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Genome BC-led Strategic Fund Supports Biomedical, Environmental Genomics

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Genome British Columbia has awarded a total of C$2 million (US$1.9 million) to support seven projects that will use a range of genomics for human health, biomedicine, and biology research.

The new projects, all located in BC, were funded under the Strategic Opportunities Fund (SOF), an initiative supported by Genome BC and several partners that seeks to catalyze new initiatives in areas of strategic importance to the BC region. These investments generally provide money for foundational research projects that will create a basis for future studies.

One of these SOF projects is focused on how bullfrogs may be useful as environmental bioindicators. The investigators at the Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre and the University of Victoria seek to sequence and assemble the genome and transcriptome of the bullfrog, with the goal of using its genome to develop genomic tools to monitor the bullfrog and other sentinel species.

The biomedical research projects funded include a project focused on bioinformatics identification of tumor-specific targets at the Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre and the Centre for Drug Research and Development; a BC Cancer Agency study to develop a test to triage oral precancer; a UBC project focused on virus genomics and another looking to develop new cancer imaging agents; a study at the BC Centre for Disease Control seeking to use metabolic engineering to develop new medicines; and an effort at the University of British Columbia's UBC Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics focused on treatable intellectual disabilities.

The SOF has awarded a total of C$11.5 million to date, including C$5.5 million from Genome BC and C$6 million from its partners.

Genome BC President and CEO Alan Winter said in a statement that the organization looks for "projects that will generate a basis for further research as well as translational projects that have direct impacts for British Columbians."

"The dollars that we invest are always leveraged to attract more dollars and expertise to our province," he added.