June 17, 2013 12:15 PM
Science Borealis Logo Contest
Are you interested in science communication? Looking to be involved in a Canadian-focused science communication environment? Genome Alberta and Canadian Science Publishing have co-founded a new blogging network which will launch in the Fall of this year.
We’re calling it Science Borealis: Blogging from Canadian Perspectives and it will feature Canadian science bloggers covering science from astronomy to zoology and everything in between. Science Borealis will be a one-stop shop for finding Canadian science blogs, whether you’re looking for information to inform policy, connect with researchers in your field, write a term paper, or just want to learn about neat stuff.
We have the name, we’ve secured the scienceborealis.ca domain and now we’re searching for a logo that will be a unique and instantly recognizable symbol of the network, both here at home and around the world. Yes, we’re shooting for the world because we think it is time Canada stood on its own in the global blogging arena. The logo will be used on our website and promotional material (print material, hats, etc.). The winning logo will be eye catching and original, taking a novel approach to graphically representing the Science Borealis name.
If you want to put your artistic and creative talents to work read on to find the details on what we are after:
June 12, 2013 7:45 AM
On setting up and using G+ Circles
Social media and smartphones have really improved the way we can work with groups of people, whether business or volunteer colleagues, or students and their parents.
If you have been following my blog you know that I recently spent a week as a delegate
at the Canada-Wide Science Fair (CWSF). I’ve been involved at this level a number of times over the past 20 years. What a difference technology has made to accompanying a group of students away from their home – some perhaps for the first time.
Using the theme ‘Sharing the Trail
’, I have previously helped teachers use social media to keep up with science education. This time when I was chosen to be the delegate for the Calgary Youth Science Fair, I welcomed the opportunity to test out a few ideas that had been percolating in my mind. I was going to be travelling with 12 students and 3 adults to the Lethbridge CWSF.
When I initially met with the parents and student finalists prior to our trip, I suggested that if they were interested, I could set up a Google Circle for us to share information. I have prided myself in being what I considered to be a power G+ user for some time. For several years, I have been using the sharing features even before it was named G+. I use shared calendars with both my family and with others for volunteer activities. I had used Google Drive (formerly called Google Docs) in a group setting to facilitate collaborative information sharing. I’ve used small G+ circles to share ideas and photos with committee members.
Here are the steps I went through to set up a G+ circle for the science fair finalists and their parents. First, I went into Drive and opened a spreadsheet to record the pertinent student information. Now, instead of needing to carry a binder with all this data, all I needed was my smartphone. By sharing this document with the other adult supervisors of the group, they also had full access to the information in case it was necessary.
Next I was able to take the list of student and parent email addresses and incorporate them into my contacts as a Gmail group. Now, all my email correspondence to the group could be sent to me with bcc to the group, thus maintaining the privacy of the individuals and their email addresses.
At this point, I sent an invitation to all of the students and their parents to join me on G+. Once about half of them had joined, I was able to create and share a private Team Calgary circle. I taught the participants how to save the circle, and how to share information only within our circle.
Through the week, I was able to share my photos with the circle, while keeping them out of the public domain. I received positive feedback each time about this method of sharing information. At the end of the week, several of the students asked me to keep the circle going as they thought they might have stuff to share after getting home. In actual fact, it wouldn’t matter if I had removed the circle from my G+ if they had already saved it as their own circle. G+ circles are self-moderated.
I also found that Twitter was actively encouraged at the CWSF. Several of my student finalists had accounts, and many of the other people at the fair were actively tweeting. Throughout the fair site, we were encouraged on posters and at meetings to use the hashtag #cwsf. I used both my own Twitter account @gwardis
and I also tweeted on behalf of Calgary Youth @sciencefairCYSF
. Based on my experience at the fair, I recommend Twitter for sharing information that you don’t mind being public. The G+ circle was still the best way to share private information within the group.
Once we were back from the fair, one of the student finalists used YouTube to post a video collage of photos from the fair. She asked me to share it with her fellow students. Naturally, I posted it on my G+ circle for the team, but as a backup, I also emailed the link out to the rest.
Do you want to give G+ a try and not sure where to start? Sign up for an account here
, then save this circle
I have shared on News and Information.
Here is where you can find me on
June 11, 2013 12:00 PM
Major gift opens genomics facility at U of C
Media Release, University of Calgary, June 11, 2013
The University of Calgary has purchased three next generation genome sequencers thanks to a $5.5-million community gift from the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation. This technology will allow researchers at the university and AHS supported Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI) to identify new genes that contribute to the development of diseases and to move genomic testing into mainstream clinical care.
“Genetic disorders can affect anyone – it’s a roll of the dice. Millions of Canadians live with these disorders,” says Dr. Francois Bernier, head of the Department of Medical Genetics at the university. “We have hundreds of unique cases in Alberta where patients are suffering from genetic diseases that we don’t know much about; we can’t name it, we don’t know how to treat it, and we don’t know how it’s inherited.”
Among the many studies enabled by this donation is a pilot study of 10 families with diseases believed to be genetically linked. All 20,000 genes in each patient will be sequenced to find answers to their health problems. Bernier and his colleagues will use a combination of the genome sequencers and complex computer analysis to do this. To run a genome test, the DNA is extracted from a blood sample, sequenced on the machine and the results are analyzed by a bioinformatician.
The genome sequencers are also being used to develop clinical testing. Dr. Jillian Parboosingh, laboratory head, Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory, Alberta Children’s Hospital and researcher at the university’s ACHRI institute is working in this area.
