Wednesday, February 23, 2011

CAMH launches first Research Laboratory on wheels dedicated to mental health and addictions

TORONTO, February 22, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Today, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) launched Canada's first mobile research laboratory to study mental health and addictions in communities across Ontario. The mobile lab will allow CAMH researchers to reach underserved populations in rural, remote and First Nations communities to help improve prevention and treatment services in these communities, and beyond.

"The mobile research lab fills a gap by bringing world-class research by epidemiologists, psychiatrists, neuroscientists and social scientists to communities that are far from research centres," says Dr. Bruce G. Pollock, CAMH's Vice-President of Research. "The results will be shared with local health and social service agencies, enabling them to improve service delivery."

CAMH scientists will embark on the lab's first research program this spring. Researchers are targeting Ontario communities that are less advantaged due to higher unemployment or poverty rates, among other factors. Among the series of studies planned, one line of research will tease out the complex interactions between a person's genes and problems in the community, which may put people at risk for mood and anxiety disorders, substance abuse and violence.

The lab will be used to conduct interviews and surveys, run focus groups, and take hair, saliva or blood samples to measure stress or obtain genetic information. This information will produce knowledge about communities that is often not available from large-scale telephone surveys. Over time, as information is gathered from across the province, CAMH researchers will create a powerful database that will advance our collective knowledge of mental illness, addictions and violence.

"The research lab is a major milestone of CAMH's Research Renaissance Project, which is our largest ever scientific endeavour," notes Dr. Pollock. "The lab reflects the project's vision of working from the neuron to the neighbourhood level to advance our understanding, treatment and prevention of mental illness."

The mobile research laboratory received funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). The first research program, Researching Health in Ontario Communities, was supported by a team grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

"This mobile research lab will have a real and positive impact on the Ontario communities who need it most," said The Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the CFI.

"CIHR is pleased to support this unique project that will facilitate a partnership between individuals in rural communities and a renowned team of health researchers at CAMH committed to improving brain health through innovative research," said Dr. Anthony Phillips, Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction. "We hope that the mobile research laboratory approach will increase our knowledge of mental health and addiction among rural and remote communities."

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world's leading research centres in its field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more information, please visit

Created by the Government of Canada in 1997, the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) strives to build our nation's capacity to undertake world-class research and technology development to benefit Canadians. Thanks to CFI investment in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions are attracting and retaining the world's top talent, training the next generation of researchers, supporting private-sector innovation and creating high-quality jobs that strengthen Canada's position in today's knowledge economy.

For the past 10 years, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has supported better health and healthcare for Canadians. As the Government of Canada's health research investment agency, CIHR enables the creation of evidence-based knowledge and its transformation into improved treatments, prevention and diagnoses, new products and services, and a stronger, patient-oriented healthcare system. Composed of 13 internationally-recognized institutes, CIHR supports more than 13,600 health researchers and trainees across Canada.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Is the World One Poor Harvest Away From Chaos?

by Lester Brown, Washington, D.C

In early January, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that its Food Price Index had reached an all-time high in December, exceeding the previous record set during the 2007-08 price surge. Even more alarming, on February 3rd, the FAO announced that the December record had been broken in January as prices climbed an additional 3 percent.

Will this rise in food prices continue in the months ahead? In all likelihood we will see further rises that will take the world into uncharted territory in the relationship between food prices and political stability.

Everything now depends on this year's harvest. Lowering food prices to a more comfortable level will require a bumper grain harvest, one much larger than the record harvest of 2008 that combined with the economic recession to end the 2007-08 grain price climb.

If the world has a poor harvest this year, food prices will rise to previously unimaginable levels. Food riots will multiply, political unrest will spread and governments will fall. The world is now one poor harvest away from chaos in world grain markets.

Over the longer term, expanding food production rapidly is becoming more difficult as food bubbles based on the overpumping of underground water burst, shrinking grain harvests in many countries. Meanwhile, increasing climate volatility, including more frequent, more extreme weather events, will make the expansion of production more erratic... read more story at

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Threats to Groundwater Supplies in Canada Require Coordinated Response: C.D. Howe Institute

A well draws groundwater from an aquifer
(R.J.W. Turner, GSC 2006-154)

TORONTO, February 10, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Better oversight of Canada's groundwater resources is required in the face of numerous challenges, according to a study released today by the C.D. Howe Institute. In " Protecting Groundwater: The Invisible and Vital Resource, " James Bruce, recently chair of the Council of Canadian Academies Expert Panel on Groundwater, assesses present and emerging threats and makes recommendations for better groundwater management in Canada.

Challenges for groundwater management, the author says, include energy issues, such as the uncertain impact of shale gas "fracking," slow recharge rates of aquifers, agricultural intensification, and contamination. Canada has yet to experience large-scale over-exploitation of groundwater resources and its groundwater remains of good quality. Bruce says the time is right, however, for establishing the legal, regulatory and management systems, along with the necessary monitoring provisions, to overcome the threats to groundwater.

Nearly 10 million Canadians, including about 80 percent of the rural population and many small- to medium-sized municipalities, rely on groundwater for their everyday needs. However, Canadians living in large cities and most policymakers tend to ignore groundwater and its management. This asymmetry of interests has resulted in fragmented knowledge of groundwater locations, their quantity, quality, and how groundwater supplies are changing over time in Canada.

Bruce says an effective groundwater management strategy would adhere to five major principles for sustainability. They are: protection from depletion; protection from contamination; ecosystem viability; allocation to maximize groundwater's contribution to social and economic well-being; and the application of good governance.

Given the challenges that lie ahead, the author concludes, meaningful cooperation by three levels of government, as well as prices that better match the costs of delivering water and wastewater services, and an expansion in data collection efforts are required to sustainably manage Canada's groundwater.

For the study go to: