$3-Million Gift Will Advance Dairy Research, Innovation Capacity

July 08, 2013 - News Release

Keeping Ontario and Canada at the forefront of dairy production and health is the goal of a $3 million gift to the University of Guelph from the Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO).

It will support both a permanent faculty position in dairy microbiology at the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) and a research chair in dairy cattle health at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC). The gift was made through the BetterPlanet Project, the University’s $200-million fundraising campaign for teaching and research in food, environment, health and communities.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for the University and industry,” said Rob Gordon, OAC dean. “Across our University, there are dozens of professors, researchers and students engaged in dairy-related projects. This will allow us to further strengthen those efforts and support new innovations, as well as build new enthusiasm and excitement around our considerable dairy teaching, service and research.”

Elizabeth Stone, OVC dean, said: “We’re grateful to DFO for its generous support. This gift will help us continue to make major improvements in dairy cattle health and food safety, and to train the scientists and veterinarians who protect the health of our dairy herds.”

It will also enhance OVC’s ability to recruit highly-qualified graduate students, find solutions to priority concerns confronting the industry, and strengthen collaborations between the University, government and industry, Stone said.

DFO will invest $200,000 a year in each position, with the OVC research chair being supported for five years and the OAC professorship for 10 years. The timing of the new positions coincides with the construction of a $25 million, state-of-the-art, dairy research facility at the U of G-run Elora Research Station; DFO is also committing up to $5 million on behalf of industry stakeholders.

“DFO has enjoyed a longstanding relationship with the University of Guelph, and especially with OVC and OAC over the years,” said Bill Emmott, chair of the DFO board of directors. “We look forward to building on this excellent relationship for the benefit of the dairy producers and the industry we serve.”

Peter Gould, DFO general manager and CEO, added that research is critical for the long-term viability of the industry. “The areas of innovation, animal care, food safety, and productivity are key research priorities for DFO,” he said.

OAC will be conducting a search through the Department of Food Science to fill the new dairy microbiology professorship, Gordon said. The focus will be on dairy microbiology; specifically probiotic and other beneficial microorganisms. This includes validating health benefits, proposing strategies to increase growth and survival of probiotics in dairy products and studying genetic modification to enhance health effects.

The OVC chair will be held by population medicine professor David Kelton, an expert in dairy cattle health and disease surveillance. The focus will be on infectious diseases, on-farm milk quality, biosecurity, welfare issues and dairy cattle reproductive health and efficiency.

“My role will be to engage teams of researchers — from veterinarians and food scientists to environmental engineers and economists — to help answer some of the complex questions facing the industry,” Kelton said.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or lhunt@uoguelph.ca; or Kevin Gonsalves, Ext. 56982, or kgonsalves@uoguelph.ca.

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1