Stay Safe on UBC’s Vancouver campus

staysafe narrow

IMPORTANT

The University has a strong track record of having safe campuses. However, in light of recent events:

  • Don’t walk alone at night, watch out for each other.

  • Use AMS Safewalk, TransLink shuttles, or Campus Security services.

  • Trust your instincts. If you feel in danger, or witness suspicious activity, call 911 immediately.

Statscan’s cuts have forced us to see Canada through a U.S. lens

Statscan’s cuts have forced us to see Canada through a U.S. lens

Statistics Canada needs to restart its reporting of national marriage and divorce rates, argues UBC economist Marina Adshade.

Read more…

THE DANGER OF PARALYMPIC BOOSTING

Update: Krassioukov and five UBC students will study the dangerous practice of Paralympic “boosting” at the 2012 London Games while running a health clinic for athletes

by Hilary Thomson, March 4, 2010

After years of hard work, Dr. Andrei Krassioukov has finally earned admission to the Athletes Village at the 2010 Vancouver Paralympic Games.

But Krassioukov isn’t a competitor — he’s an internationally recognized expert in spinal cord injury and leader of the only research team to be granted access to the Vancouver Athletes Village during the Games.

Krassioukov and research team members will investigate the controversial practice of “boosting.” Practiced by some individuals with spinal cord injury, boosting involves intentionally raising blood pressure to stimulate the body’s energy and endurance. Non-athletes with SCI may use boosting to feel more energetic and alert.

Paralympic athletes use boosting to win — it can improve performance by up to 15 per cent. Stressing techniques to stimulate parts of the body below the level of the spinal cord injury, and to produce a spike in blood pressure, can range from wearing pressure stockings, to compressing the testicles by sitting on a handful of ball bearings, or blocking a urinary catheter to distend the bladder.

Injury to the spinal cord disrupts control of heart and blood vessels that are normally regulated by the autonomic nervous system, part of the nervous system that provides non-voluntary control to various organs. This disruption — which varies in severity between individuals — means the body cannot properly replenish energy consumed through exercise leading to a drop in peripheral blood flow, sweating, shortness of breath and faintness . This creates significant disadvantages during competition, leading some athletes to use boosting as a drastic measure to correct functions lost through injury.

Besides creating an unfair competitive advantage, boosting is a dangerous practice. The sudden surge in blood pressure typically seen during boosting is known as autonomic dysreflexia and can lead to stroke, heart attack or death. But the International Paralympics Committee (IPC) 1994 ban on boosting has been difficult to enforce.

A physician-scientist at Vancouver Coastal Health’s GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, Krassioukov has studied autonomic functioning in SCI patients for more than 30 years and has collected data from paralympic athletes headed for competition since 2006. During the last five years he has urged the IPC to go beyond the ban to address how differences in autonomic function affect elite athlete performance.

Krassioukov believes that adding autonomic functioning to the athlete classification system that currently measures only motor and sensory functioning will more evenly match competitors and reduce motivation to boost.

“Being allowed to conduct research in the Athletes’ Village is an exciting milestone for me,” says Krassioukov, an associate professor in UBC’s Dept. of Medicine and co-director of the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD), part of Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute (VCHRI). “It suggests the IPC will consider how differences in autonomic function create inequities in performance and fuel the risky practice of boosting.”

Autonomic functioning varies between individuals according to the level and severity of their SCI. Currently, athletes with higher-level injury and significant autonomic function impairment compete directly with individuals with lesser impairment. Athletes have used boosting to close the gap.

During the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, expected to draw 650 athletes from more than 40 countries, he plans to test 50 curling and sledge hockey athletes with spinal cord injury in a Cardiovascular Health Education Clinic in the Village and at ICORD. Volunteers will participate in a 90-minute assessment of autonomic functioning, complete a questionnaire and receive educational brochures about autonomic dysreflexia and risks of boosting.

Krassioukov expects it will be at least four years before his team will provide the IPC with possible guidelines on testing of autonomic functioning in paralympic athletes. Additional data from other paralympic sports must be collected and analyzed and recommendations developed and tested. He hopes research advances will ultimately eliminate the need for boosting but accepts that individuals with SCI are always looking for ways to improve their functioning.

“I am amazed by my patients’ incredible tenacity to achieve what they want to do in life — how they not only survive but fully engage in their adventure with a new body.”

Krassioukov’s work is supported by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada; the Disability Health Research Network; the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation; and the Rick Hansen Foundation.

Tap and rope guide blind swimmer to victory

UPDATE:

Aug. 14, 2012 – Donovan Tildesley will compete in his fourth Paralympic Games in London (Aug. 29-Sept. 9).

Sep. 11, 2008 – Donovan Tildesley won bronze in 400-metre S11 swimming in Beijing.

Sep. 4, 2008 – Donovan Tildesley has been named Canada’s flag bearer for the Beijing Paralympics. Tildesley will lead Team Canada’s 143 athletes into the Opening Ceremony.

By Brian Lin, July 3, 2008 

At age 24, new UBC grad Donovan Tildesley has broken two world records, won a dozen gold medals in international swim meets and is part of Team Canada for the third time in the Paralympic Games in Beijing this summer.

The Vancouver native is also a motivational speaker and part owner of a small radio station in Whistler, B.C.

