A Canada-wide technology platform for mapping the human interactome coordinated at the IRCM in Montréal



    MONTREAL, June 23 /CNW Telbec/ - On June 18, the Canada Foundation for
Innovation (CFI) announced the award of $9.16 million for the creation of a
national technology platform aimed at mapping the human interactome. This
national platform, headed by Dr. Benoit Coulombe from the Institut de
recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM), will not only provide Canadian
researchers with new state-of-the-art equipment in proteomics, functional
genomics and bioinformatics, but also bring together integrated infrastructure
for deciphering the human interactome an expertise that, until now, has been
spread in 12 universities across Canada.
    Sequencing the human genome has revolutionized biomedical research. One
of the major challenges that scientists throughout the world are facing in the
post-genome era is the mapping of the interactome, which can be defined as the
complete set of interaction networks underlying the functioning of our cells.
The creation of a nation-wide platform will allow Canadian scientists to
position themselves favorably in interactome research. In fact, a group of
Canadian researchers led by Dr. Coulombe is currently working with American
and European colleagues on the creation of an international project, the
International Interactome Initiative (I(3)), aimed at developing new
technologies and expertise to elucidate the interactome.
    "Canada has now a powerful tool that will allow its scientists to
continue to take the lead in international research on the human interactome,"
mentioned Dr. Coulombe. "Thanks to this $22.9 million investment from the CFI
and the other partners in this project, we will not only be able to gather
detailed data allowing us to understand the interactome's dynamic
organization, but also combine the areas of expertise of some of our best
scientists through a very promising multidisciplinary project for our country
and our respective provinces and institutions." According to Dr. Coulombe,
understanding the interactome's organization by mapping the dynamic networks
that proteins form when they interact together and with other molecules such
as RNAs or DNA will allow us to better define the very bases of life and the
misfunctions that lead to illness and eventually death. "There is even hope
that this knowledge of the intricate molecular functioning of human cells will
lead to the development of better treatments to fight against diseases,"
concluded the researcher.
    "Canadian scientists are at the forefront of research aimed at
deciphering how proteins inside the cell interact, and how errors in this
process underlie disease states. This generous funding from the CFI will allow
leading scientific groups in Canada to collaborate in addressing this critical
problem in biomedicine. This collaboration will greatly accelerate our ability
to analyze the proteins within normal and diseased cells, and to
comprehensively map out their interactions," added Dr. Anthony Pawson of The
Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute (SLRI) in Toronto and the recipient of
several prestigious international awards such as the Gairdner Award (1994),
the Wolf Prize (2005) and the Kyoto Prize (2008). Dr. Pawson is one of the
scientists involved in the national platform project and the creation of the
International Interactome Initiative (I(3)), along with Dr. Coulombe.
    "I am proud that the IRCM is coordinating such an important Canada-wide
initiative under the leaderschip of Dr. Coulombe. The IRCM is fully committed
to provide all necessary support for the success of this new technology
platform," added Dr. Tarik Möröy, President and Scientific Director of the
IRCM.
    In addition to the IRCM and The Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of
Mount Sinai Hospital, four other institutions received infrastructure funding
as part of this grant, which will allow them to acquire equipment that will
complement the technologies currently available. These are: the Donnelly
Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research (DCCBR) at the University of
Toronto, the Ottawa Institute of Systems Biology (OISB) at the University of
Ottawa, the Université de Sherbrooke, and Dalhousie University.

    Dr. Benoit Coulombe is Full Research Professor IRCM, Director of the
Research Unit on Gene Transcription and Proteomics and Director of the
Proteomics Discovery Platform at the IRCM. He is also Full Professor in the
Department of Biochemistry at the Université de Montréal and is accredited in
molecular biology at that same university.
    Established in 1967, the IRCM (www.ircm.qc.ca) now has 35 research units
specialized in areas as diverse as immunity and viral infections,
cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, cancer, neurobiology and development,
systems biology and medicinal chemistry, clinical research and bioethics. It
has a staff of more than 450 people. The IRCM is an independent institution,
affiliated with the Université de Montréal and has built, over the years, a
close collaboration with McGill University.




For further information:

For further information: Benoit Coulombe, Ph.D., Director of the
Research Unit on Gene Transcription and Proteomics, (514) 987-5662,
Benoit.Coulombe@ircm.qc.ca; Olivier Lagueux, Communications Officer, (514)
987-5555, olivier.lagueux@ircm.qc.ca; www.ircm.qc.ca

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Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM)

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