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Feds invest in U of G genomics projects

Feds invest in U of G genomics projects

Researchers will receive $1.5 million to help support ag sector

Staff Writer
University of Guelph scientists are prioritizing the health of animals, ecosystems and consumers in three genomics research projects.
Kirsty Duncan, federal minister of science, announced Monday that the projects will receive $1.5 million in federal funding, a same-day university release said. 
Bonnie Mallard, a professor in the department of pathobiology, received $426,622 to assist in developing high immune response technology to better beef cattle health and welfare. 
Dairy breeders use her technology to recognize animals with heightened disease immunity. Mallard will collaborate with the Semex Alliance, the Canadian Angus Association and the American Angus Association to modify the test to fight bovine respiratory disease in beef cattle. 
Mehrdad Hajibabaei, an integrative biology professor, hopes to conserve Canadian biodiversity and freshwater resources through enhanced genomic testing. 
He received “$840,000 from Genome Canada to validate environmental DNA meta-barcoding for ultimate use in monitoring the health of the country’s watersheds and rivers,” the release said. Hajibabaei will work with Environment and Climate Change Canada and the World Wildlife Fund Canada. He wants to use DNA meta-barcoding to accumulate biodiversity data and analyze human influence on the watersheds. 
A research team led by Paul Hebert and Sarah Adamowicz, both integrative biology professors, received $250,000 in funding. These scientists will develop bioinformatics tools to assist in processing large volumes of DNA sequence data. The tools will “help in monitoring environmental health and managing natural resources, including identifying pests, invasive species and pathogens,” the release said. 
Franco Vaccarino, the university’s president, explained that federal support is key in 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 in the release.
“Now we’re building on those strengths to help address important challenges, notably feeding the world while sustaining the planet,” he added.
In addition to federal funding, the three university projects will receive approximately $4.2 million from Genome Canada and public and private partners, including Ontario Genomics.
In her announcement, Duncan revealed that 37 Genome Canada projects will receive funding. has reached out to the University of Guelph for comment.
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