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Horizontal Initiatives

Name of Horizontal Initiative: Genomics R&D Initiative (GRDI)

Name of lead department: National Research Council (NRC)

Lead department program activity: Health and Life Science Technologies

Start date of the Horizontal Initiative: 1999-2000

End date of the Horizontal Initiative: 2010-2011 (renewal sought for 2011-2014)

Total federal funding allocation (start to end date): $ 293,800,000 (assuming renewal until 2014)

Description of the Horizontal Initiative (including funding agreement): The Genomics R&D Initiative (GRDI) was established for the purpose of building and maintaining capacity inside government departments to do genomics research. As an enabling technology, genomics provides powerful tools and precise information to support operational mandates and upon which policy and regulatory decisions can be based. Federal science-based departments and agencies interact with partners, stakeholders and clients and link these enabling tools and technologies to value-added applications that enable Canada to respond to national priorities, deliver on government mandates and support the development of wealth for Canadians.

These applications range from international requirements for genomics-enabled testing to support access of exported products, the ability to interpret and assess genomics information submitted with product information for regulatory oversight, the development of assays and products using genomics approaches for enhancing Canadians' lives (e.g. public health, food safety), the environment and sustainability of human activities, socio-economic and ethical considerations related to the use and integration of genomics in health care, environmental sustainability activities, and consumer and industrial products and applications, as well as facilitating Canadians' access to accurate and understandable information concerning genome sciences. Focusing specifically on issues that involve living organisms, the GRDI's overarching goal is thus to contribute solutions to issues that are important to Canadians, with particular attention to the role that federal government research plays in finding these solutions. Additional information may be found at the GRDI website.

Shared outcomes: A revised Results-Based Management and Accountability Framework (RMAF) was prepared for the Initiative in 2006-2007 based on an ultimate outcome of enhanced quality of life in terms of health, safety, and environment, social and economic development. Long-term outcomes include: improved health care (e.g. diagnostics and treatment, reduced heath and environmental risks, reduced heath costs); reduced environmental impacts (e.g. water quality, healthy and productive aquatic ecosystems, sustainable fisheries, agriculture, forestry and aquaculture); and improved competitiveness of Canadian companies (e.g. diversification, improved productivity, cost reductions, sustainable development). A new Performance Measurement Strategy will be developed by March 31, 2011.

Governance structure: An interdepartmental ADM Coordinating Committee has been established to oversee collective management and coordination of GRDI. The Committee ensures that effective priority setting mechanisms are established within departments, and that government objectives and priorities are addressed.

The Committee also ensures that common GRDI management principles are implemented and horizontal collaborations between organizations are pursued wherever relevant and possible. The Committee includes members from each of the organizations receiving funding and a representative from Industry Canada.

An Interdepartmental Working Group (WG) supports the work of the Committee. The mandate of the WG is to provide recommendations and advice to the ADM Coordinating Committee regarding strategic priority setting and overall management of the GRDI. The WG also supports evaluation and reporting requirements related to the Initiative. NRC is the lead agency for the Initiative and chairs the Coordinating Committee and the Working Group.

Planning Highlights: Fiscal year 2010-11 is the last year of GRDI Phase IV. Funding for Phase V (2011-14) is currently being sought. Phase V seeks to: 1) address shared priorities through horizontal integration and effective collaborations around one or two interdepartmental pilot projects; and 2) support the priorities, policies and mandates of government through concerted high calibre genomics research in areas where federal laboratories have distinct roles and competencies. The ADM Coordinating Committee strongly supports the renewal of the GRDI into Phase V. The development of interdepartmental pilot projects, while continuing to invest in mandated research, is seen to represent an important transition for the Initiative that will ensure continued relevance and impact of the R&D for Canadians. The overall risk related to the funding and delivery of the GRDI program was evaluated during the planning stages of the 2010 GRDI evaluation, and was found to be medium-low.

