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Genome Canada Celebrates 15 Years of Research and Innovation

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Ottawa, Ontario

As the year draws to a close, we are delighted to mark Genome Canada’s 15-year anniversary. Since our inception in 2000, Genome Canada, in collaboration with six regional Genome Centres (Genome British Columbia, Genome Alberta, Genome Prairie, Ontario Genomics, Génome Québec and Genome Atlantic), proudly lead the Canadian Genomics Enterprise.

This enterprise is a complex yet collaborative network of individuals and organizations including those who fund research, those who conduct it, those equipped to translate discoveries into applications, and those who will use them to deliver or derive benefits for Canadians.

This thriving genomics community has been supported for a decade and a half by federal government commitments ($1.2 billion to date), which have allowed Genome Canada and the regional Centres to act as catalysts, fuelling genomics discoveries and innovation, and setting a national agenda for genomics in Canada

We leverage every federal dollar through co-funding of our research programs and initiatives from partners in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. These co-funding investments will soon exceed $1.7 billion. This is testament to the ever-growing recognition by an increasing number of partners in the private and public sectors of the value of genomics to provide solutions to challenges they face – whether they be in the field of human health, agriculture and agri-food, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, the environment, or energy and mining.

As genomics matures as a technology, its power and promise is growing exponentially. Genome Canada’s enduring vision remains to harness the transformative power of genomics for the benefit of all Canadians.

We are very proud of our accomplishments to date. The research Genome Canada has funded is saving lives, improving treatment and introducing cost-effective innovations to the health-care system. Our dairy industry derives more than $200 million per year in benefits through breeding more fertile, longer-living cows using Canadian genomics research. Energy and mining companies are beginning to explore the use of microbes that can aid in extraction and cleaning up tailings ponds and pollutants. Forest managers are using genomics in the fight against the mountain pine beetle and other pests threatening our forests and urban trees. Our research is helping to avert food-borne illness such as Listeria and E.coli, to the benefit of both Canadian consumers and food manufacturers and exporters.

These accomplishments, and many other breakthroughs, could not have been achieved without the hard work and tireless dedication of our brilliant project leaders and their talented, multidisciplinary teams across Canada and around the world.

Looking ahead, we will continue to drive Canadian genomics research to address problems that are unique to Canada, such as the sustainability of Alberta oil sands and Canadian mining sites, productivity of our farms and forests in the face of climate change and improving health and economic opportunities in the Arctic and Indigenous Peoples’ communities. We want Canada to play a leading role internationally on emerging issues such as anti-microbial resistance and sustainable infrastructure for data storage and bio banks, and continue to grow our knowledge base on the societal challenges of genomics to secure public confidence in the technology.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) predicts the bio-economy—all economic activity rooted in biology—will be worth $1 trillion by 2030. Genomics is the foundation of the world’s growing bioeconomy. With the continued support of the federal government, Genome Canada looks forward to ensuring that Canada is well-placed to capture its share of the social and economic benefits this technology will deliver for Canadians.

“We are grateful to the Government of Canada for believing in the power and promise of this powerful science, and value the growing number of partners who are co-investing with us,” said Dr. Cindy Bell, Interim President and CEO of Genome Canada. “Furthermore, we wish to offer our profound thanks to Canada’s outstanding research community, which remains the lifeblood of our nation’s genomics enterprise and provides hope for better health and prosperity for all Canadians.”