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First-ever national library of genomic data will help personalize cancer treatment in Canada and around the world
OICR will be playing a major role in the forthcoming Pan-Canadian Genome Library.

OICR will be playing a major role in the forthcoming Pan-Canadian Genome Library.

A groundbreaking initiative to unify genomic datasets from across Canada into a national library will drive innovations in personalized treatments for diseases like cancer, and OICR will be a major contributor.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) announced $15 million in funding to create a Pan-Canadian Genome Library, a first-of-its kind resource for researchers, healthcare professionals and others looking to find and treat diseases more effectively.

The project will build on Canada’s global leadership in genomic research, which until now has been limited by the lack of a national approach to capture, store and access genomic data. This new library will provide a Canada-wide picture of diseases like cancer and the biology behind them, which will lead to new approaches to treating disease that are tailored to a person’s unique biology.

“Canada has several different projects and platforms that collect genomic information and patient data, but we do not have a consolidated infrastructure to connect all this information in an ethical and sustainable way,” says Dr. Mélanie Courtot, a Principal Investigator and Director of Genome Informatics at OICR. “By bringing these large datasets together, we can gain much more information about cancer and other diseases across the whole of the Canadian population.”

Courtot joins OICR’s Head of Adaptive Oncology Dr. Lincoln Stein and Associate Director of Adaptive Oncology Dr. Michelle Brazas in co-leading several key components of the library, including infrastructure, governance and outreach. The project will be led by Dr. Guillaume Bourque, Director of Bioinformatics at the McGill Genome Centre.

Courtot’s Genome Informatics team will leverage their expertise with other major databases like the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC). This work will be supported by Overture, a data management software suite developed by OICR Genome Informatics that is driving genomic research in Canada and around the world.