UBC Research News Releases

Cancer drug shows potential as treatment for muscular dystrophy

Post Date: Jun 29, 2022

Researchers at UBC’s School of Biomedical Engineering have discovered that an existing cancer drug could have potential as a treatment for muscular dystrophy.

The researchers found that the drug — known as a colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R) inhibitor — helped slow the progress of Duchenne muscular dystrophy in mice by increasing the resiliency of muscle fibres.

The findings were published today in Science Translational Medicine.

Dr. Farshad Babaeijandaghi

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Southern resident killer whales not getting enough to eat since 2018

Post Date: Jun 27, 2022

The endangered southern resident killer whale population isn’t getting enough to eat, and hasn’t been since 2018, a new UBC study has determined.

The animals have been in an energy deficit, averaged across spring, summer and fall, for six of the last 40 years—meaning the energy they get from food is less than what they expend. Three of those six years came in the most recent years of the study, 2018 to 2020. The average difference in energy is 28,716 calories, or about 17 per cent of the daily required energy for an average adult killer whale, the authors say.

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This scientist is taking an international jellyfish tour to explore mucus and medusae

Post Date: Jun 29, 2022

From some of the largest jellyfish in the world in Japan to the tiny venomous Irukandji in Australia, UBC doctoral student Jessica Schaub is about to set off on an international tour of jellyfish.

A doctoral student in the department of earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences and the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, Schaub will explore jellyfish blooms, huge groups of the floating ‘medusae’ in Japan, France, Argentina, and Australia, thanks to a Hugh Morris Fellowship. An Indigenous scientist, Schaub hopes her trip will inspire Indigenous youth to consider careers in science.

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Black people in the U.S. twice as likely to face coercion, unconsented procedures during birth

Post Date: Jun 27, 2022

Pregnant people of other minoritized racial identities also experience more pressure from providers

Black people in the U.S. are twice as likely as white people to be coerced into procedures during perinatal and birth care, and to undergo them without their explicit consent, according to a new study by researchers at UBC’s Birth Place Lab and the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). Pregnant people of other minoritized racial identities also experience pressure from providers at higher rates than white counterparts.

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Vigilantes seeking justice can also spell trouble for workplaces, study finds

Post Date: Jun 21, 2022

Vigilantes are known for taking matters into their own hands to informally punish misbehaviour, and a new collaborative study finds they may pose a challenge to businesses and workplaces.

The study, co-authored by UBC Sauder School of Business professor Dr. Karl Aquino (he/him), looks into what makes vigilantes tick.

In this Q&A, Dr. Aquino discusses the study and the impacts of vigilantism on businesses.

What is vigilantism and how did you measure this?

People with a vigilante identity often perceive themselves to be the kind of people who monitor their environment for signs of norm violations.

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Access to safer supply rapidly increased during COVID-19: study

Post Date: Jun 23, 2022

The number of programs and prescribers offering safer supply to reduce risk of overdose increased dramatically in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study looking at services across Canada.

The findings, published this month in the International Journal of Drug Policy, suggest capacity for further rapid scale-up of flexible safer supply prescribing to address the increasing toxic drug supply.

Dr. Stephanie Glegg

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Peanut allergy treatment safest when started for infants under 12 months

Post Date: Jun 16, 2022

UBC researchers demonstrated in 2019 that pre-schoolers can safely overcome peanut allergies with a treatment called oral immunotherapy.

Now they have evidence that the earlier pre-schoolers start this treatment, the better.

This real-world study focused on infants younger than 12 months old and reveals that not only is oral immunotherapy effective against peanut allergies, it’s even safer for this age group than it is for toddlers and older pre-schoolers.

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Fungus in a test tube first step to curing ‘corn smut’

Post Date: Jun 09, 2022

Researchers have mimicked a corn plant’s make-up in the lab to investigate ‘corn smut’, opening the door to finding a cure for the disease. 

I’m all ears

Ustilago maydis or ‘corn smut’ is a fungus that presents as soot-like tumors on corn cobs, and can only exist on a host. It costs the United States’ agricultural industry $1 billion annually by disrupting corn seed production.

It’s also considered a delicacy in Mexico. Known as ‘huitlacoche’, it’s prized for its rich, smoky flavour and has been served in dishes since the time of the Aztecs.

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Scientists urge WTO to ban subsidies that promote overfishing

Post Date: Jun 06, 2022

Scientists are calling on the World Trade Organization (WTO) to ban subsidies that can cause overfishing at its meeting next week.

The organization’s topmost decision-making body is meeting next week, June 12 to 15, and almost 500 scientists have urged it take steps to protect fish stocks for the future. Dr. Rashid Sumaila (he/him), professor in UBC’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries and School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, discusses what subsidies need to go, and how Canada will be affected.

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Canada ranks third worldwide in permeable landscapes for wildlife

Post Date: Jun 16, 2022

Canada ranks third in the world for animal movement between protected areas, finds new UBC research.

Researchers created the first global map of where mammals are most likely to move between protected areas, such as national parks and nature reserves. Lead author Dr. Angela Brennan, a research associate at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, says she hopes the data will help countries measure their success at protecting biodiversity over time.

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The e-bikes are all right

Post Date: Jun 02, 2022

Metro Vancouver can safely integrate most new electric-powered mobility devices, study finds

Love them or hate them, new mobility devices like e-bikes are here to stay.

In one of the first large-scale studies to measure the real-world usage of these devices, UBC transportation researchers found that most other road users are comfortable sharing cycling lanes and off-street paths with these new modes of transport—despite some misperceptions of how fast these devices are actually going.

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A province-by-province look at excess deaths in Canada during the pandemic

Post Date: Jun 02, 2022

Pretend the COVID-19 pandemic never happened.

