University of Saskatchewan

July 31, 2014   

Veterinary Medicine

The Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) encourages research in all areas of faculty interest, from basic to applied and clinical studies. There are many excellent and productive researchers within the College and several areas of research emphasis such as toxicology, reproduction, immunology and infectious diseases.

Several faculty are involved in the campus-wide Toxicology Centre. This is a rapidly expanding centre which has recently initiated an undergraduate program entitled the "Northern Ecosystem Toxicology Initiative". Approximately $5.4 million in external research funding is received by the Western College of Veterinary Medicine each year. In its short history, the College has quickly gained international stature and credibility in the fields of animal reproduction, infectious diseases, toxicology, wildlife health and epidemiology. New and developing areas of research include food safety and public health.

Faculty Research

Faculty from our College are centrally involved in the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Centre, a national organization which has its headquarters at the WCVM. Many other collaborative opportunities exist on campus and across Canada.

The College has also identified several emerging areas of research emphasis: diagnostics in microbiology and pathology, epidemiology, food safety and food animal health and oncology. In many areas of research, molecular aspects of the studies are becoming more important. The University of Saskatchewan is creating research groups in the health sciences and many faculty members from our College will fit into these. In areas such as reproduction, immunology and infectious diseases, we are front and centre.

One campus-wide initiative is in the area of public health: The WCVM has made this collaboration a major initiative. Similar collaborative opportunities exist in the area of oncology, both within the College and with other colleagues in the College of Medicine and the Saskatoon Regional Health Authority.

The College has recently received a research chair, the Alberta Beef Chair, and hopes to recruit a scientist into a Canada Research Chair in Toxicology. In addition, the College has recently received enhanced funding from the western provinces which will allow hiring of new faculty and enhanced research activity.

The Immunology and Infectious Disease Group

The Immunology and Infectious Disease Group spans a wide array of species from cattle and horses to wildlife. There are collaborations with the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) on campus, not only in research but graduate education programs.

Reproductive Science and Medicine

The Reproductive Science and Medicine Group, comprised of over 20 faculty members campus-wide, is largely centered in the WCVM. There is a strong graduate program and research in basic aspects of reproduction and a large emphasis in the area of therieogenology. We are fortunate enough to share a unique collaboration with colleagues in the College of Medicine.

Major Research Facilities:

The WCVM has two major research facilities: Our Animal Care Unit (ACU) and the Goodale Research Farm.

The ACU has indoor housing for laboratory, livestock and exotic species (1260 m2) and seven acres of outdoor paddocks, including livestock shelters, some buildings for experimental work and temporary housing of livestock and a mink housing facility. Indoor housing contains a small Level two containment facility for small animals (48 m2).

The Goodale Research Farm consists of 2,100 acres of pasture and crop land and is about 16 km from the University of Saskatchewan main campus. There are enclosed handling facilities for cattle and horses and two research barns. The farm has a permanent herd of 150 beef cows. Recently, a new Specialized Livestock Facility was constructed on 320 acres of the farm. At present, deer and elk are housed at the facility and used in research projects. The College is currently embarking on a $43 million infrastructure improvement program part of which will markedly enhance our research capabilities.

Funding:

Our research funding has been increasing steadily ($6.72 million in 2002-2003). Our research is diverse, but most funding goes into food animals. However, research is also active with wildlife, horses, companion animals and in comparative medicine. The majority of our research support is from the western provinces but significant amounts also come from industry, the federal government, private organizations and individuals.

The College also has three internal research funds supported by companies, organizations and individuals (The Wildlife Health Fund, Equine Health Research Fund and Companion Animal Health Fund). Funding for graduate students is largely from university scholarships, the western provinces, federal scholarships and research grants. There is a clear need to enhance funding for graduate students. The College’s financial support from the western provinces also enables us to provide summer research experiences for undergraduate students.

Publications:

In 2002-2003, WCVM faculty published 101 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals, presented 87 communications at conferences and prepared 194 invited lectures, reviews and chapters in books.

Research activity covers a large breadth of areas. Research interests by department are as follows: in Large Animal Clinical Sciences research areas include toxicological studies on the impact of the oil and gas industry on beef cattle, epidemiology, food safety, animal ethology and welfare, theriogenology (cattle and horses), work in specialized livestock, and various projects in surgery and medicine. In Small Animal Clinical Sciences, research includes ophthalmology, hard and soft tissue surgery, anaesthesia and analgesia, cardiology, imaging, oncology, endocrinology and many aspects of comparative medicine.

In Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, interests range from reproduction, toxicology, gut biochemistry and heparin to pain, neurophysiology, immunology, clinical pharmacology and the equine athlete. The Pathology Department has research projects in oncology, endocrinology, vaccinology, toxicology, and infectious diseases, particularly of wildlife. Faculty in Veterinary Microbiology are involved in research in infectious diseases and vaccinology, diagnostics, immunology, epidemiology, virology and parasitology.

Several graduate students and faculty have received awards recently for research and research presentations.

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