Genome Alberta's Official Newsletter


Genome Alberta Newsletter GenOmics - August 16, 2010

Volume 3 Issue 4
The Genome Alberta newsletter for the Omics Generation
- August 16, 2010 - 

Welcome to GenOmics the bi-weekly newsletter from Genome Alberta. You are receiving this because of past contact with us but there is no need to unsubscribe to anything. We just want to take a few minutes of your time to update you on some of our ongoing activities.

In particular you might want to check out our digital art contest, check out the top stories from our GenOmics life sciences news site, check a sample of articles from our GE3LS Digest, and see what events are coming up of interest to the biotech community.

Of course we do hope you’ll subscribe to some of our regular features.

In this Update:

  • Genomics News
  • GenOmics Top Stories
  • Found on Twitter
  • GE3LS Digest
  • Events
  • -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Genomics News

    Mini-Livestock Symposium

    On Tuesday, September 7th, Genome Alberta and the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine will be hosting an afternoon symposium where we have some excellent speakers in Calgary to talk about livestock genomics.  The event will take place at the U of C and there will be no charge to attend. Here is the tentative schedule and you can check our home page at for registration details and exact location later this month.

    • 1:30 pm Opening: David Bailey, President and CEO Genome Alberta
    • 1:35 pm Deb Hamernik, Associate Director, Nebraska Agricultural Experiment Station, Professor, Department of Animal Science, University of Nebraska, Lincoln NB, USA   Steve Kappes, Deputy Administrator for Animal Production and Protection USDA-ARS. Beltsville MD, USA
    • 2:15 pm Martien Groenen, Professor Animal Science, Wageningen Research  University, the Netherlands
    • 2:55 pm Break
    • 3:20 pm Heidi Parker, Senior Staff Scientist, Cancer Genetics Branch at the National Human Genome Research Institute of NIH.
    • 4:00 pm Close and wrap-up: Alastair Cribb, Dean Faculty of Veterinary Medicine    

    Digital Art Contest & National Biotechnology Week

    If you're interested in digital art, why not turn your hand to creating something unique and have it showcased during National Biotechnology Week in Canada.

    We're running a digital art contest which is underway now through to Biotechnology Week.  We have cash prizes for first, second, and third place and all entries will be considered for use in Genome Alberta's print publications, on our website and on our GenOmics news site on Facebook. It is an excellent chance to use art to express your thoughts about how biotechnology has become part of our world, some of the advantages it has brought to us, and where we should be thinking about the possible implications. We are accepting entries now through to September 16th  and look forward to hearing from you. Our last contest winners came from Israel, Ontario, and Quebec so it wouldn't hurt to get your entry in early to grab those early votes.

    Check our blog pages for full details or send an e-mail to Communications Director Mike Spear for more information.

    Genome Canada, Genome Alberta, our partner Genome Centres across Canada, and BIOTECanada are getting together to mark National Biotechnology Week in Canada from September 17th to the 24th in other ways as well.  There will be special events during that week and we'll be working with BioAlberta to co-sponsor some of those activities here in Alberta. Check our home page at in late August for more details and we’ll be sure to update you in the next issue of GenOmics.

    New Genome Atlantic Board Members

    Genome Atlantic has two new Board members, both with roots in Atlantic Canada.

    Ms. Kathy Penney was born and raised in Newfoundland and Labrador. Currently a Regulatory and Environmental Manager with Shell Canada, Ms. Penney has over 20 years experience in environmental management, regulatory strategy, aboriginal and stakeholder consultation and biophysical, socio-cultural and socio-economic systems with companies such as Petro Canada and Jacques Whitford. Ms. Penney's expertise lies in regulatory, consultation, government relations, negotiation and conflict resolution in large projects related to land use, water, energy and the environment. Her leadership skills have been instrumental in a variety of large-scale, multi-billion-dollar projects across Canada.

    Dr. William Davidson brings an outstanding background in genomics as well as an in-depth understanding of research in Atlantic Canada. Born in Scotland, Dr. Davidson spent 18 years at Memorial University of Newfoundland in roles that included professor and department head in the biochemistry department and dean of science. He is currently a professor in the department of molecular biology and biochemistry at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.


    GenOmics Top Stories

    GenOmics is part of an Open Source community platform supported by Newscloud. Genome Alberta’s Communications Director Mike Spear has been highlighting the application at social media and government conferences around North America and will be talking about it at the U.S. National Association of Science Writers’ Annual General Meeting in November. The platform software will also be showcased at the World News Editors Forum in Germany in November.  We like to view GenOmics as a 24 hours life science newsroom but it is also being used by a variety of media organizations including the Boston Globe, The Charlotte Observer, NPR Radio, and ProPublica.

    You can replace many of your science news digests and feeds with GenOmics which rounds up some of the latest news, video, audio, and image and put them all in one place.

    Here is a sample of some of this week’s stories but you can find more by going to the site at There is no charge and you don’t have to register to read the latest life science news.


    Found on Twitter

    While Facebook boasts 500 million users and a lot of attention in the social media world, Twitter is generating more and more content. Last week Twitter hit 20 billion tweets (according to the tracking service GigaTweet, whose numbers, though unofficial, are pretty accurate).  Genome Alberta has a growing number of followers who track @mikesgene or @GenomeAlberta and we encourage you to not only see what Twitter is all about, but how we it can be used in the life science sector.

    Here is a small sample of what we’ve come across over the last 2 weeks and you can find a more complete list on our latest Twitter Snips blog entry.


    The people behind the tweets:

    @BiologyAnswers Biology Questions and Answers is a website that explains the entire Biology through reviews made of questions and answers.

