UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 08 | April
Genome research garners $35 million
Studies supported range from worms to poplar trees
Genomics researchers in B.C. will benefit from $35
to the province's genome scientists as part of a 22-project
of $136 million, according to a recent announcement by federal funding agency
"Congratulations to Genome B.C. and all the scientists who
will be involved
in this critically important research," says UBC President
"We are especially gratified that UBC researchers and our
associates have been recognized so prominently."
Genome B.C. -- a regional partner of the federal agency --
five large-scale projects in the areas of health, forestry, fisheries
and the environment.
The value of these projects and associated infrastructure totals $67.8 million
and represents one of B.C.'s largest and most diverse public biological
"In B.C., we're targeting genomic research that will be important to the
economic and social fabric of our province," says Genome BC President
Roger Foxall. "We see not just the potential for major economic activity in
B.C. but also the scope for significant advancements against disease,
Victor Ling, UBC assistant dean, Research, and vice-president, Research,
at B.C. Cancer Agency (BCCA) will track how normal cells change
into malignancies in the early stages of cancer. Researchers will conduct
genomic analyses on cells to identify the mutated genes that distinguish early
stage cancers from normal tissues.
Marco Marra, director of the Genome Sequence Centre at BCCA, heads
up the expansion of the centre's technological infrastructure for
such as sequencing and mapping to accommodate large-scale projects.
The centre is a component of the Centre for Integrated Genomics, a
of UBC and BCCA.
Microbiology and Immunology
Julian Davies will lead a project called microbial envirogenics that aims to
improve researchers' understanding about the diversity of micro-organisms and
the way they interact with their environment. The team will study a bacterium
that is central to the carbon cycle.
A transparent worm called a C. elegans nematode and its relationship to
humans is the focus of research for Zoology Assoc. Prof. Don Moerman.
Nematodes and humans have 7,000 common genes so they can be used as a source to
create and better understand genetic mutations. This information can then be
applied to human health issues.
Trees have built-in defense mechanisms against pests and environmental stress.
Joerg Bohlmann, an assistant professor of Biotechnology; Carl Douglas, head of
the Botany Dept.; Agricultural Sciences Prof. Brian Ellis and Forest Sciences
Prof. Kermit Ritland will study the genes of wood tissues, particularly the
poplar tree, to better understand these mechanisms and will identify genetic
markers in a variety of trees to inform tree breeding programs.
Researchers at SFU and the University of Victoria will use
genomic research on Atlantic salmon to learn more about the structure and
function of the salmon immune system. The research will further understanding
of fish growth and reproduction.
Genome Canada is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to developing and
implementing a national strategy in genomics research with Genome Centres
across the country.
Genome B.C., established in July 2000, co-ordinates
in B.C. And brings together universities, research
hospitals, other research
centres and industry as well as government and private agencies.