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Genome Canada Awards C$4M for 16 Bioinformatics, Computational Biology Projects

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Genome Canada announced today that it plans to invest C$4 million ($3 million) in 16 bioinformatics and computational biology projects to be conducted at universities and agencies across Canada.

The awards are as a result of Genome Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research's 2015 Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Competition. The partners said they hope the projects will spur the development of new tools for omics research, and big data analysis and interpretation.

"The government of Canada is pleased to support these important bioinformatics and computational biology projects that will maximize the return on investment in genomics research," Canadian Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan said in a statement. "This work will help guide research that safeguards the well-being of all Canadians and will increase our capacity to respond to important societal challenges like climate change."

Genome Canada CEO Marc LePage added that new bioinformatics and computational biology tools are a priority for his organization, especially given the massive amounts of data generated by genomics research. "These projects will advance the useful application of genomics across multiple sectors, harnessing the power of this technology for the benefit of Canadians," he said.

Among the 16 projects — each of which will receive approximately C$250,000 — are plans to develop new bioinformatics pipelines, data visualization tools, and data sharing platforms for various applications.

For example, researchers at the British Columbia Cancer Agency will develop new bioinformatics for genome characterization and variation detection using long reads; researchers from Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia plan to create a computational framework called PathOGIST, for the calibrated multi-criterion genomic analysis of public health microbiology data; another UBC researcher will develop a software application called OnTarget to allow scientists to design short DNA sequences to specifically activate delivered genes in targeted cells; and researchers from UBC, McMaster University, and Simon Fraser University are co-developing a platform called the Genomic Epidemiology Application Ontology (GenEpiO) to improve data integration and sharing of infectious disease and antimicrobial resistance information across public health agencies.

Various other projects include an analysis pipeline for flow cytometry data, the development of an enhanced and automated big data visualization platform, a web-based resource for analyzing epigenetic datasets and clinical information for developmental disorders such as autism, a tool-sharing platform, a new genome assembly tool for long-read sequencing, and a toolkit for genome-wide association studies of bacteria, among others.