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UBC Reports | Vol. 51 | No. 4 | Apr. 7, 2005

In the News

Highlights of UBC Media Coverage in March 2005

Compiled by Brian Lin

CSI Reconstructed

Canadian company MacDonald, Dettwiler & Associates has come up with a prototype software that can stitch together a few seconds of video from a hand-held stereo camera into a detailed 3-D model of a room, a tool that could greatly help crime scene investigations.

Such technology is enabling new applications that were impossible just a few years ago, UBC computer scientist David Lowe told the New York Times. Lowe developed an algorithm called Scale Invariant Feature Transform, which has been licensed by MD&A.

“Images are becoming so common with digital cameras, cellphone cameras and medical scanners,” he said. “We just need ways for computers to automatically interpret all that information.”

Hush Little Baby Don’t You Cry

UBC pediatrician Ronald G. Barr, a leading authority on colic, says most colicky babies are not in pain. About 60 per cent of crying is due to fussiness, 30 per cent is related to genuine upset and 10 per cent is emblematic of true colic, which means that it is unsoothable, he told the New York Times.

Babies typically begin crying at two weeks of age. Colicky crying peaks at six weeks and ends by three to four months.

It is not related to weak parental skills, being a single parent, postpartum depression or anything done by adults. Studies of infants around the world show that unsoothable colic is a natural phase of early infant development, Barr said.

Caring for Brittle Bones

A team of UBC researchers led by family practice professor Karim Khan has found that seniors need to be proactive in educating themselves -- and seeking treatment -- about osteoporosis.

The study found that doctors don’t necessarily have time to counsel patients about osteoporosis treatment.

“It’s unrealistic, even with all our technology, to expect physicians to be able to do it all in 15 minutes, an appointment time that probably hasn’t changed since the 1940s,” Khan told Macleans Magazine.

“We have to educate patients to take more responsibility for their own health care and to turn up at the doctor’s being more proactive. Osteoporosis is not painful and doesn’t drive people to the doctor, so prevention is key.”

The Statin Dilemma

Two UBC experts offer insight on statins, drugs widely used to treat patients with high cholesterol.

Cardiologist and former medical school dean John Mancini calls statins a revolution in the treatment of heart disease and stroke. “Suggesting people only receive statins if they have a heart attack or stroke works if you survive the first one,” he told The Globe and Mail, “but one half of those who have a first heart attack do not survive.”

Meanwhile, clinical pharmacologist and head of UBC’s Therapeutics Initiative Jim Wright argues that there is “almost no preventative benefit” from taking statins -- even among those who are at high risk of heart disease or stroke.

He estimates that 80 per cent of statin prescriptions are “for people who have never had an episode. There isn’t sufficient evidence to justify the use for those people.”

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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