March 20, 2009
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I had a hard time finding news-making Canadian science stories this week; but in the meantime, here’s a “numbers” edition of the Friday Science Review:
- Number of Canadians with cancer: Statistics Canada released its latest figures, showing that of all persons living in Canada on January 1, 2005, 695,000 had been diagnosed with an invasive cancer at some point in the previous 10 years. That includes the 1 in every 111 women diagnosed with breast cancer, and the 1 in every 118 men diagnosed with prostate cancer. The headline number shows an increase in the number of Canadians living with cancer; but that’s due to the earlier detection of cancer and improving survival.
- Number of Canadians who could be helped by nanotech packaging: 11 million Canadians suffer from food-borne illnesses, some of which could be prevented by rapid nanoparticle-based testing. Nanoparticles could also be used in packaging to signal when food has passed its best-before date.
- Number of centimeters long you have to be to qualify as the “T-Rex of the Cambrian Period”: twenty. At the time, most creatures were no bigger than a fingernail … although how could you tell, since there were no fingernails at the time?!? (har.)
- Number of mussels needed to make a tube of a new medical adhesive: mussels don’t make adhesive, people make adhesive. Duh. Here’s a cool story, though, about a new adhesive based on a protein that marine mussels use to stick to rocks.
- Number of volunteers needed for a 3-way crossover study to show bioequivalence: twenty-three, at least for SemBioSys Genetics Inc.’s trial of its plant-produced human insulin.
March 11, 2009
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Two bailout developments to report yesterday:
In the UK, the science minister Lord Drayson is championing a call by Imperial College London and the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh and Oxford to create a £1bn fund to finance the early stages of university spin-outs:
Medical research was given as an example, but Drayson is said to be pushing for the £1bn fund to finance ideas from all areas of science and engineering.
Here in Canada, the MaRS Blog posted yesterday about BIOTECanada’s Parliamentary Quarterly (pdf), which reiterates BIOTECanada’s previous bailout asks and includes some new data on the Canadian biotech industry, as well as some information on bailouts in other jurisdictions.
I would guess that some of the support apparently being generated by the UK proposal is due to the breadth of the project, with the potential to stimulate a wide range of innovative industries. With so many common needs and challenges among biotech, cleantech and high tech, I would like to see further collaborative efforts in Canada as well. Hopefully the Ontario Venture Capital Fund, which appears to be set up along the lines being proposed in the UK, will invest in all three areas and create a foundation for future collaboration.
Update: for some sense of common ground, see this NY Times blog post.
March 3, 2009
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The President’s Budget released last week highlighted President Obama’s support for importing cheaper drugs from Canada (pdf). The Washington Post writes that Governor and HHS Secretary-elect Kathleen Sebelius was successful in having Kansas join a multistate consortium that allowed Kansans to order prescription drugs from Canada, Britain and Ireland, often at a lower price than in the United States. As a result of Obama’s proposal, drug companies took a hit on the markets last week.
February 27, 2009
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You may not know this, but Canadian researchers can compete for NIH extramural funds, and they do so quite successfully. I reviewed the 2008 data from the NIH budget site, which shows that Canadian researchers were awarded $47.4 million in 2008 (out of a total of $212.4 million total awarded outside the U.S.). Hopefully this amount will increase in 2009-2010 as the stimulus and budget money for the NIH is allocated. Considering the research funding cut in the Harper budget was $113 million, the NIH funds are a significant contribution to the Canadian landscape.
Some geographic breakdown: Toronto (69 awards, $18.4 million) and Vancouver (37 awards, $8.7 million) are the largest recipients.