In The News

CBC: Canadians’ well-being trails economic growth, study finds

November 30, 2016

The gap between the country's economic health and Canadians' well-being has widened over a two-decade period, according to a report released Tuesday. Over the period studied in the report -- 1994 through 2014 -- Canadian gross domestic product grew by 38 per cent, said Bryan Smale, a professor at the University of  Waterloo and the director of the Canadian Index of Wellbeing. "But our well-being has only grown by about just under 10 per cent, and that gap between our well-being and economic progress is growing," Smale told CBC News. "The trickle effect of that has been people are sacrificing important time in things like leisure and culture. They are not socializing with their friends as much, they are not protecting as much of their income for vacation and valued activities that does enhance their well-being," he said. The national well-being index is based on 64 indicators in eight categories, including living standards, time use, leisure and culture, and community vitality, among others. The index draws on about 200 data sources, primarily from Statistics Canada. Read the full article here.

Wall Street Journal: Does poor air quality hurt stock-market returns?

November 29, 2016

Want to make money on Wall Street? Try developing a trading strategy based on air pollution in lower Manhattan. But not just any pollution. The key is a particularly troublesome type known as PM2.5, or particulate matter that is 2.5 microns or less in size. These tiny particles—some so small that thousands of them would fit into the period at the end of this sentence—are especially harmful to human health, and unlike other kinds of air pollution, they penetrate easily indoors. It turns out that higher morning levels of PM2.5 in New York tend to suppress stock prices, while lower morning-particulate levels raise prices. That, at least, is the startling core finding of a working paper published by economists at Columbia University and the University of Ottawa. “Poor air quality in the city in which a stock market is based causes market prices to diverge from prices based on fundamentals,” the economists write. “When Manhattan-based traders are exposed to higher levels of PM2.5, the return on the S&P 500 on that day is lowered.” Read the full article here.

CBC: First automated vehicles begin tests on Ontario roads

November 28, 2016

The first automated vehicles are now operating on Ontario roads through a pilot project involving the University of Waterloo, the Erwin Hymer Group and BlackBerry QNX. Three automated vehicles are to be tested beginning today in technology that could lead to development of self-driving cars. Kitchener-Centre MPP Daiene Vernile and Transport Minister Steven Del Duca arrived in an automated car for an announcement of the pilot in Waterloo, Ont., on Monday morning. Earlier this year, Ontario became the first province to set a regulatory framework  to test self-driving vehicles, an emerging technology where the province is keen to be a leader. Read the full article here.  

Western U Media: WHO collaborating centre at Western University addresses international access to surgical care and anesthesia

November 24, 2016

Researchers at Western University have been tapped by the World Health Organization (WHO)to be the first official Collaborating Centre to study access to safe surgical and perioperative care on the global stage. In 2016, the 68th World Health Assembly passed Resolution 68.15: “Strengthening of Emergency and Essential Surgical Care and Anesthesia as a component of Universal Health Coverage.” This resolution designated surgery as an emerging pillar, based on the knowledge that five billion people around the world don’t have access to essential life-saving surgery, and 30 per cent of the global burden of disease would be preventable through adequate access to safe essential surgical services like C-sections and orthopedic procedures in trauma. “The global burden of disease, because of lack of access to surgery, by far outpaces the burden of disease for HIV, malaria and tuberculosis combined,” said Dr. Janet Martin, assistant professor at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, who is co-leading the WHO Collaborating Centre at Western. “Now it is our responsibility as a collaborating centre to shine the light on this problem. The numbers are staggering.” Read the full article here.

Metro News: Local scientists aim to treat cancer with virus

November 15, 2016

What if you could go to the hospital, get hooked up to an IV bag and have your cancer destroyed by a virus? You’d expect maybe a few flu-like symptoms, but nothing like chemotherapy. And from then on, your body is immune to that particular cancer. That’s the hope of several Ontario scientists who are pioneering the use of a specially engineered virus to do just that. It may sound too good to be true, but the scientists – now under the start-up company name Turnstone Biologics Inc. – just got a massive vote of confidence to the tune of $55.8 million. The new investment of private funds from the United States will allow the company to complete human trials with the goal of proving their technique is safe and that it works. Turnstone’s research is led by three scientists: Dr. Brian Lichty from McMaster University; Dr. David Stojdl from CHEO and the University of Ottawa; and, Dr. John Bell, senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital and a professor at the University of Ottawa. Read the full article here.

CBC: McMaster study gives greater understanding to autism’s root cause

November 9, 2016

A new study out of McMaster University's Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute gives a greater understanding of the root causes of autism, researchers say. Armed with that information, scientists will be able to begin the process of studying drugs to see if they are able to treat the disorder, said scientist Karun Singh. "Essentially, we can kind of pinpoint what could be the problem with a specific genetic fingerprint," he said. "You can't solve the problem until you can pinpoint exactly what it is." The findings, which were published Tuesday in Cell Reports, point to a kind of "on button" on a strand of protein that instructs brain cells to form connections between brain cells during development. Researchers say they have isolated the genetic changes that keep this particular protein strand "turned off" in some people who have autism. Singh says that researchers can now start looking for drugs that will correct these synaptic connections. Read the full article here.