$9.35-million genome science centre funded

A joint project of the University of British Columbia and the B.C. Cancer Agency that links gene studies, biotechnology and cancer research has received $9.35 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) for construction of a new biotechnology research building at UBC.

The joint venture, called the Centre for Integrated Genomics (CIG), will provide a platform for the development and application of genome science in many areas including forestry and plant studies and cancer genomics. Genome science, or genomics, identifies and decodes all the genes of a living organism.

"We are encouraged by CFI's endorsement of this unique collaboration," says Ric Spratley, acting associate vice-president, Research. "Bringing together this interdisciplinary team of world-class scientists and clinicians from the two institutions creates a synergy that we expect will lead to innovation and discovery."

The proposed integration of genomics with basic cancer research and clinical research has the potential for a major impact in cancer research, according to the CFI Genomics Review Panel which described CIG as an exciting and innovative concept.

Components of the CIG are the Genome Sequence Centre directed by Nobel laureate Michael Smith, the B.C. Cancer Research Centre led by Victor Ling and the UBC Biotechnology Laboratory directed by Douglas Kilburn.

The centre is unique in North America in that it will combine state-of-the-art gene research technology with the clinical practice of a comprehensive-service cancer organization.

The B.C. Cancer Agency and UBC will make further joint application to CFI in January 2000 to fund the remaining components of the research centre focusing on building space and equipment needs.

The CFI is a $1-billion federal government fund designed to help universities, colleges and hospitals upgrade their research infrastructure.