Breakthrough Ontario Projects Receive Over $28 Million to Advance Genomics Innovations

May 3, 2021 – The Government of Ontario is investing over $5.7 million in eleven Ontario Genomics-led projects as part of the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (B/CB) Competition and the Disruptive Innovations in Genomics (DIG) Funding Competition. These programs aim to support transformative, made-in-Ontario genomics technological development to improve human health, agriculture, and natural resources for social and economic benefits for Canada. Additional funding from Genome Canada (over $10 million) and industry and research partners provide a total of $28 million to support these impactful and innovative projects.

Ontario Genomics plays a vital role in advancing these projects by supporting the development of their proposals, helping them access diverse funding sources, and finding the right industry partners to take this research out of the lab to apply it to the world’s most pressing challenges. Since its inception in 2000, Ontario Genomics has raised more than $1.27 billion for genomics applied research in Ontario and directly supported more than 9,100 trainees and jobs. We have 110+ active projects, 500+ impactful partnerships and have secured $1.34 billion in follow-on investments.

“This funding takes these projects to the next level,” says Dr. Bettina Hamelin, President and CEO, Ontario Genomics. “By tackling important challenges and developing innovative solutions across diverse sectors of the economy, we ensure Ontario has a thriving innovation and research community and made-in-Ontario genomics tools and technologies.”

“The Ontario government is committed to supporting “Ontario made” innovations, ideas and products. As our government continues to focus on recovering from the economic impacts of COVID-19, we’re proud to support Ontario Genomics as they fund research and innovation projects that can improve human health and wellbeing, agriculture and natural resources. By investing in these projects now, our government is supporting ideas that will have significant social and economic benefits for the province in the future.” – Ross Romano, Ontario’s Minister of Colleges and Universities.

“We are thrilled to be working with the government of Ontario and Ontario Genomics to develop a truly disruptive technique for non-invasive prenatal diagnostics.” – Dr. Aaron Wheeler, Project Lead & Professor, University of Toronto.

The SYNERGxDB web application, whose development was supported by Ontario Genomics, will enable researchers to efficiently mine the large-space of drug combinations, speeding up the development of new therapeutic strategies that are much needed for aggressive cancer types. SYNERGxDB provides researchers with easy access to data that have been curated, annotated and processed using the best standards in the field. This rich resource will continue to grow as new data are released and integrated, supporting the future of cancer research.” – Dr. Benjamin Haibe-Kains, Project Lead, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

Here are snippets of three of the eleven funded projects:

  • SYNERGx: a computational framework for drug combination synergy prediction: This project is developing SYNERGx, a new computational platform that will integrate multiple pharmacogenomic datasets. The platform will implement analytic tools to improve modelling of synergistic drug effects. SYNERGx will provide an efficient way to design new therapeutic strategies to treat cancer.
  • CReSCENT: CanceR Single Cell ExpressioN Toolkit: This project aims to develop CReSCENT, a scalable and standardized set of novel algorithmic methods and tools, deployed on cloud computing infrastructure, to allow comparison of cells in cancerous and healthy tissues. CReSCENT will bring together researchers across a broad spectrum of scientific areas and disease types. In the long term, this system will pave the way for novel single-cell diagnostics and the discovery of new drug strategies for improved health care.
  • Development of a digital microfluidic platform to identify and target single cells from a heterogeneous cell population for lysis in an ultra-low volume for non-invasive prenatal diagnosis: This project is using a digital microfluidics and genomic analysis platform to provide a safe, non-invasive, and inexpensive prenatal diagnostic test. With no other test like it available, it will compete in the multi-million-dollar global market and save the healthcare system hundreds of millions of dollars. The technique will be commercialized through a start-up company that will attract investment and create job opportunities in Canada’s burgeoning high-tech/biotech sector.

Congratulations to all 11 projects on successful proposals to the Government of Ontario to continue promising applied research that leads to novel solutions.

Learn more about the funded B/CB projects:

Learn more about the funded DIG projects:

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