Dr. Jorg Bohlmann

Earlier this week, Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, announced more than $22 million worth of funding for genomics research through Genome Canada’s Bioinformatics and Computational Biology competition. These awards will support next-generation tools and methodologies which will help the broader research community manage the oncoming influx of data produced by new genomics techniques. Two Professors from the Michael Smith Laboratories, Drs. Leonard Foster and Jörg Bohlmann, have been awarded a total of $1.5 million from Genome Canada for their projects.

Dr. Leonard Foster received $500,000 in funding for his project with Dr. David Wishart from the University of Alberta. His project labelled, “Illuminating the dark matter of the metabolome with convolutional neural networks” aims to develop computational tools based on an A.I. technique to handle large amounts of data generated by metabolomics experiments. These tools will help researchers identify therapeutic targets for complex diseases and can also help develop new tests for physicians to personalize medical treatments.

Dr. Jörg Bohlmann is co-leading a project with Dr. Nicholas Provart from the University of Toronto called, “From ePlants to eEcosystems: New Frameworks and Tools for Sharing, Accessing, Exploring, and Integrating ‘Omic Data from Plants.” They received $1 million in funding to develop a new module for the ePlant online system which will incorporate a wide variety of data available for ecosystem data, phenotypes, and genotypes of different ePlant species. This tool will be a resource for plant biologists to find data and share their own datasets, empowering them to identify useful genes to feed the world’s future population.

From personalizing medicine to finding a way to feed nine billion people by year 2050, these researchers are driving innovation for future generations. “It’s very exciting to see the ways that our different programs help enable large-scale science, pioneering technologies, and the translation of discoveries into real-world applications,” says Marc LePage, President and CEO of Genome Canada. “Every day we are learning that genomics has very real, very tangible benefits in diverse sectors across Canada.”