Leveraging the Largest Ever Known Grant for Genetic Counselling

February 19 2018
BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre Foundation is proud to announce that its contribution of $231,000 was leveraged with funding partners to jointly secure $2.1 million for genetic counselling access and implementation across Canada.

Turning $231,000 into $4.2 million is no easy task. It requires a consortium of dedicated funders and a national non-profit organization, Genome Canada, to believe in the vision sufficiently enough to match the combined funding. 

BC Women’s Hospital Foundation is proud to announce that is exactly what happened when it contributed $231,000 alongside its funding partners from the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, the Provincial Health Services Authority, Genome BC, and Genome Quebec in jointly securing $2.1 million – and which was matched by national funding agency, Genome Canada – to optimize genetic counselling access and implementation across Canada. In the end, the combined investment totaled $4.2 million, making the “GenCOUNSEL” proposal the largest known genetic counselling grant ever recorded.


Genetic counsellors are specialist healthcare providers who represent the front line of genetics. Genome-wide sequencing (GWS) is a genetic test that analyzes a person’s entire genetic makeup to diagnose the cause of genetic disorders. GWS can also diagnose disorders or increased disease risk that are unrelated to the original reason for testing as well as generate results that are difficult to interpret. By providing education and emotional support to patients and families considering GWS, genetic counsellors help to inform decision-making in genetic testing and can assist in preventing decisions that can have devastating health consequences. GWS is not routinely available in Canada yet, but Dr. Alison Elliott, Board certified genetic counsellor, Clinical Associate Professor, UBC and BC Women’s Hospital Project Lead believes that GWS will soon be clinically available and that this type of new investment has the opportunity to change everything.


“The type of equity and access this investment provides will allow for thousands of Canadians every year to benefit from genomic medicine, regardless of geographic location, or socio-economic status,” says Dr. Elliott.


Alongside her Project Co-Leads, Dr. Jehannine Austin (UBC), Dr. Larry Lynd (UBC), and Dr. Bartha Knoppers (McGill), Dr. Elliott believes this type of homegrown investment; “provides Canada an opportunity to be the global leader in genetic counselling.”