Genome Alberta's Official Newsletter


Genome Alberta Newsletter GenOmics - February 2, 2012

Volume 9 Issue 3

The Genome Alberta newsletter for the Omics Generation

- February 2, 2012 -

In this Update:

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

    Genomics News

    2012 Large-Scale Applied Research Project Competition in Personalized Health

    On January 31st Genome Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Government of Canada formally announced the new large-scale research project competition which will focus on the application of genomics in the area of Personalized Health. Through this partnership Genome Canada will implement an important element of its Strategic Plan (2012-2017) and CIHR will launch its Personalized Medicine Signature Initiative. This strategic partnership will build on the complementary mandates of Genome Canada and CIHR and provide an opportunity to maximize the effectiveness of the research communities, infrastructure and resources supported by both organizations.

    Genome Alberta has set up some new web pages for researchers looking for more information. Go to for more details on the competition, forms, and contact information.

    You can find the pre-announcement information and the full media release on our blog pages.

    Genome Alberta Workshop on the Application of Genomics to Hydrocarbon Resource Development

    On February 17th Genome Alberta and the Public Policy Forum are co-hosting a workshop on how genomics tools and technology can be applied to the development of hydrocarbon resources in Canada and around the world. Genomics or genetics are not the first thing that come to mind when you think of Alberta's oil and gas industry but there is a strong and useful relationship. Until recently, the limited ability to grow bacteria and other life forms found in hydrocarbon environments in the laboratory made it difficult to understand the genetic make-up of these organisms. However our new and emerging understanding of microbial action in hydrocarbons is now part of the energy industry in many ways

    Workshop objectives include:

    • To discuss the role genomics can play in developing a more productive and responsible Alberta energy sector
    • Assess the research and infrastructure capacity in environmental and energy genomics in Alberta, across Canada, and internationally
    • Explore funding models to advance this area of research.

    You can find more information on the workshop including a list of panelists on our website.
    This is an invitation only workshop but if you feel you can contribute or want more information contact Heather Smith at Genome Alberta at

    Deep Ancestry with Spencer Wells - A Genome Alberta Co-sponsored Event

    Genome Alberta in conjunction with the Epcor Centre is pleased to be the event sponsor for the National Geographic Live presentation of Deep Ancestry.

    Spencer Wells is a population geneticist, Explorer-in-Residence with the National Geographic and head of the Genographic Project. His tour is only taking him to 2 Canadian cities (Toronto’s Roy Thompson Hall hosted the other one) so you should set aside February 7th at 7:00pm

    You can find more information at the Epcor Centre or visit our blog pages for details and links about the presentation and the Genographic Project.

    Genome Alberta Board Member Receives Top Achievement Award

    Genome Alberta is always pleased to see any researcher recognized for their work but are particularly pleased to see Board Member Dr. Marv Fritzler among those recognized by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canadian Medical Association Journal

    The two organizations announced the six recipients of the 2011 CIHR-CMAJ: Top Achievements in Health Research Awards. Each researcher who is honoured improved our understanding of health and human diseases, helped tackle health challenges, and improved the health care system.

    Dr. Marv Fritzler was recognized for his work in identifying novel autoantigens that resulted in new diagnostic testing and biomarkers for autoimmune diseases.

    Visit our website for more details of Dr.Fritzler’s work and to learn more about the other researchers who also received a Top Achievement in Health Research Award.

    New Look Genome Alberta Website

    The freshly scrubbed Genome Alberta website is live at and we encourage you to visit it and check out its many features. We’re always on the hunt for new content to keep it a useful and dynamic site so if you have any events, news, videos, or images that you feel should be included contact Mike Spear at

    GenOmics Moves House

    We’ve also freshened up our GenOmics site and given it a new url.
    Go to where you’ll find some of the latest news on genomics and many of the other related ‘omics’ sciences

    Marc LePage Named Génome Québec Head

    Genome Quebec announced this week that Marc LePage will take over the role of President and CEO for the organization.

    Mr. LePage was one of the pioneers behind the founding of Genome Canada in 2000. During his tenure as Executive Vice-President of Corporate Development, he made a significant contribution to the development of genomics in Canada. From 1994 to 2000, he worked as Director of Business Development for the Medical Research Council, where he was in charge of building international partnerships with the pharmaceutical industry, venture capital and foundations.

    Most recently he was Special Advisor, Climate Change and Energy for the Embassy of Canada in Washington, D.C.


    GenOmics News - Top Stories

    GenOmics is safely in its new home at and continues to bring you some of the top stories related to genomics. We see it as a 24 hour newsroom for the Omics Generation and it is probably the only Canadian source bringing you up-to-date information and certainly the only one built in conjunction with an Open Source community.

    Check the feature stories on the front page or visit the newswires pages for a more complete look at omics news and views.

