Reproductive Health: 1950s to 1980

Interests in animal reproduction at the University of Saskatchewan began in the late 1950s when Dr. Bill Howell (Animal and Poultry Science) introduced artificial insemination in cattle to Saskatchewan producers.

This was followed by the appointment of Dr. Bill Cates in the Department of Clinical Studies at the new Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) in 1965. Dr. Cates had a long career at the WCVM focusing on reproductive management in cattle, and in particular, reproductive management and breeding soundness evaluation in beef bulls.

With an interest in reproductive endocrinology, Dr. Jack Manns (1967, Veterinary Physiology) was one of the early pioneers and a driving force behind early cross-campus collaborations that continue to this day. Dr. Manns later became the University’s first Vice President of Research.

In 1977, Dr. Norman Rawlings joined Dr. Manns in Veterinary Physiology with a focus on the endocrinology of puberty using a sheep model; he later became Associate Dean of Research at the WCVM.

Dr. Bill Adams, who had recently discovered the corticosteroid trigger for parturition in cattle and sheep, joined the WCVM in 1970 as Head of the Department of Clinical Studies and established a line of distinguished theriogenologists at the WCVM.

With an interest in equine reproduction, Dr. Frank Bristol (1973) began studies on the characteristics and effects of equine chorionic gonadotropin and conjugated estrogens from pregnant mare urine.

In 1977, Dr. Reuben Mapletoft joined the department as Director of Clinical Research, and established himself early on as one of the foremost authorities on bovine embryo transfer and cryopreservation. Dr. Mapletoft established the Reproduction Research Trust (RRT) in 1980 which provided reproductive services, including the first “on farm” embryo transfer and embryo freezing services for breeders across Western Canada. Income from the RRT was used to support graduate student training and research; between 1980 and 1984, the RRT generated more than $500,000 for these programs.

Dr. Terry Carruthers (Herd Medicine and Theriogenology) was appointed within the RRT at that time as a Research Scientist. Dr. Albert Barth (1979) advanced the work of Dr. Cates with the establishment of the Diagnostic Spermatology Laboratory at WCVM in 1980 and more recently, the standards for the evaluation of frozen semen for the Society for Theriogenology and breeding soundness evaluations for the Western Canadian Association of Bovine Practitioners. 

Reproductive Health: 1980 - present

The additions of Drs. Peter Flood (1977, Veterinary Anatomy) and Bruce Murphy (1973, Department of Biology) provided a true comparative aspect to the research activities of the group with interest in wild ungulates and induced ovulators, like mink.

Through collaborative efforts between Drs. Murphy and Mapletoft, early formulations of a GnRH vaccine were developed. Dr. Jack Manns, and later Dr. Murray Jelinski (Large Animal Clinical Sciences), took this to a commercial product.

However, it was not until Dr. Murphy joined the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1986 and formed the Reproductive Biology Research Unit (RBRU) that true cross-campus collaboration occurred. Subsequent appointments within the university have included Drs. Roger Pierson (Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1989) and Gregg Adams (Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, 1991) who, in 2000, formalized the cross-campus group and co-directed what became known as the Reproductive Science and Medicine (RSM) group for the next 14 years.

Others appointed around that time included Drs. Claire Card (Large Animal Clinical Sciences) and Sheila Schmutz and Fiona Buchanan (Animal and Poultry Science). More recent additions included Drs. Jaswant Singh, Ali Honormarooz and Daniel MacPhee (Veterinary Biomedical Sciences), Colin Palmer and Stephen Manning (Large Animal Clinical Sciences) and Mary Buhr and Murray Pettit (Animal and Poultry Science).

In 2005, through an agreement between the University of Saskatchewan and AAFC, the Canadian Animal Genetic Resources Program was established. With this program came three scientist who became affiliated with departments within the university: Dr. Yves Plante (Animal and Poultry Science) and Drs. Mohammed Anzar and Carl Lessard (Veterinary Biomedical Sciences).

In 2014, the name the Reproductive Science and Medicine (RSM) group was changed to the One Reproductive Health (ORH) group to better reflect the interests and the goals of this ever-evolving group.