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December 1, 2016

Volume 28 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

We feature stories that are relevant to Canada’s genomics community. If you have anything you’d like to see highlighted here, drop a note to info@genomealberta.ca

Antimicrobial use in animals could lead to antibiotic resistance in humans

A University of Calgary team was recently selected by the World Health Organization (WHO) to conduct a systematic review of the available literature on antimicrobial use in animals and its effect on antibiotic resistance on humans. Led by led by Dr. William Ghali, the scientific director of the university’s O’Brien Institute for Public Health review was to help the WHO understand the seriousness of the issue. The findings were presented to the WHO in October.
Read more about the team’s work on the UToday website.

BC scientists play major role in international effort to map the human epigenome

Mapping the human epigenome may help meet the challenges of treating complex diseases like asthma, diabetes and cancer. The release of 41 research papers in the field of epigenomics from scientists across the International Human Epigenome Research Consortium is a major step forward in the that search. The Canadian contribution to the project is coordinated through the Canadian Epigenetics, Environment and Health Research Consortium Network which receives support from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Genome Canada, Genome British Columbia and other federal and provincial agencies.
You can see the full news release on the Genome BC website.

Ottawa Hospital receives $2.2-million in funding for stem cell research

Last week the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science announced $9 million for projects and clinical trials that will be funded through the Stem Cell Network (SCN). Almost a quarter of that funding will go into medical trials at the Ottawa Hospital. The funds will go towards running clinical trials, including salaries and costs associated with experiments in the lab and clinic according to MetroNews.
For the complete media release visit Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

California targets dairy cows to combat global warming

While Genome Alberta funded researchers look for ways to breed more feed efficient cattle that produce less methane, California law makers have specifically targeted greenhouse gases produced by livestock. Dairy and other livestock operations will have to reduce methane emissions 40 percent below 2013 levels by 2030. Dairy farmers are worried the new regulations will drive up costs in an industry already facing falling milk prices and a prolonged drought.
Read more in the Washington Post

Largest international study of its kind finds new schizophrenia risk genes

Canadian and international scientists have uncovered six new schizophrenia risk genes. The team was co-led by Dr. Stephen Scherer, Senior Scientist and Director of The Centre for Applied Genomics at SickKids and the McLaughlin Centre at the University of Toronto and Dr. Jonathan Sebat, Director of Beyster Center for Psychiatric Genomics and Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego, School of Medicine.
Read the full media release on our website.

Buyer beware? Professor Timothy Caulfield to investigate misleading stem cell advertisements

Professor Timothy Caulfield and Assistant Professor Ubaka Ogbogu have each received $50,000 research grants from the Stem Cell Network. Prof. Caulfield’s project is titled Stem cells and misleading marketing claims and Prof. Ogbogu’s project is titled Regulating the future: model policies for emerging stem cell research activities, including research on gene-edited and reconstituted embryos.
Read more about the funding on the U of A 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.

Congressional panel that writes cheques for science will get new chief

If you are tired of hearing about Trump, just let us know but for the moment we will continue our look at the effect a Trump Presidency will have on science. The U.S. President can have a major effect on many aspects of science from overall policy to priorities to funding but the many appointees, cabinet positions, and committee chairs have (as Donald J would say) a HUGE effect. The general practice is that all top level Presidential appointees resign before the new administration comes in so you can expect to see a lot of changes. Think Francis Collins – NIH.

Let’s kick it off with the House Appropriations Committee where the funding cheques come from. Though he will take his marching orders on general policy direction from the top, a moderate Republican and science advocate is expected to get the nod as Committee Chair which is an encouraging sign as we look to the New Year.

The rise of Trump is being credited to a rise in populist sentiment which is often accompanied by a negative view of experts, and with more emphasis on feelings instead of facts. Science|Business says that makes it more difficult to show the value of R & D and has created sense of urgency within the EU research community. The grim view was also felt at a European Public Health Conference according to The Lancet.

