Genome Alberta's Official Newsletter


Genome Alberta Newsletter GenOmics - March 1, 2011

Volume 5 Issue 4
The Genome Alberta newsletter for the Omics Generation
- March 1, 2011 - 

In this Update:

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

    Genomics News


    New Minister of Alberta Advanced Education and Technology

    On February 18th Greg Weadick, the MLA for Lethbridge West was sworn in as Alberta’s Minister of Advanced Education and Technology. The position was left vacant when Doug Horner stepped down to run for the leadership of the PC Party. Thanks to his past year as parliamentary assistant to former Minister Horner, the Honourable Weadick is in a good position to take on the job. To learn more about the new kind on the block go to his website at

    Last week Genome Alberta’s CEO David Bailey and Chairman of the Genome Alberta Board, Dennis Fitzpatrick, had their first meeting with Minister Weadick. They met in the Lethbridge West constituency office and Genome Alberta is looking forward to working with the Minister over the coming months. Among the items discussed was DNA Day in Alberta which Genome Alberta is spearheading this April 15th.


    New Alberta Budget

    On February 24th the Government of Alberta tabled its new budget.  Of particular interest to Genome Alberta was funding for Alberta Advanced Education and Technology and here are a few numbers for you.

    Budgeted program expense is $3 billion in 2011-12, a $320-million or 9.6-per-cent reduction from the 2010-11 forecast.

    2011-12 program expenses includes $2.8 billion in operating support, an increase of $34 million or 1.2 per cent. Within this budget:

    • $2.4 billion will be provided to support adult learning, including more than $2 billion in operating grants to post-secondary institutions and $199 million for student assistance programs.
    • $251 million is budgeted for research, innovation and technology commercialization initiatives.

    Under the latter innovation category, Alberta Advanced Education and Technology says $202 million will be invested in Alberta’s priority research areas and technology commercialization through the Alberta Innovates Corporations. This includes:

    You can find a summary of the Alberta Advanced Education and Technology’s 2011-2014 Business Plan on their website.


    Just us at the Glenbow Museum March 3rd

    This Thursday, March 3rd CBC broadcaster Barbara Budd will moderate an interdisciplinary exploring how different areas of biotechnology are portrayed in popular culture.

    Pop/Science: When Pop Culture Intersects with Biotechnology will look at stem cell research, regenerative medicine, cloning, and genetics through the eyes of a diverse panel of experts.

    • Sean Caulfield, Professor in fine art in the Department of Art and Design at the University of Alberta
    • Timothy Caulfield, Research Director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta and a Genome Alberta and Genome Canada researcher
    • Karen H. Rothenberg, founding Director of the Law & Health Care Program, and served as Dean of the University of Maryland School of Law
    • Derek Van Der Kooy, who works on stem cell biology and developmental biology, as well as genes important for learning and memory
    The discussion will take place in the Conoco Phillips Theatre in the Glenbow Museum in Calgary at 130 9 Ave. S.E.

    Admission is $10.00

    Following the panel, join the panelists for some refreshments and the launch of the Perceptions of Promise book.


    Government of Canada boosts efforts to find treatments for pediatric cancers and rare genetic diseases

    Two new research teams of top doctors and scientists from across Canada will embark on an ambitious goal to identify the genes that cause the most challenging types of cancer and rare diseases in children, and find new treatments. The announcement was made by the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology), at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). He was joined by Royal Galipeau, MP for Ottawa-Orléans.

    The Government of Canada will invest $4.5 million for the two projects - $2.5 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, $2 million from Genome Canada, $600,000 from Genome British Columbia and $500,000 from Génome Québec. Researchers from the two teams are based in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.

    You can see the full media release on our GenOmics news site.


    McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health Annual Summer Student Program for 2011

    The McLaughlin-Rotman Centre is looking for individuals to work in the areas of Grand Challenges Canada and Ethics. To apply please send a cover letter outlining your interest in one or more of the focus areas, relevant skills and your summer availability, a CV/resume, two letters of reference (at least one from an academic source) and a writing sample to You can also fax your application to (416) 978-6826.  Only candidates chosen for interviews will be contacted.  

    For more information on the Summer Student Program and the FAQ, please click here.  The deadline for submissions is March 15, 2011.

    The McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health is based at University Health Network and University of Toronto and hosts Grand Challenges Canada.


    Latest Edition of Canadian Bioinformatics Help Desk Newsletter


    GenOmics Top Stories


    GenOmics has added some new features. With our partners and associates at the Life Science news site was designed with flexibility in mind. No need to site re-designs or major facelifts when new features are needed. We simply drag and drop the new feature in place or re-arrange the look and layout with the same drag and drop ease.

    Apart from seeing a new layout to the front page, you also see a ‘Google Search’ box where you can search the entire GenOmics site for current news and news from the past stories. The search tool will look for keywords or tags. You can also see what the most popular ‘tags’ are as assigned by GenOmics users and editors by visiting the Top Stories page.

    GenOmics is your 24 hour news room bringing you the latest news, stories and features from the Life Science sector.

    You don’t have to register to read, but why not register so you can share your comments, ideas, thoughts and add your own stories or videos.

    Here are a few stories from the last 2 weeks.

    Jim: A movie about genetic enhancement

    Jim is a movie about genetic enhancement, taking otherwise normal humans and genetically engineering them to be more than human. After crushing life experiences, Jim decides to order up a child who is enhanced to handle all of the troubles that he could not. (story includes a trailer for the movie)

    Social Networking's Newest Friend in B.C.: Genomics

    The first large-scale study to combine genome sequencing and social-network analysis solves a mysterious TB outbreak. It was the baby's case that first caught people's attention: an infant in a medium-sized community in British Columbia that was diagnosed with tuberculosis in July 2006.

    Genome B.C. Supports New Research into Metastatic Childhood Cancers

    In a project supported by Genome BC, a Vancouver pediatric pathologist at the BC Cancer Agency/University of British Columbia is leading the team that will explore the genomes (DNA) of four of the most challenging childhood cancers known. Dr. Poul Sorensen and his colleagues in the Canadian Pediatric Cancer Genome Consortium hope to find the link between primary and metastatic tumours using revolutionary genomics technology and a highly skilled consortium of scientists and clinicians.


    Also in GenOmics:


    Found on Twitter


    There are millions of 140 character posts on Twitter and figuring out who or what to follow is a challenge. We’ve taken on the challenge and have a solid collection of people and organization we follow or who follow us as either @mikesgene or @GenomeAlberta

    With every edition of our GenOmics newsletter we give you a tiny sampling of what’s on the science side of Twitter. You can find more this week on our regular edition of Twitter Snips.

    In the meantime here are a few to try out:

    • @alicebell does school science still divide people into "pure scientists, applied scientists and failures"? 
    • @BiotechPatent  Oral Arguments are set for the #Myriad case at 10:00 AM on 4/4/11 #biotech #patent #in
    • @davidwees No amount of technology can initiate change. We initiate change, technology supports us. #edchat
    • @enniscath The best of luck to everyone still working on their #CIHR and other grants - especially @whereisdaz !
    • @genomicslawyer Glad Francis Collins thinking about surreptitious testing issues. Most recent GLR coverage:
    • @TonyClement_MP Numbers are just in: Canada's Q4 GDP was up by 3.3%. Highest in G7, but this is no time to rest on laurels...
    • @vaughanbell Lab to red carpet: NYT on famous actors, actresses and their background in science  via @crampell

    And just who lurks behind these posts?

    @alicebell  Alice Bell is a senior teaching fellow in the Science Communication Group at Imperial College, London. Academic and writer. She studies science in society and says she has also been known to knit.

