December 1, 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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Canada’s last science adviser was Arthur Carty, who held the position until it was eliminated in 2008 by the Conservative government. Now the position has been brought back to life with Mona Nemer in charge. This is a good profile of Dr. Nemer and her thoughts on the new role.
Source: Toronto Star (see the next story)
Want to know even more about Canada’s Chief Science Advisor? At the Canadian Science Policy Conference in Ottawa in early November, Mona Nemer was on stage to talk about herself, her new role, and about science in Canada. You can see her conversation with Mehrdad Hariri on YouTube along with some of the other video and audio recordings of presentations given during the conference. If you don’t have time to watch the full recording of Mona Nemer at CSPC here is a summary from ScienceMetrics.
Billboard magazine has its top music hits and the NY Times has its best seller lists. Peter Kerpedjiev has his ‘top hits’ of the human genome. He is a software engineer with some bioinformatics training and what started out as a way to familiarize himself with genetics, has become an interesting project on its own. Spoiler alert – the top gene is TP53.
A study of her bones suggests the conventional wisdom about how clones age is probably wrong.
Source: The Atlantic
Genomics research needs large samples and the amount of data being generated is generally too expensive for a single researcher or project to collect and analyze. To help facilitate the process Biobanking and BioMolecular Resources Research Infrastructure Netherlands is building a single virtual platform to make collaboration easier and more efficient.
Source: In the Field
Five new projects have received funding under the Genome Canada and Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Joint Initiative on Societal Implications of Genomics Research. The projects were announced by the Minister of Science, the Hon. Kirsty Duncan, earlier this month as part of a major SSHRC grants and scholarships funding announcement. The overall objective of the Genome Canada-SSHRC joint initiative is to support social sciences and humanities research and related activities to increase our understanding of the societal implications of genomic research. More information on the newly funded projects is available on the Genome Canada website.
Family health histories can bring to light the combined influences of shared genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors. But what about adopted children? Genetic testing can help fill in the gaps.
Source: Genetics in Medicine
We don’t get many (okay, probably zero) opportunities to include a story from Rolling Stone magazine but this one seems to fit. The magazine’s Future Issue focuses on 25 inventors, entrepreneurs, and disrupters who are changing the world.
Source: Rolling Stone
Most new members of the Science Advisory Board have a history of downplaying the health risks of secondhand smoke, air pollution and other hazards.
Source: Reveal News
Years of political upheaval in Zimbabwe has ruined the economy and forced many people, including academics, to leave the country. Now that Robert Mugabe has been forced out of power and a new leader is in place there is some optimism that science will get a boost with the loosening of international embargoes, rebuilding the economy, and encouraging scientists to return home.
Source: Scientific American
Emily Mullin is the Associate Editor at MIT Technology Review. She talks with Kevin Folta in this 37 minute podcast about the application of gene therapy to animals.
Source: Talking Tech podcast
Coffee is good for you. Coffee is bad for you. Fat is bad for you, sugar is worse. What are people supposed to do in the face of conflicting stories about health and well-being? They get scared.
Source: The Guardian
Have your cow and eat it too thanks to biotechnology and ‘clean meat’. It is also the subject of a new book, Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World, by Paul Shapiro, vice-president of policy at the Humane Society of the United States.
Source: Globe & Mail
DNA testing can already identify foreign species in meat products, but it can't locate offal, such as hearts, livers, kidneys and stomachs, mixed in with meat of the same species. UBC's new technique can do both.
Source: Metro News
Apple Watch users are being asked to be join a new study being conducted with Stanford University School of Medicine. Data from the watch has been used before but this is the first study that Apple has sponsored.
Source: Washington Post
Feature: Gene Editing News
Humboldt State University going where previous undergrads have never gone before using gene editing technology. As part of the curriculum, students are also asked to propose research ideas using CRISPR.
The bacterial CRISPR/Cas system has a naturally occurring biological memory system, say the authors of a new paper in Science. They say it could be harnessed to “record the changes they experience through the whole digestive tract, yielding an unprecedented view of previously inaccessible phenomena”.
