July 2014


GREAT Partner Project News

‘Microbe sniffer’ Could Point the Way to Next-Generation Bio-Refining'Microbe Sniffer'

g.e@UBC’s research partner project Lignin: Harnessing Microbial Diversity for Sustainable Use of Forest Biomass Resources announces the invention of a new biosensor that could help optimize bio-refining processes that produce fuels, fine chemicals and advanced materials. Developed by Steven Hallam and his team, the biosensor screens DNA from environmental samples to isolate the lignin-busting genetic machinery encoded in the samples’ resident microbes. The improved understanding of adaptive, eco-engineered lignin transformation could also lead to applicable industrial processes.

 The sensor, screening and adaptive genetic circuitry discovered with them have been licensed through the University Industry Liaison Office. A spin-off company, guided by the genomics.entrepreneurship@UBC program, is looking into ways to increase the scale of production of this technology. “This is a very significant breakthrough that provides important new insights into how nature breaks down lignin,” says Lindsay Eltis, co-author on the PNAS paper. Read More.

Principal Investigator Steven Hallam on Entrepreneurship: “I want to be in charge of my own destiny”

Steven and one of his students, Cameron Strachan, co-founder and CEO of MetaMixis, participated in g.e@ubc’s Lean Launch Pad (LLP) for Genomics sessions. Steven and Cameron are excellent examples of successful researchers addressing the commercial challenges of transferring their research from the ‘lab’ to the ‘field’, and thus benefitting Canada’s social and economic development. Read More.

Principal Investigator Steven Hallam on Entrepreneurship: “I want to be in charge of my own destiny” from UBC UILO on Vimeo.

The Bee IPM Project Announces a Collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Marta Guarna, Bee IPM Scientific Director, reports kicking-off a study that will look at the sub-lethal effect of pesticides on honey bees’ natural defenses against pathogens. The project is a collaboration with Dr. Jeff Pettis of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Liz Huxter of Kettle Valley Queens who is assisted by Jamie Lee Martin, g.e@ubc newest student intern.  Dr. Kelly Butts, UBC neuroscientist, will lead the implementation of the first set of experiments, sponsored in part by the Eastern Apicultural Society. More information here.

Bee IPM Liz and Heather

Bee IPM Bee Keepers and Bee Breeder collaborators: Heather Higo & Liz Huxter. The Ontario Beekeeping Association t-shirt that reads “Beekeepers think outside the box” was a timely gift of appreciation from Heather to Liz.

Do you have any news on your research project that you’d like to share? Please let us know so we can feature it in our upcoming newsletters.

Genomics News

Government of Canada Committed to Leading Genomics Research

Genomics Research and Development Initiative renewed to continue research in agriculture, environment, fisheries, forestry, and health

July 10, 2014 — Ottawa, Ontario The Government of Canada is committing $99.5 million to the initiative over the next five years to continue research in agriculture, environment, fisheries, forestry, and health. Genomics is the science that studies DNA sequences and the complex interactions of genes found in living organisms. Researchers in this field generate science-based knowledge to support the formulation of policies, standards, and regulations related to the responsible introduction and ongoing monitoring of a variety of products. Read Press Release here.

Lean Launch Pad News

New Lean Launch Pad Mentor Profile Series

In our Mentor Profile series, we profile genomics.entrepreneurship@UBC Lean Launch Pad mentors. Mentors play a key role in guiding our cohorts throughout the entrepreneurial process. Meet Jennifer Thompson, B.A.,Jennifer Thompson_Headshots_2014-2385_Web M.A. (Econ): Jennifer has a wealth of experience in business model, corporate strategy and business plan development for technology start-ups and small companies. She specializes in early-stage business organization and communication with a focus on market development and sales, investor and government relations, project management and financing. Read her bio here.

Lean Launch Pad Mentor Profile: Jennifer Thompson from UBC UILO on Vimeo.


Current Internship Opportunities

Video Intern

genomics.entrepreneurship@UBC is seeking a video intern to join our creative team and translate complex scientific information into user-friendly and engaging formats for the general public. This is a paid internship position. Read More 

Introducing Our New Interns 2014

genomics.entrepreneurship@UBC team is happy to welcome our 2014 interns. 

