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It is no longer enough for scientists to discover something, publish their findings and advance knowledge. These days they are also expected to translate that knowledge into economic activity.

Which brings me to the curious press release I received from the University of Toronto about diet-based DNA tests. The headline announced the good news: "Genetic testing for personalized nutrition leads to better outcomes."

It seemed curious because the scientist doing the research is also selling a diet-based DNA test.

A promotional video for the private company was attached to the news release. And the whole package was sent out by the university's strategic communications and marketing department, clearly stating that the company is a university spinoff, which means U of T receives royalties from the sale of the tests.

So is this finding about science? Or marketing? Or both?

Welcome to the new world of "translational science" where, increasingly, funding for basic science is tangled up in commercial strings as Ottawa ties its grants to research that will translate into commercial applications.

That means in order to get... see more