Source: GEN News
If gene editing can cure a disease, is it wrong to not use it? Where is the line between genetic enhancement and simply fixing what is wrong? And who decides what is wrong?
Source: Science News
Papers & Features
Yanai, I.,et al Genome Biology (2017) doi.org/10.1186/s13059-017-1357-1
The recent shift of computational biologists from bioinformatics service providers to leaders of cutting-edge programs highlights the accompanying cultural and conceptual changes that should be implemented by funding bodies and academic institutions.
Source: Genome Biology
Godino, L., et al. European Journal of Human Genetics (2017) doi:10.1038/s41431-017-0030-1
Enabling informed choice is an essential component of care when offering young adults presymptomatic testing for a genetic condition. A systematic review on this topic revealed that many young adults grew up with little information regarding their genetic risk and that parents had applied pressure to them during the testing decision-making process.
Source: European Journal of Human Genetics
Ross, LF., et al., Perspectives in Biology and Medicine (2017) doi:10.1353/pbm.2017.0027
This article explores the intersection of pediatric bioethics and child rights by examining the best interest standard as it operates within the pediatric bioethics framework in the United States and the child rights framework based on the UN 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). While the "best interest of the child" standard is central to both pediatric bioethics and the child rights community, it operates only as a guidance principle, and not as an intervention principle, in decision-making within U.S. pediatric bioethics, whereas it operates as both a guidance and intervention principle in the child rights community.
Source: Perspectives in Biology and Medicine
Nursey-Bray, M., et al. Ocean & Coastal Management (2018) doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2017.10.031
Citizen science has seen a recent burgeoning of interest, public involvement and diversity of programs developed for participation. It has become progressively important, both for its ability to engage volunteers to assist in generating observations at scales or resolutions impossible to attain by individual researchers, but also in enabling a coupling between natural and human approaches. Citizen science builds the capacity for researchers to access local knowledge and implement conservation projects that might be impossible otherwise
Source: Ocean & Coastal Management
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 for Precision Health Summit
The Technology for Precision Health Summit is presented by Health 2.0, who promotes, showcases and catalyzes new technologies in health care. Through a worldwide series of conferences, code-a-thons, and prize challenges, they bring together the best minds, resources and technology for compelling panels, discussions and product demonstrations, and more.
The day starts by diving into genomics and other –omics technologies that are rapidly making their way to clinicians and into Electronic Health Care Records (EHRs). This is the convergence of technology, science, and healthcare. Enabled by technology, how does this new information change the way that patients get treated? We will hear from healthcare providers, company CEO’s and physicians working in technology for clinical decision support. Other sessions include supporting R&D, predictive analytics, clinical trials and business models.
When: December 12, 2017
Where: San Francisco, California
Register to attend
The Plant and Animal Genome XXVI Conference
The Plant and Animal Genome XXVI Conference (PAG) is designed to provide a forum on recent developments and future plans for plant and animal genome projects. Consisting of technical presentations, poster sessions, exhibits and workshops, the conference is an excellent opportunity to exchange ideas and applications on this internationally important project.
Genome Alberta and the other Genome Centres will be well represented; we look forward to seeing everyone there!
When: January 13-17, 2018
Where: San Diego, California
Register here by January 12, 2018 to reserve your spot at the conference!
DOE JGI Genomics of Energy & Environment Meeting
Any and all researchers and students pursuing frontier energy and environmental genomics research are welcome! Also, all current JGI Community Science Program (CSP) users, as well as investigators considering an application for future CSP calls.
Running parallel with the Meeting, the JGI will be hosting the first ever Viral EcoGenomics and Applications (VEGA) Symposium – Big data approaches to help characterize earth’s Virome. The goals of the one and a half day symposium are to bring together a “viral ecogenomics” community, i.e. experts of viral/phage genetics, structure, ecology, evolution, and (meta)genomics, to foster discussions centered on how to best capture and characterize uncultivated viruses, understand the role of viruses in natural ecosystems, and functionally explore viral genetic diversity.
When: March 13 - 16, 2018
Where: Hilton San Francisco in Union Square
For more information or to register, please visit the meeting website.