    Here’s is a small selection from the many stories that have passed through GenOmics in the last 2 weeks:

    Biomarker Bulletin: January 30, 2012

    Biomarker Bulletin is an occasionally recurring update of news focused on biomarkers aggregated at Biomarkers are physical, functional or biochemical indicators of normal physiological or disease processes.
    Genome British Columbia: Beating Childhood Brain Cancer-A Success Story

    In March of 1993, Penny Flynn and Jeff Date received devastating news: their nine-month-old daughter Taylor had been diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a cancerous brain tumour. Cancer is the leading cause of non-accidental deaths in children, and medulloblastoma is the most common form of childhood cancer. A new national, multi-disciplinary team made up of experts in BC and Ontario is leading the way to change and improve how this cancer is treated. With more than $9.8 million in funding from Genome BC and other partners, they aim to develop laboratory tests to determine which type of brain cancer the child suffers from in order to more accurately classify the tumours for treatment.

    Also in GenOmics:

    • Cancer Drugs Affect Mouse Genomes for Generations
      Three common chemotherapy drugs cause DNA mutations not only in mice that receive treatment, but also in their offspring, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. The results suggest that the genome in treated mice became destabilized yielding new mutations long after exposure to the drugs has ceased.
    • Genetics study reveals how pneumococcus bacteria evolve to evade vaccines
      Genetics has provided surprising insights into why vaccines used in both the UK and US to combat serious childhood infections can eventually fail.


    Found on Twitter

    Twitter is likely to sign on its 500 millionth account in February according to a posting on The Wall. That is a lot of users and not surprisingly it contains a diverse mix of people, countries, interests, and of course quality.

    and @mikesgene have about 1500 followers and we follow a few hundred back. Every 2 weeks we offer a selection of the tweets that we think you will find interesting or useful and from people or organization you might want to follow from your own Twitter account.

    We’ve checked the links so you’re safe. You can find a slightly longer list on our bi-weekly Twitter Snips installment.

    And the Tweeters are:

    @ayrrisbio  ayrrisBIO – Appistry provides high-throughput NGS analytics and big data omics storage solutions to the life sciences.

    @bakercom1 Pam Baker is a prolific and popular freelance journalist and author. Her work appears in leading print and online publications around the globe and on Genome Alberta Livestock blog pages.

    @cdnstemcell The Canadian Stem Cell Foundation is a champion of stem cell research around the world

    @EpiExperts New England Biolabs of Massachusetts is behind EpiExperts to engage epigenetics experts and provide a place to share your epigenetics research, ideas, and troubleshoot your experiments.

    @Genomengin Genome Engineering connects people who are interested in genome engineering at They are also a regular contributor to our GenOmics news site.

    @ShipLives Matt Shipman of Raleigh, North Carolina says he gets “paid to explain things to people: sci/tech research, food, beer, sometimes other stuff”. He is founder of

    @StemCellNetwork The Stem Cell Network based in Ottawa, supports projects that translate Canadian stem cell research discoveries into new and better treatments.


    GE3LS Digest

    To get your latest GE3LS news, visit our new webpage:
    You can subscribe to receive your bi-monthly edition direct to your email, cancel a subscription, and view all of our back issues.

    Should People Know About the Results of Their Genome Screening?

    If you were at higher risk for developing a condition like Alzheimer's disease or breast cancer, would you want to know about it? With rapid advances in genome sequencing, researchers are learning more about people's susceptibility to certain diseases, and a host of ethical questions about whether people are entitled to information yielded by their genes are causing scientists concern.

    Ethics and Genomic Research: ‘Genomethics’

    Anna Middleton is an Ethics Researcher and Registered Genetic Counsellor, based at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. She leads the ethics component of the Deciphering Developmental Disorders study, a collaborative project involving WTSI and the 23 National Health Service Regional Clinical Genetics Services in the UK.

    Canada regulatory model not quite perfect, but getting closer

    On January 16, BASF announced that for all intents and purposes it is ending its plant biotechnology discovery research program in the EU and expanding activities in Raleigh, North Carolina. They also announced the headquarters of BASF Plant Science would move from Limburgerhof, Germany, to Raleigh.



    Visit our web-based Calendar of Events at

    Using and Abusing Evidence in Science and Health Policy

    When: May 30th- June 1st, 2012
    Where: Banff, Alberta

    From May 30th to June 1st, 2012, the HeaLS Group will be hosting Using and Abusing Evidence in Science and Health Policy at the Rimrock Resort Hotel in Banff. This event will investigate how evidence is used in a variety of health and science policy domains, specifically considering the ways in which it is has been used (or misused) and represented (or misrepresented) in relevant laws, policies and regulations, in addition to the numerous challenges and barriers to its use in policy development. Event delegates will also consider the policy making circumstances that require sound evidence, and those that allow for a degree of evidentiary uncertainty.

    For more information contact Robyn Hyde-Lay at


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    In This Update
    • 2012 Large-Scale Applied Research Project Competition in Personalized Health
    • Genomics & Hydrocarbon Resources Workshop
    • Presenting NatGeo Live - Deep Ancestry
    • Dr. Fritzler Recognized
    • New Website
    • Welcome Marc LePage to Genome Quebec
    ....and more news, tweets, GE3LS & events!
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