National genomics research and development initiative renewed

Canadian Minister of State for Science and Technology Ed Holder and National Research Council of Canada (NRC) president John R. McDougall, President of the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) have announced the renewal of the Genomics Research and Development Initiative (GRDI).

The GRDI was first implemented in 1999 and is now in its sixth funding cycle. At the beginning of each funding phase, departments and agencies strategically review their research priorities and hold peer-reviewed competitions for the allocation of funds to new projects. The renewal of the GRDI funding for another five years is a measure of the scientific successes of the initiative to date, which range from the identification of tumour-specific antibodies for use in cancer treatment to genomics-based diagnosis of invasive and damaging species such as the fungus causing sudden oak death.

The Feds are committing $99.5 million to the initiative over the next five years to continue research in agriculture, environment, fisheries, forestry, and health. Genomics is the science that studies DNA sequences and the complex interactions of genes found in living organisms.

As part of the announcement, two projects that were launched in 2012 will receive two years of additional funding:

• The Quarantine and Invasive Species project aims at developing diagnostic tools based on DNA barcoding for the early detection, surveillance and management of hundreds of species, focusing on those that are of quarantine concern. (Project name: Protection of Canadian biodiversity and trade from the impacts of global change through improved ability to monitor invasive alien and quarantine species)

• The Food and Water Safety project aims at developing increased speed and reduced cost of genomics based methods for pathogen isolation, detection and characterization. It also intends to develop a federally integrated database to manage, store and provide access to genomic data and related information from food and waterborne pathogens, focusing on Escherichia coli and  Salmonella Enteritidis.

The GRDI coordinates eight federal science departments and agencies in the field of genomics research: the National Research
Council of Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Health Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, the Canada Food Inspection Agency, Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada, and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

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