Top Ten

May 23, 2019

Queen’s receives influx of funds for clinical cancer trials

The Canadian Cancer Trials Group at Queen’s University has received $25M from two American institutions with which it is collaborating. The Kingston Whig-Standard reports that the collaborations consist of clinical trials with volunteer cancer patients. The influx of funding will help more Canadian cancer patients participate in the trials, the Whig-Standard adds. “Clinical trials are hard to do if there’s only so many of these patients with these rare cancers, so if we collaborate more broadly we can get those types of trials done,” said Janet Dancey, Director of the Group. The partners aim to complete 60 to 70 trials with 400 to 500 Canadian participants over the funding period, which lasts for six years. Whig-StandardON

URegina fossil fuel case to be heard in open courtroom

The University of Regina’s request that a Freedom of Information case be heard behind closed doors has been rejected by a Regina judge, reports the Regina Leader-Post. At issue is a project by Geography and Environmental Studies professor Emily Eaton that looks at external funding for fossil fuel research projects in Western Canada. Eaton filed an FOI with URegina in 2017 for the information, but the university withheld the names of funding agencies or faculties that would receive the money. “[T]he court sort of affirmed that the university can’t make a policy argument about a blanket exemption, which it was doing in its denial of my freedom of information request, and then expect not to have to defend that argument in an open court,” Eaton told the Leader-Post. Leader-Post SK

More than half of QC support staff struggle with psychological distress: Study

A new study conducted on behalf of the Conseil provincial du secteur universitaire—a union organization that represents several postsecondary academic institutions in Quebec—has found that 53% of support staff at QC universities struggle with some form of psychological distress. Catherine Couturier states that the study consisted of online survey responses from 921 support staff at 11 QC universities, and that self-reported incidents of psychological distress had risen in comparison to a similar study conducted in 2008. According to Sabrina Pellerin, the study’s co-author, distress was not limited to one type of job or institution. Pellerin added that excessive workload due to funding cuts was the highest risk factor for support staff. University Affairs (QC)

UManitoba allocates $250K for sexual violence prevention, anti-racism supports

CBC reports that the University of Manitoba’s new budget will allocate $250K for sexual violence prevention and anti-racism supports. John Danakas, spokesperson for UManitoba, told CBC that the funding will help the university build on existing services. "This is entirely new funding, over and above normal funding for support services, such as counselling, for example," he said. Danakas added that some counselling and investigative services will continue to be contracted out. The additional supports come on the heels of two high-profile sexual misconduct investigations at the university. The University of Manitoba Students Union said they are “cautiously optimistic” about the decision. CBC MB

Provincial cuts a ‘body slam against science’ in Canada: Researchers

The Ontario government has cancelled funding for the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which aims to get stem cell research from the lab to clinical trials and commercialization. According to the Ottawa Citizen, the Institute’s five-year, $5M funding package from the government was its only revenue source. Christine Wood, press secretary for Todd Smith, Ontario’s minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, said that private sector funding will continue to support ORIM, but Director Duncan Stewart said private funding usually does not show up until key research initiatives are identified and supported through the transition to commercialization. The Citizen adds that other scientific organizations, including the Structural Genomics Consortium and the Gairdner Foundation, have also been faced with funding cuts. Ottawa Citizen ON

Cégep de l'Outaouais receives federal funding for Indigenous education project

Cégep de l'Outaouais has received $300K from the federal government in support of its Project Histoire du Canada - Perspectives des Premiers Peuples. A release states that researchers will work with First Nations across the country to produce publicly available, online educational materials. The materials will also be distributed to educational organizations, associations, and institutions across the country. "It is critical to make the history of the First Peoples known through their own voices, in order to open ourselves to their perspectives and worldviews, which can only enrich the education system and encourage the necessary change in perception, so that future generations can walk together," said Cégep de l'Outaouais History and Geography instructor Diane Le May. Newswire QC

If companies want great STEM talent, they need to fund its creation: US report

Corporations seeking to improve the pipeline of STEM talent will need to take it upon themselves to invest in high school and college programs, according to a new report from the US. The report highlights several forms that such investment can take, from sponsoring STEM spaces and scholarships to political advocacy, promoting employee volunteerism, sponsoring marketing campaigns, or generating broader interest in STEM. Success in these efforts could be measured by increased diversity in talent, the fostering of a more inclusive STEM ecosystem, and greater collaboration across sectors and organizations, the report concludes. Campus Technology Report (International)

RDC names studio after longtime partner

Red Deer College has named a studio in the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre after Melcor Developments Ltd. A release explains that the naming acknowledges Melcor’s long-standing relationship with the college. “Melcor recognizes the critical importance of education along with health and wellness in helping our communities prosper, and we have invested in institutions around the province that are committed to delivering these services,” said Melcor VP, Red Deer Region, Guy Pelletier. RDC adds that an endowment from Melcor funds seven annual scholarships, and that it has contributed to several development projects over the last 25 years. RDC (AB)

UQAM unveils mobile app for new Canadians

The Université du Québec à Montréal is developing a mobile application for new immigrants to Canada. According to the Journal de Montréal, the initiative aims to support the settlement of newcomers by consolidating all essential services into one platform. Simon Collin, the leader of the research team behind the app, stated that the developers sought to consolidate services for new arrivals related to housing, job searches, school registration, and banks in one place. The Journal adds that the app will be available in November. Journal de Montréal QC

We need to teach students real failure, not platitudes like #FailBetter: Dettmar

Echoing the popular sentiment that failure is an essential part of learning, Kevin Dettmar stops short of endorsing the Silicon Valley version of “fail better” that simply describes failure as success in disguise; instead learning is sometimes attributable to failure. Nevertheless, the author adds, initiatives such as grade-free freshman years, pass/fail courses, and “off the record” seminar discussions that take place outside the hearing of those who will later evaluate students’ work can help institutions create a space in which students can experience true failure and have the opportunity to survive it and learn from it. Inside Higher Ed (International)