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February 15, 2017

Volume 29 Issue 4


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

Genomics on the Hill

February 6th marked another Genomics on the Hill event in Ottawa where Canadian MPs and government stakeholders were invited to meet researchers funded through Canada’s Genomics Enterprise. It was an opportunity to showcase how genomics technologies are being applied in Canada to solve big challenges in precision health and climate change. Twelve projects were highlight including two led out of Alberta. Filippo Miglior from the University of Alberta was there to talk about his project Increasing feed efficiency and reducing methane emissions through genomics: a new promising goal for the Canadian dairy industry and the University of Calgary’s Casey Hubert was on hand to talk about his GENICE: Microbial genomics for oil spill preparedness in Canada’s arctic marine.

Genome Alberta was represented by President and CEO David Bailey pictured at the left with Casey Hubert and Kerry Diotte, Member of Parliament for the riding of Edmonton-Griesbach.

The event was also a good opportunity to generate some media interest such as this interview which aired on CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning program.

Alberta announces $60M in grants for bioenergy industry

The Provincial Government is putting some of the carbon tax revenue back into the economy by supporting 31 bioenergy companies. The province defined bioenergy as “low-carbon energy or fuel made from agricultural products such as crops and livestock waste” and estimates that the sector contributes $800,000 the province’s economy. Minister of Environment and Parks, Shannon Phillips made the announcement last week in Medicine Hat where she visited some of the companies that would receive the support.

According to the Calgary Herald this isn’t the first time the industry has received a government boost – similar cash support was offered in 2006.

Canadian Science Policy Conference - Call for submissions

The CSPC 2017 call for panel proposals is now open for proposals that revolve around any of CSPC 2017 themes. The conference will be held in Ottawa November 1st to the 3rd. Deadline for proposal is Friday, April 7th.

Visit the CSPC website for complete details and submission criteria.

New website compiles information about current research and monitoring in Yukon

The Government of Yukon has launched a new website that offers information about research and monitoring initiatives conducted by or in partnership with the Yukon government. The site offers information on agriculture, economy, climate change, environment, health, social sciences and more. The Compendium of Current Research and Monitoring is part of the 2016 Government of Yukon Science Strategy and was launched earlier this month.

Genome Canada corporate plan available

Genome Canada’s Corporate Plan for 2017-2018 is now available online. (pdf file)

Successful MaRS rescue

From being described as a ‘boondoggle’ to having a waiting list for tenants, the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto has been able to pay back the loans that kept it afloat during the bad times. The innovation centre, which is also home to Ontario Genomics, provides space, support, and access to capital for entrepreneurs and says it is a “bridge to the business world” thanks to major tenants in the technology and R & D sectors. The loans became necessary as the centre started a major expansion that got caught up in the economic downturn. You can read more on the repayment on the MaRS website.

MaRS by the way tends to be a bit cryptic about how it got its name originally, but it is believed to stand for Medical and Related Sciences.

BC Cancer Agency researchers to be part of Cancer Research UK’s Grand Challenge

Dr. Sam Aparicio, has been announced as a member of one of the first global research teams to be recipients of Cancer Research UK’s Grand Challenge. The Grand Challenge aims to help overcome the biggest challenges facing cancer research in a global effort to beat cancer sooner. You can see more details on the BC Cancer Agency website.

Borealis blog subject editors wanted

Science Borealis is Canada’s first network of science bloggers and was co-founded by Genome Alberta. We still support the network which relies in volunteers to write original content and to aggregate content from 126 Canadian science blogs. We are always on the hunt for new volunteers and right now we need new Subject Editors to cover the 12 Subject Categories of our syndicated feed. Our roster of bloggers changes frequently, so we welcome inquiries for any of our subject categories. Email us at volunteer@scienceborealis.ca to inquire about openings. And be sure to check the Genomics in Society stories below, where you will see a piece of original content from one of our Subject Editors.

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.

The Travel Ban

At the time of this writing, President Trump’s travel ban remains overturned and has not been appealed by the White House, nor has a new Executive Order been issued. We’ve heard examples of people unable to travel or who were trapped outside the U.S, but there have been many stories emerging about what a continued ban could mean for science.

We’ll start with a story in the Atlantic by Ed Yong. His feature story appeared well into the travel ban but if you want to get an idea of the ban’s human impact how it affects research it could be the only article you need to read. Setbacks may be “like rocks in a stream” as one of the Iranian scientists says, but it is hard to imagine how some of those affected will be able to get past those rocks to the other side.

CBC had a similar story about Iranian scientists but delved into the international importance of the movement of science and scientists around the globe. Early on in the chaos that surrounded the ban the Toronto Star turned to a number of academic organizations such as Universities Canada to see what impact the situation could have on academic research. Abraham Al-Ahmad is a Syrian who wrote about his experience in Spectrum, a news site focused on the research and science surrounding autism. Though he holds a Green Card and has lived in the U.S. for seven years, he cancelled plans to travel to a conference in Berlin because he could well find himself stranded and unable to get back to Texas Tech University where he works.

There is little doubt that the strong movement of scientists and research personnel benefits not just academia, but industry as well. U.S. tech companies have spoken out against the ban as have “biotech bosses” as you’ll see in this story found in AAAS Science.

Needless to say social media had many stories and images and we’ll share some of this in future editions of our Trending Stories.

Found on Twitter Up arrow

Twiiter is a place to find good information. True.

Twitter is a place to find really bad information. Also true.

The only way to be heard and to help fix the latter statement, is to be part of the conversation or the channel where information is shared and discussed. A ‘seat at the table’ is probably an applicable cliché and generally that table is not tucked away behind closed door and paywalls. We need “Scientists On Social Media, Now More Than Ever”.

