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National network for research on animal embryos launched at Universit Laval


Quebec City, QC – The first Canada-wide NSERC network for animal embryo research, called EmbryoGENE, has been launched by Université Laval. The network, which was launched in collaboration with the University of Alberta, aims to better understand the effects of various assisted reproduction procedures and the mother’s pre- and post-conception diet and surrounding environment on bovine and porcine embryos. Data collected will increase understanding of the effects of different embryo manipulations in all mammals, including humans.

The network is being founded by Drs Marc-André Sirard and Claude Robert from Université Laval’s Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, in collaboration with Drs George Foxcroft and Michael Dyck from the University of Alberta.

“Our research will enable us to develop a tool capable of collecting over 20,000 elements of information (DNA) from an embryo, and analyzing its state of health. Previously, it was only possible to examine one embryo at a time using a microscope, and its health was estimated based on appearance,” says Professor Marc-André Sirard, EmbryoGENE Network director.

This tool will be used by Canadian universities such as Université de Montréal, McGill, Guelph, and Saskatchewan, and by the industry. Two universities will act as EmbryoGENE research centers: Université Laval will coordinate bovine research and University of Alberta will conduct porcine research. EmbryoGENE has a five-year, $7.9 million research budget, $4.8 million of which comes from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

“Our researchers are working closely with the University of Alberta and Quebec, Canadian, and American businesses to promote progress in the field, which will have a substantial impact on Canada’s food industry and the economy,” announced Edwin Bourget, vice rector of research and creation at Université Laval.

“The network, which links both of our universities and a number of other stakeholders, represents a unique opportunity to play a leading role internationally in developing new scientific knowledge in reproductive physiology. The project will generate invaluable discoveries with myriad applications both at home and abroad,” said George Foxcroft, EmbryoGENE Network co-director at the University of Alberta.