Freeing population health data, and using environmental DNA to monitor and protect ecosystems
Two U of M research projects received federal funding this past week.
Responding to health challenges, such as the opioid crisis or emerging bacterial threats, relies on researchers having access to data, much of which is currently siloed and unable to be shared either for jurisdictional or technological reasons.
But a new pan-Canadian project—the SPOR Canadian Data Platform—will free this valuable data to researchers across the country and spur new insights and policies to keep Canadians safe and healthy.
Environmental DNA (e-DNA) is an efficient and non-invasive new way to sample organisms, and it is revolutionizing biodiversity monitoring in Canada. eDNA is DNA extracted from environmental samples, like water and soil, without having to isolate the target organisms. Current biodiversity monitoring relies on visual surveying to identify species, which requires expensive, labour-intensive sampling that is, invasive to the species and unsafe for the ecosystem.
On Apr. 23, Parliamentary Secretary Terry Duguid, Member of Parliament for Winnipeg South, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), announced an investment of $1,126,800 towards the University of Manitoba Centre for Oil and Gas Research and Development (COGRAD) to establish an environmental DNA (e-DNA) laboratory. The eDNA lab will be a natural extension of COGRAD’s unique service offering to the oil and gas industry in Canada as an internationally recognized environmental monitoring and remediation facility.