Friday, November 13, 2015

DNA Barcoding, Game-Changing Research

Research Matters is a public outreach initiative by the Council of Ontario Universities. It explores how Ontario university research affects everyday life, and improves the ways people live, work and play. In spring the Research Matters team launched a fun online campaign to highlight the 50 game-changing discoveries made in the province’s universities over the last 100 years. The public was asked to vote for their favorites and yesterday the top five were announced. The top five innovations selected, in no particular order, are:

Fighting Gravity: Wilbur Franks, University of Toronto, invents the first anti-gravity or G-suit used in combat, and it is still the foundational design for contemporary fighter-pilot and astronaut pressure suits.

Treating Diabetes: Frederick Banting, Charles Best, J.J.R. Macleod and J.B. Collip, University of Toronto, Western University, develop insulin to treat diabetes, a life-saving discovery for millions.

Reinventing the Potato: Gary Johnston, University of Guelph, develops the yellow-fleshed Yukon Gold potato – its popularity making it a household name.

Breathing Easier: Fred Possmayer, Western University, develops a technique to purify and sterilize lung surfactant – a substance that allows lungs to expand and breathe. It has saved the lives of countless premature babies and is used by 99 per cent of the neonatal intensive care units in Canada.


Digitizing DNA: Paul Hebert, University of Guelph, proposes DNA barcoding for species identification, with applications from protecting global biodiversity to curbing food fraud.

Now that is nice. The University of Guelph lands twice among the winners, and remarkably the rather young innovation DNA Barcoding shows up at the top. Not that this competition has any global relevance but we are proud that our research is highly regarded by the public in our province. 

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