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Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network(CanCOGeN)

COVID-19 Research Area(s): Diagnostics, Genomics & Transmission Dynamics, Vaccines & Treatments

Genome Canada launched the Canadian COVID Genomics Network (CanCOGeN), a newly formed initiative backed by $40 million in federal funding. Led by Genome Canada, in partnership with the six regional Genome Centres, national and provincial public health labs, genome sequencing centres through CGEn, hospitals, universities and the private sector, CanCOGeN will coordinate and scale up existing genomics-based COVID-19 research in Canada and internationally in order to accelerate public impact.

CanCOGeN will undertake two related genomics projects to help us understand how the virus works, how it is evolving, and why people experience such different health outcomes. CanCOGeN will sequence the genomes of up to 10,000 patients and 150,000 viral samples and will build a bank of “virus to patient” data that will inform decision-making by public health authorities and support the development of therapies and vaccines. Of critical importance, CanCOGeN will establish and manage a framework for cross-Canada safe data sharing, coordination and analysis.

Dr. Terry Snutch and his team at UBC’s Michael Smith Laboratories will lead the COVID-19 genome sequencing component of the viral genomics initiative and coordinate with leaders and sequencing sites in each province.

Dr. Jones and his team at Canada’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre (BC Cancer) will sequence the genomes of thousands of Canadians who have tested positive for COVID-19. Researchers expect to identify how the disease is transmitted and which people may be more vulnerable to a more severe infection. These findings will help better inform public health policy to help keep Canadians safe by helping to better assess, triage and treat the most vulnerable COVID-19 patients.