Newscast - Wednesday 13th May, 2020

Newscast - Wednesday 13th May, 2020

Pritha Mukherji

- Anatomy and Cell Biology professor Silvia Penuela and Medical Biophysics and Surgery professor Matthew Teeter have been named recipients of a Petro-Canada Young Innovator Awards.

Established in 2003, the program provides awards to new researchers to recognize and support innovative work that not only impacts positively the learning environment in their department, but society at large.

Penuela and her team are exploring the influence of a channel-forming protein called Pannexin 3 (PANX3), which regulates the communication between cells and tissues. Although never previously linked to obesity, its deletion in mouse models led to weight loss, increased lean muscle mass and decreased inflammation.

By combining wearable sensors with machine learning, Medical Biophysics and Surgery professor Matthew Teeter is helping patients with arthritis better understand their present conditions in order to have realistic expectations for life after surgery.

- The Faculty of Law at Western has launched the Summer Research Fellowship Program, running from May to August.

The program creates 25 fully-funded research positions, involving research projects supervised by faculty members and covering areas of law such as gender issues, Indigenous legal traditions and international criminal law. Some research projects even focus on COVID-19-related topics like “family law and COVID-19” and “legal dimensions of social distancing.”

Each position under the new fellowship program will last for about 420 hours. The program received a total of $200,000 in funding, partially financed by donations from Western Law’s Dean’s Circle.

According to Dean Erika Chamberlain, the program will support the students’ financial needs and will add to their law-related work experience.

- Premier Doug Ford signalled more "good news" coming Thursday as the province reported 361 new cases, a second straight day of increasing case numbers after a six-week low over the weekend.

Speaking to reporters, Ford said Ontario will "hit stage one" of the province's three-stage framework for reopening the economy released some weeks ago, starting Thursday. 

The news comes as the province completed just 11,957, only about half of Ford's stated target of 20,000 tests per day. The backlog of tests waiting to be processed sits at 10,811.

Asked about the province's testing lag, Ford replied, "We are leading the country now in tests overall per capita... we are one of the leaders in testing globally, worldwide," but also acknowledged "we do want to hit 20,000."

- The Canadian government has announced additional aid in the form of a one-time payment of up to $500 for eligible seniors to offset any increased living expenses they have incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, the federal government said the new financial support will cost $2.5 billion and is in addition to previously announced relief measures for seniors, including the one-time special payment through the Goods and Services Tax (GST) credit in April, and investments in community organizations, such as those that deliver groceries and medications.


- With around one-third of the Major League Soccer season already postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, teams apparently are looking for salary relief.

ESPN reported Monday that MLS formally proposed to the MLS Players Association that all players take a 20 per cent pay cut.

The report, which cited anonymous sources, also indicated that MLS wants players to take tens of millions of dollars of cuts in other money aside from salaries.

- The Vancouver Whitecaps have received the green light to start individual outdoor workouts at their training facility, with sessions slated to start Tuesday.

The MLS club said its plan for voluntary workouts had been approved by health and government officials as well as Major League Soccer.

Toronto FC started their individual workouts on Monday. The Montreal Impact are looking to join them after having their initial request rejected by Montreal Public Health.

- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Tuesday that the government will spend more than US$260 billion, the equivalent of nearly 10% of the country's GDP, on a coronavirus economic relief package designed to make the world's second most populous nation more self-reliant.

"The package's main aim is to build a self-reliant India," Modi said in a televised speech, adding that it will help the country compete globally.

India entered its sixth week of a stringent nationwide lockdown on Tuesday, pushing an economy already enfeebled before the pandemic to the brink of collapse.

- On Thursday, expect a temperature of 13 degrees with heavy showers. Moving onto Friday, expect temperatures to soar to 18 degrees with heavy showers. It is currently 2 degrees.