January 23, 2018
Precision health promises to transform the way Canadians receive medical care. In the near future, doctors may be able to precisely diagnose symptoms based on a patient’s unique genetic makeup and offer personalized treatment that improves health outcomes and saves lives. Genomics research combined with data analytics will lead to better prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, improve the health of Canadians, and make our health care system more effective.
To help make all that a reality, the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, on behalf of the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, today announced two major genomics research investments in British Columbia during a visit to the BC Children’s Hospital. The total investment of $75.9 million comes from the federal and provincial governments, research institutions and private sector partners.
The Minister of Science made the national announcement today in Toronto, highlighting a $255-million investment in genomics research in Canada. This includes a $162-million investment in 15 genomics and precision health projects across Canada through Genome Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and co-funding partners.
Many of the projects focus on paediatric medicine, a globally recognized Canadian research strength. Genomics-based precision health approaches to childhood brain cancer, asthma and arthritis enable earlier diagnoses and provide new opportunities to address root causes of such diseases rather than symptoms. This funding also supports a targeted initiative to address health challenges specific to Indigenous populations, improving diagnostic outcomes for Indigenous children that have genetic diseases and reducing inequities in access to advanced health care between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations.
The Government of Canada also announced a second major investment to support advanced genomics technology platforms across the country. These technology platforms support the development of improved technologies that underpin research advances in health, agriculture and natural resources. A total of $93 million is being invested in ten platforms nationwide, two of which are in British Columbia. The platforms are receiving $45 million in federal funding through Genome Canada and an additional $48 million from other sources.
These combined investments will provide researchers with access to cutting-edge tools, technologies and services while furthering the Government of Canada’s goal of strengthening and supporting the country’s scientific community.
“It is an honour to support some of Canada’s leading genomics and precision health researchers through investments that will allow them to further their discoveries and innovations. Their incredible work brings hope to Canadians living with chronic illnesses, such as cancer, arthritis and cystic fibrosis, while strengthening Canada’s health care system.”
– The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science
“All Canadians stand to benefit from the innovative and collaborative research projects being announced today. The platforms, tools, technologies and services that will be developed through this funding will improve our understanding of many illnesses, particularly those that affect the most vulnerable patients, including children and Indigenous peoples.”
– The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health
“This investment will support groundbreaking developments in genomics and precision health research, and will help address a wide range of health challenges faced by Canadians, including our most vulnerable populations. This funding will also support researchers across the country who are improving the accuracy of diagnostics for Indigenous children and helping enhance equal access to treatment and care. We will continue to invest in Canadian companies who are leading their field and breaking new ground in the science and technology sectors.”
– The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.
“What’s exciting about these genomics and precision health projects is how clinically oriented they are. Most are led by clinical scientists who deal with patients on a day-to-day basis and are well positioned to apply the research to health care settings. Further, they are not just about developing new therapies to treat diseases but also about early diagnosis and intervention to better curb or manage diseases at their onset.”
– Marc LePage, President and CEO, Genome Canada
“Our understanding of the human genome and epigenetics is advancing at an unprecedented pace. As a result, today we are creating knowledge that will improve health and health care delivery in ways that were unimaginable only years ago. CIHR is proud to partner with Genome Canada on this important initiative and to support the outstanding scientists who are at the forefront of this rapidly growing field of research.”
– Dr. Roderick R. McInnes, Acting President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research
“These projects exemplify the power of genomics as a tool to enable precise diagnosis and treatment for patients with diverse health challenges. Through consistent investment in genomics technology, coupled with the recruitment and support of B.C.’s top researchers, we have positioned B.C. as a global leader in genomics. As a result, clinicians can provide patients and families with personalized treatment options and preventive strategies that offer better health outcomes through cost-effective care.”
– Dr. Pascal Spothelfer, President and CEO, Genome British Columbia
Backgrounder – Precision health projects
Backgrounder – Genomics technology platforms