VIDO name updated to Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization

Mar 18, 2003

Canada's Veterinary Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) has built a global reputation as a leader in vaccine development. Now it has a name to match.

VIDO has dropped the "Veterinary" from its name and updated it to the "Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization." The name change is subtle, but it's an important one that reflects the organization's core focus on vaccines and the expanding reach of its innovations, says Dr. Lorne Babiuk, VIDO Director. The organization has also updated its signature diamond-shaped logo to accompany the revised name.

"This is a small name change to better reflect what we've already been doing for many years," says Babiuk. "At a basic level, it's a reinforcement that VIDO's main activities are in vaccines. More broadly, it's a recognition that while our commitment to serving the livestock industry remains strong and is in fact increasing, the convergence of animal and human health research has dramatically broadened the relevance of VIDO's progress beyond the livestock industry."

Since its establishment in 1975, VIDO has focused on food animal infectious disease research and the development of livestock vaccines. This has resulted in a rich legacy of leading-edge technology for disease solutions, to benefit livestock producers, the food industry and society as a whole.

"Our main goal has always been preventative medicine, rather than so-called 'fire engine' medicine," says Babiuk. "In this area, vaccines are recognized as the most cost-effective method of reducing animal suffering and economic losses. This is why vaccine development has been emphasized as VIDO's top priority."

Today, rapid advances in many areas of science, particularly in biological or "life sciences," mean that research progress in this and other areas often has direct application in many other sectors, says Babiuk. For example, progress in a swine disease may lead to solutions for the same disease in bovine, poultry and even humans. This has created a movement at VIDO and other institutions toward "platform technologies."

"Platform technologies are not disease or animal specific," says Babiuk "Rather, they offer multiple applications across species and across diseases. In the case of VIDO, this brings broad benefits to all livestock sectors - including beef cattle, dairy cattle, swine and poultry - and opens new potential to extend animal health progress into the human health arena."

Over the past decade, the number of VIDO projects focused on platform technologies has tripled, and this trend is expected to continue as the organization kicks off a new era with a landmark $17 million expansion slated for occupancy in summer 2003.

VIDO has received strong support from the livestock industry throughout its history, says Babiuk. This funding, which comes directly from livestock groups, has remained stable over the past decade and continues as a driving force behind VIDO's progress. During the same timeframe, with increasing crossover opportunities, VIDO's funding support for broader research has more than doubled.

Both areas of research complement each other and have potential to draw significant crossover funding, he says. "For example, we believe that by expanding our activities into platform technologies and the human health arena, we can actually enhance the amount of funding we can capture for livestock use."

Often, disease research goals in animal and human health are closely related, he says. In fact, approximately 55 percent of the current infectious diseases that affect humans have an animal origin.

"A good example is our work toward preventing E. coli O157:H7," says Babiuk. "VIDO is working on vaccines for cattle to prevent environmental contamination of this pathogen, but obviously the benefit ultimately extends beyond the livestock industry to human health. This is just one of many areas where we see this kind of convergence."

The Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization is a world leader in vaccine research for the control of infectious diseases and is a wholly owned University of Saskatchewan not-for-profit institute. It operates with substantial support from the Government of Alberta and the Government of Saskatchewan as well as Government of Canada competitive grants.