Brock researcher part of Genome Canada-funded project

The Campaign for a Bold New Brock

Brock researcher part of Genome Canada-funded project

April 21, 2009

A Brock University researcher, part of a Canadian research team looking at the production of high-value plant products, was awarded funding this week as part of Genome Canada's Bioproducts and Crops Competition.

Professor Vincenzo De Luca, Canada Research Chair in plant biotechnology and professor of biological sciences, is a co-investigator on the $13.6-million “Synthetic Biosystems for the Production of High Value Plant Metabolites” project headed by Peter Facchini, University of Calgary, and Vincent Martin, ConcordiaUniversity.

There are 12 scientists from across Canada involved with this four-year initiative and work will start before the end of summer. Brock will receive around $500,000 to support De Luca’s research and cover overhead costs related to the project.

“Plants are the world’s best chemists,” says De Luca. “They can synthesize an incredible array of molecules from countless chemical structures and groupings.

“This project will identify genes from more than 75 plants that can catalyze the synthesis of various chemical compounds, which can be used to produce pharmaceuticals, flavours, fragrances, pigments, and insecticides, among many other things. Our goal is to produce a ‘parts catalogue’ of the functional components of these plants that produce a huge number of important natural products.”

“Professor De Luca’s successful application as part of this Genome Canada competition is another example of Brock’s growth as a hub for pervasive research and creative activity,” says Liette Vasseur, vice-president, research. “This funding will increase our research capacity at the University in areas of plant biochemistry and biotechnology and provide our graduate students with access to a cross-Canada research network that will only enrich their intellectual experience.

“This groundbreaking research will also further enable us to actively partner in the economic restructuring of the communities around us.”

Gary Goodyear, minister of state (science and technology), and Dr. Calvin Stiller, board chairman of Genome Canada, announced the 12 new genomics and proteomics research projects in the areas of bioproducts and crops on April 20 in Saskatoon, Sask.

“Our government recognizes the important role that research excellence plays in furthering innovation and competitiveness, two main elements in our science and technology strategy,” said Goodyear. “These projects will promote job creation, strengthen the economy for future generations, and will also generate strong environmental benefits for Canada.”

Canadian genomics researchers have received $112 million to carry out the new projects. Of this, $53 million was provided by the Government of Canada through Genome Canada, and $59 million by Canadian and international partners.

A list of the 12 projects funded through this competition is available on the Genome Canada website at Short descriptions of each research project are also provided.

Genome Canada is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to developing and implementing a national strategy in genomics and proteomics research for the benefit of all Canadians. By means of investments of $840 million to date from the Government of Canada, Genome Canada has become the primary funding and information resource relating to genomics and proteomics in Canada and has established six Genome Centres across the country (Alberta, the Atlantic region, British Columbia, Ontario, the Prairie region and Quebec).