GPRC NBDC-TAC Announces Expansion Plans
Friday, June 23rd, 2017
BEAVERLODGE – Grande Prairie Regional College (GPRC) unveiled plans today for the expansion of their National Bee Diagnostic Centre - Technology Access Centre (NBDC-TAC) located in Beaverlodge that has been in operation since 2013.
Representatives from GPRC made the announcement at the 64th Annual Beekeepers’ Field Day, an event hosted by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) at the Beaverlodge Research Farm. Beekeepers from across the province gathered to discuss research trends and industry news.
Director of GPRC Research & Innovation, Dr. Bruce Rutley, unveiled the expansion plans and explained the ultimate objective is to establish the college’s NBDC-TAC as a National Centre of Excellence for Bees. At its current size, NBDC-TAC is unable to keep up with demand for its diagnostic services. The expansion will increase capacity and help facilitate regional and international partnerships according to Rutley.
“Becoming host to AAFC’s bee production management research program through dedicated and shared laboratory space will truly enable us to create the National Centre of Excellence for Bees,” he said.
GPRC’s NBDC is the first comprehensive laboratory in Canada to provide a full array of diagnostic services for honeybee pests, pathogens, and parasites. The NBDC located at the Beaverlodge Research Farm was created in response to the needs of the beekeeping industry and is a partnership between Grande Prairie Regional College and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
NBDC provides diagnostic services for beekeepers, researchers, agencies and industry with the aim to contribute towards a healthy, sustainable and profitable apiculture in Canada. Microbiology, microscopy and molecular techniques are used to identify bacteria, fungi, mites and viruses that affect honey bees. The facility started accepting client samples in April 2013. Client demand grew from 1,500 diagnostics performed the first year to close to 20,000 diagnostic tests on beekeeper and research project samples for the current year.
Applied Scientist and Manager of GPRC’s NBDC-TAC, Dr. Carlos Castillo, said he is excited for the project to get underway. “It will be a significant growth of lab space,” he said. Castillo added that with the expansion, NBDC-TAC will be able to triple the number of diagnostics they perform per year. “We would probably need to double the staff that we currently have,” said Castillo. “We have come a long way, but there’s still much more to do.”
The expansion is funded by the Strategic Investment Fund. The provincial and federal government awarded over $21.5 million in funding to four Alberta colleges on May 25 for reinvestment in research and innovation activities. The expansion will be funded using a combined total of $6 million in funding from the provincial and federal governments as well as the College.
After the expansion, the building will accommodate 865 square metres of floor space, approximately tripling its current size. Construction is now underway and is expected to be completed by the summer 2018.
GPRC is a comprehensive community institution, publicly supported to provide opportunities in postsecondary education in northwestern Alberta. Established in 1966 in Grande Prairie, GPRC now includes campuses in Fairview and Grande Prairie, and learning centres in Edson, Grande Cache, Hinton and Jasper. GPRC offers a wide variety of career certificates and diplomas, pre-employment and apprenticeship trades, university transfer studies, and several opportunities for on-campus degree completion at baccalaureate and master levels through collaborations with four-year universities. For more information, visit gprc.ab.ca.
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