U of S and Partners Celebrate Grand Opening of $17.8 M VIDO Expansion

Oct 15, 2003

Canada’s capacity to fight human and animal disease and address food safety challenges received a boost today with the opening of a new $17.8-million expansion of the Vaccine & Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) at the University of Saskatchewan.

A global leader in vaccine and infectious disease research, VIDO has added 50,000 square feet of state-of-the-art lab space and equipment, as well as new office space. Since the expansion was announced two years ago, VIDO has recruited more than 50 research scientists and technicians, bringing its staff to more than 135, and will continue to grow.

The new labs and world-class scientific staff will enable VIDO to probe the molecular processes involved in infection and development of immunity, ultimately leading to new vaccines that will protect the health of humans and animals. The expansion will greatly extend VIDO’s resources for genomics and proteomics research, both areas with significant application to human health. As well, VIDO's aggressive pursuit of new needle-free vaccine delivery systems, such as oral and intra-nasal delivery, and its food safety vaccine initiative best exemplified by an E. coli vaccine being developed for cattle, will be bolstered by the expansion.

“This expansion of VIDO is concrete proof of why the Government of Canada is committed to strengthening Western Canada's research capacity," Public Works and Government Services Minister Ralph Goodale said on behalf of Stephen Owen, Secretary of State (Western Economic Diversification) (Indian Affairs and Northern Development). "VIDO and other pioneering centres of research are attracting the best and brightest to our communities. They are helping to reinvigorate the local economy and, ultimately, will improve our quality of life in Saskatchewan.”

“Western Economic Diversification Canada is working with VIDO and other university, industry and private sector partners to build research centres that will elevate the West to the pinnacle of Canadian and worldwide innovation,” said Stephen Owen, Secretary of State (Western Economic Diversification) (Indian Affairs and Northern Development).

“The CFI's investment in VIDO will help to support the development of world-class expertise in this community," said David Strangway, President and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation. “By supporting state-of-the-art infrastructure projects like the one being announced today, the CFI is helping to modernize the research landscape in Canada.”

“This stunning expansion is a testament to the vision of VIDO director Lorne Babiuk and our funding partners who have recognized the enormous value of building research capacity on our campus,” said U of S President Peter MacKinnon. “The expansion of this internationally recognized institute will attract more top minds in infectious disease research to the U of S and build on our already impressive infrastructure for world-class research and graduate training.”

“With these new labs and an expanded scientific staff, we are well-equipped to undertake ground-breaking research that will define the next generation of products for both animal and human health,” said VIDO director Lorne Babiuk, a U of S Canada Research Chair in Vaccinology and Biotechnology. His multidisciplinary team includes immunologists, epidemiologists, virologists, veterinarians and clinicians, biochemists, molecular biologists, biomedical engineers, and pharmacists.

Wholly owned by the U of S, VIDO operates with substantial support from the governments of Saskatchewan and Alberta, as well as federal government and industry competitive grants.

Construction of the expansion began in October 2001, and was initially budgeted at $14.3-million. Funding was provided by the Government of Saskatchewan ($5.15 million), the Canada Foundation for Innovation ($5.15 million), Western Economic Diversification (WD) ($2 million) and the Government of Alberta ($2 million). VIDO’s success in attracting a $27-million Genome Canada investment allowed a third floor to be added. Through the Genome Canada award, WD provided an additional $2.5 million and the Province of Saskatchewan (Industry and Resources) $500,000. The U of S contributed $500,000 for a fully equipped conference centre.

VIDO is renowned for the research, development and commercialization of products used by producers in the food animal industry. It is credited with five “world firsts” in animal vaccine research, including the world's first genetically engineered vaccine to combat shipping fever in cattle. VIDO currently holds more than 50 biotechnology patents and has 27 pending. It collaborates with research institutes around the world and with more than 30 commercial companies.

With more space, equipment and staff, VIDO will also be able to take full advantage of the research opportunities at the Canadian Light Source (www.lightsource.ca) which opens next year on the U of S campus.

More information is available at www.vido.org.