Building Momentum Hamilton: We are the #AmbitiousCity for a reason

McMaster Innovation Park had the honour of being able to sponsor yesterday evening’s Building Momentum Hamilton event. A huge thank you to all of the organizers and participants who made it so entertaining, enlightening, motivating, and not to mention delicious (I loved the coconut shrimp!). I was able to have great conversations with a lot of the community leaders who are, with the support of the great people in the communities, making sure that the Neighbourhood Action Plans are being carried out. It was great to hear that communities are coming together, getting to know each other, and are becoming more than just “neighbours” but rather a family who are willing to work with each other and build the momentum that this evening was spent celebrating.  These leaders are volunteers, who like most of us, want to see Hamilton reach its full potential and rise as the #AmbitiousCity

Here are a few takeaways from the night that not only MIP, but many attendees shared by using the hashtag #BMH14. Paul Johnson was a great speaker, and was able to really captivate the room.

Before the night even started, there was live music and a live painting that was later auctioned off

@sanjaybpatel & his painting, auctioned for $ 2,000 in support of Neighborhood Action Strategy #bmh14 pic.twitter.com/ExYQHYrb9w

— Mark Mulholland (@markmulholland) January 31, 2014

Did we mention break dancing, because there was that too! 

To learn more about the Neighbourhood Action Plans, check out this video played last night. 

Thank you again to everyone who helped make this event possible! Hats off to you.

Life Science Report Released by Hamilton Chamber of Commerce Makes Key Recommendations for Capitalizing on Hamilton’s Strengths

January 29, 2014- Hamilton, ON – Today the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce released a report titled “Building a Life Sciences Cluster: A Case for Hamilton,” outlining how the city’s future prosperity depends on its ability to extract greater commercial development from its current strengths.

The report documents Hamilton’s broad strengths and assets in life sciences, and looks at other regions around the world that have become economic powerhouses by successfully creating industry clusters.

Chamber President and CEO, Keanin Loomis states that Hamilton already has all the necessary components for creating a strong life science cluster.

“Hamilton’s health service and research sector is now the city’s largest employer,” said Loomis. “The magnitude of health and life science research being conducted here has doubled in recent years, and is receiving global recognition and awards. We have built incredible health infrastructure that is attracting specialized knowledge and human capacity that is the envy of cities worldwide.”

By looking at the elements of successful clusters, the report highlights current challenges and barriers that Hamilton will need to overcome to maximize sustained economic development.

“While hard work remains, the areas that need our attention and further development are not at all insurmountable, cost-prohibitive, nor duplicative of past or current efforts,” added Loomis. “Therefore, we believe that success in creating a vibrant life sciences cluster in Hamilton is achievable, if key leaders remain committed to act.”

The report is a culmination of over a year of work spearheaded by the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and with considerable effort and input from key industry stakeholders. All are committed to championing this initiative and are committed in 2014 to advance the report’s recommendations.

 For the full report, please click here.

Media contact: Huzaifa Saeed, Policy & Research Analyst h.saeed@hamiltonchamber.ca | 905-522-1151 ext. 230, C: 905-220-3030

Carpool week is helping MIP find their lost time and money

Carpool week is helping MIP find their lost time and moneyCarpool Week -Sustainable Commute

Feel like your morning and evening commutes have done nothing but made you lose time, money, and patience? We have a solution for you!

Carpool Week is an annual campaign encouraging people to carpool and celebrates how much commuters can save by driving to work, school or an event with at least one other person. This is being organized by SmartCommute Hamilton.

Whether you’re driving all the way to work, or just to the GO station, chances are there’s someone else with a similar commute. Carpool Zone will help you get in touch with them and get the carpool started.

The account takes a little less than 2 minutes to make. We encourage all of our tenants, and the rest of the Hamilton community to get involved. When you sign in to make an account you will be asked for your employer, make sure you check MIP from the list and find matches in your area who are already travelling to MIP! Once you try it out and love it, stay tuned for MIP’s Carpool Policy to be released next week and get ready to wave hello to all your new found time and money.

I know what you’re thinking, “Matches in my area? Am I being signed up for a blind date?” The answer is yes! The system will automatically match you with someone who already drives to MIP, but instead of getting a date you will get the satisfaction of knowing you are making a difference on the earth.

As a commuter myself, I can tell you the benefits are even more than just saving time and money.

