NRC takes lead in the development of a national program for multi-million dollar biochip technologies

(Ottawa, ON-- September 10, 1999) -- The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) today is hosting an international workshop on biochip technologies and their potential impact on the Canadian economy. Ranging from drug development to creation of new crops and other applications, biochips also represent a breakthrough for rapid clinical diagnostic testing and genomics research. Biochip sales are projected to grow from $40 million in 1998 to more than $400 million in 2003.

NRC's two-day workshop brings together the scientists and engineers who have either existing strengths or the potential to contribute to this rapidly growing area, along with industry stakeholders who will use and deliver the technology.

"Biochips will allow researchers and medical professionals to separate, purify and quantify biological molecules such as DNA or proteins much faster than is possible today, in fact, more than 10 times faster," explained Dr Dan Wayner, Program Leader, Molecular Interfaces of NRC's Steacie Institute for Molecular Sciences. "Biochip technologies stand to have a significant impact on our health care system. This technology has the potential to cut health care costs by bringing clinical testing to our physician's offices and eventually to our homes."

"Canada is falling behind in this promising field and we see a real need for action by the NRC as one of Canada's leading organizations in research and development," said Dr. Arthur Carty, President of NRC. "The commercialization of custom biochips will require multidisciplinary efforts in biology, chemistry, physics and engineering and the NRC is well positioned to play a leadership role in the mounting of a national effort on biochip technologies. In particular, biochips are needed by researchers to push forward genomics research in government labs, universities and industry right across the country."

"We are extremely pleased to collaborate with the NRC in defining the parameters of a national

Contact: Lise Hughes
National Research Council of Canada

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