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Research briefs: Climate change projections, Parkinson’s pain, and mimicking the aorta

Here are some interesting new stories from McGill University Media Relations:

 

Published: 19 Jan 2022

Uncovering the underlying patterns in contemporary evolution

Wild populations must continuously adapt to environmental changes or risk extinction. For more than fifty years, scientists have described instances of “rapid evolution” in specific populations as their traits (phenotypes) change in response to varying stressors. For example, Spanish clover has developed a tolerance for copper from the mine tailings in which it grows, and the horn size of Alberta bighorn sheep has decreased due to trophy hunting.

Published: 18 Jan 2022

Protective gene variant against COVID-19 identified

In addition to old age and certain underlying diseases, genetics can influence whether we become severely affected or only suffer mild illness from COVID-19. Previous studies on mainly people of European ancestry have found that individuals carrying a particular segment of DNA have a 20 percent lower risk of developing a critical COVID-19 infection. This DNA segment encodes genes in the immune system and is inherited from Neanderthals in about half of all people outside Africa.

Published: 14 Jan 2022

New insights into seasons on a planet outside our solar system

XO-3b, a hot Jupiter on an eccentric orbit. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC)

Published: 13 Jan 2022

Federal government announces 17 Canada Research Chairs for McGill

Plastics, textiles, and electronics have revolutionized our modern world, but their massive production has led to the accumulation of non-biodegradable and toxic wastes. This is a problem McGill researcher Noémie-Manuelle Dorval Courchesne hopes to have a hand in solving. Today she was named a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Biologically-Derived Materials, in recognition of the importance of her research for Canada’s future.

Published: 12 Jan 2022

McGill University Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier will step down at the end of August 2022

Professor Suzanne Fortier, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University, announced today that she will be stepping down from her second term on August 31, 2022.

“Entering the University’s third century provides a unique opportunity for renewal and for setting new directions and ambitious goals,” said Principal Fortier. “After close to a decade in this role, I believe it is an ideal time to pass the baton to a new leader who will shape the future of our University.”

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Published: 7 Jan 2022

Real-time alert system heralds new era in fast radio burst research

McGill University scientists have developed a new system for sharing the enormous amount of data being generated by the CHIME radio telescope in its search for fast radio bursts (FRBs), the puzzling extragalactic phenomenon that is one of the hottest topics in modern-day astronomy.

Published: 4 Jan 2022

Acfas prizes for two McGill Professors

Canada’s most prestigious French-language learned society announced the recipients of its research awards today, and two McGill professors are among the winners.

At its 77th virtual gala ceremony, the non-profit organization Acfas, l’Association francophone pour le savoir, awarded McGill Professor Michel Biron the Prix André-Laurendeau and Professor Susanne Lajoie the Prix Jeanne-Lapointe.

Published: 8 Dec 2021

A new understanding of mental illness

The causes of psychiatric disorders are poorly understood. Now, in work led by researchers at McGill University, there is evidence that a wide range of early onset psychiatric problems (from depression, anxiety and addictions to dyslexia, bulimia, and ADHD) may be largely due to the combination of just three factors. The first is biological—in the form of individual variability in the brain’s dopamine reward pathway.

Published: 8 Dec 2021

Marjoleine Kars wins 2021 Cundill History Prize

Marjoleine Kars has been named winner of the 2021 Cundill History Prize for Blood on the River: a Chronicle of Mutiny and Freedom on the Wild Coast (The New Press). Kars accessed a previously untapped Dutch archive to reveal the little-known story of a 1763 slave rebellion in Berbice, a Dutch colony in present-day Guyana.

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Published: 2 Dec 2021

Preventing “Alien” Invasions

The search of life beyond our world is an exciting venture that may yield an enormous discovery in the not-too-distant future. However, space agencies around the world, including NASA and the European Space Agency, have long been aware of the potential risks of biological contamination and have set in place planetary protection policies.

Published: 2 Dec 2021

Lottery Tickets Aren’t Child’s Play

According to research, early childhood gambling experiences, including those with lottery products, increase the risk for developing gambling problems later in life.

Published: 1 Dec 2021

Support for research in carbon-free energy storage and conversion

As the world reflects on pledges made at the United Nations climate conference (COP26) to reduce carbon emissions, and scientists develop new ways to scale up renewable energy, McGill University’s efforts to contribute to a cleaner, carbon-free future will take another big leap forward thanks to a $2-million donation from TD Bank Group (TD).

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Published: 1 Dec 2021

Synthetic tissue can repair hearts, muscles, and vocal cords

Combining knowledge of chemistry, physics, biology, and engineering, scientists from McGill University develop a biomaterial tough enough to repair the heart, muscles, and vocal cords, representing a major advance in regenerative medicine.

Published: 30 Nov 2021

Extinct swordfish-shaped marine reptile discovered

A team of international researchers from Canada, Colombia, and Germany has discovered a new marine reptile. The specimen, a stunningly preserved metre-long skull, is one of the last surviving ichthyosaurs – ancient animals that look eerily like living swordfish.

Published: 29 Nov 2021

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