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June 4, 2018

Volume 34 Issue 5


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 Chief Scientific Officer at Genome Prairie

After 12 years with Genome Prairie, Chris Barker has left the organization and Simon Potter has stepped in from his previous role as Director of Manitoba for Genome Prairie. He holds a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and has held senior research positions at the University of British Columbia, FP Innovations and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Australia.

Prior to joining Genome Praire He previously held the position of Director at the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance and became Vice President of Product Innovation at the Composites Innovation Centre in 2009. Dr. Potter will be based in Winnipeg where he will also continue in his role as Adjunct Professor of Biosystems Engineering at the University of Manitoba.

Celebrating Dr. Michael Smith

25 years ago, British Columbia’s Dr. Michael Smith was awarded a Nobel Prize. Did you know or work with Dr. Smith? Did he influence your work and career? The Michael Smith Foundation wants to hear from you.

Canadian companies at BIO 2018

Genome Alberta will be at BIO in Boston along with 15,000 or so of our closest friends including 100 plus Canadian companies. Communications Director Mike Spear will be recording audio podcast throughout the week with as many timely and interesting guests as possible. A quick look back at last year was recently posted on the Genome Alberta website and if you want to look forward to who will be at BIO, here is a list of Canadian companies collated by BIOTECanada.

Join us for TasteTech and Tasteology

As part of the Inventure$ conference being held June 5-7 in Calgary, Genome Alberta is partnering with the ASTech Foundation and Corteva Agriscience for a special evening reception on June 6th. Starting at 6:00p well will be serving up an interesting (and delicious) menu of food from the intersection of biotechnology and agriculture. We’ll have AquaBounty salmon, the non-browning Arctic Apple, and omega-3 rich canola oil as part of a frying station. Agri-food experts and producers will be there to talk about the food, and malters and brewers will be on hand to take you through the brewing process as you move on to the Tasteology part of the evening.

Call for Borealis Blog subject editors

Genome Alberta is a sponsor and one of the founders of the Science Borealis blog network and we are looking for new Borealis Blog Subject Editors. These volunteers write for the Borealis Blog and oversee the syndicated feed for the 12 subject categories that Science Borealis covers.

There are openings in:
• Physics & Astronomy,
• Health, Medicine & Veterinary Sciences
• Math & Statistics, and
• General Sciences

Interested? See the job description here. Then email the SciBor team at volunteer@scienceborealis.ca and tell them a bit about yourself.

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.

Theranos Update

Yes, another update to the Theranos story. This time in the form of a new book which “documents the rise and fall of Silicon Valley wunderkind Elizabeth Holmes”. It is written by Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou and it tracks how the blood test start-up silenced its critics and covered its tracks. The author is interviewed on CBC Radio’s As It Happens and takes you from the company’s early claims, to it finally falling from grace and out of site.

Running 28 minutes, this is longer than many As It Happens interviews but it delivers a complete look at the story.

Alberta Epigenetics Network News Up arrow

How stress echoes down the generations

The effects of child abuse can last a lifetime – or even longer if it gets passed down through generations. Researchers from Tufts University published a paper in Translational Psychiatry that psychological stress can cause similar changes in the sperm of both mice and men.
Source: The Economist

Researcher proposes study on how residential school trauma may have affected genes

The trauma to First Nations children who ended up in the residential school system is well known, but Amy Bombay a Dalhousie researcher from the Rainy River First Nation wonders if there is a lasting effect on their genes. She is working with the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, a national Indigenous mental health and addictions organization, in approaching the preliminary stages of the research and hope to have a grant approved to being consulting with Indigenous communities.
Source: CBC

Epigenetics of pain mediators

Patients and providers know that novel medications for the treatment of both acute and chronic pain conditions are sorely needed. The understanding of epigenetics and its influence on nociception remains in relative infancy but early evidence is strong for potential therapeutic benefits to treat these conditions.
Source: Current Opinion in Anesthesiology

Memory transplants

A study that received a lot of attention recently showed how ‘memory could be transplanted’ using snail (Aplysia) models. Transplantation of RNA extracted from central nervous system of sensitized snails to untrained animals resulted in sensitization in the naïve animal. This RNA induced sensitization required DNA methylation and has confirmed the hypothesis that RNA-induced epigenetic changes underlie memory storage in Aplysia. The findings challenge the generally accepted position that long term memory is encoded through synapses and propose that long term memory is actually encoded by epigenetic changes (mediated through non coding RNA).
Source: eNeuro

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.

