Author Archives: brian-lawrence-owensgmail-com

Nature Outlook: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating disease with poorly understood causes and no known cure. But research is slowly beginning to bring hope to those affected. This Outlook discusses topics such as: how genetic and epidemiological research are beginning to reveal the secrets of ALS; new drugs and other treatments that are finally becoming available; and the lessons that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge offers for funding disease research. Read more in this Nature Outlook I edited.

Automated software saves researchers valuable hours

Online tools are lightening the load for authors and journal editors.

An international partnership is developing online tools that could save authors and journal editors hours in manuscript checking, while ensuring, with the help of peer review, that published science is high-quality, replicable, and useful. Read more in Nature Index.

Canada names new chief science adviser

Mona Nemer, a cardiology researcher and vice president of research at the University of Ottawa, has been named Canada’s new chief science adviser by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“Scientists need to have a voice,” Trudeau said, making the announcement in Ottawa today.

Nemer’s office will have a CA$2 million budget, and she will report to both Trudeau and Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan. Her mandate includes providing scientific advice to government ministers, helping keep government-funded science accessible to the public, and protecting government scientists from being muzzled.She will also deliver an annual report to the Prime Minister and science minister on the state of federal government science. Read more in Science.

A budding cannabis research cluster in Fredericton

The city’s two universities create new research chairs related to cannabis.

A new research cluster will soon be sparking to life in Fredericton as the city’s two universities each begin their search for a researcher to fill a new chair in cannabis research, reportedly the first two such chairs in the country.

St. Thomas University’s new chair will focus on the social impact of cannabis, both as a medicinal and recreational drug, while the University of New Brunswick’s chair will tackle the pharmacology and biochemistry of cannabis. Read more in University Affairs.

Canada’s New Arctic Research Facility Prepares to Open

The Canadian High Arctic Research Station in Cambridge Bay will serve as a base for scientists studying everything from the region’s changing cryosphere to how to best deploy renewable energy projects in northern communities.

THIS OCTOBER, AS winter begins to draw near in the Canadian Arctic, a new research facility will finally open its doors.

The Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, has been 10 years in the making. First announced by the government in 2007, construction on the C$200 million (US$165 million) facility began in 2014 and should be completed by next year – but the official grand opening is set for October, to coincide with Canada’s 150th birthday year. Read more in Arctic Deeply.

Saving Canada’s Wild Salmon Policy

Canada already has a forward-thinking salmon management plan on the books. Now it just needs to implement it.

When Canada’s Policy for Conservation of Wild Pacific Salmon was announced in 2005, it was hailed as a major step forward for fisheries management in the country.

“It was a blueprint for how to manage, rebuild, and conserve wild salmon populations that puts conservation as the number-one priority,” says Aaron Hill, executive director of the Watershed Watch Salmon Society in Victoria, British Columbia. The most important part of the wild salmon policy, as it’s commonly known, is that it includes strategies and actions to achieve its goals, says Hill.

“That’s what makes the policy special,” he says. “It’s not just empty verbiage; it has some actual meat to it.” Or, it’s supposed to. Read more in Hakai Magazine.

Mapping the spread of predators and prey

Bogus journals and their victims are widespread, study finds.

The advent of open-access publishing has made scientific literature more accessible, but it has also given rise to ‘predatory’ publishers — shady outfits that will reproduce just about anything that resembles a research paper, without the safeguards of peer review or quality editorial standards.

David Moher, a clinical epidemiologist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute in Canada, and his colleagues, set out to find where these journals come from, and who gets duped into paying them. Read more in Nature Index.

Federal government getting pressed on many sides to adopt Naylor report

Researchers, university administrators, students and others across Canada rally in an unprecedented effort to ensure the government doesn’t ignore the report’s recommendations.

Canada’s academic community has launched a full court press to encourage the government to adopt the recommendations of the report of Canada’s Fundamental Science Review panel, also known as the Naylor report.

The report, requested by Science Minister Kirsty Duncan in June 2016, was drawn up by a panel led by former University of Toronto president David Naylor and released this past April. It found that Canada has been falling behind its international peers in science in recent years, and recommended a major increase in funding for basic, investigator-led research. The panel’s recommendations, if fully implemented, would see annual federal spending on research-related activities increase from approximately $3.5 billion to $4.8 billion over four years. Read more in University Affairs.

How Are We Now? Inuit Health Survey Returns to Nunavik

A health survey of Inuit communities in northern Quebec found widespread food insecurity and other problems 13 years ago. A follow-up now underway will see how much things have changed.

THE CCGS AMUNDSEN, Canada’s Arctic research icebreaker, has begun a unique portion of its summer research schedule – visiting 14 remote Inuit communities along the shore of Hudson Bay and the Hudson Strait in northern Quebec as part of a large-scale survey of the population’s health and well-being. Read more in Arctic Deeply.