Innovating to improve life

Red and White Canada one hunded fiftieth logo

The University of Guelph's 150 Innovations Project commemorates Canada’s sesquicentennial. Research has long been part of our culture, beginning in the late 1800s with our three founding colleges. It continues today, in what has grown to become seven colleges with more than 30 departments. Support from a wide range of sponsors helps our 800 researchers innovate and improve life for people and communities locally, nationally and globally. Follow the links provided with each entry for more information about this selection of 150 University of Guelph innovations.


Photo of the coffee pods

PurPod100 is the world’s first completely biodegradable coffee pod certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute. Professor Amar Mohanty and his team at the Bioproducts Discovery & Development Centre formulated the most challenging component - the compostable pod’s ring, using plastic and coffee chaff, a waste product from coffee bean roasting. This award winning product is already on the shelves in supermarkets across Canada, US and Mexico and has the potential to significantly reduce the waste from single-use, pod-based coffee makers.

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Photo of tobacco plants growing in a greenhouse, two men in lab coats in the background

Genetically engineered tobacco plants are helping produce cancer-fighting antibodies. U of G Prof. Chris Hall and his Guelph-based firm, PlantForm Corporation, have developed a plant-based production system for biopharmaceuticals, including a low-cost biosimilar version of the breast-cancer drug Herceptin. Work is also under way on several other plant-made pharmaceuticals for the treatment of cancer, HIV/AIDS, Ebola and other life-threatening diseases. Photo: Dean Palmer for PlantForm

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Obesity logic model

Infographic of the obesity logic model

Obesity affects over 20 per cent of Canadians and increases risk of heart disease, some cancers and diabetes. That’s why Prof. Paula Brauer created a set of strategies, known as a logic model, which helps health care professionals plan services and to consider aspects such as lifestyle, the availability of community resources and awareness of healthy weight among their patients when developing treatment plans. The multifaceted model is being used by teams to improve the effectiveness of both obesity prevention and treatment. Infographic: SPARK/LindDesign

Genetic test for horse disease

Photo of two Belgian horses grazing

Foals born with a skin disease called Herlitz-Junctional Epidermolysis Bullosa (JEB), seldom survive past the first two weeks of life. To combat this condition, Prof. John Baird and colleagues from France identified the mutation and developed a diagnostic genetic test for it. Their screening program has reduced the number of foals born with JEB and could eventually help eliminate the disease in North America. Photo: Barbara Sheridan 

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Canadian Adaptions of Shakespeare Project (CASP)

Painting purported to be of Shakespeare

Understanding how the work of Shakespeare has been developed in a Canadian context is at the heart of U of G Prof. Daniel Fischlin’s Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project (CASP). Offering educational tools, videos, articles, archives and multimedia resources, CASP is the first research project of its kind to explore the historical and multicultural significance of Shakespearean theatrical practice at a national level. 

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Treating shipping fever

Photo of a beef cow looking at the camera, on dirt, with several cows behind it (in a feed lot)

The Presponse vaccine, developed by pathobiology professors Patricia Shewen and Bruce Wilkie, rose to become the industry standard for treating shipping fever in cattle, a common and costly respiratory problem. The vaccine induces antibodies to a toxin that attacks immune cells in the lungs. First marketed in 1988, Presponse helped livestock avoid the disease and saved beef producers millions of dollars in losses each year. Photo: Canada Beef

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Growing food in space

Photo of a shelving unit with plants on it.  Each shelf is bathed in a different colour of light - the top is white, the middle is red and the bottom is blue.

Someday, Mars-bound astronauts will thank plant scientist Mike Dixon for the food they grow on their long journeys. Dixon and his team at the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility study how to raise plants for space travel, and for the inhospitable atmospheres of other planets. This research also enhances our understanding of how to farm in challenging environments on Earth. Photo: Courtesy of Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility

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Guelph Family Health Study

Cover of recipe book for Guelph Family Health Study

Guelph Family Health Study researchers want to watch your family eat…and help you form healthy dining habits. Under the directorship of University of Guelph nutritional scientist David Ma, the innovative long-term study advises parents about practical ways to encourage positive eating, exercise and sleep behaviours. The researchers' aim is to find ways to lower a child’s risk for chronic disease. Photo: Courtesy of Guelph Family Health Study

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Rural Diary Archive

A look at our past starts with nineteenth- and twentieth-century rural Canada and Guelph's Rural Diaries project. For historian Catharine Wilson, the diaries provide insight into the social relationships of early rural Canadian neighbourhoods. Citizen historians from around North America have volunteered to transcribe old, faded, handwritten diary pages to digital text; all are welcome to view. Photo: Mido Melebari

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DNA barcoding

Grey Jay with translucent DNA graphic overlay

DNA barcoding at the University of Guelph is documenting biodiversity across the globe, and discovering thousands of overlooked species. Developed by biologist Paul Hebert, the DNA barcoding species identification system has prompted the International Barcode of Life project, the largest-ever initiative in biodiversity genomics. More than 1,000 researchers in 26 countries have developed 5.3 million-plus plant and animal barcodes, such as the one pictured for the gray jay, a very popular Canadian bird. Photo/Design: Suz Bateson 

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