Federal Partners: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Environment Canada (EC), Health Canada (HC), National Research Council (NRC), Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

Federal Partner: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)
($ millions)
Federal Partner Program Activity (PA) Names of Programs for Federal Partner Total Allocation (from Start (FY1999-2000) to End Date*) Planned Spending for
Science, Innovation and Adoption Canadian Crop Genomics Initiative (CCGI) 86.3 5.7
Total 86.3 5.7

Expected Results: Investment in genomics research will be focused in three broad categories: 1) biodiversity, gene mining and functional analysis; 2) delivery of genomics discoveries through bioinformatics and physical tools; and 3) enhancing the efficiency of plant breeding. Biodiversity, gene mining and functional analysis focus on the identification and extraction of genes for desirable traits. Bioinformatics and physical tools are required to enhance the efficiency of this process. Improved access to both biological materials and data sets will assist and accelerate the adoption of new technologies and the pace of commercialization. The new knowledge generated by these program areas will lay the scientific foundation for major advances in the genetic improvement of crops which will be critical in the next decade. To take full advantage of these new opportunities, Canada must have a responsive regulatory system that has the most effective and efficient testing and inspection tools at its disposal. In Phase V, AAFC will increase its commitment to work more closely with its portfolio partner, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, on genomics research projects that support mutual needs.

Federal Partner: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)
($ millions)
Federal Partner Program Activity (PA) Names of Programs for Federal Partner Total Allocation (from Start (FY1999-2000) to End Date*) Planned Spending for
Science for Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture National Aquatic Biotechnology and Genomics R&D Strategy 12.895 0.855
Total 12.895 0.855

Expected Results: Genomics-enabled research within DFO will continue to be aligned within the following themes: (1) Genetic Profiling of Aquatic Resources: DFO has responsibility for providing scientific advice and research for over 650 fish, invertebrate, and mammal species. There is enormous potential for the development of genomic tools relevant to those species under management, and particularly those that are of management concern. (2) Research and Development of Genomic Approaches for Aquatic Animal Health Diagnostic Tools to Protect Aquatic Ecosystems: Aquatic animal health research under this theme includes the genomics research concerning the health of aquatic animals that fall under DFO legislative authority. Further research incorporating genomics approaches to aquatic animal health will better position Canada to respond and manage aquatic animal resources, particularly under changing environmental conditions. (3) Aquatic Ecosystem Health: Genomics approaches offer opportunities for increasing our understanding of the aquatic ecosystem, and are anticipated to be an important tool for applying an ecosystem approach to managing aquatic resources and healthy and productive aquatic ecosystems.

Federal Partner: Environment Canada (EC)
($ millions)
Federal Partner Program Activity (PA) Names of Programs for Federal Partner Total Allocation (from Start (FY1999-2000) to End Date*) Planned Spending for
Climate Change and Clean Air Strategic Technology Applications of Genomics in the Environment (STAGE) 14.55 0.95
Total 14.55 0.95

Expected Results: The Strategic Technology Applications of Genomics in the Environment program aims at enhancing EC's applications of genomics-based tools and technologies for responsible decision-making. EC will continue to show leadership in environmental genomics and foster collaboration in other departments and external institutions. Genomics research supports EC's Science Plan in crucial areas such as understanding cumulative risks and managing risks, optimizing opportunities, and building resilience. This will assist the delivery of EC's obligations as a signatory of, and regulator for, major environmental legislation and agreements such as the Fisheries Act, the Toxic Substance Management Policy, the Chemical Management Plan, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, and the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network.

Federal Partner: Health Canada (HC)
($ millions)
Federal Partner Program Activity (PA) Names of Programs for Federal Partner Total Allocation (from Start (FY1999-2000) to End Date*) Planned Spending for
Emergent Health Issues GRDI 51.1 1.9
Total 51.1 1.9

Expected Results: Genomics research will continue to focus on four priority areas of investment for strengthening the department's regulatory role: 1) Regulatory knowledge on therapeutics and biologics: Studies will be conducted for the identification of biomarkers associated with the safety evaluation of health products. 2) Regulatory knowledge on food safety and nutrition: Genomics research will be undertaken to detect food-borne contaminants, to characterize the health effects of food contaminants, nutrients, novel foods/food ingredients, and pre- and pro-biotics for enhanced regulatory decisions, and to develop biomarkers to monitor cellular and physiological responses in the context of nutrition and disease susceptibility of defined populations. 3) Regulatory knowledge to protect human health from potential adverse effects of environmental contaminants, consumer products, and pesticides: Research will focus on effectively and efficiently assessing the hazards of environmental contaminants, occupational health hazards, pesticides, and consumer products. 4) Research on socio-ethical impacts of genomics technologies and products: Bioethics and benefit-sharing best practices will be developed for genetic research, with studies pertaining to ethical, legal, and social issues of genomics to address the use of DNA samples for research purposes.