Tildesley, who was born blind, won a bronze medal in the 2000 Sydney Paralympics and two silver and one more bronze medal in Athens in 2004. He’s currently the No. 2-ranked swimmer with a disability in the world in the 400-metre freestyle.

“Competing in the Paralympics was one of the most amazing experiences in my life,” says Tildesley, who began racing at age nine with the help of his father and coach Hugh, a former competitive swimmer.

Hugh is also Donovan’s “tapper,” charged with the vital task of tapping his son on the head with a pole when he’s one stroke away from the wall.

“The questions I get asked most is how do I avoid swimming into the wall, and how I swim in a straight line,” explains Tildesley.

Using the lane rope as a guide, Tildesley must keep his arms straight and centred as to keep on course. “As I get tired, keeping my arms symmetrical becomes more difficult, but that’s part of the sport.”

Since graduating from UBC this spring with an English degree, Tildesley has been busy speaking at schools and community events on behalf of the RBC Olympians Program. “I love it as much as competing in the pool,” says Tildesley. “It’s a chance to step outside myself and tell my story. “If I can enrich, inspire or help change someone’s life, that makes me happy.”

Another thing that makes Tildesley happy involves skis and may not be everybody’s cup of tea. “There’s nothing more thrilling than being on top of Spanky’s Ladder on Blackcomb and making the 500 vertical feet drop.”

Now imagine doing that with your eyes closed.

Recap: Looking back at UBC and the 2012 Olympics

By CJ Pentland and Henry Lebard, The Ubyssey

Bronze medals, swim-offs, meeting royalty: the 2012 Summer Olympics featured much excitement for past and current UBC students.

Unsurprisingly, the swimmers had the most success in London. Led by Brent Hayden’s bronze medal in the 100m freestyle, several other T-Birds put forth strong efforts.

Alumnus Scott Dickens started the competition strong as he became the first Canadian to swim the 100m breaststroke in less than a minute, coming in at 59.85s. He made the semi-final in that event, along with the semi-final of the 200m breaststroke and the final of the 4x100m medley relay team, which also featured Hayden.

The reigning CIS male swimmer of the year, Tommy Gossland, swam in the 4x100m freestyle relay heats along with Hayden, but their time didn’t qualify them for the final.

As for the women, Martha McCabe led the way by finishing fifth overall in the 200m breaststroke after positing a time of 2:23.16 in the final. Tera van Beilen recorded a time of 1:07.48 in the 100m breaststroke semi-finals, which put her in a tie for eighth and forced a swim-off. However, she lost the two-person race and failed to make the finals.

CIS female swimmer of the year Savannah King raced in both the 400m and 800m freestyles, recording a personal best in the 800m. Heather MacLean swam in both the 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays, with her 4x200m team finishing fourth overall.

Back on land, a few former Thunderbirds put up good results in track and field events. Inaki Gomez finished 13th in the 20km race walk with a time of 1:20:58, setting a personal best and breaking the Canadian record time in that event.

Liz Gleadle finished 12th overall in women’s javelin, the highest-ever finish by a Canadian in that event. Curtis Moss competed in men’s javelin, but finished 22nd in qualifying and failed to make the finals.

To round out the field events, high jumper Mike Mason came eighth in men’s high jump with a best jump of 2.29m.

There were also a few alumni competing on the outdoor water. In her third Olympics, Nikola Girke finished tenth in women’s RS:X Sailing. Mike Leigh and Luke Ramsay competed in the men’s sailing 470 class, ending up in the 25th spot. And Ricardo Montemayor, who was competing for Mexico, raced in the men’s sailing Laser Class and finished 38th.

In cycling, UBC had one representative. Denise Ramsden raced in both the women’s road race and time trials, finishing 27th and 19th, respectively.

As for the indoor events, badminton player Toby Ng met the Prince of Wales before the Games started, but he and his mixed doubles partner dropped all three of their matches in the group play stage.

The Olympics are now over, but there is still one more UBC athlete left to compete. Paralympic swimmer Donavan Tildesley will be swimming in four events in London once the Paralympic Games kick off on August 29.

This article was originally published by UBC’s student newspaper, the Ubysseyon Aug. 12.

Meet UBC’s 19 Olympians and Paralympians here

Hot topics in the news

UBC experts on pipeline debates

  • Environmental issues
  • Business and trade
  • Aboriginal communities
  • Law and policy

UBC welcomes Paralympics torch

On March 11, 2010 UBC will become one of only 13 community stops on the Paralympic Torch Relay.  Just one day before the 2010 Paralympic Games begin in Vancouver, the Paralympic Torch will zig zag through UBC Point Grey campus, kick-starting the Paralympic experience.

Read more: http://www.webcommunications.ubc.ca/ubc2010/whats-on/paralympic-torch-relay/

The danger of Paralympic boosting

After years of hard work, Dr. Andrei Krassioukov has finally earned admission to the Athletes Village at the 2010 Vancouver Paralympic Games.

But Krassioukov isn’t a competitor — he’s an internationally recognized expert in spinal cord injury (SCI) and leader of the only research team to be granted access to the Vancouver Athletes Village during the Games.

Krassioukov and research team members will investigate the controversial practice of “boosting.” Practiced by some individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI), boosting involves intentionally raising blood pressure to stimulate the body’s energy and endurance. Non-athletes with SCI may use boosting to feel more energetic and alert. Paralympic athletes use boosting to win — it can improve performance by up to 15 per cent. Stressing techniques to stimulate parts of the body below the level of the spinal cord injury, and to produce a spike in blood pressure, can range from wearing pressure stockings, to compressing the testicles by sitting on a handful of ball bearings, or blocking a urinary catheter to distend the bladder.

