WCVM Undergraduate Poster Competition

On September 6, 2023, Master's of Public Health (MPH) practicum student Roya Zand competed in the WCVM undergraduate student competition. Roya joined our lab for the summer as part of her MPH practicum course.

  • Zand Roya, Matsuyama Ayumi, Popowich Shelly, Chow-Lockerbie Betty, Ranaraja Asha, Rathnayake Mihiprabha and Gomis Susantha. Flow cytometric quantification of B cell damage in the bursa of Fabricius following infection with infectious bursal disease virus.

Canadian Poultry Magazine: One and done!

Left to right: Shelly Popowich, Iresha Subhasinghe, Hemlata Gautam and Dr. Susantha Gomis.
Dr. Gomis and his team appeared in the May 2022 issue of Canadian Poultry Magazine, discussing new necrotic enteritis vaccine research. Funding for this project was provided by Poultry Science Cluster 3. Click here to read all about it!

30th Annual Life & Health Sciences Research Expo

The 30th Annual Life and Health Sciences Research Expo was held on May 4, 2023. The expo acknowledges research and learning activity at the University of Saskatchewan, as an in-person showcase of interdisciplinary health science research. Competition categories explored basic, translational, clinical, and applied science as well as social and population health. Our graduate students competed in the poster competition:

  • Gautam, Hemlata. Induction of immune response against necrotic enteritis by a single intrapulmonary live Clostridium perfringens vaccine at hatch to protect broiler chickens.
  • Ranaraja, Asha. Can metabolomics be used for the rapid diagnosis of poultry diseases?
  • Rathnayake, Mihiprabha. Novel delivery of probiotics in chicken embryos to promote intestinal immunity against infectious diseases in broiler chickens.
  • Sughasinghe, Iresha. Enhanced vaccine effectiveness by delivering CpG-ODN in broiler chickens.

Congratualtions to Hemlata Gautam!

  • First place, Transitional, Clinical or Applied Science 1
  • Interdisciplinary/Interprofessional Collaboration

3MT (R) Competition

Every year, the University of Saskatchewan holds their annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT (R)) competition. Graduate students have 3 minutes and 1 presentation slide to present their research. This year, Hemlata Gautam one third place with her presentation "Protecting Chickens from a Gut Rotting Bacteria".

Watch Hemlata's 3MT!

More informaiton about the 3MT (R) can be found here

Images of Research Competition

The University of Saskatchewan held it's 9th annual Images of Research Competition. This year, there were 143 entries in 5 categories, from students, faculty, staff and alumi.

Mihiprabha Rathnayake won the Viewer's Choice award, with her image titled "Happy Birth Little Chicky - You are GIFT-ED!".

Candling is a method used to observe the growth and development of an embryo inside an egg which uses a bright light source behind the egg to show details through the shell. Fully developed chick will come out from the eggshell on day twenty-one. This photo was taken while candling just before hatch, and the little chick was trying to break the shell using its beak.  My research is on delivering probiotics into chicken embryos by spraying probiotics on the eggshell to protect neonatal chicks from infectious diseases like Salmonella. This 20 days old chicken embryo was already GIFT-ED with good bacteria (probiotics) so that it is ready to fight against infections. There’s no doubt that it’s a HAPPY BIRTH!!!!

Funders: Research Council, Result Driven Agriculture Research and Ministry of Agriculture, Saskatchewan. Supervisor's grants.

To see all of this year's winners click here.

2023 WCVM Graduate Student Poster Competition

Clockwise: Mihiprabha Rathnayake, Asha Ranaraja, Hemlata Gautam and Iresha Subhasinge.

On Wednesday March 15, 2023, the WCVM held a graduate student poster competition. PhD students Mihiprabha Rathanayke, Asha Ranaraja, Hemlata Gautam and Iresha Subhasinghe all competed.

  • Rathnayake, Mihiprabha. Can novel delivery of probiotics to chicken embryos improve the health of neonatal chickens?
  • Ranaraja, Asha. Can we diagnose poultry diseases using metabolomics?
  • Gautam, Hemlata. Protection of broiler chickens against necrotic enteritis with a single live vaccine at hatch.
  • Subhasinge, Iresha. Can chickens develop memory against bacteria?

