Improvement of vaccines to protect piglets against Streptococcus suis infections - QC-201

Preferred Disciplines: Animal infectious diseases, vaccinology, immunology and bacteriology (Masters)
Project length: 2 years (4 units)
Approx. start date: May 2019
Location: Saint-Hyacinthe, QC
No. of Positions: 1
Preferences: The intern will be registered at the Master’s level program in Veterinary Sciences at the Université de Montréal
Company: Ontario Pork

About Company:

Part of a proud Canadian farming tradition, Ontario Pork represents about 1,200 pork producers who care for their animals and the environment while providing healthy, and sustainable food. The organization is engaged in many areas, including research, government representation, environmental issues, consumer education and food quality assurance. Ontario Pork is the first livestock commodity group in the province to set social responsibility benchmarks, demonstrating pork producers’ commitment to sustainable farming. As such, the intern will be in close contact with pig farmers and pig production systems besides her/his academic research work at the Université de Montréal. 

Summary of Project:

Streptococcus suis is the most important swine bacterial disease affecting pigs and it is also a zoonotic agent. Disease management in pigs is wearisome due to restrictions in antibiotic use and lack of proven effective vaccines. Currently, field immunization efforts focus on bacterins (autogenous vaccines) with contradictory results and, in many cases, vaccinations are initiated without detailed knowledge of immunological and protective responses induced by these vaccines. In addition, there is lack of a standardized protocol for vaccine formulation and, more importantly, of scientific evaluation of the effect of formulation on vaccine efficacy. Adjuvants are key components in vaccine preparations and can dramatically influence the immune response to the vaccine antigen(s). However, the effect of adjuvants on S. suis-bacterin protective capacity has never been scientifically evaluated. We propose to study and compare, for the first time, the immune response and protection generated by a bacterin formulated with different adjuvants under controlled conditions using experimental challenge of piglets. 

The student will have the opportunity to learn a large animal infectious and immunization model (the pig), as well as vaccinology, immunology and bacteriology techniques.

The candidate will be part of our well-organized research group (GREMIP) and center (CRIPA) having access to different laboratories, infrastructure and student activities. 

Research Objectives/Sub-Objectives:

To test different adjuvants that may significantly improve the protective capacity of a vaccine (bacterin) against Streptococcus suis


    To respond to this objective the immunogenicity and protective capacity of different vaccine formulations will be evaluated in four-week-old piglets under controlled experimental conditions.

    Technical approaches:

    • Pig immunization
    • Pig challenge infection
    • Blood samples
    • Antibody titration by ELISA
    • Antibody isotyping by ELISA
    • In vitro bacterial killing assay

    Expertise and Skills Needed:

    • Basic training in bacteriology
    • Basic laboratory skills
    • Language : French, English

    For more info or to apply to this applied research position, please

    1. Check your eligibility and find more information about open projects.
    2. Interested students need to get the approval from their supervisor and send their CV along with a link to their supervisor’s university webpage by applying through the webform or directly to Nadia Dubé.