Injury to the spinal cord disrupts control of heart and blood vessels that are normally regulated by the autonomic nervous system, part of the nervous system that provides non-voluntary control to various organs. This disruption — which varies in severity between individuals — means the body cannot properly replenish energy consumed through exercise leading to a drop in peripheral blood flow, sweating, shortness of breath and faintness . This creates significant disadvantages during competition, leading some athletes to use boosting as a drastic measure to correct functions lost through injury.

Besides creating an unfair competitive advantage, boosting is a dangerous practice. The sudden surge in blood pressure typically seen during boosting is known as autonomic dysreflexia and can lead to stroke, heart attack or death. But the International Paralympics Committee (IPC) 1994 ban on boosting has been difficult to enforce.

A physician-scientist at Vancouver Coastal Health’s GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, Krassioukov has studied autonomic functioning in SCI patients for more than 30 years and has collected data from paralympic athletes headed for competition since 2006. During the last five years he has urged the IPC to go beyond the ban to address how differences in autonomic function affect elite athlete performance.

Krassioukov believes that adding autonomic functioning to the athlete classification system that currently measures only motor and sensory functioning will more evenly match competitors and reduce motivation to boost.

“Being allowed to conduct research in the Athletes’ Village is an exciting milestone for me,” says Krassioukov, an associate professor in UBC’s Dept. of Medicine and co-director of the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD), part of Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute (VCHRI). “It suggests the IPC will consider how differences in autonomic function create inequities in performance and fuel the risky practice of boosting.”

Autonomic functioning varies between individuals according to the level and severity of their SCI. Currently, athletes with higher-level injury and significant autonomic function impairment compete directly with individuals with lesser impairment. Athletes have used boosting to close the gap.

During the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, expected to draw 650 athletes from more than 40 countries, he plans to test 50 curling and sledge hockey athletes with spinal cord injury in a Cardiovascular Health Education Clinic in the Village and at ICORD. Volunteers will participate in a 90-minute assessment of autonomic functioning, complete a questionnaire and receive educational brochures about autonomic dysreflexia and risks of boosting.

Krassioukov expects it will be at least four years before his team will provide the IPC with possible guidelines on testing of autonomic functioning in paralympic athletes. Additional data from other paralympic sports must be collected and analyzed and recommendations developed and tested. He hopes research advances will ultimately eliminate the need for boosting but accepts that individuals with SCI are always looking for ways to improve their functioning.

“I am amazed by my patients’ incredible tenacity to achieve what they want to do in life — how they not only survive but fully engage in their adventure with a new body.”

Krassioukov’s work is supported by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada; the Disability Health Research Network; the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation; and the Rick Hansen Foundation.

VCHRI is the research body of Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, which includes BC’s largest academic and teaching health sciences centres: VGH, UBC Hospital, and GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre. In academic partnership with the University of British Columbia, VCHRI brings innovation and discovery to patient care, advancing healthier lives in healthy communities across British Columbia, Canada, and beyond. www.vchri.ca.

UBC’s sustainable sports centre

As a Paralympic competition venue, the UBC Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre will host 20 Paralympic sledge hockey games. The complex was built in the 1960s and is a fitting venue, considering its rich history. Canada’s National Hockey Program was born at the arena in 1963, in preparation for the Innsbruck 1964 Olympic Winter games in Austria.

The arena was redeveloped from 2006 to 2008 to rejuvenate and expand the facility in time for the Olympics, and to reflect the shared environmental, social and economic sustainability goals. Instead of demolishing the whole building, UBC and VANOC kept one ice rink that was still in good shape and upgraded its outdated mechanical and electrical systems.

The new centre has a highly-efficient floor plan inside, and the building site takes advantage of existing road and pedestrian networks and is situated close to public transportation. The centre’s designers used the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) green building rating system as a framework to address sustainability across all environmental performance categories. The facility achieved a LEED Silver performance standard, meeting VANOC’s progressive requirements for sustainability.

In addition to hockey and ice skating programs, the centre accommodates more than 40,000 users monthly through public programs, leagues, special events, concerts and fitness-related programs, to make the most of the facility.

Sports facilities require a significant amount of energy to operate, especially ice rinks and pools. UBC and VANOC found ways to convert the centre into a world-class winter sports facility and meet the building’s ice maintenance, ventilation, de-humidification and lighting needs in sustainable ways.

“Typically those are challenges, but we took them as positives, because we felt there was a lot of opportunity to improve the standards and also be leaders in the development of some of these facilities,” says Kavie Toor, Associate Director of Facilities and Business Development for UBC Athletics and Recreation.

One of the highlights of the redeveloped arena is the ECO CHILL® energy system. This new technology recycles all the energy used to maintain the ice surface back into the arena’s heating system, making use of waste energy that would normally be flushed out of the building.

The arena also uses electric ice resurfacers, which keep energy use to a minimum and don’t impact air quality. Often referred to as a Zamboni®, an ice resurfacer is typically fuelled by propane. “Not only is there energy wasted when they’re running sometimes three times an hour if you’re running multiple rinks, but there’s also a considerable amount of emissions that go into the playing area and into the stands,” Toor says.