72nd Western Poultry Disease Conference

Left: Sacramento, CA. Right: WPDC Foundation Board of Directors. Left to right: Ana de Silva (Student Program Chair, 2025 Program Chair), Rodrigo Gallardo (University of California, Davis, Secretary-Treasurer), David Frame (University of Utah, Proceedings Editor), Shelly Popowich (University of Saskatchewan, Executive Secretary, 2024 Program Chair), Nancy Reimers (Contributions Chair), Simone Stoute (University of California, Davis, President)

On March 13-15, 2023, Shelly Popowich attended the 72nd Western Poultry Disease Conference in Sacramento, CA. Shelly Popowich made a presentation.

  • Popowich, Shelly. Persistence and incidence of infectious bursal disease virus in broiler flocks in Sasaktchewan over a 10-year period, and the effect on production and processing parameters.

Additionally, Shelly was nominated as Program Chair for the 73rd Western Poultry Disease Conference in Salt Lake City, UT. Save the date! April 14-17, 2024. Or find us on Instagram @wpdfoundation.

U of S 2022 - Life & Health Sciences Research Expo

The University of Saskatchewan Life & Health Sciences Research Expo was held on May 5, 2022. Hemlata Gautam won 1st place in the Basic Science 1 category, as well as an additional achievement award in the Interdisciplinary/Interprofessional Collaboration category with her poster entitiled "Development of novel immunomodulatory strategies to control necrotic enteritis in broiler chickens raised without antimicrobials".

Congratulations Hemlata!

For more information, please click here.

71st Western Poultry Disease Conference

April 2-6, 2022 our poultry group attended the 71st Western Poultry Disease Conference in Vancouver, BC. Hemlata Gautam and Iresha Subhasinghe made presentations, while Shelly Popowich attended

  • Gautam, Hemlata. Developement of a novel vaccine strategy against Clostridium perfringens by synergyzing immune-enrichment and immunostimulation in chicks.
  • Subhasinghe, Iresha. CpG-ODN induced antimicrobial immunity involves immunometabolic regulation in broiler chickens.

WCVM Graduate Student Poster Competition

On Thursday March 24, 2022, the WCVM held a graduate student poster competition. PhD students Iresha Subhasinghe (left) and Hemlata Gautam (right) both competed:

  • Subhasinghe I, Ahmed KA, Gautam H, Popowich S, Chow-Lockerbie B, Shayeganmher A and Gomis S.  CpG-ODN that mimics bacterial DNA modulates mitochondrial respiration of chicken B cells to facilitate protection against septicemia.
  • Gautam H, Ayalew L, Subhasinghe I, Shayeganmehr A, Popowich S, Chow-Lockerbie B, Ahmed KA and Gomis S.  Developent of a novel vaccine strategy against Clostridium perfringens by synergizing immune-enrichment and immunostimulation in chicks.

Researchers aim to develop vaccine for infectious poultry disease

"Infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV) in broiler chickens (birds raised for meat) is a costly issue not only in Canada but worldwide. While Saskatchewan represents less than four per cent of Canada’s total poultry industry, the province loses an estimated 3.9 million kilograms of meat per year in Saskatchewan because of this virus."


Read the full article here at WCVM Today.

Researchers success in replicating poultry disease key to prevention

Necrotic enteritis, an intestinal disease caused by the bacteria Clostridium perfringens, primarily affects broiler chickens (poultry raised for meat) at a young age when their immune systems are immature. The disease causes the death of their intestinal lining and severely compromises their health.

One of the most common infectious diseases of poultry, necrotic enteritis has a significant economic impact on the poultry industry.

“Every year necrotic enteritis costs the global poultry industry $5 billion to $6 billion because of reductions in performance and the cost of disease treatment,” says Hemlata Gautam, a PhD student in the WCVM’s Department of Veterinary Pathology.

Read the article here at WCVM Today.

Pomeroy Best Graduate Student Award 2021

Hemlata Gautam won the Pomeroy Best Graduate Student Award for 2021 for her presentation "Immunosuppression led to severe necrotic enteritis imprints in commercial broiler chickens" at the North Central Avian Disease Conference (NCADC). The NCADC is held in conjuntion with the Midwest Poultry Federation convention. To see the proceedings click here.  


Congratulations Hemlata!

