University of Saskatchewan

October 01, 2014   

Province Invests $1.8 M in U of S Genomics Projects

From left: Peter Phillips and Gordon Rowland
October 28, 2009

Saskatchewan Agriculture is investing more than $1.8 million in two Genome Prairie projects co-led by researchers at the University of Saskatchewan. One project will create genomic tools to accelerate flax research and the other will help remove roadblocks to innovation in Canada’s bio-based economy.

“The University of Saskatchewan has become a leading centre in genomics research and teaching applications to agriculture, environment and human health,” said Brett Fairbairn, U of S provost and vice-president academic. “With the support of Genome Prairie and the Government of Saskatchewan, this research will help ensure Canada has outstanding discovery potential and will stay competitive.”

Focused on removing roadblocks to commercialization of new agriculture products and technologies, the Value Generation through Genomics (VALGEN) project received $680,000 in funding. This research is co-led by Peter Phillips, professor at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy and David Castle, professor at the University of Ottawa. VALGEN examines the role of intellectual property, studies ways of regulating and governing important new agricultural innovation, and adapts and tests engagement tools with the Canadian public to determine their interests, fears and attitudes concerning new technologies.

“VALGEN research will help realize the economic and social potential of new products and technologies. It will do that by identifying solutions to problems that may arise, such as those faced by growers of early genetically-modified canola, a crop that was largely rejected in the European Union,” said Phillips.

The Total Utilization of Flax Genomics (TUFGEN) project, co-led by Gordon Rowland, professor with the U of S’s College of Agriculture and Bioresources, and Sylvie Cloutier, researcher with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Winnipeg, received $1.2 million. TUFGEN investigates flax performance by looking at the DNA sequence of the entire genome, and develops genetic and physical maps outlining the relationship of genes important for improving flax usefulness.

“The project’s goal is to develop flax as a dual-purpose crop and to sequence the flax genome,” said Rowland. “This is an invaluable contribution to flax research that will help increase its value for producers.”

For information on other Genome Prairie projects funded by the province, visit


For more information, contact:

Teri Rosenfelt, Communications Coordinator
University Communications
University of Saskatchewan
Tel: (306) 966-5659 (306) 966-5659

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