Commuting with a coworker has resulted in

1)      More laughing in the morning: who couldn’t use more laughs in the morning traffic? Everyone has heard the scientific research on the impacts of a long commute. Luckily, there is also some significant research completed on the benefits of laughter.

2)      By carpooling with someone who has different interests than me, I get to learn about new music and food in almost every morning discussion.

3)      Savings on the cost of parking an entire vehicle, as well as the harmful emissions it releases

4)      If you’re switching from public transit to carpool, you will no doubt save time. This can save up to 30 minutes every single morning!

MIP’S Carpool Policy to be launched Next Week

Once you’ve found your partner in crime, get ready to make it permanent! MIP is actively supporting more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable forms of transportation. MIP has developed this policy to regulate and recognize
carpooling by members of the MIP community. Stay tuned for more details!

So what are you waiting for? Join the cool kids and sign up in the Carpool Zone to start making a significant impact on your commute.

Written by: Basmah Ahmed, Marketing Coordinator at McMaster Innovation Park

Taking advantage of our strengths: Hamilton as a Life Sciences Cluster

By: Keanin Loomis, Featured in the Hamilton Spectator

The Hamilton Story is alive and real. Last week, Hamilton Chamber of Commerce released an economic outlook that documented another positive year for Hamilton’s economy in the face of difficult headwinds that have battered other cities in the province.

Our ability to weather the storm, and in fact post continued growth and generate growing buzz, can be attributed to the fact that the economy of Hamilton is the most diversified in all of Canada as measured by the Conference Board of Canada.

Along with the capacity we’ve retained from our manufacturing tradition, Hamilton’s balanced economy gets strong contributions from agriculture, construction, creative and knowledge industries, education, the public sector, life sciences, health services, technology, tourism, transportation and logistics.

Among these, the largest employers in our community are found in the health service and life science sectors. Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) is Hamilton’s single largest employer (and among the largest hospital systems in the country), St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton is a powerhouse of its own, and significant research and teaching is conducted at McMaster University and Mohawk College.

Though the life sciences sector generates significant economic activity in this community, this has yet to materialize into a proportionate level of economic development.

Add up the extraordinary talent and significant institutional assets Hamilton has for health-care delivery and life-sciences research and we truly are in the top tier of international cities.

Given this, and the fact that life sciences are expected to remain a global growth industry, it is safe to assume that Hamilton’s continued rebirth and future prosperity will be determined in large part by the steps we take now to leverage what we have cultivated in the sector.

To date, we have not fully taken advantage of Hamilton’s health assets. Though the life sciences sector generates significant economic activity in this community, this has yet to materialize into a proportionate level of economic development.

There is no systematic union of businesses and institutions working to capitalize on Hamilton’s wealth in health. With other regions around the world aggressively developing life sciences cluster strategies, countless chances to derive commercial value out of world-class research and technical expertise evaporate annually. Each passing year, our window of opportunity will slowly close.

This week, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce will release a Life Sciences Cluster Report that was drafted with input and contributions from dozens of key institutional and private sector stakeholders. The report focuses on the essential requirements needed for cluster-based economic development to flourish in Hamilton’s life sciences sector.

It takes lessons from other regions that have been successful in attracting significant investment and generating economic growth through cluster-based cooperation. The report provides a comparative analysis of Hamilton’s status at this moment of great opportunity.

By doing so, we were able to generate a scorecard and recommend a path forward. While a successful life sciences cluster in Hamilton will require long-term commitment and a lot of hard work and community co-ordination, the good news is that the city has an abundance of the most elusive, valued and essential preconditions required for us to get started.

We have some of the best hospital-based health research in the world occurring locally. We have a wealth of talent in the sector. We have a burgeoning industrial base of more than 300 businesses working to commercialize life science discoveries.

We have a strong foundation being put into place at HHS, St. Joe’s, McMaster Innovation Park, McMaster and Mohawk. We are being forced to change by how the federal and provincial governments invest in research.

We have a growing self-awareness of our opportunity. We have motivated stakeholders.

The areas that need further development are not at all insurmountable, cost-prohibitive nor duplicative of past or current efforts.

We need to continue installing necessary infrastructure and systems. We need the further development of a culture of innovation and commercialization that supports the creation of new businesses. We need continued local, provincial and federal investment to catalyze this initiative until it becomes self-sustaining. We need to be better at celebrating our successes and in attracting venture capital.