To remove moist air from the building and dressing rooms, the arena uses an efficient de-humidifying system that runs about eight to 10 hours a day, compared to the centre’s old system that ran 24 hours a day. The building also uses energy-efficient lighting with sensors and control systems that turn lights off when a space is unoccupied.

Games inspire new research centre for sport

The interplay of sport and sustainability is being put under the microscope at the University of British Columbia, where a new, one-of-a-kind research centre is analyzing the opportunities and effects created by sport and mega sporting events.

The UBC Centre for Sports and Sustainability tackles questions about the environmental impacts of Olympic Games, society’s perception of Paralympic athletes and how to give youth opportunities to learn through sport, among other topics.

“There’s a growing need to better understand how sport transforms people, communities and cultures to deliver lasting economic, social and health benefits,” says UBC President Stephen Toope.

“As a UBC legacy project from the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, the centre will fill an important niche as an international hub for knowledge on this very specialized area of research.”

The centre already exists — virtually. Through a joint project between UBC and the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC), the university is formalizing an existing network of researchers who are engaged in sport and sustainability research and instruction.

Researchers are considering how a large-scale sport event or infrastructure project can spur innovation in urban design, and what factors influence national pride, social cohesion and the inclusion in sport of groups such as new immigrants, indigenous populations and the economically disadvantaged.

“This is about more than sport itself,” says Robert Sparks, director of the UBC School of Human Kinetics. “This is sport as it links to economic sustainability, environmental sustainability and social development in communities.”

“How do you ‘green’ sports facilities and how do you use sport programs to foster community development and healthy lifestyles?”

Part of the centre’s mandate will be to ensure this new knowledge is made available to local, national and international event organizers and host cities so they might optimize their planning and provide an enduring legacy. Already underway is the Paralympic Games Impact Survey, which looks at how the Paralympic Games impact the social perceptions of persons with a disability. A post-Paralympic Games survey will study changes in these perceptions.

”The overall idea is to look at how society might change its views of people with disabilities upon watching the quality performances of Paralympic athletes,” says Rob VanWynsberghe, lecturer in Human Kinetics and Educational Studies and UBC lead for the project.

Researchers are also looking around the country to find programs that teach others how to coach athletes with a disability, Vanwynsberghe says. “We suspect that many Paralympic coaches are experts in a sport for athletes without disabilities. They’ll draw on these skills to teach Paralympic athletes, but the cross-over isn’t easy; sledge hockey and hockey, for example, are two very different things,” he says.

“We want to make sure there are enough programs in place to train coaches and athletes for the Paralympics, and from a research perspective, consider the social perceptions that follow.” This is baseline work for the Olympic Games Impact study, which is also being conducted at UBC and led by VanWynsberghe. The massive study was developed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to introduce a standardized cross-Games method of monitoring, measuring and reporting on the economic, social and environmental impact of hosting the Olympic Games.

UBC and VANOC will also present a three-part think-tank series to analyze lessons learned from the 2010 Games, new precedents for large scale sport event sustainability, and the use of sustainability indicators in planning future Olympic bids.

“We want to capitalize on our research with the Olympics and Paralympics to become a knowledge hub capable of helping groups down the road who want to take on similar projects,” Sparks says.

Another project under the centre’s umbrella — the nascent Coaching Sustainability Initiative —has a local connection in Vancouver. By creating community service learning placements in the Downtown Eastside, this UBC legacy project supports leadership development and physical activity among secondary school students in Vancouver.

For more information, visit
ubc.ca/2010

UBC In The News

Trial drug can significantly block early stages of COVID-19 in engineered human tissues

‘There is hope for this horrible pandemic,’ says UBC scientist Dr. Josef Penninger

An international team led by University of British Columbia researcher Dr. Josef Penninger has found a trial drug that effectively blocks the cellular door SARS-CoV-2 uses to infect its hosts.

The findings, published today in Cell, hold promise as a treatment capable of stopping early infection of the novel coronavirus that, as of April 2, has affected more than 981,000 people and claimed the lives of 50,000 people worldwide.

Josef Penninger

The study provides new insights into key aspects of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and its interactions on a cellular level, as well as how the virus can infect blood vessels and kidneys.

“We are hopeful our results have implications for the development of a novel drug for the treatment of this unprecedented pandemic,” says Penninger, professor in UBC’s faculty of medicine, director of the Life Sciences Institute and the Canada 150 Research Chair in Functional Genetics at UBC.

“This work stems from an amazing collaboration among academic researchers and companies, including Dr. Ryan Conder’s gastrointestinal group at STEMCELL Technologies in Vancouver, Nuria Montserrat in Spain, Drs. Haibo Zhang and Art Slutsky from Toronto and especially Ali Mirazimi’s infectious biology team in Sweden, who have been working tirelessly day and night for weeks to better understand the pathology of this disease and to provide breakthrough therapeutic options.”

ACE2 — a protein on the surface of the cell membrane — is now at centre-stage in this outbreak as the key receptor for the spike glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2. In earlier work, Penninger and colleagues at the University of Toronto and the Institute of Molecular Biology in Vienna first identified ACE2, and found that in living organisms, ACE2 is the key receptor for SARS, the viral respiratory illness recognized as a global threat in 2003. His laboratory also went on to link the protein to both cardiovascular disease and lung failure.

