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January 3, 2017


Welcome to the Genomics in Society Digest

Genomics in Society: Genomics and its related Ethical, Economic, Environmental, Legal and Social aspects.
This news digest is published by Genomics in Society at Genome Alberta. Feel free to forward to your colleagues.

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To kick off the new year, we've assembled a collection of the best science & genomics 'Top Lists of 2016' for your reading pleasure:

2016 Snapshot: BIO’s top five health blogs

BIOtech Now is the blog site for the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. This list is the top picks from those blog pages. Not sign of our Genome Alberta entries (we contribute every year from the BIO Convention) so we will just have to try harder!
Source: BIOtechNOW

Best of 2016: Top picks from genome biology

BioMed Central publishes 272 peer-reviewed open access journals, which span all areas of biology, biomedicine and medicine which put its editors in a pretty good position to spot some top stories and articles over the past year. This list features the editor’s picks including those articles which were accessed, liked, and share the most often.
Source: Genome Biology

133 new species described by the California Academy of Sciences in 2016

We’ve been hearing about species disappearing from the earth lately, so even if of there is a little optimism involved it is heartening to know we are identifying new ones. Among the new additions to the list of life are one bee fly, 43 ants, 36 beetles, one sand wasp, four spiders, six plants, 23 fishes, one eel, one shark, seven nudibranchs, five fossil urchins (and one fossil sand dollar), one coral, one skate, one African lizard, and an (alarming) new bird virus.
Source: Science Daily

The 12 key science moments of 2016

A common universal ancestor known as Luca gets a genetic makeover, scientists help plants to be more efficient in their use of sunlight, and the effect of climate change gets 2 spots in the 12. Thank goodness one of the other key moments is the discovery of a habitable planet.
Source: The Guardian

The greatest science books of 2016

Are these really the ‘greatest’? Start reading and let us know before the end of 2017.
Source: Brainpickings

BMC Genomics: highlights of 2016

Guess what? No CRISPR in these 3 picks.
Source: BioMed Central

Aural pleasure: My favorite podcasts of 2016

Health care innovation and a deep dive into genomics make this list, so turn up the volume and listen while you work.
Source: Forbes

The top biotech stories of 2016

Click the arrows and let the slides take you through a range of stories starting with President Obama’s cancer initiative. As you work through the year Theranos pops up many times, full genome sequencing for consumers make its debut, and of course CRISPR is always lurking in the background. You’ll have to add your own ideas to finish of December.
Source: TechCrunch

And we now return you to your regular Genomics in Society News:

In Montreal, a wee opening in the closed world of science research

The philosophy behind Open Science is transparency in methodology, availability of data and results, and good communication to the public. Among the goals of the movement is the accumulation and transferring of knowledge faster, and hopefully have the side effect of maintaining support from funders and the public. In spring of this year, the Montreal Neurological Institute announced that it would support the principles and notion of Open Science and the effort received a big boost in December with a $20 million donation for the launch of the Tanenbaum Open Science Institute at McGill.

You can read more on the Open Science initiative from an article in PLoSBiology by PACEOmics researcher Richard Gold.
Source: Globe & Mail

Cold tolerance among Inuit may come from extinct human relatives

A study of Inuit in Greenland has identified gene variant which may help them adapt to the cold. The variant could have come from a group of human which diverged from modern human a half million years ago.
Source: New York Times

What will science communication look like a decade from now?

Ancient scrolls, hand-operated presses, musty books, card catalogues, and the internet. Not always in step with the technology, science communication marches on nevertheless. Where is it headed over the next 10 year?
Source: Axial

Penn expert : Human genome sequences linked to health data will change clinical medicine

Sequencing large datasets of human exomes, and full genomes, has become faster, more accurate, and less expensive, and now researchers can find rare genetic variants more quickly. Two University of Pennsylvania doctors weigh in on the potential benefits of linking genetic to health records.
Source: Science Magazine

Gene test could pinpoint patients sensitive to new type of cancer drug

Scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research in the UK are testing for a gene often mutated in ovarian cancers. They hope to be able to identify patients who will respond to a new class of cancer drugs.
Source: Drug Discovery and Development

Money is pouring into immunotherapy research for cancer. But most of the patients who get into experimental trials are white

