Gill health project led by AVC faculty member receives $4.7 million in funding

Developing an early warning system for identifying complex gill disease
| Atlantic Veterinary College
Dr. Mark Fast, professor of fish health and immunology, Atlantic Veterinary College
Dr. Mark Fast, professor of fish health and immunology, Atlantic Veterinary College

A project to develop an early warning system for identifying complex gill disease on salmon farms, led by Dr. Mark Fast, professor of fish health and immunology, Atlantic Veterinary College at UPEI, has received $4.7 million in funding through Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP).

The project is one of five applied research genome projects that received $8.6 million in federal funding and an additional $17.8 million in co-funding from provincial governments, businesses, and research partners across Canada. Partnering with Fast on the project are Cermaq Canada, Grieg Seafoods, Genome Atlantic, and Genome BC.

Salmon production in Canada is under increasing threats from infectious and non-infectious diseases such as complex gill disease. Over the last decade, gill health and associated disease have been a growing challenge in salmon farming operations in both the Pacific and North Atlantic. Complex gill disease is a multifactorial condition resulting from the interaction of environmental and husbandry conditions as well as infection by pathogens and parasites to create proliferative lesions, particularly during the summer and fall months.

The project will validate biomarkers of healthy and compromised gills of Atlantic salmon and use these to develop an early warning system for the development of gill disease on Atlantic salmon production sites across Canada. The resulting genomics-enabled tools for fish health will guide the management and intervention strategies for complex gill disease in Atlantic salmon.

“On behalf of the Atlantic Veterinary College, I congratulate Dr. Fast and his collaborators on being awarded this funding,” said Dr. Greg Keefe, dean of AVC. “Research projects like this are important because they can provide solutions to problems that affect the health and welfare of animals, people, and communities.”

Dr. Katherine Gottschall-Pass, interim vice-president research and academic at UPEI, joined Dean Keefe in congratulating Dr. Fast and his team. 

“Geonomics research such as that led by Dr. Fast has great potential to improve the lives of Canadians,” she said. “I’m proud that the Atlantic Veterinary College at UPEI is taking a leading role on such an important project.”

Genome Canada’s GAPP funds translational research and development projects that address real-world challenges and opportunities identified by industry, government, not-for-profits, and other receptors of genomics knowledge and technology.
 

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