“Currently in my clinical laboratory, I can only read a single gene at a time which is a slow and labour intensive process,” says Parboosingh. “These new sequencers offer the power to sequence hundreds and even thousands of genes at a time greatly decreasing the time and costs of arriving at a genetic diagnosis.”
Bernier further adds, “These machines will be the backbone upon which personalized medicine is introduced into clinical care.”
“We are so grateful to the generous donors who have supported the launch of this incredible genomics facility,” says Saifa Koonar, president and CEO of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation. “Their initial investments, along with future donations to genomic medicine, are funding the technology and scientists integral to advancements in child health. We know the discoveries made through this new facility will make a tremendous difference to children and families here in Calgary, across Canada and around the world.”
“Our genetic sequencing facility offers clinicians and researchers the opportunity to undertake research and provide expert clinical care to Albertans. As a valued partner, the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation is helping to support our Eyes High vision of becoming a top five research university by 2016,” says Dr. Brent Scott, executive director of the ACHRI and Husky Energy Chair in Child and Maternal Health.
The genomics work is being done in partnership with the University of Calgary, Alberta Health Services and Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Marta Cyperling, Media Relations Manager, University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine
The University of Calgary
The University of Calgary is a leading Canadian university located in the nation’s most enterprising city. The university has a clear strategic direction – “Eyes High” – to become one of Canada’s top five research universities by 2016, grounded in innovative learning and teaching and fully integrated with the community of Calgary. For more information, visit ucalgary.ca
Alberta Health Services
Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than 3.8 million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.
The Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute for Child and Maternal Health
The Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute for Child and Maternal Health (ACHRI) is a multi-disciplinary institute of the University of Calgary, Alberta Health Services and the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation. Membership encompasses the faculties of arts, education, kinesiology, medicine, nursing, science, social work and veterinary medicine. ACHRI co-ordinates child and maternal health research from bench to bedside with a vision of giving mothers and children the best health care possible. Working together with an incredible breadth of expertise, the institute members are determined to find the causes of disease, advance medical treatments and prevent illness and injury in children. research4kids.ucalgary.ca/
The Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation
The Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation is a founding partner of ACHRI, as well as the primary funder. The Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation raises funds for excellence in child health, research and family centred care. Through the generosity of donors, the Foundation provides funding for innovative programs, state-of-the-art equipment, advanced medical training and internationally-recognized pediatric research. www.childrenshospital.ab.ca
June 5, 2013 9:30 AM
University of Calgary research receives $1.8 million boost from federal government
Improving treatment for kidney disease is one of eight projects funded
Media Release, June 5, 2013 Calgary - Finding better treatments for kidney disease is one of eight projects at the University of Calgary receiving new funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). Other research topics funded today focus on mental health addictions, virtual team effectiveness, mini-detection sensors, stem cells, pain in animals and humans, coronary artery disease, and environmental stress on fish.
“The investments being announced today at the University of Calgary will further enhance our country’s reputation as a destination of choice for outstanding researchers,” said Dr. Gilles G. Patry, president and CEO of the CFI. “They will make our universities even more competitive when it comes to attracting the best and brightest researchers from around the world.”
Dr. Daniel Muruve and Dr. Hallgrimur Benediktsson at the University of Calgary’s Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases are receiving $324,355 to help them gain a better understanding of kidney diseases at a molecular level in the hopes of developing more personalized and specific treatments for patients.
According to the Kidney Foundation of Canada, an estimated 2.6 million Canadians have kidney disease or are at risk. The leading cause of kidney failure in new patients is diabetes followed by high blood pressure.
“Kidney disease is a term used to classify a wide variety of different diseases that are incompletely understood and poorly classified,” says Muruve. “Similar to cancer, where researchers are pioneering molecular disease classification and personalized medicine, we plan to apply a similar approach to better understand kidney disease and its subtypes. Eventually this will lead to specific and effective treatments for our patients and better outcomes.”
In partnership with Alberta Health Services and Calgary Laboratory Services, funding for this project will allow Muruve, Benediktsson and their team to develop the infrastructure and databases necessary to perform leading-edge analysis of kidney biopsy tissues that are routinely collected in Calgary and Southern Alberta on a daily basis as part of patient care. Patients who have consented to have their samples used in research will help scientists focus on the molecular pathways that cause kidney disease and the impact of these pathways on disease outcomes or the response to treatment.
“We are proud of our researchers and would like to thank the federal government for this new funding, which will help translate our discoveries into benefits for our communities and for society,” says Anne Katzenberg, associate vice-president (research). “These projects build upon our current strengths and will help the University of Calgary along the path to achieving path its Eyes High goal to become one of Canada's top five research universities."
Researchers receiving funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (Leaders Opportunity Fund):
June 3, 2013 10:30 AM
Pierre Meulien talks about the new GAPP funding
The new GAPP ( Genomics Applications Partnership Program
) is a bit of a departure for Genome Canada and Canada's 6 Genome Centres because it emphasizing research being integrated into the Bioeconomy. The GAPP funding is directed at building stronger links between academic research and industry use. It is designed to encourage integration of genomics research into everyday use and one of the measures of success of the program will be what commercial entities, products, or future collaborations result from the initial funding.
GAPP is being kickstarted with $30 million from Genome Canada and with the required co-funding from applicants, will result in a $90 million investment in applied genomics across Canada.
A copy of the Investment Strategy and Guidelines
is available for you to download.
In the meantime, here is Genome Canada President and CEO Pierre Meulien talking about the new funding program.