Genome Alberta's Official Newsletter


Genome Alberta Newsletter GenOmics - February 15, 2011

Volume 5 Issue 3
The Genome Alberta newsletter for the Omics Generation
- February 15, 2011 - 

In this Update:

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

    Genomics News

    First ALGP Cheques Roll Out

    The first funding cheques have started moving for Genome Alberta’s  ‘Alberta Livestock Genomics Program’ (ALGP).

    With 4.5 million dollars in funding from the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA) Genome Alberta put out a call for proposals in 2010 and has approved 9 research projects to help improve the quality, reputation, and health of Alberta Livestock. The first project to be given the go-ahead is led by University of Lethbridge Researcher Dr. Brent Selinger. The project will be co-led by Dr. Tim McAllister Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada’s Lethbridge Research Centre. Also represented in the project team are IdentiGEN Canada Ltd and University College Cork in Ireland.

    You can find more details on our website. We will also be releasing a new series of livestock genetics research pages on our website later this week. Be sure to check later for links.


    DNA Day in Alberta

    It is going to take a lot of work to make it a reality but we now have some official support from Alberta Advanced Education and Technology to create a ‘DNA Day’ in Alberta to celebrate achievements in genomics here at home and around the country. Modelled after the Nationally recognized DNA Day in the United States, it will take place for the first time this April 15th . The day is being held in April because it was April 1953 that James Watson and Francis Crick first published their double helix model and it was April 2003 that the human genome was published. Check our first blog post on the subject and be sure to visit for more updates.

    We won’t be able to do this alone because apart from Genome Alberta being a small organization, achievements in genomics cover a wide range of government, industry, and academic research efforts. We currently have the support of Science Alberta and BioAlberta and we are looking for more support and ideas.

    Contact Genome Alberta Director of Corporate Communications, Mike Spear at 403-503-5222 or to see how you can help showcase Alberta’s DNA.


    New Genome Canada Competition for Genomics Entrepreneurs

    Genome Canada is pleased to announce the launch of a new pilot program called Entrepreneurship Education in Genomics (EEG).

    This program aims to support initiatives to educate the Canadian genomics research community with respect to how to create and capture value from their research and translate their discoveries into marketable applications, products, technologies, systems and processes. Following a decade of investment in genomics research, a focus on the translation of research, while maintaining a commitment to supporting cutting-edge science, is the next logical step for Genome Canada to ensure that new knowledge translates into innovations that enhance Canada’s prosperity.

    The full media release for the new Competition is available on our GenOmics news site and the full RFA is available (.pdf file) from Genome Canada.


    Job Opportunity with Genome Canada

    Genome Canada is looking for a Director, Technology Programs, (.pdf file) to be responsible for Genome Canada’s portfolio of technology programs, focusing on S&T Innovation Centres and technology development.

    The ideal candidate will hold a graduate‐level, research‐based degree and, preferably, possess at least ten years of relevant work experience, and have extensive and current knowledge of genomics, proteomics and related technologies, research methodologies, and the issues facing genomics research domestically and internationally.

    For more information on this opportunity, please contact Andrew Dumont at 613-742‐3210 or via email at . To be considered for this position, please submit your resume and related information online at


    NIH ELSI Grants

    Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications of Returning Research Results to Genomic Research Participants funding available.

    See details at


    Latest Genome B.C ‘Signal’ Newsletter

    The Winter Edition is available at (.pdf file


    GenOmics Top Stories

    A Global Consortium Aims to Discover and Map all the Alzheimer's Genes

    The launch of the International Genomics of Alzheimer's Project (IGAP) – a collaboration formed to discover and map the genes that contribute to Alzheimer's disease – was announced today by a multi-national group of researchers. The collaborative effort, spanning universities from both Europe and the United States, will combine the knowledge, staff and resources of four consortia that conduct research on Alzheimer's disease genetics.

    Ken Olsen and the Future of Genomics

    Ken Olsen, the founder of one of the most important computer startups ever, Digital Equipment Corporation, or DEC, died Sunday, age 84. It’s hard for me to think about DEC without thinking about DNA sequencing, which could be in many ways a parallel industry to computing. DNA sequencing is actually getting faster and cheaper at a rate faster than Moore’s Law, the axiom that the number of transistors that can fit on a semiconductor chip doubles every two years.

