UBC Reports | Vol. 50 | No. 4| Apr.
In the News
Highlights of UBC Media Coverage in March 2004
Compiled by Brian Lin
A Whirring Adult Brain
Millions of people have mild versions of autism, depression
and attention deficit disorder. Without a diagnosis, these
“shadow syndromes” can ruin lives.
Attention deficit disorder, for example, is too often ignored
in impulsive, distracted adults.
“This isn’t a problem that goes away after puberty,”
Margaret Weiss, director of research for the division of child
psychiatry at UBC, told the National Post.
“And one of the great problems we face is that once
children with ADD turn 18, they are no longer eligible for
[provincial] funding for treatment and counselling. This is
a time when they are going to university; when they have tremendous
stresses to deal with, like scheduling, organizing themselves
to study and so on. This is a vulnerable time.”
Experts say the solution lies in focusing on people’s
strengths and developing their coping strategies.
Business Fills the Gaps in University Funding
Business leaders and corporations are coming forward with
record donations to meet the funding demands of Canada’s
post-secondary institutions. Ike Barber and Bill Sauder,
who both made fortunes in forest products, each gave $20 million
to UBC, where private donors have always represented more
than half of all gifts.
The size and number of private gifts is rising, Clark Warren,
associate vice-president of development, told the National
Last year UBC raised $82.6 million, a significant gain from
the $67.8 million raised the year before.
“Fundraising is now a continuing business and not
a series of campaigns spaced a few years apart,” he
says. “It also relies heavily on establishing relationships
with potential major donors. Major gifts are rarely first-time
Some Flowers are the Bee’s Knees
UBC Zoology doctorate candidate Risa Sargent is the first
to have come up with solid numbers to demonstrate that flowers
with their petals arranged in one way appear in more botanically
different species than flowers with petals in different arrangements.
At the heart of her pioneering findings lie two basic evolutionary
concepts: speciation and reproductive isolation.
“Many different insects can pollinate flowers like
buttercups or roses because they’re radially symmetrical,”
Sargent says, meaning the petals are evenly spaced around
the flower centre. So, a honeybee, moth or bumblebee can fly
in from any direction to pick up or drop off pollen.”
Such specialist pollination increases the prospects of survival
because these flowers are less likely to receive pollen from
an incompatible plant or to have their own pollen transferred
to incompatible stigma, Sargent told the Toronto Star.
Wristwatch Sensors to Detect Pollutants
Groundbreaking research being conducted at UBC on “microsensors”
means that in a few years you may be able to buy a watch that
can detect everything from a bad smog day to an anthrax attack.
Winnie Chu, laboratory manager at UBC’s new Centre
for Health and Environment Research, has developed a chip
that does the same thing, reports The Vancouver Sun. It’s
about only two centimetres long and one centimetre wide.
While Chu stressed that her research has not focused on
terrorism, it could be used to identify biological agents,
like anthrax, that some fear could be used in a terrorist
Other sensors, modified somewhat, could test water samples
for deadly bacteria like E. coli.
Long-Awaited Bill On Assisted Human Reproduction Clears
A Senate committee recently unanimously approved legislation
banning human cloning, rent-a-womb contracts and the sale
of human sperm and eggs.
The Assisted Human Reproduction Act would also set standards
for embryonic stem cell research, and create a federal agency
to oversee fertility clinics.
“At long last, eh?” UBC geneticist Patricia
Baird told CP Wire. “I’m just delighted. I think
it’s really in the best interests of Canadians that
this has gone forward.”
Key elements of the legislation were recommended in 1993
by the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies,
of which Baird was the chair.
“[The legislation] is going to help protect the health
and safety of literally thousands of Canadians who use infertility
treatments every year,” said Baird.