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To catch a cheat

How officials are investigating blood dopers at the Olympics As part of Distillations three-part series on body fluids — Blood, Sweat, and Tears — I find out how Olympic officials are investigating blood dopers at this year’s games.

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Radioactive medicine without the nuclear headache

The Globe and Mail A made-in-Canada solution to our medical-isotope problem could come from a machine with a name that could have been pulled straight from the pages of a science fiction novel: the cyclotron. “It was really pooh-poohed, this idea of using cyclotrons; they said there was no way we could produce enough in a commercially meaningful way,” says John Wilson, the cyclotron facilities manager at the University of Alberta’s Cross Cancer Institute. In mid-2010, scientists at the University of Sherbrooke and the University of Alberta made technetium-99m, the most commonly used medical isotope, without a nuclear reactor. Last … Read more…

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Panel would change Canada’s research landscape

Posted on the Nature News blog on 14 October 2011.  In an effort to address Canada’s problem with innovation, an independent panel has recommended a radical overhaul that includes the creation of a new funding council and transforms the country’s largest research entity, the billion dollar National Research Council (NRC). Study after study has shown that Canada’s businesses invest less on R&D, relative to the country’s gross domestic product, than those of many other OECDcountries and, unlike others, has actually decreased its spending over the last decade. Many of these business investments include government support in the form tax credits, training … Read more…

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Are your genes your destiny? (Not if your mom has anything to say about it.)

McGill scientists are playing a leading role in explaining how the nature vs. nurture debate is even more complicated than we thought. This article originally appeared in the Spring-Summer 2011 issue of the McGill News What if your ability to pay the rent, to buy groceries or the nature of your relationships set up your children for cardiovascular problems, diabetes or even mental health issues? Although it’s not a far-fetched idea, researchers struggled for years to find biological explanations that linked socioeconomic status or trauma to health. And then, beginning in 2004, scientists at McGill began to untangle some of those … Read more…

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Canadian research shift makes waves

NRC Agency’s focus on industry-driven projects raises concerns that basic science will suffer. Published in Nature, 19 April 2011. Canada’s largest research entity has a new focus — and some disaffected scientists. On 1 April, the National Research Council (NRC), made up of more than 20 institutes and programmes with a total annual budget larger than Can$1 billion (US$1 billion), switched to a funding strategy that downplays basic research in favour of programmes designed to attract industry partners and generate revenue. Some researchers suggest that the shift is politically driven, because it brings the agency into philosophical alignment with the governing Conservative … Read more…