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Canadian Rare Diseases Network Receives C$2.3M to Support Model Organism Research

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Genome Canada, have awarded C$2.3 million (US$2 million) to the newly minted Canadian Rare Diseases Models and Mechanisms (RDMM) network to investigate the molecular mechanisms of rare diseases by looking at orthologous genes and pathways in model organisms.

Kym Boycott, RDMM co-leader, senior scientist at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, and associate professor in the University of Ottawa's faculty of medicine, told GenomeWeb in an email that the network will use the funds to provide multiple $25,000 grants to support research projects that use model organisms — specifically mouse, fly, zebrafish, worm, and yeast — to study rare diseases. Interested researchers can apply for grants through the network's website.

Members of the model organism community in Canada can also sign up to be members of the RDMM through its website. Membership is open to basic science researchers studying gene function in model organisms and clinician scientists identifying novel diseases. The network aims to validate genetic variants that cause disease, advance understanding of disease mechanisms, create the rationale for treatment, and foster collaboration between scientists and clinicians.

RDMM aims to "mobilize the entire Canadian biomedical community of clinicians and model organism researchers to communicate and connect, integrate and share their resources and expertise, and work together to provide functional insights into newly discovered rare disease genes," Philip Hieter, senior scientist at the University of British Columbia and co-leader of the network, said in a statement.

"The key to success will be increased collaboration between clinicians and scientists as early as possible following the discovery of new gene mutations that cause disease," Boycott added.