UP TO THE CHALLENGE: Shaping a brighter future through research, innovation and collaboration
Dr. Shayan Sharif
Interim Associate Vice-President (Research)
University of Guelph

As Canada’s Food University, the University of Guelph recognizes the crucial role our local and global food systems play in addressing many of the world’s greatest challenges: improving food security; reducing antimicrobial resistance; and controlling the emergence of new animal diseases, many of which can spill over to humans, causing epidemics or even pandemics.

Through our holistic approach to agri-food research and innovation, we lead the way in delivering evidence-informed solutions that span the entire food system – from field to fork. This holistic, evidence-informed approach is core to our institutional commitment to Improve Life.

Our world-class programs, including veterinary and agricultural sciences, extend U of G’s long history of pioneering innovation by examining problems through a wide-angle lens: seeing the world as a multidimensional ecosystem and recognizing the relationships among humans, non-human animals and the environment. Today, this comprehensive framework is known as the One Health approach. One Health brings together experts and perspectives from multiple disciplines – including social sciences and humanities – to collaborate and deliver comprehensive solutions for these critical issues.

U of G established the One Health Institute in 2019 to propel inter- and trans-disciplinary research while creating programs for training the next generation of One Health thought leaders. These future leaders learn how to integrate both the scientific and the socio-cultural aspects of health at the interface of animals, humans and the environment.

Our students have the unique opportunity to learn directly from leading experts who actively collaborate at the highest international levels to address our planet’s most complex challenges. For example, Dr. Scott Weese, professor at the Ontario Veterinary College and director of U of G’s Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses, serves on the Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance. Recently, Dr. Evan Fraser, professor in the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences and director of the Arrell Food Institute, was appointed to a United Nations steering committee on world food security. Engaged learning for our students and global impact for our researchers reflect U of G’s ability to work not only across academic disciplines but also with government and industry partners.

As one of U of G’s most longstanding and significant research partnerships, the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance is a leading example of what government and academia can accomplish by working together. The Alliance brings together the Government of Ontario, the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario and U of G to deliver Ontario agri-food solutions with global impact. This partnership leverages U of G’s global leadership in agricultural, food and veterinary sciences to deliver world-class training, laboratory services, research and veterinary programs. These initiatives fuel effective solutions to agri-food challenges and support farmers, processors, business and communities in Ontario, in Canada and around the world.

Through our dedication to academic and research excellence and our commitment to meaningful collaboration, U of G delivers agri-food innovations that truly make a difference. From new disease-resistant varieties of soybeans to naturally healthier dairy cattle that require fewer antibiotics, we help ensure a more resilient food system that bolsters domestic food production while reducing the risk of antimicrobial resistance.

At the University of Guelph, we are committed to meeting these grand challenges by remaining laser-focused on advancing research, education and partnerships that produce the next generation of innovators and innovations.

Dr. Shayan Sharif is an immunologist in the Ontario Veterinary College and interim associate vice-president research (agri-food partnership). He is internationally recognized for his work on avian influenza and animal-pathogen interactions.