Expert Panels at Work June 2011

After a productive spring, the Council’s expert panels head into what is anticipated to be an equally busy summer. The Council expects to launch the animal health risk assessment in the fall and continues to work on eight other assessments with some updates provided below.

Science Performance and Research Funding

In 2010, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada(NSERC) requested the Council conduct an assessment examining the international practices and supporting evidence used to assess performance of research in the natural sciences and engineering disciplines.

The Expert Panel on Science Performance and Research Funding, chaired by Dr. Rita Colwell, held its second meeting on March 24-25, 2011 in Toronto. Data gathering and a literature review are currently underway. The Expert Panel will meet again at the end of July, before preparing a draft of the report for report review.

The Integrated Testing of Pesticides

In 2009, the Minister of Health (on behalf of the Pest Management Regulatory Agency) requested the Council assemble an expert panel to examine the scientific status of the use of integrated testing strategies for the regulatory risk assessment of pesticides.

Most recently, in April 2011, the members of the Expert Panel on the Integrated Testing of Pesticides met to consider comments received through the report review process. The report is undergoing copy-editing and translation and is expected to be launched in late 2011.

The Panel’s report will provide insight on the future of integrated approaches to testing and assessment for chemicals in general, and pesticides more specifically.

Approaches to Animal Health Risk Assessment

In 2009, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (on behalf of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency) asked the Council to assemble an expert panel to assess the state and comprehensiveness of risk assessment techniques in animal health sciences.

The Expert Panel examined the national and international context of animal health risk assessment, and generally the Panel’s report will cover topics such as best practices in approaches to risk assessment, prioritization of risk assessments, and integration of animal-human health research.

The report is currently in production and is expected to be launched September 2011.

Women in University Research

In 2010, after the notable absence of female representation in the Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC) program, the Minister of Industry requested that the Council undertake an assessment of the factors that influence the university research careers of women, both in Canada and internationally.

The Expert Panel on Women in University Research, chaired by Dr. Lorna Marsden, held its second meeting on May 16-17 in Toronto. Evidence gathering and literature reviews are currently underway, with the Expert Panel reconvening for their third in-person meeting at the beginning of August in Montreal.

Sustainable Management of Water in the Agricultural Landscapes of Canada

In October 2010, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food asked the Council to provide a comprehensive evaluation of what additional science is needed to better guide the sustainable management of water to address the needs of Canadian agriculture.

A multidisciplinary panel of experts chaired by Dr. Howard Wheater, Canada Excellence Chair in Water Security from the University of Saskatchewan, has now been assembled to examine this issue. The Panel had their first meeting on May 19-20 in Ottawa and will continue to work over the next 12 to 18 months in developing their report. Their next meeting will take place mid-September in Saskatoon.

The State of Science and Technology in Canada

In late 2010, The Minister of Industry (on behalf of Industry Canada) requested the Council conduct an assessment examining the current state of science and technology in Canada. The Council completed its first assessment on the state of science and technology in 2006. In addition to re-examining facets from the 2006 report, this new assessment will include an expanded scope encompassing trends and Canadian strengths in scientific disciplines and technological applications, geographic distribution, and economic potential by discipline. 

The Expert Panel, chaired by Dr. Eliot A. Phillipson, the Sir John and Lady Eaton Professor of Medicine Emeritus at the University of Toronto, held their first meeting on June 1-2 in Ottawa.

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