Meanwhile the Washington Post and The Guardian are reporting that a senior advisor to Trump on issues related to NASA said the President elect is cracking down on “politicized science” which would include NASA’s climate change research. Another bit of science to cross off your list. Immigrant and minority scientists are also crossing a few things off their list according to this piece in Nature. However the American Geophysical Union is one group not willing to watch even more sciencey bits fall off the radar. The AGU has launched a petition asking “President-elect Trump: Bring Science to the White House”.

And we’ll close off this edition of our Trending Stories with an overview from Scientific American. Science and the Trump Presidency: What to expect for climate change, health care, technology and more under the new administration.

Keep your eye on upcoming editions of our newsletter for more on where science in America might be headed.

Fraser Institute's wait time survey: Does it still count if most doctors ignored it?

This story started out as one about long medical wait times according to a study by the Fraser Institute. Headlines were quick to point out that the numbers reflected a 20-year high and there were numerous stories about how times for medical procedures varied depending on where you lived. Some regions such as Quebec lamented about having gone from being among the fastest for receiving treatment to languishing in the middle of the pack. The media in B.C. didn’t find much satisfaction in being number 1 on the list for the longest wait times for certain procedures.

Then reporters started to dig a little deeper into the survey. WCBC’s Kelly Crowe dug a little deeper into the study and asked “Does it still count if most doctors ignored it?”.

By the way , did you know there is a ‘Wait Time Alliance’ of doctors the advocates for improving wait times and to establishing benchmarks for acceptable wait times? Find them at www.waittimealliance.ca/benchmarks

Theranos update

Remember Theranos the privately held medical technology company that has a meteoric rise and is now on an equally steep fall into obscurity? If you need to refresh your memory this recent article from Ars Technica will help.

It seems that there were a lot of high profile investors such as media mogul Rupert Murdoch and Riley Bechtel of the Bechtel group, and according to the Wall Street Journal they are likely to lose most of their investment. For Mr. Murdoch that could be as much as 100 million dollars. The latest lawsuit against Theranos could be really big trouble as it is the first lawsuit seeking class-action status.

While it may be described as “fresh hell for Theranos” by Vanity Fair, the financial woes of founder Elizabeth Holmes are at least ensuring we do not run out of content for our trending stories section.

Found on Twitter Up arrow

It took longer than we had planned we made it over 2,00 followers before the end of 2016. Thanks to our fans new and old. To the rest of you who are holding back - be sure to follow @GenomeAlberta and
@mikesgene. You’ll see how we use Twitter in our science and research communications activities and we’ll follow you so we can exchange ideas and information.

This edition of what we found on Twitter was made possible by those who chose to share information and ideas:

@ABInnovates The official account for consolidated Alberta Innovates. albertainnovates.ca

@calestous Calestous Juma is a Professor at the The Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University and author of Innovation and Its Enemies: Why People Resist New Technologies

@MindFuelca MindFuel is an Alberta non-profit organization committed to science outreach and education for young people. www.mindfuel.ca

@TECEdmonton TEC Edmonton helps inventors, entrepreneurs, and investors access facilities, management and financing expertise to succeed in technology ventures. www.tecedmonton.com

@WD_Canada Account fot Western Economic Diversification Canada www.wd-deo.gc.ca

@WildLentils The project account for the Saskatchewan-based AGILE research initiative working on the breeding and genetics of lentils and its wild relatives (and distant cousins!). knowpulse.usask.ca/portal

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 author of a book called 'Am I My Genes?' says anyone who tries a personal genetics test should know these 5 things first

Robert Klitzman, a bioethicist and psychiatry professor at Columbia University and the author "Am I My Genes?"
Apparently, genes and genetic test can get complicated.
Source: Business Insider

Buyer beware? Professor Timothy Caulfield to investigate misleading stem cell advertisements

Professor Timothy Caulfield and Assistant Professor Ubaka Ogbogu have each received $50,000 research grants from the Stem Cell Network. Prof. Caulfield’s project is titled Stem cells and misleading marketing claims and Prof. Ogbogu’s project is titled Regulating the future: model policies for emerging stem cell research activities, including research on gene-edited and reconstituted embryos.
Source: University of Alberta

Canadian researcher in legal battle to keep her interviews confidential

This isn’t really about ‘omics but there is no reason to think that the same kind of challenge won’t make its way into biorech research. Journalists have learned how to protect their sources, but now Canadian graduate student Marie-Ève ​​Maillé is fighting a similar battle and her colleagues are worried that the case will stifle participation in research.
Source: AAAS Science

Introducing genomics in healthcare

This video is a couple of years old but it will still give you a good overview of the impact of genomics on clinical practice. It will only take 8 minutes of your day!
Source: Health Education England

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!

