Summer 2015


Photo credit: Jasperdo via Flickr

The GREAT program, a pilot program funded by Genome Canada, Genome BC and the UBC Industry Liaison Office, is nearing its conclusion, with our planned project end date being the end of September 2015. Our team will be signing off for the summer, but we will return in September with a final newsletter featuring key outcomes of the program and updates from our interns and project partners.

We want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy Canada Day and an enjoyable summer!

Partner Project News

Dr. Simone Castellarin Talks About Improving Wine Quality

On Tuesday, June 30th, Dr. Simone Castellarin will be a featured presenter at the Cafe Scientifique series. In his talk, “Chemical Makeup of Grapes: How Grape Variety and Climate Determine Wine Quality,” Dr. Castellarin will explore the effects that the complex relationships between grape varieties and environmental factors have on the composition of the fruit and quality of wines. In addition, he will discuss how the study of grapevine genomes and their interaction with climate may boost the ability of viticulturists to understand the underlying biology that determines the complexity of wines, and the tools that they can employ to improve fruit composition and wine quality. Sounds like a great topic for a summer evening!


Cafe Scientifique is a forum for discussing and debating science issues which are of concern to everyone. The aim is to promote public engagement with science and to foster interesting, fact-based discussions in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. Cafe Scientifique started in France and Great Britain in the late 1990s, and has now spread all over the world.

Drs. Sally Aitken and Richard Hamelin In The News

AdapTree and TAIGA project leaders, Drs. Sally Aitken and Richard Hamelin, respectively, talk about how they are using genomics as a tool to help trees adapt to climate change. Read about it in the Global News and the Times Colonist.

Resources from the Watershed Metagenomics Stakeholder Symposium

This successful event brought together researchers and stakeholders from a wide range of fields to discuss the current and future states of watershed management and how genomic technologies can play a larger role. The presentations and resources from this symposium have now been made available online for anyone interested in the learning about the watershed metagenomics project and the progress that has been made towards designing new ways to detect fecal pollution in water. Read more here.

Genomics News

2015 Disruptive Innovation in Genomics Competition

Genome Canada is pleased to advise the research community of an upcoming funding opportunity: the 2015 Disruptive Innovation in Genomics (DIG) Competition. This funding opportunity will be aimed at supporting projects focused on the development of disruptive innovation in the field of genomics. Interested applicants can contact Alison Dendoff at for a meeting, or click here for more information.

American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics Announces New Online “Genetics Academy”

The American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) has unveiled its new ACMG Genetics Academy for Genetic and Genomic Education, an online educational portal where healthcare professionals interested in genetics and genomics in clinical and laboratory practice can enroll in courses and create their own personal learning management center. Read the press release at PR Newswire.

What’s Old Is New Again

Revolutionary new methods for extracting, purifying, and sequencing ever-more-ancient DNA have opened an unprecedented window into the history of life on Earth. Click here for more information.

Entrepreneurship News

UBC To Host 2016 Medicine Hackathon

AmeenIn a recent newsletter, we introduced Ameen Amanian, Genome BC intern (Summer 2014) and UBC medical student, who is working on his own disruptive idea. Ameen recently flew to Boston to attend the MIT Hacking Medicine event. This “hackathon” brought together people from multiple disciplines – engineers, clinicians, entrepreneurs, and designers – with a mission to “energize the best minds in the health ecosystem to solve some of healthcare’s biggest challenges.”

They seem to have indeed fulfilled this mission with Ameen, who returned from this event fully energized and inspired! He now aims to bring together students, faculty and industry in a similar event at UBC next year with the goal of revolutionizing the healthcare industry. Find out more about this upcoming event here.

FREDsense Technologies Runs Crowdfunding Campaign

Lean Launch Pad for Genomics alum FREDsense Technologies has been bootstrapping their technology for two years, using a 100 sq. ft. lab to do all of their work and raising all of the operating funds through business plan competitions. The startup has now set up a crowdfunding campaign on Alberta BoostR to finish off the production of their first prototype to detect heavy metals in the mining industry. In exchange for contributions, the team will offer you a number of rewards, including FREDsense clothing, event invitations and the opportunity to become the face of FRED. For more information please visit the FREDsense Alberta Boost campaign.

Tait Labs Featured in e@UBC Venture Case Studies

Lean Launch Pad for Genomics graduates Tait Labs are on a mission to modernize traditional medicine for chronic conditions and overall health. CEO Andrew Tait is creating a unique business model that challenges the typical pharmaceutical pathway and gives patients a wider range of treatment choices.

“There is a divide between refined or molecular drug development and chronic diseases that already have existing natural remedies,” Tait says. He recognizes the need for traditional drug development models but believes “we don’t always need to refine a single molecule in order to treat disease and improve health.”

Read more about Tait Lab’s feature in e@UBC’s Venture Case Studies, an ongoing series highlighting top UBC ventures.

Steve Hallam Receives 2014 NSERC CREATE Award

Professor Steven Hallam, Microbiology and Immunology at UBC, has been awarded $1.65M in the 2014 NSERC CREATE (Collaborative Research and Training Experience) competition. Professor Hallam and collaborators from the Faculties of Science and Applied Sciences are leading the Ecosystem Services, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship (ECOSCOPE) program. ECOSCOPE will provide trainees with the skills needed to translate knowledge derived from studying environmental sequence information from microbial communities into commercial and entrepreneurial activities.

e@UBC Moves Into The New Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre

The e@UBC team has relocated their office to a brand new space at the Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre. This new building, which opened its doors to the public this June, is a place to connect students, faculty and fellow alumni in an environment created to encourage socializing, mentoring, learning and fostering entrepreneurship. The new e@UBC office was designed specifically to accommodate the needs of the team and their Entrepreneurs In Residence at the e@UBC Accelerator.

e@UBC Accelerator Graduate Featured on Global BC News

The Screw Cutter Project,” a team that completed e@UBC’s Accelerator program in 2015, has been featured in Global News. The team’s invention is helping surgeons halfway around the world. Watch the video below or on Global News.

Intern Updates


We are pleased to welcome Rodrigo Lopez to the GREAT internship team!

Rodrigo is currently a second year student of the UBC-BCIT Honours in Biotechnology Joint Degree B.Sc. program. Having studied at an international school in Mexico, he decided to continue his studies abroad in Canada. This summer he joins Dr. Simone Castellarin’s team at UBC’s Wine Research Centre and will work on a project to understand the control of fruit ripening in grapevine plants. Noting that B.C.’s wine business is rapidly growing, Rodrigo is excited to contribute to the wine industry.

Throughout the project Rodrigo will employ a bioinformatics and transcriptomics approach to gather results. The project results will be presented at the BC Wine and Grape Council 16th Annual Enology & Viticulture Conference.

For more information on our Internship Program, please visit the Internships page or contact us.

Upcoming Events

Here are some upcoming events that we think you may be interested in:

Visit our events calendar to see all upcoming events and workshops.

Newsletter Subscriptions

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genomics.entrepreneurship@UBC is in partnership with Genome BC and Genome Canada.

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