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Genome Canada announces participation in nearly $27 million in funding to stem the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus

Friday, March 6, 2020

Montreal, QC

$250,000 in research funds designated for genomics-based approach

Genome Canada announced $250,000 in funding for a genomics-based project selected through the Canadian 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Rapid Research Funding Opportunity.

Today, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, announced $26.8 million to support 47 projects in medical, social and policy countermeasures research to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus. The Government of Canada is providing the funding for this research through six partners: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Canada Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC) through the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and Genome Canada.

Funds from Genome Canada – through the Genome Alberta regional centre – will support University of Calgary researcher Dr. Dylan Pillai, who is leading a medical countermeasures project in diagnostics. Faced with the threat of a viral pandemic combined with today’s ease of international travel, his research focuses on creating tools to rapidly identify and test for the virus. The test his team is developing will be bedside portable to patients who are under quarantine, helping ensure that infected individuals cannot further transmit the virus in hospitals and public places.

“Genome Canada is pleased to be partnering with CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC, CRCC and IDRC on this new funding opportunity to address COVID-19 rapid response research efforts through the development of countermeasures to stem the spread of coronavirus,” said Dr. Rob Annan, President and CEO of Genome Canada.  “We are glad to support genomics-based solutions that address this public health challenge and to put Genome Canada research dollars to work — immediately and in the best way possible to protect the health and wellbeing of Canadians.”

Canada is a world leader in genomics-based research in the healthcare sector, contributing significantly to the responsible application of biosciences to advance human health. The results of this research are used to ensure that Canadians can get fast access to the services they need, when they need them, and in accordance with the standards of care they expect from the public health system. Funding collaborations such as the one announced today enable the development of effective and purpose-fit projects that will deliver real, positive and timely results to Canadians.

Quotes

“Our government knows that science is at the heart of innovation and a top priority to keep Canadians safe and healthy. Today’s investment will go a long way to help support life-saving research, as we collaborate with international partners to manage the coronavirus outbreak.”

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“Canada’s researchers are some of the best in the world, and this funding will allow them to conduct groundbreaking research on a novel coronavirus. Protecting the health and well-being of all Canadians is our top priority, and the research conducted thanks to this funding will contribute to mitigating the outbreak of COVID-19.”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health
“This rapid-response collaboration mobilizes the best of what Canada can offer, paired with strong expertise from partner countries, to contribute towards real solutions to address COVID-19. The research funded through this initiative will have a global scope, in recognition of the needs of the less developed countries at high risk from this outbreak.”

The Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of International Development

“Research is a vital component of the response to emerging disease outbreaks. The research to be undertaken by the successful teams will help to answer some of our most pressing questions about COVID-19 and help to develop the tools we need to effectively respond to this global public health emergency.”

Dr. Teresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada

“Genome Canada is pleased to be partnering with CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC, CRCC and IDRC on the new funding opportunity to address COVID-19 rapid response research efforts through the development of countermeasures to stem the spread of coronavirus.  We are glad to support genomics-based solutions that address this public health challenge and to put Genome Canada research dollars to work — immediately and in the best way possible to protect the health and wellbeing of Canadians.”

Dr. Rob Annan, President and CEO, Genome Canada

“Infectious pandemics have altered human history since the beginning of time. Today we face the threat of viral pandemics spreading through human populations fueled by the ease of international travel which has become commonplace. We must create novel tools that enable us to rapidly identify the virus and then develop a test that can diagnose precisely for patients. The test has to be portable and taken to the bedside.”

Dr. Dylan Pillai, Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Medicine, and Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases, University of Calgary

Quick Facts

  • Today’s announcement represents a total investment of @26.8 million, with the following breakdown of contribution by six funding partners:
    • CIHR is contributing $16.4M
    • NSERC is contributing $700,000
    • SSHRC is contributing $900,000
    • CRCC through NFRF is providing $7M
    • IDRC is providing $1.5M to researchers and/or collaborators from research institutions based in low- and middle-income countries
    • Genome Canada is contributing $250,000
  • This funding will support 47 projects, all of which will fall into one of two research areas:
    • Medical countermeasures research, e.g., transmission and zoonotic source of the 2019-nCov, development and evaluation of diagnostic tools for early case detection and surveillance, and development and evaluation of candidate vaccines, among other areas; or
    • Social and policy countermeasures research, e.g., examining how individuals and communities understand and react to the disease, and developing strategies to combat misinformation, stigma, and fear, among other areas.
  • Since 2000, the Government of Canada has made $1.5 billion in targeted investments for genomics research through Genome Canada.
  • The global genomics market is expected to reach US$27.6 billion in the next six years.

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