70th Western Poultry Disease Conference

The 70th Western Poultry Disease Conference was held virtually this year. Both Hemlata Gautam and Iresha Subhasinghe made presentations this year:

  • Gautam, H.  Necrotic enteritis in immunosuppressed broiler chickens exhibits a more severe disease footprint.
  • Subhasinghe, I.  Intramuscular CpG-ODN priming augments oxidative burst, degranulation and phagocytic potential of immune cells in chickens.

The 71st Western Poultry Disease Conference will be held in Vancouver, BC from April 2-9, 2022! 

BioOne Ambassador Award: Catching up with Kalhari

BioOne recently caught up with Kalhari Bandara Goonewardene. Click here to read the full interview.

WCVM Undergraduate Poster Competition

The WCVM held its annual undergraduate poster competition on September 4, 2019, highlighting undergraduate student work over the summer months.

Lisa de Melo Santana entered her poster entitled "Divergence and ontogeny of immune cell profiles in neonatal meat and egg type chickens" showcasing her hard work over the summer. 

Good job Lisa!

68th Western Poultry Disease Conference

April 1-7, 2019 our poultry group attended the 68th Western Poultry Disease Conference in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  Kalhari Goonewardene, Thushari Gunawardana, Ashish Gupta, Mengying Liu and Shelly Popowich all made presenatations, while Dr. Gomis, Ash Ahmed and Lisanework Ayalew all attended.

  • Goonewardene, K.  Intrapulmonary delivery of CpG-ODN using a large scale prototype nebulizer under field conditions protects neonatal broiler chickens against bacterial septicemia.
  • Gunawardana, T. In ovo delivery of synthetic CpG-ODN enriches immune compartments to induce protective immunity in neonatal chickens.
  • Gupta, A. Comparative evaluation of adjuvant effec of Emulsigen-D and CpG-ODN on immune response to inactivated FAdV vaccine in broiler breeders.
  • Liu, M. Variant infectious bursal disease virus (varIBDV)-SK09: A potential vaccine candidate to control IBDV infectio in Canada.
  • Popowich, S.  Antimicrobial sensitivity of Enterococcus  and Escherichia coli isolates from non-viable broiler embryos at commercial hatcheries in western Canada.

BioOne Ambassador Award

Kalhari Bandara Goonewardene received the award which recognizes early-career researchers who excel at communicating the importance and impact of their research beyond their discipline.

Goonewardene’s research focuses on raising healthy chickens, something vital to human health.

“Baby chicks on poultry farms often get sick from bacterial infections during the first week of hatching, resulting in the death of many chicks and severe economic losses for producers,” said Goonewardene.

Goonewardene said the poultry industry previously used antibiotics to prevent infections but these practices raised public health concerns including the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In response, the poultry industry is responsibly withdrawing from antibiotic use to ensure public health and safety, and actively searching for safe and effective alternatives to ensure poultry health.

Click here for the full article in WCVM Today.

MITACS Round Table Meeting

Mengying Liu, and other returning and current MITCAS students, meet with the Minister of Advanced Education for a MITACS round table meeting.  Mengying was a MITACS Globalink student with Dr. Gomis during the summer of 2015.

Development of a Live IBH Vaccine

Researchers at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) have developed a vaccine that can prevent inclusion body hepatitis (IBH), a particularly lethal virus that affects the poultry industry by causing sudden death to young broilers — chickens that are bred and raised for meat production.

Click here for the full article in WCVM Today.

Graduate Student Award of Merit

Kalhari Bandara-Goonewardene (right) pictured with Dr. Janet Hill.

Kalhari Bandara-Goonewardene recieved 1st place in the microbiology: bacteriology and parasitology category and 2nd place in the Graduate Student Award of Merit by the WCVM GSA.

Life and Heath Science Expo - 2018

Kalhari Bandara-Goonewardene won the Best Clniical Science and Best Interdisciplinary awards at the Life and Health Science Expo.  She also won the 2nd place poster award under the Clinical Sciences I category.

67th Western Poultry Disease Conference

April 16-18, 2018 our poultry group attended the 67th Western Poultry Disease Conference in Salt Lake City, UT.  Lisanework Ayalew, Kalhari Goonewardene, Mengying Liu and Shelly Popowich all made presenatations.  Kalhari Goonewardene also presented on behalf of Ruwani Karunarathna.

