Treatment as prevention for HIV/AIDS

The province of British Columbia has seen encouraging results in the use of HIV/AIDS treatment as a way to prevent new cases of infection. The data was presented by Julio Montaner and Evan Wood of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS at the University of British Columbia.

In the mid-90s, Vancouver had one of the highest HIV infection rates in the developed world. Infections were more concentrated in Vancouver’s notorious downtown eastside – about 10 blocks east of this year’s AAAS meetings. This made the neighbourhood, with a large number of intravenous drug users (IDU), an ideal living laboratory in which to study possible solutions to the epidemic.

The treatment that emerged as the most effective is highly active antiretroviral therapy, known as HAART. From the time HIV/AIDS was first discovered in the mid-80s until the early to mid-90s, the mortality rate as well as the rate of new infections in British Columbia increased steadily. From about 1993 to 2003, the province saw a rapid decrease in the death rate, as well as improved life expectancy among the HIV-positive population. Read More »

Posted in Canadian Researchers |

(Français) Trouver des solutions aux défis de la globalisation

Sorry, this post is only available in French.

Also posted in Think Canada 2012 |

Predictions for the Global Ocean

Human activity and environmental changes are expected to have substantial impacts on the health of the global ocean; however, predicting what and where these impacts will be are not yet fully known. That is the goal of the Nereus Program – an international research and outreach network that offers research-based policy advice on these issues. Founded in December 2010 through a partnership between the University of British Columbia and the Nippon Foundation, the Nereus Program is “focused on understanding the status of the global ocean and how we can ensure that there will continue to be seafood and a healthy ocean for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.”

Two researchers from the University of British Columbia – Villy Christensen and William Cheung – participated in a AAAS panel to present some of their findings. Their research is helping to paint a more fulsome picture of what global fish stocks will look like 50 years from now. Read More »

Posted in Canadian Researchers | Tagged |

From the Arctic to Uganda, and back again

At first glance, there do not appear to be many similarities between water issues faced by indigenous people in Uganda and those in Inuit Nunaat—but Sherilee Harper is discovering otherwise.

Harper holds a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship in Aboriginal People’s Health at the University of Guelph. She is examining how weather affects waterborne disease in the Arctic and in southwestern Uganda.

“There are a lot of similarities,” she says. “One of the most significant is caused by changes to the climate; in both places, increased temperatures and rainfall are leading to increased pathogen loads in water. This can be because of heavy rainfall or rapid snowmelt, but, in each case, it leads to an increased risk of exposure to waterborne disease from both tap water and brook water.”
Read More »

Also posted in Think Canada 2012 |

Opportunities abound to advance Canada’s oceanic laws

As ice melts in Far North, opportunities abound to advance Canada’s oceanic laws, says Canada Research Chair VanderZwaag

 Thinning ice resulting from climate change in the Arctic is happening far faster than experts previously imagined. With it come new global shipping routes and growing interest in natural resource development and regional tourism. These changes, says a leading expert in oceanic governance, are urging Canada to advance its laws on shipping regulation, ocean governance and marine biodiversity protection.

David VanderZwaag, Canada Research Chair in Ocean Law and Governance, says that, although Canada faces growing challenges in Arctic governance given increased regional activity and mounting interest in developing the region’s oil, gas and mineral industries, it has the potential to lead the way by how it governs its oceans and adopts practices of sustainable development in the Far North.
Read More »

Also posted in Think Canada 2012 |

Marine ecosystems and climate change

Canada Excellence Research Chair determines how marine ecosystems in the Arctic are responding to climate change

Marcel Babin, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Remote Sensing of Canada’s New Arctic Frontier at the Université Laval, presented his research on the effects of environmental changes in the Arctic during the Canada Press Breakfast on the Arctic and oceans held on February 17.

Babin’s research focusing on Arctic micro-organisms may soon allow researchers to have the information they need to accurately predict the environmental impacts of events from oil spills to climate change while other changes are also happening.

