News and events

Canadian team sets human powered land speed record Posted: September 18, 2015

Canadian engineer Todd Reichart has claimed the human powered world speed record on land of 137.9 kph (85.71 mph). The Ontario group of scientists and engineers at AeroVelo engineering set the record on September 17, 2015. The same group also won the Sikorsky Prize in 2013 with their record setting Atlas human-powered helicopter. More at Gizmag.

The importance of health care in Canada's federal election Posted: August 25, 2015

In Canada's upcoming 2015 federal election, health care must be a key issue otherwise Canada’s health care problems will continue, according an Dr. Matthew Stanbrook, Deputy Editor of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ). The editorial catalogues the many ways that the Harper government has stopped collaborating with the provinces on health care programs and funding.  Read more at the CMAJ.

New mouse genes discovered Posted: July 27, 2015

The largest analysis of mouse genes to date has identified the function of 159 genes whose purpose was previously unknown. An international group of researchers including three Canadians developed new statistical methods to analyse the 413 measurements and 320 genes from each mouse. The new data set is available to the scientific community as a reference resource. The researchers took 413 measurements, including body weight, behavioral traits, and grip strength, from over 27,000 mice. They identified physical traits associated with 159 out of 179 genes whose functions were previously unknown. More at the Science Media Centre of Canada.

Footprints found on Canadian West Coast could be oldest in North America Posted: June 25, 2015

Footprints found in clay on the shore of Calvert Island on British Columbia's central coast appear to be 13,200 years old, which would make them older than any others ever found in North America. University of Victoria archeologists Duncan McLaren and Daryl Fedje led the team that made the discovery. More at Hakai Magazine.

Blood turned into nerve cells by Canadian researchers Posted: May 24, 2015

Mick Bhatia, director of McMaster University's Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute, says his lab hopes to eventually develop neurons that could one day be transplanted into patients to restore healthy brain cells as a treatment for various diseases, like Alzheimer's. More at the CBC

Canadian scientists solve knuckle-cracking riddle Posted: April 15, 2015

Scientists at the University of Alberta used MRI video to determine what happens inside finger joints to cause the distinctive popping sounds heard when cracking knuckles. For the first time, they observed that the cause is a cavity forming rapidly inside the joint. Watch the video available at the UofA Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine.

Canadians love birds Posted: March 10, 2015

Statistics Canada reported today that, based on the 2013 census, one in four Canadian households maintain bird feeders in their gardens. Homes in non-urban settings had the most bird feeders at 36%, while city dwellers provide bird feeders at the rate of 20%. Also, 9% of Canadian families own bird identification books or binoculars for bird watching. 

Canadian researchers spin spider silk proteins into artificial silk Posted: February 12, 2015

Spiders make seven different kinds of silk they use for different purposes. But although humans have farmed silkworms for thousands of years, spider silk has proven impractical. Instead, scientists in Jan Rainey's biochemistry lab at Dalhousie University are working out the molecular nature of the strongest kind of spider silk, which is used for wrapping prey, and using the knowledge to create new ultra-strong biomimetic fibers. Read more...

New Canadian guidelines for losing weight Posted: January 26, 2015

The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care has issued its latest guidelines on adult obesity prevention and management. Adult obesity in Canada has nearly tripled in the past 40 years. Today 67% of men and 54% of women are considered overweight or obese making adult obesity one of Canada’s most pressing public health challenges. Among other things the new guidelines recommend life-style changes over diet drugs such as orlistat or metformin. Experts note that a weight reduction of even 5% is beneficial and can extend life expectancy.



How much fossil fuel can we exploit? Posted: January 7, 2015

Canada would need to leave 75 per cent of its oil in the ground as part of a global effort to cap global warming at two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, a new study shows. The authors also conclude that the exploitation of resources in the Arctic should be ruled out. Using computer models, the authors found that if current global fossil fuel reserves are burned as planned, that will result in CO2 levels on Earth about three times higher than the +2 degree C level predicted by IPCC models. See our Stop The Burning page, Source: Science Media Centre.

Water water everywhere contains life Posted: December 17, 2014

A team of scientists, led by the University of Toronto's Barbara Sherwood Lollar, has mapped the location of hydrogen-rich waters found trapped kilometres beneath Earth's surface in rock fractures in Canada, South Africa and Scandinavia. Hydrogen sulfide and other salts in these waters support bacterial life, possibly for billions of years, which means there could be similar life deep beneath the surface of Mars and other planets. More at eScience news.

Stem cell breakthrough led by Canadian researchers Posted: December 11, 2014

A team of over 50 scientists led by Andras Nagy of Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital have discovered a new class of stem cells, which could eventually lead to new treatments for all sorts of diseases. In particular they have characterized all the proteins involved in the three week process that changes an ordinary skin cell into a stem cell, which can then become any kind of cell in the human body. The results are published today in the journal Nature.

