Genomics and metabolomics research at KPU receive $3 million from NSERC and CFI

Wed, Jun 30, 2021

A new research centre at Kwantlen Polytechnic University is receiving funding that will create additional research opportunities for students and researchers.

The Applied Genomics Centre is receiving $2 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Innovation Enhancement grant (NSERC IE). This will help pay for the salaries of student researchers as well as supplies for research.

In addition, the centre is receiving $1 million from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) College Industry Innovation Fund (CIIF). The funds will support the renovation of a lab at KPU’s Surrey campus and the purchase of new research equipment for genomics and metabolomics, which is the study of DNA and other molecules within cells.

“Hired student research assistants, as well as students in the lab through undergraduate courses, will gain hands-on experience in applied research and receive training on state-of-the-art genomics and metabolomics equipment. Further, each student will work with our industry partners to gain industry-relevant experience,” says Dr. Paul Adams, scientific director of the centre.

“The training and experience obtained in the Applied Genomics Centre will provide a great foundation for our students to pursue various post-graduate options, including graduate school, professional schools in medicine, employment in biotechnology, employment within the agriculture industry, and others.

“The new equipment is some of the best genomics and metabolomics equipment on the market and opens new avenues for applied research in the Applied Genomics Centre. Direct access and hands-on experience with this equipment provides an unparalleled experience for our KPU students that is very rare for undergraduate students at any university.”

Adams adds that laboratory technology and equipment changes rapidly. Having the latest equipment in the centre – such as an SNP array for detailed genotyping and other applications – ensures it can provide industry partners with the most up-to-date solutions.

“The combination of genomics and metabolomics equipment in the Applied Genomics Centre is completely unique in western Canada,” says Adams. “The combination of equipment and expertise has enabled us to provide novel approaches to applied research for our industry partners. One piece of equipment that we are getting, a SNP Array, will be the first one in the region.”

Working with industry partners in the agriculture sector and beyond allows the centre to employ student researchers and offer more course-based research opportunities for students at KPU.

“Our team would like to thank NSERC and CFI for their support,” says Adams, who says the centre was founded in part on the back of an earlier round of funding from CFI. “This second stream of funding builds on the original support and allows the Applied Genomics Centre to grow and support the needs for agriculture applied research in our region.”

“The centre is partnering with various industry collaborators around the region and beyond to conduct impactful applied research that will further their growth, and ultimately enable regional development and transformation,” says Dr. Deepak Gupta, associate vice-president, Research, Innovation and Graduate Studies. “Thanks to this significant federal funding, the centre will be able to support these partners from right here in this region, while also providing KPU students with contemporary experiential learning opportunities.”

The Applied Genomics Centre is also receiving more than $700,000 in funding from industry and the CFI Operating Fund and more than $1.5 million in cash and in-kind from industry for the NSERC grant. The centre has also received generous support from KPU, which includes nearly $1 million for the development of a new laboratory at the Surrey campus.