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Government of Canada boosts efforts to find treatments for pediatric cancers and rare genetic disorders
 Ottawa (February 22, 2011) – Two new research teams of top doctors and scientists from across Canada will embark on an ambitious goal to identify the genes that cause the most challenging types of cancer and rare diseases in children, and find new treatments. The announcement was made by the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology), at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). He was joined by Royal Galipeau, MP for Ottawa-Orléans.

Our Government is investing in promising medical research to improve the health of Canadians and strengthen our economy,” said Minister Goodyear. “This investment in world-leading research will help find important new treatments for children with cancer and rare genetic diseases.”

“The destructive impacts of these diseases on Canadians are recognized by our Government,” said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health. “By supporting these programs Canada will play a key role in the advancement of new technologies to find innovative treatments for Canadians affected by these devastating diseases.”

The Government of Canada will invest $4.5 million for the two projects - $2.5 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, $2 million from Genome Canada, [$600,000] from Genome British Columbia and [$500,000] from Génome Québec. Researchers from the two teams are based in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.

The two teams announced today are:

Finding of Rare Disease Genes in Canada (FORGE Canada)

·         Dr. Kym Boycott (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario) and her team of researchers across Canada will study more than seventy childhood genetic disorders. Using new made-in-Canada sequencing technology, they will study children and families across the country in order to help discover disease-causing genes. 


The Canadian Pediatric Cancer Genome Consortium

·         Dr. Poul Sorensen (University of British Columbia) and his team will use some of the most powerful gene sequencing technologies ever developed to probe the genomes (DNA) of up to six of the most challenging childhood cancers known. The researchers will use leading edge sequencing technology to rapidly scan the DNA of the entire human genome that is contained in tumour cells.


“The next ten years in health research will be defined by our understanding of genomics and its effect on how we develop new treatment methods and monitoring tools,” said Dr. Pierre Chartrand, Vice President of Research and Chief Scientific Officer for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. “Here at CIHR we are focusing on the application of a patient orientated research model, and you cannot get more patient oriented than helping defeat childhood cancer and rare diseases.”

“Canada is now poised to take a leading position in disease gene discovery — opening up exciting new possibilities for diagnosis and treatment,” said Dr. Pierre Meulien, President and CEO of Genome Canada.


For the past 10 years, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has supported better health and health care for Canadians. As the Government of Canada’s health research investment agency, CIHR enables the creation of evidence-based knowledge and its transformation into improved treatments, prevention and diagnoses, new products and services, and a stronger, patient-oriented health-care system. Composed of 13 internationally recognized Institutes, CIHR supports more than 13,600 health researchers and trainees across Canada. 

Genome Canada is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to developing and implementing a national strategy in genomics and proteomics research for the benefit of all Canadians. Since 2000, Genome Canada has received $915 million in funding commitments from the Government of Canada to which has been added approximately $1 billion in co-funding commitments from other organizations to finance innovative, large-scale research projects in genomics and proteomics as well as Science and Technology Innovation Centres. This additional funding was secured in partnership with the regional Genome Centres, through the development of collaborative relationships and partnerships with the private, public and venture philanthropist organizations both in Canada and abroad.

For further information, please contact:

Gary Toft

Office of the Honourable Gary Goodyear



Hélène Meilleur

Communications, Genome Canada



David Coulombe

Media Relations, CIHR


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