Researchers develop clothes that can monitor and transmit biomedical info on wearers Posted: December 3, 2014

Researchers at Université Laval's Faculty of Science and Engineering and Centre for Optics, Photonics and Lasers have developed smart textiles able to monitor and transmit wearers' biomedical information via wireless or cellular networks. This technological breakthrough, described in a recent article in the scientific journal Sensors, clears a path for a host of new developments for people suffering from chronic diseases, elderly people living alone, and even firemen and police officers. read more

Pushing the limits of chemistry with iridium Posted: October 22, 2014

Canadian scientists working with the element iridium in Gary Schrobilgen's lab at McMaster university set a new record for the highest formal oxidation state in the periodic table of the elements. Oxidation state describes the number of electrons an atom loses or gains when it joins with other atoms in chemical compounds; the higher the oxidation state, the more electrons, critical in many applications, especially batteries. Previously the highest number was 8. Working with Chinese and German colleagues, the scientists created a gaseous form of iridium tetroxide reaching an oxidation state of 9. More at the Science Media Centre...

Take two parasites and call me in the morning Posted: July 26, 2014

Two recent papers suggest that some parasites may be good for us. UBC botanist Laura Wegener-Parfrey and Julius Lukeš of the Canadian Centre for Advanced Research question our traditional perception of intestinal parasites. The papers offer a systematic review of cases where humans have deliberately ingested parasites for research and suggest that certain parasites could have beneficial effects on conditions such as Crohn's disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. More at Science Media Centre of Canada.

Unlocking the secrets of amber’s toughness Posted: July 12, 2014

Amber is fossilized tree sap, an organic polymer that lasts millions of years, far longer than any plastic. A new analysis technique delveloped by scientists at the Canadian Conservation Institute in Ottawa explains how amber achieves its strength and durability, and could help humans mimic it in their own materials.  Scientists have been able to isolate the building blocks – including communol, ozol and succinic acid. Now we are beginning to understand how exactly how they fit together. More at the Science Media Centre of Canada.

How salmon evolve to beat the heat Posted: July 8, 2014

Researchers have discovered a link between egg size of chinook salmon and their ability to deal with warmer temperatures. The team captured spawning salmon and measured examined the genetic and maternal effects acting on the ability of offspring to tolerate heat; they found that mothers with larger eggs have more thermally tolerant offspring. As egg […]

A breakthrough for organic reactions in water Posted: June 26, 2014

Green-chemistry researchers at McGill University have discovered a way to use water as a solvent in one of the reactions most widely used to synthesize chemical products and pharmaceuticals.

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New horned dinosaur reveals unique wing-shaped headgear Posted: June 18, 2014

Scientists have named a new species of horned dinosaur (ceratopsian) based on fossils collected from Montana in the United States and Alberta, Canada. Mercuriceratops (mer-cure-E-sare-ah-tops) gemini was approximately 6 meters (20 feet) long and weighed more than 2 tons. It lived about 77 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous Period. Research describing the new species is published online in the journal Naturwissenschaften.

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International team maps nearly 200,000 global glaciers in quest for sea rise answers Posted: May 11, 2014

An international team led by glaciologists from the University of Colorado Boulder and Trent University in Ontario, Canada has completed the first mapping of virtually all of the world's glaciers -- including their locations and sizes -- allowing for calculations of their volumes and ongoing contributions to global sea rise as the world warms.

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Ancient Virus DNA behind Stem Cell Power Posted: March 31, 2014

A virus that invaded the genomes of humanity's ancestors millions of years ago now plays a critical role in the embryonic stem cells from which all cells in the human body derive, Canadian research shows. Computational biologist Guillaume Bourque at McGill University in Montreal, co-authored the study published online March 30 in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. Read more about this at National Geographic.

New fossil field discovered in British Columbia Rocky Mountains Posted: February 11, 2014

Expected to rival the Burgess Shale, a new fossil bed in the Kootenays should shed more light on the great Cambian explosion of diversity of living creatures that happened about 550 million years ago. Many fosilized creatures found at the new site have never been seen before. The team leader Jean-Bernard Caron is a paleontologist with the Royal Ontario Museum. Read more...

Quality control of mitochondria as a defense against disease Posted: January 21, 2014

Scientists from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital in Canada have discovered that two genes linked to hereditary Parkinson's disease are involved in the early-stage quality control of mitochondria. The protective mechanism, which is reported in The EMBO Journal, removes damaged proteins that arise from oxidative stress from mitochondria.

Stats Canada study verifies difference in male/female interest in science Posted: December 18, 2013

A study released today demonstrates how Canadian women prefer to choose non-science and non-mathematics related university courses even if they have a propensity for math in high-school. The study was based on the 2011 National Household Survey as well as a long-term Youth in Transition study that followed students from 2000 - 2010. Even if women have high mathematics aptitute they are twice as likely to choose to study the social sciences rather than engineering and computer science. Read the full study at the Statistics Canada Website. The data supports the findings of Canadian neuroscientist Doreen Kimura who has studied sex differences in human brains all her life.

