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UBC Reports | Vol. 50 | No. 1 | Jan. 8, 2004

In the News

Highlights of UBC Media Coverage in December 2003

Compiled by Brian Lin

Canada Fast-Tracks Vaccines

Canadian researchers are fast-tracking efforts to ward off the deadly SARS virus.

Research funded by the province of British Columbia and led by UBC microbiologist Brett Finlay could see human trials in place as early as next fall if there was another outbreak of SARS.

This summer's outbreak affected 8,100 people around the world, killing 774, including 44 in Canada.

"This is not a long, slow, methodical work-it-out type (of) vaccine," Finlay told Reuters.com, adding that his group is trying to parlay $2.6 million Cdn into a usable vaccine in an unprecedented two years -- a process that normally takes a decade and at least $200 million Cdn.

Seeking Ivy Amid the Maple

The number of American university students in Canada has nearly doubled in the last five years, to more than 4,200 this year, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Three leading Canadian schools -- UBC in Vancouver, the University of Toronto and Queens University in Kingston -- have drawn more Americans by recruiting jointly in the United States, calling their group "Canadian Ivy."

Donald Wehrung, a UBC professor who directs international recruiting for the school, said the number of U.S. undergraduates at UBC has more than tripled in five years, to 241 students in the last school year.

Anorexia may Cause Emphysema

The malnutrition that results from anorexia may cause emphysema, UBC radiology professor Harvey Coxon told CBS News.

Coxon and colleagues used a new method of assessing computed tomography scans to analyze the lungs of 14 anorexia patients and found the malnutrition in these patients changed the physical structure of their lungs.

"There is a reduction in the amount of lung tissue in patients with anorexia nervosa," says Coxson, who is also an investigator at Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute at Vancouver General Hospital.

"It is unclear whether these structural changes are permanent, but if they are, early therapy is important in patients who have anorexia."

Sexing up Cellphone Ads

Mobile phones with cameras are quickly catching on in Canada -- and Telus Mobility has seized on the new technology with a heavy advertising blitz that combines cute with sexual innuendo.

Using sex "can be very effective," UBC marketing professor Darren Dahl told The Globe and Mail.

"It certainly attracts attention," said Dahl, who is researching sexual themes in advertising. "That's the first goal of advertising, to break through the clutter."

Still, he says, the situation is a "bit tricky. With concerns of privacy with these types of phones, it's a tough balancing act."

S&P Affirms UBC ‘AA-' Ratings

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services has affirmed its ‘AA-' long-term issuer credit and senior unsecured debt ratings on UBC, reports Forbes.com.

The ratings on UBC reflect the university's status as a flagship university in British Columbia and its broad course range with high academic standards.

The ratings also reflect UBC's strong and growing research capability, together with significant endowment income that diversify the university's revenue sources.

Paving the Way for Female Viagra

UBC master's student Shona Penhale has boldly gone where no scientist has gone before -- and mapped the previously unidentified nerves that cause sexual pleasure in women.

Penhale has unravelled the mysterious conduits of nerves that lace through a mere -- but critical -- eight centimetres of the vagina.

The results could provide vital information about female sexual dysfunction, may lead to a viable Viagra for women and could help surgeons avoid damaging crucial pleasure-carrying nerve pathways during surgery.

"It was completely uncharted," Penhale told The Globe and Mail. Already, a doctor in Europe is using a three-dimensional computer model based on Penhale's findings as an educational tool.

Hockey and Opera Collide on ‘Opera Night in Canada'

The UBC Opera Ensemble is using Canada's favourite sport to introduce school children to the opera.

Dressed in red practice jerseys, the ensemble emerge onstage to the Hockey Night in Canada theme song. The front of their jerseys show a treble clef while on the back, instead of surnames, appear each "player's" voice name: soprano, mezzo, tenor and baritone. The performance consists of excerpts from famous operas.

The goal is to show kids that singing opera can be a job, just like playing hockey, co-creator and soprano Shauna Martin told the CBC. She hopes that giving children this early taste will help open their minds to opera when they get older.

Why Abused Women Take it

UBC professor Mary Russell has spent the last 15 years trying to figure out why women become locked in abusive relationships. She now believes she has the key.

Along with obvious factors such as financial hardship and fear of reprisals, women stay because of their beliefs about relationships, Russell told the Vancouver Sun.

"Belief systems are critical, they underlie everything," said Russell, who found those who abuse their partners believe they are superior, deserving, and the centre of their lives.

Abused women also often feel they can't manage on their own, and are convinced their partner comes first, Russell added.

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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