Federal Partner: Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
($ millions)
Federal Partner Program Activity (PA) Names of Programs for Federal Partner Total Allocation (from Start (FY1999-2000) to End Date*) Planned Spending for
Science and Technology for Public Health GRDI 5.1 1.9
Total 5.1 1.9

Expected Results: Two themes guide research activities of the GRDI for PHAC: 1) Public Health Pathogenomics: generating, synthesizing, and moving new knowledge on pathogen genomics and related sciences into enhanced infectious disease surveillance, prevention and control programs. New applications to be targeted will take the form of novel diagnostics, molecular risk assessment tools, vaccines, intervention strategies, and methods for mitigating antimicrobial resistance. 2) Public Health Genomics: generating, synthesizing, and translating new knowledge in human genomics and related sciences with the aim of enhancing diagnostic, health promotion and preventative efforts, such as modulation of risk factors for chronic and infectious diseases and/or predictive genetic screening.

Federal Partner: Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)
($ millions)
Federal Partner Program Activity (PA) Names of Programs for Federal Partner Total Allocation (from Start (FY1999-2000) to End Date*) Planned Spending for
Natural Resource and Landmass Knowledge for Canadians GRDI 28.1 1.9
Total 28.1 1.9

Expected Results: Genomics research will address the challenges faced by Canada's forest sector by using that knowledge for commercial innovation. Canada's capacity and expertise in forest genomics will address the needs of the forest sector by: (a) identifying genes of commercially important traits such as wood quality, growth and resistance, giving tree breeders the ability to select superior trees in seedlings as young as a year; (b) the production of innovative molecular technologies that will allow the identification or diagnosis of potentially invasive pests; (c) furthering our understanding of the interactions between hosts and pests or hosts and beneficial microorganisms for the development of environmentally-friendly forest management approaches, including biological control methods; and (d) investigating bioenergy solutions via improved feedstock and/or novel enzymatic processes and associated value-added bioproducts.

Federal Partner: National Research Council (NRC)
($ millions)
Federal Partner Program Activity (PA) Names of Programs for Federal Partner Total Allocation (from Start (FY1999-2000) to End Date*) Planned Spending for
Health and Life Science Technologies The Genomics and Health Initiative (GHI) 86.3 5.7
Shared Priorities 8.955 0.995
Total 95.255 6.695

Expected Results: The NRC Genomics and Health Initiative is focused on genomics and health-related technologies – key enabling technologies that support NRC and federal priorities in health, energy and environment. NRC-GHI provides a mechanism to bring to bear multi-disciplinary competencies and converging technologies in NRC research institutes, while ensuring that research projects are linked to market needs and opportunities for Canadian companies. The GHI-5 program funding decisions will support the NRC Strategy in critical research areas related to environmental degradation and climate change (e.g. adapting Canadian crops), as well as in response to growing health care pressures (e.g. developing and advancing technologies for diagnosing, treating and preventing human disease that help reduce health care costs). Shared priorities research will focus on two areas: 1) Improved ability to detect, diagnose and monitor organisms to ensure a sustainable supply of safe and healthy food and water for human consumption; and 2) Improved ability to detect, identify and understand Canadian biological diversity to prepare Canadian natural and managed resources and markets for global change. Because of the usefulness of genomic-based tools for detection and diagnosis in regulatory programs, the CFIA will also have the opportunity to participate in interdepartmental projects addressing the shared priority areas. NRC will administer the shared priorities funds and redistribute them to departments and agencies based on their contribution to the selected shared priority projects, based on a collaborative approach.

Federal Partner: Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR)
($ millions)
Federal Partner Program Activity (PA) Names of Programs for Federal Partner Total Allocation (from Start (FY1999-2000) to End Date*) Planned Spending for
N/A – one time allocation in 1999-2000 to assist in creation of Genome Canada Secretariat N/A 0.5 0.0
Total 0.5 0.0

($ millions)
Total Allocation For All Federal Partners (from Start (FY1999-2000) to End Date*) Total Planned Spending for All Federal Partners for 2011-12
293.8 19.9

Results to be achieved by non-federal partners (if applicable): N/A

Contact information:
Gary Fudge, P. Eng.
Director, Life Sciences Horizontal Initiatives
National Research Council Canada

* assuming end date March 31, 2014