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Canadian and international epigenetics researchers celebrate major coordinated paper release

by November 17, 2016 General

CIHR-supported international consortium releases collection of 41 research studies about the human genome and epigenome

November 17, 2016 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Researchers from around the globe are celebrating today’s release of 41 academic papers coordinated by the International Human Epigenome Consortium (IHEC). Seven papers in this collection are led by researchers receiving support from the Canadian Epigenetics, Environment and Health Research Consortium (CEEHRC), a multi-agency, pan-Canadian initiative led by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

In addition to conducting ground-breaking epigenetic studies at centres across the country, Canadian researchers provide important keys to the consortium’s success, notably by hosting the IHEC Data Portal at McGill University. The IHEC Data Portal has become a valued repository where global epigenomic data is shared, allowing researchers to collaborate, build off of each other’s work, and to focus on new discoveries.

The papers that are being published today will help guide future research and allow researchers to focus on avenues leading to a better understanding of disease processes and improved patient outcomes.

Quick facts

  • Epigenetics is the study of hereditary changes in gene expression, a regular and natural occurrence that can nevertheless lead to damaging effects resulting in diseases like cancer.
  • CIHR supports leading-edge research on the role of DNA and environmental interactions in human health and disease through the Canadian Epigenetics, Environment and Health Research Consortium.
  • These papers represent the most recent work of IHEC member projects from Canada, the European Union, Germany, Japan, Singapore, and the United States. The collection of publications showcases the achievements and scientific progress made by IHEC in core areas of current epigenetic investigations.
  • A set of 24 manuscripts has been released as a package in Cell and Cell Press-associated journals, and an additional 17 papers have been published in other high-impact journals.
  • The comprehensive analysis of the epigenomes of healthy and abnormal cells will facilitate new ways to diagnose and treat various diseases, and ultimately lead to improved health outcomes.


“Today’s release is a testament to the wealth of exciting research going on in the field of epigenetics – both in Canada and throughout the world. These remarkable new discoveries have the potential to transform our understanding of how deeply humans are connected to our environment. It offers new insights into the nature of human development, as well as human health and disease.”

– Dr. Anthony G. Phillips
Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction

“This constitutes a major achievement for IHEC. The number of papers and variety of topics addressed by this creative team of scientists from around the globe not only reflects the dynamic nature of this consortium, but is also evidence of the great strength that comes from bringing together complementary expertise, with the potential for far greater impact than an equivalent number of individual projects.”

– Dr. Eric Marcotte
Chair of the IHEC Executive Committee

“The collection of manuscripts impressively demonstrates how epigenetic information and analyses can help find answers to pressing questions related to the cellular mechanisms associated with complex human diseases.”

– Professor Hendrik (Henk) Stunnenberg
Radboud University, The Netherlands, past Chair of the IHEC International Scientific Steering Committee and coordinator of the EU-funded BLUEPRINT project

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Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada’s health research investment agency. CIHR’s mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to enable its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened health care system for Canadians. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 13,000 health researchers and trainees across Canada.