Canada GE3LS

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Canada GE3LS is a publicly accessible, bilingual search engine and database providing access to information about funded GE3LS projects in Canada since 2005. It is maintained for Genome Canada by the Centre of Genomics and Policy at McGill University.

Mission statement[edit]

The purpose of the CanadaGE3LS research database is to broadly disseminate information about funded GE3LS projects, promote networking among GE3LS researchers, facilitate integration of different disciplines and enable knowledge transfer to interested end-user groups, including policy-makers, practitioners, media and the general public.

What is GE3LS Research? GE3LS stands for genomics and its related ethical, economic, environmental, legal and social implications. GE3LS research is carried out by academic researchers from an ever-expanding range of social science and humanities-related disciplines, including: sociology, law, philosophy, bioethics, religion, anthropology, business, education, economics, history, geography, cultural studies, linguistics, environmental and conservation sciences, animal welfare, communications and media studies, political science, and public policy and administration. According to Genome Canada, “GE3LS research provides a broad perspective that helps prevent scientific tunnel vision and enable well-balanced and socially beneficial scientific progress”.[1] GE3LS researchers complement the role of natural scientists by bringing to the table a fuller diversity of perspectives in helping to shape and address critical questions at the interface of science and society. As examples: where could/should innovation lead us? how could/should new genomics knowledge be applied in practice? how could/should resources be allocated? how could/should resulting benefits be distributed in society? and, how does the public view these issues? Genome Canada funds GE3LS research either in the form of large-scale, stand-alone projects or as smaller projects integrated within large-scale genomics science projects.

History of the database[edit]

CanadaGE3LS builds upon the research commissioned by the European Research Area on Societal Aspects of Genomics Consortium (ERA-SAGE), an international project funded by the European Commission, which sought to link the life sciences with a broad spectrum of social sciences and humanities. The ERA-SAGE consortium involved funding agencies from seven countries (Austria, Canada, Finland, Germany, Israel, Switzerland and United Kingdom). The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) represented Canada in collaboration with the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) and Genome Canada. Its major objectives were to “step up the co-operation and co-ordination of research activities carried out at national level, promote mutual opening of national and transnational research programmes and build a platform of co-operation, which could be extended to several other European countries as well as to other fields”.[2] To achieve this, ELSI and GE3LS projects funded in Canada and the United States by governmental and non-governmental organizations were mapped out to understand the scope and range of ELSI and GE3LS research being funded. Following the success of the initiative, the project was carried on by Genome Canada with help from the Canadian research team that set up the ERA-SAGE project database, resulting in the creation of the CanadaGE3LS database in June 2009. The contracted research team is now located at the Centre of Genomics and Policy at McGill University.

Content of the database[edit]

CanadaGE3LS includes GE3LS-related research projects funded in Canada since 2005 by Genome Canada and other public sector or private not-for-profit organizations, and their partners. Most of the information available in CanadaGE3LS is already within the public domain, but has been collated, summarized, organized and made more conveniently accessible through one search engine and database. Each research project is succinctly summarized and includes a list of publications resulting from the research. The information is included in the database with the knowledge and agreement of the project principal investigators.

Research sectors[edit]

CanadaGE3LS contains information on GE3LS research projects in the following sectors: health, agriculture, fisheries, forestry and environment

Research areas[edit]

Projects target a variety of research areas such as: biobanks, gene therapy, genetic testing, genetically modified organisms, nanotechnology / biotechnology, pharmacogenomics, plant molecular farming, population genetics, public health, stem cells, etc.

GE3LS issues[edit]

Included projects focus on a wide range of related GE3LS issues, including: benefit sharing, dignity, communication of results, governance, intellectual property, justice, privacy and confidentiality, product labelling, public engagement, regulatory issues, risk perception, socio-economic aspects, etc.

Funding organisations[edit]

The projects are funded by a variety of federal and provincial governmental departments, agencies and not-for-profit research funding organizations such as: Genome Canada, Genome British Columbia, Genome Alberta, Genome Prairie, Ontario Genomics Institute, Genome Quebec, Genome Atlantic, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, Ministère du développement durable, de l’environnement et des Parcs du Québec, Fonds de la Recherche en Santé du Québec, Canada Research Chairs, Networks of Centres of Excellence, Atlantic Innovation Fund, Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance, Ontario Mental Health Foundation and the Western Grains Research Foundation.

