Dan Brown’s Origin

                                   I noticed a large stack of Dan Brown’s latest novel Origin when I walked down the book row of a big box store. It wasn’t too surprising as this book had been at or near the top of several best seller lists for the previous 5 weeks. I liked previous Dan Brown books, and I reviewed Inferno on this blog in 2013. When I checked the Origin cover description I knew this book would…

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International Microbiome Centre Tour – Part 4

Live cell imaging gives researchers the opportunity to see in real-time how an organism's immune system reacts to changes in the microbiome.  There are numerous live-cell imaging capabilities in the world, and there are a few germ-free facilities, but the University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine is the only place in the world where you will find both in one area. It is one of the research platforms at the International Microbiome Centre which…

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International Microbiome Centre Tour – Part 3

The 10,000 square foot International Microbiome Centre at the University of Calgary's Cumming School of Medicine opened this week. It has been in the works for almost 2 years, and for researchers the $12 million facility has been worth the wait. There are very few germ-free centres in the world and this is the only one that incorporates live cellular imaging. The microbiome is made up of trillions of bacteria, parasites, viruses, and other microorganism…

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International Microbiome Centre Tour – Part 5

This is the final part of our tour of the International Microbiome Centre's germ-free facility where you'll exit, but oddly it is also the area where material and supplies come in. Confused? Don't be. The whole facility is U-shaped and traffic flows in one direction from the most sterile to here - the least sterile part. It is a Level 2 area where pathogens come into the facility to be used in experiments and where…

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International Microbiome Centre Tour – Part 2

A germ-free research facility requires a good deal more care and planning than simply wiping your feet and washing your hands before you enter. Let's go behind the scenes to see how a new high tech research facility in Calgary will get the job done The new International Microbiome Centre is U-shaped, and once you enter there is a counterclockwise traffic flow that will eventually take you out of the facility at the other end.…

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International Microbiome Centre Tour – Part 1

There are only a few germ-free research facilities in the world and one of them is opening this month in Calgary.  Work on the facility began in 2015 with funding from the University of Calgary and Western Economic Diversification Canada. The new International Microbiome Centre is in the Cumming School of Medicine and will be used by researchers to study the microbiome. Everyone has a unique microbiome which is the community in our gut containing…

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Researchers discover eight new epilepsy genes

Approximately 30 per cent of patients with epilepsy do not respond to anti-epileptic drugs. In these cases, all neurologists can do is attempt to find the right combination of medication through trial and error. A treatment that could target the root cause of epilepsy is a beacon of hope for these patients. But identifying the cause of the pathology is no easy feat. "There are many genes involved," said Jacques Michaud, pediatrician at CHU Sainte-Justine…

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Researcher Brings Personal Experience to the Research Table

It takes funding, planning, and equipment to make a research project successful, but most of all it requires people. People with scientific knowledge and expertise, and with diverse scientific and personal experiences. John Pattison-Williams is a researcher with the Genome Alberta funded Chronic Wasting Disease project based at the University of Alberta.  Apart from his role in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences he doesn't mind being seen as 'country boy. His personal…

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Animal Welfare and Dairy Genomics: Attitude is Everything

Your parents may have told you to “lose the attitude”, but for an animal welfare perspective on applying genomics to dairy cows, it seems the more attitudes the better. That was certainly the case for a certain Masters student gathering producer views on animal care practices to help guide the Efficient Dairy Genome Project. “I focused on attitudes towards farm animal welfare through qualitative research methods,” said Emilie Bassi, a Masters student in the Department…

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Learning about Mass Extinction Events

                              A few days ago, there were major headlines and social media buzz relating to the space object A/2017 U1 coming towards earth at a speed of 156,400 km/h. It was first spotted as it flew past Jupiter, so if it were on a collision course with earth we would have had about 4 days to get our affairs in order. The dinosaurs didn’t even see the space object coming 65 million years ago. The…

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