Viruses that infect the brain, such as Zika virus, are a significant threat to public health in Canada since many are poorly understood, and no vaccines or antivirals exist to combat them. We are investigating the use of “mini-brain” organoids derived from human stem cells as a model to study Zika virus infection that mimics the physiology of the human brain. Here, we seek to optimize our methodology for infecting brain organoids with Zika virus.
In the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, California bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis california) populations have declined by 60% since 2011, likely due to a new mite infestation, Psoroptes ovis. These mites cause hearing loss and impaired awareness in wild sheep, possibly increasing their vulnerability to predation by cougars (Felis concolour). To assess this risk, data from GPS-collared bighorn sheep between 2014 and 2019 will be compared, in collaboration with the Government of British Columbia.
This project aims to develop genomic tools to enhance Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) aquaculture in Canada. Genomic tools have the power to improve selective breeding programs by accelerating production, increasing profitability, and ensuring environmentally responsible practices. However, genomic tools are lacking for the Eastern oyster. This study will design and validate the first high-density panel of genomic markers specific to C. virginica. The partner organization (LÉtang Ruisseau Bar Ltd.) is the leading producer of Eastern oyster hatchery seed.
Throughout much of North America moose populations are in decline and Manitoba is no exception. This project will determine what factors promoting occupancy and abundance at local and regional scales in Manitoba; and subsequently identify the most efficient way to monitor moose populations in relation to local and regional factors, such as hydroelectric power transmission right-of-ways.
We will use a database of more than 30 years of scientific survey and citizen-science observations of common loon breeding on lakes in Ontario, as well as other parts of Canada, to determine whether loons now breed successfully on lakes where they were negatively affected by acid rain (and other human threats like development). Our data will be augmented by new surveys on the same lakes we have surveyed for three decades.
Cannabinoids are diverse chemical compounds that are created by the Cannabis crop. To produce and extract the necessary amounts of cannabinoids for the market is taxing on the environment due to its high energy input costs. However, through the use of synthetic biology and genetic engineering, cannabis related chemicals can be created using simple yeast which are ubiquitous and more environmentally sustainable. BioFect Innovation is proposing to create cannabinoids created through the genetic engineering of yeast.
Pascal Biosciences Inc. is a company developing immuno-oncology therapeutics to fight cancer. It was initially founded on ideas and research that originated from Dr. Wilf Jefferies laboratory at the University of British Columbia. Since then, the company has continued to collaborate with Dr. Jefferies and his team to forward the research, through direct sponsorship and through collaborative research partnerships. Pascal has a mandate to discover and develop targeted agents that enable the body's own immune system to recognize and attack cancers.
Cancer afflicts 1 in 8 people worldwide. Recent advancements in bench-to-bedside translational research has resulted in numerous effective treatments. However, a harsh reality still exists in that only ~20% of patients respond positively to treatment. Not all cancers are created equal, which has led to these clinical complexities undermining treatment options. It is our goal to understand the cellular and immune cell factors, which determine patient outcomes.
Birds at airports present danger to moving aircraft and other vehicles using the area. Some of the higher risk bird species are ducks, gulls and shorebirds who come to the grassy areas surrounding the runways to feed on insects. We are attempting to reduce the numbers of these high-risk birds using the Vancouver International Airport by reducing the numbers of the insects they feed on. By changing the way we manage the grassy areas of the airport, we hope to reduce insect abundance, and therefore bird presence.
In Manitoba, elk herds are either small or declining, and the relationship between farmland use by elk and population declines is unclear. Animals typically choose to either avoid predators or access good food resources when choosing habitat, and this trade-off may bring about natural selection if some individuals make better decisions than others. Our project seeks to understand how individual elk use the landscape in response to farmland.