International Vaccine Centre (InterVac)

University of Saskatchewan
Published 1-7-2015
  • CL-3 Laboratory

    Photo by Tom Arban

  • CL-3Ag Large Animal Holding Suite

    Photo by Tom Arban

  • Aerobiology Lab with Cabinet Line and Madison Chamber (Pressure Suit Lab)

    Photo by Tom Arban

The three-story International Vaccine Centre (InterVac) at the University of Saskatchewan is one of the largest vaccine research centers in the world and the largest in North America. It is connected by a walkway to the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) laboratory building in a cluster of life sciences R&D facilities at the University. The facilities operate together as VIDO-InterVac, one of only a few BSL-3 facilities in the world that can accommodate disease and vaccine research involving animals as large as cows.

Approximately every three years, the world is faced with a new disease of global impact. Diseases that have recently emerged, such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), H7N9 influenza, and the Schmallenberg virus in Germany’s cattle, represent considerable social and economic threats. InterVac supports development of vaccines for new and re-emerging infectious diseases and facilitates international collaborations to resist global pandemics.

The building is separated into two wings: a training and research wing with BSL-2 (CL2 in Canada) and BSL-3 (CL3) containment laboratories, and an animal wing with BSL-3 Ag (AP3/CL3-Ag) containment suites and multispecies accommodation. It has 18 animal holding suites for species of almost any size, from pigs, horses, and cattle to mice and birds.

The facility houses biochemistry, bacteriology, immunology, and virology laboratories, as well as a large animal standing surgery suite, all in BSL-3 Ag containment. The modular design of the laboratories facilitates flexibility, while the open layout encourages collaboration. The core laboratories house state-of-the-art laboratory equipment and associated support spaces. The clinical pathology lab houses a Leica TCS SP8 confocal microscope that provides high-speed scanning of live or fixed cells. It has the ability to optically “slice” through cells, resulting in high-resolution fluorescent images. InterVac’s cell sorting room is equipped with a Beckman Coulter CyAn ADP flow cytometer and MoFlo™ XDP cell sorter, both housed in dedicated Class II A2 biosafety cabinets for added aerosol containment.

One of the small animal isolation rooms houses a Perkin Elmer IVIS SpectrumCT for optical imaging of live animals. The Aerobiology Laboratory houses a Class III biosafety cabinet in line with a Class II biosafety cabinet and a Madison exposure chamber. This cabinet line allows for aerosol exposure studies in rodents under primary containment for handling aerosolized risk group 3 pathogens.

VIDO-InterVac researchers are working on developing vaccines and treatments for infectious human diseases such as tuberculosis, hepatitis C, West Nile virus, HIV/AIDS, SARS, and avian influenza H5N1, as well as large animal diseases, such as bacterial and viral infections, including Mycobacterium, Mycoplasma, Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), and Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED).

The VIDO-InterVac research focuses on viral pathogenesis and vaccine development, immune modulation, bacterial vaccine development, neonatal immunization, emerging infectious diseases and microbial virulence, vectored vaccines, and pathogenomics. Current VIDO-InterVac developments involve E. coli O157:H7, prion diseases, listeriosis, needle-free vaccines, emerging and re-emerging diseases, and influenza in swine and poultry.


Project Data
Project Type: 
New Construction
Completion Date: 
March, 2012
Saskatoon, SK, Canada
Delivery Method: 
CM at Risk
Project GSF: 
Project Cost: 
Construction Cost: 
Building Descriptors: 
Laboratory: Biomedical Research
Laboratory: R+D
Laboratory: Research
Laboratory: Wet
Life Sciences
Research: Biomedical
Research: Pharmaceutical
Architecture49 Inc.
PCL Construction
Hemisphere Engineering, Inc.
High Containment Electrical/Mechanical
Robb Kullman Engineering, Ltd.
Structural Engineer
Daniels Wingerak Engineering, Ltd.
Base Building Mechanincal Engineer
Paley White & Associates, Ltd.
Base Building Electrical Engineer
Crosby Hanna & Associates
Landscape Architect
Pro Metal
Custom Stainless Steel Gating
Metall + Plastic GmbH
Air-Pressure-Resistant Doors
Special Coatings
ESBE Scientific
Biosafety Cabinets
Baker Scientific
Biosafety Cabinets
Getinge Group
Autoclaves and Sterilizers
Camfil Farr
HEPA Containment Filters
Johnson Controls Inc.
BMS and Access Control and CCTV
Kewaunee Scientific Corporation
Metal Laboratory Casework
Effluent Decontamination System
Alkali Tissue Digesters