Saskatchewan: an expert mission related to Virology, Immunology and Infectious diseases
The Office for Science and Technology of the Embassy of France in Canada, in collaboration with its consular branches in Toronto and Vancouver, organized an expert mission to Canada from November 26th–29th. This mission, consisting of French virology, immunology, and infectology experts, visited Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The initial idea was to bring together French and Canadian researchers from institutions of excellence in these academic fields in order to study the potential of these institutions and to explore means of developing on particular cooperative projects.
Three French researchers accepted the invitation: Dr. Branka Horvat, Research Director at INSERM-Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon and Head of the Immunobiology of Viral Infections team; Dr. Bernard Delmas, Research Director at INRA and Director of the INRA Molecular Virology and Immunology research laboratory in Jouy-en-Josas; and Dr. Dimitri Lavillete, Research Fellow at CNRS-ENS Lyon, Human Virology Unit.
It was decided that the delegation would visit two locations, Winnipeg and Saskatoon, as each of these cities hosts a world-renowned institution in one of these fields:
The Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) in Saskatoon was created in 1975 with the initial purpose of contributing its services to the livestock industry (particularly in terms of animal health and transfers of technology).
It has since expanded its scope to also deal with human beings and human-animal interaction (zoonoses). The International Vaccine Centre (InterVac), a research centre adjoining the VIDO, will open its doors in January 2013 to test new vaccines intended to protect both humans and animals against the emergence and spread of such infectious diseases as tuberculosis and the avian flu.
This new facility will be the first Containment Level 3 (CL3) laboratory in western Canada, treating major illnesses affecting both humans and animals.
The National Microbiology Laboratory (NML), a division of the Public Health Agency of Canada, is located at the Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal Health in Winnipeg, Manitoba. This state-of-the-art facility, the only one of its kind in Canada, is part of an elite group of 15 centres around the world possessing laboratories of Biological Safety Levels 2–4, where experts can work with infectious organisms ranging from the most minor illnesses to the most fatal. It is a government organization responsible specifically for the prevention, identification, and fight against infectious diseases.
It treats the most dangerous human and animal pathogens and diseases, such as SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome), the Ebola virus, and Lassa fever. The MNL also plays a very important role in the fight against pandemic type-A H1N1 flu, more commonly called “swine flu”. The MNL, with the U.S. Center for Disease Control, was the first to identify this virus and to produce the necessary reagents for laboratory tests.