May 20, 2008

Toronto Rising...on Nature Nework?

Thanks for Larry Moran for pointing me to this article on the surprising concentration of biotech research in Toronto.

When the University of Toronto managed to lure chemical geneticist Guri Giaever away from Stanford University two years ago, part of the inducement was a new, bigger lab, and part was a prestigious government-funded research chair. But the biggest factor in the move, Giaever says, was the colleagues with whom she would be working. "In terms of what I'm doing, I would pretty much say hands down that Toronto is the best place in the world," she says.

Canadian scientists and administrators welcome such adulation. With the much bigger and richer United States to the south, Canada has often been preoccupied with a brain drain, as the brightest minds sought greater rewards at one of its neighbour's institutions. Increasingly, though, the country's biggest city, Toronto, is celebrating a 'brain gain' as it succeeds in attracting top researchers, often to work at brand new research centres. Federal and provincial efforts that began a decade ago are helping to attract high-calibre researchers and putting them in charge of long-term, 'big science' projects, according to researchers and business development officials. The new policies are an attempt to build on Toronto's impressive existing research infrastructure.

No more than a brief mention for York, unfortunately, a hazard that comes with being far outside the city centre, even though we do have a biotech institute.

Now, given the incredible concentration of life sciences researchers that this all entails, you'd think Toronto would have more of a presence on Nature Network!

As it happens, NN is looking to open up more fully fledged Hub Cities, adding to London and Boston. People can "vote" for their city by changing the city & (potential) hub in their own NN profiles. Corie Lok explains on this SciBarCamp forum posting (more info). So if you're a Toronto life sciences person (or any scitech person), go on over to Nature Network and create yourself a profile, sign up for a hub and get Hogtown wired into Science 2.0. The Toronto "potential hub" is pretty sparse so far.

Update 2008.05.21: Matt Brown has more. It seems that after 24 hours of the new potential hubs feature, Toronto is actually right up there with Berlin!

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