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October 16, 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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Genetic struggles within cells may create new species

A mismatch between the genes in the nucleus of a cell and those in its mitochondria, may be responsible for evolutionary development where one species develops into two. That has “big implications for our concept of species and natural selection” says Geoffrey Hill one of the scientists studying the consequences of what is being called “mitonuclear conflict”.
Source: Quanta Magazine

Inside Germany's push for a global anti-microbial resistance hub

In July G-20 leaders agreed to form an antimicrobial resistance research hub and the first planning meeting takes place this month in Germany. The hub will likely be based in Berlin and it is envisioned as a secretariat that will collect and analyze research into AMR, its spread, drug development and investment opportunities.
Source: Devex

Carl Zimmer’s Game of Genomes

A long, but interesting read from science writer, journalist, author, and blogger Carl Zimmer. A couple of years ago he had his whole genome sequenced and got all the raw data so he could share it and write about it. He is wrote about the experience and the results in a multi-part series where he “learned just how hard it remains for experts to make sense of anyone’s genome”. This isn’t a new story but for those who may not have read it when it was first posted, it is worth reading.
Source: Stat News

Disease resistance successfully spread from modified to wild mosquitoes

Introducing more mosquitoes to reduce the spread of mosquito borne disease might sound like a strange idea. Researches however want to release genetically modified mosquitos with an altered microbiota that supresses human malaria-causing parasites. In a new AAAS Science paper, investigators say the latest research efforts have produced GM mosquitoes that preferred to mate with wild mosquitoes and passed the desired protection to offspring.
Source: Science Daily

Listen: How do we encourage more women in STEM?

Representative Lois Frankel is a Co-Chair of the U.S. Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues and is an advocate for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education for young people. Sabrina Stierwalt talked with Ms. Frankel at the 5th Annual STEAM Fair in Washington, DC.
Source: Scientific American

Is it time to stop using the phrase “science literacy”?

What exactly is “science literacy”? Does it mean you can do or understand science? Read about it? Think scientifically? Yet we use the term regularly in many difference contexts. Maybe it is time to say what we mean.
Source: Thoughts from the Hydrosphere

New law will require stem cell clinics to display warning notices

‘Strip Mall’ stem cell clinics have been coming under increasing scrutiny for treatments that range from useless to harmful. Starting next year California clinics offering therapies not approved by the FDA will have to post a public notice alerting patients to the treatment’s unapproved status. Now if only they had to also mention that it may also be useless…..
Source: Sacramento Business Journal

Can Alzheimer's be stopped years before it starts?

Roughly 90 institutions in North America, Europe and Australia are part of a study which is testing a vaccine and oral medication to prevent or delay Alzheimer's in older adults at genetic increased risk for developing the disease. While the focus is general on treating Alzheimer’s, this is all about prevention.
Source: USC

Response to “Proposal to update data management of genomic summary results under the NIH genomic data sharing policy”

The NIH is seeking comments on a new proposed policy on genomic data sharing. Daniel is a group leader within the Analytic and Translational Genetics Unit (ATGU) at Massachusetts General Hospital, and an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School. He has posted a draft response to the Request for Comments, along with a template for supporting responses.
Source: MacArthur Lab blog

AquaBounty and food activists clash over need for labels for GMO salmon

There is more than 4 tons of the GMO Aquabounty salmon on the market and GM food skeptics are not happy that they cannot track where the salmon are being sold. Canadian regulations do not require the fish to be labelled as genetically modified and they have been approved by the USDA and by Health Canada. The approach to marketing the fish is coming under fire for a lack of transparency and arguably is setting the wrong tone for the industry.
Source: Quartz

A brief history of the genes that color our skin

A study of diverse people from Africa shows that the story of light and dark skin is more complicated than previously thought.
Source: The Atlantic

Stephen Colbert digs into consumer genetic testing

As only Stephen Colbert could handle it.
Source: The Late Show

If you could use biotechnology to solve any food problem what would you do?

