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UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 14 | Dec. 5, 2002

In the News

Highlights of UBC Media Coverage in November 2002.

Compiled by Brian Lin

Superbug’s weakness found

UBC biochemistry assoc. prof. Natalie Strynadka has discovered a protein that helps one of the worst superbugs resist antibiotics.

The bug is called Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, or MRSA, and Strynadka and her PhD student Daniel Lim have found a protein with a distorted shape within the bacteria.

“This distorted, or unique, shape prevents antibiotics from binding to it and allows the bacteria to live even in the presence of high levels of antibiotics,” Strynadka told the Globe and Mail. “We’re going to work on developing new compounds or drugs that will turn off the activity of this resistance protein.”

Such a discovery could potentially save thousands of lives.

Much ado about coffee

A new study from Switzerland published in Circulation: The Journal of the American Heart Association, suggests that caffeine may not be the ingredient that gives coffee its heart-revving kick.

UBC nutrition scientist David Kitts told the Globe and Mail that coffee research flows in cycles. “Coffee is a very complex beverage, coffee beans are roasted and toasted. It can be filtered, dripped or instant and there are wide and different sources of beans, and all these things are variables that can influence the chemical makeup of the drink,” Kitts said. “I guess the best rule, as always, is moderation.”

Future bright for B.C. economy?

According to Export Development Canada the slump in B.C.’s exports will end this year and reverse robustly in 2003, powered mainly by forest products and energy sales.

Export sales are expected to rise by seven per cent, recovering from an estimated six-per-cent drop this year. UBC economics prof. John Helliwell cautions that energy prices and volumes may be influenced by unpredictable political events the EDC forecast appears to overlook.

“You need to say you’re well into the range of uncertainty in the next 12 months,” Helliwell told the Vancouver Sun, “You can imagine a number of different unfoldings of the Iraqi scenario that could affect the price and quantities of everything. How important are the uncertainties being ignored?”

Canada among terrorist targets

Commenting on a U.S. study that listed 22 potential terrorist targets in Canada, UBC political scientist Allen Sens told the Vancouver Province that terrorists were more likely to raise money in Canada than try to blow up parts of it. He added we should be more concerned that terrorists might use Canada as a base to attack the U.S.

Women in science

A two-part BCTV feature suggests more women are going to university and entering the sciences.

In the Neuroscience program, for example, two-thirds of the students are women.

“15 per cent of the people who were registered in neuroscience programs when I was going through were female,” UBC neuroscience asst. prof. Jane Roskams told BCTV. “I think the times are changing in many, many different ways.”

Twenty per cent of the students enrolled in engineering at UBC are females. “The university as a whole is more than half women, certainly at the undergraduate level,” said Bruce Dunwoody, associate dean of applied science. “So we are under represented definitely compared to the rest of the university.”

“I think it starts at young ages when, from the toys that kids are playing with, girls are given dolls and boys play with blocks which might enhance their visual spatial skills,” said educational psychology asst. prof. Jennifer Shapka. “I think it has to do with somehow getting girls to see themselves as capable as being an engineer or a physicist.”

Family business goes to school

UBC is now in its second year offering courses to help family businesses learn to separate family issues from business needs.

“Everything starts to get jammed together. There ends up being in-fighting and unfortunately, difficulties occur when it really doesn’t need to happen that way,” Judy Cunningham of the UBC Business Family Centre told City TV.

“We do find some resistance, mostly because families are very private, they’re concerned they’re going to have to talk about their own families. They’ll have to get into a room and somebody is going to start digging into all their private stuff, that’s not what happens.”

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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