UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 8 | Jun.
In The News
Highlights of UBC Media Coverage in May 2002.
Compiled By Brian Lin
Asian arms trade
Commenting on Malaysia's announcement of a major weapons modernisation
programme, UBC International Relations Prof. David Capie told Forbes.com
that "since the end of the Cold War, patterns of arms acquisitions
in Southeast Asia have been closely linked to the performance of
Age of universe
Using the Hubble Telescope, a team of scientists led by UBC Astronomy
Prof. Harvey Richer said they had arrived at a new measure of the
age of the universe: the cosmos is at least 13 billion years old.
"We're not peering at the edge of the universe," Richer
told the New York Times. "We're a peeping tom looking at our
neighbour . . . This new observation short-circuits getting to the
age question, and offers a completely independent way of pinning
down that value."
Health care cuts
UBC Medical School's Clinical Assistant Prof. Leon Bard told the
Vancouver Sun that staff shortage has resulted in inadequate patient-care
in the ER. "Although I agree that that the status quo is unsustainable,
the changes proposed by this Liberal government will only make the
situation dramatically worse," warned Bard. "Rather than
relying on information and advice from economists, bureaucrats or
politicians, I would suggest consultation with those of us in the
front lines who are dealing with these problems face-to-face every
UBC Psychiatry Prof. Raymond Lam is urging employers to be aware
of clinical depression at the workplace. Health Canada estimates
that workplace depression costs more than $1.4 billion in lost productivity
to Canadian companies. "We're hoping business will recognize
how important this is and step up to the plate," Lam told Business
Spinal cord breakthrough
In a breakthrough that could help people living with paralysis,
a team of UBC researchers has found nerve cells in the spinal cord
can survive at least 12 months after an injury. "This discovery
offers a line of hope on the horizon for people who have been paralyzed
for some time," UBC Zoology Prof. Wolfram Tetzlaff told the
National Post. "It opens a whole new avenue of research."
"We now understand that we can revive chronically injured nerve
cells - the next step is to grow them across the injured part of
the spinal cord," said co-investigator Brian Kwon, orthopedic
UBC toughest to get in
Due to a surge in applications over the last two years, UBC has
increased the minimum grades required to be guaranteed admission
to 86% for science and engineering programs, 82% for arts and 88%
for commerce. "It's scary," Acting Registrar David Holm
told the National Post. UBC has overtaken Canada's older schools
- Queen's, U of T and McGill - as the most selective in the country.
"We are certainly popular. Maybe too popular."
Populations of jellyfish are exploding in seas and oceans around
the world, raising concerns about the health of marine ecosystems.
If over-fishing continues in the North Atlantic and elsewhere, fishing
boats could soon be chasing jellyfish instead of fish, UBC fisheries
scientist Daniel Pauly told the Washington Post.
UBC geneticist Elizabeth Simpson has found an inherited gene mutation
in mice that affects the brain and results in a tendency for violence.
"There is a growing field recognizing the potential of mice
to study human brain disorders," Simpson told the British news
web site Annanova. "Even in a mouse, it's quite a surprise
that a single gene would do this and be able to change the brain
Commenting on a lawsuit brought against Alaska Airlines by its
former employees, who have allegedly suffered neurological damage
caused by toxic chemicals onboard, UBC Health Care and Epidemiology
Prof. Chris van Netten told USA Today that while the industry keeps
saying there's no evidence that people have been hurt, "there's
no evidence people have not been hurt either." "Basically,
we don't know because we have yet to catch one of these incidents
with the proper instruments," he added.
UBC Medical Genetics Prof. Patricia Baird says legislation to ban
sex selection clinics, cloning units and commercial enterprises
dealing in human tissues is long overdue. "What we have to
do is get our own house in order in this country and have regulations
and policies that we believe are ethical and humane," Baird
told CBC News. "And then we need to work in the international
community to make sure that as far as we can that other countries
participate in some global agreement on some of these technologies."
UBC baseball player Jeff Francis is expected to become a millionaire
as he makes Canadian baseball history. Francis is a left-handed
pitcher projected to be a first-round selection in the June 4 amateur
draft. "It's hard to try to pitch normally when there are 20
scouts watching every move you make," Francis told USA Today.
"I'm getting excited. Sometimes it's hard to think of anything
else." Francis said he chose UBC over other U.S. offers for
its academics. The physics major's favourite subject was biophysics.
"Science has always come easier than the rest," said Francis,
who is fascinated by what makes a CD player or an EKG machine work.
A full-page feature in the Vancouver Sun details UBC's achievements
in innovation and how a variety of channels are explored to ensure
an abundance of funding is available to researchers. UBC Museum
of Anthropology director Ruth Phillips said UBC has clarified and
reasserted its role as one of Canada's major research universities.
"This clarity has encouraged all parts of the university to
participate as fully as possible in the research enterprise."
The MoA was recently awarded $17.2 million from the Canada Foundation
for Innovation for a redesigned research wing that will allow First
Nations partners to access digitized material from 15 museums in
England and North America. UBC Microbiology and Immunology Prof.
Bob Hancock was one of the first of a possible 156 recipients of
the Canada Research Chair program at UBC. Hancock said the increased
emphasis on research is absolutely critical to the university's
future because it helps reverse the so-called brain drain and creates
new opportunities for academics.