On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff, we are pleased to share with you the Genome Canada 2020-21 Annual Report, centred on the theme “Genomics on a Mission.”
What an extraordinarily difficult year this has been. The COVID-19 pandemic has created so much suffering, stress and uncertainty for all Canadians. At Genome Canada, the year marked our 20th anniversary. At the same time, we were forming a bold vision for a brand new direction for our organization—one built on missions that generate solutions to global challenges. And then the pandemic struck.
COVID-19: A mission in real time. As we mobilized our pandemic response, it became clear that COVID-19 was going to be our first genomics mission—in real time and at an accelerated pace. Through a bottom-up national response, we quickly brought researchers together with public health agencies, labs, the regional Centres and other institutions through the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network (CanCOGeN). The network generated genomics data to track virus transmission, understand host responses, inform policy decisions and guide testing and tracing strategies, vaccine development and drug treatments. CanCOGeN hit a virus sequencing milestone at the end of June 2021, surpassing its target of 150,000 sequences. We are immensely proud of CanCOGeN’s work.
Tackling other urgent national and global challenges. COVID-19 is certainly not the only critical challenge that Canada and the world are facing. We’re confronted every day by a host of health, environmental and economic issues and threats: the climate crisis, chronic diseases, future pandemics, food insecurity and the need for environmentally sustainable and inclusive economic growth. These problems are systemic, urgent and existential.
COVID-19 showed us the incredible impact we can have when we make it our mission to use genomics to help solve complex global challenges. That’s why we’re going full steam ahead with a mission-driven approach. We were thrilled to get the federal government’s vote of confidence for this direction in Budget 2021, in which we received substantial new funding to kickstart the Pan-Canadian Genomics Strategy. Genomics is truly a platform technology to drive Canada’s future prosperity and well-being as we enter into a post-COVID world.
Join us on our missions. As we work collaboratively to develop and then embark on our missions, we will be relying on the strength of our research community, industry and other ecosystem partners, strategic oversight and support of our Board, the essential collaboration with the regional Centres, and of course our amazing and resilient staff.
This annual report captures our impact this year and our vision for the future. We hope you will enjoy reading it and join us in partnership in the months and years to come.