Thompson Rivers University

TRU genomics lab receives $850K investment from feds

March 3, 2021

Dr. Jonathan Van Hamme, professor of microbiology.

New funds from the federal government through the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) will enable a world-class genomic research lab at Thompson Rivers University (TRU). This lab will advance our understanding of microbial ecology and climate change.

This investment is directed toward the development of the TRUbI/O Network, integrating several of TRU’s current technologies and having a transformative impact on the more than $2 million in infrastructure currently housed in TRU’s Applied Genomics Laboratory (TRUGen). 

New tools to be purchased include a portable greenhouse gas analyzer, which can measure methane gas in the field, isotope monitoring equipment designed to measure fluctuations in methane and carbon dioxide in the environment, as well as a servers to augment the lab’s bioinformatics capacity. 

Under the direction of Dr. Jonathan Van Hamme, professor of microbiology, who is joined by molecular ecologist Dr. Eric Bottos, and University of Saskatchewan collaborator Dr. Lingling Jin, the network will focus on plant genome evolution, environmental remediation and climate change, and agricultural systems and products. This investment supports diverse training opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students studying genomics and bioinformatics. 

The federal investment in infrastructure at TRU will have a positive impact on our capacity to lead impactful and innovative research. These new tools will also provide world-class experiential learning opportunities. 

This funding is part of a more than half-billion-dollar national investment by the Government of Canada announced on March 3 by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The funding helps Canada remain at the forefront of exploration, innovation and discovery.

“Canada’s researchers and scientists are some of the brightest and most skilled in the world. Today’s investments will ensure that they have the cutting-edge laboratories and equipment needed to help us build a Canada that is healthier, greener, and more competitive,” says Trudeau. 

“Today’s announcement is an example of the confidence the federal government places in our researchers and in our students. The world-class tools that are possible with this grant will continue to put our region and TRU on the map as leaders in environmental research,” says TRU President and Vice-Chancellor Brett Fairbairn. 

“In terms of modern molecular microbiology equipment for environmental and climate change research, TRUbI/O will have almost everything we need from end to end. With these tools, the possibilities for our research are profound,” says Dr. Van Hamme.

“This investment will result in some really enriched collaborations, and our contributions to our international research collaborations will be much greater,” he adds. “The experiences our students will now have is as good or better than they can get anywhere else in the world.”

The investments were made through the CFI’s Innovation Fund. This fund provides investments in infrastructure across the full spectrum of research, from the most fundamental to applied, and through to technology development. These infrastructure projects are intended to help Canada remain at the forefront of exploration and knowledge generation, and to support researchers in addressing global challenges and making meaningful contributions to social, health, environmental and economic benefits for Canadians.

Dr. Jonathan Van Hamme, professor, Microbiology

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