Gane Ka-Shu Wong


Gane Ka-Shu Wong is jointly appointed in the department of biological sciences and the Department of Medicine at the University of Alberta. He identifies and develops novel applications made possible by exponential cost reductions in DNA/RNA sequencing. His work is organism specific and many different areas of biological and/or medical research are covered. However, computational analysis has a defining role in all of his projects.

Many of the activities Dr. Wong conducts at the University of Alberta centre on the use of sequencing to identify microbial agents in clinical samples. Examples include detection of retroviral integration in host genomes, capture-based detection of ultra-low copy number viral infections and metagenomic characterization of bacterial populations in the human gut (especially in fecal transplants). Another area of research employs single-cell omics to characterize the genetic changes underlying cancer metastasis.

Dr. Wong is active in many international collaborations, in part because of his long association with BGI-Shenzhen, the world’s largest sequencing research organization. He leads a multi-disciplinary consortium that has sequenced the transcriptomes of over 1,000 plant species across the Viridiplantae, covering to a first approximation every plant family known to science. Among the spin-offs from this effort is a program to develop molecular tools for neurosciences (i.e. optogenetics).

Dr. Wong uses Compute Canada resources to host a large dataset for a project in which he studies 1,000 plant species. He also uses compute cycles for a variety of biomedical collaborations with clinicians at the University of Alberta. Those include viral discovery and pro-viral integration, gut bacteria metagenomics in relation to fecal microbial transplants and single-cell genomics in relation to cancer metastasis (breast and prostate). “All of these projects generate a lot of DNA/RNA sequence data, hence the need for Compute Canada, which I appreciate.”