While the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread around the globe, the absence of a clinically proven antiviral therapy or a treatment specifically targeting the critical SARS-CoV-2 receptor ACE2 on a molecular level has meant an empty arsenal for health care providers struggling to treat severe cases of COVID-19.

“Our new study provides very much needed direct evidence that a drug — called APN01 (human recombinant soluble angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 – hrsACE2) — soon to be tested in clinical trials by the European biotech company Apeiron Biologics, is useful as an antiviral therapy for COVID-19,” says Dr. Art Slutsky, a scientist at the Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science of St. Michael’s Hospital and professor at the University of Toronto who is a collaborator on the study.

In cell cultures analyzed in the current study, hrsACE2 inhibited the coronavirus load by a factor of 1,000-5,000. In engineered replicas of human blood vessel and kidneys — organoids grown from human stem cells — the researchers demonstrated that the virus can directly infect and duplicate itself in these tissues. This provides important information on the development of the disease and the fact that severe cases of COVID-19 present with multi-organ failure and evidence of cardiovascular damage. Clinical grade hrsACE2 also reduced the SARS-CoV-2 infection in these engineered human tissues.

“Using organoids allows us to test in a very agile way treatments that are already being used for other diseases, or that are close to being validated. In these moments in which time is short, human organoids save the time that we would spend to test a new drug in the human setting,” says Núria Montserrat, ICREA professor at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia in Spain.

“The virus causing COVID-19 is a close sibling to the first SARS virus,” adds Penninger. “Our previous work has helped to rapidly identify ACE2 as the entry gate for SARS-CoV-2, which explains a lot about the disease. Now we know that a soluble form of ACE2 that catches the virus away, could be indeed a very rational therapy that specifically targets the gate the virus must take to infect us. There is hope for this horrible pandemic.”

This research was supported in part by the Canadian federal government through emergency funding focused on accelerating the development, testing, and implementation of measures to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Editors/journalists: Click here to see more illustrations of engineered replicas of human blood vessels and kidneys grown from stem cells being treated with hrsACE2. Image credit: IMBA/Tibor Kulcsar

UBC experts on COVID-19

UBC experts are available for comment on the COVID-19 outbreak and various topics related to the outbreak. Interviews will be conducted by phone or Skype/Facetime only in order to practice effective social distancing.

For the latest updated information on UBC’s response, please visit ubc.ca. Information on the latest confirmed cases in B.C. and globally is available here.

Please note that many of our researchers are busy at the frontlines of the COVID-19 response and may not be able to accommodate all media interviews. We are doing our best to assist with as many requests as possible. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Areas of expertise

(click to jump to relevant area)

Air pollution

Michael Brauer
Professor, UBC School of Population and Public Health
Email: michael.brauer@ubc.ca
  • Interactions of COVID-19 with air pollution; impact of economic slowdown on air pollution due to COVID-19; impacts of COVID-19 on low income countries, especially related to lack of hand-washing access

Dr. Christopher Carlsten
Physician; Professor and Head of Respiratory Medicine, Department of Medicine
Email: christopher.carlsten@ubc.ca

  • Respiratory and immunological health effects of inhaled environmental and occupational exposures
Naomi Zimmerman
Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Email: nzimmerman@mech.ubc.ca
Tel: 604-822-9433
  • Reductions in transportation-related emissions due to COVID-19
  • Impact of economic slowdown due to COVID-19 on air pollution
*Not available Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons

Business and economics

Werner Antweiler
Associate Professor and Chair in International Trade Policy, UBC Sauder School of Business
Tel: 604-822-8484
Email: werner.antweiler@ubc.ca

  • Supply chain disruptions and resilience; international trade repercussions; energy and natural resources

James Brander
Asia Pacific Professor in International Business and Public Policy, UBC Sauder School of Business
Email: james.brander@sauder.ubc.ca

  • Economic impact of COVID-19

Thomas Davidoff
Associate Professor, UBC Sauder School of Business
Email: thomas.davidoff@sauder.ubc.ca

  • Impact of COVID-19 on housing, mortgage and cities

David Hardisty
Assistant Professor, UBC Sauder School of Business,
Tel: 604-655-1465
Email: david.hardisty@sauder.ubc.ca

  • Impact of COVID-19 on consumer behaviour

Tae Hoon Oum
Professor Emeritus, UBC Sauder School of Business
Email: tae.oum@sauder.ubc.ca

  • Impact of COVID-19 on the airline industry
Harish Krishnan
Professor, UBC Sauder School of Business
Email: harish.krishnan@sauder.ubc.ca
  • supply chain management, supply chain coordination
*unavailable Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to noon

Kevin Milligan
Professor, Vancouver School of Economics
Email: kevin.milligan@ubc.ca

  • Impact of COVID-19 on fiscal policy, tax policy, and labour market issues
Mahesh Nagarajan
Professor, UBC Sauder School of Business
Cell: 213-479-3498
Email: mahesh.nagarajan@sauder.ubc.ca
  • supply chains, health care operations

Mark Thompson
Professor Emeritus in Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources, UBC Sauder School of Business
Tel: 604-263-6008
Cell: 604-418-6275
Email: mrkthompson39@gmail.com

  • Impact of COVID-19 on the labour market

Education

Marina Milner-Bolotin
Associate Professor, Faculty of Education
Email: marina.milner-bolotin@ubc.ca

