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UBC Reports | Vol. 49 | No. 5 | May 8, 2003


Highlights of UBC Media Coverage in April 2003.

Compiled by Brian Lin

Workaholics can be Healthy

New research from Australia found “no strong evidence” of a link between coronary heart disease and work-related stress.

What matters isn’t how hard you work, but how much you like what you do. “A number of studies show that having control at work is positive -- not just being in charge of other people, but having the freedom to make decisions,” UBC epidemiologist Aleck Ostry told the New York Times.

“Workaholism can be useful when you are making the most of your skills and education, you are stretching yourself and are held in high esteem.”

Stars on War

U.S. country radio stations recently dropped the Dixie Chicks from their play list when lead singer Natalie Mains told a London concert audience she was ashamed the President of the United States was from Texas.

Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, actress Susan Sarandon and Madonna are all speaking out against the war on Iraq. But their message is not always popular.

“Now is a time when our commitment to free speech is difficult. This is when we need it most,” UBC journalism professor Stephen Ward told Global National. “It goes against everything that we believe in a free society, which is the free expression of difficult and possibly offensive views for many people at a time when we need it.”

Microbe Man

UBC microbiologist Brett Finlay told the National Post that there is no need for people to get obsessive about hand-washing amidst the SARS scare.

“We are more microbe than we are human,” said Finlay. “There are actually 10 times more microbes in us and on us than there are human cells. Put another way, the average person is home to 1,000,000,000,000,000 microbes (10 to the power of 14.) They are invisible because bacteria, viruses and fungi are much smaller than human cells.”

All of which means it is a good idea to wash your hands before eating and after using the toilet. “In every gram of feces you secrete there are more bacteria than there are humans in the world,” said Finlay, who does not shy away from the reality of the inner world. “It’s gross, but it’s real life.”

Research Funding Worth it

In a letter to the Vancouver Sun, UBC VP Research Indira Samarasekera said the scientists at the Michael Smith Genome Science Centre at the B.C. Cancer Agency accomplished a remarkable feat by being the first group in the world to sequence the coronavirus, suspected of causing SARS.

“The work [of Dr. Marco Marra, Dr. Caroline Astell, Dr. Steve Jones and their team], at the Michael Smith Genome Science Centre, named after the UBC Nobel Laureate Michael Smith, is a testament to scientific excellence and the sheer power of basic research. It also demonstrates that funding of leading research pays off in spades,” said Samarasekera.

“The breakthrough on SARS has put the B.C. Cancer Agency, UBC and Canada on the map,” said Samarasekera. “Many of the scientists on Dr. Marra’s team, including Dr. Marra, were attracted back to Canada from the U.S. because of the renewed vitality of the research climate in this country. This is only the beginning of what is emerging as an extraordinary period for knowledge creation in Canada, with profound social and economic benefits.”

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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