ArcticNet Annual Scientific Meeting 2016

ArcticNet will host its 12th Annual Scientific Meeting in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The ASM2016 will welcome researchers, students, Inuit, Northerners, policy makers and stakeholders to address the numerous environmental, social, economical, and political challenges and opportunities that are emerging from climate change and modernization in the Arctic.

As the largest annual Arctic research gathering held in Canada, ArcticNet’s ASM is the ideal venue to showcase results from all fields of Arctic research, stimulate discussion and foster collaborations among those with a vested interest in the Arctic and its peoples.

When: December 5 - 9, 2016
Where: RBC Convention Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Register here for this year’s ArcticNet Scientific Meeting in Winnipeg.

Alberta's Bioeconomy Engagement Panel Discussions

The Alberta Wood Waste Recycling Association, in partnership with BioAlberta and the CETC, are hosting panel discussions and a workshop that will explore both the market opportunities for rural communities in bioindustrials and investment challenges that are limiting the growth of the Alberta Bioeconomy, wood recycling industry. Find out how bioindustrial development can create opportunities for rural development through wood waste recycling, biomass extraction, power generation, and emissions reduction.

When: December 7, 2016 - 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Where: Clean Energy Technology Centre (CETC), 5400 - 24 Avenue, Drayton Valley, AB

More information and details on how to register.

Translating and Commercializing Genomics Research

This course is designed for a range of professionals involved in exploitation of technologies, such as business development professionals, business analysts in the investment community, innovation funders or senior researchers actively involved in translation. As the course has a specific emphasis on highlighting business models and developing spin outs as an exploitation route, it will also be useful to aspiring entrepreneurs.

When: December 7 - 9, 2016
Where: Wellcome Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridge, UK

Click for more information and details on how to register.

Methane and Air Emissions – Compliance and Cost Reduction

The Canadian and Alberta Governments have announced policies to reduce methane emissions by 40 to 45% levels by 2025. Although final decisions have yet to be made, applicable draft federal regulations are anticipated in 2017 with provincial regulations to follow. This information session sponsored by Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada will provide a primer on the issue and show examples of field implementation of emissions reduction equipment and technologies by 3 petroleum companies while adhering to criteria of cost effectiveness and operational reliability.

When: December 12, 2016, 9:15 AM - 11:00 AM
Where: Nexen Annex Theatre (+15 Level), 801 - 7th Avenue SW, Calgary, AB

There is no cost for this event.
For more information and registration details

Communicating Public Health Information

Join Canada’s leading health practitioners, communicators, advocates, analysts, and researchers, as they share the latest intelligence and approaches that:

  • Demonstrate how risk prevention and harm reduction increases positive public health outcomes – and saves lives
  • Raise public awareness, stakeholder engagement and government support
  • Conserve scarce public service resources and decrease public expenditure on chronic public health issues and crises
  • Improve public safety and aid at-risk communities

When: December 7 - 8, 2016
Where: Mariott Bloor Yorkville, Toronto, Ontario

For full details of the two-day Agenda and how to register, click here. (pdf file)

Precision Medicine World Conference

Recognized as a vital cornerstone for all constituents of the health care and biotechnology community, PMWC provides an exceptional forum for the exchange of information about the latest advances in technology (e.g. DNA sequencing technology), in clinical implementation (e.g. cancer and beyond), research, and in all aspects related to the regulatory and reimbursement sectors.

When: January 23-25, 2017
Where: Computer History Museum, Silicon Valley California

Conference details and registration

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