Vice President, Scientific Affairs

“Genome Canada has launched several competitions and research programs this year that emphasized on exploring sectors other than human health.”

Support to the scientific community: a model that has proven itself

Our primary challenge was to perform in the areas of agrifood, energy and natural resources, which meant that we had to explore new networks in the university, private and other sectors.

As a result of the personalized health competition in 2013, we were able to set up a support model that has proven its effectiveness to the research community. This year, we applied this model not only to other activity sectors, but also to potential users in the private and public domains. The initiatives undertaken by our team included consulting experts in specialized domains, conducting multiple meetings with representatives of the business and research communities and networking throughout the year.

By refining and clarifying our support model, the team has carved itself a special role as a bridge between industry and the research community. We believe we have developed a new capability for getting closer to the public and private sectors in order to harmonize their needs with what is happening in scientific research. Québec’s excellent performance in Genome Canada’s competitions, with their increasing emphasis on applications, provides incontestable proof of this.

“This year was marked by great success in competitions, particularly for the Genomic Application Partnership Program (GAPP), which was created to foster partnerships between academic researchers and users from industry.”

Our efforts have paid off

Several projects are already under way as part of this program:

  • Agropur dairy cooperative, with the project Metagenomic method of evaluating the influence of cheesemaking technology and ripening conditions on the microbial ecosystem of premium quality washed rind soft cheeses, in partnership with Steve Labrie of INAF - Université Laval.

  • Elanco Company, with the project Feedstock Optimization: development and marketing of a next generation enzyme supplement for pigs and poultry, in partnership with Adrian Tsang, Center for Functional and Structural Genomics - Concordia University.

Genomics Innovation Network Competiton: Québec stands out

Genome Canada revisited its technology platform funding strategy with a view to increasing the diversity of advanced technologies and making them more accessible to researchers. The Genomics Innovation Network (GIN) was launched to set up a network of different areas of expertise.

“Four Québec groups were chosen out of a total of ten across Canada, which represents a Genome Canada investment of approximately $5 million, or one third of available federal funding.”

Philip Awadalla - CHU Sainte-Justine - Université de Montréal
Canadian Data Integration Centre
The Canadian Data Integration Centre offers comprehensive bioinformatics support for the collection, harmonization, analysis and electronic publication of data to help researchers understand the causes of human diseases and find ways to prevent and treat them.

Guillaume Bourque - McGill University
Computational Genomics Centre of Canada
The Canadian Centre for Computational Genomics facilitates access to bioinformatics and computational resources for researchers in life sciences to help them realize the potential of genomic research.

Mark Lathrop - McGill University and Génome Québec Innovation Centre
Founded in 2002, the McGill University and Génome Québec Innovation Centre is recognized worldwide for its expertise in complex conditions such as heart disease. It draws on this expertise in developing epigenomic applications aimed at better understanding human diseases.

Pierre Thibault - Institute for Immunology and Cancer Research at Université de Montréal
Advanced Proteomics Analysis Centre
The Advanced Proteomics Analysis Centre is a multidisciplinary institution that provides ground-breaking proteomic technologies to facilitate the development of immunotherapies against cancer and the discovery of cellular regulatory mechanisms based on interactions between proteins and post-translational modifications.

Prepared for the challenges ahead

These successes are proof of the excellence of Québec’s researchers, but they also show that the impact of genomics is not limited to the health sector. Due to our team’s structuring efforts to ensure that expertise is maintained in a variety of sectors, we are able to break into new areas for genomics and support our researchers’ successes. Our philosophy is now much more focused on openness to both industry and academia in order to maximize the potential of genomics as a solution to society’s needs. In the coming year, our efforts will be geared toward preparing for the launch of winning projects for the Genome Canada competition entitled Genomics and Feeding the Future.