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Why guillemot chicks leap from the nest before they can fly

Before they have the wing span to actually permit them to fly, young guillemots (also known as murres) leap hundreds of metres off towering cliffs and flutter down towards the sea, guided by their fathers. Scientists have long wondered why these tiny chicks make this remarkable leap, hoping to avoid the rocks below them, in what seems an unlikely survival strategy for a species.

Published on : 09 Mar 2017

Targeting the biological clock could slow the progression of cancer

Does the biological clock in cancer cells influence tumour growth? Yes, according to a study conducted by Nicolas Cermakian, a professor in McGill University’s Department of Psychiatry. Published in the journal BMC Biology, these results show for the first time that directly targeting the biological clock in a cancerous tumour has an impact on its development.

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Published on : 16 Feb 2017

The making of Antarctica

One of the big mysteries in the scientific world is how the ice sheets of Antarctica formed so rapidly about 34 million years ago, at the boundary between the Eocene and Oligocene epochs. There are 2 competing theories: The first explanation is based on global climate change: Scientists have shown that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels declined steadily since the beginning of the Cenozoic Era, 66 million years ago. Once CO2 dropped below a critical threshold, cooler global temperatures allowed the ice sheets of Antarctica to form.

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Published on : 31 Jan 2017

Bacteria control levels of dangerous pollutant in seabirds

Despite ongoing global pollution, researchers have discovered that levels of mercury in seabirds off the coast of B.C. have remained relatively stable over the past 50 years. Surprisingly, mercury in seabirds is now actually slightly lower. This might appear to be good news, but unfortunately it is due to a decline in fish stocks near the surface which has forced seabirds to change their diet, and in the process to feed in areas low in bacteria (known as sulfate-reducing bacteria) which act to control the levels of mercury in their bodies.

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Published on : 16 Dec 2016

Gene discovered to cause rare, severe neurological disease

Researchers have linked a debilitating neurological disease in children to mutations in a gene that regulates neuronal development through control of protein movement within neuronal cells. 

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Published on : 28 Nov 2016

Major ALS Research Funding Announced

By Shawn Hayward, Montreal Neurological Institute Researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute of McGill University are playing key roles in uncovering the mechanisms underlying ALS and will share in $3.9 million, part of $4.5 million in research funding announced on Nov. 23 by the ALS Society of Canada in partnership with Brain Canada. 

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Published on : 24 Nov 2016

Researchers identify gene associated with intracranial aneurysm in French-Canadian population

Scientists have identified a gene in the French-Canadian population that predisposes them to the development of intracranial aneurysm (IA), a potentially life threatening neurological condition that is responsible for approximately 500,000 deaths worldwide per year, half of which occur in people less than 50 years of age. Using genetic analysis, the team of researchers found rare variations of one gene, RNF213, that appeared more frequently in IA patients than in the control group. Both patients and the control group came from French-Canadian families. 

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Published on : 31 Oct 2016

It’s what's underneath that counts

To the naked eye, ancient rocks may look completely inhospitable, but in reality, they can sustain an entire ecosystem of microbial communities in their fracture waters isolated from sunlight for millions, if not billions, of years. New scientific findings discovered the essential energy source to sustain the life kilometres below Earth’s surface with implications for life not only on our planet but also on Mars. 

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Published on : 27 Oct 2016

Why some dental implants work and others don’t

Each year, about 500,000 North Americans get dental implants. If you are one of them, and are preparing to have an implant, it might be a good idea to start taking beta blockers, medication that controls high blood pressure, for a while. And to stop taking heartburn pills. A body of research from McGill led-teams indicates that in order to raise the odds that dental implants will attach properly, there are clear benefits to taking certain common medications and avoiding others. Bone cell growth, healing and death

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Published on : 25 Oct 2016

Science and the media

There is widespread worry today about the health effects of just about everything around us -- from the food we eat and water we drink, to the plastics we use and medications we take. A journalist’s task of sorting through all the latest studies and reporting the findings in a responsible fashion is more critical than ever.

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Published on : 11 Oct 2016

Critical information missing in fight to save wildlife

With global temperatures continuing to rise at an alarming rate, predictions for the impact of climate change on plants and wildlife must improve to give scientists a clearer picture of which species are most at risk of extinction.

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Published on : 08 Sep 2016

Mammals, spiny plants and the savanna story

McGill Newsroom The evolution and distribution of spiny plants holds clue to spread of African savanna

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Published on : 07 Sep 2016

Seeing Evolution in Fast Motion

A new outdoor laboratory will serve as a facility for studying the effects on our lakes of climate change and chemicals commonly used in Quebec. It features a series of 96 experimental ponds containing 1,000 litres of water from Lac Hertel on McGill University’s Gault Nature Reserve in Mont St. Hilaire. This network of ponds, named LEAP (Large Experimental Array of Ponds), was opened on September 2, 2016.

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Published on : 02 Sep 2016

Scientists Are Building VR Worlds for Mice and Monkeys

Researchers now have the capability to build virtual reality worlds that can be inhabited by both lab animals (like rats and monkeys) and humans, allowing for a sort of cross-species brain research that’s never really been possible before, as different species are run through virtual environments in video games while scientists study brain activity… In a new study, published in Journal of Neuroscience Methods, a team of neuroscientists—including Martinez-Trujillo, Roberto Gulli and Guillaume Doucet, who are both also affiliated with McGill University—describe a new virtual reality “toolbox”

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Published on : 13 May 2016