Sequence #6: Tapping our ocean potential, recruiting talent, and a new genetics institute

Published: November 14th 2018

In October, scientists, environmental and policy experts, and graduate students converged in St. John’s NL for the inaugural Ocean Frontier 2018: North Atlantic Opportunities conference, organized by the Ocean Frontier Institute to explore the enormous potential of the North Atlantic.  Genome Atlantic was pleased to attend and proud to be a partner.   

Genomics is a critical technology for tapping our ocean potential and is a key pillar of the Ocean Supercluster.  Genomics is transforming ocean industries like aquaculture, offshore exploration and tidal energy, enhancing environmental monitoring and providing clean tech solutions for addressing the effects of climate change.  A good example of the latter is a Genome Atlantic-supported research project led by Memorial University’s Dr. Kurt Gamperl, who presented his work at the conference.

Just a few degrees of ocean temperature warming can increase the incidence of disease and mortalities in farmed salmon – and Gamperl and his colleagues at the University of Prince Edward Island, University of Waterloo, Guelph University, Huntsman Marine Science Centre, Somru BioScience and the Centre for Aquaculture Technologies Canada are using genomics and genetic sequencing to help the east coast aquaculture industry adapt its production to rising sea temperatures and breed more disease-resistant fish.  Here’s an update on the project and the team’s latest findings.

From oceans to human health, Genome Atlantic attended the recent launch of the CIHR Institute of Genetics at Dalhousie University’s medical school.  The Tupper Foyer was packed to the gills in celebration of Atlantic Canada’s first-ever CIHR Institute and to offer congratulations to Dalhousie’s own Dr. Christopher McMaster who was appointed Institute Director over the summer. Far from basking in the glory, McMaster was tasked the role of emceeing the event (for which he was rewarded with a giant, iced CIHR cookie). Cookies aside, we asked McMaster about his plans for the Institute and how genomics is revolutionizing medicine

Genomics and other ‘omics technologies are creating other opportunities for Atlantic Canada, including recruiting and retaining top talent. Dr. Carl Peters is a perfect example. A native of Breman, Germany, Peters is a Postdoc who specializes in lipidomics, the analysis of lipid species found in organisms. He was recruited in 2017 by Dr. Todd Ventura’s organic geochemistry lab team at Saint Mary’s University as a Mitacs-funded intern to work on a national microbial genomics project to de-risk oil and gas exploration in Nova Scotia’s offshore.  Peters talks about his work, why it’s important, and how he hopes his current project will lead to a longer-term career in Halifax in our Young Scientist Profile.