The funding will target a range of activities related to inherited diseases of the heart. In particular, funding will support the acquisition of a state-of-the-art Next Generation DNA Sequencing Platform, which will provide local researchers with the ability to develop diagnostic tools to help prevent sudden cardiac death.
"This specialized technology will increase the research capacity of the life sciences sector in Newfoundland and Labrador," said the Honourable Keith Hutchings, Minister of Innovation, Business and Rural Development and Minister Responsible for the Research & Development Corporation. "By making strategic investments in enhanced skills and technology, local researchers are now better equipped to make new discoveries. Expanded infrastructure is also instrumental in attracting and retaining highly specialized researchers."
The research project will also assess the ethical, economic, environmental, legal and social implications of sudden death due to inherited heart conditions.
"Our government has made significant investments in advanced cardiac care services and diagnostics, and infrastructure enhancements," said the Honourable Susan Sullivan, Minister of Health and Community Services. "The further development of facilities and support for genetic research is of great benefit to the people of our province. The research knowledge that is being generated at Memorial University is translating into advancements in patient care."
The RDC, which is a provincial Crown corporation responsible for improving Newfoundland and Labrador's research and development (R&D) performance, is investing $500,000 while the Department of Innovation, Business and Rural Development is investing $250,000.
"Today's investment means we are strengthening our genetics R&D capacity in Newfoundland and Labrador," said Glenn Janes, CEO, RDC. "This innovative technology will provide local researchers and our future researchers with the ability to conduct vital, genetics-based studies related to a wide variety of health conditions."
Dr. Gary Kachanoski, President and Vice-Chancellor of Memorial University, welcomed the funding news.
"We thank government for the support announced today and for recognizing the importance of leading edge science and research tools and facilities," said Dr. Kachanoski. "It is through strong partnerships with both the federal and provincial governments for this and other projects that we are able to conduct the ground-breaking work that we do."
The work of Dr. Terry-Lynn Young and her collaborators has led to more than 100 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians receiving life-saving treatment to prevent sudden cardiac death. Today's funding will build on past research to further improve the standard of care and the lives of people living with inherited heart conditions.
"Genetic researchers in this province, and across Atlantic Canada, currently outsource all services related to Next Generation DNA Sequencing to other regions of the country, costing valuable time and money," said Dr. Young, Associate Professor, Discipline of Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University. "Today's funding announcement will allow us to continue to solve genetic puzzles of medical importance to our province and the world and train the next generation of researchers at Memorial University."
The origins and settlement patterns of Newfoundland and Labrador's population, the so-called founder population, provide opportunities for world-class studies in human genetics.
The life sciences industry in Newfoundland and Labrador comprises a cluster of companies, researchers, educational institutions, industry associations, and government agencies working together to develop internationally recognized, world-class research and commercial products and services. The sector develops scientific applications to enhance business opportunities in health sciences, environment, agriculture, forestry, mining, information technology, aquaculture and other ocean-related industries.
"There are big dollars in research and development," said Minister Hutchings. "Local researchers are capitalizing on, and harnessing, the tremendous economic opportunities materializing within the life sciences sector. Support of projects such as this aligns with the objectives set out in the Provincial Government's innovation strategy, of a more robust and diversified economy fueled by innovative minds from all corners of this province."