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About the Team

A Made-in-Canada Data Solution

Funding and Data Curation

Genome Canada, in partnership with the Government of Canada, leads the development of the Canadian VirusSeq Data Portal that manages and facilitates data sharing of SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences among Canadian public health laboratories, researchers and other groups interested in accessing the data for research and innovation purposes.

image representing the three steps of DNA sequencing

The rapid funding opportunity was announced on February 12, 2021 by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) for the Genome Canada-led Canadian COVID Genomics Network (CanCOGeN) to directly support Canada’s Variants of Concern Strategy. CanCOGeN’s VirusSeq initiative is working with PHAC’s National Microbiology Laboratory, Health Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, as well as other provincial and territorial partners to support the strategy. Together, these partners have quickly scaled up genomic sequencing, surveillance and research efforts to detect new variants, increase real-time data sharing capacity, and inform appropriate public health and policy responses.

Genome Canada acts as a data custodian with overall responsibility for and oversight of the data within the Canadian VirusSeq Data Portal. Innovative data solutions and partnerships like this one harness the power of genomics to develop tools that help Canada contain this pandemic more quickly and be better prepared for future public health challenges.

Technology Partners

The development and implementation of the Canadian VirusSeq Data Portal is led by Dr. Guillaume Bourque (McGill University) and his team. This team, in collaboration with CanCOGeN and world-leading genomics scientists specializing in data science and policy, including Drs. Fiona Brinkman (Simon Fraser University), William Hsiao (Simon Fraser University), Lincoln Stein and Mélanie Courtot (Ontario Institute for Cancer Research) and Yann Joly (McGill University), oversees the technical interactions with the National Microbiology Laboratory and provincial public health laboratories across the country.

VirusSeq Data Portal: The VirusSeq Data Portal was designed and developed by the Genome Informatics Team at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, led by Dr. Mélanie Courtot, Director of Genome Informatics and Dr. Lincoln Stein, Head of Adaptive Oncology. The software is powered by Overture, an open-source software suite for managing and sharing data at scale on compute clouds.

Cloud Based Platform: Genome Canada has also partnered with DNAstack to share VirusSeq data on Viral AI , a federated network for genomic variant surveillance and infectious disease research. Viral AI helps researchers to find, visualize, and analyze genomics, epidemiological and other datasets related to COVID-19. Viral AI was designed to deliver equitable access to software infrastructure, accelerate international data sharing, and empower scientists and public health officials witih globally representative datasets they need to mitigate current and future infectious disease outbreaks. The Viral AI network shares Canadian and international data over APIs developed by the Global Alliance for Genomics & Health . Viral AI was developed in partnership with a consortium of Canadian experts in infectious disease, ethics, policy, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence, and supported by Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster.

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