Genome Alberta was mentioned in the Alberta Legislature on November 29th
. It was a Members' Statement from Craig Coolahan
, the MLA for Calgary Klein and we were pleased to hear him focus on our Chronic Wasting Disease project. MLAs are allotted certain opportunities to rise in the Legislature and read a prepared statement that usually is about the work of constituents, a nod to specific accomplishments by individuals, organizations or industry, or other topics that the MLA might want to highlight and it is an excellent chance to be recognized.
The MLA may also introduce someone sitting in the public gallery and Dr. Debbie McKenzie one of the co-leaders of our "Systems biology and molecular ecology of chronic wasting disease" project, was invited to attend and be introduced to the Assembly.
Here is how it was handled in Hansard, the official record of the Alberta Legislature:
"The hon. Member for Calgary-Klein.
Mr. Coolahan: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It’s my pleasure to introduce to you and through you to all members of the Assembly Dr. Debbie McKenzie, who is one of the coleaders of the Genome Alberta research project focused on chronic wasting disease among Alberta’s deer, elk, moose, and caribou population, which we’ll be hearing more about in my member’s statement today. I would ask that Dr. McKenzie please rise and receive the traditional warm welcome of the Assembly.
The Speaker: Welcome.
A short time after the introduction, Mr. Coolahan made the following statement (again as recorded in Hansard)
"The Speaker: Thank you, hon. member.
The hon. Member for Calgary-Klein.
1:40 head: Chronic Wasting Disease
Mr. Coolahan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On to something factual.
Right now Alberta researchers are on the land collecting data and samples while consulting with First Nations people. They are part of an ongoing research project to deal with chronic wasting disease, or CWD. CWD is a fatal disease affecting deer, elk, moose, and caribou.
Since it was first discovered in 1967 in Colorado, it has spread into 24 U.S. states, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. B.C., Manitoba, and Yukon are also at risk. This disease could spread through 2 million animals in Canada that are susceptible to CWD. A sustained outbreak would affect those that rely on animals for food or for traditional practices such as First Nations people, and it would threaten biodiversity and ecosystems and have an impact on Alberta’s reputation as a wildlife destination.
The 11 and a half million dollar project was made possible with cofunding from the Alberta Prion Research Institute, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, the University of Alberta, and the University of Calgary. The work is being led by University of Alberta researcher Dr. Debbie McKenzie and Genome Alberta. The research team is developing tools that can be used to identify strains of CWD and predict the spread of the disease. The project has been ongoing for a year, and while there is still no direct evidence that CWD can transmit to humans, early results reveal that further research is needed to investigate the potential for CWD transmission across species. The team will also assemble kits for use by First Nations, hunters, and managers to help identify disease and prevent its spread.
Genome Alberta funded projects such as this one make a point of involving end-users of the research and those most likely to be affected by the project results. This model ensures that funding dollars have the best chance of having real-world impact.
This is just one more example of how collaboration and science are making life better for all Albertans. Thank you.
After the session rose for the day, Craig Coolahan spent a few minutes with Dr. McKenzie and he sent us this picture.
Thanks to Craig for the Statement and to Debbie for finding the time to attend!
Alberta Hansard for Wednesday afternoon, November 29th, 2017