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March 15, 2017

Volume 29 Issue 6


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

Canadian science research access for everyone

The Federal Science Library is online and open for business. The self-serve portal makes government research and resources available to anyone by connecting them with the collections of seven departmental science libraries. The collections are part of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Health Canada, National Research Council Canada, Natural Resources Canada, and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Visit the one stop library shop.

Genome Canada is recruiting Program Managers

Two Program Managers are needed by Genome Canada in Ottawa. There is a regular full-time position as well as a one-year contract position starting in July to cover a maternity leave. Reporting to a Program Director, and as part of the Programs Team, each Program Manager will contribute to the overall management of the genomics research and development portfolio, provide input into program design and the development, enhancement and interpretation of program related policies, competition guidelines and related criteria.

The application deadline is March 26 and you can find more information on the Genome Canada website.

Climate change impacting freshwater fish populations

A new research project, funded in part by Genome BC, will provide genomic tools to identify the genes that help some populations of rainbow and steelhead trout to be resilient to the effects of climate change. Climate change is posing a severe challenge to freshwater fish in Canada. Already record high temperatures in rivers and streams during the summer have forced temporary closures of popular fishing locations, and the effect are going to become more severe. The project was awarded through Genome Canada’s 2015 Large-Scale Applied Research Project Competition in Natural Resources and the Environment.

Read more about this project on the Genome BC website.

CSPC 2017 call for panel proposals: Deadline April 7, 2017

The deadline is approaching for you to be a part of Canada's largest forum on Science, Technology and Innovation Policy.

The Canadian Science Policy Conference invites proposals that revolve around any of CSPC 2017 themes. All organizations and individuals from across all sectors, disciplines and regions are welcome to submit proposals. Submissions will be reviewed and selected according to the published criteria. Take action and have your views heard!

Please note the deadline for submitting your proposal is Friday, April 7th, 2017. A detailed description of panel formats can be found here.

To submit a panel, please click here.

Forests key to mitigating climate change

Drought and unsustainable practices are placing forests at risk, yet they are crucial to the reduction of the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel global warming says the Climate News Network. Canada’s Genomics Enterprise is doing its part to address the challenges as four of the successful projects in the 2015 LSARP competition focused on forests and forest problems. BioSurveillance of Alien Forest Enemies is being led by Genome BC and Génome Québec, CoAdapTree: Healthy trees for future climates is lead by Genome BC, Genome Alberta and Génome Québec, Resilient Forests: Climate Pests & Policy – Genomic Applications is led by Genome Alberta, Genome BC, and Spruce-Up: Advanced spruce genomics for productive and resilient forests led by Genome BC, Génome Québec.

Saskatoon researchers could be 'a few years' away from Zika vaccine

With funding support from Genome Canada, Saskatoon-based researchers are working to understand the connection between the Zika virus and infant microcephaly. The research is being led by Dr. Uladzimir Karniychuk, a research scientist and veterinarian with VIDO-Intervac and is taking place in the companies containment facilities.

You can read more in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix.

ICYMI: Parliament passes genetic discrimination bill

It wasn’t quite the slam dunk many thought it would be but Parliament finally passed Bill S-201 by a vote of 222 to 60. Many Liberal backbencher chose not to toe the party line and voted in favour of the bill which will not become law until it receives Royal Assent. That is usually a formality but as you’ll see in this story from AAAS Science that too may become tangled in procedure. While Canada’s politicians were voting in favour of stopping possible genetic discrimination, the U.S. Congress was considering a bill that could start to unravel that country’s genetic non-discrimination act.
Read more: CBC, Huffington Post, Globe & Mail

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.

Scientists create ‘designer yeast’

Synthetic life is back in the headlines thanks to a series of papers published in the journal Science. Why work with yeast? A Washington Post story looks behind the research and includes a video with Jef Boeke from the Institute for Systems Genetics at NYU Langone Medical Center. This is not the first time yeast has been synthesized but this research could synthesize strains that would help produce novel medicines, chemicals and biofuels. It could also be the next step in producing more complex life as suggested by Reuters in this story and video. You won’t find many mainstream media stories that don’t include the word ’designer’ in the headline but at least syntheticyeast.org is able to stick to the basics. Some stories however went past the designer label and suggested scientist want to “bring it to life”.

The work was an international effort and China was quick to point out that it was part of the team and gave credit it its “Build-a-Genome Program.

The work on this project started 2014 according to Nature which makes the progress on this project faster than the first successful attempt.

And finally, for those want to take on some of the news while multitasking, this audio podcast from NPR lays out the story nicely with clips from researcher Jef Boeke.

Found on Twitter Up arrow

...is now: Stories from the Epigenetics Front

Starting with the next issue of our GenOmics Newsletter we will have a section covering epigenetics news from our own Alberta Epigenetics Network. We are also working on sprucing up the AEN website and while we work on both those projects, here is a quick peek into the epigenetics world.

