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New genomics research investments to tackle health challenges and a resilient recovery for Canada

Monday, October 26, 2020

Ottawa, ON

$16 million in federal funding to support new genomics research in health, agriculture and the environment  

As Canada addresses ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and charts a course for economic recovery, harnessing the game-changing potential of genomics can deliver homegrown solutions and help protect and improve Canadian lives.

Today, on behalf of Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains, William Amos, Parliamentary Secretary (Science), announced $16 million in federal support to 10 new genomics research projects funded through Genome Canada. Provincial governments, businesses and research partners are also investing nearly $41 million in co-funding, for a total investment of almost $57 million in the areas of health, agriculture and the environment.

This announcement will support Dr. Karen Bedard at Dalhousie University, who is collaborating with IWK Heath Center to deliver genomics-based pediatric precision health services to young children with rare diseases in Atlantic Canada. This project is part of Genome Canada’s All For One initiative, a pan-Canadian network of cutting-edge clinical genomics centres that share knowledge and best practices to speed up medical diagnoses and improve patient care equitably across British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec and now the Atlantic provinces.

Today’s announcement also includes funding for a team of researchers at The University of British Columbia (UBC) to develop genomic tools and resources that will increase the speed and precision of breeding in cannabis. The UBC researchers, led by Drs. Marco Todesco and Loren Rieseberg will be collaborating with Dr. Greg Baute, Charles Pick and their team at Aurora Cannabis to implement these tools and develop enhanced cannabis cultivars, with a particular focus on disease resistance. These improvements to Aurora’s breeding pipeline will increase the competitiveness of this Canadian company and help produce a more secure national supply of medical cannabis.  

Further, this funding will support a two-year pilot project by the international Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) that in this Phase V project will help transform drug discovery and biomedicine by the year 2035. In collaboration with industry, SGC will harness open science and employ innovative strategies including artificial intelligence to develop tools to better understand proteins involved in many cancers and other debilitating and rare diseases.

“As the pandemic has made clear, investments in science are vital to ensuring the wellbeing, resilience and prosperity of our communities,” said Dr. Rob Annan, President and CEO of Genome Canada. “Genome Canada is proud to work with the Government of Canada to fuel mission-driven genomics research that will shape the future of healthcare, the environment and agriculture — and help chart the course for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery.”

Genomics research collaborations help Canada harness the power and potential of bio-innovation to create healthier, more sustainable and prosperous communities. Targeted investments in these partnerships support the strategic alignment of our research, postsecondary and business sectors to generate made-in-Canada solutions to complex challenges and new opportunities facing the country.  

Quotes

“As the pandemic has made clear, investments in science are vital to ensuring the wellbeing, resilience and prosperity of our communities. Genome Canada is proud to work with the Government of Canada to fuel mission-driven genomics research that will shape the future of healthcare, the environment and agriculture—and help chart the course for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery.”

– Dr. Rob Annan, President and CEO, Genome Canada

“The Government of Canada is proud to support Canada’s world-leading stem cell and genomics research community. Today’s investment has the potential to save lives and come up with new ways of solving environmental and agricultural challenges. This is Canadian science and innovation in action.”  

– William Amos, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry (Science)

“As the health and safety of Canadians remains the government’s top priority, the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the continued importance of investing in science and research. I would like to extend my congratulations and gratitude to today’s recipients who continue to work so tirelessly to improve the lives of Canadians. The Government of Canada is committed to supporting science and research, which has far-reaching impacts on Canadians’ health and day-to-day lives.”  

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

Quick Facts

  • Today’s announcement is for $16 million in federal funding for genomic research and an additional $40.9 million in co-funding from provincial governments, businesses and research partners across Canada.
  • This funding will support nine new projects within Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP) and one Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) project.
  • Since 2000, Genome Canada has leveraged $1.6 billion in federal investment into a total investment of $3.9 billion in R&D including co-funding, supported over 5,000 talented research trainees and spun-out more than 80 new Canadian companies.

Learn more about the 10 projects announced today

CLEan plAnt extractioN SEquencing Diagnostics (CLEANSED) for Clean Grapevines in Canada (Agriculture)
In partnership with Genome BC, Génome Québec and Ontario Genomics

Fast-Track Breeding of Powdery Mildew-Resistant Cannabis (Agriculture)
In partnership with Genome BC

Development and Validation of a Genomic-Based Diagnostic Tool of the Virulence Profile of Phytophthora Sojae, a Major Pathogen of Soybean (Agriculture)
In partnership with Génome Québec

Implementation of Clinical Exomes in a Pre- and Peri-natal Setting (Health)
In partnership with Genome Atlantic

Application of Genomics-based Tools to Select for Pig Disease Resilience (Agriculture)
In partnership with Genome Alberta

Bioprocess Development for Lactose Valorisation (Agriculture)
In partnership with Génome Québec

Stopping Enteric Illnesses Early (Sentinel) (Health)
In partnership with Ontario Genomics and Génome Québec

Caribou Genomics: A National Non-Invasive Monitoring Approach for an Iconic and Model Species-At-Risk (Environment)
In partnership with Ontario Genomics

Target 2035: WDR Proteins as a Technology Test-Bed for Illuminating the Dark Proteome (Health)
In partnership with Ontario Genomics

Optimizing the eDNA Approach to Monitor Biodiversity in Canada's Marine Protected Areas (Environment)
In partnership with Génome Québec

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