  • Online education: past, present and future
  • Homeschooling in the time of pandemics
  • Parental engagement in children’s education
  • Supporting parents and families with online resources
  • Supporting teachers in online learning environments

Michelle Stack
Associate Professor, Faculty of Education
Tel: 778-329-7572
Cell: 604-369-7572
Email: michelle.stack@ubc.ca

  • Equity, education and COVID-19
  • Students facing racism and closure of borders
  • Continuation of hot lunch programs for students facing food insecurity

Food and nutrition

Siyun Wang
Associate Professor, Faculty of Land and Food Systems
Tel: 604-827-1734
Email: siyun.wang@ubc.ca
  • Food safety, food systems, foodborne disease

Hand washing and infection control

Dr. Katie Beleznay 
Dermatologist; Clinical Instructor, Department of Dermatology and Skin Science
Email: kbeleznay@gmail.com

  • Dry skin and irritation due to increased hand-washing to prevent transmission of COVID-19

Jay Wickenden
Senior Instructor, Department of Chemistry
Email: wikki@chem.ubc.ca

  • Effect of soap on coronaviruses
  • Effect of cleaning products on coronaviruses

Mathematics and disease modelling

Daniel Coombs
Professor, Department of Mathematics and Institute of Applied Mathematics
Email: coombs@math.ubc.ca

  • Mathematical models of pandemic growth and control

Guy Dumont
Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Email: guyd@ece.ubc.ca

Mohsen Sadatsafavi
Associate Professor, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Email: mohsen.sadatsafavi@ubc.ca
Cell: 778-319-5658

  • Epidemiology, health economics, disease modelling

Medical and public health

Mariana Brussoni
Associate Professor, School of Population and Public Health
Email: mbrussoni@bcchr.ubc.ca

  • Going outside and benefits of outdoor play for children during COVID-19

Stephen Hoption Cann
Clinical Professor, School of Population and Public Health
Email: hoption.cann@ubc.ca

  • Infectious diseases and the pathophysiology of fever in infectious diseases

Dr. Michael Curry
Emergency Room Physician; Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine
Email: michael.curry@ubc.ca

  • Emergency medicine; coronavirus

Ken Denike
Assistant Professor Emeritus, Department of Geography
Tel: 604-899-0564
Email: ubcken@gmail.com

  • epidemiology of COVID-19, geographic factors in China, spatial analysis in China

Mary De Vera
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Email: mdevera@mail.ubc.ca

Bernie Garrett
Associate Professor, School of Nursing
Email: Bernie.Garrett@ubc.ca

  • Deception in healthcare products and services

Dr. Judy Illes
Professor of Neurology and Canada Research Chair in Neuroethics, Division of Neurology
Email: jilles@mail.ubc.ca

  • Balancing the benefits and risks of reaching out to help people in need, such as people who are vulnerable (older people, exhausted and isolated people, and children).
  • Triage and resource allocation of medical supplies and instruments, such as ventilators, futile care, etc.

Tom Koch
Adjunct Professor, Department of Geography
Email: tomkoch@kochworks.com

  • Factors that promote or inhibit the spread of disease
  • Preparing for pandemics (Globe op-ed)

Mahyar Etminan
Associate Professor, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
Email: etminanm@mail.ubc.ca

  • Drug safety scientist; COVID-19 and ibuprofen (Advil) drug safety
Dr. Ruth Elwood Martin
Retired family physician; Clinical Professor, UBC School of Population and Public Health
Email: ruth.martin@ubc.ca
  • Inaugural director of the UBC Collaborating Centre for Prison Health and Education
  • Prison health and the COVID-19 outbreak at a correctional facility in the Okanagan

Dr. Deborah Money
Professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology
Email: Please contact Reyhana Heatherington to arrange interviews at reyhana.heatherington@ubc.ca

  • Infectious disease expert
  • COVID-19 and pregnancy

Psychology and mental health

Anita DeLongis
Professor, Department of Psychology
Email: adelongis@psych.ubc.ca
Phone: 604-822-3527

  • psychological impact, mental health, coping, social support, empathic responding

*available afternoons and evenings only

Yue Qian
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology
Email: yue.qian@ubc.ca

*limited availability

Nancy Sin
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology
Email: nsin@psych.ubc.ca

  • connections between stress and health, coping, emotions

Steven Taylor
Professor and Clinical Psychologist, Department of Psychiatry
Email: steven.taylor@ubc.ca

  • Health anxiety (hypochondriasis); author of “The Psychology of Pandemics: Preparing for the next global outbreak of infectious disease”

Remote working and learning

Marina Milner-Bolotin
Associate Professor, Faculty of Education
Email: marina.milner-bolotin@ubc.ca

  • Online education: past, present and future
  • Homeschooling in the time of pandemics
  • Parental engagement in children’s education
  • Supporting parents and families with online resources
  • Supporting teachers in online learning environments

Konstantin Beznosov
Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Email: beznosov@ece.ubc.ca
Tel: 604-822-9181

  • Cybersecurity and privacy

Karthik Pattabiraman
Associate Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Email: karthikp@ece.ubc.ca

  • Computer systems security, software security, web apps

Seniors and older adults

Heather McKay
Professor, Departments of Orthopaedics and Family Practice, and the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility
Email: Please contact Rebecca Collett to arrange interviews at rebecca.collett@hiphealth.ca or 647-773–9034

