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VIDO gets $1.7 million funding increase from province

An increase in annual funding from the Saskatchewan government means the University of Saskatchewan's Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) will receive an additional $1.7 million, boosting its total to $3.6 million per year.

September 26, 2008  By Saskatoon Star Phoenix

September 26, 2008

The Saskatchewan government announced Thursday it will increase its annual funding to the University of Saskatchewan's Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) by $1.7 million.

The increase commits the province to an annual total of $3.5 million in funding for VIDO, which researches infectious diseases in animals and humans and works to develop vaccines.


Karen Chad, the university's vice-president of research, referred to the additional funds as "absolutely critical to the future of VIDO."

Chad also said VIDO is "the cornerstone of the new University of Saskatchewan school of public health," and the funding increase will contribute to the university's reputation as a leader in infectious disease research.

"This investment will help attract and retain top-level health scientists right here in Saskatchewan," said Advanced Education, Employment and Labour Minister Rob Norris, who announced the investment.

Sasha Gracia, a master's student working on a single-shot nasal spray vaccine for whooping cough, is proof of VIDO's ability to attract students and researchers.

"I was very interested specifically in VIDO," said Gracia, who did her undergraduate work at the University of Victoria. "I talked to some of my professors and they said the facilities were excellent."

Those facilities will only improve once the construction of VIDO's International Vaccine Centre (InterVac) is completed in 2010. At 145,000 square feet, the facility is expected to be one of the largest vaccine research and development labs in North America.

VIDO has helped bring five, world-first vaccinations to market for use in livestock and has recently shifted some of its focus to human vaccines. Aided in part by a $7-million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, VIDO has been working on pediatric vaccines to help children in developing countries.

According to Andy Potter, VIDO's associate director of research, there's also plenty of work in Saskatchewan, as VIDO has researched potential vaccines for the West Nile virus, and most recently, listeria.

"These infectious diseases will affect us more as our population ages," Potter said. "Today it's listeria, but it might be something completely different down the road."


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