mechanisms of LPR gene regulation; post-transciptional control of CYP2A5 expression as a model stress-inducible gene; the endocrine regulation of early development and growth in fish; cloning of canine and feline genes which promote skin wound healing; and the role of platelets in the development of inflammatory and hemostatic responses.

Reproductive Biology

The College has long-standing research strengths in the field of reproductive biology. This area of research encompasses an internationally recognized investigation addressing the mechanisms regulating uterine killer cell commitment and the functions of those killer cells; fundamental investigations of the biology of early pregnancy in the mare and cow; the role of heat shock proteins in fertilization and development; cellular aging and senescence during early mammalian development; the roles of follicular hemostatic proteins, thrombospondin 1 and 2 and insulin-like growth factors in follicular and corpus luteum development; steroid metabolism and action in males; relaxin function in males; understanding canine gamete biology for population control; and the development of optimal embryo culture systems following cryopreservation and transfer of in-vitro or cloned dairy embryos.

Public Health and Environmental Health

This is an expanding area of research in the College and involves work with non-foodborne zoonotic disease (swine hepatitis E. virus, West Nile virus, Clostridial shedding, Canine and bovine Neosporidium infections); antimicrobial use in agriculture and veterinary medicine (including companion animals) as a source of microbial resistance; E. coli in meats and the relevance to food safety, detectional and environmental transfer; and the development of a surface water testing procedure to rapidly determine species of E. coli. Environmental effects on amphibian species, the influence of endocrine dystruptors on fish development and the potential human radiation exposure from the consumption of fish caught near the Bruce Nuclear Power site are examples of environmental studies. In addition, faculty and graduate students from OVC have filled important roles in the investigation of the Walkerton OH157 E. coli outbreak, a crytosporidium outbreak in North Battleford, and an evaluation of the effects of sour gas emission in Alberta. International ecosystem health projects are being carried out in Nepal and the Western Amazon lowlands.

Translational Models

Over the past few years there has been a substantial increase in research projects wherein large animals (non-rodent) are being used as translational models for comparative medical investigations. This type of research is a main focus area in the current Human-Animal links in Health Research CFI proposal, and the first Canadian Research Chair assigned to OVC has been allocated to someone working in Comparative Biomedical Research. Examples of the type of current research includes gene therapy in a canine model of the human x-linked Alport syndrome; regulation of alpha and mu class GST gene expression in the human colon; half-body radiation for treatment of lymphoma; autologous bone marrow transplantation in the dog; new techniques for treatment of developmental joint disease in the dog; and the use of reconstituted cartilage and mosaic arthroplasty techniques to repair sport injuries of joints.

Current Major Research Projects

This information is available at www.uoguelph.ca/research and from there select 'What's New' followed by the research funding summaries.

A listing of the research interests of current OVC faculty can also be browsed by department.