UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 7 | May
In the News
Highlights of UBC Media Coverage in April 2002
Compiled By Brian Lin
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
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."
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
"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.
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.
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.
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.