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June 15, 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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More layoffs at Alberta Innovates due to massive ongoing budget cuts

After losing $60 million in the last 2 years, Alberta Innovates is facing another $16 million cut to its budget. 23 more staff were laid off last week as part of the restructuring.
Source: CBC

GMO debate about everything except GMOs

Agriculture is not a black and white practice with simple solutions for getting the best yield with the least input. Throw in the organic vs more conventional practices and it really gets complicated for reasons that often stray outside actual farming techniques. This article looks at the political and lifestyle values that get in the way.
Source: Daily Camera

Stem cell researcher takes on the brain’s fight against age-related diseases

What happens to the stem cells in our brains as we age? Kazakhstan native and University of Southern Calilfornia PhD student Albina Ibrayeva is tackling that question. She sees stem cell research as having a significant role in therapeutic applications.
Source: USC News

Apple genome sequence helpful to breeding of new varieties published

An international consortium of researchers from France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and South Africa have paved the way for the development of more apple varieties. Whether you’re after disease resistance, a sweeter taste, or a little more tang in your apple pie, the new high quality genome sequence published in Nature: Genetics will likely prove to be a good starting point.
Source: Phys.org

Free gene tests for Qingdao women to cut rate of birth defects

The 260,000 female residents of Qingdao, in China’s Shandong province are being offered free genetic testing. The tests are being done by the Beijing Genomics Institute and the goal is to reduce the rate of birth defects. The deputy director of the area’s health bureau says the tests will follow national regulations and standards, and the information is strictly confidential.
Source: China Daily

Love chocolate? It might be your genes making you crave it

A study presented at the Experimental Biology meeting in Chicago concluded that gene variants might predispose us to eat certain foods even if we know these foods are not good for us. The editors of your GenOmics newsletter can only hope that a personalized diet includes chocolate which we know is one of our favourite basic food groups….
Source: Healthline

The dangers of mail-in genetic testing

The big issue is not so much in the tests as it is in the average person’s ability to interpret the results. Genetics is only one factor in your overall health and the complex interactions make informed decision making difficult for people who buy the testing kits. And then there are the privacy issues, anxiety about the results, and ….
Source: Maclean’s

‘A feature, not a bug’: George Church ascribes his visionary ideas to narcolepsy

Even if he is asleep, George Church will wake up when he hears his name. Good thing, because the well known biologist has been known to nod off during panel presentations. Not because he is bored by the panelist, but because he has narcolepsy which causes him to suddenly fall asleep. He has never made a secret of his condition and even suggests that some of his ideas come to him while quasi-asleep. A good and frank article, and no, he is not yet studying the genetics of narcolepsy.
Source: StatNews

Feature: Gene Editing News Up arrow

WATCH: Biologist explains one concept in 5 levels of difficulty – CRISPR

A 7 year-old, a 14 year-old, a college student, a grad student, and a CRISPR expert get an explanation of gene editing using CRISPR from Neville Sanjana. All in just over 7 minutes.
Source: MSN

WATCH: Life changer

A breakthrough in gene editing, CRISPR, has given us unprecedented access to our genome, like we are editing a digital document. Jennifer Doudna spent some time with Keith Morrison (who happened to cut his journalistic teeth in Canada) to talk about the technology.
Source: NBC News

CRISPR pioneer Doudna envisions a world of woolly mammoths and unicorns

Once again, Jennifer Doudna has some thoughts on the promise and the peril of gene editing.
Source: STAT

CRISPR: A new toolbox for better crops

The gene edited crops are coming. A DuPont Pioneer corn variety will likely be the first one to hit the market but it will be the beginning of a new wave of specialty crops and varieties. Look for tomatoes and mushrooms next. The technology may have traction with science and industry, but what about consumers?
Source: Chemical and Engineering News

Which takes us to our final story: Forget GMOs. The next big battle is over genetically ‘edited’ foods

Is the industry facing the same problem it has with GMOs?
Source: Washington Post

Papers & Features Up arrow

Interpreting microbial biosynthesis in the genomic age: Biological and practical considerations

Miller, I, et al., Marine Drugs 2017, 15(6), 165; doi:10.3390/md15060165

Genome mining has become an increasingly powerful, scalable, and economically accessible tool for the study of natural product biosynthesis and drug discovery. This paper focuses on the current limitations of the technology and suggest some way to meet the challenge.
Source: Marine Drugs

A decade of discovery: CRISPR functions and applications

Barrangou, R., Horvath, P., Nature Microbiology 2, Article number: 17092 (2017) doi:10.1038/nmicrobiol.2017.92

You’ll need Nature: Microbiology to access this paper but it will give you a good overview of 10 years of CRISPR technology.
Source: Nature Microbiology

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.

Technology Platforms Supporting Omics Research

Genome Canada’s technology platforms provide researchers around the world access to leading-edge technologies used in genomics, metabolomics, proteomics, and other related areas of research. They also assist researchers in the development of research proposals by providing advice on appropriate technologies, study design, data analysis and bioinformatics that improve the quality of the research.

This webinar provides 'omics researchers an opportunity to understand the unique and specific service offerings provided by the platforms. Representatives form each platform will speak to their platform’s service provision model, mechanism for engagement, and general contact information.

This webinar will be of particular interest to applicants developing projects for funding through Genome Canada,

The following platforms will be presenting during the webinar:
  • Centre for Advanced Proteomics Analyses
  • Canadian Data Integration Centre
  • McGill University and Génome Québec Innovation Centre
  • Canadian Centre for Computational Genomics
  • The Centre for Applied Genomics
  • Network Biology Collaborative Centre
  • Toronto Centre for Phenogenomics
  • The Metabolomics Innovation Centre
  • Sequencing Platform at the BC Cancer Agency Genome Sciences Centre
  • The Proteomics Centre

When: Tuesday, June 20th from 12:00 PM (EDT) / 9:00 AM (PDT) – 2:00 PM (EDT) / 11:00 AM (PDT)
Where: Online

To register, please sign up in advance

Registration is limited. If possible, we kindly request that colleagues and teams in close proximity share a single registration to ensure everyone has the opportunity to attend.

Presented by the Canadian Genomics Enterprise.

Download the webinar poster (PDF file).

Agriculture Bioscience International Conference

Hosted by the Life Science Association of Manitoba and the Government of Manitoba, this year's ABIC Conference is set up to provide three days of guest speakers, student research presentations, exhibitors and networking opportunities for attendees.

A few of the topics to be presented:
  • Quality versus Quantity and the Implication to Food Security
  • Nutrigenomics / Nutrigenetics – How our DNA will shape our diets in the Future
  • Smart Farms - The Link between Biotechnology and Enhanced Nutrition
When: September 25 - 28, 2017
Where: Delta Winnipeg Hotel, Winnipeg, Manitoba

More details on the program, accommodations and registration can be found here.

American Society of Human Genetics Annual Meeting

The 67th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics is the largest human genetics meeting and exposition in the world. This year’s meeting is expected to attract over 6,500 scientific attendees, plus almost 250 exhibiting companies. The meeting provides a forum for the presentation and discussion of cutting-edge science in all areas of human genetics.

When: October 17 - 21, 2017
Where: Orange County Convention Center, Orlando Florida

More info & registration is available at the meeting website.

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