March 02, 2020
Vancouver, BC — Genomics is transforming the way Canadians receive medical care — precise diagnoses and treatment based on each patient’s genetic makeup. However, the widespread adoption of genomics as a standard of clinical care is still a work in progress. While some genetic tests have been adopted as a standard of care for certain conditions, most applications continue to be based in a clinical research setting. Two BC based projects aim to answer outstanding questions about the clinical and cost-effectiveness of genomics to benefit patients of rare disease and cancer.
Each year in British Columbia, thousands of patients with rare genetic disorders require access to complex genetic tests that currently must be performed in laboratories outside of Canada. Building genomic diagnostic capacity within Canada will improve our understanding of these and other genetic disorders, as well as enhance the care of impacted patients and families.
Dr. Anna Lehman, an Associate Professor in the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia received $8.1M to evaluate the feasibility of integrating whole genome sequencing into the standard of care for BC’s rare disease patients, while facilitating the system changes necessary to achieve this goal.
To date, Canadian cancer patients have had limited access to precision oncology because of a lack of data about the clinical effectiveness (does it work?) and cost-effectiveness (can we afford it?). Before precision oncology can benefit cancer patients, data systems, policies, and practices are needed to get the right data, to the right researchers and care providers, at the right time, in the right way.
Dr. Dean Regier, a Scientist and Director of the Health Economics Support and Research Unit at BC Cancer and Dr. Tania Bubela, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University will work with Dr. Timothy Hanna, a Principal Investigator at Cancer Care and Epidemiology, Cancer Research Institute, Queen’s University to understand the economic impact of precision oncology and make sure that the design of initiatives is in line with patient and public values, as well as Canadian laws and regulations. This project is valued at $2.5M.
These projects were part of an announcement made today by Mr. William Amos on behalf of Minister Navdeep Bains, Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, which included $14.7 million to support 11 genomics research projects awarded through Genome Canada. An additional $29.7 million is being invested by provincial governments, business and research partners for a total of $44.4 million in support of projects in the areas of health, agriculture and the environment. More information about these and all the other projects announced today can be found in the attached project backgrounders.
“We have a responsibility to accelerate the realization of benefits that precision health care can provide for individual patients, families, and the health care system. It is the evidence provided through projects like these that will provide the policy guidance needed to enable a responsible, fact-based implementation.”
– Dr. Pascal Spothelfer, President and CEO, Genome British Columbia
“Precision health initiatives are driving transformative change in health care. Only by addressing barriers to implementation and gathering evidence will we achieve wider adoption of these technologies to benefit patients.”
– Dr. Ellie Griffith, Sector Director, Health, Genome British Columbia
“These projects are helping develop a better understanding of the value genomics can bring to clinical health care — not only from the perspective of clinical and cost effectiveness, but also the value patients place on these services.”
– Sally Greenwood, Vice President, Communications and Societal Engagement, Genome British Columbia
Brad Lyle, Communications Manager