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News 2012

Toronto, Ontario, September 11, 2012

Parliamentary Secretary Mike Lake Tours Autism Research Laboratory at Toronto's SickKids Hospital

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Mike Lake, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry and Member of Parliament for Edmonton–Mill Woods–Beaumont, today toured The Centre for Applied Genomics (TCAG) at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) to learn more about a project exploring the genetic basis of autism.

Mr. Lake, whose 16-year–old son Jaden has autism, met with Dr. Stephen Scherer who is leading the research project at TCAG, one of five Science and Technology Innovation Centres across Canada supported by Genome Canada. TCAG provides researchers with the tools and expertise to analyze genomics in various ways, enabling the leading-edge work currently underway in this field.

"Our government is committed to supporting Canadian families," said Mr. Lake. "This research is incredibly important to families like mine, and I am proud of our government's support for cutting-edge Canadian research in genomics. Dr. Scherer's groundbreaking work is leading the way to innovations that are helping unlock the mysteries of autism."

With more than $15 million from sources including the Harper Government and Genome Canada, Dr. Scherer's team worked on isolating genes that may make someone susceptible to autism spectrum disorders. Autism is an incurable brain disorder that impairs a person's ability to communicate and relate to others and is believed to have a strong genetic basis. However, the actual cause is still unknown.

The disorder currently affects more than 200,000 Canadians. Once specific genes have been identified, physicians will be able to diagnose the condition much earlier and treat it more effectively. The research has already attracted interest from some of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies. They see genomics discoveries and profiling as potential first steps toward developing effective drug therapies.

To date, the Harper Government has provided $980 million to Genome Canada, which, along with funding from other partners, will result in close to $2 billion for genomics research in Canada. To help achieve important future breakthroughs in genomics research, Economic Action Plan 2012 announced an additional $60 million for Genome Canada to launch a new applied research competition in the area of human health and to sustain the Science and Technology Innovation Centres until 2014–15.

Since 2006, the Harper Government has invested nearly $8 billion in initiatives supporting science, technology and the growth of innovation firms in Canada, including $5 billion for advanced research, education and training; $2 billion for post-secondary infrastructure; and $1 billion for applied research and financing. This funding has helped to make Canada a world leader in post-secondary education research and to create the knowledge and highly skilled workforce that are required for a more prosperous economy.

Genome Canada is a catalyst for developing and applying genomic sciences that create economic wealth and social benefit for Canadians. It works in partnership to invest in and manage large-scale research and to translate discoveries into commercial opportunities, new technologies, applications and solutions. Genome Canada builds bridges between government, academia and industry to forge genomics-based public-private innovation focused on key life science sectors. For more information, visit the Genome Canada website (www.genomecanada.ca).

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For further information (media only), please contact:

Margaux Stastny
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Christian Paradis
Minister of Industry
613-995-9001

Media Relations
Industry Canada
613-943-2502

Marlene Orton
Director, Media and Communications
Genome Canada
613-751-4460, ext. 219
613-295-1476 (cell)
morton@genomecanada.ca

This news release is available on the Economic Action Plan 2012 website (www.actionplan.gc.ca).

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