    @BitesizeBio Tweets from everyone at Bitesize Bio, the home of tasty brain food - articles, seminars, questions - for cell and molecular biologists 

    @Comprendia  Mary Canady tweets for her company Comprendia a Biotechnology and Life Sciences Marketing and Business Development company in San Diego. More at

    @idtdna is the company account for Integrated DNA Technologies in Iowa

    @JoVEJournal PubMed Indexed Online Video Journal for Methods and Research in Biological Sciences

    @PR4Science   Robyn  Quinn is based in Saanich, B.C. where she toils away communicating science and technology takes mini wiener dog walks and who is very fond of golfing.  Not well she says,  but thats another profile.


    GE3LS Digest

    Making 'BioArt' a cultural practice – July 30, 2010

    At this year's Society for Social Studies Conference at the University of Tokyo, Aug. 25-29, there will be a session on "BioArt," which begs the question: What would that be? BioArt describes the variety of art forms emerging in the last two decades that use biotechnology or genetics to manipulate living things, altering food, plants, even livestock. In best do-it- yourself tradition, artists have started to swap their studios for laboratories and are using molecular biology to deliberately create hybrids, clones or mutations as artistic expressions. So is science the new art? A question posed by author Ingeborg Reichle in the newly published and thorough compendium about biotechnology and art "Art in the Age of Technoscience: Genetic Engineering, Robotics, and Artificial Life in Contemporary Art."

    GenOmics’ Editors have added a video interview with Eduardo Kac.

    Who’s afraid of genetically modified foods – August 4, 2010

    We cannot turn back the clock on agriculture and only use methods that were developed to feed a much smaller population. It took some, 10,000 years to expand food production to the current level of about 5 billion tons per year. By 2025, we will have to nearly double current production again. This increase cannot be accomplished unless farmers across the world have access to current high-yielding crop production methods as well as new biotechnical breakthroughs that can increase the yields dependability, and nutritional quality for our basic crops. We need to bring common sense into the debate on agricultural science and technology and the sooner the better. -Norman E. Barlaug
    Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, 1970

    GenOmics’ Editors have included a video interview with Nobel Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug taking about genetically modified crops.

    DNA Dilemma: The Full Interview With the FDA on DTC Genetic Tests – August 5, 2010

    In an interview yesterday, the FDA made some potentially controversial and confusing statements about consumer genetics, an area it’s in the process of deciding how to regulate. I criticize the agency in my piece for not being fully transparent, so it’s only fair that I live up to my own standards and post the entire interview here (I’ve edited out stammering and a few digressions for clarity, but all other quotes are faithful to the tape). Besides, since these issues can be very confusing, I wanted the FDA to have an opportunity to have all its statements on the record. Here is a transcript of the interview, with Alberto Gutierrez and Elizabeth Mansfield, respectively the FDA’s director of the Office of In Vitro Diagnostic Device Evaluation and Safety and its director for personalized medicine in the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics in the Center for Devices and Radiological Health:

    GenOmics’ Editors have added a video interview of Alberto Gutierrez of the FDA talking about genetic diagnostic testing



    Agricultural Biotechnology International Conference

    The theme of this year's  Agricultural Biotechnology International Conference (ABIC 2010) is Bridging Biology and Business and features three streams: energy, Health, and Sustainability.
    This is an annual event for industry leaders, policy makers, scientists, researchers and other professionals working in the area of agricultural biotechnology. The conference is a forum where the latest scientific advances in agricultural biotechnology are presented, and where future directions of the technology are highlighted and discussed. Attendees will hear about advances, barriers and action options which may influence science and business endeavours on a global scale.
    There will be plenary speakers, a full breakout program, poster session, and a trade show. 

    When:September 12-15
    Where:TCU Place, 35 - 22nd Street East, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

    You can view agenda details on the ABIC website.


    International Data Sharing Conference

    The University of Oxford is taking a non-traditional approach to this conference by moving away from a format of prepared presentation series.
     Instead the event  will have plenary sessions of invited speakers at the beginning and end of the conference as well as at the beginning and end of every day. These will be broadcast in real time and podcast to reach a wide audience. For the rest of the conference there will be parallel panel sessions designed to encourage conversation and the exchange of ideas.
    The conference content will focus on how data sharing practices are changing scientific practice, as well as the technological, legal, ethical and social challenges for people working in the field of genomics.

    Where: St. Hugh's College, University of Oxford
    : September 20 -22, 2010

    Visit the conference website for registration details


    Banff Venture Forum

    The Forum is designed to showcase the hottest hi-tech companies from across North America, offer insight into key issues within the industry, provide networking opportunities and give companies a chance to learn from world-class professionals in the investment community.
    There are three streams of Information Technology, Energy Technology, and Life Sciences Technology for participant to showcase themselves to leading private equity and venture capital investors.

    Where: Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Banff, Alberta
    : September 23 & 24, 2010

    For more information visit the main conference website.


    AdvaMed 2010

    AdvaMed 2010 MedTech Conference is one of North America’s biggest medical technology, business development, and policy forum events. Whether you need to finance, partner, or license technology; learn the latest important developments in reimbursement, regulatory, legal, intellectual property, and other critical areas; or meet with and hear from leaders in the Obama Administration and Congress, AdvaMed 2010 is your introduction to key decision-makers.

    BioAlberta members have access to reduced early (until Aug 20), standard (through Oct 15) and on-site (Oct 18-20) registration rates. For more information on this program and the special member registration code, contact Charlene Navarra at 

    Where: Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C.
      October 18 - 20, 2010

    Visit the conference website for more details or visit our calendar page to also see a video of James Mazzo, Senior Vice President of Abbott Medical Optics talking about the benefits of attending AdvaMed.



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