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February 2, 2018

Volume 33 Issue 3


Welcome to GenOmics!

We cover the latest Genomics news that matters most to Alberta, Canada and the World. The Genome Alberta newsletter for the Omics Generation

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In This Issue
Genomics Enterprise News Up arrow

Stories that we think will be relevant to Canadian genomics community. If you have anything you’d like to see highlighted here, drop a note to info@genomealberta.ca.

New funding announced for LSARP and Technology Platform competitions

On January 23rd Minister of Science the Honourable Kirsty Duncan was in Toronto to announce the successful projects from the 2017 LSARP competition in precision medicine, and the 2016 Technology Platform competition. At the same time we were able to showcase some of the Alberta projects at an announcement held at the University of Calgary. Once gain we are pleased to say that Alberta researchers are having an impact in medical research.

  • The $11 million Genome Alberta LSARP project Reducing the global burden of infectious diseases through precision population health is led by Ian Lewis from the University of Calgary and Deirdre Church from Calgary Laboratory Services.
  • David Wishart’s Metabolomics Innovation Centre received $11.7 million through Genome Alberta so it can meet an estimated tripling of metabolomics activities in Canada in the next five years.
  • Precision Medicine CanPREVENT AMR: Applying precision medicine technologies in Canada to prevent antibody-mediated rejection and premature kidney transplant loss is being led by Genome BC with Tim Caulfield from the University of Alberta as one of the project leaders.
  • Ontario Genomics is leading the Care4Rare Canada: Harnessing multi-omics to deliver innovative diagnostic care for rare genetic diseases in Canada (C4R-SOLVE) project with the support of Genome Alberta and Genome BC. François Bernier from the University of Calgary is one of the leaders of the $12.9 million project.
  • Susanne Benseler from the University of Calgary is a co-lead for the Ontario Genomics and Genome Alberta project UCAN CURE: Precision decisions for childhood arthritis. Deborah Marshall and Marv Fritzler from the University of Calgary are also part of the project. Deborah is involved in the ethical aspects of the initiative while Marv is working to develop effective early biomarker discovery and diagnosis.
More information is available on our website including an impromptu Facebook Live segment with then Minister Kent Hehr talking with researchers in Ian Lewis’ lab at the U of C, and an audio podcast with Ian Lewis and Deirdre Church. Complete information on the successful Technology Platform (doc file) and LSARP projects (doc file) is posted as well.

University of Calgary president Elizabeth Cannon stepping down by year's end

Dr. Elizabeth Cannon has advised the University of Calgary’s Board of Governors of her decision to step down from the position of president and vice-chancellor at the end of the current calendar year. She was appointed to the position in 2010 after serving as she was the dean of the university's engineering faculty. The search for a successor will begin immediately says the University. You can read a message from Gordon Ritchie, chair of the U of C Board of Governors and get more details about Ms. Cannon’s career in this story from the CBC.

The man behind an economic game-changer for Saskatchewan

Wilf Keller is a familiar name in agricultural circles. He is a past CEO of Genome Prairie, currently the president and CEO of Ag-West Bio, and is also helping to spearhead the Protein Industries Canada supercluster. In this article from the Saskatoon Star Phoenix he says, “There’s a demand for protein and Canada could be a supplier, but we’d like to supply it in a different way than just seeds going out on a boat.”

DeepMind supports new endowed research chair at University of Alberta

Last summer, DeepMind expanded its existing ties with the U of A and opened its first international AI research office there as well. This week they announced they are funding the new endowed chair and also supporting other departmental initiatives relating to AI research in the Department of Computing Science.
Read more on the University of Alberta website.

Trending Stories Up arrow

Here is what trended online and in print with our science community over the last 2 weeks. These are not ‘official’ trends but are based on the stories we see most often in our media monitoring reports and our social media reports.

Enjoy the material, and feel free to offer some feedback on the story selection.

Monkey clones

At the top of the list for media headlines and social media chatter recently is the monkey clone created by Chinese scientists.

We’ll start with some insight into the basics on what actually happened. CBC offered a straight forward account of what was accomplished and the China Daily took a self congratulatory but also fairly simple approach to the research success. The Washington Post was quick off the mark with the news and wasted no time in addressing the question that is probably on the minds of the general public. Are humans up next for cloning? The Times of London posted a story and video on the science behind the cloning and only a short editorial which is perhaps a bit unusual for the often opinionated newspaper. Opinions are plentiful on the research and you can get a small sample of public opinion from the Toronto Star’s letters section.

A longer read (with the same short video featured in the Times story) can be found in The Atlantic which always delivers good, fact based stories related to science and technology.

Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua are the first primate clones but they certainly are not the first mammals to be cloned. Dolly the sheep was the first to make headlines in 1996 and she kicked off a parade of cloning as you’ll read in CBC’s look back at cloned animals.

Goop update

Thank goodness GOOP continues to supply trending content. Dr. Jen Gunter attended the GOOP Health Event in New York recently and delivers a pithy takedown of facial cupping, Sonic Womb music, charcoal lemonade, and an event where words don’t seem to matter and “truth is irrelevant”.

Alberta Epigenetics Network News Up arrow

Behind the scenes — Interview with a female data scientist who is studying data of breast cancer cells

This article from Medium features Maryam Soleimani Dodaran, a PhD student within the European research consortium EpiPredict. She is part of a research initiative to understand why patients can become resistant to certain breast cancer therapies. They believe the answer lies with the genetics and the epigenetics.