  • Ayalew, L.  Whole Genome Sequencing and Analysis of Infectious Bursal Disease Virus (IBDV) Isolates.
  • Goonewardene, K.  Serum, Lung, and Spleen Metabolomics Profile Analysis to Investigate Mechanism of Cpg-Odn Mediated Immune Modulation in Broiler Chickens.
  • Karunarathna, R.  Determination of Lethal Effects of Enterococcus faecalis Infection in Developing Chicken Embryos.
  • Liu, M. Variant Infectious Bursal Disease Virus (Varibdv)- Sk09: A Potential Vaccine Candidate To Control IBDV Infection In Canada.
  • Popowich, S.  Broad Spectrum Protection Against Inclusion Body Hepatitis Using a Bivalent Live Fowl Adenovirus Vaccine in Broiler Breeders.

Ashish Gupta wins the Richard B. Rimler Memorial Research Paper Award

Ashish Gupta won the Richard B. Rimler Memorial Research Paper at the American Association of Avian Pathologists, AVMA convention held in Indianapolis, IN in August 2017.

Congratulations Ashish!

66th Western Poultry Disease Conference

March 20-22, 2017 our poultry group attended the 65th Western Poultry Disease Conference in Sacramento, CA.  Dr. Suasantha Gomis, Lisanework Ayalew, Ashish Gupta, Kalhari Goonewardene, Ruwani Karunarathna and Shelly Popowich all made presenatations.

  • Gomis, S.  Modified Live Infectious Bursal Disease Virus (IBDC) Vaccine Rather Than Herpesvirus Turkey (HVT)-IBDV Vectored Vaccine Delays Variant IBDV Pathogenesis in Neonatal Broilers.
  • Ayalew, L.  Study of Pathogenicity of Emerging Avian Reovirus Variants Isolated From Broiler Chickens.
  • Goonewardene, K.  Immunoprotective Effects of Cpg-Odn Against E. Coli Septicemia in Neonatal Broiler Chickens by Intrapulmonary (IPL) Delivery
  • Gupta, A.  Broiler Breeder Vaccination With Combination of Fowl Adenovirus (FADV)-8b and Fadv-11 Induces Broad-Spectrum Protection Against IBH.
  • Karunarathna, R. Increased Incidence Of Enterococcus Isolations from Non-Viable Chicken Embryos in Western Canadian Hatcheries and Efficacy of Bacterial Identification by Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry.
  • Popowich, S. Broiler Chick Quality Assessment Using the Pasgar Score at the Time of Hatch.

Dr. Susantha Gomis serves as President

Dr. Susantha Gomis recieves recognition at the 66th Western Poultry Disease Conference for serving as president of the conference.

Ashish Gupta wins 3rd Place at WCVM Poster Day

Ashish Gupta wins 3rd place in the WCVM Graduate Student Poster Day in March, 2016 for his poster titled "Immunogenicity and protective efficacy of virus like particles and recombinant fiber proteins in broiler breeder vaccination against fowl adenovirus 8b."

65th Western Poultry Disease Conference

April 24 - 27, 2016 our poultry group attended the 65th Western Poultry Disease Conference in Vancouver, BC.  Lisanework Ayalew, Shanika Kurukulasuriya, Thushari Gunawardana, Ashish Gupta and Kalhari Goonewardene all made presenatations.

  • Ayalew, L.  Isolation and Characterization of Avian Reoviruses by Phylogenetic Analysis and Restriction Enzyme Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP).
  • Goonewardene, K.  Serum Metabolomics profile of neonatal broiler chickens following toll-like receptor agonist CpG-ODN administration.
  • Gunawardana, T.  Immunoprotective Effects of CpG-ODN Against Inclusion Body Hepatitis in Chickens.
  • Gupta, A. Fowl Adenovirus (FAdV) Shedding in Broiler Breeders Following Infection with FAdV 8ab.
  • Karunarathna, R. Mapping of Multidrug Resistance in Bacterial Isolates of Non-viable Chicken Embryos.
  • Kurukulasuriya, S.  A Variant IBDV Strain-SK09 Isolated in Saskatchewan is not Amenable to Current Commercial Broiler Vaccines.

Thushari Gunawardana Wins Hope Hannan Memorial Scholarship

Thushari Gunawardana recieved the Hope Hannan Memorial Scholarship at the WCVM fall awards night, 2012.

Congratulations Thushari!