News May 19, 2021

Saskatchewan Blue Cross invests $150K to help establish USask’s VIDO as Canada’s Centre for Pandemic Research

SASKATOON – The Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) is one step closer to establishing its Centre for Pandemic Research, thanks to a $150,000 donation from Saskatchewan Blue Cross.

The gift from Saskatchewan Blue Cross will help expand VIDO’s research capacity to rapidly respond to emerging infectious diseases. The donation will contribute to upgrading and expanding VIDO’s infrastructure as well as support research and scientific training.

“We thank Saskatchewan Blue Cross for helping to make this vision a reality,” said VIDO Director and CEO Dr. Volker Gerdts. “We are proud to play a leading role in our country’s pandemic response, and to be part of a community that supports and recognizes the importance of having this world-class research here in Saskatchewan.”

As part of the partnership, Saskatchewan Blue Cross and VIDO will also host an “Ask a Scientist” virtual event the afternoon of June 24, 2021 for residents of Saskatchewan to learn more about VIDO and its ongoing research. The event will also provide individuals an opportunity to ask questions about how vaccines are developed from the world-class scientific team based right here in our province.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, USask’s VIDO has taken a national leadership role. This includes being the first in Canada to isolate the virus that causes COVID-19, the first in Canada to develop an animal model and the first Canadian university organization to have a COVID-19 vaccine in clinical trials.

“We’re very proud to support VIDO’s expansion vision and delighted to offer the people of Saskatchewan an opportunity to learn more about their critical work through this partnership,” said Megan Douglas, Vice President, Customer Relations and External Affairs. “Saskatchewan Blue Cross is committed to helping strengthen health literacy in our province, and to empowering our communities on their journey to whole health and wellness. The event on June 24 is a wonderful opportunity for everyone to hear from VIDO’s world-class scientists specializing in vaccination.”

Thanks to donors like Saskatchewan Blue Cross and VIDO’s ongoing fundraising efforts from a variety of sources including government, municipal and private donors, Saskatoon will soon be home to Canada’s Centre for Pandemic Research. This centre, which is expected to be completed over the next three years, will include a new manufacturing facility, upgrades to key containment areas, new animal housing and the recruitment of global experts.

If you would like to join Saskatchewan Blue Cross as a ‘Friend of VIDO’ by making a donation, please visit

For media inquiries, please contact:

Victoria Dinh
USask Media Relations

Trenna Brusky
VIDO Marketing Co-ordinator

Cheryl de Villiers
Director, Marketing and External Affairs
Saskatchewan Blue Cross

About Saskatchewan Blue Cross

For 75 years, Saskatchewan Blue Cross has been committed to delivering exceptional health and wellness benefits, travel insurance and life insurance solutions to Saskatchewan residents and employers. A locally based, not-for-profit organization, it’s recognized as one of Saskatchewan’s Top Employers, one of the Top 100 Companies in Saskatchewan, one of Canada’s Top 100 Brands (as part of the Canadian Association of Blue Cross Plans), and proudly supports the well-being of more than 200,000 people through their individual and employer plans. With a mission to empower communities on their journey to whole health and wellness, and a vision for a future of lifelong health and well-being for every person in Saskatchewan, this team is committed to advancing and benefiting the communities they call home. Learn more at:

About the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization

The University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) is internationally recognized for its role in vaccine development and is one of Canada’s national science facilities. VIDO has a 45-year history of vaccine development and commercialization—eight of its vaccines have been sold commercially, and six have been described as world-firsts. The ~150-member organization operates using an ISO:9001 certified management system in state-of-the-art containment Level 2 and 3 facilities. VIDO receives operating support from the Canada Foundation for Innovation Major Science Initiatives program and the Government of Saskatchewan through Innovation Saskatchewan and the Ministry of Agriculture.