The top 5 research stories of 2017

Medical discoveries, learning miracles and the solution to a curling conundrum topped the list of research reads this year.


1. Program dramatically improves reading of at-risk students at an early age

In just two years of this study, the number of Grade 1 children with reading difficulties dropped by more than 97 per cent—and the tools to make it happen are already available.

2. Pet exposure may reduce allergies and obesity

Dog lovers rejoice: this research showed that having a four-legged family member around during pregnancy and in the early months can be a boon to baby’s immune system.

3. Unheralded yet costly flu-like virus to hit the province hard, according to UAlberta research

Virologists predicted a nasty season for RSV—a virus you’ve never heard of that costs Canada $50 million a year to treat. As if the flu weren’t bad enough.

4. Possible new target for treatment of multiple sclerosis found by UAlberta researchers

By pinpointing a potential culprit for MS—an underlying defect in brain cells—medical researchers opened a host of new possibilities for treating the debilitating disease.

5. Ice scientist puts new spin on why curling rocks curl

The first mathematical explanation of a rock’s J-shaped curl showed that it’s like what happens when a circular saw gets jammed. Next step: figuring out how to give Team Canada an edge at the Winter Olympics.