Epigenetics 101: a beginner’s guide to explaining everything

Well maybe not everything but as we are adding a new section to our newsletter we thought this would be a good place to start. This appeared in The Guardian in 2014 and while research has been marching on since then, the basics are still the same. We particularly like the notion that you can use epigenetics to blame your parents for something that doesn’t seem to be genetic.

Introducing epigenetics: A graphic guide

Break out the Kindle because this new book by Cath Ennis (one of our favourite Twitter followers) will give you a glimpse into how and why we inherit certain traits, develop diseases, and how we have evolved as a species. The author is a British-Canadian scientist with a research background in genetics, genomics and cancers, and is also as a grant writer and project manager in Vancouver.
Read more about it on Ms. Ennis’ website. And yes, if you don’t have an e-book reader, it is available in paperback.

Marked for death: targeting epigenetic changes in cancer

Now that you have checked out what epigenetics is all about we’ll leave you with a little of the bad news. In the past few years, it has become clear that mutations in epigenetic regulatory genes are common in human cancers. You’ll need full access to read this paper from Nature but it will give you some insight into how advances in epigenetics will help drive cures and treatments.

Alberta Epigenetics Network Summit

Scroll down to read more about the annual Summit being held in Lethbridge this year on March 26-27. Details are also available on the AEN website.

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: The promise and perils of DNA editing

TED Talk by Eleonore Pauwels, Director of Biology Collectives, Senior Program Associate and Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington DC.
Source: Wilson Centre

Stream of surprises from the Atlantic cod genome

The story of “Calvin the Cod”, kicks off this story about the sequencing of the cod genome. It ends up with a peek into the evolution of cod and how some of the new information can be applied to fisheries management.
Source: Science Daily

'Butterfly Boy' steels himself for second stem-cell transplant

He went through nausea, fever and exhaustion after his first stem cell transplant but that almost seems minor compared to the rare and deadly disease he is battling. But 16 year old Jonathan Pitre is preparing himself to go through the transplant procedure all over again.
Source: Ottawa Citizen

First results of CRISPR gene editing of normal embryos released

Work done in China to correct genetic mutations in some cells is the first study to describe using CRIPR in viable human embryos. It was described as a small study and difficult to draw strong conclusions but was described as “encouraging”. You might want to follow up by reading some analysis on the Knoepfler lab stem cell blog.
Source: New Scientist

And to close our Genomics in Society for this edition we would like to introduce you to another company joining the genetic testing game. This time it is a life insurance company that wants to use DNA methylation to predict when you'll die. We think the short answer might be ‘no thanks’.

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!

Funding Innovation in the Life Sciences

The Greater Montreal chapter of Women In Bio will host a half-day conference. The event will bring together life science entrepreneurs and potential investors to discuss the challenges and opportunities in funding innovation in the life sciences. There will be a panel discussion made up of investors to discuss a range of funding options. An entrepreneur showcase session will highlight Québec success stories, with CEOs sharing their experiences and offering advice.

When: March 22, 2017, 8:00 am - 12 pm
Where: The Neomed Institute, Montreal, Quebec

Registration information available 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.

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.

Alberta's Annual Technology Celebration

AccelerateAB is the province’s annual flagship event and this year, it will be held in Calgary. Produced by The A100 and local community partners, the event brings together entrepreneurs, investors, key leaders, and supporters from across the province.

In addition, there will be a half-day round-table mentorship program that will provide startups with the opportunity to receive validation and support from some of Alberta’s most influential entrepreneurs.

When: April 19, 2017
Where: BMO Centre, Stampede Park, Calgary, Alberta

Check out AccelerateAB for more information

2017 AGRI Tech Venture Forum

The AGRI Tech Venture Forum is expanding its reach from previous years to bring together more investors and new companies in the ag tech area to search for new and innovative ways to monetize the sector. Industry experts will be available to analyze and discuss the changing landscape of emerging technologies within various areas of the ag tech arena. Whether you are an entrepreneur, corporate executive, investor, or government official, the AGRI Tech Venture Forum will provide you with an opportunity to connect with others in the industry.

When: May 11-12, 2017
Where: Toronto Marriott, Downtown Eaton Centre Hotel, Toronto, Ontario

Registration and agenda information

2017 e-Health Annual Conference and Trade Show

This is the 17th year of the e-Health Conference and Trade Show. It continues to offer proactive learning and networking opportunities with organizations and individuals that value quality health information as well as effective integrated system solutions.

The Trade Show provides an opportunity for direct access to members of the health informatics community and has sold out early in all previous years.

When: June 4-7, 2017
Where: Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Toronto, Ontario

More information and details on how to register

The 2017 University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) Beef Cattle Conference.

The theme for the conference, Raising Healthy Beef Cattle in a Changing World, will bring together not just beef producers, but also researchers, veterinarians and other key players in the beef industry. The focus will be on the challenges and solutions of managing cattle without the use of antibiotics.

When: June 22 - 23, 2017
Where: Deerfoot Inn & Casino

Listen to experts discuss current issues and present creative solutions and network with people from all facets of the beef industry.

For further information, you can view the conference website and registration website.
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