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Canada Launches US$67.3M Large-scale Genomics Grant Program

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Canadian government has launched a new grants program that will pump C$67.5 million (US$67.3 million) into projects that will use genomics-based research to advance personalized healthcare, Genome Alberta said Thursday.

The new 2012 Large-Scale Applied Research Project Competition in Genomics and Personalized Health is funded with C$40 million from Genome Canada, C$22.5 million from the Canadian Institute of Health Research, and C$5 million from the Cancer Stem Cell Consortium.

The projects may pursue a broad array of genomics-based studies that are already advanced enough to produce outcomes that can be translated into the healthcare system.

Scientists may seek funding under the program to develop evidence for assessing new diagnostics, to stimulate the discovery, validation, and translation of biomarkers and genomic signatures for use in prevention and treatment of diseases, and to develop and validate diagnostics based on biomarkers and innovative devices that can be used in the clinic.

The program also will fund studies focused on the ethical, economic, environmental, legal, and social (GE3LS) issues involved in genomics and personalized medicine.

Proposals for the funding must include genomics approaches, address personalized healthcare in humans, and be large enough in scale and scope to potentially have a major impact on personalized medicine.

To ensure that the projects are large in scale and scope, Genome Canada is unlikely to consider studies that require less than C$1 million from the program, and at least 50 percent of the total funding for each project must be obtained through co-funding from other sources. The projects will be funded for up to four years.

The funding partners have set side C$4.5 million specifically for GE3LS projects, including efforts that may involve partnerships with CIHR related to cancer research and personalized medicine, and other studies focused on the utility and comparative effectiveness of genomics applications.

The Large-Scale genomics program also has marked C$18 million for a range of studies. Among these are C$2.5 million for projects relevant to prevention, diagnosis, target validation, and patient stratification of cancer; C$2.5 million through the CIHR Breast Cancer Initiative; C$2.5 million for epigenetics, epigenomics, and systems and computational biology approaches to rare diseases; C$2.5 million for studies that prioritize infection and immunity-related research; C$2.5 million for studies focused on muscoloskeletal, oral, and skin diseases; and C$3 million for using genomics for patient stratification to minimize the side effects of pharmacotherapies in mental health.

GenomeWeb Daily News initially reported at the end of 2011 that Genome Canada was preparing to fund a large-scale genomics and personalized medicine grant program.