CGEn Year in Review: Highlights of 2019

CGEn Year in Review: Highlights of 2019

Enabling Canadian leadership in genomics research by supporting world-class research or technology development

  • In 2019, using the infrastructure funded by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), CGEn completed the delivery of over 18,000 whole genome, 39,500 transcriptome, 5,359 exome, and 110,611 other genome-wide experiments on biosamples from Canadian research projects, including human and non-human studies.
  • CGEn’s flagship  CanSeq150 program, committed to de novo sequencing of 150 novel Canadian species, has now selected over 90 species as individual projects. Data delivery is complete for some and sequencing is now well underway for many other projects. See full list of projects here.

CGEn scientific leaders acknowledged for their contributions through prestigious awards and recognitions.

  • Dr. Stephen Scherer, (Scientific Director, CGEn-Toronto) was awarded the Killam prize in health sciences. Dr. Steven Jones (Scientific Director, CGEn-Vancouver) was awarded the first Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Computational Genomics and Dr. Marco Marra was awarded the Don Rix Award for Lifetime achievement by Life Sciences BC.
  • CGEn investigators Dr Steven Jones and Dr Marco Marra were named on the highly cited list in 2019

CGEn researchers made significant scientific contributions to genomics research and precision medicine

  • The Autism MSSNG project reached its initial goal of sequencing more than 10,000 whole genomes of individuals with autism and their family members, creating the world’s largest open-source precision medicine database specific to understanding autism.
  •  Exciting high-impact research findings from all three nodes have been disseminated through peer-reviewed publications. A few examples of such findings are the development of single-cell sequencing approaches to detect changes in Cancer, identification of predictive markers for early diagnosis of Autism, and single-cell transcriptomics to define developmental mechanisms in Childhood Brain Tumors.

Mark Caulfield

Mark Caulfield, Genomics England interim CEO & CGEn’s Board of Directors member awarded knighthood in the Queen’s birthday honours.

Professor Mark Caulfield, the interim Chief Executive at Genomics England and Professor of Clinical Pharmacology at Queen Mary University of London, has been awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Since 2013 Professor Caulfield has been instrumental in delivering the world-leading 100,000 Genomes Project, which hit its target of sequencing 100,000 whole genomes in 2018 and has already delivered life-changing results for patients.

This NHS transformation programme used whole genome sequencing to bring new diagnoses to people with rare diseases and to help choose cancer therapies.

To increase the value for participants in the project, Professor Caulfield established a coalition of 3,000 researchers worldwide and assisted the NHS in the creation of the National Genomic Test Directory. This will offer equitable access for 55 million people, depending on clinical need, to the appropriate genomic tests via a new National Genomic Medicine Service.

For further details, click here.

GrizzlyBear

Canseq150 helps Canadian scientists map the Grizzly genome.

Among the largest predators in country, the Grizzly bear now has another claim to fame: the most complete genetic map for its species. Within 37 pairs of chromosomes composed of about 2.3 billion nucleotide base pairs, scientists have now revealed the location of 19,848 coding genes, 7,061 non-coding genes, 3,671 pseudo-genes, and more, within the Grizzly genome.

The Grizzly bear DNA was sequenced from a 20-year old male named Samson. He was found as an orphan in Alaska in 1998, when he was less than a year old, rescued and then raised at the Alaska Children’s Zoo. He now lives at the Toronto Zoo. The blood sample donated to the GSC was collected during a routine physical exam.

Published in the journal, Genes, the sequencing effort was performed at Canada’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre at BC Cancer, a leading international centre for genomics and bioinformatics research. Dr. Steve Jones, GSC Co-Director and Head of Bioinformatics, was the Principal Investigator.

CanSeq150

Canada’s Genomics Enterprise launches CanSeq150 to lay the foundation for Canada’s next 150 years of science.

To commemorate the 150th Birthday of Canada in 2017 and to lay the foundation of Canadian excellence in research for the next 150 years, Canada’s Genomics Enterprise (CGEn) and its partners are embarking upon the Canada 150 Sequencing Initiative (CanSeq150). The aim is to sequence 150 new genomes to support sequence-based genomics research in Canada by enabling future research in biodiversity and conservation, applications in breeding and biomedicine, as well as technology development, across Canada.

For further details, please click here.

Naveed Aziz  joines SickKids as the Chief Administrative and Scientific Officer

Naveed Aziz  joins SickKids as the Chief Administrative and Scientific Officer for Canada’s Genomics Enterprise (CGEn).

Naveed comes from Genome Canada, where he has been serving as its Director of Technology programs since 2011. In this role, he led Genome Canada’s portfolio of technology programs, with the primary goal of helping to create opportunities to promote innovation and develop new capacity in genomics, big data and related sciences. He completed his Ph.D. in Gene Targeting at the University of Dundee, Scotland, and an executive MBA at the Bradford School of Management, England. His previous roles include serving as the Head of Genomics at University of York, UK, and as a Research Fellow at the S.R. Noble Foundation in Oklahoma, USA.

Naveed has a keen interest in the role of genomic-based technologies in providing solutions to pressing global challenges. His experience of working within the field of Genomics over the past 15 years has led him to strongly believe in the notion of convergence – especially when it originates from divergent fields.

CGEn Receives $32M in funding from CFI.

To support a new era of Canadian genome research, in 2014 Canada’s Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and its partners invested $58M in Canada’s Genomics Enterprise (CGEn), building an unprecedented sequencing and informatics capacity to decode genomes. CGEn linked three nationally funded centres in Toronto (The Centre for Applied Genomics), Montreal (McGill University and Genome Quebec Innovation Centre) and Vancouver (Canada’s Michael Smith Genome Science Centre). Furthermore, in 2017, an additional $32M were invested in CGEn through the CFI Major Science Initiative. CGEn, for the first time, built a coordinated framework for open access and collaborative genome sequencing across Canada.

https://www.innovation.ca/awards/major-science-initiatives-fund