New applied genomics research investments announced

Published: March 9th 2021

News release –

Tuesday, March 9, 2021
Ottawa, ON
$8.6 million in federal funding to support healthier Canadians and a resilient food supply  Genomics is on a mission to develop new knowledge, tools and technologies to improve Canadians’ lives.  

Today, on behalf of the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, William Amos, Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry (Science), announced $8.6 million in federal support through Genome Canada to five applied genomics research projects that will improve the well-being of Canadians. Working in collaboration with industry, health-care players, as well as provincial and other federal partners—with co-funding valued at $17.8 million—this represents a total investment of $26.4 million in projects that will deliver tangible benefits.

Today’s announcement will support research on early detection and better treatment for atrial fibrillation. This disease affects 25% of Canadians aged 70 and over, increasing their risk of strokes, heart failure and other complications. The funding will support research by Peter Liu at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, in collaboration with Roche Diagnostics, to improve disease diagnosis, risk prediction, and patient care and outcomes, while also reducing health-care costs. 

This investment also includes funding for a profiling tool to better understand the unique progression of breast cancer in individuals. Working with Thermo Fisher Scientific, John Bartlett of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research is investigating the effect of ethnicity on the progression of the disease to improve the delivery of targeted breast cancer treatment to Black and Asian women.

In addition, this funding will support a new project in our All for One initiative. Cheryl Rockman-Greenberg, at University of Manitoba, is collaborating with Shared Health to deliver genomics-based precision health services to children in the Prairies with inherited metabolism issues. All for One is a pan-Canadian network of health-care facilities that apply genomics-based tools to rapidly diagnose patients with rare genetic conditions, improving their care, outcomes and family wellness. This lays an equitable foundation for precision health across British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, the Atlantic provinces—and now the Prairies.

The other two projects funded are in the area of climate-adaptive food production, with a focus on using genomics to breed better soybeans, the third most important crop in Canada, and on developing an early warning system for identifying complex gill disease in salmon farms in the Pacific and North Atlantic.

Demand-driven genomics collaborations like those announced today harness the power of bio-innovation to create healthier, more sustainable and prosperous communities across Canada.

Quotes “Investing in genomics research with a line of sight to application is critical for the health and well-being of Canadians. Genome Canada is proud to work with the Government of Canada to fuel demand-driven genomics research and innovation collaborations among academic, industry, health-care and other partners to shape a better, healthier future for Canadians.” – Dr. Rob Annan, President and CEO, Genome Canada

“Genomics has enormous potential to improve Canadians’ lives and to advance post-pandemic economic recovery. Investments, like the one we are making today in genomics research, help keep Canadians healthy and help keep our industries productive, sustainable and competitive globally.” The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“Genomics research is driving innovation across a range of sectors and generating exciting results that will benefit all Canadians – from more sustainable agricultural practices to treatments for rare diseases. Our Government is proud to support these investments through Genome Canada to fund critical and high impact research.” – William Amos, Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry (Science)

Quick Facts
Today’s announcement is for $8.6 million in federal funding for genomic research and an additional $17.8 million in co-funding from provincial governments, businesses and research partners across Canada.

This funding will support five new projects within Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP).

Today’s funding announcement includes a $2.1 million federal funding for the fifth regional All for One precision health partnership. This pan-Canadian initiative now spans British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Since 2000, Genome Canada has leveraged $1.6 billion in federal investment into a total investment of $3.9 billion in R&D including co-funding, supported over 5,000 talented research trainees and spun-out more than 80 new Canadian companies.

Genome Canada has identified and allocated considerable resources to COVID-19-related work, including leading on the Canadian COVID Genomics Network (CanCOGeN), the COVID-19 Regional Genomics Initiative, as well as partnerships with CIHR on the Canadian 2019 Novel Coronavirus Rapid Research Funding Opportunity and with CIFAR on the AI and COVID-19 Catalyst Grants Initiative.

Learn more about the five projects announced today:
Canadian Prairie Metabolic Network (Health)
In partnership with Genome Prairie and Genome Alberta
Cardiovascular Biomarker Translation Team 2 – Atrial Fibrillation (Health)
In partnership with Ontario Genomics
Complex Gill Disease Initiative (Fisheries)
In partnership with Genome Atlantic and Genome BC
Development and Implementation of a Toolkit for Genomics-Assisted Breeding in Soybean (Agriculture)
In partnership with Génome Québec
Development of an Epigenomic Profiling Tool to Facilitate Precision Medicine in Early Breast Cancer (Health)
In partnership with Ontario Genomics

Related links Backgrounder: Five Genomic Applications Partnership Program Projects Funded

Media contact
Nicola Katz
Director, Communications
Genome Canada
Cell: 613-297-0267