Genomics is underpinning a global revolution in healthcare, from a generalized approach, to one that is individually tailored based on a patient’s genetic profile – an approach known as precision medicine. Rapid advances in the field – and the opportunities for discovery and new therapeutics – make it imperative to develop international policies and standards to enable the responsible, voluntary, and secure sharing of genomic data. This is the goal of The Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH) – an international alliance of 500+ organizations formed to accelerate the potential of genomic medicine and research to advance human health.
As a founding member of GA4GH, Genome Canada has advanced a strategy to facilitate the sharing of data for biomedical discovery in Canada and beyond through support for major initiatives such the Canadian International Data Sharing Initiative to accelerate health-care innovation (Can-SHARE) – a large-scale research project led by research teams at McGill University, the Hospital for Sick Children and the University of British Columbia.
Today, in the context of the launch of its new 5-year Strategic Plan, GA4GH announced a major shift in its orientation to become a delivery-focused organization. Its standards, frameworks, and other products will be developed to meet the specific needs of real-world clinical and research ‘Driver Projects’ as they seek to share genomic and health-related data in the near team.
Canada leads or plays a major role in at least three of the 13 new 2017 GA4GH Driver Projects: CanDIG, ICGC-ARGO and Matchmaker Exchange. GA4GH Driver Projects will help identify, develop and pilot data sharing frameworks and standards in real-world settings. By interacting with many of the world’s leading genomic data initiatives, GA4GH will ensure that its efforts are directly connected to the research and health-care communities’ most immediate needs.
Further, Genome Canada today announced significant continued investment to support the operations of the GA4GH, with a view to accelerating the sharing and use of genomic and clinical data by Canada’s multiple health-care systems for the benefit of Canadian patients.
“International collaboration is THE critical ingredient for success in harnessing lifesaving insights from the vast amounts of human genomic data produced worldwide. The GA4GH is the catalyst for the right players to come together to realize this vision,” said Marc LePage, President and CEO of Genome Canada, who presented today at the GA4GH 5th Plenary Meeting today in Orlando, Florida, and was among the many Canadian leading genomics researchers and thought-leaders present at the Meeting.