WCVM’s veterinary diagnostic complex opens

The veterinary microbiology lab is part of the new veterinary diagnostics complex that opened in November 2011. Photo: Debra Marshall.

The final phase of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine’s infrastructure project wrapped up in November 2011 with the completion of Western Canada’s most comprehensive, biosecure laboratory complex for all animal species.

Supported by the federal and provincial governments through the Knowledge Infrastructure Program (KIP), this facility allows veterinarians to rapidly diagnose high-risk cases of animal disease and infectious pathogens. It also provides biosecure space for researchers to study diseases such as BSE and chronic wasting disease.

To mark the completion of the veterinary diagnostics facility as well as two other KIP-supported projects at the University of Saskatchewan, the WCVM hosted a celebration on November 18 that drew guests from the federal and provincial governments, the U of S and the city of Saskatoon.

The diagnostics complex, along with the construction of a steam tunnel underneath Veterinary Road and major roof renewal projects across campus, were part of the $118 million in KIP funding that the Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan announced in June 2009. The federal and provincial governments and the U of S provided $27.6 million in combined funding for the three on campus projects.

“Our government’s investment in post-secondary infrastructure has given the Western College of Veterinary Medicine’s students and researchers the facilities they need to be global leaders in their fields,” said Brad Trost, federal MP for Saskatoon-Humboldt. “This project will allow the U of S to strengthen its capacity and build on its reputation as a leading institution of higher learning.”

The KIP-funded projects at the U of S are:

  • The upgrade and enhancement to the infrastructure and facilities at the WCVM, providing critical diagnostic capacity and relevant research in animal health, public health, environmental health and food safety.
  • Campus-wide roof renewal projects that ensure the preservation of physical assets and the continuity of university programming, and reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The construction of a steam tunnel connecting the Canadian Light Source and Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO). This project helps to support nationally important, world-class research, decrease energy losses, improve safety and service reliability, save water and reduce the use of treatment chemicals.

“Our government recognizes the value of investing in Saskatchewan’s post secondary education and these infrastructure investments provide real benefit for students and researchers,” said Saskatchewan Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration Minister Rob Norris. “The upgrades at the U of S will continue to move Saskatchewan forward as a leader in research education and innovation, maintaining our strong and steady economy.”

“This investment is not just about bricks and mortar — it’s about laying the foundation for the future for education, research and innovation,” said Richard Florizone, vice-president of finance at the U of S. “The new state-of-the-art diagnostics lab complex, for instance, will result in faster responses to emerging diseases to protect Canada’s food chain, as well as innovations in diagnostic and clinical techniques and specialized training for the next generation of veterinarians.”

The special event was held in the college’s new pathology demonstration area that provides students, faculty and staff with exceptional views of specimens during pathology courses, disease investigations and presentations. “This unique demonstration area is ideally set up so a veterinary student or graduate student can view actual specimens, learn more about interesting cases and be an active participant in the disease investigation process,” said Dr. Jennifer Brazzell, a graduate student in the WCVM’s Department of Veterinary Pathology.

Dignitaries also toured through the new veterinary microbiology laboratory that is part of the KIP-supported veterinary diagnostics complex project. This new area brings together nearly all of the diagnostic services including laboratories for the study of virology, immunology, bacteriology, serology (blood serum studies), toxicology, and prion diseases.

Prairie Diagnostic Services (PDS), owned by the Province of Saskatchewan and the U of S, is based in the new diagnostics complex at the veterinary college. PDS provides veterinary diagnostic services for western Canadians and participates in national disease surveillance.

KIP was a two-year, $2 billion program that provided economic stimulus measures to support infrastructure enhancement at Canadian post-secondary institutions, including universities and community colleges. It resulted in the creation of jobs for engineers, architects, trades people and technicians, as well as helped ensure that Saskatchewan and Canada are better positioned to contribute to, and benefit from, the global knowledge economy.

For more information, view the Government of Saskatchewan news release.


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