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FEATURED PRESENTATIONS

DAY 1 October 17th

DR. JOHN BASARAB

GENOMIC TOOLS FOR COMMERCIAL BEEF CATTLE

BasarabOne of the greatest challenges facing commercial producers is the longevity and profitability of their cow herd. Genomic applications have recently been developed that provide significant advantages to the cow calf producer electing to employ these new technologies. John will be discussing research that led to the development of EnVigour HXTM and the benefits provided through the ability to deliver parentage verification, breed composition, and vigour analysis. Significant economic impact is already available to the commercial cow calf producer from the tendency of high-vigour animals to deliver more pounds of weaned calf per cow exposed to breeding while simultaneously reducing replacement heifer costs. Genomically enhanced Expected Progeny Differences (gEPDs) for commercial cattle are the next challenge being tackled in our research. John Basarab is a Senior Research Scientist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, and has over 25 years of experience in beef cattle production and management. John’s main research focusses on methods to improve feed efficiency, the application of genomic and production based advancements to feedlots, and the investigation of methane gas emissions in beef cattle. John has co-authored almost 300 scientific articles, and was a former Associate Editor for the Canadian Journal of Animal Science.

DR. STEVEN JONES

THE ROLE OF GENOMICS IN PRECISION HEALTH CARE

jonesThe Canadian Cancer society has predicted that in 2017, approximately 200,000 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer, making prevention and treatment innovations critical components of cancer-science. Advancements in DNA technologies have allowed diagnoses and treatment plans to be developed based on the interaction between the genetic characteristics of the tumour(s) and those of the afflicted individual. The goal of this presentation will be to identify how bioinformatics data from tumour samples can be used as a predictive tool to guide clinical decision making into the application of effective cancer therapies. Steven Jones is the Head of Bioinformatics and Co-Director of the Genome Sciences Center at the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver, and was named by Thomson Reuters as one of the top most cited and influential authors in the field of bioinformatics in cancer genomics. His research focusses on the computation analysis of DNA sequences, genomic data and transcriptomics to identify mutations in patient samples and cancer cell lines. Steven will discuss the current applications of DNA technologies in human health, as well as how these technologies are impacting the care of our companion animals and livestock as well. And finally, based on where we are today, how can we see genomics based therapies shaping the health of us and our animals going forward.

 

 

DR. TIM MCALLISTER

ANTIMICROBIALS IN BEEF PRODUCTION:

IMPLICATIONS FOR RESISTANCE AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE

McAllisterThe use of antimicrobials in beef production has both positive and negative outcomes in livestock production. They are used to promote growth, feed efficiency, and animal welfare. However, excessive use of antimicrobials has also been shown to influence antimicrobial resistance in bacteria, mainly at the microbial pathogen level. This presentation outlines the current use of antimicrobials in beef production, and discusses the frequency of antimicrobial resistance in major bovine pathogens. It will also discuss the components of the bovine microbiome and how it is impacted by antimicrobials, discuss the role of antimicrobials in beef production, and touch on the impact of using antimicrobials for therapeutic and growth promoting purposes in the food chain. This includes the potential risk to humans and the effects on the wider beef production continuum. Tim McAllister leads a diverse research team studying a variety of aspects of beef research, such as ruminant nutrition, antimicrobial resistance in beef, and techniques in beef production. Tim has authored over 500 scientific papers, and has been the recipient of the Public Service Award of Excellence by the Governor General, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal, and the Shurgain Award for Excellence in Meat Science and Nutrition.

DAY 2 October 18th

DR. JOE SCHWARCZ

AGRICULTURAL MYTHS AND FACTS

Joe Schwarcz mugshotIt is not uncommon for science to be misinterpreted and misunderstood, which only adds to its ‘mysticism’. McGill’s Office for Science and Society, works to ‘demystify’ science, and separate the sense from the nonsense. As the Office’s Director Dr. Schwarcz will discuss the scientific evidence behind pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides.  Although these substances are known to be potentially toxic, Dr. Joe outlines how they can be used safely, and the importance of agrochemicals in feeding the Earth’s increasing population. Also reviewed are the important differences between the nature of agrochemicals for use in our own backyards and those intended for use in the agriculture industry; the intention being how, with a little bit science it is often possible to find the middle-ground between the fear-mongers and the chemical enthusiasts. Joe Schwarcz is also a professor at McGill, and has received numerous awards for teaching chemistry and interpreting science for public consumption. He also hosts “The Dr. Joe Show” on Montreal radio, and is the author of 16 best sellers. Joe is also well known for delivering informative and entertaining lectures on a variety of topics, ranging from the chemistry of love, to the science of aging.

 

DR. TAD SONSTEGARD

GENOME EDITING IN LIVESTOCK—

ANOTHER BREEDING TOOL FOR GENETIC IMPROVEMENT?

Tad Sonstegard mugshotThe use of gene editing technologies continues to gain interest as a potential means of introducing economically important genes to improve food animal production. This presentation highlights the benefits of gene-editing technologies and how they can advance breeding techniques, specifically the mechanics of introducing precision-bred alleles into animal genomes. Differences between introducing alleles already found in nature vs. gene knock outs and other approaches for genetic improvement will also be discussed. Finally, issues surrounding the regulatory approval of precision-bred alleles, the commercialization of these products, and the potential obstacles facing further development and adaptation of gene editing techniques in animal breeding will also be addressed. Tad is the Chief Scientific officer of Acceligen, a subsidiary of Recombinetics that focusses on food-animal genetics. His research is used to provide improvements to livestock to promote sustainability and animal welfare. Tad has published 187 peer-reviewed articles, and has received award recognition for his work using genomic research to improve livestock genetics.

WILLIAM TORRES

PURSUING EVIDENCE BASED OUTCOMES IN THE BEEF INDUSTRY

TorresThere are few industries with the ability to resist the adoption of the scientific method as the beef industry.  One reason for this is the fragmentation that exists within the supply chain, and the need for the entire chain to be willing to adopt new practices for the benefits to be realized.  This is particularly true for genetic improvement as any gains made at one level must be paired with proper management at the next (castration, weaning, and conditioning protocols for example).

So says William Torres of Cattleland Feedyards, a company that participates in research with downstream clients to help define and deliver ‘better’ outcomes. Never shy of a bold statement, his presentation will focus on evidence that addresses challenges related to calving complications, antimicrobial resistance, and serving the growing market with “never-ever” beef.

William Torres hails from Laredo, Texas, where his family has been ranching and farming since 1708. A graduate from Texas A&M University, he holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Animal Science, Biology and Physics. He is currently the Cattle Manager for Cattleland Feedyards and Research Co-Manager for the Integrated Research Beef Station at Cattleland Feedyards Ltd. (IBRS-CFL) where, since 2008, the research team has managed 48 contract research projects with over 88,000 head of cattle, completed 19 published research trials for various clients and 7 corporate research reports. 

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