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Forest genomics drives partnership between Laval and Oxford universities


Montreal, QC – A partnership the create an international consortium in forest genomics has been formed between Université Laval and Oxford University. The partnership was announced by Marc LePage, president and CEO of Génome Québec.

Spearheaded by Professor John MacKay, a world-renowned expert in the field, full professor at Université Laval and wood professor of forest science at Oxford University, the consortium will address the major scientific challenges involving the productivity and sustainability of both natural and managed forests. Expected outcomes include improved health and productivity of forests and their sustainable management. This partnership represents a major opportunity for Québec and Canada.

“It’s an important day for genomics and for Québec, since our researchers are being recognized for their excellence and expertise,” said LePage. “Oxford University is home to some of the world’s leading researchers, which means it has the privilege of choosing its partners. The fact that Québec was selected is an endorsement of the high-quality science being conducted here,” he added.

Forest resources are a top government priority due to the need for new approaches to enhance the value and benefits of Canadian forests. Genomics is a powerful tool that can be used to identify the potential of individual trees and lines of trees and, as such, offers innovative solutions to address the challenges of forest sustainability. Many relevant projects in forest genomics are currently underway in Québec – some dealing with the spruce budworm, which is considered by governments to be a major threat to forest health and the lumber industry.

Québec also has several other large-scale international partnerships in areas other than forestry. For example, Professor Jacques Simard of Université Laval is leading a major research project ($13 million/4 years) on breast cancer in collaboration with researchers at Cambridge University. They have pooled their expertise in epidemiology and bioinformatics to carry forth this major endeavour.