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GA4GH Incorporates as a Not-For-Profit Organization in Canada

NEW YORK – The Global Alliance for Genomics and Health said Friday that it has officially incorporated as GA4GH Inc. The new Canadian not-for-for profit organization will serve as a formal umbrella for the GA4GH community, with its own board of directors and a new "Funder's Forum" made up of partners that have committed a minimum of $200,000 annually for at least five years. 

The Toronto-based GA4GH not-for-profit will work alongside the existing Standards Steering Committee, Strategic Advisory Board, host institutions, and groups that have funded the project, which launched in 2013. The goal is to solidify GA4GH's position as an international standards organization for genomics data.

This new legal structure gives GA4GH the ability to hold assets and enter into formal contracts, the group said. It also allows the organization to accept sponsorship funding from private entities and potentially to launch a grant program.

GA4GH said that its mission is to "accelerate progress in genomic research and human health by cultivating a common framework of standards and harmonized approaches for effective and responsible genomic and health-related data sharing." This, according to the group, is contingent on having a stable organization with sustainable funding sources. 

"GA4GH has rapidly established significant commitment and support from the international genomics community," CEO Peter Goodhand said in a statement. "The not-for-profit will bring new capabilities to the organization, allowing us to meet the community's ambitious goals and keep pace with the rapidly changing needs of genomic and health data sharing for years to come."

As part of the announcement, the newly incorporated organization said that it has received several unspecified new funding commitments that will allow GA4GH to more than double its core staff and to expand its reach into lower- and middle-income countries.

Among the new positions being created is a chief standards officer who will be based at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI). This person will manage a team of six developers in the UK, US, and Canada.

Ewan Birney, director of EMBL-EBI, will continue to serve as chair of GA4GH. "Thanks to the hard work of an incredibly dedicated contributor community, GA4GH has matured into the preeminent global standards-setting and policy-framing organization for genomic and health-related data sharing," he said.