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Canadian Partners to Provide C$128.3M in Funding for Genome Research Projects

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Genome Canada, along with various Canadian provinces and partners from the public and private sectors, announced this week that they have committed C$128.3 million (US$97 million) to fund two initiatives promoting the use of genomic technologies to improve human health and agriculture, as well as to address key environmental challenges.

"Genomics is a disruptive technology with the potential to fundamentally change scientific research and transform how we approach some of our toughest challenges," Canadian Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan said in a statement. "The government of Canada is pleased to support promising genomics-based projects that will deliver much-needed innovations in healthcare and other key sectors like agriculture and fisheries which can improve the quality of life for many Canadians."

Under the first initiative, Genome Canada will provide C$9.1 million to fund 25 projects from its 2015 Disruptive Innovation in Genomics competition, with another C$9.2 million coming from various provinces and private sector groups.

Among the recipients of the funding are a University of Victoria-led team that has been awarded C$3.9 million to develop to a new mass spectrometry technology for rapid protein analysis; investigators from the University of British Columbia, who received C$3 million to develop a microfluidics technology for isolating and measuring of antibodies from immune cells; a BC Cancer Agency team that was awarded C$409,858 to develop an automated approach for rapid DNA sequencing of tumors; and a group from The Hospital for Sick Children that has been awarded C$250,000 to use novel ex vivo disease models in RNA sequencing for gene mutation discovery.

Separately, the Canadian government has earmarked C$32 million for 13 projects that will apply genomics to mitigating the effects of climate change on forestry and fisheries, protect the Arctic, and support wildlife conservation. A further C$78 million will be invested in these projects by Canadian provinces, international organizations, and private sector players.

Among those receiving funding under this initiative are researchers from the University of British Columbia and the University of Laval, who are receiving C$10.5 million to use genomics to create spruce trees with greater resistance to pests and drought; a team from the University of Calgary and the University of Manitoba that has been awarded C$10.7 million to use microbial genomics to study the effects of oil spills on the Arctic Ocean; a University of Alberta group that is getting C$11.5 million to use genomics and metabolomics to study chronic wasting disease; and a University of Montreal-led team that was awarded C$12.1 million to develop a chemical-genomic diagnostic toolkit to assess the risk of toxicity associated with algae blooms.

"The natural resource and environment sectors are areas where genomics is just starting to emerge as a powerful tool to help address issues facing many traditional industries," Genome Canada President and CEO Marc LePage said in a statement. "These new projects will tap into the huge potential for innovative, genomics-based solutions that will help some of our key industries — mining, forestry, fisheries — revive and thrive in the face of climate change, while also protecting our precious ecosystems, drinking water, and wildlife."

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