New Livestock Genomics Research Funding Ready to Roll Out

CALGARY, Feb. 14 /CNW/ - Genome Alberta, the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency and the University of Lethbridge are pleased to announce the first of 9 projects approved for funding under Genome Alberta's 'Alberta Livestock Genomics Program' (ALGP).

With 4.5 million dollars in funding from the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA) Genome Alberta put out a call for proposals in 2010 and has approved 9 research projects to help improve the quality, reputation, and health of Alberta Livestock.

The first project to be given the go-ahead is led by University of Lethbridge Researcher Dr. Brent Selinger. The project will be co-led by Dr. Tim McAllister Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada's Lethbridge Research Centre. Also represented in the project team are IdentiGEN Canada Ltd and University College Cork in Ireland.

The $ 470,000 in funding and project support from Genome Alberta and ALMA will be used by the project researchers to look at a microorganism carried in cattle which can result in human disease.

Escherichia coli O157:H7 is often found in the gut of even healthy cattle but when it reaches high enough levels for the cattle to become 'super shedders'  it can spread and can become a problem for people.

The newly funded project " The use of metagenomics to develop mitigation strategies for Escherichia coli O157:H7 colonization in cattle" will use functional genomics to identify and develop new bioactive compounds for the control of the pathogen and to find new strategies to mitigate the shedding of E. Coli O157:H7 .

"It is very significant to note that the funding for this research is being channelled through Genome Alberta," said Dr Dennis Fitzpatrick, the Genome Alberta Board chair and Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Lethbridge. "The industry wants to be competitive on the world stage, and they are to be commended for moving these projects forward through research. When research goals align with research needs, everyone benefits."

Work on the project lead by the University of Lethbridge is underway and over the next several weeks funding details for 8 more research projects to enhance Alberta's Livestock Sector are underway.

"These investments are major steps forward for the Alberta Livestock and Meat Strategy," says ALMA president and CEO, Gordon Cove. "ALMA's investments will help maintain Alberta's position as a leader in livestock genomics research."

Genome Alberta's President and CEO Dr. David Bailey said, "In addition to the strong funding commitment from ALMA, the national and international organizations partnering in the various projects will bring the total research envelope into the 8 to 9 million dollar range."

Over the coming weeks Genome Alberta and its partners will be announcing details of other successful projects involving other Alberta, Canadian, and U.S. Universities, industry, and U.S-based agencies.

About the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency:

The Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA) has invested more than $8.7 million in genomics research, over three years, to help increase the competitiveness of Alberta's livestock and meat industry. The agency contributes ideas, information and investment as it works with industry partners towards achieving the goal of a sustainable, profitable and internationally respected livestock and meat industry. For more information, visit www.alma.alberta.ca.

About Genome Alberta:

Genome Alberta is a publicly funded organization that initiates, funds, and manages genomics research and partnerships. We are based in Calgary but lead projects around the province and participate in a variety of projects across the country. We are one of Canada's six Genome Centres and work closely with these centres to advance the science and application of genomics, metabolomics, and many other related 'omics'. Apart from the scientific contributions and advances that come from our research, we contribute directly to the economy and have put almost 20 million dollars into salaries, benefits and consumables since we were created in mid 2005.

About University of Lethbridge:

The University of Lethbridge fosters an environment that meets the educational and personal needs of students through excellent teaching, exposure to research, interaction with professors and instructors, academic advising, counseling, and cultural, recreational and extracurricular programs. We value and support many approaches to teaching and learning, and strive to be a leader in using teaching tools, techniques, and technologies to facilitate, ameliorate, and refine the educational experience.

For further information:

For more information or to arrange an interview:

Genome Alberta:

Mike Spear
Director of Corporate Communications
(403) 813-5843
Email: mspear@genomealberta.ca

University of Lethbridge:

Robert Cooney
University of Lethbridge
Media Relations Officer,
(403) 330-4609
robert.cooney@uleth.ca

Nicole Paradis-Clancy
Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency
Communications Officer,
(780) 638-1932
Nicole.Paradis-Clancy@almaltd.ca