Chair of the Board

“Fifteen years ago, a small group of scientists and policy makers took the audacious step of pushing back the limits to look far into the future. These people had a vision: one in which Canada would assume a role at the forefront of knowledge, and Québec would be a global leader in innovation.”

This vision led to the creation of Genome Canada and shortly after, of Génome Québec. The year 2000 heralded both the new millennium and the dawn of the genomics revolution. Although the great adventure had only just begun, we already knew that in a few short years, it would spread with the force of a tsunami.

“Today, I am about to sequence my entire personal genome. I should be able to achieve the same result as in 2003 in only a few days for a few thousand dollars. A few years from now, we should be able to do it in just a few hours for a few hundred dollars, or maybe less.”

Since that time, we have amassed an enormous store of knowledge, we have learned to master genomic technology and to decode the information it generates. Canada, and Québec in particular, has moved to the head of the pack, and now enjoys an envied position as one of the world’s foremost players. More than two billion dollars have been invested to date in genomics research in Canada. This technology has made great strides since our 2003 announcement that we had succeeded in sequencing an entire human genome, which, as you will recall, cost three billion dollars over a period of 10 years.

“We are in the midst of a revolution and our modern society will need to take advantage of all this increasingly accessible knowledge. What will be the impact of this breakthrough technology on our daily lives? I predict that it will force us to do things differently.”

Any form of change is met with resistance and that will probably be our challenge for the next fifteen years. However, in the same way as we slowly integrated information technologies into our daily lives until they became indispensable, genomics will become just as indispensable as it too gradually becomes an accepted part of our lives.

The effectiveness of healthcare depends on integrating innovations. Several of these will be created by genomics and will have a major impact on how medicine is practiced. In addition, genomics has the distinction of being a transversal competence. In fact, its impact will extend far beyond medicine, because genomic expertise can be deployed wherever there is life, whether it be our forests, our environment, or our food. It is a safe bet that many of the solutions to the problems associated to climate change will come from genomics.

“The social and economic future of Québec lies in innovation. It is at the same time a vector of economic development and a powerful force for change for a company such as ours. Let us continue to be daring and focus on making Québec a global centre for the development of innovative technologies and applications.”