Awards and recognition

Ottawa announces $40 million to sequence COVID-19 viral and patient genomes

In response to the global COVID-19 outbreak, the Federal Government announced on April 23 announced funding towards genomics research of the virus and the human host genomes. The newly formed Canadian COVID Genomics Network (CanCOGeN) will receive $40 million to sequence up to 150,000 viral and 10,000 patient genomes and build a bank of “virus to patient” data that will inform decision-making by public health authorities and support the development of therapies and vaccines.

CanCOGeN will undertake two related genomics projects to help understand how the virus works, how it is evolving, and why people experience such different health outcomes. Dr. Terry Snutch and his team at UBC’s Michael Smith Laboratories will lead the COVID-19 genome sequencing component of the viral genomics initiative and coordinate with leaders and sequencing sites in each province. Snutch explains, “the national Viral Genome Sequencing Initiative within CanCOGeN is tremendously important in that we are significantly building out our sequencing capacity in real time to rapidly respond to this Canadian and global health crisis.”

The initiative will be administered through Genome Canada. In partnership with six regional Genome Centres, national and provincial public health labs, genome sequencing centres through CGEn, hospitals, universities and the private sector, CanCOGeN will coordinate and scale up existing genomics-based COVID-19 research in Canada and internationally in order to accelerate public impact.

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