Lab Canada

Animal reproduction lab opens

Saskatoon, SK – A new laboratory devoted to research into advanced reproduction techniques for livestock had its official opening at the University of Saskatchewan.

The Westgen Research Suite is one of two open-plan laboratories in the veterinary college’s new $8-million research wing. The first scientists stationed in the Westgen Research Suite will focus on advancing reproductive techniques in cattle, swine, horses, and other livestock species.

Westgen, Western Canada’s Genetics Centre, contributed $640,000 toward the research suite’s construction. Based in Milner, BC, the producer-owned, non-profit society has promoted the development and use of assisted reproduction in Western Canada’s beef and dairy industries since 1944.

“Innovative research in animal reproduction techniques is fundamental to our members’ future ” and to the future of Canada’s entire livestock industry,” says Tim Hofstra, former president and a current director of Westgen as well as a dairy farmer from Millet, AB. “Discoveries made in this lab will directly influence the way our members continue to raise cattle whose genetics meet and exceed international standards for fertility, production and overall health.”

In the past three decades, WCVM scientists have pioneered new techniques in artificial insemination, spermatology, and embryo transfer for use in livestock. College researchers have won international recognition for groundbreaking studies of ovarian follicle development and the regulation of reproductive cycles.

“The wide range of resources available in the new Westgen Research Suite and in the entire research wing will allow our scientists to continue making major improvements in areas such as assisted reproduction and the cryopreservation of reproductive cells and tissues,” says Dr Charles Rhodes, dean of WCVM.

The Westgen Research Suite will also serve as a focal point for the Canadian Animal Genetic Resources Centre – an animal genetics conservation initiative supported by WCVM, the university’s College of Agriculture and Bioresources, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. This program focuses on preserving the diversity of genetics in Canadian farm livestock and investigating new methods to support these efforts.

The new lab includes a multi-user laboratory, cell culture rooms, storage space for liquid nitrogen and a cold room. Reproductive scientists also have access to a second laboratory that serves as the veterinary college’s centre of expertise for molecular, cellular and immunological techniques. Both laboratories are equipped with more than $1.5 million in specialized equipment.

The entire research wing provides WCVM with 1,468 sq m of new space that meets Level 2 containment specifications for biosecurity. The facility also includes offices for more than a dozen faculty members and visiting scientists, work space for graduate students, and a central meeting area for WCVM’s research community.