In The News

CBC: Researchers predict ‘vaccine scares’ using Google and Twitter trends

December 13, 2017

What do Google searches and tweets tell us about disease outbreaks? As it turns out, analyzing search and tweet trends could give warning signs for when a disease outbreak may happen due to reduced vaccinations. An international team of researchers analyzed searches and tweets related to measles and the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine using artificial intelligence and a mathematical model, and detected warning signs of a "tipping point" two years before the Disneyland outbreak happened. In early 2015, there was a measles outbreak that was traced to Disneyland in California. Many of the people who fell ill in Disneyland were not immunized — some too young for the vaccine and others had personal reasons for refusing shots. The outbreak was declared months later in the spring. Read the full article here.

Ottawa Citizen: The smart apartment could change the future of aging in Canada

November 30, 2017

It looks like a typical one-bedroom seniors apartment, but hidden inside are a series of sensors that could change the future of aging in Canada. The apartment, located inside Ottawa’s Élisabeth Bruyère Hospital, is a living laboratory that comes equipped with technology that gathers information to help identify memory and mobility issues. The Sensors and Analytics for Monitoring Mobility and Memory hub is a joint project of the Bruyère Research Institute, Carleton University and AGE-WELL, the country’s technology and aging network. It is the first of its kind in Canada and those involved say they hope it leads to the development and testing of new technologies to help seniors remain in their homes longer and more safely. The hub was unveiled Monday. Read the full article here.

Global News: Western University researchers develop breakthrough short-term tornado forecasting

November 27, 2017

After collecting 16 years’ worth of data, two researchers with Western University ties have developed a system to forecast tornadoes with 90 per cent accuracy within a 100km radius. Tornado Identification and Forewarning with VHF Windprofiler Radars is the result of data compiled through 10 radar arrays stationed in Ontario and Quebec, including one just north of London. Western University professor Wayne Hocking and Western alumna Anne Hocking, PhD, compiled 16 years of tornado data and correlated that with real-time and archived data. Wayne Hocking told 980 CFPL that in contrast to tornado-chasers, they wait for tornadoes to come to them. “We’ve had to be very patient, we obviously can’t catch all of them but over the last 16 years we’ve caught 34 tornadoes which we’ve been able to analyze.” The data found that a combination of three factors were recorded in the majority of the tornadoes: specific profiles of cloud overshoot into the stratosphere, wind velocity, and turbulence. While they still can’t pinpoint exactly where and when a tornado will hit, the tornado-prediction method could buy as much as 20 minutes more warning time. Read the full article here.  

CBC: Canadian researcher joins NASA hunt for meteorites in Antarctica

November 27, 2017

An Ontario physicist is embarking on a NASA-funded expedition to Antarctica to collect meteorites, in hopes that the fallen space rocks will give researchers new insight into the outer reaches of the solar system. Scott VanBommel, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Guelph, is joining the annual Antarctic Search for Meteorites for a six-week excursion to the Transantarctic Mountains, about 350 km from the South Pole. It will mean sleeping in a two-person tent in one of the least hospitable environments on Earth, but VanBommel said it's a chance to give back to the scientific community. "I'm just really happy to go and be a part of this important work," the 30-year-old said hours before his Friday departure. "We can learn a lot by studying these fragments of space rocks that potentially are in their native form, from when the solar system formed. They provide us little windows into the past, to study and potentially learn more." Read full article here.

CTV News: PhD student makes groundbreaking discovery that may prevent spread of cancer

November 22, 2017

A PhD student in Ontario has made a groundbreaking discovery that may have the potential to prevent cancer cells from spreading. Caitlin Miron, a PhD student in the chemistry department at Queen’s University, has identified a chemical compound that may be able to “switch off” cancer cells in order to stop them from spreading. Studying at the European Institute of Chemistry and Biology in Bordeaux, France, Miron was able to use advanced screening technology to examine a number of compounds from the Petitjean lab at Queen’s University. During her internship, she was able to discover one compound that binds well to four-stranded DNA structure, or guanine quadruplex, which has been linked to the development of cancer and other diseases. Read the full article here.

Office of the Premier: Ontario Names Molly Shoichet the Province’s First Chief Scientist

November 17, 2017

Ontario has appointed Molly Shoichet to advance science and innovation in the province -- and to make government smarter and more effective by providing decision-makers with the world's best scientific research and evidence. The Chief Scientist will advise Premier Kathleen Wynne directly on key scientific matters, demonstrating Ontario's ongoing commitment to grow our economy by investing in scientific research and promoting our world-class science both at home and to international audiences. Shoichet, a professor at the University of Toronto and a member of the Order of Ontario, will report to Reza Moridi, Minister of Research, Innovation and Science. Read the full article here.