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COVID-19 Regional Genomics Initiative

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses with large single-stranded RNA genomes. Genomic technologies and approaches have and can continue to play an important role in many aspects of the response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) such as the identification and detection of COVID-19 infections, understanding mechanisms of infection, mapping the spread in real time, tracking new mutations as well as the development of drug treatments or vaccines for the disease. Further research in this area will not only allow Canada to respond to the current pandemic but also allow scientists to better understand coronaviruses in general which will help to control future outbreaks.

In response to the urgent need for further research on COVID-19 during the current crisis, Genome Canada is issuing a funding opportunity to support regional genomics projects designed to address specific, short-term needs of industry, not-for-profit, and public sector receptors through research conducted by academics in collaboration with these receptors. These projects will be identified by regional Genome Centres and may involve co-funding by provincial or industry partners (or other sources), although this isn’t required. Projects are expected to be outcome-driven, small-scale or larger (depending on other funding sources) and focused on delivering a genomics-based solution to help address the current crisis in the near term.

Projects funded through this initiative must adhere to these principles and guidelines of the joint statement on sharing research data and findings relevant to the novel coronavirus (nCoV) outbreak. Initiated by Wellcome, the statement ensures the World Health Organization (WHO) has rapid access to emerging findings that would aid the global response.

Connectivity with other research teams working on COVID-19 regionally, nationally and/or internationally is encouraged and expected.

Each regional Genome Centre will engage in a process with regional organizations and researchers to determine what type of research initiative would best address the COVID-19 crisis. Initiatives could range from targeted investments to a competitive process.

After a review of expressions of interest for eligibility to the program by Genome Canada, the subsequent application and peer review process will be led by the Genome Centre and/or its partner(s). Genome Canada is making $1.5 million available, up to $250,000 per regional Genome Centre.  

It is expected that these initiatives will start no later than July 1, 2020 and be completed on/before June 30, 2022.  

For more information on this program, please contact your regional Genome Centre.