Some of the best research minds in the world call British Columbia home — particularly where health innovation is concerned. So when Genome Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) announced the recipients of their recent Large Scale Applied Research Project funding competition in precision health, we were delighted to see BC-based researchers lead the way.
Competition for large scale project funding is steep. The best minds across the country vie for federal dollars that can fund their research programs for three to four years. In all, 35 project teams from across Canada made it to the final step to receive funding — only 15 were successful. Six of the 15 projects announced on January 23 are led by BC Investigators and two are co-led by BC researchers. BC’s clinicians and scientists secured an incredible 38% of the total funds available. This results in over $58 million of funding being invested in BC for work on precision health issues with a strong emphasis on clinical applications of genomics.
BC’s success in this competition demonstrates the high caliber of scientific research in this province, and our ability to effectively connect researchers with clinical practice to provide socio-economic benefits for all British Columbians and Canadians.
Research in BC has consistently achieved strong recognition. In support of BC researchers, Genome BC has helped teams in preparing applications, review and evaluation of proposals and the facilitation of team development. Of course, this success would not have been possible without the contributions of our provincial, federal and other funding partners and the commitment to Genome BC’s current strategic plan.
Today’s clinicians can provide patients and families with personalized treatment options and preventive strategies that offer better health outcomes through cost-effective care. Genome BC and these extraordinary teams look forward to working with our health authority partners and the Ministry of Health to validate and facilitate the uptake of these genomic applications in the health care system.
Congratulations to British Columbia’s world-class Genomic researchers
Silent Genomes: Reducing health care disparities for indigenous children with genetic diseases
Dr. Laura Arbour (University of British Columbia),
Dr. Nadine Caron (University of British Columbia),
Dr. Wyeth Wasserman (BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute)
Silent Genomes, with First Nations, Inuit and Metis partners, will address the growing “genomic divide” between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians by developing a governance framework for genomic research and health care and improve access to genomic diagnosis by focusing on current genetic health care needs of Indigenous children across Canada. Notably, Silent Genomes will lead to the development of background reference genomic data necessary for accurate genomics-based diagnosis, care and research.
Go-PGx: Preventing chemotherapy side effects in children
Dr. Bruce Carleton (BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute),
Dr. Colin Ross (University of British Columbia)
Go-PGx will reduce the incidence of adverse drug reactions among children being treated for cancer by developing genomics-based tests to determine genetic susceptibility to the reactions and implementing the tests in pediatric cancer centres across Canada.
CanPREVENT: Reducing the risk of kidney transplant rejection
Dr. Paul Keown (University of British Columbia),
Dr. Ruth Sapir-Pichadze (McGill University),
Prof. Timothy Caulfield (University of Alberta),
Dr. Stirling Bryan (University of British Columbia)
Transplantation is the optimal treatment for patients with kidney failure, but rejection still causes premature graft loss in as many as 30 per cent of recipients. This project aims to cut the rejection rate in half by using genomic technologies to improve the matching of donors and recipients, to monitor the immune response for rejection, and to develop personalized drug treatment regimes for each recipient.
Developing genomic-based clinical tests for relapsed lymphoid cancers
Dr. Christian Steidl (BC Cancer),
Dr. Marco Marra (BC Cancer),
Dr. David Scott (BC Cancer)
This project will improve the survival rate and quality of life of patients with relapsed lymphoid cancers and reduce treatment costs by developing and implementing genomics-based clinical tests to better guide treatment decisions.
Early diagnosis and prevention of childhood asthma
Dr. Stuart Turvey (BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute),
Dr. Michael Kobor (BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute),
Dr. Brett Finlay (University of British Columbia),
Dr. Padmaja Subbarao (The Hospital for Sick Children)
This project is looking at which infants in the CHILD study are most likely to develop asthma, based on the absence of key microbes in their stools. The team will also look at preventing asthma by developing ways to replace those missing microbes. Asthma is the most common chronic disease in children and costs up to $2 billion/year in Canada.
Optimizing genetic counselling with genome-wide sequencing
Dr. Alison M. Elliott (University of British Columbia),
Dr. Bartha Knoppers (McGill University),
Dr. Larry Lynd (University of British Columbia),
Dr. Jehannine Austin (University of British Columbia)
GenCOUNSEL is the first project to assess the genetic counselling issues associated with the clinical use of genome-wide sequencing. Its work will result in increased access to genetic counselling for all those who need it, as well as improved patient satisfaction and greater cost-efficiency.