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New genomics project aims to prevent adverse drug reactions in children

Vancouver, BC —The use of medication in modern medicine has revolutionized healthcare and made a significant impact on patient longevity and quality of life. Unfortunately, many medications can also cause unintended side effects – also known as adverse drug reactions (ADRs). 

In an effort to reduce severe ADRs in Canada, researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute have partnered with Dynacare, a health and wellness solutions subsidiary of global life sciences company LabCorp that offers the largest and most advanced menu of diagnostic and screening tests in Canada.

This joint project, valued at $3 million in funding through Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP) and Genome British Columbia, will work toward integrating pediatric pharmacogenomic testing into the Canadian health care system. Pharmacogenomics – the science of how an individual patient’s genetic makeup impacts his or her response to medication – will be used to predict a patient’s risk of developing an ADR.

“Our overarching goal is to reduce and prevent ADRs – especially in vulnerable patient populations such as children,” explains the project’s co-lead, Dr. Bruce Carleton, Director of the Pharmaceutical Outcomes Programme at BC Children’s Hospital and Professor & Division Head of Translational Therapeutics, Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine at UBC.

Cutting-edge laboratory testing provided by Dynacare will inform how to improve the safety and effectiveness of the most commonly-used medications in children: antibiotics, analgesics and mental health medication.  The tests are non-invasive and are conducted using saliva. 

“Dynacare is proud to be a part of this initiative to make pharmacogenomic testing available to improve patient outcomes,” says project co-lead, Dr. Yvan Côté, General Manager of Dynacare Next. “We want to leverage technology in a way that can make medications safer and ultimately improve the delivery of care.”

The partnership also connects physicians and pharmacists across Canada in order to expand access to this innovative technology and ensure pharmacogenomic laboratory results are incorporated into medical decision-making.

“This endeavor is pivotal in making pharmacogenomics-driven precision medicine accessible to all Canadians,” says Carleton. “When we do this, we make medication safer and more effective by identifying the patients most likely to experience a specific ADR and adapting medication use accordingly.”

“Using pharmacogenomics to reduce the risk of adverse drug reactions and guide treatment decisions in children is an integral part of delivering precision health care,” said Dr. Catalina Lopez-Correa, Chief Scientific Officer and Vice President, Sectors, at Genome BC. “This work reflects Genome BC’s ambition to translate genomics into everyday clinical applications, in particular at the primary care level, and improve health outcomes for all Canadians.”


About BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute

BC Children's Hospital Research Institute conducts discovery, translational and clinical research to benefit the health of children and their families. The research institute is supported by BC Children's Hospital Foundation and works in close partnership with BC Children's Hospital, the Provincial Health Services Authority and its agencies, and the University of British Columbia. For more information, visit

About Dynacare

Dynacare, a LabCorp company, is committed to being Canada’s health and wellness solutions leader. Quality care is at the heart of everything we do. We are continually developing innovative programs and services to positively impact the lives of Canadians and help healthcare providers deliver the best care possible. This includes our cardiac risk reduction program, convenient home care services, and Dynacare Plus, an easy-to-use online portal where individuals can understand their lab test results and manage their health. In addition to offering the largest and most advanced menu of diagnostic and screening tests in Canada, Dynacare supports physicians in making more confident diagnoses and clinical decisions. Dynacare Next is shaping the future by bringing advances in medical laboratory testing to clinicians. Through Dynacare Insurance Solutions we provide specialized testing and paramedical services for the insurance industry, and we are helping improve the health and safety of employees through workplace testing and wellness programs with Dynacare Workplace. Please visit to learn how we can help you.

About Genome British Columbia

Genome British Columbia leads genomics innovation on Canada’s West Coast and facilitates the integration of genomics into society. A recognized catalyst for government and industry, Genome BC invests in research, entrepreneurship and commercialization in life sciences to address challenges in key sectors such as health, forestry, fisheries, aquaculture, agri-food, energy, mining and environment. Genome BC partners with many national and international public and private funding organizations to drive BC’s bioeconomy.

About the University of British Columbia

The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world. Since 1915, UBC’s entrepreneurial spirit has embraced innovation and challenged the status quo. UBC encourages its students, staff and faculty to challenge convention, lead discovery and explore new ways of learning. At UBC, bold thinking is given a place to develop into ideas that can change the world.

For more information contact:
Rebecca Skinner
Manager, Corporate Communications
800.668.2714 x 5931 or 647.291.6475