She Has Her Mother’s Laugh

Carl Zimmer is a columnist with the New York Times, author of numerous science books, and a professor adjunct at Yale University. His new book She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity takes on our understanding and misunderstanding of heredity. The book is coming soon from Random House and you can see his latest column, "You are shaped by the genes you inherit. And maybe by those you don’t" in the New York Times.

Epigenetic alteration of a vitamin B12 processing gene shines new light on our understanding of rare diseases

An international research team led by scientists at the University of Lorraine in France along with McGill University and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre have made a discovery that could affect diagnosis, genetic counselling and therapeutic approaches in patients with a rare condition. cblC is the most common of the inborn genetic errors of vitamin B12 metabolism. The study was made possible by the financial support of the Region Lorraine, i-SITE Lorraine University of Excellence, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.

The original paper is published in Nature Communications and you can read the media release on the McGill University Health Centre website.

Epigenetics keep human egg cells fresh

New research found a distinct pattern of epigenetic marks that are responsible for putting a women’s eggs cells in stasis. The Babraham Institute team led by Dr Gavin Kelsey, with the help of colleagues at universities in Dresden and Munich, found that a protein called MLL2 produces the epigenetic markers. Read more on our blog pages.

Genomics in Society Up arrow

To get your latest full version of Genomics in Society news, visit genomealberta.ca/newsletters
You can subscribe to receive your bi-monthly edition direct to your email, cancel a subscription, and view all of our back issues.

WATCH: At Davos, industry leaders discuss the promise and pitfalls of precision medicine

Precision medicine is brimming with potential. Sometimes that’s about all we hear about – potential – but is real progress being made. At the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland last week there was a panel discussion on precision medicine today and what will move it ahead. This one hour video features a high-profile panel moderated by Linda Pizzuti Henry, the managing director of Boston Globe Media Partners.
Source: STAT

LISTEN: The promise of precision medicine

Another look at the state of precision medicine comes to us from Health News. This 16 minutes podcast features 5 experts in their field. Eric Topol (Scripps Research Institute), Mike Joyner (Mayo Clinic), Tim Caulfield (University of Alberta), Richard Harris (National Public Radio), and Tania Bubela (Simon Fraser University) were asked to talk about what’s hope and what’s hype.
Source: Health News Review

LISTEN: DNA barcoding reveals widespread seafood fraud in Metro Vancouver

The seafood supply chain is long and complicated and open to errors or fraud. DNA barcoding makes the task of traceability a little easier. This story includes a 7 minute audio interview.
Source: CBC

Request a woman scientist

Trying to get a better gender mix for an upcoming conference panel? A reporter looking for a new voice in an interview? This new platform offers a multidisciplinary network of vetted women in science to help you get started.
Source: 500 Women Scientists

500 Hundred Women in Science also made a splash this week with this op-ed piece in Scientific American. “Bill Nye Does Not Speak for Us and He Does Not Speak for Science” Keep an eye on the @500womensci Twitter feed as well because the group is experiencing a mix of support and criticism for the piece about Bill Nye being one of the Republican invitees to the State of the Union Address.

Events Up arrow

Genome Alberta has an extensive Events Calendar on our website. Visit GenomeAlberta.ca to see all the events, and sign up for our newsletters while you're there!

Prairie University Biology Symposium

The conference agenda is designed to offer significant opportunities for discussion and networking for students. Establish connections with colleagues from academia and elsewhere that will lead towards future goals. All biological sciences disciplines are welcome and encouraged to participate, whether via poster or oral presentation.

Speakers include Dr. David Suzuki and Dr. Anthony Russell, among others.

When: February 22-24, 2018
Where: University of Calgary

Click to connect to the conference website for registration & schedule details.

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.

Mini Med School: Microbiome & Diabetes

Mini-Medical School is designed for members of the general public who are interested in learning more about chronic diseases and topics such as Allergies, Concussions, Vaccines, Immune Deficiencies, Precision Medicine, the Microbiome, Women's Issues, and Environmental Exposures.

You won’t graduate with a medical degree after attending the Mini-Medical School series but you will gain more insight into healthy living and chronic diseases.

There are no pre-requisites to attend these lectures and they are open to the public from high school students to retirees. Each lecture will combine basic science with real life clinical situations in order to give Calgarians a better understanding of the effects of chronic diseases on the body. Each presenter is highly respected in their field of research, and is a current member of the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases at the Cumming School of Medicine with the University of Calgary.

This month, Dr. Kathy McCoy & Dr. Raylene A Reimer discuss microbiome and diabetes

When: April 9, 2018, 6:30 - 8:45pm
Where: Libin Theatre at the Foothills Campus, Cumming School of Medicine with the University of Calgary.

The closest parking lot to the Health Sciences Science where the Libin Theatre is located is Lot 6.

There is no cost to attend a lecture but online registration is required.

To listen to past lectures please click here.

Epigenetics & Chromatin

The 4th International Congress on Epigenetic & Chromatin is being held September 3 – 5 in London, UK. Program details are still being finalized but organizers are receiving abstracts now. Go to epigenetics.conferenceseries.com for more details.

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