IG Scientific Director: Dr. Paul Lasko

Genetics as a discipline is in the midst of a revolution thanks to the astounding advances in DNA sequencing technology that have reduced its cost by a factor of 100,000 since 2000. Genetics impacts broadly upon human disease, and therefore the Institute of Genetics is positioned as one that can partner with any of the other CIHR Institutes, as well as with a wide range of other public and private funding sources. I am honoured and excited to take on the challenge of serving as the Scientific Director of the Institute of Genetics at a time when these revolutionary technological and conceptual advances are bringing the field to an entirely new level that promises to impact profoundly on diagnostic procedures, preventative medicine, and clinical interventions. In this undertaking I am fortunate to have had a predecessor as outstanding as Rod McInnes, who shaped the Institute of Genetics into a key driver of genetics research in Canada over its first ten years.

The mandate of the Institute remains as stated in its Strategic Plan; that is, to support research on the human and model genomes and on all aspects of genetics, basic biochemistry, and cell biology related to health and disease, including the translation of knowledge into health policy and practice, and the societal implications of genetic discoveries. Given this broad mandate and its focus on a scientific discipline rather than on a specific aspect of human health, the Institute has a special responsibility to continue to support research in fundamental biomedical science. The Institute will also remain at the vanguard of creating possibilities for researchers in areas not traditionally considered part of the life sciences, such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, and engineering, to direct their expertise to problems relevant to human health.

There are many opportunities to take part in the activities of the Institute and to help guide its future priorities, through participation on its Advisory Board or on one of its several Priority and Planning Committees. Over 100 leading researchers, ranging from basic scientists through to lawyers and humanists, as well as other stakeholders, presently help to direct the agenda of the Institute through these bodies. As Scientific Director I intend to continue this consultative form of management, and I encourage interested people not now involved in these activities of the Institute to make themselves known to me.

I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the genetics community through this position over the next five years, and I will strive to use the Institute’s resources to facilitate internationally outstanding research that will better the health and welfare of Canadians.

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