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UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 7 | May 2, 2002

In the News

Highlights of UBC Media Coverage in April 2002

Compiled By Brian Lin

Medical Breakthrough

A team of scientists headed by UBC's Prof. Keith Humphries has made a stem cell "breakthrough" that could one day lead to powerful new treatments for leukemia and other blood diseases and eliminate the need for bone marrow transplants.

The researchers discovered how to "supercharge" adult stem cells taken from the blood and mass-produce them in the lab. The researchers destroyed the blood systems in mice by radiation and then rebuilt them using blood stem cells grown in the lab.

"They're now perfectly healthy," Humphries told the National Post.

Geeks Are Usually Boys

UBC Computer Science Prof. Anne Condon told the Edmonton Sun that part of the reason we don't see many female computer "geeks" is that the things you can do with a computer aren't as appealing to girls as they are to boys.

"Computers seem confining and boring, using a computer seems like glorified typing or something like that," she says. "But really they're integral to all fields of arts and sciences and instruments of creativity in so many ways -- the potential is really exciting for people who dive in and get involved, and very different from what their images are."

Social Work

Commenting on the Liberal government's legislation to make it easier for grandparents and other extended family members to take custody of children when the province takes them away from their parents, UBC Social Work Prof. Richard Sullivan says that social workers already try first to place children in the homes of relatives, but since they remain in the legal custody of the province, the province remains responsible for providing them with financial and other support.

"This is a fiscal bid. It is not a change in terms of the actual placement options," Sullivan told the Vancouver Sun. Another UBC Social Work Prof. Margaret Wright says it's still necessary for the province to provide support to people who take on children.

"Just because it's an extended family member doesn't mean they don't need the financial support to be able to cope with an additional mouth or a couple of mouths to feed," she adds.

Questionable Language

In an editorial in the Vancouver Sun, UBC's Liu Centre for the Study of Global Issues Senior Fellow Angus Reid explains the significance of the use of language in a poll such as the aboriginal referendum.

"Thirty years in the polling business have taught me that even the most seemingly insignificant choices of wording can produce a huge difference in response," said Reid.

"In this context the British Columbia aboriginal referendum is one of the most amateurish, one-sided attempts to gauge the public will that I have seen in my professional career. Though we can be justifiably concerned about the cost of this initiative, its deeper harm comes in the false picture it will give of the true state of attitudes on this complex question and, even worse, its pretense that this kind of flimsy exercise is a legitimate way to divine the public will," Reid added.

New Textbook

UBC's Faculty of Asian Studies and Beijing Language University have published a Chinese language textbook that will be used by UBC and McGill University starting this September.

UBC Asian Studies Professor Robert Chen told Sing Tao Daily that 41 years ago, there were only 30 students studying Chinese at UBC, now more than 2,000 students are taking Chinese as a foreign language at UBC. This fall the Faculty of Asian Studies will offer as many as 60 Chinese language sessions.

PMO Under Fire

UBC Law Professor and Nemetz chair in legal history Wesley Pue says the failure of the Prime Minister's Office to either rebuke Jean Carle or admit that it endorsed his disputed actions at the 1997 APEC conference in Vancouver is unacceptable and a "prescription for prime ministerial lawlessness."

Pue told the National Post that it is wrong for Jean Chretien's office to simply reject findings against Carle, the PMO's former director of operations, by the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP.

"It is unbecoming of the highest office in the land, having been found acting improperly by the only formal inquiry charged with investigating these matters, to simply announce that it 'rejects' the findings," he stated in a commentary published in the Osgoode Law Journal of York University.

Science News

Three articles in the latest issue of the prestigious journal Science featured UBC faculty members, including a profile of Fisheries Prof. Daniel Pauly, calling him "arguably the world's most prolific and widely cited living fisheries scientist, with recent headline-grabbing papers in Science and Nature."

A second article features Professor Emeritus Donald Calne's research on the cause of Parkinson's Disease. Calne is treating three patients, all of whom worked with actor Michael J. Fox on a CBC sitcom in the 1970s. Calne argues that a brief environmental exposure, or "event," may kill some neurons in the substantia nigra and damage many others.

Finally, Pathologist Maria Victoria Monsalve is running DNA tests on the Canadian iceman discovered just south of the Youkon and dated to about 550 years ago. Monsalve says the iceman is tied to far-flung living native people, including the Haida off the British Columbia coast, the Quecha of Guatemala, and the Amerindians of Brazil.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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