Two Mount Sinai Hospital researchers are among the winners of a prestigious national award supporting world-leading genomics research in Canada to help scientists further our understanding and treatment of cancers and rare diseases. The two grants of $1 million each from the Government of Canada, through Genome Canada and the Ontario Genomics Institute, will support Mount Sinai genomics research in developing new bioinformatic tools.
One of the grants awarded will support Dr. Anne-Claude Gingras, Senior Investigator at Mount Sinai’s Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, who was awarded $1 million over two years to further expand the innovative software that she and her team developed. The advanced software suite, called ProHits, tracks, analyzes and reports data generated by a tool called mass spectrometry, which identifies how proteins work in relation to cancer and other diseases.
Dr. Gingras leads the project with Dr. Mike Tyers from the Université de Montreal, and has assembled an international team with collaborators at the Lunenfeld, including Drs. Tony Pawson and Jeff Wrana, and scientists from across North America, Asia and Europe. Together, they are developing a series of cutting-edge tools which will enable them to better quantify proteins and understand their interactions with each other.
“The grant from Genome Canada will ultimately help us better analyze basic cellular processes involved in health and disease, and provides new leads for drug development,” says Dr. Gingras, who is also a recognized authority in the field of proteomics — the study of a full set of proteins in a particular cell — and in the cellular pathways that control cell growth.
The second grant of $1 million has been awarded to a team led by Dr. Jordan Lerner-Ellis of Mount Sinai Hospital’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, in collaboration with Dr. Matthew Lebo of Harvard’s Partners Healthcare Center for Personalized Genetic Medicine. Over a three-year period, they will address a critical issue in clinical research by developing a shared, open-source genomic database for use as a community resource in standardizing variant interpretations.
“Clinical and research labs across Canada have been collecting information about genetic variants and their relationship to disease for many years, and this is valuable information that has largely been inaccessible to the broader scientific community,” says Dr. Lerner-Ellis. “A major aim of our work is to ensure the highest possible degree of collaboration among clinicians, researchers and patient advocacy groups, both in Canada and internationally.”
Dr. Lerner-Ellis and his team will deploy an innovative software platform and other bioinformatic technologies to allow participating labs to translate their genetic findings into medical tools to better diagnose and manage a wide range of both rare and common diseases.
“While the limelight in genomic medicine is often focused on massive data acquisition, meaningful advances can only be made if there is effective and efficient analysis of that data,” noted Dr. Jim Woodgett, Director of Research at Mount Sinai’s Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute. "These Genome Canada awards recognize the foresight and leadership of Drs. Gingras and Lerner-Ellis in tackling the enormous bottlenecks that confront most modern biomedical researchers."
For more information, check out the full announcement by Genome Canada here