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The GRID Project: Gene Regulators in Disease


Generating solutions




Competition III

Genome Centre(s)



Project Leader(s)

Fiscal Year Project Launched


Project Description

Gene regulation is the process of DNA and protein interactions in a gene that determines where and how the gene will be activated. Small differences in gene regulation among individuals can lead to disease susceptibility or resistance. But these differences are not well understood yet.

The GRID project: Gene Regulators in Disease will not seek to identify new genes. Instead, the project will focus on regulatory mechanisms in common human diseases, such as abnormal gene production, assembly and turnover. The project will characterize more than 250 disease genes believed to be associated with diabetes, asthma, inflammatory diseases and some forms of cancer.

The team expects to identify a cascade of biological steps initiated by regulatory mechanisms in 25 genes that modify disease risk. The project will investigate gene regulation in a breed of transgenic mice developed at McGill University, in collaboration with Nucleis SA, a French company. Nucleis will set up a North American biotechnology laboratory in Montreal and train highly qualified personnel to work in this area. The project will also collaborate with other Canadian biomedical and pharmaceutical centres.

By identifying the biological steps initiated by regulatory mechanisms, the research team expects to better understand how disease risk is modified. This in turn is expected to open the way to new treatments and health products. At the same time, the project will study the ethical implications and dimensions of this research, so that an appropriate framework for this and other projects can be developed.

Integrated GE3LS Research: Commercialization issues inherent to Public-Private partnerships
GE3LS Project Leaders: Bartha M. Knoppers, Université de Montréal

Large scale projects such as the Gene Regulators in Disease (“GRID”) project promise important benefits, but also raise commercialisation issues inherent in such public private partnerships, including:

  1. conflicts of interest and research integrity;
  2. confidentiality and open science; and
  3. research exemption to patents.

This integrated GE3LS project will examine such issues from ethical, legal and social perspectives. The project seeks to address which strategies should be adopted to reduce possible adverse impact of commercialisation on genetic research how such strategies should be implemented and how they might possibly be applied to other types of researchin order to maximize potential benefits to society. Anticipated outcomes of this integrated GE3LS project include:

  • providing guidance to partners of the GRID project to enable fruitful collaboration and help maximize economic, scientific and social benefits;
  • publishing policy documents for future academic-industry collaborations;
  • writing articles on all of the three selected issues (conflicts of interest, confidentiality and research exemption) and presenting at national and international conferences to disseminate reserach findings; and
  • archiving research outputs on teh HUMGEN website and the IPGen portal.