New Facility Will Support Animal, Public Health Research

May 02, 2008 - News Release

Sod was turned today for a $70-million facility at the University of Guelph's Ontario Veterinary College that will significantly enhance Canada's capacity to prevent diseases and solve health problems at the human/animal interface.

The Pathobiology/Animal Health Laboratory (AHL) building will provide new facilities that support the growing role of veterinarians in research and educational initiatives related to public health. This includes preventing, monitoring and addressing new and emerging diseases, especially zoonotic diseases (those that can jump from animals to humans).

"When it comes to promoting health and treating disease, the University of Guelph has always had a unique perspective — we are at the intersection of the human and animal worlds," said president Alastair Summerlee.

"We are able to apply knowledge gained from both realms to improve and often save lives. This new building will further our ability to identify both the risks we face and the potential benefits and treatments that can be realized from the integrated human and animal community."

The four-storey structure will be built at the corner of Gordon and McGilvray streets, dramatically changing the face of the west side of the University campus. It will include state-of-the-art laboratory and testing facilities for the AHL and Department of Pathobiology, as well as a 120-seat theatre, seminar rooms, teaching labs and office space.

Construction is scheduled to begin this spring and be completed in 2010. Funding for the building comes from the federal and provincial governments, as well as the University and private-sector partners.

"Veterinary medicine has a critical function in human health and well-being," said OVC dean Elizabeth Stone.

"There is a growing need in Canada and globally for expertise in public health, infectious diseases, pathology and immunology. This new facility will accelerate our ability to advance animal and human health care and provide global leadership through education and research."

The Pathobiology/Animal Health Lab building fulfils a key component of OVC's strategic vision. As the college approaches its 150th anniversary in 2012, it is focusing on several key initiatives, including a new educational centre in primary health care; an animal cancer centre; an equine performance and reproduction centre; and other improvements that will facilitate continued delivery of leading-edge medical, surgical and diagnostic imaging services.

As a partner with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in the Ontario Animal Health Surveillance Network, the AHL contributes to maintaining healthy animals and safe food in Ontario by providing specialized diagnostic services for veterinarians and public- and private-sector agencies.

Last April, for example, U of G scientists made a chemical discovery that explained how pets in the United States and Canada were affected by chemical contaminants discovered in recalled pet food products. The AHL was involved in conducting tests on the crystal-like substances found in the kidneys and urine of affected animals.

"These new facilities will greatly improve our biosecurity and biocontainment, protecting both our staff and our clients' herds and flocks from the pathogens that we deal with," said AHL director Grant Maxie.

The new Pathobiology/AHL building also complements the OVC Health Sciences Centre — a bold new vision for the college that will transform the OVC Teaching Hospital and shape the future of the profession. Part of that initiative includes a large-animal isolation unit that is under construction in the southwest corner of the OVC complex and that will set a new standard in patient housing and infection control.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982 or

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