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Media Release

NOSM and IISD Experimental Lakes Area Announce Research Collaboration

Partnership to focus on aquatic biosystems, environmental health

  Environmental research programs at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) and IISD Experimental Lakes Area (IISD-ELA) have taken a leap forward with the establishment of a research collaboration agreement that will see scientists from both organizations working together on new studies related to environmental health.

For decades, scientists at IISD-ELA have maintained a research infrastructure for tracking changes in aquatic biosystems resulting from climate change, nutrient loading, pollutants, invasive species, and many other alterations in the environment. The facility, the only one of its kind in the world, has been researching whole-lake ecosystems since the 1960s.

Researchers at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine are studying similar changes, from the point of view of impact on human health. For example, researchers are studying the impact nutrient loading has on cyanobacteria (also called blue-green algae), and developing better ways to detect cyanobacteria blooms. Cyanobacteria is known to be harmful to humans, and represents a significant health risk to the people of Northern Ontario. Every summer, many beaches and water sources are identified by Public Health Officials as being contaminated, which results in the issuing of water advisories. The problem is increasing every year in part because of global warming.

"The Northern Ontario School of Medicine understands that the health of the people of Northern Ontario in inextricably linked to the health of the environment," said Dr. Penny Moody-Corbett, NOSM's Associate Dean of Research. "The work to be performed with IISD-ELA will enable scientists to advance our understanding of health risks associated with environmental change. It is essential we develop new tools to address the continually changing pressures our environment is experiencing, and the likely impacts on human health."

Matthew McCandless, IISD-ELA Executive Director, is also excited about the potential of the new collaboration. "IISD-ELA has an international reputation for excellence in environmental research. Working with NOSM will allow us to apply a specific focus on human health to several of the studies we are undertaking." McCandless is also looking forward to the learning opportunities the agreement will create. "IISD-ELA is dedicated to the training a new generation of scientists with the skills to understand the impact environmental change will have, beyond our current measures. This agreement will enable educational opportunities in new disciplines with tremendous potential impact on the health of Northern Ontarians and beyond."
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IISD Experimental Lakes Area (IISD-ELA) is an exceptional natural laboratory comprised of 58 small lakes and their watersheds set aside for scientific research. Located in a sparsely populated region of Northwestern Ontario, Canada, the lakes in the region are not affected by human impacts. By manipulating these small lakes, scientists are able to examine how all aspects of the ecosystem—from the atmosphere to fish populations—respond. Findings from these real-world experiments are often much more accurate than those from research conducted at smaller scales, such as in laboratories. This unique research approach has influenced billion-dollar decisions of governments and industries. It has generated more cost-effective environmental policies, regulations and management, all to ensure the safety of our freshwater supplies.

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The Northern Ontario School of Medicine is committed to the education of high quality physicians and health professionals, and to international recognition as a leader in distributed, learning-centered, community-engaged education and research. 

Kimberley Larkin
Communications Officer
Phone: 705-662-7243
Email: klarkin@nosm.ca 


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