UBC Reports
October 16, 1997

Nobel laureate Smith heads genome centre

UBC's Nobel prize winner Michael Smith has been named director of the first research centre in Canada devoted to decoding human genes.

The $25-million Genome Sequence Centre, a project of the B.C. Cancer Agency, will be focused on cancer research. Headquartered in Vancouver, it will collaborate with laboratories worldwide on the International Human Genome Project whose goal is to decode all of the human genes by 2005.

"This unique effort will help Canada make significant contributions to international science in general and to cancer treatment in particular," says Smith, who is the Peter Wall Distinguished Professor of Biotechnology at UBC.

"A genome sequence centre in B.C. will attract activity in the biomedical research sector and in industries. It will encourage companies to work here and take advantage of the technology and information that will be developed."

Smith will lead a team of over 30 scientists from UBC, the B.C. Cancer Research Centre, the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University to establish the centre which is expected to open in the fall of 1998.

Genome science identifies and decodes all of a living organism's genes.

By decoding the sequence of genes in the human genome, which is estimated to contain 100,000 genes, and identifying when the order is incorrect scientists may find the cause of a genetic disease.

UBC has already made significant contributions to the International Human Genome Project through its participation in the Canadian Genetic Diseases Network which is based at the university.