Architecture of the search engine[edit]

The CanadaGE3LS search engine allows simple and advanced searches.

Browse All[edit]

The Browse All function allows you to view all projects contained in the database.

Simple search[edit]

The Simple Search works by finding any project descriptions that include the queried word.

Advanced search[edit]

The Advanced Search option allows a search by: Title of the project, Title of the integrated GE3LS project, Research sectors (health, agriculture, environment, fisheries, forestry), Research areas (i.e., stem cells, biobanks, pharmacogenomics, genetically modified organisms, etc.), GE3LS issues (i.e., benefit sharing, intellectual property, regulatory and governance issues, social impacts, privacy and confidentiality, commercialization, genetic discrimination, communication of research results, risk perception etc.), Specific group (i.e. carriers, minors, newborns, communities, third parties, etc.), Investigator, Co-investigator, Region, and Start date or end date.

Search results[edit]

The search results contain the title of the project and information on the time frame, the investigators and co-investigators, the type of grant award, the funding organization, the region where the research was conducted and the financial scale. It also contains a brief description of the research project and a list of resulting publications, where provided.

Genome Canada[edit]

“Genome Canada is a not-for-profit organization established in February 2000 that was given a mandate by the Government of Canada to develop and implement a national strategy for supporting large-scale genomics and proteomics research projects for the benefit of all Canadians”.[3] To accomplish this goal, Genome Canada has funded an important number of large-scale projects since 2000 in the areas of health, agriculture, environment, forestry, fisheries and new technology development. The main source of funding is the Government of Canada, with co-funding from a number of public and private partners in Canada and abroad. To ensure effective management and monitoring of funded projects, a number of regional Genome Centres have been established across Canada: Genome British Columbia, Genome Alberta, Genome Prairie, Ontario Genomics Institute, Genome Quebec and Genome Atlantic. These Centres, established as independent not-for-profit organizations, work collaboratively and with Genome Canada to facilitate access to leading edge technology for researchers, allow for different approaches to project development and fundraising, and provide opportunities for public outreach programs at a regional level. One of the major objectives of Genome Canada is to assume leadership in the area of GE3LS research. As such, Genome Canada funds large-scale, stand-alone GE3LS projects of international calibre and also requires that all of its large-scale science projects integrate a research plan to address key GE3LS implications.[4] Genome Canada publishes an online newsletter called Impact dedicated to showcasing the results of GE3LS research in Canada.[5] In 2009, Genome Canada launched an Ottawa GE3LS series called “GPS: Where Genomics, Public Policy and Society Meet” “to broker two-way dialogue between federal policy-makers and GE3LS researchers on various policy options for addressing issues that arise at the interface of genomics and society”.[6] A different theme is selected each year. The theme for the 2009-2010 series was “Genetic information”, and the three related sub-themes were: “Consent, Privacy and Research Biobanks”; “Revisiting Genetic Discrimination Issues in 2010: Is Canada on the Right Course?”; and “Online Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing: Implications of the New Business Model”.

The Centre for Applied Genomics is a genome centre in the Research Institute of The Hospital for Sick Children, and is affiliated with the University of Toronto and operates as a Science and Technology Innovation Centre of Genome Canada.

Centre of Genomics and Policy[edit]

The Centre of Genomics and Policy (CGP), located within the McGill University/Genome Quebec Innovation Centre, is a multidisciplinary research centre which analyzes socio-ethical and legal norms regulating different areas of human health with the objective of promoting prospective structuring and guidance for both research in genomic health sciences and its applications (See CGP website). The multidisciplinary work of the CGP covers five areas of genomics and policy: procreation and reproductive genetics, paediatric health, privacy, public health, and, personalized medicine. In 2009, the CGP was commissioned by Genome Canada to develop and update the CanadaGE3LS search engine and database.


  1. ^ "About Genome Canada". Retrieved May 28, 2010. 
  2. ^ "European Research Area on Societal Aspects of Genomics". Retrieved May 27, 2010. 
  3. ^ "About Genome Canada". Retrieved May 28, 2010. 
  4. ^ "GE3LS: Genomics & Society". Retrieved May 28, 2010. 
  5. ^ Genome Canada (Spring 2009). "Welcome to Impact". Impact N.01. Retrieved May 28, 2010. 
  6. ^ "GE3LS: Genomics & Society: Policy Portal". Retrieved May 28, 2010. 

External links[edit]