  • Resources and support for older adults to healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The importance of staying active and socially connected while isolated at home

Joanie Sims-Gould
Associate Professor, Department of Family Practice, and the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility
Email: Please contact Rebecca Collett to arrange interviews at rebecca.collett@hiphealth.ca or 647-773-9034

  • Supporting isolated community-dwelling older adults during COVID-19 pandemic
  • Resources and support for older adults to keep healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic

Dr. Roger Wong
Clinical Professor, Division of Geriatric Medicine
Email: Please contact Reyhana Heatherington to arrange interviews at reyhana.heatherington@ubc.ca

  • Protecting seniors from COVID-19
  • Supporting seniors during the COVID-19 outbreak

Treatment and vaccine development

Brett Finlay
Professor, Michael Smith Laboratories
Email: bfinlay@msl.ubc.ca

  • Led the development of vaccines during the 2003 SARS outbreak

Horacio Bach
Adjunct Professor, Division of Infectious Diseases, UBC Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 604-727-9719
Email: hbach@mail.ubc.ca

Artem Cherkasov
Professor, Department of Urologic Sciences, UBC Faculty of Medicine
Email: acherkasov@prostatecentre.com

Eric Jan
Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, UBC Faculty of Medicine
Email: ej@mail.ubc.ca

Wilf Jefferies
Professor, Michael Smith Laboratories at UBC; Senior Scientist, Vancouver Prostate Centre
Vaccinologist and Immunologist
Tel: 604-827-5167
Email: wilf@msl.ubc.ca

  • Inventor of vaccines and immunological tools
  • Recipient of a Michael Smith Health Research Foundation grant to design, create and test unique vaccine candidates for COVID-19.

Jeffrey Joy
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, UBC Faculty of Medicine
Email: jjoy@cfenet.ubc.ca

Dr. Richard Lester
Physician; Associate Professor in Global Health, Division of Infectious Diseases
Email: rlester@mail.ubc.ca

Dr. Srinivas Murthy
Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics; Investigator and pediatrician at BC Children’s Hospital
Email: srinivas.murthy@cw.bc.ca

Dr. Josef Penninger
Director, Life Sciences Institute; Professor, Department of Medical Genetics; Canada 150 Chair in Functional Genetics
Email: Please contact Bethany Becker to arrange interviews at bethany.becker@ubc.ca

Dr. James Russell
Physician; Professor, Department of Medicine; Principal Investigator at the Centre for Heart Lung Innovation (HLI) at St. Paul’s Hospital
Email: Jim.Russell@hli.ubc.ca

  • Critical care, cardiovascular/cardiac condition and COVID-19 risk; cardiac injury due to COVID-19
  • Recipient of Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) funding to study efficacy and safety of re-purposing a class of drugs (called ARBs) commonly prescribed to treat high blood pressure to improve outcomes for patients with COVID-19

Urban issues

Patrick Condon
Professor, School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture
Cell: 604-788-0747

Penny Gurstein
Professor, School of Community and Regional Planning
Email: penny.gurstein@ubc.ca

  • Implications for people experiencing homelessness
  • Impacts on social equity and urban sustainability

UBC In The News

UBC In The News

Feedback-based policy can help manage COVID-19 more effectively

A team of applied science researchers at the University of British Columbia have joined the fight against COVID-19. They’ve developed a systematic feedback strategy they say can help public health authorities in their efforts to contain the virus over the next several months.

Their proposed methodology—inspired by the work of epidemiologists at Imperial College and others—does not need to rely on accurate predictive models. It uses hospital ICU capacity as a barometer for determining when physical distancing should be tightened up, and when it should be relaxed.

In this Q&A, the team that performed the analysis, Guy Dumont, Greg Stewart and Klaske van Heusden, from the electrical and computer engineering department at UBC, explain the rationale behind the method.

You’re proposing a feedback-based strategy for fighting COVID-19. Why is this important?

There are signs that Canada is making progress on flattening the curve of new COVID-19 infections, but public health authorities stress that it’s critical to keep the momentum going. Canadians need to continue physical distancing—the primary non-pharmaceutical weapon in this fight—over the next several months while awaiting a vaccine.

However, people need to know what our exit strategy is. When can distancing be safely relaxed for our society to continue functioning? Our methodology can enable decision makers to fine-tune the timing, duration and scope of intervention measures like isolation and quarantining.

This can help public health officials bring the outbreak under control and manage hospital caseloads as we wait for herd immunity to take effect or for a vaccine to be developed—while at the same time permitting safe relaxing of physical distancing.

What does your feedback-based method look like?

We used the standard SEIR (susceptible, exposed, infected, recovered) epidemic model that public health researchers typically use to predict the spread and impact of an outbreak. We use the number of available hospital ICU beds as the primary measure of health care capacity. The goal is always to bring infectivity rates to manageable levels.

As an example, if hospitals in jurisdiction X are approaching overcapacity, the feedback-designed policy will suggest an increase to the physical distancing in the region. When the healthcare capacity increases, the policy can suggest an optimal time for policymakers to relax or lift these intervention strategies. It’s key that many or most interventions have intermediate options that can be leveraged and thus avoid oscillations and repeated outbreaks.

