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Canadian genomics tackling real-world challenges to benefit Canadians, says Minister Holder


During a keynote address at Genomics: the Power and the Promise conference, the Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology) highlighted that, with sustained federal investment in genomics, Canada has built a formidable research capacity in this cutting-edge field. He noted that Canada can use genomics to improve salmon breeding in Atlantic Canada, protect Canadian forests and forestry in Western Canada, and provide new understanding and treatments for children suffering from brain cancer across Canada.

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Since 2006, the Harper Government has provided more than $600 million for large-scale genomics research and leading-edge technology across Canada through Genome Canada. In partnership with six regional Genome Centres, Genome Canada has more than doubled this investment through the co-funding of genomics research projects by provincial governments, the private sector, not-for-profits and international partners.

Additionally, nearly $180 million has been committed since 2006 to the Genomics Research and Development Initiative – a unique Canadian program that coordinates eight federal science departments and agencies in the field of genomics research.

The Minister highlighted the following examples of Canadian genomics research during his remarks:

Dr. Elizabeth Boulding’s GAPP project to improve salmon breeding Cooke Aquaculture:

The MAGIC project- a Genome Canada partnership project aiming to transform the way we treat children with medulloblastoma, the most common form of childhood brain cancer:

Dr. Richard Hamelin’s battle against Sudden Oak disease to protect Canada’s forest and forestry sector:

Genomics: the Power and the Promise is a three-day conference (Nov. 24-26) hosted by Genome Canada and the Gairdner Foundation. Under the banner Genomics and the Environment, the conference features world-renowned genomics experts and visionaries from across North America, who are gathered to share insights on the ground-breaking uses of genomics in fields as diverse as sustainable resource extraction, agriculture, fisheries and disease diagnosis and treatment. A poster session highlighting the work of graduate students in the field of genomics is a key part of the conference.


“Our government’s investments have built a strong, world-class foundation for Canadian genomics research, having invested over three quarters of a billion dollars in partners like Genome Canada and eight federal departments within the Genomics Research and Development Initiative. As a result, Canadian genomics is well-positioned to apply exciting innovative genomics solutions to address challenges in areas of health, food safety, agriculture, natural resources and others, while improving the quality of life of Canadians.”

– The Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State for Science and Technology

“Since the first rough draft of the human genome was released in 2000, we now know that there is an enormous range of complexity in the interplay between genes and the environment. The more we learn about the biological blueprints of living organisms, the more we reveal how we affect our environment and how our environment affects us. We are advancing powerful ideas and breakthroughs that are improving our everyday lives through genomics.”

– Dr. Pierre Meulien, President, Genome Canada

“The Canada Gairdner Awards recognizes the importance and impact of genomics. In 2002 we celebrated the year of the genome giving Awards of Merit to Drs. Francis Collins and James Watson for their leadership in the Human Genome Project. The Gairdner Foundation gave out International Awards to eight scientists whose discoveries led to the elucidation of the human genome, including Drs. Craig Venter and Eric Lander. This work has influenced diverse fields of research including the research of many recent Gairdner awardees.”

– Dr. John Dirks, President and Scientific Director, Gaidner Foundation

Associated links

Event website:

Event Twitter hashtag: #powerofgenomics

Follow us on Twitter: @industrycanada; @GenomeCanada; @GairdnerAwards



Scott French

Director of Communications and Parliamentary Affairs

Office of the Minister of State (Science and Technology)


Andrea Matyas

Director, Communications

Genome Canada

Office: 613-751-4460 x 231

Cell: 613-790-0106

Sommer Ellis

Director of Communications

Gairdner Foundation

Main: 416-596-9996 ext.202

Cell: 647-293-6785

About Genome Canada

Genome Canada is a not-for-profit organization that acts as a catalyst for developing and applying genomics and genomic-based technologies across multiple sectors to create economic and social benefits for Canadians.

About The Gairdner Foundation

The Gairdner Foundation was created in 1957 to recognize and reward the achievements of medical researchers whose work contributes significantly to improving the quality of human life. Since the first awards were made in 1959, the Gairdner Awards have become Canada’s foremost international award. They hold up the pinnacle of achievement as a mirror to Canadians, and in so doing, play a role in helping Canada achieve its goals of excellence.

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