Many essential pieces are coming together — the year of stakeholder engagement, collaboration, research and work that has gone into the drafting of this report is evidence that the necessary alignment is occurring and required commitment is building. As a result, we believe that success in creating a vibrant life sciences cluster in Hamilton is eminently achievable if key leaders remain determined to act.

Over the course of 2014, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and the stakeholders that contributed to the report pledge to continue championing this initiative and take on the work required to advance the report’s recommendations.

 

Keanin Loomis is president and CEO of Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.

The MARC is helping Ontario lead the way in creating the car of the future

Originally featured in ETAuto Written by Erin D’Alessandro

There is a hot new device in the works that provides high-speed Internet access, creates a wifi hub for all your gadgets, automatically downloads traffic and weather reports, serves as your multimedia entertainment centre, and provides advanced mapping and navigation apps. Of course, it also handles all of your email, texting and calling needs, using a rock-solid, hackerproof OS. 

The connected car combines the freedom of the open road with the connectedness of 21st century consumer electronics. Its a single, integrated machine that travels road networks while surfing computer networks. More than just a two-tonne wifi hotspot, the connected car is an intelligent device that taps into external and internal sensors, and self-regulates to provide a safe, efficient journey for passengers.

If you add intelligence to vehicles and to highways, if cars have access to traffic information, if they can talk to each other and talk to road signs, we can make major improvements to traffic, says Amir Khajepour[1], a University of Waterloo researcher who holds a Canada Research Chair in Mechatronics Vehicle Systems. Like many automotive researchers, his work is funded by government support, as well as $8 million from the automotive industry.

Khajepour is one of many researchers around the world who reflect a new culture that has built up around the emerging integration of horsepower and processor power. Historically, people who knew about car engines and wheel alignment were a different crowd from those whose expertise ran toward app design and cryptography. As those technologies come together in a single product, research and development is evolving as well most notably with increased cooperation between the automotive industry, university researchers and governments. Each supplies expertise and resources that are vital to a connected vehicle system. The automotive industry car companies and parts manufacturers understand their products and customers and what it takes to make a profit. University researchers can push forward on the technological breakthroughs that make the connected car possible. Governments not only support such research, but they also build and maintain the roads, highways and other infrastructure that allow for a fully integrated traffic network.

In Ontario, Canada, nine universities and 24 colleges have auto-related research capabilities. That wealth of research doesnt have to travel very far to find application: six of the worlds leading automotive companies operate 12 vehicle assembly plants in the province, which is also home to more than 100 companies involved in the connected car, including domestic and international auto parts manufactures, software and telecom companies and independent research facilities.

A transformation of this magnitude requires just this sort of scale and variety of partner organizations: The connected car is of course much more than a heavy weight smartphone. Such vehicles use information intelligently. They can continually and autonomously adjust speed and route, thereby helping the drivers avoid delays (and worse) without them ever realizing there is a problem. Not only do they improve the trip for individual commuters, but they make the overall system more efficient.

There are two ways to increase highway capacity increase speed, or reduce the distance between cars, says Khajepour. The only way to reduce the distance, especially at higher speeds, is to connect them to one another. If the cars can talk to each other, there is no problem with reaction time. The trucking industry is very interested in making a chain of trucks that can all talk to each other, and thereby reduce their distance.
Connected cars hold the potential to make travel faster, safer and more energy efficient, without sacrificing the vehicular autonomy that so many drivers prize. But while the concept itself is an easy sell, some of the challenges come from putting all the pieces together. Its not just the computing and power systems in a given car it also requires a safe, reliable protocol for sharing information. It requires a plan for transition times when some vehicles are connected and others are not. Technology, car culture, regulation, public infrastructure they all have a role to play.

Sometimes the partnerships that bring about this kind of transformation happen naturally, but it can make a big difference to have a cultural infrastructure that can help build the right kinds of connections.

Our role in this is really to connect industry to the capabilities of the academic resources we have in the province, says John McRitchie.[3] McRitchie is the regional director of the Ontario Centres of Excellence, a government funded organization that works to commercialize new research. We have a team of people whose job is to go out and help make those connections happen.

Whether its sophisticated wiring systems developed at the University of Toronto, or context-aware navigation apps created by Ryerson University, also located in Toronto, McRitchie believes the research community in his province has a globally unique amenability to industry collaboration.

The institutions are open and welcoming to this kind of project, he says. Companies that come here can readily tap into this community. Were all pretty well working to the same goal.

