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Tracking down the origins of the Ebola outbreak

To address these questions, Dr. Fabian Leendertz of the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin assembled a large international interdisciplinary team consisting of virologists, veterinarians, ecologists, epidemiologists and an anthropologist. One member was Jan Gogarten, a doctoral student in Biology and Vanier graduate scholar at McGill. 

We spoke with Gogarten about the resulting study, published this week in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine, and his role in it.

Published: 30 Dec 2014

Making the most of a shitty situation

The distinctive “fecal prints” of microbes potentially provide a record of how Earth and life have co-evolved over the past 3.5 billion years as the planet’s temperature, oxygen levels, and greenhouse gases have changed. But, despite more than 60 years of study, it has proved difficult, until now, to “read” much of the information contained in this record. Research from McGill University and Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), sheds light on the mysterious digestive processes of microbes, opening the way towards a better understanding of how life and the planet have changed over time.

Published: 23 Dec 2014

Modern Greek Studies receives new gift of $1.2-million

A $1.2-million gift to McGill University from leaders of Canada’s Greek community will strengthen Modern Greek research and scholarship at McGill and endow the University’s Phrixos B. Papachristidis Chair in Modern Greek and Greek-Canadian Studies in perpetuity.

Published: 12 Dec 2014

Controlling obesity with potato extract

Take a look in your pantry: the miracle ingredient for fighting obesity may already be there. A simple potato extract may limit weight gain from a diet that is high in fat and refined carbohydrates, according to scientists at McGill University.

Published: 9 Dec 2014

Tramadol and risk of hospitalization for hypoglycemia

The opioid pain-reliever tramadol appears to be associated with an increased risk of hospitalization for hypoglycemia, a potentially fatal condition caused by low blood sugar, according to a report published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.

Published: 8 Dec 2014

Punishing kids for lying just doesn’t work

If you want your child to tell the truth, it’s best not to threaten to punish them if they lie. That’s what researchers discovered through a simple experiment involving 372 children between the ages of 4 and 8.

Published: 8 Dec 2014

HPV vaccine: teen sexual behaviour not affected

Sexual behaviour of teenage girls does not appear to have been affected by routine human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination, according to a large study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Published: 8 Dec 2014

Sovereignty v. neoliberalism: trial over a treasure

In 2007, a treasure hunting company found a 19th Century shipwreck in the Atlantic, off the coast of Portugal. The company, Odyssey Marine Exploration, claimed property of the shipwreck and its cargo, some 600,000 silver and gold coins.

Published: 5 Dec 2014

Possible link between air pollution and breast cancer

A new study of over 3,400 Canadian women provides further evidence that exposure to air-pollution may increase the risk of developing breast cancer, especially among women who have not yet had their menopause.

Published: 5 Dec 2014

Parasites and the evolution of primate culture

Learning from others and innovation have undoubtedly helped advance civilization. But these behaviours can carry costs as well as benefits. And a new study by an international team of evolutionary biologists sheds light on how one particular cost – increased exposure to parasites – may affect cultural evolution in non-human primates.

Published: 3 Dec 2014