Chemical innovation usually flies under the public radar, but soars in the spotlight when it holds a possible solution to a seemingly insurmountable problem. Finding answers to chronic healthcare challenges has been the life work of Mario Monteiro, a world leader in microbial polysaccharide immunochemistry at the University of Guelph in Ontario, whom ACCN has dubbed The Bug Doctor. For the past few decades, Monteiro has created polysaccharide-based vaccines as a viable alternative to conventional, protein-based vaccines, meant to thwart life-threatening bacteria like Campylobacter jejuni and Clostridium difficile. But it is Monteiro’s work in the area of autism that has sparked hope for thousands of desperate parents, who are often at a loss when dealing with the physical and social problems afflicting their autistic kids. He describes this as a mission close to his heart — developing a vaccine against these bacterial invaders and the gastrointestinal infections that have been linked to autism disorders. 

ACCN also provides a tour of the Ontario facilities of Lafarge Canada, which is developing greener cement processing in a new $9-million pilot facility, testing the use of low-carbon fuels gleaned from waste materials as a replacement for petroleum coke and coal. 

The West Coast is no stranger to innovation, and we present Vancouver venture-capital start-up MicroCoal Technologies, which hit upon the idea of microwaving coal to release the water, potentially turning billions of tonnes of relatively worthless, low-rank coal into a ready and saleable product.

Chemical News presents an intriguing range of stories, including how the genetic structure of the South American ‘superfood’ quinoa is being mapped to  assess its ability to grow in Canada. We also look at how a few gold nanoparticles can enable bent and torn polymers to repair their own structural damage.  

Finally, congratulations to the winners of the annual Chemical Institute of Canada and Canadian Society for Chemistry awards, who are listed on Page 43. Many of these awards will be presented at the upcoming, 97th Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition in my hometown of Vancouver. Hope to see you there!