Vice President, Public Affairs and Communications
Since the creation of Génome Québec, issues in public affairs and communications have undergone fundamental changes. In fact, the rapid evolution of genomic technologies has generated its share of challenges, including the diversification of its fields of application and the multiplication of audiences. A few short years ago, our goal was to reach the scientific community, specialized media and the government department in charge of innovation. Today, we must also reach industry, end users, all departments affected by genomic applications, mass media and the general public. As a result, we must now rethink the manner in which we function.
The addition of these new sectors requires a good dose of creativity and a willingness to step outside our comfort zone, whether it comes to strategy or to the resources at our disposal to address this new reality.
Another noteworthy challenge this year was, of course, the new team elected at the helm of the Government. We have had to start from scratch with an entirely new network of stakeholders, most of whom are unfamiliar with genomics.
FOCUSING OUR EFFORTS WHERE IT MATTERS MOST
With this in mind, we have developed partnerships with the BÉNÉFIQ congress, organized by the Institute of Nutrition and Functional Foods (INAF), and the Strategic Forum on Natural Resources, hosted by the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal. These initiatives, which allowed us to mobilize key stakeholders in agrifood and natural resources, have yielded beneficial results in terms of spinoffs and outreach, including new collaborations and financing opportunities.
We have also maintained our presence on the international stage. For instance, we took advantage of the Québec Premier’s visit to London to announce a major partnership between Oxford and Laval universities in forest genomics. In addition, our President and CEO was invited to participate in the Canadian Prime Minister’s mission to Dakar as part of the Francophone Summit. Then, as a member of the Québec delegation to the BIO 2014 International Convention, Génome Québec launched a charm offensive for postdoctoral students living in California. A dozen of them accepted our invitation and some have shown an interest in returning to Québec to work. We were also present at the conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which gave us a wonderful opportunity for sharing information and networking with scientific journalists. Shortly after, we enjoyed excellent coverage when the results of the Genomic Applications Partnership Program were announced.
GENOMICS MAKING HEADLINES
In terms of media coverage, highlights this year included the research teams of Guy Sauvageau, of the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) and of John MacKay, of Université Laval, who made the annual list of the top ten discoveries in Québec Science. The work of Guy Sauvageau was then selected as the year’s “Favourite Discovery” by the readership of the magazine. One month later, Radio-Canada named him the 2014 scientist of the year. Congratulations!
Finally, special thanks go out to the researchers for their tremendous availability whenever they are asked to take part in public activities. They are great ambassadors of genomics and our best spokespeople to reach key audiences. Their involvement makes a huge contribution to the development of genomics in Québec.