BC Cancer Agency Genome Sciences Centre Becomes Newest Compute Canada Advanced Research Computing Site


(Vancouver, B.C.) – WestGrid and Compute Canada are pleased to announce a new partnership with the BC Cancer Agency’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre to support expansion of the Centre’s secure, advanced research computing (ARC) systems.

The BC Cancer Agency’s Genome Sciences Centre will become the latest WestGrid and Compute Canada ARC site, benefiting researchers across Canada with increased access to bioinformatics software, expertise and extremely secure computing storage. This partnership will further support the efforts of researchers across the country to enhance human health through improved methods of cancer and other disease diagnosis, treatments and prevention while also realizing the social and economic benefits of genomics research.

The expansion comes as a result of funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF), which aims to build capacity to undertake world-class research and technology development to benefit Canadians. Combing the resources of Compute Canada and the Genome Sciences Centre supports national efforts to provide researchers with seamless access to resources, and creates a stronger and more diverse national platform of computing resources to help ensure that Canada maintains its competitive advantage in the knowledge economy.

Compute Canada’s health and medical research community is unique and requires specialized resources, privacy policies and enhanced security. Bioinformatics allows researchers to advance medical research quicker than ever possible and will enable medicine. With heightened access to secure and powerful advanced computing resources Compute Canada can help Canada maintain it’s leadership in this exciting field Eleven full-time positions will be dedicated to operate the new ARC infrastructure and help expand the bioinformatics expertise and support across the Compute Canada community.

“The specialized legal, security and privacy requirements of health data, the amount and growth of this type of data, and the need for advanced research computing systems to process this data represent a global challenge,” said Mark Dietrich, Compute Canada President and CEO. “Bringing these resources together at the Genome Sciences Centre enables the sort of transformative health research that Marco Marra and his team at the Centre are known for. Our relationship with the Genome Sciences Centre makes it easier for Canada, through CFI, to increase its investment in this endeavor and helps accelerate Canada’s strength in using data and computation to improve healthcare and provide better patient outcomes.”

Researchers at the BC Cancer Agency’s Genome Sciences Centre will benefit from access to Compute Canada’s resources, including visualization software and experts, advanced collaboration facilities, and access to national ARC outreach and training activities.

“The partnership with Compute Canada enables the implementation of significant CFI-funded resources at the Genome Sciences Centre, sustaining and expanding our capacities and capabilities in data analysis and management,” says Marco Marra, Director of the BC Cancer Agency’s Genome Sciences Centre and Professor of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia. “Establishing a Compute Canada node at the Genome Sciences Centre aligns well with our goal of sharing access to research methods and infrastructure to further international genomics and informatics science in Canada.”

The Genome Sciences Centre is one of eight research programs that operate as part of the BC Cancer Agency, to conduct research into causes of, and cures for, cancer.

“Research is an essential part of the BC Cancer Agency’s mission to not only find the causes of cancer, but to find better treatments for prolonged life and better quality of life,” said Samuel Abraham, Vice President of Research at the BC Cancer Agency. “The establishment of the Compute Canada node at the Genome Sciences Centre will further enhance the opportunities for the larger local and national community to work together efficiently and effectively on these complex but rewarding research questions.”

Currently the largest capacity genomics centre of its type in Canada, the Genome Sciences Centre’s services are collaborative and are available and accessible to any and all Canadian-based researchers. Along with cancer research, the Genome Sciences Centre also offers collaborative, cost-recovery based services in DNA sequencing, bioinformatics platform services, proteomics, and in-silico drug design.

With the addition of the Genome Sciences Centre, WestGrid, a regional partner with Compute Canada, now represents 16 partner research institutions across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Compute Canada is Canada’s national advanced computing platform integrating high performance computing systems, research expertise and tools, data storage and resources with academic research facilities across the country. WestGrid and Compute Canada work to ensure that Canadian researchers have the advanced research computing facilities and expert services required to remain globally competitive.

For more information, contact:

Jenn Currie
Communications Officer
BC Cancer Agency

Erin Trifunov
Project Coordinator
WestGrid / Compute Canada

Kelly Nolan
Executive Director, External Affairs
Compute Canada


About Compute Canada: 
Compute Canada provides Canadian researchers with a national platform for advanced computing. Working with research institutions and regional organizations across the country, Compute Canada provides a wide range of computing and data resources, services, and expertise to advance scientific knowledge and innovation across multiple disciplines and sectors. For more information, please visit www.computecanada.ca. 

About WestGrid:
WestGrid is one of four regional HPC consortia that operate and support Compute Canada’s national platform of supercomputing resources. As one of Compute Canada’s largest regional divisions, WestGrid encompasses 16 partner institutions across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Its user community is supported by a distributed and cohesive team of technical staff and system architects. For more information, please visit www.westgrid.ca. 

About the BC Cancer Agency:
The BC Cancer Agency, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, is committed to reducing the incidence of cancer, reducing the mortality from cancer, and improving the quality of life of those living with cancer. It provides a comprehensive cancer control program for the people of British Columbia by working with community partners to deliver a range of oncology services, including prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, research, education, supportive care, rehabilitation and palliative care. For more information, visit www.bccancer.bc.ca. 

About the University of British Columbia:
The University of British Columbia (UBC) is one of North America’s largest public research and teaching institutions,and is consistently ranked among the world’s 40 best universities. Surrounded by the beauty of the Canadian West, it is a place that inspires bold, new ways of thinking that have helped make it a national leader in areas as diverse as community service learning, sustainability and research commercialization. UBC offers more than 58,000 students a range of innovative programs and attracts $519 million per year in research funding from government, non-profit organizations and industry through over 8,000 projects and grants. For more information, please visit www.ubc.ca.