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BIND DATABASE TO BECOME LARGEST FREE DATABASE.

The Blueprint Initiative research program, led by Principal Investigator Dr. Christopher Hogue at Mount Sinai Hospital's Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Toronto, has secured CDN $29 million in government and public funding to enter 80,000 molecular interaction records into the Biomolecular Interaction Network Database (BIND.CA).

Genome Canada in partnership with the Ontario Government's Research and Development Challenge Fund, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and industry partners Sun Microsystems, MDS Proteomics and Foundry Networks are to fund Blueprint's BIND software development, database curation, computer hardware and networking.

"Genome Canada's contribution to The Blueprint Initiative represents one of our largest investments in Ontario to date," said Dr. Martin Godbout, president and CEO of Genome Canada. "Dr. Hogue's vision to assemble man's biomolecular knowledge on one open source database for all researchers to access free of charge is arresting. Moreover, his commitment to concrete deliverables and his capacity to produce promised results on time and on budget set the standard for scientific public good research in Canada and around the world."

In this manner, BIND will become the world's most comprehensive repository of data and research about molecular interactions and reactions in humans and other organisms studied by scientists in some 16 different fields. This information will help scientists worldwide understand how the molecular complexity inside cells assembles together to form whole cells - the true blueprint of life.

"The Blueprint Initiative is a major and exciting 'first' for Canada and the world," said Dr. Alan Bernstein, president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. "It will enable researchers to have free access to an important source of new data to better understand the molecular recipe of life and how it affects human health and disease."

"We are working hard to keep Ontario's economy one of the strongest in the world, to improve the quality of life for Ontarians. Making Ontario a focal point for this research project will lead to a stronger economy, leading-edge health research and improved health services for the people of this province and the world," said Ontario's Minister of Enterprise, Opportunity and Innovation, Jim Flaherty. "Our government is fully committed to investing in R&D. This partnership investment will put Ontario on course to become a worldwide centre for proteomic data management and research. I am pleased that our government is able to provide continuing support to this exciting project."

Blueprint's funding is contingent on achieving set milestones, deliverables and quality for both software releases and for database content. With Blueprint's funding now certain, BIND is poised to become the largest free database in the field of proteomics. The BIND database and its associated software tools are easily accessible to both academics and commercial companies worldwide.

Blueprint's Principal Investigator, Christopher Hogue said, "prior to this announcement, BIND funding was limited to prototypes built by graduate students with limited abilities to build and maintain software systems for the public."

He adds, "it was largely thanks to Sun Microsystems who delivered the crucial support needed to assure government funding so that we can offer this public research service." Having secured this funding, Dr. Hogue becomes one of the most highly funded international bioinformatics researchers, and bears the responsibility for serving the worldwide public interest in collecting and distributing mankind's biomolecular assembly knowledge.

The Blueprint has a staff of 59 that will grow to 77 by 2005. Currently, the staff consists of 12 database curators who identify, analyze and record protein interactions in BIND and 29 software developers. Dr. Hogue is supported by co-principal investigators Dr. Tony Pawson from the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital and Francis Ouellette from the University of British Columbia Bioinformatics Centre as well as the Blueprint Scientific Advisory Chair Dr. Boris Steipe from the Department of Biochemistry of the University of Toronto. Membership on Blueprint's Scientific Advisory Group will be announced in the coming weeks.

"Blueprint is making one of the only serious efforts at collecting, carefully curating and providing information to scientists that would not otherwise be made available in a computer-readable format. Over the long term, I am confident that BIND will allow scientists to have at their fingertips a complete picture of the mechanisms that drive the molecules of biology," said Dr. Tony Pawson.

About BIND

The BIND database is being built-up from peer-reviewed literature and from direct submissions, based on the world's most comprehensive integrated bioinformatics standards, including those used by the US National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) for storing biomolecular sequence, taxonomy, structure and literature information.

BIND's data model was the first of its kind to be peer-reviewed prior to database development, and is now a mature standard data format spanning molecular interactions, small molecule chemical reactions, interfaces from three-dimensional structures and genetic interaction networks. PreBIND, one of many bioinformatics tools developed at Blueprint, can be used to find information about interactions involving proteins of interest from major model organisms, prior to their curation into the BIND database.

About The Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute

Established in 1985, The Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute (SLRI) at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto is one of the world's leading centres for biomedical research. The Institute is part of Mount Sinai Hospital, an internationally recognized 440-bed acute care academic health centre affiliated with the University of Toronto. SLRI has 513 research, administrative and support staff, 100,000 square feet of laboratory space and a 25,000 square foot pre-clinical research lab.

For more information about SLRI research visit http://www.mshri.on.ca.

About Mount Sinai Hospital

Mount Sinai Hospital is recognized nationally and internationally for its excellence in the provision of compassionate patient care, teaching and research. Its key priority programs are Women's and Infants' Health, Surgical Subspecialties and Oncology, Internal Medicine and Subspecialties, and the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute. It is a University of Toronto-affiliated patient care, teaching and research centre.

For more information, visit http://www.mtsinai.on.ca.

About Genome Canada

Genome Canada is the primary funding and information resource relating to genomics and proteomics in Canada. Dedicated to developing and implementing a national strategy in genomics and proteomics research for the benefit of all Canadians, it has so far received $375 million from the Government of Canada. Genome Canada has established five Genome Centres across the country (Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Prairies and British Columbia) and has as a main objective to ensure that Canada becomes a world leader in genomics and proteomics research. Together with its five Genome Centres and with other partners, Genome Canada invests and manages large-scale research projects in key selected areas such as agriculture, environment, fisheries, forestry, health and new technology development. Genome Canada also supports research projects aimed at studying and analyzing the ethical, environmental, economic, legal and social issues related to genomics research (GE3LS).

About the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund

Created in 1997 by the Ontario government, the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund promotes world-class research of interest to the private sector; encourages collaboration between the private sector and research institutions; attracts and retains top scientists and enables talented young scientists to pursue their research interests; and helps Ontario's research institutions build their R&D capacity, so they are able to obtain funding from other sources. The Ontario government has committed over $1.2 billion to the Challenge Fund for investing in leading-edge R&D. Through the Challenge Fund, the province has invested $453 million in 104 research projects. Private sector and research institution partners are investing an additional $1.2 billion bringing the total value of Challenge Fund supported research projects to over $1.6 billion.

About Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research is the Government of Canada's premier agency for health research. Its objective is to excel, according to internationally accepted standards of scientific excellence, in the creation of new knowledge and its translation into improved health for Canadians, more effective health services and products and a strengthened Canadian health care system.

For more information, call (416)596-7955.
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