Join us in talking to the public about science and in talking to others in the science community by following @GenomeAlberta and @mikesgene on Twitter.

In the meantime, here is a small sample of what we’ve seen in our accounts over the last couple of weeks.

This edition of what we Found on Twitter is made possible by the following:

@LifeSciVC Bruce Booth of Cambridge, Massachusetts is an early stage biotech Venture Capitalist and a self described “recovering scientist”.

@MAMyths March Against Myths is an online site and group founded to “stand up for science”. www.mamyths.org

@NIH Official Twitter account of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. www.nih.gov

@OttawaMorning The account for CBC Radio morning show in Ottawa. www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/programs/ottawamorning

@UofAPublicHlth The offical account for the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta. www.ualberta.ca/public-health/

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.

The Case of Dr. Oz: Ethics, evidence, and does professional self-regulation work?

A growing number of people seem to trust celebrity doctors such as Dr. Oz more than they do their own doctor. What can the profession do to bring patients back to their family doctor?
Source: AMA Journal of Ethics. February 2017

It isn't Health Canada's job to put a positive spin on GMOs

Last year a report commissioned by Health Canada found that about 61 per cent of the people surveyed had a negative view of the term "genetic modification" and only 26 per cent of respondents said they would be comfortable eating GMO foods. While industry and researchers work to put out more information about GMOs, what role should Health Canada play? This article suggests that Health Canada should not be in the GMO promotion game.
Source: Huffington Post

LISTEN: Stem cell clinics

Emma Frow is an assistant professor with a joint appointment in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering, and the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes at Arizona State University. In this podcast from the School for the Future of Innovation she joins the hosts to talk about unregulated stem cell clinics.
Source: Future Out Loud

CRISPR-Cas9: How the quest for better cheese revolutionized biological research

This is the story of CRISPR-Cas9 from our Science Borealis blog pages. It begins with the age-old battle between viruses and cellular life.
Source: Science Borealis

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!

Tools for Adapting to Climate Change

This presentation is part of the Bringing Home Genomics series presented by Genome BC. Learn how cutting edge genomic tools are being used to detect and combat the threat of climate change in our environment.

When: February 23, 2017, 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm
Where: The Exploration Place, 333 Becott Place, Prince George, BC

The presentation is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

More details and registration can be found here.

Tools for Environmental & Agricultural Challenges

This presentation is part of the Bringing Home Genomics series presented by Genome British Columbia. The topic presented will be "Putting Genomics to Work: Tools for Environmental & Agricultural Challenges".

A discussion about the application of genomics in vital areas of life including the food we eat and our natural environment, will be led by Dr. Catalina Lopez-Correa – Chief Scientific Officer & VP Sector Development, Genome BC and Dr. David Charest – Director, Sector Development, Genome BC.

When: Thursday March 9, 2017, 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Where: College of the Rockies, Lecture Theatre 250, 2700 College Way, Cranbrook, BC

Registration is free but required.

CRISPR: Opportunities and Challenges Webinar

CRISPR is a genome-editing technique that provides a simple yet versatile method for making targeted changes to the genome of living cells.

In this CRISPR webinar, experts and researchers will review CRISPR's opportunities and challenges with a view to touching upon challenges such as reducing off-target effects, as well as new advances set to overcome some of the current limitations.

This is a an opportunity to not only learn from experts about how this disruptive technology is changing gene editing but also to ask your personal questions about CRISPR.

When: Tuesday March 14, 2017, 1:00 AM – 12:00 PM CDT
Where: Online

Register on Eventbrite

ACMG Annual Clinical Genetics Meeting

The program will provide genetics professionals with the opportunity to learn how genetics and genomics are being integrated into medical or clinical practice. The Committee has developed a scientific program that will present the latest developments and research in clinical genetics and genomics. This annual meeting brings together medical and clinical geneticists, laboratory personnel, genetic researchers and educators as well as medical practitioners who provide services for patients with, or at risk for, genetically influenced health problems.

When: March 21 - 25, 2017
Where: Phoenix Convention Centre, Phoenix, Arizona

For more information and registration details, click here.

Alberta Epigenetics Network Summit 2017

AEN Annual Summit provides researchers and industry partners a platform to share current knowledge & trends, expertise, resources, and challenges in the area of Epigenetics with colleagues from Alberta & across the country.

The summit participants will share knowledge in areas of:
  • Biomedical Research
  • Biology and Aging
  • Agriculture and Environment
  • Bioinformatics and Technology Commercialization
An added feature will be the ‘Young Investigators Session' with oral & poster presentations in the areas listed above. AEN Summit is open to all researchers, irrespective of their field of study, from human and animal health, plants, livestock and forestry.

Abstracts Deadline: Monday, February 27, 2017

When: March 27-28, 2017
Where: The Coast Lethbridge Hotel, Lethbridge, Alberta

Click for more information and registration details

Genome Alberta is pleased to be a major supporter of the Alberta Epigenetic Network and we encourage you to visit the AEN for more information and registration details.

Genetic Tools Workshop

The Stem Cell Network is sponsoring a three-day workshop that would appeal to trainees who want to advance their biological knowledge and research projects through the use of transgenic technologies.

Skills and techniques taught on the course:
  • Genome modification by CRISPR mediated gene editing (applicable to knockouts and knock-ins).
  • Strategies for generating reporter cell lines. (identifying the genomic region of interest, appropriate fluorescent protein, method of genomic integration and the genomic location).
  • Human pluripotent cells culture, transfection, subcloning and genotyping.
  • Gene over-expression with transposons in human and mouse stem cells (selecting a promoter, a method of genomic integration and identifying amenable genomic loci).

Application Deadline: Wednesday, February 22, 2017

When: April 24-26, 2017
Where: The Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Toronto, Ontario

More details and application procedures

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