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FIVM Seminar Series: Genetics and genomics and cattle health

Maintaining animal health and using genome editing as a weapon against disease

Dr. Graham Plastow

One of the biggest challenges for livestock producers is maintaining the health of their animals.

That challenge is likely to increase in the future in the face of both old and new diseases, drug resistance and pressure to reduce the use of antibiotics and other treatments in agriculture. And while there is probably genetic variation in susceptibility for all diseases, little has been done to make use of it to date.

On Friday, May 15, Dr. Graham Plastow will discuss some examples and present recent results from cattle and other species.  He will also suggest next steps and the potential for using genome editing as a weapon against disease.

Dr. Graham Plastow, is Professor of Livestock Genomics and Chief Executive Officer of the Livestock Gentec Centre (funded by Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions). Dr. Plastow joined the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science at the University of Alberta in 2007, recognizing that the expertise and industry in Western Canada represented an opportunity to create a world-leading program across livestock species. Before this, he worked in the agri-food sector for 25 years. He was Chief Technology Officer and an Executive Director at Sygen International plc (one of the world's largest animal breeding companies when it was acquired by Genus in 2005/06).

A pioneer of the application of genomics in livestock, Dr. Plastow trained in Biology and Genetics at the University of Leicester. He has more than 30 years’ experience in the management and implementation of multidisciplinary research projects and technology transfer on an international basis including industry/academic collaborations. He has led or participated in numerous international research collaborations and has held positions on boards and committees of industry and research organizations.

Dr. Plastow is involved in many swine, beef and dairy research projects including the Canadian Cattle Genome Project funded by Genome Canada and partners. He leads a Genome Canada project on the genomics of swine health, which is focussed on two major viral diseases. Current research funding at Livestock Gentec is more than $30M. He is the Canadian lead for the Joint Centre of Excellence for Swine Genomics, a partnership between the China Agricultural University and the University of Alberta.