Study in Canada: McGill University Invests $165 Million in Leading-Edge Global Genomes and RNA Research

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Study in Canada: $165 million for the Top-Ranked Global Genomes and RNA Research Programme at McGill University
The creation of an international hub for “next generation” medicines receives the largest research funding in McGill University’s history from the Canadian government.

At Concordia University in Montreal today, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced $1.4 billion in support for 11 significant research initiatives through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF). The best programmes in their sectors are chosen to receive CFREF funds through a ferociously competitive procedure.


DNA to RNA: An Inclusive Canadian Approach to Genomic-based RNA treatments (D2R), a ground-breaking $165 million CFREF grant awarded to McGill. It is the first global research initiative that focuses on the creation and distribution of more inclusive genomic-based RNA treatments.

More than 50 partners, many of whom are from academia and business. They have all committed to making significant investments in the research. Also, bringing the total sum spent in D2R to $353 million.

Moreover, the University of Ottawa, the University of British Columbia (UBC), McMaster University, and Université de Sherbrooke are a few of the Canadian academic institutions. Who has partnered? According to Martha Crago, Vice-Principal for Research and Innovation, “McGill’s commitments to RNA and genomics sciences over several decades. Also, have built a critical mass of researchers and exceptional facilities to lead the RNA therapeutics revolution.”

Study in Canada: $165 million for the Top-Ranked Global Genomes and RNA Research Programme at McGill University

The field of treating illnesses and disorders will enter a new phase thanks to this substantial research investment. “McGill is grateful to the Government of Canada and an impressive group of global partners for their support. Especially of this world-leading, inclusive programme of research excellence and innovation,” declares Deep Saini, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill.

The Revolution of RNA

The astonishing and quick success of mRNA vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 showed how effective genomics and RNA technologies can be when combined. Compared to conventional small-molecule medications, which can take years to discover and cost billions to make. RNA therapies can be designed and produced considerably more quickly.

D2R-led research has the potential to develop ground-breaking treatments for a variety of diseases, including those brought on by newly emerging viruses that pose a pandemic threat to our society. Also, rare genetic disorders are either incurable or unaffordably expensive to treat, and cancer, is the leading cause of death in Canada.

According to Mark Lathrop, Scientific Director of the McGill Genome Centre and Scientific Director of D2R. We need to work across sectors and with an engaged set of partners to treat complex illnesses and their accompanying catastrophic health and economic effects more efficiently.

A Diverse Approach

To ensure that the promise of RNA therapeutics is widely available in a way that is inclusive and advantageous to all Canadians. Further, the team of 70 researchers from five academic institutions will collaborate with Canada’s Indigenous and immigrant populations, including with the partnering Network Environments for Indigenous Health Research (NEIHR).

The core aims of D2R include interdisciplinary work amongst researchers in the social sciences, law, ethics, and Indigenous health. As well as training students and postdocs and assistance for early career researchers.

Excellence Across Institutions and Decades

The D2R Initiative expands on McGill’s fifty-year legacy of RNA innovation and discovery. This includes scientists like Prof. Nahum Sonenberg. The one who in 1976 made the first discovery of the cap-binding protein elF4E, a crucial element in the ability of RNA to control cell reproduction.

Dr Pieter Cullis of the University of British Columbia is also a member of the D2R project. His work on lipid nanoparticles served as a crucial building block for the eventual creation of mRNA vaccines.

D2R is being used by several Fortune 500 pharmaceutical businesses. On this project, eight additional academic partners have also come together, five of whom are from abroad.

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