UPEI lands $10M research chair

The University of P.E.I.'s Atlantic Veterinary College has announced a new, $10 million research chair for the study of farmed and wild fish.

Gardner will study the epidemiology of farmed and wild fish

The University of P.E.I.'s Atlantic Veterinary College announced a new $10 million research chair Monday.

The Charlottetown-based institution said Ian A. Gardner would look at the health interactions between farmed and wild fish populations as the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Aquatic Epidemiology.

Gardner will also work to develop cost-effective testing and surveillance programs for the prevention and control of diseases in aquatic food animals.

The research money will be spread over seven years.

"It's a really important issue, because fish production and intake of fish globally is increasing all the time," Gardner said.

He said he had recently travelled to Indonesia, and practices there illustrated to him that food health is a global issue.

"It's not just isolated Canada. It's an issue in the developing world. How do we produce healthy food and create healthy communities? I think that's a key fundamental component of what I'll be about in this position."

Gardner is from Australia, but has spent much of his career at the University of California at Davis.     

Research 'jewel'

"This is an exciting day for UPEI and AVC," said university president Wade MacLauchlan. "The Canada Excellence Research Chair in Aquatic Epidemiology is the jewel in the crown of research we've developed here over the past two decades.

"This chair, together with its supporting team and network, responds to the expanding global demand for protein, notably for healthy fish from healthy aquatic ecosystems. This [chair] will make a big difference."

Officials at the AVC have lobbied long and hard to get the research chair. Efforts involved a two-year application process with three elimination rounds.

The veterinary college at the University of Prince Edward Island is the only small university to get that size of research funding for the field.

Gardner will work with a team at AVC's Centre for Veterinary Epidemiological Research.

"The Atlantic Veterinary College is known around the world as a leader in veterinary epidemiology and fish health," said Gardner.

"I'm excited to be a part of this team. This is a new frontier of science that will make a difference in people's lives. This research deals with the health of our oceans, but is also about what goes on our plate at dinnertime."

Gardner begins his position in September.