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Genomics to advance public health innovation through wastewater surveillance


A new project funded through Genome Canada’s Genomics Applications Partnership Program (GAPP) will harness the power of genomics to drive public health innovation in the surveillance of emerging respiratory diseases.

Announced in December 2023a new investment of $41 million will support the latest round of GAPP projects, fueling late-stage research and development (R&D) projects addressing real world opportunities and challenges, including a $6.1 million investment in wastewater surveillance.  


Dr. Natalie Prystajecky and Dr. David McVea in the UBC Centre for Disease Control research lab.
Surveillance alert for fast epidemiology genomics and unified agile response to disease (SAFEGUARD) against respiratory viruses using wastewater surveillance
  • Dr. Natalie Prystajecky and Dr. David McVea (University of British Columbia) and Bonnie Henry (BC Office of the Provincial Health Officer, Ministry of Health) and Dr. Natalie Knox (National Microbiology Laboratory-Public Health Agency of Canada) will develop and implement a robust and comprehensive genomics-based wastewater-based surveillance program to enable rapid public health response to key respiratory viruses. Wastewater surveillance is an effective early warning system to predict outbreaks and detect emerging variants of respiratory viruses. This project will guide strategic plans for the development of a pan-Canadian Wastewater Network—enabling Canadians to benefit from quicker responses to public health threats
To learn more about this investment in genomic research and development, click here.



The Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP) supports industry-facing partnered research projects that address real-world challenges. Designed to accelerate the social and economic impact of genomics, GAPP provides the space for research, innovation and application to thrive collaboratively. GAPP projects address real-world challenges and opportunities through greater collaboration between genomics scientists and the users of genomics research. They aim to stimulate public- and private-sector investment in Canadian genomics technologies, advancing technology uptake in receptors and moving technologies across readiness levels. 

Quick facts

  • Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP) is a flagship initiative that recently marked its 10th year and 100th funded project.
    • GAPP leverages world-leading expertise and diversified public-private partnerships to accelerate the adoption of genomics solutions to generate broad economic and societal benefits for Canada.
  • Budget 2021 provided $400 million over six years, starting in 2021–22, to support the creation of the Canadian Genomics Strategy to drive further innovation in genomics through commercialization and adoption. This funding included $136.7 million over two years, starting in 2022–23, for programming delivered by Genome Canada to kick-start the new strategy and complement existing genomics research and innovation programming.
  • Today’s announcement includes more than $11 million in federal funding for genomics research and an additional $30 million in co-funding from provincial governments, businesses and other research partners across Canada.
  • 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 13,784 talented research trainees, and spun-out more than 120 new Canadian companies.

Media contact

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