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Canada's $19M Collaborative Health Grants Fund 'Omics

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Canadian government has invested C$19 million (US$19.3 million) in new collaborative research projects to develop a range of biomedical technologies including tools to advance microfluidics, mass spectrometry, and drug screening.

The interdisciplinary Collaborative Health Research Projects (CHRP) grants are funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and will support 37 total projects at universities and their private-sector partners across the country.

"These grants support interdisciplinary research that is finding solutions to challenges in health-related fields," NSERC President Suzanne Fortier said in a statement. "World-leading researchers in science, engineering and health will work together to seek solutions to important healthcare problems, and lead to new treatments and technologies that will help patients for years to come."

"The [CHRP] program creates incentives for health researchers to work with private sector partners to improve patient care by translating research findings into more effective health products, technologies, and tools," added CIHR President Alain Beaudet.

In one of the projects University of British Columbia Associate Professor Carl Hansen will use a C$276,000 award to develop single-cell microfluidic technologies for use in analysis of microRNA expression and the epigenetic state, with the aim of applying the technology to hematopoietic stem cells. Hansen's lab uses cross-disciplinary approaches to develop and apply microfluidic technologies to address bottlenecks in genomics, proteomics, and cell biology.

Dalhousi University Associate Professor Graham Dellaire won a grant of C$200,000 to use zebrafish as a pre-clinical animal tumor model for drug discovery and to evaluate anti-leukemia agents. His lab's research focuses on identifying biomarkers to help personalize chemotherapy and to detect cancer at its earliest stages, and to seek ways to help tumor suppressor proteins stop cancers before they start.

University of Ottawa's Daniel Figeys was awarded C$228,000 to use microfluidic platforms coupled to mass spectrometry for the quantitative analysis of circulating convertases and substrates. Figeys is director of the Ottawa Institute of Systems Biology at the university.

University of Alberta Professor Liang Li also received an award of C$206,000 to use comprehensive and quantitative proteomics to discover biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease.