Tuesday, March 9, 2010

  • Waterloo chosen for diabetes data centre
  • Throne speech promises university expansion
  • What else is new under the sun
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • bulletin@uwaterloo.ca

Waterloo chosen for diabetes data centre

Waterloo is the chosen location for a centre that will manage the analysis of mountains of data collected in the battle against the deadly disease known as juvenile or “type 1” diabetes.

Officials of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation — “the world’s largest charitable funder and advocate of type 1 diabetes research” — came to campus yesterday and announced that UW, “in alliance with McMaster University, will serve as the Centre for its Clinical Trial Network”.

The project has more than $30 million in funding so far. In November 2009,” a JDRF news release notes, “the federal government made a commitment of $20 million to support the launch of a Clinical Trial Network for diabetes research, funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). JDRF is contributing an additional $13.9 million, resulting in a $33.9 million investment that will help bring new technologies to the marketplace, so that Canadians and people around the world can benefit.”

JDRF also provides the funding for much of the research that’s being done, investigating immune therapies, beta cell therapies, glucose control and complications therapies. The agency says the funding it manages “is associated with most major scientific breakthroughs in type 1 diabetes research to date in Canada and around the world. Internationally, JDRF has raised over $1.4 billion (U.S.) for diabetes research since its inception in 1970, including more than $101 million (U.S.) in 2009. JDRF supports research in over 22 countries globally.”

From that research, data will be flowing to Waterloo. Ian McKillop, UW’s director of university health research, called the news “exciting” and said it will make Waterloo “the coordinating hub” for research and data collection across the country, where statisticians and experts in data mining and other technologies will draw conclusions about how new drugs and varied therapies work against JD.

“These trials are normally managed within a university, often a university hospital,” said McKillop. But he said the 50 to 100 staff who will eventually work at the centre will not be university employees. They’ll be working for an outside agency, much like one of the high-tech companies that surround UW, which will have close links of various kinds with the university.

A physical location isn’t decided yet, he said, but it will presumably be on the campus or nearby.

“This will be a fantastic destination for our graduates,” he said, as it requires expertise in fields from mathematics and computer science to epidemiology and pharmacy. The centre will also likely want to hire co-op students. And as “scientific problems” emerge, it will be natural for the centre to turn to UW researchers, as well as experts at other institutions. “There’s a lot of exciting science that could come out of having this near us,” McKillop said.

The federal government’s investment in the centre “will create the jobs of the future and keep southern Ontario at the forefront of innovation and research,” says Gary Goodyear, MP for Cambridge and  the federal minister responsible for FedDev Ontario.

According to Andrew McKee, president of JDRF Canada, “This partnership is about utilizing Southern Ontario’s greatest strengths to create a research network unique in both Canada and the world.” The next step, JDRF says, “will be the selection of the various clinical trials and their sites.”

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Throne speech promises university expansion

Universities and colleges are in the headlines today following yesterday’s Ontario throne speech: “Ontario stakes its recovery on education,” says this morning’s Globe and Mail. Here are some words from the speech, as read by Lieutenant-Governor David Onley:

“Ontario has one of the highest rates of postsecondary education in the world at 62 per cent. Since 2003, your government has added 180,000 students to our colleges, universities and apprenticeships. But we need to reach even higher, knowing that in the new world, 70 per cent of all new jobs will require postsecondary education.

“So your government’s Open Ontario plan will raise Ontario’s postsecondary rate to 70 per cent. Your government’s plan begins with increasing spaces in colleges and universities for 20,000 students this year. That’s the equivalent of a whole new University of Guelph. Under your government’s Open Ontario plan, every qualified Ontarian who wants to go to college or university will find a place. . . .

“Your government will work with all its partners in education, training and business to develop a new, five-year plan to improve the quality of Ontario’s postsecondary education system. Your government will create the new Ontario Online Institute, bringing the best professors in the top programs at Ontario universities to the homes of those who want to pursue this new option for higher learning.

“Your government’s Open Ontario plan will also open our colleges and universities to the world. Millions of families around the globe want what Ontarians have — a quality postsecondary education that leads to a good job and a secure future. The world needs Ontario’s schools. So your government will aggressively promote Ontario postsecondary institutions abroad, and increase by 50 per cent while maintaining spaces for Ontario students. These dollars could be reinvested to improve and expand our schools and create more Ontario jobs. Together, we will make Ontario a classroom for the world."

The early response: “Ontario universities are up to the task of tackling these goals,” according to the Council of Ontario Universities.

“We look forward to working with the government to address the growing numbers of students seeking university education and to contribute to the province’s goal of ensuring that 70% of the population attains higher education,” said COU chair and Ryerson University president Sheldon Levy. “Ontario universities stepped up and accommodated over 100,000 new students over the past five years with the funding provided by the province’s Reaching Higher plan.”

From a COU news release: “On the international front, Ontario universities will work with government to enhance efforts to recruit students, implement exchanges, foster research partnerships and internationalize domestic curriculum. Over the past decade, the volume of international students recruited to Ontario universities has tripled to over 26,000 students and this success provides an excellent platform to take on the stated challenge of increasing international enrolment by a further 50%.  

“We are happy to enhance our international activities and to work with the government to explore how to leverage the online learning solutions of our institutions into the development of an online university. Universities already have many online learning solutions and an online collaborative operation called the Scholars Portal, which provides digital journals for research and course materials for over four million university students and faculty in Ontario.

“Ontario universities will continue to collaborate with the government on the development of a multi-year plan to fund university enrolment growth with the necessary operating support to educate our students and the capital funding to ensure that we have the space and facilities needed to support both domestic and international growth.”

Details on many of the throne speech proposals will presumably be along in the days ahead, especially in a budget that the provincial treasurer is expected to table before the end of this month. Initial comments on how the government’s plans affect Waterloo could surface this Friday at the year’s first meeting of the senate finance committee, looking at plans for the 2010-11 UW budget.

Other major themes in the throne speech included the water industry, possible wealth from new mining in northern Ontario, health care spending, and making Toronto a world financial centre.

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[Signing for one student, while another waits]

Investment executive and finance professor Robert Pozen signed copies of his book Too Big to Fail for students and other fans after his lecture last week, hosted by the School of Accounting and Finance.

What else is new under the sun

The third annual Staff Conference is a month away — on April 6 and 7 — and organizers in the office of organizational and human development say more than 300 staff members have already registered, so that sessions are filling up quickly. "Attend one event, or all that you can," suggests Susan Xiao of OHD, noting that the conference "promises to inspire, motivate and unleash your potential." She goes on: "Among the workshops is 'Demystifying the Library'. The Library’s resources are there for you.  Did you know with your free Library card you can get books, articles online and access millions of images — right from your desktop? Use the Library for your reading pleasure, planning a vacation or doing research." And more: "The University of Waterloo is a campus of diversity and Inclusivity, come to the 'Get H.O.T.' session and learn about inclusivity and ways to promote a campus environment where differences are openly explored, celebrated and understood.  The workshop will focus on helping participants to develop an awareness of homophobia and heterosexism in the workplace. Also on the conference program is 'HR: Plugged In'. Human Resources uses web technology to enhance the employee experience. Through this interactive discussion panel you will learn about HR services, including on-line recruitment, self-service and job information through myHRinfo.  Also learn about myPENSIONinfo, the user-friendly tool for retirement planning."

Waterloo’s international recruitment efforts continue this week and next in Belgrade and Novi Sad, Serbia, says Mirjana Radulovic of the faculty of environment. “The primary focus of this trip is the 7th International Educational Fair, EDUfair 2010, in Belgrade, March 11-13. Waterloo will have a booth organized by the Canadian Embassy in Belgrade. I will also be giving 30-minute presentations, and will be joined by a Health Studies alumna who is volunteering at our booth. Over 15,000 visitors, mostly high school students, visited the fair in 2009. The increasing number of exhibitors and visitors confirmed the fair’s great potential for developing interest in Canadian education in the Balkans. Furthermore, the Embassy has organized a meeting with the only university in the region that focuses on environmental studies: Educons University. The university is very interested in hearing more about Waterloo's Faculty of Environment. Other universities in the country have also expressed interest in meeting to hear more about Waterloo's co-op program. In addition, I will be presenting in the top 10 high schools in Belgrade and Novi Sad and meeting individually with counsellors. I will speak to approximately 500 students through the school visits. Waterloo's visit to Serbia has drawn some media attention; thus the Canadian embassy has arranged for me to meet with some local and national media.”

[OMG logo]Geese, roommates, sunglasses, people who come to class when they’re sick, construction, library graffiti, the opposite sex, the same sex . . . yep, it’s the OMGUW blog, back in operation a few days ago after several months offline. Besides the main page (that’s where you post anonymously about the things at Waterloo that make you go OMG!) the site offers Missed Connections and a new message board, ILU with a little heart, with notes about the things that people really [heart] (“my housemates! ES Coffee Shop!”).


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Link of the day

Celebrate your name

When and where

Co-op job interviews for spring term positions, “continuous” phase March 9-31, rankings open every Tuesday and Thursday. Details.

Library workshop: “Data Retrieval from Statistics Canada Surveys” 10:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Senate undergraduate council 12:00 noon, Needles Hall room 3004.

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop: “Motivating Students” 12:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

‘Can Information Technology Really Help Save the Planet?’ Talk by Victor Galaz sponsored by Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation, Tuesday  2 p.m., Tatham Centre room 2218. Details.

International Celebrations Week reception, 2:00 to 3:30, Waterloo International, Needles Hall room 1116.

Career workshops today: “Working Effectively in Another Culture” 2:30, “All About GMAT” 4:30, “Thinking about an MBA” 5:30, all in Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Arts faculty council 3:30, Humanities room 373.

Biochemistry and molecular biology seminar: Lillian DeBruin, Wilfrid Laurier University, “Characterization of Membrane Microdomains Within the Myelin Sheath” 3:30, Chemistry II room 361.

‘Free term abroad’ for math students at University of Haifa, Israel, information session 4:00, Math and Computer room 5158.

Computer Science Club presents Brennan Taylor, “Software Transactional Memory and Using STM in Haskell” 4:30, Davis Centre room 1304.

Etiquette Essentials: Dinner and workshop for graduating students, hosted by Student Life Office and Alumni Affairs, 5:30 p.m., Festival Room, South Campus Hall.

Turnkey coffee house, benefit for Haiti earthquake relief, 6 to 11 p.m., Student Life Centre: “dance, poetry, music, magic and more”, donations accepted.

Stratford Institute Lecture: Colin Ellard, department of psychology, “You Are Here: Connections Between Psychology and the Design of Built Space” 7 p.m., Stratford Public Library.

Income tax information session for international students, Wednesday 10:00 (Arts Lecture Hall room 208) or 2:00 (Environment 2 room 2002).

RefWorks advanced workshop, presented by UW library, Wednesday 10:00 or Thursday 1:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Women’s Centre marks International Women’s Week, Wednesday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Student Life Centre multipurpose room.

School of Planning speaker: Dennis Wendland, Evergreen Learning Grounds, Wednesday 12:30, Environment I room 354.

International treats at Renison Ministry Centre, Renison UC, Wednesday 2:00 to 3:00.

Career workshops Wednesday: “Career Exploration and Decision-Making” 2:00, Tatham Centre room 1112; “Thinking About Optometry?” 5:30, Tatham 1208. Details.

Stratford Institute public update Wednesday 5:30 p.m., Stratford City Hall auditorium.

Anthropology guest lecture: J.W.K. Harris, Rutgers University, "Our Earliest Hominin Ancestors, Bipedalism, and Tools: new insights into human origins on the African continent." Wednesday 7 p.m., PAS building room 2083. Details.

‘What Is the Role of Post-Secondary Education in Society?’ discussion at Graduate House sponsored by Alternative Academics, Wednesday 7 p.m.

Graduate Conference in Philosophy (17th annual), keynote speaker Mark Wilson, University of Pittsburgh, March 11-12. Details.

Employee Assistance Program brown bag seminar: "Career Planning: The How and Why Behind Getting Started or Switching Gears". Thursday noon to 1 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302. Details.

Cultural Caravan performances by clubs, Thursday 6:30 p.m., Student Life Centre.

‘Arcadia’ by Tom Stoppard, drama department spring production, preview by invitation Wednesday 7:00; public performances March 11-13 and 18-20, 8 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, tickets $12 general, students $10. Details.

March break open house for future students and their families, Tuesday, March 16. Details.

PhD oral defences

Philosophy. Ethan Wilding, “The Ethics of Nuclear Waste in Canada.” Supervisor, Brian Orend. On display in the faculty of arts, PAS 2434. Oral defence Tuesday, March 16, 1:00 p.m., Hagey Hall room 373.

Mechanical and mechatronics engineering. Robert C. Ripley, “Acceleration and Heating of Metal Particles in Condensed Matter Detonation.” Supervisors, Fue-Sang Lien and Fan Zhang. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Thursday, March 18, 9:30 a.m., Engineering III room 4117.

Civil and environmental engineering. Saiedeh Navabzaden Razavi, “Data Fusion for Location Estimation in Construction.” Supervisor, Carl T. Haas. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Thursday, March 18, 1:30 p.m., Engineering II room 3324.

Chemical engineering. Keyvan Nowruzi, “Optimization of Recombinant Protein Production by Streptomyces lividans Host.” Supervisors, Ali Elkamel, Murray Moo-Young, Jeno Scharer. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Friday, March 19, 11:00 a.m., Doug Wright Engineering room 2534.

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