Lab Canada

$3.3M program to accelerate data sharing in biomedical research

Ottawa, ON – Genome Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) have announced $3.3 million funding in Can-SHARE. The program will create the policies and tools that will allow Canadian clinicians and researchers to share genomic and clinical datasets across Canada and with international partners.


Can-SHARE is led by McGill University Professor Dr. Bartha Maria Knoppers, chair of the Public Population Project in Genomics and Society (P3G), an international consortium dedicated to the development and management of multi-disciplinary research infrastructures around the world. Can-SHARE is co-led by Dr. Michael Brudno of the Hospital for Sick Children, and Dr. Jan Friedman of the University of British Columbia. Other team members include some of Canada’s most renowned clinicians and researchers in genomics and related areas of life science.


The program will strengthen Canada’s ability to help rapidly advance the objectives of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH), which is looking to create a common strategy using interoperable approaches and initiatives to enable the responsible, secure and effective sharing of genomic and clinical data for the benefit of patients worldwide.


The $3.3 million in funding for Can-SHARE is provided from multiple sources, including Genome Canada, CIHR, Génome Québec, Genome British Columbia and the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation. In addition, TELUS and Genome British Columbia will support approved Can-SHARE pilot projects. These initiatives will be dedicated to improving human health by maximizing the potential of genomic medicine through effective and responsible data sharing.


The program will draft a number of policies related to consent, privacy and security, paediatrics, accountability, and ethics review equivalency. It also involves demonstration projects that touch on data related to rare diseases, cancer and other disease areas.


“With this initiative Canada’s international leadership in the genomic policy arena will be reinforced,” said Dr. Bartha Maria Knoppers, Can-SHARE project leader. “Its founding role in the GA4GH has been recognized and supported. Now, the actual and emerging challenges of international data sharing can be addressed.”


The Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH) was formed in 2013 and brings together over 375 leading institutions worldwide working in healthcare, research, disease advocacy, life science and information technology. Can-SHARE will further the objectives of the GA4GH, and will also reach beyond to impact other international bodies with investments in big data, including several international consortia where Canada plays a major role such as the International Cancer Genome Consortium, International Rare Disease Research Consortium, and International Human Epigenomic Consortium.