Two major research projects over a stark reality check. Researchers say they know there is a problem and are trying to correct it.
Source: New York Times

Feature: Gene Editing News Up arrow

Yes, even CRISPR got in on the Top Lists for 2016:

Top 10 innovations 2016

Thermo Fisher Scientific gets 2 CRISPR entries on the list and in general genomics technology does well in this life science innovations list. Thermo Fisher was so pleased to make the list, it followed up the mention with a media release.
Source: The Scientist

Compact CRISPR systems found in some of world’s smallest microbes

Gene editing just may become easier thanks to the discovery of a CRISPR-CasY system found in bacteria from underground at Crystal Geyser in California.
Source: Berkeley News

Scientists have discovered an 'off' switch for the revolutionary CRISPR gene editing tool

But despite its potential, it's still very new technology that, like any new technique, has the potential to cause side effects we can't yet predict - which could be really bad if we start using it regularly in humans. The good news is that scientists think they might have found an 'off-switch' that stops CRISPR in its tracks.
Source: Science Alert

Papers & Features Up arrow

Improving decision making about genetic testing in the clinic: An overview of effective knowledge translation interventions

Légaré, F, Robitaille, H, et al, PLOS (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0150123

Doctors are able to order genetic tests in a clinical setting and consumers are only a cheek swab and a click away from getting a test done on their own. But how are tests put to use in making healthcare decisions? There are concerns that the availability of tests and the quantity genomic information is outpacing the decision making process in the clinic.
One of the paper’s authors is Francois Rousseau a Genome Quebec supported LSARP researcher and co-lead of the GE3LS Network.
Source: PLoSone

Accelerating translational research through open science: The neuro experiment

E. Richard Gold PLOS Biology (2016)  http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.2001259

The experiment seeks to examine two hypotheses. The first is whether the Neuro’s Open Science initiative will attract new private partners. The second hypothesis is that the Neuro’s institution-based approach will draw companies to the Montreal region, where the Neuro is based, leading to the creation of a local knowledge hub.
Source: PLOS Biology

Events Up arrow

Visit Genome Alberta's extensive Events Calendar on our website at GenomeAlberta.ca. Connect With Us to sign up for our newsletters and see the Calendar of Events.

Precision Medicine World Conference

Recognized as a vital cornerstone for all constituents of the health care and biotechnology community, PMWC provides an exceptional forum for the exchange of information about the latest advances in technology (e.g. DNA sequencing technology), in clinical implementation (e.g. cancer and beyond), research, and in all aspects related to the regulatory and reimbursement sectors.

When: January 23-25, 2017
Where: Computer History Museum, Silicon Valley California

Conference details and registration

Festival of Genomics

The Festival of Genomics London brings together academia, biopharma and healthcare to explore the power of the genome in driving R&D and the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
  • Kari Stefansson, CEO of deCODE will offer insights into the company’s exceptional genomic data set and its implications for PMI
  • MHRA CEO Ian Hudson’s has insights into the development and regulation of precision medicine and companion diagnostics
  • You’ll get a glimpse into the Qatar Genome Program - a large-scale, high impact project that’s just completed its pilot phase
When: January 31 and February 1, 2017
Where: ExCeL London, Royal Victoria Dock, London England

More information and details on how to register can be found here.

12th Annual US DOE/Joint Genome Institute Meeting

This meeting will be of interest to researchers working in the areas of energy and environmental genomics and synthetic biology . The program will feature international speakers on a range of topics, such as microbial genomics, fungal genomics, metagenomics, and plant genomics; genome editing, secondary metabolites, pathway engineering, synthetic biology, high-throughput functional genomics, high-performance computing applications, and societal impacts of technological advances.

When: March 20 - 23, 2017
Where: Walnut Creek, California

More information and registration details.

Agricultural Institute of Canada - AIC 2017

The Agriculture Institute of Canada, AIC, is presenting a Conference to be held in Winnipeg, Manitoba in April of 2017. This year's topic will be "Agricultural Innovation in a Changing Environment". Agriculture and the environment are intricately linked within a complex ecosystem, with agriculture both depending on and impacting critical natural resources. Canada’s agriculture sector is an important steward of the environment and has an important role to play in meeting today’s global sustainability and climate-smart goals.

When: April 24 - 26, 2017
Where: Delta Hotel, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Further information and details on registration can be found here.

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