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Canada Funds $11M in New Bioinformatics, Computational Bio Projects

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) –The Canadian federal government has partnered with the provincial governments and the private sector to pump nearly C$11 million ($10.8 million) into a number of new research projects that will develop new bioinformatic and computational biology tools for handling and analyzing genomic data.

These 17 new research projects were selected through Genome Canada's 2012 Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Competition, a partnership with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Genome Canada said today.

The aim of the program is to support projects that seek to enhance genomic data by developing new ways to manage, analyze, archive, organize, and store these kinds of datasets.

The funding for the program includes C$5 million from Genome Canada and C$1.4 million from CIHR, with the remaining funds coming from regional genome centers and private sector partners.

These initiatives, some large and some small, will engage in a wide range of research, using computational biology and bioinformatics to advance personalized medicine, disease treatments, responses to outbreaks, and agricultural innovation, among other goals.

"Managing and analyzing the huge amounts of data generated by genomics technologies is a major challenge. These new projects will offer much-needed innovations that will address this dilemma so that the data can translate into useful genomics applications such as disease treatments, breeding strategies for agriculture, forestry management, bioenergy and aquaculture," Genome Canada's President and CEO Pierre Meulien said in a statement.

For one project, investigators at the BC Cancer Agency Genome Sciences Centre will develop a bioinformatics-based approach to detect cancer-related variations and mutations in DNA and RNA from clinical genomic sequencing data.

In addition, Simon Fraser University researchers will use one of the grants to develop easy-to-use bioinformatics and genomics analytic tools that will enable public health workers to respond to and manage infectious diseases.

And scientists at the BC Cancer Agency and the University of British Columbia won an award to create software that will analyze next-generation sequencing data in search of mutations that are involved in cancer progression.

Another BC Cancer Agency project will seek to use tumor sequencing data from breast and ovarian cancer samples to develop software to help predict clinical responses to therapy.

Investigators at the University of Guelph in Ontario will develop bioinformatics tools to aid in identifying genes and variants that allow plants to grow in certain conditions and that can be used to develop new plant varieties.

The other projects delve into a range of projects involving personalized medicine, microbiomes, and crop development efforts, among others.