OGI Launches Program to Improve Researchers’ Access to Genomics Technologies
News Oct 08, 2009
The Ontario Genomics Institute (OGI) has announced the launch of a new program focused on genomics technology service platforms in Ontario, with six partnered service platforms already on board as inaugural affiliates.
The Ontario Genomics Platform Affiliates (OGPA) program is open to genomics technology service platforms Ontario-wide, and seeks to increase research access to technologies by providing support for both vendor-platform and user-platform access and transactions.
Examples of such genomics technology platforms include DNA sequencing, DNA arrays, and protein mass spectrometry. Genomics strategies – focused on high throughput, holistic and systematic approaches as well as the technologies enabling them – are and will be having a tremendous enabling impact on life sciences research across a broad range of applications, including agriculture, biofuels, biomaterials, bioremediation, biosurveillance, human health and natural resource management.
However, access to these technologies is limited by several factors: their relative expense, the limited number of early-adaptor installations of innovative improvements, and the limited number of technically-expert operators and analysts required to generate and interpret data using these technologies. Limited access can, in turn, inhibit researchers’ ability to establish a competitive position in seeking research funding or staying at the forefront of their fields.
Platform affiliates will benefit from: increased visibility and use by the research community; support from OGI with branding and marketing activities to achieve a heightened profile in the province and nationwide; economy of scale vendor discounts on or access to genomics technology and reagents; and on-going opportunities to participate in training and other events developed by OGI.
In addition, applicants for funds to enable exploration of new technologies under OGI’s Technology Seeding Program, announced earlier this year, either have to be or working closely with a platform affiliate participating in the OGPA program. These benefits are meant, in turn, to increase the access of Ontario’s researchers to the technologies represented.
The six inaugural platform affiliates are based in Toronto, Guelph, London and Ottawa; all are providing research scientists access to tools and expertise ranging across genomics and proteomics, and including both instruments and reagents used to generate data as well as software and hardware for interpreting and analyzing the data.
The new platform affiliates are:
• The Advanced Analysis Centre (AAC) Genomics Facility at the University of Guelph provides access to several technology platforms, DNA sequencing, fragment analysis and gene expression analysis via microarrays and qPCR.
• The Analytical Genetics Technology Centre (AGTC), based at University Health Network (UHN), is a core genotyping facility, equipped with a number of platforms for high throughput single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) identification and genotyping, methylation analysis, DNA sequencing, sequencing-based transcription profiling and ChIP analysis.
• The Centre for the Analysis of Genome Evolution and Function (CAGEF), based at the University of Toronto, has enabled both fundamental and applied research in plant and microbial biology. CAGEF provides access to platforms for next generation sequencing, microarray analysis, mass spectrometry, cell sorting, chemical genomics and bioinformatics.
• The London Regional Genomics Centre (LRGC) at the University of Western Ontario provides microarray and spotted microarray services, capillary based DNA sequencing, genotyping, qPCR services as well as bioinformatics and data analysis support.
• UHN Microarray Centre provides access to DNA microarray technology, used most often in the context of biomarker discovery, disease profiling, full genome transcription profiling, genetic profiling and functional genomics analysis. It is authorized to offer services using arrays from all the major microarray manufacturers.
StemCore Laboratories, at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (affiliated with the University of Ottawa), provides technology platforms spanning genomics, bioinformatics and proteomics. It is capable of facilitating large-scale scientific research and biotechnology projects, and has focused particularly on human health applications.
“The OGPA builds on our commitment to augment access to and the impact of genomics technologies and resources,” commented Dr. Christian Burks, President and CEO of OGI. “By facilitating closer working relationships and the sharing of capacity and information, and looking for opportunities to make available key innovative technology platforms and tools, we can continue to build on Ontario’s reputation as a centre for globally competitive genomics research excellence.”