The fact that g.e@ubc initiates, facilitates and supports these multi-disciplinary interactions is truly unique and so valuable!” Dr. Marta Guarna, Scientific Director, Bee IPM.


Jamie Lee Martin, Bee IPM Apicultural Specialist Internpic5

During her internship with Bee IPM, Jamie will explore the interest of queen breeders and queen producers in BC to engage in efforts to increase the quantity and quality of locally produced queens in BC, and to utilize Bee IPM tools for selective breeding. She is currently assisting  with the establishment, evaluation and transport of research colonies. Jamie is originally from Dartmouth Nova Scotia. She has an Honors Specialization Environmental Science degree from Western University, Ontario. Honey bee health is an issue that she has been actively studying for the past two years, and she is honored to continue this journey as a part of the Bee IPM Research project.  Read her Intern Update here.

Katia Truong, Animation Intern Katia-cropped

We would like to welcome Katia back!.  During her g.e@ubc internship last summer, she developed a 2D animation explaining the effect of verroa mites on the health of bee colonies for Bee IPM, see here. More recently, her role as an intern has been to plan out animation vignettes for a longer video on the research and possibilities surrounding lignin, as well as to polish an animated project dealing with the health of watersheds for the Applied Metagenomics of the Watershed Microbiome project. During her summer internship, we asked her a few questions about her experiences as an intern. You can read Katia’s bio here.  

Intern Updates

Katie Verigin, Lean Launch Pad & Visual Communications Intern P1040676

Katie has been working with Lean Launch Pad alumni and mentors conducting program evaluation surveys and organizing interviews. We have recently discovered her talent for designing infographics and synthesizing complex information through this creative medium. Her skills are in high demand. She is currently working with our research project partners and with LLP alumni to communicate project/venture objectives. Katie is part of UBC Sauder Social Entrepreneurship team heading to Nairobi, Kenya this summer. The team will be teaching classes and working hand-in-hand to help Kenyan students start their own businesses. Katie will complete her internship in late August. Read Katie’s Interview here.

Funding is still available for summer internships. For more information on our Internship Program, please visit the Internships page or contact us.          

Recent Events

Stakeholder Advisory Committee

Every other month, g.e@ubc convenes a Project Manager luncheon meeting with members of our research partner projects. These meetings were originally planned as a way for g.e@ubc to communicate with projects regarding upcoming events and modules. While we have been successful at accomplishing our initial intent, we have collectively, and inadvertently, created a sharing space for Project Managers to meet each other, share best practices and experiences in a supportive environment. We are honored to work with the individuals that make these projects possible. Thank you!

UBC Tree Genomics Symposium – POPCAN, TAIGA, SMarTForests, AdapTree

This event provided a forum for sharing approaches and progress from, and fostering dialogue among, the four large-scale forest genomics projects funded by Genome Canada and Genome BC that are based at UBC (POPCAN, TAIGA, SMarTForests and AdapTree). It was open to all project personnel and other interested people, including scientists, stakeholders, and end users who are interested in learning more about forest genomics in general and these projects.

Upcoming Events

Molecular Biology Workshop – July 28th – August 1st, The Michael Smith Labs

This intense 5 day workshop will focus on a myriad of different techniques used in the molecular manipulation of DNA, RNA and protein, as well as inclusion of lectures of high throughput genomic techniques. Primarily aimed at researchers who are new to the area, familiar but require a quick updating, or would like more practical bench training. Hands on techniques covered include: Various nucleic acid purification methodologies (silica bead, organic, and/or pI based),restriction digests, ligations, dephosphorylation assays, agarose gel electrophoresis, transformation (including electroporation), PCR, reverse transcriptase assay, real time qPCR, SDS-PAGE,Western blot analysis, Isoelectric focusing strips, and 2D protein gels. Lectures on next-gen sequencing, SNPs, microarrays, bioinformatic tools. To register or inquire about the workshop, please contact Dr. David Ng at db@mail.ubc.ca or 604-822-6264. More information can be found at bioteach.ubc.ca

View our calendar for more upcoming events.

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