    @BiotechPatent  Patent attorney working on biotech and pharma patent prosecution and opinions

    @davidwees David Wees is based in Vancouver and says he is a father, activist, educational technology consultant, math and science teacher, geek & sceptic. He is on the TEDxKIDSBC and Edcamp Vancouver planning teams.

    @enniscath  Cath Ennis is a British-Canadian scientist, blogger, grant wrangler, and godless lefty based in Vancouver. She skis in winter, kayaks in summer and ikes English football & tea, and Canadian hockey & beer.

    @genomicslawyer  Dan Vorhaus is a lawyer based in Charlotte, North Carolina. He advises genomics and biotechnology researchers, entrepreneurs, companies and investors on legal compliance and commercialization strategies.  You can find his Genomics Law Report at

    @TonyClement_MP  Yes, The Honourable Tony Clement, Minister for Industry Canada has a Twitter account and generally does his own tweets. Minister Clement has made announcements via Twitter before the media release hits the wires and you can also find a little bit about his taste in music and his favourite hockey teams.

    @vaughanbell Vaughan Bell is one of the bloggers at



    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:


    Animal death toll ends cloning trials

    Unacceptable death rates of laboratory animals have forced AgResearch to end its cloning trials. But the science agency says it will continue to create more genetically engineered animals using new research methods.

    The state research organisation has issued reports into trials conducted at its Ruakura centre that detail chronic arthritis, pneumonia, lameness and blood poisoning among the causes of cattle, sheep and goat deaths. The reports, made available to The Dominion Post under the Official Information Act, refer to trials including those carried out on genetically engineered animals being developed to produce a kind of super milk, as well as animals being cloned.


    Defining a complete genome, innovative sequencers, and the mess ahead for personalised medicine

    The Archon X Prize for Genomics offers a $10 million prize to to the first team that can sequence 100 human genomes within 10 days or less at a total cost of $10,000, with strict criteria for accuracy and completeness. However, given that there aren’t currently any gold standard genomes that could be used to confirm that a team has met the Prize’s requirements, and the complexity of judging the winner is far greater than for any previous award from the X Prize Foundation. To help refine the validation process, the Prize Foundation has just announced a collaboration with Nature to crowd-source ideas, which can be submitted via comments on the current plan over at Nature Proceedings.


    Wellcome Trust reviews progress in human genetics

    Leading UK biomedical research charity the Wellcome Trust has published a portfolio review reflecting on progress and challenges in human genetics. The Wellcome Trust spent £740 million on human genetics research between 1990 and 2009, the period covered by the new review, including a major contribution to the Human Genome Project via the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and to genetic epidemiological studies via the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium.

    The first large-scale study to combine genome sequencing and social-network analysis solves a mysterious TB outbreak. It was the baby's case that first caught people's attention: an infant in a medium-sized community in British Columbia that was diagnosed with tuberculosis in July 2006. When public health workers took a deeper look at the community's medical records, they found a number of additional cases suggestive of an outbreak. By December 2008, 41 cases had been identified, bumping up the region's annual incidence rate by a factor of 10.




    “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

    When:  March 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.


    Montreal Spring School of Population Genomics and Genetic Epidemiology

    The objective of the School is to provide training in rapidly developing disciplines that are becoming increasingly important in health sciences. It includes genetic epidemiology and human evolutionary genetics, population genomics and bioinformatics. The training will be based on real-data examples from the research of the instructors’ laboratories. In one module we will also present genealogical resources specific to Quebec.

    The School consists of four days of lectures and computer labs, plus an extra optional day for those who would need additional review of basic concepts in genetics, epidemiology and biostatistics (conditional to sufficient demand). Days 1 and 2 will cover introductory concepts in human population, medical genomics, and genetic epidemiology. Days 3 and 4 will give place to concurrent sessions in advanced concepts in population genomics and in genetic epidemiology and statistical genetics.

    When:  May 30th - June 3rd
    Where:  Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf
                   Montreal, Quebec


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