Overall research funding to the University of British Columbia
has increased by nearly 20 per cent over the previous fiscal
year with university researchers attracting $200 million in
the fiscal year ending March 31, 2001.
“UBC’s leadership in research in Canada is evident in many
research successes,” says Indira Samarasekera, vice-president,
Research. “With federal funding gains made this year and significant
new support from the provincial government we are able to
expand our ability to create new knowledge that not only benefits
society but also helps fuel the economy.”
The provincial government contribution of $16.3 million,
primarily through the Ministry of Advanced Education, accounts
for eight per cent of the total and is double the share received
UBC’s success in the Canada Research Chairs program and
Canada Foundation for Innovation competitions contributed
to an increase of $10 million in funding from the federal
government to a total of $88 million. The largest increase
in federal granting agency funding was seen in the Canadian
Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) which increased support
from $19 million to $26 million.
A developer of an E. coli vaccine, an orthopedic engineer
who specializes in spinal injuries and experts in children’s
pain and infant language skills are among the UBC investigators
attracting research funds and recognition from prestigious
UBC earned top spot among Canadian universities for number
of faculty recently elected to the Royal Society of Canada.
One of the 11 UBC faculty honoured this year is Brett Finlay,
a professor of Microbiology and Immunology, who studies bacterial
diseases such as dysentery and salmonella. His research has
led to the development of a vaccine that significantly reduces
the levels of the bacteria E. coli in cattle. The vaccine
will be tested in Canada this fall.
In addition, Physics and Astronomy Prof. William Unruh was
elected the Royal Society of London which is regarded as an
academy of the world’s most eminent researchers. One of four
Canadians to be so honoured, Unruh is recognized for solving
problems of science found at the crossroads of quantum physics,
gravitational theory and cosmology.
Psychology Prof. Ken Craig was among 47 UBC scientists to
receive $3.7 million in funding from the Social Sciences Humanities
Research Council (SSHRC) in a recent competition, placing
UBC in the top three among Canadian universities for support
received from the major federal agency.
Craig studies infants’ and toddlers’ cries and facial expressions
to better judge the effects of medical interventions and other
Another recipient of SSHRC support is Psychology Prof. Janet
Werker, who received funding to study language acquisition
in children raised from birth with two languages.
Werker was also named to the Royal Society and appointed
a Canada Research Chair (CRC) earlier this year.
UBC gained nine federally funded research positions in a
recent allocation of CRC chairs. The CRC program is designed
to help Canadian universities attract and retain top researchers.
Orthopedics Assoc. Prof. Thomas Oxland, CRC of Spinal Biomechanics,
examines body mechanics relating to spinal cord injury and
is also an expert in implants that stabilize the lumbar spine
and hip replacements.
Pediatrics Asst. Prof. Christine Chambers studies how families
influence children’s experience of chronic pain. She has received
a New Investigators award from the CIHR in a recent competition,
one of only 11 Canadian scientists to earn this distinction
which provides research support over five years.
UBC ranked fourth among Canadian universities for CIHR support
in the competition, earning $14 million in operating grants
for studies of diseases such as arthritis, asthma and diabetes.
UBC jumped to second place from fifth spot in faculty receiving
medical and science research grants and ranked first in faculty
receiving humanities and social science research grants, according
to last fall’s Maclean’s magazine survey that measures
the undergraduate experience at Canadian universities.
For more information on UBC research visit www.research.ubc.ca.
See backgrounder for additional researcher information.
Christine Chambers is a recent UBC graduate and assistant
professor of Pediatrics who studies how families influence
or inadvertently contribute to children’s experience of chronic
pain. She studies how parental decision-making, problem-solving
and other interactions can affect children’s pain experience
from conditions such as recurrent abdominal pain or headache.
Ken Craig is a professor of Psychology who studies
expression of pain in babies and children.
Self-report of pain is not possible for children younger
than three to four years because of language limitations.
Researchers and clinicians must rely on other measures such
as analyzing cries and the facial expressions of pain that
are evident during invasive events in newborns as young as
25 weeks gestational age. It has only been within the past
5-10 years that there have been attempts to systematize these
measures to better understand and assist babies in pain.
Brett Finlay is a professor of Biochemistry,
Molecular Biology; and Microbiology and Immunology who specializes
in bacterial diseases such as salmonella, E. coli or hamburger
disease and dysentery. These diseases kill about one million
children annually. Finlay has developed a vaccine for cattle
that reduces the levels of E. coli bacteria. The vaccine will
be tested on a large scale across Canada this fall.
Canadian Institutes of Health Research has named Finlay
a Distinguished Investigator, their highest honour held by
only a few individuals in Canada. He was one of Canada’s first
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Fellows and was recently elected
to the Royal Society of Canada.
Thomas Oxland is an associate professor of Orthopedics
and an international leader in biomechanics research — the
study of the mechanics related to the movement and structure
of living organisms.
Recently named Canada Research Chair of Spinal Biomechanics,
Oxland was instrumental in designing a device called a spinal
cage that holds together fractured or degenerated vertebrae.
Made of titanium, the cage ranges in length from 20-30 millimetres
and is about the diameter of a ballpoint pen. It can be inserted
into the spine without the major surgical invasion of a bone
graft from the hip which was the previous remedy.
There are 11,000 new cases of debilitating spinal cord injury
each year in North America and the annual economic cost of
acute care treatment and lost wages amounts to billions of
Janet Werker is a professor of Psychology who is
internationally acclaimed for her pioneering work on how babies
acquire language. By 10 to 12 months babies can distinguish
between consonants and vowels spoken in their native language
from the same syllables spoken in another language.
Werker studies language development in bilingual and multilingual
children, premature infants, and those genetically at risk
for delayed language development. Her work will contribute
to the early detection and treatment of children with language