$35.6 Million Awarded to Alberta-Led Research Projects in National Funding Competition

Genomics research into oil spill mitigation, corrosion in oil production, chronic wasting disease, and the effects of climate change on forest pests all receive major funding

CALGARY, Dec. 9, 2016 /CNW/ - Four projects led by Genome Alberta secured 31% of the funding announced yesterday in Montreal by Federal Science Minister Kirsty Duncan. The $35.6 million is part of an overall $110 million investment which will use genomics tools and technology to meet challenges faced by Canada's natural resource and environment sectors.

The national research projects announced are being led or co-led out of academic institutions in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Québec and Newfoundland and Labrador.  Alberta-led research teams from across the country make up 4 of the 13 new research projects announced, and the various co-funders include government, academic, NGO, and industry partners.

Genome Alberta's Chief Scientific Officer Gijs van Rooijen pointed out, that the success is the result of a continued collaborative effort, "The Alberta-led research projects are a great reflection of Alberta's priority areas, and the range of partners are ideally positioned to broaden the research impact beyond Alberta's borders.  This success builds on significant past investments and will allow Alberta and Canada to further enhance our international reputation in this area of genomics research".

The 4 Alberta-led projects are:

Resilient Forests: Climate Pests & Policy – Genomic Applications (total budget $5.6 million)
Project co-leaders: Barb Thomas, Nadir Erbilgin – University of Alberta, Yousry El-Kassaby – University of British Columbia

Forest health is under constant threat from changes in climate and climate-induced insect outbreaks, and the pace of these changes is outstripping the ability of trees to adapt. The research outcomes from this project will shorten the time for the tree breeding cycle, and produce trees that are better able to withstand pests and drought while improving wood quality.

Systems Biology and Molecular Ecology of Chronic Wasting Disease (total budget $11.5 million)
Project co-leaders: Debbie McKenzie, David WishartUniversity of Alberta

Chronic wasting disease is similar to mad cow disease but affects deer, elk, moose, and caribou. The Alberta-led research team will use genomics and metabolomics to develop tools to test at-risk animals and their environment, identify disease strains, and model the risk to predict the spread of the disease.

Managing Microbial Corrosion in Canadian Offshore and Onshore Oil Production (total budget $7.8 million)
Project co-leaders: Lisa GiegUniversity of Calgary, John WolodkoUniversity of Alberta, Faisal KhanMemorial University

What humans can make, nature can disintegrate. Apart from the economic losses in the order of $3 – 7 billion in the oil and gas industry, corrosion can lead to pipeline leaks, and equipment damage.  20% of all corrosion in the industry is caused by microbial activity and this project will help corrosion managers to better predict when, where, and how failures occur and how to best mitigate microbial induced corrosion.

GENICE: Microbial Genomics for Oil Spill Preparedness in Canada's Arctic Marine Environment (total budget $10.7 million )

Project co-leaders: Casey HubertUniversity of Calgary, Gary SternUniversity of Manitoba

The GENICE project will use microbial genomics to examine the role and potential of mitigating oil spills by naturally occurring organisms. Marine microbial communities are likely nature's own 'first responders' in the event of a marine oil spill and the research team will look at how this happens in cold, ice-laden Arctic marine environments. One of the key deliverables from the project includes a Best Practices document for people dealing with bioremediation of Arctic oil spills.

At yesterday's announcement of the new investment across Canada, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Canada's Minister of Science said, "These new genomic research projects strengthen Canada's position as a leader in producing evidence-based solutions to come of our grandest challenges. In addition to growing the economy and improving the quality of life for middle class Canadians, they will accelerate our drive toward clean technologies and other approaches that will safeguard our water and biodiversity, lower our carbon footprint and protect our environment."

About Genome Alberta

Genome Alberta is a publicly funded not-for-profit corporation that initiates, funds, and manages genomics research and partnerships. Our core funding comes from Genome Canada and Alberta Economic Development and Trade.  We are based in Calgary, but lead projects around the province and participate in a variety of other projects across the country. 

Genome Alberta was established in 2005 in partnership with Genome Canada, (then) Industry Canada, and the Province of Alberta to focus on genomics as one of the central components of the Life Sciences Initiative in Alberta, and to help position genomics as a core research effort.  Genome Alberta strives to be the leading source of information and administration related to genomics, metabolomics, bioinformatics, bioethics, and other related 'omic research in Alberta. We are also focused on the development of a strong life sciences research industry in Alberta.

SOURCE Genome Alberta

For further information: For more information and to arrange an interview with some of the researchers please contact: Mike Spear, Director of Communications, Genome Alberta, cell: 403-813-5843, email: mspear@genomealberta.ca, @mikesgene on Twitter

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http://www.genomealberta.com

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