Carleton Researcher Helps Create Revolutionary Biomedical System

canarie27th November 2009 : A new project has been funded, that could revolutionize the way biomedical researchers share and access information. A national team of biomedical researchers, including Carleton University’s Michel Dumontier are to get the fund to execute the project

Canada’s Advanced Research and Innovation Network, CANARIE, awarded $927,000 to the Canadian Bioinformatics Resources As Semantic Services (C-BRASS) project to integrate different databases and web services into one intelligent network and train Canadians to use them.

“One of the major challenges facing biomedical researchers is the difficulty in obtaining and effectively analyzing the data they need to solve real-world problems,” says Dr. Dumontier, an associate professor in the Department of Biology and School of Computer Science. “This new project leaves researchers free to focus on what the results mean and how this new knowledge can be used to improve the health of Canadians.”

“Projects like C-BRASS are exactly why the CANARIE Network exists; to enable state-of-the-art research and collaboration that puts Canadian researchers at the leading edge of scientific discovery,” said CANARIE President Guy Bujold.

CANARIE’s funding will be used to further develop a free, open-source toolkit to create new and innovative applications. “For instance, we are using Health Canada funding to leverage this toolkit to build ST-SHARE, a systems toxicology knowledge base, which may be used to inform policy and improve the overall health and safety of Canadians,” points out Dr. Dumontier.

He is researching ways to evaluate drug effectiveness based on the genetic background of an individual. He hopes that his work will reduce the costs of sickness by increasing the efficacy of treatment, spare those that would suffer side-effects and shorten the drug development cycle by having regulatory agencies approve treatments effective for smaller populations.

C-BRASS is led by the Providence Heart and Lung Institute at St. Paul’s Hospital and the University of British Columbia, in collaboration with researchers at Carleton and the University of New Brunswick. It is part of CANARIE’s flagship Network-Enabled Platform (NEP) Program, which to-date has awarded $25.5 million in funding to 19 IT research projects across the country. The NEP Program funds the development of tools and software that help researchers to exploit the massive amounts of data and research that flow along the CANARIE Network.