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Genome Prairie advancing provincial genomics capability through new partnership with Université de Saint-Boniface

March 29, 2021

A new partnership has formed between Genome Prairie (GP) and Université de Saint-Boniface (USB), a relationship looking to build on GP’s Genome360 initiative, which was initially conceived with the goal to give local groups access to state-of-the-art genomics equipment suitable for users of differing experience and requirements. Through this partnership, the Genome360 initiative will take new flight in not only providing much needed resources, but by finding, nurturing and connecting people in order to build a strong genomics community.

“Genome Prairie needed a partner with the same community-minded spirit. It was clear from our first meetings with Université de Saint-Boniface that their commitment to academic excellence, community enrichment, and sharing of knowledge was complementary to our goals within the Genome360 initiative. By co-locating our lab capabilities at Université de Saint-Boniface and closely collaborating with its researchers, this joint-venture will allow Genome360 to deliver its mandate at a whole new level”, said Mike Cey, President and CEO, Genome Prairie.

USB’s support will be specifically dedicated to Genome360’s Mobile Lab projects as well as supplying lab space at the university. The university’s key contribution will ensure the development of relevant curriculums that will include and demonstrate the role of genomics in research and offer excellence in training for the next generation of scientists and graduate students, helping Manitoba advance and compete nationally and internationally in the field of genomics.

Genomics is defined as an interdisciplinary field of biology focusing on the structure, function, evolution, mapping, and editing of an organism’s set of DNA, or genome. The genome is the genetic code of an organism. It is represented by sequences of four letters: A, T, C and G, which correspond to bases. The genome sequence of a bacterium, for example, contains approximately 2.4 million of these letters, or bases. The genome of a human contains approximately 3 billion bases.

The shared lab space at USB will carry all the equipment required for genome and genetic analyses, and is a critical addition to Genome Prairie’s tool belt, allowing the organization to store and use equipment under optimum conditions.

The Genome360 mobile technology will continue to be an exceptional tool for outreach, one which will strongly benefit USB’s scientific research and science programs. Among the very fascinating devices to be used is the Minion genome sequencer from Nanopore technologies. This state-of-the-art portable device, which is smaller than a cell phone, will allow research scientists and students to rapidly determine the sequence of bases in the genome of an organism, and can easily be brought along on research excursions.

“USB is proud of this major partnership with Genome Prairie, a relationship that arose thanks to the efforts of professor and researcher Anne-Marie Bernier and that will drive genomics towards becoming a point of excellence within our establishment. We are thrilled about the new possibilities that open up to us through this agreement, such as training opportunities for our undergraduates as well as access to equipment that is unavailable anywhere else in Manitoba”, said Sophie Bouffard, President, Université de Saint-Boniface.

“Research in genomics is exciting, but above all, as it is intrinsically linked to life, it has a direct impact on many fields, be it biomedical, agricultural or bacteriological. This agreement constitutes, for me and USB, a chance to promote science, to share mobile technology and to interest the youth in a growing sector that will require labour in the future”, said Anne-Marie Bernier, Professor and Researcher, Université de Saint-Boniface.

Genome Prairie and USB together envision a future where solutions are found thanks to a greater accessibility to ultramodern scientific equipment. With this partnership, the next generation of genomics research and business will be furthered by individuals whose first introduction to genomics is through this great initiative.

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