For example, Babin is uncovering how melting sea ice may be leading to an increase in the amount of algae in Arctic waters. By the end of this year, Babin’s models will have produced initial results that can predict algae production in the Arctic over the next decade.
Read More »

Also posted in Think Canada 2012 |

Canada Excellence Research Chairs Summit

The World’s Best Researchers Present at the Canada Excellence Research Chairs Summit

Posted by Michael Adams
From developing hybrid powertrains to communicating with people in vegetative states and stopping at most points in between, twelve of the world’s best researchers gave pecha kucha-style presentations of their work at the inaugural Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC) Summit at UBC Robson Square, February 15.
“The CERC Summit was an excellent way of getting our research out to a wider audience in an accessible and fun way,” said Adrian Owen, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging at Western University. “From a researcher’s perspective, it is fascinating to find out what other CERCs are doing, especially since this can lead to new research collaborations and directions.”
Read More »

Also posted in Events, Think Canada 2012 | Tagged |

Canada’s Rising Stars in Global Health at AAAS

We are looking forward to another great AAAS conference.  Ken Simiyu (Program Officer) and I, Raymond Shih (Strategy and Operations Analyst) will be representing Grand Challenges Canada in Vancouver on Feb. 16-20.

Grand Challenges Canada has just announced the latest round of winners for the Canada’s Rising Stars in Global Health program, which aims to support bold ideas from the best and brightest of our young Canadian talent to address global health problems.   The next round of this program and a parallel program for developing world innovators are both open until March 23.

Ken and I are looking forward to engaging potential innovators about our program, learning more about developments in global science, and enjoying the world-class city of Vancouver!  We hope we get the chance to meet you but, if not, please feel free to reach out to us via Twitter (@kenssimiyu @rvshih @gchallenges) or email (

Also posted in International Collaboration, Think Canada 2012 | Tagged , , , |

Welcome back AAAS!

For the first time in 30 years, Canada is proud to host the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, BC.

In addition to meeting other participants and learning about general developments in the exciting world of global science, this year’s meeting represents a great opportunity for Canada to showcase its international leadership.   As you may imagine, we at Grand Challenges Canada are particularly excited about Canada’s strong leadership in global health.  To learn more about this, please check out the Canada Pavilion at the AAAS Exhibition Hall from Feb. 17-20.

Ken Simiyu (Program Officer) and I, Raymond Shih (Strategy and Operations Analyst) will be representing Grand Challenges Canada at the meeting and would love to hear from you.  Feel free to connect with us via Twitter (@kenssimiyu @rvshih @gchallenges) or email (

Grand Challenges Canada aims to fund bold ideas with big impact in the area of global health.

Also posted in International Collaboration, Think Canada 2012 | Tagged |

Climate Change and Aboriginal Health

Sherilee Harper, a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar from the University of Guelph, is conducting research    on  Aboriginal peoples’ health.

Specifically, she is investigating the potential impacts of climate change on surface drinking water quality and infectious gastrointestinal illnesses in Inuit Nunaat.

Sherilee will be speaking at the “Oceans and the Arctic” AAAS press breakfast:

Friday, 17 February 2012
Room 306, Vancouver Conference Centre
8:00 am – 9:00 am

For media enquiries, please contact CIHR Media Relations at (613) 277-8045.

Also posted in Events, Science and Media, Think Canada 2012 | Tagged |

Personalized Medicine

AAAS Symposium

Personalized Medicine: Improving Health Outcomes through Research

Health sciences must transform to a more personalized system of predictive, preventive, and precision care that includes enhanced awareness on lifestyle and preventive lifestyle changes.

The field of personalized medicine will contribute significantly to earlier and targeted interventions that improve health outcomes.

Emerging technologies are enabling a rapid revolution and allow researchers/clinicians to implement lifestyle changes towards prevention, as well as to analyze an individual’s risk, the presence/rates of progression, and response to therapy of major chronic diseases.  It will also allow clinicians to treat patients with suitably targeted medicines to increase effectiveness and reduce toxicity.
Read More »

Also posted in Science and Media, Think Canada 2012 | Tagged , |