Ontario is also home to the national automotive research program AUTO21. Twenty of the 47 Canadian universities they work with are in Ontario.

Ontario offers a winning combination of industry and academic interaction, said AUTO21 Scientific Director and CEO Peter Frise.[4] More than 90 per cent of Canadas auto industry is located in Ontario along with a large portion of ICT companies. Numerous universities add to the mix by bringing professors and graduate students fully capable of working with industry.

The benefits of these collaborations go both ways.

At McMaster we pay a lot of attention to being business friendly, said Mo Elbestawi[5], the Vice President of Research at this Hamilton-based university. Researchers at McMaster work with Chrysler, Fiat and other auto manufacturers on sensors, monitoring, control and software for connected cars. 

We make sure the students get the benefit of being exposed to private sector culture. That helps them appreciate the relevance of their research, and also helps them get jobs when they graduate, Elbestawi said.

DISCLAIMERThe views expressed are solely of the author and ETAuto.com do not necessarily subscribe to it. ETAuto.com shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.

SSHRC Pitch Contest: The Storytellers

SSHRC is challenging postsecondary students to show Canadians how social sciences and humanities research is affecting our lives, our world and our future prosperity. They’re looking for storytellers and data journalists, social media masters and aspiring filmmakers.

Send them your pitch communicating a great SSHRC-funded research project happening at your institution.

VISIT THEIR SITE HERE


STEP 1: PITCH

You’ve got three minutes to tell us why a research project matters. The research can be yours, it can be a professor’s (get their permission first!), but your pitch needs to be creative, compelling and clear.

Ready? You’re up.

Send us your pitch communicating a great SSHRC-funded research project happening at your institution.

Grab our attention, be creative, push the boundaries: use a podcast, op-ed, vlog or infographic.

What is the story? Where is the research taking us? How does it impact Canadians?

The top 25 finalists will receive a cash prize of $3,000, an invitation to a special communications workshop at Congress 2014and the chance to deliver a featured presentation at the SSHRC Impact Awards ceremony in fall 2014.

Submissions accepted from November 1, 2013 to January 31, 2014

 


STEP 2: DEVELOP

In addition to the cash prize and Congress workshop, the top 25 finalists will receive registration and three nights’ accommodation at Congress 2014, as well as national promotion of their project.

The workshop will feature hands-on mentoring and training from experienced communications professionals and specialised group sessions.

At the Storytellers Showcase, the 25 invited workshop participants will take the stage and deliver their pitch in front of a live audience and a panel of experts. The jury will select five to present a final talk as part of the SSHRC Impact Awards ceremony in fall 2014.

 


Weever Apps Receives Chief’s Pride Award

he Chief’s Pride (Person who is Really Interested in Delivering Excellence) award is given to members of the Hamilton Police Service who go above and beyond normal expectations. These are special acts of compassion, support and quality of service that are worthy of recognition. At the January 21, 2014 meeting of the Hamilton Police Services Board, Tim Richard of Weever Apps received the Chief’s PRIDE Award recognizing his efforts as follows:

In February 2013, Tim Richard, Vice President of Sales for Weever Apps contacted Hamilton Police Service.  His area of expertise is developing programs for Smart Phones and felt that creating an app might assist the Service with its impaired driving efforts.

Aware that there was no budget, Tim was not deterred as he felt so strongly about Apps and the Service’s work.  Tim freely contributed his time and expertise to assist the Service in developing a Road Safety App. It was launched in time for the long weekend in May.

So far, the app has had over 1,000 downloads and has received positive feedback from the Community.  It has information on distracted, impaired and aggressive driving, locations of our collision reporting centres and traffic safety tips.

A favourite feature is the warning users get when they first click the app, ‘Do not use this app while driving’.

The Hamilton Police Service strategic road safety initiative is all about education. Road safety education plays an important role in shaping the attitudes and behaviours of children and young people – ensuring they become responsible drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists. 

The Free App is available through attached photo or enter the following link on your touch phone or tablet: http://hamiltonpolice.myweeverapp.com

 

Check out the original story here: http://hamiltonpolice.on.ca/HPS/News/weeverappsaward.htm

U.S Patent has Weever Apps thinking bigger

Original article By: Meredith Macleod @ The spec

It’s 22 pages long, 11,200 words, more than three years in the making and, for Hamilton’s Weever Apps, a newly achieved United States patent is just the beginning of its plans for expansion.

