Success Stories

Bo, 10 year old, happy Golden Retriever from PEI

My dog Bo was in a cast for 8 weeks after a surgery. She couldn’t climb stairs, jump on the bed, or get in and out of the vehicle. She also couldn’t swim or even go to the beach.


Click here to read Bo`s story



Meet the Team

We are a small innovative team dedicated to improving the quality of life of companion animals through developing natural, science-based products for your pet. We are proudly Canadian owned and span the country from Nova Scotia to British Columbia. Here are our stories....


My name is Graham Burton and I am Co-Founder of Avivagen. Originally from New Zealand I moved to Canada many years ago to pursue my interest and develop opportunities in biochemical science. I received my formal education in New Zealand, including a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Auckland. I then completed post-doctoral studies at the University of Arkansas and the University of California at Berkeley. My informal education of course is still continuing...

I am a reluctantly retired runner and triathlete but I make time for my competitive spirit to still burn through road cycling, swimming and cross country skiing. More than anything, I enjoy the simple pleasures in life, including those that go with being blessed with a great family.

Presently, we have not been adopted by any pets. However, we have enjoyed the company of one African pygmy hedgehog and two dumbo rats, that all were granted asylum as refugees at the end of certain family-related elementary school class projects.

Why I love working with Avivagen? It is gratifying to help bring together and work with a small but dedicated team that has shared and contributed to the goal of translating a basic scientific discovery into commercial products that have real value for the health and wellness of animals, and ultimately, humans.

My name is David Hankinson and I am the CEO at Avivagen Animal Health. Growing up, I remember always being surrounded by animals.  We lived on a small farm with two cows, two pigs, sheep, dogs, cats and chickens. 

After graduating as a pharmacist I spent the bulk of my career in the health care industry including an international assignment and work in Canada in various management roles. Following several years as the CEO of a major Canadian pharmaceutical company I retired.  

When the opportunity arose to join Avivagen and be part of an exciting venture to bring a new type of product to the animal health market I gladly joined the management team. 

In my spare time I enjoy tending to my lawn and gardens. My wife and I are both musical and we enjoy participating in several local amateur musical groups.  We also love spending time with our 7 wonderful grandchildren. We are just getting ready to adopt two new kittens after saying a painful goodbye to our wonderful cat of 17 years, Franklin.


My name is Jamie Nickerson and I am the Biology Group Director at Avivagen Animal Health. I received my BSc in Biology from Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, QC as well as my MSc. and PhD. in Molecular Physiology and Evolution from the University of Ottawa, ON. After completing my graduate work I spent 3 years as a research associate in the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Science at the University of Guelph before moving back to the east coast to help establish Avivagen’s biology research facility in Charlottetown, PEI.

Over the past two years I, along with some of my Avivagen colleagues, have piloted an outreach program for high school biology classes in which a researcher from our lab spends a week with students leading them through a series of “real world” experiments. 

In my spare time I enjoy participating and competing in local running and triathalon events with my amazing family.

I am thrilled to be a part of the Avivagen team. The team atmosphere here is phenomenal and I really enjoy the fact that everyone has the ability to contribute in a significant way to the success of this company. There is nothing more motivating than coming to work with such a wonderful group of engaging and like-minded individuals.

My name is Tracy Gillett and I am Marketing and Technical Services Manager at Avivagen Animal Health. Originally from Melbourne, Australia I graduated from the University of Queensland in 2000 with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science and went on to work as a companion animal veterinarian for 10 years in Australia, the UK and New Zealand. Having grown up in a household full of pets, with everything from cats and dogs to turtles and snakes I was an animal lover from the start, so a career in animal health was a natural progression.

I am lucky to share my life with my wonderful husband and my cheeky cat Oliver, a 13 year old ginger tabby I rescued as a tiny kitten. In my spare time I love to hike the mountains around BC, travel to far and exotic places, watch wildlife, mountain bike, ski, snowshoe and practice yoga. 

I feel very lucky to be a part of the young, innovative Avivagen team. The most satisfying element of my job, other than our amazing team, is speaking with pet owners, hearing their success stories and getting to know all about their pets.

My name is Jennifer Febel and I am the Marketing and Communications Associate for Avivagen Animal Health. I am responsible for managing our online and social media presence which means when you post a message on our Facebook Wall or Twitter feed, it is me who will be answering you!

After receiving my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from York University I went on to study Graphic Design and Creative Advertising at Seneca College. While I loved the creativity involved in advertising I still had the desire to work with animals so I started work as a receptionist in a veterinary clinic. I spent the next 7 years working my way up to Practice Manager and loved every second. When the opportunity came up to combine my passion for pets with my love of graphic arts and writing, I joined Avivagen.

On a personal note, I am fortunate to share my life with my amazing husband, Brian, and 8 (yes, 8!) gorgeous fur kids whom I refer to as my Fur Crew. In my spare time I enjoy Hoopdance, curling, reading and singing in the York Highlands Chorus.


My name is Brian Tancowny and I am the Research Laboratory Manager for Avivagen Animal Health.

I received my honours degree in Biological Science from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and my Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Alberta.

I have a wonderful wife and three boys whom I absolutely adore. In my spare time I enjoy soccer, volleyball, weight-lifting, cycling and fishing. I am also an avid football player and am currently the president of Football PEI.

Coming to work for Avivagen has been an amazing experience for me. Most of my life has been spent participating in various team-centered sports where we learn that great things are accomplished through the collaborative efforts of a group of individuals working towards a common goal. It is this sense of teamwork that makes Avivagen truly unique.

My name is Ashley Craswell and I am Atlantic Sales Representative and Laboratory Technician at Avivagen Animal Health. 

I graduated from the University of PEI in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology.  I am lucky to share my life with my wonderful husband Brodie and our two fabulous fur-children Ellie, a Golden/Chesapeake Bay Lab, and Pickles, our slightly overweight kitty whom we rescued off the streets 7 years ago. 

In my spare time I enjoy running, kayaking, hiking, snowshoeing, skiing and DIY projects. Growing up I was always heavily involved in sports activities and am now fortunate enough to be a member of the PEI Road Runners. 

I am thrilled to be part of the Avivagen team, a small, tight-knit group of people who all share a common goal: to improve the health and well-being of companion animals.

My name is Alana Daley and I am the Customer Service Representative and Laboratory Technician at Avivagen Animal Health. 

I was born and raised in northern Manitoba but fell in love with Prince Edward Island after spending several summers here as a child. Shortly after high school, I made the decision to move to PEI where I met my husband Jason and we settled down to start our family. We have two wonderful children, Ben and Kaislyn, but sadly no pets right now due to our hectic schedules and long work hours. 

I spent 7 years as a retail manager and 3 years in the tourism industry where I gained extensive customer service experience. I joined the Avivagen team after completing a term with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans where I gained valuable laboratory experience in their Level 3 bio-containment facility.  I love my role at Avivagen, it truly feels like family and I am so fortunate to be part of such a great group who look out for and truly care about each other.

In my spare time I enjoy running and training with my husband and I’m hoping to complete a full marathon in October of 2012. I have also received my black belt in Taekwondo and enjoy teaching and practicing the discipline year-round. 


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