Canadians with debilitating diseases will soon benefit from new personalized approaches to treatment thanks to researchers across the country and funding from the Harper Government. The Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology), today announced the results of a major $150-million genomics and personalized health competition, a Genome Canada—Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) partnership. The announcement was made alongside MikeLake, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry, during a visit to The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), to learn more about a project exploring the genetic basis of autism.
“Our government recognizes that genomics is a science at the core of the global bio-economy and offers a myriad of social and economic benefits,” said Minister of State Goodyear. “Through our investments in applied genomics research, we are fostering Canada’s innovative capability, while creating jobs and supporting long-term economic growth. These projects have the potential to transform the way health care is delivered in Canada, including improvements in clinical practice, better treatment and outcomes for patients and a more efficient, cost-effective health care system.”
Minister of State Goodyear and Mr. Lake, whose 17-year-old son Jaden has autism, met with doctors Stephen Scherer and Peter Szatmari who are co-leading a $10.2 million project, which seeks a more complete understanding of the genetic elements of autism. Their work will enable doctors to make earlier diagnoses, provide better, more personalized care to patients, and help reduce the enormous cost autism imposes on our health care system.
“Our government is committed to supporting Canadian families,” said Mr. Lake. “This research is incredibly important to families like mine. I am proud of our government’s investments in cutting-edge genomics research. Dr. Scherer’s groundbreaking work is leading the way to innovations that are helping unlock the mysteries of autism.”
Seventeen projects in total have been approved for funding, each valued in the range of $3 million to $13 million. The projects will focus on the application of genomics to tailor patient treatments and therapies in fields as diverse as epilepsy, autism, HIV/AIDS, cancer, cardiovascular disease, rare neurological diseases, and stroke, among others. The projects will be spearheaded by some of Canada’s top researchers and leading teams at academic institutions in Quebec (eight projects), Ontario (four projects), Alberta (one project) andBritish Columbia (four projects).
In light of this competition, the Harper Government has invested approximately $45 million through Genome Canada, $24 million through CIHR and $2 million from the Cancer Stem Cell Consortium. The balance of funding is secured by regional Genome Centres from provincial governments, health charities, the private sector and other partners.
“What’s exciting about these projects is that each one holds enormous potential for breakthroughs where there is a serious clinical need. Personalized health is about tailoring treatment and medicines to the individual patient based on their unique genetic makeup and this is only possible through advances in genomics research,” said Dr. Pierre Meulien, President and CEO of Genome Canada.
“Our partnership with Genome Canada and the Cancer Stem Cell Consortium is providing us with the ability to invest in a fashion that will impact many areas of health such as infection, cancer and rare diseases,” said Dr. Alain Beaudet, President of CIHR. The projects announced today have the potential of allowing physicians to make better informed decisions and of providing patients with the best treatments and diagnoses possible.”
To build on Genome Canada’s achievements to date, Economic Action Plan 2013 proposes to provide $165 million in 2014–15 to support GenomeCanada’s multi-year strategic plan.
Since 2006, the Harper Government has provided more than $9 billion in new funding for initiatives to support science, technology and the growth of innovative firms, helping to foster a world-class research and innovation system. Economic Action Plan 2013 is proposing to build on this strong foundation, helping to position Canada for sustainable, long-term economic prosperity and a higher quality of life for Canadians.
Click here for a complete list of the successful projects.
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For further information (media only), please contact:
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Gary Goodyear
Minister of State (Science and Technology)
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq
Minister of Health