The startup learned Christmas Eve that it has been granted a U.S. patent for its technology that converts web pages into mobile apps.

“This protects us for the next 17 years,” said Weever co-founder Steve McBride.

“It’s both offensive and defensive. No one can say we’re infringing on their technology and we can stop other people from using our technology.”

Alex Ross, a partner at Gowlings law firm in Hamilton who guided the process, says it’s become increasingly difficult to get U.S. patents for software.

“It has to be a genuine innovation or advance over what was done before.”

Weever has applied for a Canadian patent and Ross says achieving a U.S. patent can help expedite Canadian approval.

Landing the patent is so big for the startup that it has already attracted three new investors who will help fund expansion, said McBride. The company now employs 13 people and will hire two more developers in March.

Weever also has a new partnership with DocuSign, a California company that specializes in digital signatures.

“So we made an app for the CFL Players’ Association and players can sign documents and deals within the app using digital signatures.”

Weever technology has built about 22,000 apps in 65 countries, says McBride. The firm has also done work for the likes of London Life, World Vision and Pioneer.

Its focus, though, is its app builder, which allows users to create apps for phones or tablets without needing to code. Weever is paid a monthly subscription.

Ross began working with Weever after the company won the 2011 Lion’s Lair competition, which included a $20,000 package of legal services from Gowlings. He says the company’s success points to Hamilton’s ability to nurture innovation.

“Without this kind of dedicated support, Weever’s U.S. patent likely wouldn’t have happened. When most people think of a hotbed for Canadian startups, they think of Waterloo or perhaps Ottawa, but success stories like this show that Hamilton also has the potential to become a vibrant startup community in its own right.”

Technology investor Blake Laufer says he was “stalking” Weever several months but only handed over his money and joined an expanded board of directors when the company landed its patent, which lists co-founders Andrew Holden and Rob Porter as the inventors.

“I think the patent and new features they’re adding make it more valuable,” Laufer, a successful software entrepreneur himself, says of Weever.

Laufer is impressed by the management team and by the company’s approach to building solutions across a variety of software platforms.

“There is a lot of risk and R&D at the bleeding edge but they are at the leading edge. The things they are doing today will become commonplace for others in another few years.”

mmacleod@thespec.com 905-526-3408 | @meredithmacleod

Check out this video with Weever Apps explaining the importance of Mobile Marketing.

UNU-INWEH World Water Day 2014: Photo Contest

UNU-INWeh will be accepting photographs for their Facebook Photo Contest on Water and Energy starting on 15 January 2014. Participate and win a chance to have your photo exposed during the main World Water Day 2014 celebrations on 20-21 March 2014 in Tokyo, Japan.

Please submit a photograph that best reflects the following statement:

“The World Water Day 2014 theme of Water and Energy is central to achieving a sustainable future. It also cuts to the heart of inequities, particularly for the poorest of the poor, who suffer greatly from lack of access to water, sanitation and modern forms of energy. World Water Day aims to raise awareness across a broad range of business domains and government sectors to solve water and energy challenges in a cohesive way.”

Submission guidelines are as follows:

1) All contestants must be 13 years of age or older to participate.

2) All submitted photos must be a minimum size of 4′x6′ (inches).

3) All submitted photos must be high resolution at a minimum of 300 dots per inch (DPI).

4) Each contestant may only submit one photo to the World Water Day 2014 contest. All duplicate submissions will be removed.

5) Black and white photographs as well as coloured photographs will be accepted.

6) Voting on photographs will be restricted to once daily per IP address.

7) All World Water Day 2014 Photo Contest winners will have their photographs displayed at the official main World Water Day Photo Exhibition in Tokyo, Japan (20-21, March 2014). More information on the main event can be found at: http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/events/main-event/en/

8) The first place winner of the photo contest will be based on the photo with the most public votes. The second place winner will be based on the photo with the second most public votes. The Critic’s Choice winners (3 photos) will be selected by a World Water Day 2014 Photo Contest Jury from the 10 photos that receive the most public votes contest-wide.

The 2014 World Water Day photo contest focuses on the theme of the Water-Energy Nexus. All applicants agree that each photo submitted to the contest will reflect the integrity of the World Water Day brand and that any and all inappropriate content will be removed by the World Water Day Photo Contest administrator.

Closing date for entry will be February 28, 2014. After this date, no further entries to the competition will be permitted.

