Press release

Sequence Bio begins search for better, safer medicines and disease treatments with launch of the NL Genome Project.

July 24, 2019 | St. John's, Newfoundland & Labrador

Sequence Bio, a Newfoundland and Labrador biotechnology company, announced today the launch of the pilot phase of its flagship research study, the NL Genome Project. This large-scale genomics project aims to gain a deeper understanding of Newfoundland and Labrador’s unique population by studying 2,500 volunteering, consenting participants’ DNA (through a saliva sample) in combination with their health records. 

Sequence Bio aims to discover better, safer medicines and improve how we treat and prevent the diseases that impact Newfoundland and Labrador the most. By using data-driven statistical and computational research approaches, the NL Genome Project aims to contribute to more precise and effective healthcare, all while potentially creating widespread health and economic benefits for the province. This pilot phase of this project will also be used to help plan for a larger-scale genomic research project on tens of thousands of participants that will be optimized and powered for scalable biomarker and drug target discovery. 

Dr. Michael Phillips, the study’s lead scientist and Chief Scientific Officer of Sequence Bio said, “Newfoundland is one of the few founder populations in the world with the potential to discover genetic biomarkers that can be used to identify novel drug targets. With the province’s high rate of localized, inherited rare and complex disease, large pedigrees, and health records with deep and complete phenotypic information, we have a unique opportunity to make important discoveries and contribute to genetics research from right here in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Sequence Bio is committed to benefiting individuals, families and communities in Newfoundland and Labrador for generations to come. As an added benefit, participants of the NL Genome Project can choose to receive research-grade findings about their genetic makeup free of charge.

These include medically actionable findings, such as a participant’s carrier status for certain conditions that won’t affect them personally, but could affect their child or children, or the presence of rare gene variants linked to life-threatening diseases with possible treatment or screening options. Sequence Bio's Genetic Counselling team will support participating physicians in returning these research-grade findings reports, and will share future potential discoveries with local researchers, policy makers, and doctors to help integrate precision medicine into the care we receive at home.

Chris Gardner, CEO of Sequence Bio said, “The NL Genome Project is a unique opportunity for Newfoundland and Labrador to lead the world in research that we hope will bring us closer to better treatments and medicines - and it all starts by simply spitting in a tube. By returning benefits and findings from the NL Genome Project to the people of this province, Sequence Bio puts Newfoundland and Labrador first every step of the way.”

The NL Genome Project is currently enrolling 2,500 volunteering, consenting participants through 3 doctors at clinics in St. John’s, Mount Pearl and Paradise. Eligible participants who volunteer will provide a saliva sample, fill out a questionnaire, and grant permission to access their medical records. The NL Genome Project is committed to the highest levels of security and protects data with the same best-practice measures used by leading banks, hospitals, and governments around the world.  

To learn more or how you can take part, please visit www.nlgenomeproject.ca.

Like other health research, there is no guarantee that the NL Genome Project will result in any significant breakthroughs. 


About the Project

The NL Genome Project is a large-scale genomics project designed to better understand Newfoundland and Labrador’s unique population by studying volunteering, consenting participants’ DNA (through a saliva sample) in combination with their health records. Using data-driven statistical and computing research approaches, the project aims to identify patterns and insights that could help us discover better, safer medicines and improve how we treat and prevent disease. Sequence Bio is committed to benefitting Newfoundland and Labrador - potential discoveries from the NL Genome Project will be shared with local researchers, policy makers, and doctors, and research-grade findings will be returned to participants.

Local biotechnology company Sequence Bio is leading the NL Genome Project. The Principal Investigators are Michael S. Phillips, PhD (Chief Scientific Officer, Sequence Bio), Gerald Mugford, PhD (Director of Research, Sequence Bio) and Dr. Dennis O’Keefe (Commonwealth Medical Clinic). 


Participating Doctors Offices

Dr. David Brentnall
Family Medical Practice/Walk-In Clinic, Paradise

Dr. Dennis O’Keefe
Commonwealth Medical Clinic, Mount Pearl

Dr. Karl Misik
Topsail Road Medical Clinic, St. John’s

For additional information please contact

Sophie Harrington
VP, Marketing & Strategy
sophie@sequencebio.com