Announcement of the February winners of the Étudiants-chercheurs étoiles Award
Montreal, February 4, 2013 – Québec’s Chief Scientist, Rémi Quirion, is pleased to announce the February winners of the Étudiants-chercheurs étoiles Award, a competition spearheaded by the three Fonds de recherche du Québec.
In addition to promoting careers in research, the competition aims to recognize the exceptional research contributions of college and university students, postdoctoral fellows and members of professional bodies who are enrolled in advanced research training programs in the areas covered by the three Fonds de recherche du Québec.
Every month, each Fund will award $1000 to a student researcher. An overview of the recipient’s project and a photo of the recipient will be featured on the Web site www.frq.gouv.qc.ca.
Dr. Quirion sends his congratulations to the winners.
The PQ plan to penalise party hoppers is perverted, and here's why
This is a terrible idea! One of the things that keeps political parties honest is that if their leaders get too crazy, members can dissent. Let’s not forget that in Canadian politics, we vote for people, not parties, at least as far as the ballot box goes. I’m all for a move towards a constitutional change that recognizes the reality that people vote along party lines, but let’s start by addressing the fact that our current system distorts the distribution of seats and discriminates against Montrealers. Let’s not make our problems worse.
Under this new law, an MP could possibly be fined $600,000 if he or she is expelled from her party for disagreeing with it. The idea has outrageous corruption written all over it. There are other ways of dealing with party cohesion and deputies’ responsibilities to the VOTERS IN THEIR RIDING, not their leader. This law proposal is nothing more than a half-assed backdoor attempt at a constitutional change that would favour and entrench divisive wedge politics.
I'm thinking about blogging casually (and maybe professionally later on) about science but I really don't know how to start. For example, what platform should I favour (Facebook, Tumblr, Wordpress, Twitter)?
Thanks for your question! Well, I have to admit that I’m kinda muddling through this myself. I like Tumblr because it’s very easy to use, especially in terms of letting people share your content. It’s basically the Apple of blogging. However, just like Apple, it comes with some constraints in terms of what you can do with it. If you want to get super fancy in terms of customizing your blog, I think the general consensus is that Wordpress is the way to. Also, as the name would suggest, I think Wordpress users tend to write more lengthy articles. Tumblr is more about the animated gifs, lol.
In short, my recommendation is that if you think you’ll write more than two paragraphs, and/or if you know a lot about HTML, I would go with Wordpress. If you think you’ll be more often writing shorter posts, and if you want people to be able to share what you write easily, I would go with Tumblr.
As for Facebook and Twitter, they are tools that can help you share what you post on your blog. You can even integrate them directly into Tumblr (and Wordpress too, I presume) so that the title of your post automatically becomes a tweet or a Facebook update.
I hope that helps! Blogging is a lot of fun and can even help you professionally.
I had to tell someone I love last night that lemon juice will not cure his cancer. FUCK antiscientific rumours and false hope. They just distract from the best possible medical healthcare and the reality of the situation a person faces. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world are dedicating their lives, wholeheartedly, to a cure. They publish what they discover in books that anyone can read. When they find something that helps, we all know about it, including front line doctors. There is no evil conspiracy to hide the cure, it’s not hidden a test-tube somewhere in a vault. I wish it was, because it wouldn’t take long for someone else to replicate the result anyway. Next time you see some FUCKING BULLSHIT on the Internet, don’t hesitate to stomp it out.
McGill and Université de Montréal researchers revealed yesterday that autism-like behaviors can be rectified in adult mice with compounds inhibiting protein synthesis, or with gene-therapy targeting neuroligins (a membrane protein that regulates synapse formation between neurons.) Their study is published in the journal Nature.
“The autistic behaviours in mice were prevented by selectively reducing the synthesis of one type of neuroligin and reversing the changes in synaptic excitation in cells,” explained Prof. Jean-Claude Lacaille at the University of Montreal’s Groupe de Recherche sur le Système Nerveux Central and Department of Physiology. “In short, we manipulated mechanisms in brain cells and observed how they influence the behaviour of the animal.” The researchers were also able to reverse changes in inhibition and augment autistic behaviors by manipulating a second neuroligin. “The fact that the balance can be affected suggests that there could be a potential for pharmacological intervention by targeting these mechanisms.”
“Since the discovery of neuroligin mutations in individuals with ASD in 2003, the precise molecular mechanisms implicated remain unknown,” said Christos Gkogkas, a postdoctoral fellow at McGill and lead author. “Our work is the first to link translational control of neuroligins with altered synaptic function and autism-like behaviors in mice. The key is that we achieved reversal of ASD-like symptoms in adult mice. Firstly, we used compounds, which were previously developed for cancer treatment, to reduce protein synthesis. Secondly, we used non-replicating viruses as vehicles to put a break on exaggerated synthesis of neuroligins.”
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) encompass a wide array of neurodevelopmental diseases that affect three areas of behaviour: social interactions, communication and repetitive interests or behaviors. According to the U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 88 children suffer from ASD, and the disorder is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. ASDs are almost five times more common among boys (1 in 54) than among girls (1 in 252).
Québec’s Chief Scientist, Rémi Quirion, announced the May winners of theÉtudiants-chercheurs étoiles Award this morning - it’s a new, monthly competition spearheaded by the three Fonds de recherche du Québec.
