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McGill Reporter
November 25, 2004 - Volume 37 Number 06
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To the editor:

Both the Montreal Proteomics Network and the Genome Building are housed on McGill property. The scientists therein are currently sitting on the edge of their collective chair, awaiting a decision on whether the government will continue to fund their enormously expensive "projects." They are in dire need of $750 million, having already soaked up $2 billion over the past four years! We have read of their "plight" frequently of late in the local press. They are becoming very concerned by the federal government's apparent procrastination in doling out multiple millions of dollars more to them. The question, however, that needs to be asked is why the Montreal Proteomics Network and Genome Canada are crying to Ottawa at all for more money? Since their research is supposedly laying the foundation for the development (in the far future) of a plethora of new drugs to cure any and everything, why aren't the drug companies jumping into this potential gold mine to help them out? Genome Canada's goal is economic application. It is reasonable for the government to think twice before throwing any more money into what reads like a bottomless pit to the rest of us.

At present, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (a government body supporting basic research) provides zero dollars for the study of what should be seen as a topic of immediate concern — the random, uncontrolled use of herbal "remedies." Yet there is no federal body (unlike in the U.S.) for supporting fundamental research on the supposed medicinal phytoceuticals contained in the multitude of herbal products available, unregulated, to the public.

Science is multi-faceted. What about all the other scientists at McGill and elsewhere who are not on the proteomics/genomics bandwagon? What is left for them? Should the government cough up $750 million to Genome Canada and the Montreal Proteomics Network?

Sandra C. Miller
Professor, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology

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