OVC Helping Forge Research Ties in Brazil

January 06, 2012 - Campus Bulletin

Graduate students from the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) will visit Brazil early this year under a new federally funded scholarship program to strengthen research and development ties between Canada and the South American country.

Under the program, U of G and the University of Montreal will host 10 Brazilian exchange students over the next two years, said Prof. Allan King, Department of Biomedical Sciences, who is the lead principal investigator in the North-South Reproductive Biotechnology Consortium.

The consortium is one of 11 projects supported under the Canada-Brazil – Joint Research Projects initiative that provides travel scholarships to PhD researchers. The $108,000 to be provided over the next two years by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) will be matched by an equivalent amount from the Brazilian government to allow Brazilian students to participate in research in Canada.

“Brazil is a world leader in reproductive biotechnology, particularly in the area of embryo transfer,” said King, who has worked with researchers in that country since the early 1980s. “Where once we might have gone there to teach basic techniques, now we’re going to learn advanced skills as well.”

King said the Brazilians will benefit from OVC’s strengths in proteomics, genetics and molecular techniques. Canadian students visiting Brazil will see large-scale application of reproductive technologies, take part in large field trials and develop new laboratory skills.

The scholarship program, announced last August by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is part of the Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program supported by DFAIT and the Brazilian Federal Agency for Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education. It will help support 11 projects and more than 90 researchers in wide-ranging disciplines.

The consortium headed by King includes researchers at Queen’s University and the University of Montreal, and Brazil’s Sao Paulo State University and Para State University.

OVC mentors for the Brazilian PhD students include Profs. Jon LaMarre, Thomas Koch and Pavneesh Madan, as well as adjunct professor Gabriela Mastromonaco, curator of reproductive programs at the Toronto Zoo.

“This is a very exciting opportunity for OVC and for Canada,” said King. “Our students will get a glimpse of research in another country and learn about the important links between veterinary medicine and agriculture in an international context. The program may also lay the groundwork for future collaborations.”

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