New genomics investments drive innovation in Canadian forestry, agriculture and healthcare

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Ottawa, ON

Funding will support demand-driven genomics collaborations in agrifood, the environment and health

Today, The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced $13.8 million in federal support through Genome Canada to 10 downstream research and development projects that will mobilize genomics out of the lab and deliver real-world benefits. These are projects that harness the game-changing power and potential of genomics to deliver solutions to build healthier, more sustainable and prosperous communities across Canada.

In collaboration with industry, health-care organizations, as well as provincial and other federal partners—who collectively bring co-funding valued at $27.6 million—this represents a total investment of $41.4 million. These public-private partnerships will apply genomics research and innovation in three priority areas for Canada: sustainable resources and nature-based solutions for climate change; advancement of climate smart agriculture and agrifood for greater export competitiveness; and precision health for better outcomes for Canadians.

Today’s announcement showcases Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP) that brings new applied genomics solutions to daily challenges facing Canadians. The program leverages world-leading expertise and diversified partnerships to accelerate the translation of scientific knowledge into broad economic and societal benefits. It will support:

  • Research that uses genomics to prepare today the conifer forests that will exist in 50 years. Climate change is a critical challenge for the Canadian forestry sector. The selection and production of improved tree varieties using conventional breeding, which takes up to 30 years for Canadian conifers, cannot keep pace with the rate of climate change. Dr. Jean Bousquet of Université Laval, in collaboration with Natural Resources Canada and the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Renewables, will use forest genomics to develop technologies that more rapidly select and produce new planting stocks that are more resilient to climate change and can capture more CO2.
  • Genomics tools for breeding the most robust fish for future generations. Salmon aquaculture is a key economic contributor and food producer in Atlantic Canada, providing over 8,000 jobs. While salmon is already one of the most efficient methods of producing animal protein, Dr. Amber Garber of the Huntsman Marine Science Centre will work with Mowi East to improve the biological performance of salmon grown off the east coast—protecting animal welfare and bolstering the sector’s success in Canada and internationally.
  • Research whose goal is to develop an independent, state-of-the-art quality assessment body for antibodies for research and clinical applications. This project is led by Dr. Peter McPherson of the McGill University Montreal Neurological Institute in collaboration with YCharOS, a public interest open science company. Commercially available antibodies are key reagents in laboratory research but at least half of the antibodies on the market do not perform as required. The open science model, which will improve scientists’ ability to order the right antibody for their experiments, will save Canadian taxpayers $45 million a year.

The other projects funded focus on boosting Canada’s pork meat industry, accelerated breeding of milling oats, reducing the use of antibiotics in food animal production, producing biodegradable plastic and advancing important precision health initiatives.

Quotes

“Genomics research and development plays a pivotal role in improving the lives of Canadians and advancing our post-pandemic economic recovery. Investments like the one announced today by our government allow scientists and researchers to take their work beyond the walls of the lab, and their solutions to fight climate change and keep our industries in key sectors productive, sustainable and competitive globally are bringing real-world benefits to Canadians.”
– The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“This is an exhilarating time for genomics. The knowledge, tools and technologies it is generating are driving innovation in traditional sectors and helping them achieve green growth, as well as improving the health and quality of life 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.”
– Dr. Rob Annan, President and CEO, Genome Canada

Quick Facts

  • Today’s announcement is for $13.8 million in federal funding for genomics research and an additional $27.6 million in co-funding from provincial governments, businesses and research partners across Canada.
  • This funding will support 10 new projects within Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP).
  • Since 2000, Genome Canada has leveraged $1.7 billion in federal investment into a total investment of $4 billion in R&D including co-funding, supported over 5,000 talented research trainees and spun-out more than 80 new Canadian companies.

Learn more about the 10 projects announced today:

Advancing Commercial Performance of North America Origin Atlantic Salmon Through Integration of Genomic Selection (Fisheries)
In partnership with Genome Atlantic

ALPHAgenomics: Integrating Genomics and Phenomics for the Swine Industry (Agriculture)
In partnership with Génome Québec

FastTRAC II: Fast Tests for Rating and Amelioration of Conifers 2 (Forestry)
In partnership with Génome Québec and Genome Atlantic

Fast Track Diagnosis of Stress, Disease, Phenology and Growth – Drone-Based High-Throughput Field Phenotyping for Genome Assisted Tree Breeding and Selection (FastPheno) (Forestry)
In partnership with Ontario Genomics and Génome Québec

Genomics of Milling Oat Breeding and Selection (Agriculture)
In partnership with Génome Québec

Lowpass Genomic Instability Characterization as a Comprehensive Cancer and Germline Diagnostic Assay (Health)
In partnership with Ontario Genomics

Optimization and Implementation of a Clinical Genome-Wide Sequencing Service for Rare Disease Diagnosis in Ontario (Health)
In partnership with Ontario Genomics

Production and Engineering of Market-Ready Lysozymes for Food Animals (Agriculture)
In partnership with Génome Québec

Production of Medium-Chain Length Polyhydroxyalkanoate (mcl-PHA) from Food Waste (Environment)
In partnership with Ontario Genomics

YCharOS – Antibody Characterization Through Open Science – From Viruses to Human Proteins (Health)
In partnership with Ontario Genomics and Génome Québec

Related link

Backgrounder: New genomics research investments to drive green innovation in forestry and agriculture and improve the health of Canadians

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Media contact

Nicola Katz
Director, Communications
Genome Canada
Cell: 613-297-0267
nkatz@genomecanada.ca

Quick facts

Media contact

Nicola Katz, Director,
Communications Genome
Canada Cell: 613-297-0267
nkatz@genomecanada.ca

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