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Horizontal Initiatives

  • Genomics R&D Initiative (GRDI)

Name of Horizontal Initiative: Genomics R&D Initiative (GRDI)

Name of Lead Department: National Research Council Canada (NRC)

Lead Department Program Activity: Research and Development (R&D)

Start Date of the Horizontal Initiative: April 1999

End Date of the Horizontal Initiative: March 2011

Total Federal Funding Allocation (start to end date): $234.1 M

Description of the Horizontal Initiative (including funding agreement): The Initiative was established to build and maintain genomics research capacity in government and to deliver value-added applications for responding to national priorities and government mandates as well as for building wealth for Canadians.

Shared Outcome: Genomic contributions for enhancing the quality of life for Canadians in terms of health, safety, environment, and social and economic development.

Governance Structure: An interdepartmental Genomics R&D ADM Committee manages and coordinates the Initiative. The Committee ensures that effective priority setting mechanisms are established within departments and that investments are focused and strategic. It also ensures that common management principles are implemented and that horizontal collaborations between organizations are pursued. The Committee is represented by Industry Canada plus each of the Federal Partners: NRC, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Health Canada (HC), Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), Environment Canada (EC), and Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR). An Interdepartmental Working Group (WG) provides recommendations and advice to the ADM Coordinating Committee regarding strategic priority setting and overall management. It also supports evaluation and reporting. The NRC chairs the Committee and the WG.

($ millions)
Federal Partners Federal Partner Program Activity (PA) Names of Programs for Federal Partners Total Allocation (from Start to End Date) Planned Spending for
Actual Spending for
Expected Results for
Results Achieved in
National Research Council (NRC) Research and Development Genomics and Health Initiative 71.1 6.0 6.0 See Note 1 See Notes 1.1 and 1.2
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Innovation and Renewal Canadian Crop Genomics Initiative 71.1 6.0 6.0 See Note 2 See Note 2.1
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Aquaculture Aquatic Biotechnology and Genomics R&D 10.6 0.9 0.9 See Note 3 See Note 3.1
Health Canada (HC) Health Products HC/PHAC Genomics Initiative 46.0 4.0 4.0 See Note 4 See Note 4.1
Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) Natural Resource and Landmass Knowledge for Canadians NRCan-CFS Genomics R&D Initiative 23.0 2.0 2.0 See Note 5 See Notes 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3
Environment Canada (EC) Canadians Adopt Sustainable Consumption and Production Approaches Strategic Applications of Genomics in the Environment 12.0 1.0 1.0 See Note 6 See Note 6.1
Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) N/A N/A 0.5 N/A N/A See Note 7 N/A
Total 234.1 19.9 19.9    


1. Commercially-relevant advances in genomics R&D related to human health

1.1 A waveguide-based biosensor array was developed for detecting micro-organisms that cause disease in humans.

1.2 Alethia Biotherapeutics, a Canadian biotechnology company, licensed the rights on 1) NRC's anti-clusterin antibody technology, which reduces cancer growth; and 2) NRC's peptide-based tumour imaging agent.

2. Improvements in crop value of cereals, soybean and canola

2.1 Specific genes were identified for improving 1) cold tolerance, blackleg disease resistance, and oil content of canola; 2) isoflavonoid content, and hence the health benefits, of soybeans; and 3) resistance to rust diseases and to Fusarium Blight in wheat.

3. Genomic knowledge for sustainable management of aquatic resources

3.1 Research milestones were reached on-target in such ongoing projects as development of genome-based monitoring of population genetics of fish and whale species of importance to Canada.

4. Genomic knowledge for the Canadian health regulatory system

4.1 Genes have been identified as potential biomarkers for 1) exposure to radiation to natural sources and to such devices as cellular telephones; and 2) exposure to complex mixtures of chemical carcinogens. Such biomarkers, when validated, will lead to a better understanding of the respective biological mechanisms. This will assist regulatory decision-making.

5. Genomic knowledge for forest generation and protection

5.1 Several potential insect-killing viruses and fungi were discovered for use as bio-control agents pending further investigation of their effects.

5.2 Genes related to laminated root rot disease in Douglas Fir were characterized in both the tree and in the fungus that causes the disease.

5.3 Molecular markers were identified in 11,599 candidate genes involved in wood growth, wood quality, and defence against insect pests.

6. Genomic applications for environmental regulation and enforcement

6.1 Tools and approaches were developed for assessing risk of such priority substances as personal care products and pharmaceuticals.

7. CIHR received a single allocation in 1999-2000 to assist in creation of Genome Canada Secretariat. There are no expected results.

Comments on Variances: No variance was reported.

Results to be achieved by non-federal partners (if applicable): N/A

Contact information:

Gary Fudge, P. Eng.
Director, Life Sciences Horizontal Initiatives
National Research Council