Our approach emphasizes the important role that feedback can play to stabilize the system. Left on its own the epidemic is unstable, i.e. it grows exponentially. If we apply a basic control principle known as feedback stabilization, we can bring and maintain the propagation rate to a level manageable by our healthcare system. We’ve thus drawn on engineering principles to provide policy suggestions that take into account economic considerations and medical constraints.

How does this add to our current knowledge of the novel coronavirus?

Current epidemiological models of COVID-19 do not have an accurate way of estimating when to relax and when to tighten distancing interventions. An overly aggressive on-off approach may lead to unmanageable swings in health care capacity and the number of new cases. This is for instance what happened in St. Louis during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.

We believe that by bringing computer feedback to bear on the policymaking process we can have much better health outcomes for everyone concerned. We’d like nothing more than to work with other researchers in Canada or elsewhere to further develop this methodology, and possibly make it more interactive to help educate the public.

Webinar: UBC experts on how to reduce COVID-19 anxiety

The rapid spread of COVID-19 has impacted the global psyche in a way not seen in generations.

In the first of a series of COVID-19 webinars, UBC experts Dr. Richard Lester and Steven Taylor answer questions from the public and the media and offer suggestions on how to address anxiety during the outbreak.

Steven Taylor

Panelists:

Steven Taylor

  • Professor and Clinical Psychologist, UBC Department of Psychiatry
  • Author of The Psychology of Pandemics: Preparing for the next global outbreak of infectious disease

Dr. Richard Lester

Dr. Richard Lester

Moderator:

Kathryn Gretsinger

Kathryn Gretsinger

  • Senior Instructor, UBC Graduate School of Journalism

Date/Time:

Tuesday, March 31, 12 p.m. PDT

Registration:

Available online here. [UPDATE: The webinar has reached capacity. A recording will be available later today at alumni.ubc.ca/covid-webinar]

UBC In The News

Q&A: UBC researchers warn of dangers of air pollution during COVID-19 outbreak

With all attention on COVID-19 and concerns about the capacity of our health care system to cope, emphasis has rightly been placed on social distancing, handwashing and increasing hospital capacity.

But are we doing all that we can do to lessen the load on our health care system?

Professor Michael Brauer in the UBC School of Population and Public Health, Dr. Christopher Carlsten, professor of medicine and Canada Research Chair in Occupational and Environmental Lung Disease at UBC, and Sarah Henderson, associate professor in the UBC School of Population and Public Health, believe it’s time to consider the dangers of air pollution during the COVID-19 outbreak.

In this Q&A, they explain how air pollution can make infections of the respiratory tract—such as those caused by the virus that causes COVID-19 disease—more severe and why it is more important than ever to ensure our air is kept as clean as possible to protect everyone, especially the most vulnerable, and to lessen the strain on our hospitals.

Why is it important to reduce air pollution right now?

MB: With the reduced traffic and economic activity due to social distancing, we may be tempted to assume air quality has improved, but in B.C. at this time of the year, our major air pollution sources are open burning of agricultural, forestry and other waste, residential wood heating and road dust. The wildfire season is also quickly approaching, bringing with it the potential for severe smoke.

Each year, air pollution is estimated by Health Canada to be responsible for 1,600 deaths in British Columbia, at a cost of $11.5 billion, through impacts on heart and lung disease. In the past week alone, elevated levels of health-damaging particle air pollution have been measured on Vancouver Island and in Metro Vancouver with authorities poised to issue air quality advisories.

Open burning of debris and residential wood burning—in some cases from the use of fireplaces to provide ambience with people spending more time at home—are the likely sources for the elevated levels. In our interior communities, spring has already brought multiple air quality advisories from dust events when snow melts and winter traction materials dry up.

Even as we physically distance ourselves, we are all breathing the same air. Our lungs are the first line of defense against COVID-19, so the air we breathe is important.

Can air pollution affect patients with COVID-19?

CC: Each year across the globe air pollution is responsible for more than 400,000 deaths from pneumonia. We learned from the 2003 SARS experience that elevated air pollution exposure doubled the risk of death in those who had the SARS-CoV-1 virus.

The gases and particles in polluted air damage the natural defense systems that fight respiratory viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2. Such pollution weakens our first line of defense—our lungs, including the protective cells and fluid lining our airways and the specialized proteins that fight against invading organisms.

While it is too early to know whether air pollution has had a similar impact during the current pandemic, both Wuhan and northern Italy are areas with relatively poor air quality. Other studies on other viruses show that air pollution can increase both the frequency of severity of infection. Therefore, poor air quality can impose an additional burden on the health care system during a time when it is already stretched very thin.

How can we reduce air pollution levels in B.C.?

SH: Fortunately, actions can be taken quickly and at relatively little cost or inconvenience.

First, use of fireplaces should be banned when not needed as a primary heating source, until the pandemic is over. Second, open burning of debris should be halted in locations close to population centres, at least temporarily. Third, municipalities should take action to clean streets and reduce the potential for further road dust events.

Finally, everyone should start preparing for wildfire smoke events to ensure that we are ready should the pandemic still be raging when the fire season begins. This means those with pre-existing heart and lung disease who are most vulnerable should ensure that they have adequate supplies of medication and should consider purchasing air cleaners. It is also reasonable to consider proactive fire bans to further reduce the likelihood of wildfires this year.

UBC In The News

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  • Q&A: UBC researchers warn of dangers of air pollution during COVID-19 outbreak
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