The GMO Innovation Contest challenges anyone to submit a 15–30 second video answering the question: If you could use biotechnology to solve any food problem around the world, what would it be and why? Submissions will be accepted through to Oct. 23.
Source: Medium

Universities introducing term limits for Canada Research Chairs to meet diversity targets

In May of this year the Federal government told universities they needed to produce an action plan to have more diversified nominees for Canada Research Chairs. The deadline for those plans is fast approaching and many universities are including term limits for the Research Chairs as one of the ways to meet diversification targets.
Source: Globe & Mail

Feature: Gene Editing News Up arrow

A new drug uses CRISPR to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Eligo Bioscience believes the creation of eligobiotics — new smart drugs that attack harmful bacteria with precision — will be enough to combat antibiotic-resistant diseases and prevent the millions of deaths the infections are expected to cause in the next 30 years.
Source: Futurism

Genome editing of human embryos broadens ethics discussions

Francoise Baylis, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Bioethics and Philosophy at Dalhousie University digs into the genome editing of human embryos. The technology is here and is not going away so we need to open up the discussion on the social, political and regulatory issues.
Source: National Post and The Conversation

Papers & Features Up arrow

A user’s guide to cheating death

Not to mention a guide to genetically tailored wine, music, art, facial cream, and shampoo. Don’t forget Fido, because you can get a doggie DNA test as well. (those links by the way are random and by no means are an endorsement. There are many more companies offering similar products)

Those seemingly far-fetched claims and other aspects of genetic perception vs genetic reality are part of Tim Caulfield’s new Vision TV series called A User’s Guide to Cheating Death. The 6 episode series airs Mondays at 7:00p MT but if you want to catch up on missed episodes, the series is available online on the Vision TV website.

Big data and health research—The governance challenges in a mixed data economy

Holm, S. & Ploug, T. Bioethical Inquiry (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11673-017-9810-0

[I]n the future much of the data will not be held by public authorities but by private companies. What are the implications of this shift for the governance of the research use of the data? This paper argues that increased involvement of Research Ethics Committees and better training of researchers are necessary; and that some form of consent will have to be re-introduced.
Source: Bioethical Inquiry

Encountered but not engaged: Examining the use of social media for science communication by Chinese scientists

Hepeng Jia, , Dapeng Wang, Weishan Miao, Hongjun Zhu., Science Communication (2017) 10.1177/1075547017735114

This article investigates the role of social media in China’s science communication and scientists’ selective use of them. We found that social media enabled Chinese scientists to avoid relying on legacy media and to develop more interdisciplinary collaborations. In the process, these scientists strategically chose different social media platforms to increase controllability.
Source: Science Communication

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.

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.

11th International Gender Summit

The Gender Summits are a series of interconnected, action-based events held across the globe since 2011. They follow the theme of “Quality Research and Innovation through Equality.” Their aim is to make gender equality in research and innovation the norm and to embed gender equality as a primary dimension of quality.

The agenda promises stimulating discussions on themes like the benefits of pluralism, Canada and its commitments to supporting diversity, diversity in an international context, diversity and leadership, perspectives from academia, society and grassroots approaches, and many more.

Members from industry, academia, research organizations, businesses, education, and other groups interested in gender equality issues are invited to follow the discussions and participate in the dialogue emerging from the Gender Summit North America 2017.

When: November 6 - 8, 2017
Where: Le Centre Sheraton Montreal Hotel, Montreal, Quebec

For more information, visit the GS11 website

SPARK 2017

Registration is now open for SPARK 2017, a clean technology/bioindustrial conference being co-hosted this fall by Emissions Reduction Alberta and Alberta Innovates. The event will provide an opportunity for innovators and researchers to connect with others in their field, and with purchasers, funders, innovation advisers, and industry groups and associations.

SPARK 2017 is expected to attract 400 or more attendees from the oil and gas, agriculture, forestry, clean technology and bioindustrial sectors. Conference sessions will cover a range of topics, including how Alberta is advancing technology through policy and regulation, how other jurisdictions have succeeded in advancing this area, innovators who have successfully accessed funding and what they learned, what the market is demanding today, and next-gen products and technologies.

When: November 6 - 8, 2017
Where: Shaw Conference Centre, Edmonton

Gairdner Symposium on Precision Medicine & Microbiome

Genome Alberta is pleased to be one of the sponsors for the Gairdner Symposium on Precision Medicine and the Microbiome. The symposium will feature world-renowned academic, researchers and industrial experts, including Dr. Lee Hood, Dr. Martin Blaser, Dr. Kevin Maloy, Dr. Gwen Randolph and Dr. Henrique Veiga-Fernandes.

The focus will be on precision medicine and the role of the microbiome in host immune cell development and function during health and disease including during infections, inflammation, and chronic disease. The opening of the Western Canadian Microbiome Centre (WCMC) will be announced during the event and you are invited to drop by the Genome Alberta display to learn more about our involvement in microbiome research.

When: November 9-10, 2017
Where: Foothills Campus, University of Calgary.

More information is available on the Gairdner website and at WCMC.

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