Sequence #12: Wastewater surveillance acquiring a place in COVID detectionPublished: March 31st 2021
Recent news, rife with reports of an approaching third pandemic wave that could delay economic recovery plans, underline how crucial genomics has become as a navigational aid in the continuing storm. Virus detection through sequencing has proven invaluable to public health efforts to contain the pandemic, and to employers and workers to keep the country’s economic engines turning.
One of the newer additions to the virus detection arsenal is wastewater surveillance technology. A project in this vein, worth keeping an eye on, is led by Dalhousie University. With sampling sites across Nova Scotia, this project has the capacity to serve as an early warning system for surges of clinical COVID‑19; caseloads. In that respect, the project appears to be unique in the country and it should give Nova Scotia a potential extra buffer against a third wave. We have a story on the project in this issue of Sequence.
Elsewhere, in this edition, you’ll learn genomics is about to help Atlantic Canada’s forestry sector forge ahead collectively with a tree improvement program to safeguard the industry against climate change and other threats.
We also have hot off the press news on a major gill health improvement initiative, which has just been greenlighted with funding by Genome Canada. The project will keep researchers at the University of Prince Edward Island busy validating biomarkers of healthy and compromised gills of Atlantic salmon to use in early detection of developing gill disease in this commercially important farmed fish.
On the human health side, you may be surprised to learn the region is home to one of the world’s leading experts in mood disorders, Dr. Martin Alda. One of his projects is using genomics to better understand bipolar disorder, one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide.
To keep your diary filled, we offer a heads up for an April 7 virtual seminar, presented by the Centre for Genomics Enhanced Medicine and featuring Dr. Aled Edwards, a leading thinker in the field of chemical biology and drug discovery. He will be discussing a formula being trialed in Toronto to speed up new drug development and keep the results affordably priced.
Finally, we send a shout-out to Dr. Stefanie Colombo, the aquatic nutritionist at the Truro Agricultural Campus, Dalhousie University, who is focused on improving the nutrition of farmed fish. Featured in our last edition as a scientist to watch, Dr. Colombo has just been announced as one of this year’s Science Meets Parliament delegates by the federal Science Policy Centre and the Office of the Chief Science Advisor. Way to go, Stefanie!