    Trailblazing gene researcher returns to Canada

    One of the world’s leading genomics researchers has been wooed back to Canada. After years of pioneering work in France, Britain and Japan, Canadian Mark Lathrop is returning home to take the helm of the McGill University and Génome Québec Innovation Centre. 


    Also in GenOmics:


    Found on Twitter

    Twitter is a place where you can say a lot in 140 characters. In the highlights from the last week, 2 Canadian science stories got a failing grade because in the world of Twitter, news travels fast. For a more complete look at what made the rounds in Twitter’s science community lately check the latest Twitter Snips posting on our website.

     And just who lurks behind these posts?

    @dgmacarthur  Daniel MacArthur works in high-throughput human genomics in the UK, and blogs about the genetic testing industry

    @edyong209 Ed Yong is a UK based science writer, creator of Not Exactly Rocket Science at Discover magazing, freelance journalist, and the science communications guy at Cancer Research UK. He notes that his opinions are all his own.

    @NatureNews  One of several Twitter accounts for the International science journal, Nature.

    @nserc_crsng  The official Twitter account for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

    @Sheril_   Sheril Kirshenbaum is the author of The Science of Kissing & Unscientific America. She is also a Research Associate at UT-Austin in Energy and Environmental Policy and blogs at Discover Magazine.

    @UHN_News  The University Health Network University Health Network is made up of Toronto General, Toronto Western and Princess Margaret Hospitals.

    @wyattsgirl  Kenna Shaw says she is a “failed scientist turned govt flunkie”.


    GE3LS Digest

    This is a sample of some of the many interesting stories that make up the GE3LS Digest. To take a peek at a full edition or to subscribe, please go to:

    Canada GE3LS on Wikipedia

    Did you know there is a GE3LS entry on Wikipedia? It was put together by the Genome Canada GE3LS team and can be viewed at


    Donate - and be an advisor on the synthetic bio documentary

    Remember the synthetic biology documentary I blogged about a while back? Well, the filmmakers are still working toward their goal. They have a little less than a month left, and I just noticed that they've seriously beefed up the rewards you can get for funding them. There are some interesting gifts from $10 up, but now at $300, they will send you a rough cut, solicit your input, and credit you in the final version. For everyone concerned about how scientists appear in the film, this is an intriguing option!


    Update: FDA Taking Another (Public) Look at DTC Genetic Tests

    Direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic tests are back on the FDA’s public radar screen. A week from today, the agency’s Molecular and Clinical Genetics Panel of the Medical Devices Advisory Committee will meet to “discuss and make recommendations on scientific issues concerning [DTC] genetic tests that make medical claims.” Here is the Federal Register notice. The two-day meeting, which is open to the public, will investigate the following topics


    What Could Possibly Go Wrong: Genetically-Modified Mosquitoes (w/added video)

    Generally speaking, the goal of gene-based mosquito-control projects is either to kill the insects or make them benign. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University, for example, are studying mosquitoes that were made malaria-resistant through the activation of a gene responsible for a protein that blocks the infection. And the British company Oxitec has engineered a strain of mosquito that cannot survive without regular doses of tetracycline; in the wild, these mosquitoes would survive just long enough to mate and pass on their tetracycline-junkie genes to their doomed offspring. In a trial in the Cayman Islands last year, Oxitec-modified mosquitoes were able to cut the overall population by 80 percent in just six months.

    GenOmics’ Editors have added a video on the Cayman Islands project.


    Direct-to-consumer genetic testing: An assessment of genetic counselors' knowledge and beliefs

    Genetic in Medicine, KT Hock, KD Christensen, BM Yashar, et al

    Direct-to-consumer genetic testing is a new means of obtaining genetic testing outside of a traditional clinical setting. This study assesses genetic counselors' experience, knowledge, and beliefs regarding direct-to-consumer genetic testing for tests that would currently be offered in genetics clinics. Results indicate that genetic counselors have limited patient experiences with direct-to-consumer genetic testing and are cautiously considering if and under what circumstances this approach should be used.