Twitter not a good indicator of scientific impact Posted: December 9, 2013

Trends related to the most-tweeted peer-reviewed scientific papers published between 2010 and 2012, and their social media success, have been identified by Stefanie Haustein at the University of Montreal's School of Library and Information Science. Based on 1.4 million documents from PubMed and Web of Science, it is the largest Twitter study of scholarly articles so far. Consider that a paper about an altered gene during radiation exposure was tweeted 963 times but only received 9 academic citations. "When we look at the most tweeted articles, many have a surprising or humourous character. Articles are often tweeted anecdotally," says her supervisor Vincent Larivière.

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Improved colon cancer treatment by targeting cancer stem cells Posted: December 4, 2013

Scientists and surgeons at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto have discovered a promising new approach to treating colorectal cancer by disarming the gene that drives self-renewal in stem cells that are the root cause of disease, resistance to treatment and relapse. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the Western world.

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Quantum memory advance Posted: November 15, 2013

An international team of scientists led by physicist Mike Thewalt of Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada have created stable "Qubits" of information encoded in a room temperature silicon system lasting 100 times longer than ever before. Such memory systems are essential for future quantum computers. More from the BBC.

Fecal transplant pill knocks out recurrent C. diff infection, study shows Posted: October 4, 2013

Swallowing pills containing a concentrate of fecal bacteria successfully stops recurrent bouts of debilitating Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection by rebalancing the bacteria in the gut, according to Dr. Tom Louie at the University of Calgary.

University of Calgary researchers enhance quantum-based secure communication Posted: September 21, 2013

University of Calgary scientists have overcome an "Achilles' heel" of quantum-based secure communication systems by using a new approach that works in the real world to safeguard secrets.

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What scientists can see in your pee Posted: September 6, 2013

Researchers at the University of Alberta announced today that they have determined the chemical composition of human urine. The study, headed by David Wishart took more than seven years and involved a team of nearly 20 researchers. It found that more than 3,000 chemicals or "metabolites" can be detected in urine. The results are expected to have significant implications for medical, nutritional, drug and environmental testing. read more

People recycle more when stuff looks good Posted: August 27, 2013

University of Alberta marketing researcher Jennifer Argo found that people don't recycle products that look like garbage. If a can is dented or a paper package is torn people are more likely to throw it out. The research has implications for policy makers as well as manufacturers of products.

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Boning up: McMaster researchers find home of best stem cells for bone marrow transplants Posted: August 1, 2013

McMaster University researchers have revealed the location of human blood stem cells that may improve bone marrow transplants. The best stem cells are at the ends of the bone.

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BigBrain: An ultra-high resolution 3-D roadmap of the human brain Posted: June 20, 2013

Canadian neuroscientists in Montreal contributed to a landmark three-dimensional (3D) digital reconstruction of a complete human brain, called the BigBrain. You can fly through brain anatomy at a spatial resolution of 20 microns, smaller than a human hair --and it's in the public domain. Lead author is Alan Evans at the Montreal Neurological Institute.

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Potentially 'catastrophic' changes underway in Canada's northern Mackenzie River Basin: report Posted: June 10, 2013

Canada's Mackenzie River basin -- among the world's most important major ecosystems -- is poorly studied, inadequately monitored, and at serious risk due to climate change and resource exploitation, a panel of international scientists warn today.

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Billion-year-old water could hold clues to life on Earth and Mars Posted: May 15, 2013


A team of researchers including McMaster’s Greg Slater discovered what may be some of the oldest pockets of water on the planet pouring out of boreholes in a mine nearly 2.5 km below the ground in Timmins, located in northern Ontario, Canada – and they may contain life. read more


Canadian scientists figure out what makes us buy music Posted: April 16, 2013

 Researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University scanned participants’ brains as they heard particular patterns of sounds for the very first time. They found that neural activity in a part of the ‘pleasure center’ of the brain reacts differently for different individuals depending on the kind of music they have listened to throughout their lives. Activity in this region also predicted how much people were willing to pay for music. Learn more...

Discovery opens door to efficiently storing and reusing renewable energy Posted: March 31, 2013

Two University of Calgary researchers have developed a ground-breaking way to make new affordable and efficient catalysts for converting electricity into chemical energy.

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German scientists abort tar sands research Posted: March 19, 2013

Germany’s largest and most prestigious research institute has pulled out of a Canadian government-funded $25 million research project into sustainable solutions to tar sands pollution, citing fears for its environmental reputation. As many as 20 scientists at the world-famous Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres have ceased involvement in the Helmholtz Alberta Initiative (HAI), after a moratorium on contacts was declared last month. Read more...

Remains of extinct giant camel discovered in High Arctic by Canadian Museum of Nature Posted: March 5, 2013

A research team led by the Canadian Museum of Nature has identified the first evidence for an extinct giant camel in Canada's High Arctic. The discovery is based on 30 fossil fragments of a leg bone found on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut and represents the most northerly record for early camels, whose ancestors are known to have originated in North America some 45 million years ago.

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Canadian adult obesity at historic high Posted: February 27, 2013

Obesity rates across Canada are reaching alarming levels and continue to climb, according to a new University of British Columbia study.

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