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Taking you are what you eat to a whole new level  

We've heard the old adage "we are what we eat." If we follow that reasoning through the food chain then it stands to reason that we also need to be concerned with what our food is eating.

That premise helps explain the importance of ongoing research at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) on the development of better therapeutic diets for farmed Atlantic salmon.

That ongoing research led to the launch of the Integrated Pathogen Management of Co-infection in Atlantic salmon (IPMC) – one of 6 national research collaborations funded through Genome Canada's Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP).

The 4.5 million study is a joint venture between UPEI, Memorial University and aquaculture feed manufacturer EWOS/Cargill.

Growing healthier fish could save the Canadian aquaculture industry up to $57 million dollars a year while reducing the need for additional treatments to help keep the fish healthy.

The project, managed by Genome Atlantic, plans to study co-infections by multiple pathogens like sea lice, bacteria, and viruses – something that can happen during a disease outbreak in Atlantic salmon – while EWOS/Cargill will develop therapeutic feeds to combat, reduce or prevent co-infections.

The project's scientific team consists of co-leads Dr. Matthew Rise, Professor in the Department of Ocean Sciences, Faculty of Science at Memorial University; Dr. Richard Taylor, Senior Research Scientist at Cargill Innovation Center; and Dr. Mark Fast, Associate Professor in Fish Health at the Atlantic Veterinary College, UPEI.

Springboard, through our UPEI Commercialization partner, Synapse, worked to help bring the partnership together and provide ongoing support for the groundbreaking work led by UPEI's Dr. Fast on aquatic species health conducted at the Atlantic Veterinary College. This work is advancing the science of aquaculture in Atlantic Canada toward a more sustainable future "This research holds the promise of developing an integrated pathogen management system that could reduce fish losses by as much as 20% overall, and up to 50% for some diseases," Dr. Fast reflected.

The project also highlights the importance of network and partnership development that Springboard helps to facilitate every day. The project was developed by Shelley King the former CEO of Synapse. Prior to coming to Synapse Ms. King was the Business Development Director for Genome Atlantic, and responsible for promoting and developing projects that were suitable for application to their GAPP program. This connection, her intimate knowledge of how the programs work and what they were looking for, helped pave the way for this relationship.

The team will use genomics technologies to identify the presence or absence of infecting organisms based on their DNA fingerprint, while also monitoring the genes involved in the salmon's immune response.

The project could have a significant impact on aquaculture in Atlantic Canada and across the country.

Find out more about how the region is #springboarding here.

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