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NOSM and IISD Experimental Lakes Area announce research collaboration

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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 NOSM 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 is 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's 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 training a new generation of scientists with the skills to understand the impact that 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."

About the International Institute for Sustainable Development

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an independent think tank that delivers the knowledge to act. Our mission is to promote human development and environmental sustainability. Our big-picture view allows us to address the root causes of some of the greatest challenges facing our planet today – ecological destruction, social exclusion, unfair laws and economic and social rules, a changing climate. With offices in Winnipeg, Geneva, Ottawa and Toronto, our work impacts lives in nearly 100 countries.

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