Pink pineapples and healthy fries: The new GM foods made for you

Apples that don’t brown, potatoes that don’t bruise, and omega-3 canola are just a few of the genetically modified foods on the market today. They are not just the product of a scientific idea – they were developed because they had characteristics in demand by consumers.

And as an aside Genome Alberta would like you to join us for non-browning apples, omega-3 canola, AquaBounty salmon and other interesting menu items specially prepared for our TasteTech reception that is part of the Inventure$ conference in Calgary. Want to attend a special evening of high-tech food? Go to our registration page and use promo code GABNewsletter

Source: New Scientist

Unconscious biases in the grant peer-review process

Grant application reviewers who are acquainted with the applicant must declare their conflicts of interest to remove any appearance of preference. Nevertheless, unconscious biases can still sneak in. Also known as implicit bias, this can be for or against a variety of characteristics that have no bearing on the merit or excellence of the applicant.

University of Alberta's School of Public Health to get a northern touch

“Fly in and out” academics may become a thing of the past as the University of Alberta works towards a School of Public Health campus in Yellowknife. The northern strategy was launched last week and will include a Yellowknife-based professor, five adjunct professors from the Northwest Territories, and more opportunities for the school’s students to study in the NWT.
Source: Cabin Radio and CBC

CRISPR Therapeutics and Vertex provide update on FDA review of investigational new drug application for CTX001 for the treatment of sickle cell disease

“CRISPR Therapeutics and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated announced this week that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has placed a clinical hold on the Investigational New Drug Application (IND) for CTX001 for the treatment of sickle cell disease pending the resolution of certain questions that will be provided by the FDA as part of its review of the IND. The IND was submitted to the FDA in April to support the planned initiation of a Phase 1/2 trial in the U.S. in adult patients with sickle cell disease. CRISPR and Vertex expect to obtain additional information on the FDA’s questions in the near future and plan to work rapidly with the FDA toward a resolution”.
Source: News Release

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!

ComSciCon 2018

At ComSciCon's National Workshop, participants build communication skills that scientists and other technical professionals need to express ideas to their peers, experts in other fields, and the general public. 

This year, the panel discussions feature the following topics:

  • Creative / Digital Storytelling
  • Diversity / Inclusivity in Science and Science Communication
  • Science Journalism
  • Case Study: Science Communication in Medicine

In addition to these discussions, time is allocated for networking with science communication experts and developing science outreach collaborations with fellow graduate students. Workshop participants will produce an original piece of science writing and receive feedback from workshop attendees and professional science communicators, including journalists, authors, public policy advocates, educators, and more.

When: June 14th-16th, 2018
Where: Boston, MA

To apply, click here. Acceptance to the workshop is competitive; attendance is free, and travel support and lodging is provided to accepted applicants.
For more information, please contact comscicon18@comscicon.org or join the informational email list

The Art of Leadership for Women

The Art of Leadership for Women brings together a unique collection of extraordinary, influential women whose talent, drive and passion have established them as dynamic leaders and change agents. These role models share their personal stories while shining a humanistic lens on many of the narratives and issues confronting women in business today.

Speakers include:
  • Arianna Huffington
  • Laura Vanderkam
  • Tiffany Dufu
  • Dr. Annie McKee
  • Tammy Heermann
When: June 26, 2018
Where: Calgary Telus Convention Centre

Learn more & register at the conference website.

Atlantic Venture Forum

The entrepreneurial landscape has changed significantly since the first Atlantic Venture Forum (AVF) in 2013. As the ecosystem continues to gain momentum, the AVF is being transformed to meet the needs of this dynamic region. New ventures and growth stage companies need more than just financial capital to succeed. Innovation, partnerships, ingenuity, and expertise are just a few of the ingredients for an entrepreneur’s tech success story.

The forum offers:
  • Networking: Tech industry executives, entrepreneurs, Investors, corporate strategics, research partners, and more.
  • Inspiration and Ingenuity: A technology showcase featuring outstanding early stage companies complimented by mature growth stage companies, all from the Atlantic Canadian region.
  • Business Intelligence: The latest investment and innovation trends direct from industry experts.

When: June 28-29, 2018
Where: Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Click to visit the conference website for information about speakers and program schedule.

4th Int'l Congress on Epigenetics & Chromatin

Theme: Epigenetics: The Science of Change

When: September 3-5, 2018
Where: London, UK (Park Inn by Radisson London Heathrow)

Registration available online.

More information to be posted as available, including abstract submissions and program schedule.

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