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UBC Reports | Vol. 49 | No. 4 | Apr. 3, 2003


Highlights of UBC Media Coverage in March 2003.

Compiled by Brian Lin

Bid Web Site Misleads

UBC economics Prof. David Green told BCTV that the Olympic bid Web site is misleading B.C. taxpayers.

“The Web site says the activities surrounding a successful bid will generate up to 244,000 new jobs across various industries,” said Green, who holds a PhD in economics from Stanford University.

“My problem is this is just not a credible number, this represents 10-15 per cent of employment in B.C. in a typical year.”

“The economic impact studies that are used to derive the bid committee numbers basically counts every job worked on a project as a new job, if we used that method on the fast ferry project, the project would be a big net gain,” said Green.

World Record Shattered

UBC swimmer Brian Johns remembers the exact moment he realized he had a shot at a world swim record in the 400 metre individual medley.

“I knew the first two legs of the race, the butterfly and backstroke, had gone well but I wasn’t really sure how fast I was going,” Johns told the Vancouver Sun.

“But when I came up to take my first breath on the breaststroke I could hear the crowd going crazy. That’s when I knew I must be on a world record pace. That gave me the extra adrenaline push I needed.”

When he touched the wall at the end of his freestyle the timer read 4:02.72. Johns had not only broken the world short course mark of 4:04.24 set by Australia’s Matthew Dunn in 1998 -- he had shattered it.

U-Pass Passed

Over 15,000 students voted on the U-Pass referendum and the “yes” side passed by a margin of two to one. Those who take the bus or Skytrain are happy.

But some students say a pass is totally useless to them, and there is no opting out.

“For people who take the bus, let them have their pass,” student Grace Dosanjh told City TV. “For those who drive and carpool, let them opt out of it, it’s very simple.”

“I can already take the bus for cheaper than I can drive to school, but that’s out of the question,” said another student Sabreena Braich. “Now I’m paying a lot more to drive, plus I’m paying $160 for something that I’m never going to use.”

Birth Control Pill Sparks Debate

Seasonale, an experimental regimen of the birth control pill intended to suppress menstruation, is expected to receive approval from the Food and Drug Administration this year.

But the pill has already sparked controversy over what’s “natural,” whether it’s wise to manipulate a woman’s reproductive cycle with hormones for a long time.

Critics say it’s misguided to assume that Seasonale would not pose any health hazards that traditional pills do not.

“From what I have been able to find, the data are lacking that the extended use of oral contraceptives is well-tolerated, acceptable in terms of side effects, and causes a net benefit,” UBC endocrinology Prof. Jerilynn Prior told the Washington Post.

Travellers Wary over Killer Bug

UBC psychiatry Prof. Steve Taylor told The Province that instant news from around the globe tends to produce over-reactions to “low-frequency hazards,” like the recent pneumonia scare.

“For the vast majority of people, there is no cause for concern,” Taylor said. “The odds are much higher you will be killed in a cab going to the airport.”

Botox the New Penicillin?

In studies around the world, Botox is being tested as a treatment for stroke paralysis, migraine headaches, facial tics, stuttering, lower back pain, incontinence, writer’s cramp, carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow.

Scientists are testing its ability to treat morbid obesity by weakening the muscle that lets food out of the stomach, to prevent ulcers by weakening the muscles that force gastric acids into the esophagus and to calm spasms in vaginal muscles that make sex painful.

UBC ophthalmologist Jean Carruthers compared Botox to penicillin for its versatility against a wide range of ills, and because it, too, is an organic product derived from a common bacterium. With her husband, Arthur, a dermatologist, she was one of the first to observe, in 1987, that the small doses she injected to paralyze and relax her patients’ spastic eye muscles also smoothed their brows, reports the New York Times.

No More “Guinea” Pigs

A report commissioned by UBC Dean of Medicine John Cairns has recommended eliminating the use of live animals for training procedures. The recommendation will be implemented for September 2003 classes.

Each year, students operate on about 25 anaesthetised pigs for practice in procedures such as chest tube insertions and tracheotomies. High-tech simulations designed by UBC’s Centre of Excellence for Surgical Education at the Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) will replace the lab.

A large factor influencing the decision was the availability of effective technologies for simulation. Haptic technologies provide “phenomenally accurate simulations for the feel and touch,” Cairns told The Ubyssey.

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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