Award Winner, Fonds Nature et Technologies (Nature and Technology) Mohammad A. Qasaimeh, Ph. D. student in Biomedical engineering, McGill University Award-winning article: “Microfluidic quadrupole and floating concentration gradient”. Published in Nature Communications, September 6 2011
Award Winner, Fonds Santé (Health) Sarah Assadian, Ph. D. student in Biochemistry, McGill University, Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre Award-winning article: “p53 Inhibits Angiogenesis by Inducing the Production of Arresten”. Published in Cancer Research, 72(5), March 1 2012, pages 1270-1279
Award Winner, Fonds Société et Culture (Society and Culture) Marie-Eve Lang, Ph. D. student in communication, Université Laval Award-winning article: “L’agentivité sexuelle des adolescentes et des jeunes femmes : une définition”. Published in Recherches féministes, vol. 24, nº 2, p. 189-209
In addition to promoting careers in research, the competition aims to recognize the exceptional research contributions of college and university students, postdoctoral fellows and members of professional bodies who are enrolled in advanced research training programs in the areas covered by the three Fonds.
Every month, each Fonds will award $1000 to a student researcher. An overview of the recipient’s project and a photo of the recipient will be featured on the Web site www.frq.gouv.qc.ca.
For the first edition of this competition, the three Fonds received a total of 205 applications: 84 for the Fonds Nature et Technologies, 76 for the Fonds Santé and 45 for the Fonds Société et Culture. “I am very pleased with the response from student researchers, and I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the winners” noted Dr. Quirion.
Neuro researchers sharpen our understanding of memories
Scientists now have a better understanding of how precise memories are formed thanks to research led by Prof. Jean-Claude Lacaille of the University of Montreal’s Department of Physiology. “In terms of human applications, these findings could help us to better understand memory impairments in neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease,” Lacaille said. The study looks at the cells in our brains, or neurons, and how they work together as a group to form memories.
Chemical receptors at neuron interconnections called synapses enable these cells to form electrical networks that encode memories, and neurons are classified into two groups according to the type of chemical they produce: excitatory, who produce chemicals that increase communication between neurons, and inhibitory, who have the opposite effect, decreasing communication. “Scientists knew that inhibitory cells enable us to refine our memories, to make them specific to a precise set of information,” Lacaille explained. “Our findings explain for the first time how this happens at the molecular and cell levels.”
Many studies have been undertaken on excitatory neurons, but very little research has been done on inhibitory neurons, partly because they are very difficult to study. The scientists found that a factor called “CREB” plays a key role in adjusting gene expression and the strength of synapses in inhibitory neurons. Proteins are biochemical compounds encoded in our genes that enable cells to perform their various functions, and new proteins are necessary for memory formation. “We were able to study how synapses of inhibitory neurons taken from rats are modified in the 24 hours following the formation of a memory,” Lacaille said. “In the laboratory, we simulated the formation of a new memory by using chemicals. We then measured the electrical activity within the network of cells. In cells where we had removed CREB, we saw that the strength of the electrical connections was much weaker. Conversely, when we increased the presence of CREB, the connections were stronger.”
This new understanding of the chemical functioning of the brain may one day lead to new treatments for disorders like Alzheimer’s, as researchers will be able to look at these synaptic mechanisms and design drugs that target the chemicals involved. “We knew that problems with synapse modifications are amongst the roots of the cognitive symptoms suffered by the victims of neurodegenerative diseases,” Lacaille said. “These findings shine light on the neurobiological basis of their memory problems. However, we are unfortunately many years away from developing new treatments from this information.”
Photo: Memory (1896). Olin Warner (completed by Herbert Adams). Bronze door at main entrance of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington DC.
Abandoned Mine Tunnels Might Ferry Geothermal Energy from Deep Underground
Underground mining is a sweaty job, and not just because of the hard work it takes to haul ore: Mining tunnels fill with heat naturally emitted from the surrounding rock. A group of researchers from McGill University has taken a systematic look at how such heat might be put to use once mines are closed. They calculate that each kilometer of a typical deep underground mine could produce 150 kW of heat, enough to warm 5 to 10 Canadian households during off-peak times.
A number of communities in Canada and Europe already use geothermal energy from abandoned mines. Noting these successful, site-specific applications, the McGill research team strove to develop a general model that could be used by engineers to predict the geothermal energy potential of other underground mines.
In a paper accepted for publication in the American Institute of Physics’ Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, the researchers analyze the heat flow through mine tunnels flooded with water. In such situations, hot water from within the mine can be pumped to the surface, the heat extracted, and the cool water returned to the ground. For the system to be sustainable, heat must not be removed more quickly than it can be replenished by the surrounding rock. The team’s model can be used to analyze the thermal behavior of a mine under different heat extraction scenarios.
"Abandoned mines demand costly perpetual monitoring and remediating. Geothermal use of the mine will offset these costs and help the mining industry to become more sustainable," says Seyed Ali Ghoreishi Madiseh, lead author on the paper. The team estimates that up to one million Canadians could benefit from mine geothermal energy, with an even greater potential benefit for more densely populated countries such as Great Britain.
The authors acknowledge support from Vale Company and the Mitacs Accelerate program.
Photo: ”Coal Miners - Drivers, West Virginia,” 1908 photograph by the American photographer Lewis W. Hine. Courtesy of Yale University, New Haven, Conn.