    Bringing Genomics Home – Nanaimo

    When:  Wednesday, February 16th, 2011, 7:00pm to 9:00pm
    : Vancouver Island Conference Centre, The Lantzville Room, 101 Gordon Street, Nanaimo, V9R 5J8

    Genome BC and MISTIC is hosting a free evening of discussion, questions and answers about genomics. The programme for the evening will include:

    • A Crash Course in Genomics,
      Presented by Genome BC Founding Director, Bruce Schmidt
    • Flex your mussels! Developing powerful genomic tools for coastal health
      Presented by Dr. Helen Gurney-Smith, Research Scientist and Manager of the Centre for Shellfish Research

    The event is free but you must pre-register at


    Owner's Guide to the Human Genome

    The Royal Canadian Institute for the Advancement of Science is holding one of its Winter 2011 lectures on Sunday, February 27 at 3:00pm in Toronto.

    The lecture, titled 'Owner's Guide to the Human Genome', will be given by Dr. Philip A. Marsden, M.D., Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto.

    The hour-long lecture is free to the public and will be held at the MacLeod Auditorium, Medical Sciences Building, University of Toronto, 1 King's College Circle (nearest subway Queen's Park).  Parking is available on campus, pay/display.


    “Connect Locally to Succeed Globally" Part II

    BioAlberta is holding a special networking event on Wednesday, March 2nd  from 3:30 – 6:30 pm at the Art Gallery of Alberta - Manning Hall, 2 Sir Winston Churchill Square in Edmonton.

    The session will feature special guests from  Spain's biotechnology & biopharma companies.

    Companies are invited to participate with table top displays, present their ‘elevator pitch’ to attendees, perhaps be a guest speaker, or simply attend to meet, network and share ideas with everyone in attendance.

    For more information on how BioAlberta members and non-members can be involved or attend visit the BioAlberta website.


    Moving Genomics for Specialty Agriculture

    WhenMarch 22nd, 2011
    : Holiday Inn Hotel & Conference Centre, 601 Scottsdale Dr., Guelph, Ontario

    The program will include plenary sessions and panel sessions delivered by Canadian and international experts from around the world (including the European Union, South America, the United States and Canada). Key guest speakers and thought-provoking panel discussions will focus on genomics, investment and commercialization, grant applications and domestic and international collaboration, from the discovery side to launching into the market and beyond.  This will provide a great opportunity to network and interact with true scientists and innovators.

    Topics include:

    • Genomics in Berry Production – Research to Profitability: The EU Experience
    • Dry bean genomic and industrial participation
    • Intergovernmental Co-operation in Specialty Agricultural Genomics Grants
    • Genomics in Hazelnut Production – Advancing to Production
    • Castor Genomics and Industry – an Untapped Oil Potential
    • The Business of Genomics in Specialty Agriculture.

    This 1 day conference is co-hosted by Ontario Genomics Institute, the University of Guelph and Erie Innovation and Commercialization.

    Visit the conference website for more information.


    Fourth Annual Canadian Human Genetics Conference

    When:   April 26-29, 2011
    :  Banff Conference Centre, Banff, Alberta

    The Canadian Gene Cure Foundation (CGCF) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research - Institute of Genetics (CIHR-IG) are sponsoring the Annual Canadian Human Genetics Conference. The conference will be held in the Kinnear Centre, the Banff Centre’s newest meeting facility.

    This conference builds on a tradition of 17 previous annual scientific meetings of the Canadian Genetic Diseases Network, and the success of three Annual Canadian Human Genetics Conferences.  The 4th Annual Canadian Human Genetics Conference is an open meeting that will showcase some of the best genetics research in the country and abroad. Plenary Sessions will include: Gene Identification, Genomics and Computational Biology, Molecular Pathogenesis of Disease, Genetics, Ethical Legal and Social Issues, non-coding RNA’s, Stem Cells and iPS, Model Organisms, Genetics into Practice and new technologies workshops.

    There are a couple of deadlines worth noting:

    • Abstracts for oral presentation: Friday March 4th
    • Final registration deadline: March 20th

     Main conference website:


    Epigenetics, Eh! Conference

    When:  May 4th  - May 7th
    : London Convention Centre, London, Ontario

    Epigenetics, Eh! is a Canadian conference aimed at the Canadian biomedical research community.

    There will be ten sessions featuring cutting-edge epigenetic research in Environment and Health (hence the: ‘Eh!’ in the title) as well as poster sessions and networking opportunities for scientists and their trainees. Canadian and International speakers are world-recognized leaders in the field and  will provide insights into the latest advances in epigenetic research.

    This Conference will comprehensively highlight all aspects of epigenetics research in Canada as it relates to human health and the environment.

    For more information click here.


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