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July 4, 2017

Volume 31 Issue 1


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

The BioInnovation Challenge is searching for the top new life sciences company in Atlantic Canada

The 2017 BioInnovation competition has more than $50,000 in seed funding and in-kind services available to help companies or researchers ease the transition from research laboratory to market. Since its inception in 2011, the BioInnovation Challenge has provided approximately $250,000 to winners and helped 38 companies to grow and attract investment. The competition is open to all early stage life science companies and researchers who intend on commercializing.

The deadline is August 4th and you can find more information here.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease – Canadian scientists help find the genetic culprits

Montreal scientists and their international colleagues have closed in on specific genes responsible for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) from a list of over 600 genes that were suspects for the disease. Professor John D. Rioux and his team at the Montreal Heart Institute and Université de Montréal, along with their colleagues with the International IBD Genetics Consortium, combined their efforts to produce a high resolution map to investigate which genetic variants have a causal role in the disease. This research was funded in part by Genome Canada, Genome Quebec, CIHR Genomics, and Crohn’s and Colitis Canada

View the full media release (pdf file) and the original paper in Nature.

Stem-cell researchers solve mystery of relapse in acute myeloid leukemia

Canadians were also at the forefront of a team led by Dr. John Dick which has traced the origins of relapse in acute myeloid leukemia to rare therapy-resistant leukemia stem cells which are already present at diagnosis before chemotherapy begins. You have lots of option to find out more about the work. Watch him explain the findings or read the media release and the original Nature paper.

The research was funded by the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, the Cancer Stem Cell Consortium via Genome Canada and the Ontario Genomics Institute, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Terry Fox Foundation, a Canada Research Chair, and The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.

Genomics and big data: 5 questions for a genomics software developer

Part of a new online series from Genome Atlantic, this post features Kelci Miclaus, PhD, a research statistician and one of the developers of JMP Genomics software from SAS Institute. She was one of the keynote speakers at a genomics in agriculture conference hosted by Genome Atlantic in Sackville, New Brunswick.

SU2C looking for a team of top investigators

Stand Up to Cancer has issued an open Call for Ideas for a new $10MM (US) Dream Team. This Call is not restricted to any specific cancer or approach to cancer research and Canadian researchers are welcome to collaborate to form or be part of a team responding. A Letter of Intent must be submitted by noon U.S. Eastern time on Tuesday, Sept. 5 using proposalCENTRAL and you can read more about the call on our website.

Career opportunity

Ontario Genomics is looking for a Communications Manager. You’ll need a relevant degree, at least 3 years of experience, and have a creative streak. The deadline for applications is July 26th and you can find more details here.

From our Blog Pages

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.

BIO 2017

Genome Alberta was not able to attend BIO this year to do our usual round of podcasts but even without our help the event still managed to trend during the week of June 18th.

BIO 2017 was held in San Diego which is considered one of the leading biotech centres in the U.S, so it isn’t surprising that the local media gave the event full coverage, starting with a pre-event build-up and a wide ranging discussion with BIO’s boss, Jim Greenwood. There were 16,123 attendees from 73 countries, 1800 exhibitors, and more than 800 speakers at this year’s event and the 41,400 partnering meetings broke previous records. 1/3 of the attendees came from outside the U.S.

The venue in San Diego is one you won’t soon forget as it holds all those attendees and presentations under one roof that covers enough space to hold 11 (American) football fields. This podcast from the last BIO in San Diego in 2014 will give you an idea of the logistics involved in keeping the show up and running.

In keeping with some general trends across science and biotech, BIO also has spent more time focusing on diversity issues. BIO admits that it has some work to do in the area but as the old adage goes, once you recognize the problem you are half way to solving it.

The event received extensive media coverage including 406 mainstream media stories and 520 online stories (identified through hashtags), from the 204 media representatives on site. Not to let a little thing like not being there get in the way, we still managed to add to the coverage and do a tiny bit to keep BIO trending:

The Doudna Update

The book tour is going well for the biochemist behind CRISPR. In our last newsletter, the top trending story was about Jennifer Doudna and her new book, A Crack in Creation, which is getting a lot of media attention. Well this time around the attention come from science journalist Ed Yong in the Atlantic. He at least manages to avoid references to woolly mammoths and unicorns. The Washington Post however did manage to work in a reference to her Hitler dream. Stay tuned - I’m sure the book tour will continue to make the news.

