Dr. Antonio Facciuolo (PhD) will receive $264,960 from BCRC to advance the development of a vaccine against MAP. (Photo: Dave Stobbe)
Dr. Antonio Facciuolo (PhD) will receive $264,960 from BCRC to advance the development of a vaccine against MAP. (Photo: Dave Stobbe)

New USask funding to advance Canada’s beef sector

SASKATOON – Dr. Antonio Facciuolo (PhD) from the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) has new support to develop a vaccine against Johne’s disease—a chronic intestinal disease of cattle that is significant to both the beef and dairy industry.

Facciuolo is one of five scientists at USask awarded funding from the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) under the newly announced Canada’s Beef and Forage AgriScience Cluster.

The USask-led projects, totalling $3,107,317, will help bolster the beef sector’s environmental and economic sustainability. The research will focus on improving cow-calf health and productivity, breeding climate-resistant forages, studying the Canadian feed-lot industry, managing cattle diseases, and advancing gut health research.

“Agriculture is a signature area of research at USask and we are committed to advancing research that will create sustainable growth in this area,” said USask Vice-President Research Baljit Singh. “The funding announced by BCRC will allow us to drive innovation and make meaningful contributions that will bring great value to the beef industry.”

Johne’s disease, caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium paratuberculosis (MAP), is a contagious and lifelong infection that eventually progresses to severe inflammation of the small intestine in cattle. It is estimated the disease causes annual industry-wide losses of $17-28 million USD. Vaccines are not currently available in Canada.

Facciuolo, who has collaborators at the University of Calgary and Simon Fraser University, will receive $264,960 from BCRC to advance the development of a vaccine against MAP.

“I’m excited to build on our previous work which established an infection and vaccine screening model for Johne’s disease,” said Facciuolo, one of VIDO’s newest scientists who is also affiliated with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at USask. “This funding will support the next steps in vaccine research and ultimately towards the development of a vaccine that can protect against this chronic and economically important disease.” 

The team will test oral and injectable vaccine formulations using antigens identified in a previous project. Based on their findings they will select the combination that provides the best overall protection to help control this disease.

The following USask projects were also recipients of support under Canada’s Beef and Forage AgriScience Cluster:

  • Bill Biligetu (PhD) — $201,680. Breeding climate-resilient forage germplasm for the Canadian beef industry: a national collaboration.
  • Greg Penner (PhD) — $961,859. Re-considering treatment strategies: can we accelerate recovery from disease by considering gut health?
  • Gabriel Ribeiro (PhD) — $300,468. A benchmark study of the Canadian feedlot industry and an evaluation of best management practices (BMPs) to improve the sustainability of feedlots.
  • Cheryl Waldner (PhD) — $1,378,350. The Canadian Cow-Calf Health and Productivity Enhancement Network (C3H/PEN).


For media inquiries, contact:

Victoria Dinh
USask Media Relations