No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason.

No cash alternative will be offered to winners of the photo contest.

The UN-Water’s decision in respect of all matters to do with the competition will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.

The information you provide will only be used for contacting the contest winner. By submitting an entry to this Contest (the “World Water Day 2014 Photo Contest”), you acknowledge that you have read and agree to be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of UN-Water, and that you satisfy all eligibility requirements.

Contest governed by UN law. Contest is subject to all applicable UN laws and regulations. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary to enter or win.

By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.

Click here to participate:
https://www.facebook.com/UNWorldWaterDay/app_321922377880728

Scientists unlock evolution of cholera

McMaster Daily News

Working with a nearly 200-year-old sample of preserved intestine, researchers at McMaster University and the University of Sydney have traced the bacterium behind a global cholera pandemic that killed millions – a version of the same bug that continues to strike vulnerable populations in the world’s poorest regions.

Using sophisticated techniques, the team has mapped the entire genome of the elusive 19th century bacterium. The findings are significant because, until now, researchers had not identified the early strains of cholera, a water-borne pathogen. The discovery significantly improves understanding of the pathogen’s origin and creates hope for better treatment and possible prevention.

Researchers have now confirmed the first of two types of cholera, known as classical, was likely responsible for five of the seven devastating outbreaks in the 1800s, all of which most likely originated in waters of the Bay of Bengal.

That strain of cholera had remained a mystery because researchers were unable to examine samples from early victims. The pathogen thrives in the intestines, never reaching teeth or bones, so remnants of its DNA do not exist in skeletal remains. Despite many known cholera burials, access to historical cholera DNA had seemed impossible since it can only be found in soft-tissue remains.

But graduate student Alison Devault and evolutionary geneticists Hendrik Poinar, Brian Golding and Eddie Holmes—working with a team of other scientists—learned that a remarkable collection of tissue specimens was housed at a medical history museum. The Mütter Museum was established by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia in 1858, after the city itself was devastated by cholera earlier in the century.

Researchers carefully sampled a preserved intestine from a male victim of the 1849 pandemic and extracted information from tiny DNA fragments to reconstruct the Vibrio cholera genome.

The results, currently published in The New England Journal of Medicine, could lead to a better understanding of cholera and its modern-day strain known as El Tor, which replaced the classical strain in the 1960s for unknown reasons and is responsible for recent epidemics, including the devastating post-earthquake outbreak in Haiti.

“Understanding the evolution of an infectious disease has tremendous potential for understanding its epidemiology, how it changes over time, and what events play a role in its jump into humans,” explains Poinar, associate professor and director of the McMaster Ancient DNA Centre and an investigator with the Michael G. DeGroote Institute of Infectious Disease Research, also at McMaster University.

“We need to understand the selective pressures on the pathogen which in turn is driving its evolution, its virulence and hopefully use that information to develop better treatments,” he says. Using a sophisticated technique to extract, purify and enrich fragments of the pathogen’s DNA, the team collected precious genomic data, which answered many unresolved questions.

The researchers identified “novel genomic islands”, or genome regions that don’t occur in current strains.  In addition, a well-known genic region involved in toxicity of the pathogen (a sequence called “CTX”) occurs more times in the ancient strain than in its modern descendants.

This may mean that this strain was more virulent, say researchers, but further testing will be needed.

Regarding the origins, the team’s calculations show that the classical strain and El Tor co-existed in humans and estuaries for many centuries, potentially thousands of years prior to the 19th century pandemics, and emerged as a full-blown infection in humans in the early 1800’s.

The ancestor of both the classical and El Tor strain likely circulated together in the waters of the Bay of Bengal for several thousand years before emerging in humans during what is known as the first epidemiological transition, or a time of great agricultural revolution and human settlement.

The World Health Organization estimates there are three to five million new cholera cases every year.  Of those, 100,000 to 120,000 people typically die from the disease. But with access to historical collections and samples, scientists hope to gain a better understanding of how pandemics arise, spread and ultimately how they might be better controlled or stopped.

“The genomes of ancestral pathogens that have descendants today reside in these archival medical collections all over the world,” says Poinar.  “We have access to hundreds of thousands of ancient specimens, which hold tremendous potential to determine the origins of past epidemics.” Thus these collections represent a treasure trove and should be carefully preserved and maintained.

The research was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, an NHMRC Australia Fellowship and an Ontario Graduate Scholarship.