Alberta Epigenetics Network News Up arrow

WATCH: Crucial stem cell protein could be new target for stopping breast cancer

Cancer cells, like stem cells, have the ability to multiply indefinitely. In this video from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Camila dos Santos talks about research suggesting that blocking epigenetic factor BPTF may be key in turning that ability off.

Baby’s epigenetics may predict child’s conduct problems

We can hear it now: “my epigenetics made me do it”. Hopefully it won’t stand up when detentions are passed out at school, but it may explain fighting, lying, and stealing in some children. Findings by scientists at King’s College London indicate that certain prenatal environmental influences such as maternal diet, smoking, alcohol use, and exposure to stressful life events, seem to be related to “early-onset” behavioral problems. Read the full media release or the original paper.

The paternal epigenome makes its mark

For decades, prenatal advice has mainly focused on mothers, a father’s behavior can also influence the health of a pregnancy. There is a growing belief among scientists that a man’s behaviors and environmental exposures may also shape his descendants’ development and future health before sperm meets egg. You’ll need full JAMA access to get the whole article but you can get a pretty good idea from the preview.

If you can’t blame your epigenetics, maybe just blame dad.

Canadian epigenetics jobs and training opportunities

From the Canadian Epigenetics, Environment and Health Research Consortium Network

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: Medical treatments made just for you

60% of us will have a genetic disorder in our lifetime according to a University of Toronto professor. Brendan Frey is part of CIFAR’s genetic networks program, and is using machine learning to help develop better diagnostics and therapies.
Source: Research2Reality

A big step forward for Canada's federal scientists

Stephanne Taylor and Katie Gibbs from Evidence for Democracy say that one are where Canada is distinguishing itself from the U.S. is in its efforts to protect public science. Most recently is the commitment to create science integrity policies for all federal departments by 2018.
Source: Ottawa Citizen

What is Black? Students unlock mystery of ancestry through genetic testing

There is no genetic foundation for race but the science has been used to justify eugenics and racism. But Alondra Nelson says in The Atlantic that easily available genetic tests have helped many people dig deeper into their roots and back into their community. Students at Davidson College in North Carolina decided to use the technology to understand more about themselves.
Source: Davidson College and a story from The Atlantic that dovetails nicely.

Say hello to my little friends: how microbiota can modulate tree health

Feau, N. and Hamelin, R. C. (2017), New Phytol, 215: 508–510. doi:10.1111/nph.14649

The interaction between trees and pests is far more complex that we realize. The trees microbiota is now seen as playing a major role in tree health but our understanding of the relationship is still limited. A Genome BC / Genome Quebec LSARP project is studying a tree’s defence against disease and pests.
Source: New Phytologist

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!

Mining Microbial Genomes and Metagenomes

As part of the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology's annual meeting, the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DoE JGI) will offer a 1-day workshop on Microbial Genomics and Metagenomics. The workshop will include seminars and extensive hands-on tutorials on how to use the IMG interface for comparative analysis of isolate genomes and metagenomes.

When: Sunday, July 30, 2017, 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Where: Sheraton Denver Downtown, Denver CO

Details and registration information.

Agriculture Bioscience International Conference

Hosted by the Life Science Association of Manitoba and the Government of Manitoba, this year's ABIC Conference is set up to provide three days of guest speakers, student research presentations, exhibitors and networking opportunities for attendees.

A few of the topics to be presented:
  • Quality versus Quantity and the Implication to Food Security
  • Nutrigenomics / Nutrigenetics – How our DNA will shape our diets in the Future
  • Smart Farms - The Link between Biotechnology and Enhanced Nutrition
When: September 25 - 28, 2017
Where: Delta Winnipeg Hotel, Winnipeg, Manitoba

More details on the program, accommodations and registration can be found here.

4th Annual Canadian Conference on Epigenetics: Mechanisms of Disease

This symposium is intended to bring together epigenetics researchers and key international leaders in the field to engage in cross-disciplinary dialogue on recent advancements in the field of epigenomics with a focus on the impact of epigenetic mechanisms in human disease.

When: November 26 - 29, 2017
Where: The Westin Resort & Spa, Whistler, British Columbia

Conference web site
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