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News 2000

November 21, 2000

SickKids signs first Canadian deal with Celera Genomics to advance genetics research

The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and Celera Genomics announced today that SickKids is the first Canadian institution to gain access to Celera’s genomic database. Celera made headlines earlier this year when it announced the first assembly DNA sequence of the human genome.

"Access to Celera’s database products will facilitate scientific discovery by allowing researchers at The Hospital for Sick Children to concentrate on identifying disease-causing genes, which opens the door for improved diagnosis and potentially new treatments for disease," said Dr. Lap-Chee Tsui, SickKids’s geneticist-in-chief and holder of the H.E. Sellers Chair in Cystic Fibrosis. "We look forward to collaborating further with Celera in the future."

"We are pleased to announce this agreement with The Hospital for Sick Children, an esteemed research hospital that has been committed to advancing children’s medical care for 125 years," said Dr. J. Craig Venter, Celera’s president and chief scientific officer. "Through this agreement, the first of its kind with an institution in Canada, SickKids researchers will have access to Celera’s comprehensive genomic information, as well as advanced tools and software, enabling them to make important discoveries to improve medical treatment for children everywhere."

The Celera Genomics Reference Database will provide SickKids scientists with millions of pieces of genetic information that are not currently available in public repositories. For example, along with human genomic data, the Celera database contains the DNA sequence of the mouse genome, which is highly instructive in the interpretation of the human genome.

"Our genome encompasses some 80,000 genes, but they are hidden within the three billion units of genetic information in each cell. If you can find DNA sequences common to both the human and mouse genomes, you are steps ahead in finding genes. Access to the Celera database will therefore give us significant scientific lead-time so we can focus on identifying those genes that cause disease in humans," said Dr. Stephen Scherer, scientist and associate director SickKids’s Centre for Applied Genomics.

The Hospital for Sick Children is renowned for its work in human genetic disease and genomics research. In 1989, SickKids garnered international attention when the identification of the gene responsible for cystic fibrosis was announced. In total, SickKids scientists have made major contributions in the identification of more than 20 disease-causing genes, including Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Wilson disease, and epilepsy. SickKids has also been the leading international contributor to deciphering genes and diseases on human chromosome 7.

SickKids scientists provide leadership roles within the Human Genome Project, the worldwide scientific effort to decode the human genome. Dr. Tsui is currently president of the Human Genome Organization (HUGO), the international organization of scientists involved in the Human Genome Project. Dr. Scherer chairs the HUGO genome annotation committee.

The Hospital for Sick Children, under the leadership of Dr. A. Jamie Cuticchia, also manages and curates the Human Genome Database (GDB), the official central data repository of the Human Genome Project. The GDB is the primary reference for human genes with known functions.

For more information, please contact:

Public Affairs
The Hospital for Sick Children
555 University Avenue
Suite 1742, Public Affairs, First floor Atrium
Toronto, ON
M5G 1X8
Phone: 416-813-5058
Fax: 416-813-5328

For questions or comments contact the TCAG Manager,

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