Ethical lessons from a friendly octopus

                             At a recent Sacramento science fair, a very controversial racially charged project was on display. I was asked ‘could such a project come to a Canadian fair?’ For the last ten years, I have been on Youth Science Canada’s National Ethics and Safety Committee which provides policies and guidelines for the annual Canada-Wide Science Fair. In this blog I am going to tell you how I got involved. In a follow-up blog I will…

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Genomics and Geology? Here’s how they belong together

Lowly bacteria are being put to work in the hunt for oil and gas.  It is a new use for geomicrobiology which is the field of research into the interaction between microorganisms and earth materials such as sediment, minerals, rocks, water, and many other features of our planet. It is also the basis for a Genome Atlantic and Genome Alberta project on de-risking offshore oil and gas exploration. Researchers from Nova Scotia and the University…

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U of L researchers study Alzheimer’s disease with APRI grant

Drs. Athan Zovoilis, a professor of bioinformatics in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Majid Mohajerani, a professor of neuroscience, have secured a grant worth $200,000 from the Alberta Prion Research Institute to study how the misfolding of proteins causes symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. “We know that protein misfolding, a molecular process in which biomolecules called proteins get an abnormal 3D conformation, is associated with the development of this debilitating disease. However, we still…

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Olympic athletes: Performance-enhancing epigenetics?

                                       With the coming of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang later this week, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at a brief history of the use of performance-enhancing drugs in athletic competitions. In view of a paper published in Nature this week titled “Human Skeletal Muscle Possesses an Epigenetic Memory of Hypertrophy”, I ask the question: Does this mean once a cheat always a cheat? Let's look back at the original…

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Harness the power of synthetic biology

Synthetic biology is an emerging branch of genomics which turns some of our old ideas around. Instead of reading and sequencing DNA, researchers are writing DNA. This approach and the new tools allow for the building of simple organisms or “biological apps” to make manufacturing more green, energy production more sustainable, agriculture more robust, and medicine more powerful and precise. Ontario Genomics is leading a special effort to put synthetic biology to work and you…

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Dairy Researchers Reading Clues and Making News

Researchers and detectives have something in common: They both read clues and make deductions to achieve success. While they aren’t tracking down criminals, the brains behind a Genome Alberta dairy project know that impacting feed efficiency and methane emissions in dairy cattle is a goal well worth pursuing. Like great detectives, they start by piecing the clues together to solve the puzzle. “We’re examining the transcriptome (RNA) and genome (DNA) of dairy cattle to improve…

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Gut Check: Researchers Target GI Health in Pigs

Those who take gut health for granted have never been without it. Fortunately, researchers on the Genome Alberta-led project to boost disease resilience in pigs appreciate the importance of a healthy intestine. That’s why Janelle Fouhse, a Post Doctoral Fellow at the University of Alberta, is working with Dr. Ben Willing on host/ microbe interactions, especially in the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract. “A key focus right now is looking at using prebiotics or nutritional supplements for…

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Is there a better way to test for CWD? We’re working on it.

Right now the only way to test a deer (or other cervids) for chronic wasting disease is to examine the brain of a dead animal. That is a time-consuming job requiring the co-operation of ranchers and hunters. Needless to say it is also a bit of a messy process. One of the goals of our 2015 Large Scale Applied Research Project on chronic wasting disease is to be able to test for the prion disease…

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What’s in your bloodstream? Calgary researchers want to find out.

You can't miss the vehicles zipping around Calgary and parts of Southern Alberta with the green Calgary Laboratory Services logo on the side. Kind of a taxi for blood samples with the passenger's trip being a time sensitive one with the possible life saving purpose of testing the blood sample for infections or pathogens. No matter how fast the sample makes it to the lab from any of the 1 million people who end up…

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Alberta researchers prominent in new genomics and precision health investment

Genome Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Government of Canada, and other public and private partners from across the country have invested $255 million in new health research. Covering cancer, cystic fibrosis, juvenile arthritis, childhood asthma, and many other diseases, the funding is going to the successful applicants in the 2017 Large-Scale Applied Research Project: Genomics and Precision Health, and the 2016 Genomics Technology Platforms – Operations Support and Technology Development Funds competitions.…

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