People still would have died across Canada, and the number of deaths would have been somewhat predictable based on data from previous years.

Dr. Kimberlyn McGrail

Dr. Kimberlyn McGrail, a professor in UBC’s school of population and public health, examined all “excess deaths” across Canadian provinces during the first 19 months of the pandemic, and how many of those were attributed specifically to COVID-19.

Excess deaths are deaths above and beyond what would have been expected under normal circumstances.

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Insect forecasting comes to UBC Vancouver campus this summer

Post Date: May 27, 2022

At a time when most people are closely watching the weather, a unique project coming to UBC’s Vancouver campus could become the blueprint for forecasting insect activity across the city.

This summer, researchers plan to set up 60-70 unique cameras across the UBC Vancouver campus and the UBC Farm. The cameras, known as Sticky Pi, combine optics and a sticky trap. They catch bugs and take pictures of them. Computers then use artificial intelligence to determine exactly what the insects are, and where and when they were trapped in real-time.

The researchers plan to eventually deploy the camera system across Vancouver in 2023.

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UBC entrepreneurs join fight against plastic pollution

Post Date: May 30, 2022

New ideas include compostable bioplastics and innovative coating that extends product lifespan

The end of plastic pollution—in the oceans, on land and in our air—could be within reach with two UBC ventures working hard on solutions that could make this vision a reality.

“Tonnes of plastic waste pollute our land and oceans,” says Dr. Jordan MacKenzie, co-founder and CEO of Bioform Technologies, a UBC start-up that is working on bringing a completely compostable bioplastic to the market.

“We use the world’s most regenerative materials to create products that sustainably eliminate plastic waste without the green premium.”

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Two pathogens linked to salmon health and survival in B.C.

Post Date: May 19, 2022

Many wild salmon populations in B.C. have experienced substantial declines over the last three decades. New UBC research published today can help chart a course towards better protection of wild salmon.

The study, led by UBC faculty of forestry member Arthur Bass and using data generated by the Strategic Salmon Health Initiative, assessed dozens of pathogens in thousands of Chinook and Coho salmon sampled over a decade along the B.C. coast.

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The lonely fate of a robot on Mars

Post Date: May 26, 2022

Covered in the red dust that sealed its fate, the NASA InSight lander is slowly shutting down, more than 250 million kilometres from home.

With its solar panels now obscured by the red planet’s debris, the four-year-old robot is running out of power. One by one, its instruments are being taken offline: its robotic arm moving into ‘retirement pose’, its seismometer likely to be turned off sometime in June.

Dr. Catherine Johnson (she/her), co-investigator on the InSight science team and professor in the department of earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences, discusses what the team discovered, what questions are left to answer, and just what will happen to the little lander that could.

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It’s getting better for trans, bisexual and gay youth – but there’s still room to improve

Post Date: May 17, 2022

Today, May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia celebrates sexual and gender diversity – and it also highlights the continued challenges faced by those with diverse genders and sexualities.

In this Q&A, UBC nursing professor Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc, director of the Stigma and Resilience Among Vulnerable Youth Centre (SARAVYC), shares how we can better support the health of trans, bisexual and gay youth in B.C.

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B.C. researchers launching clinical trial for first genetically engineered stem cell-based therapy for type 1 diabetes

Post Date: May 12, 2022

Researchers from the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) have received $1 million from Canada’s Stem Cell Network to conduct research and a clinical trial for one of the world’s first genetically engineered cell replacement therapies for type 1 diabetes.

The researchers say the study is an important step toward developing a potential functional cure for type 1 diabetes.

The novel investigative treatment, developed by biotechnology companies CRISPR Therapeutics and ViaCyte, is designed to enable type 1 diabetes patients to produce insulin through a small medical implant that contains millions of pancreatic cells derived from CRISPR gene-edited stem cells.

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Women working for apps like Uber and Doordash often ‘brush off’ harassment

Post Date: May 05, 2022

Gig industry platforms such as Uber, Doordash, and TaskRabbit fail to acknowledge the realities of women workers’ experiences, putting women at financial and personal risk, finds a new study.

Researchers interviewed 20 women gig workers in Canada and the U.S. and found that women—who make up approximately half the gig workforce in Canada—often have to ‘brush off’ harassment for fear of losing work, and available safety tools aren’t very effective. Authors Dr. Ning Ma (she/her), a postdoctoral fellow, and Dr. Dongwook Yoon (he/him), assistant professor, from the UBC department of computer science, discuss what gig companies can do to improve women workers’ experiences and reduce risk.

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Catching COVID-19 during pregnancy increases risk of hospitalization, premature birth: national study

Post Date: May 17, 2022

As Canada faces a sixth wave of COVID-19 infections, researchers at the UBC faculty of medicine are urging people who are pregnant to remain vigilant based on data from Canada’s first national, peer-reviewed study on COVID-19 in pregnancy.

The findings, published today in JAMA, show that pregnant people who catch COVID-19 are at greater risk of being hospitalized, being admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) and experiencing an early birth.

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Engineers at UBC get under the skin of ionic skin

Post Date: May 02, 2022

In the quest to build smart skin that mimics the sensing capabilities of natural skin, ionic skins have shown significant advantages. They’re made of flexible, biocompatible hydrogels that use ions to carry an electrical charge. In contrast to smart skins made of plastics and metals, the hydrogels have the softness of natural skin. This offers a more natural feel to the prosthetic arm or robot hand they are mounted on, and makes them comfortable to wear.

These hydrogels can generate voltages when touched, but scientists did not clearly understand how — until a team of researchers at UBC devised a unique experiment, published today in Science.

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UBC team discovers ‘silver bullet’ to keep medical devices free of bacteria

Post Date: Apr 28, 2022

University of British Columbia researchers have found a ‘silver bullet’ to kill bacteria and keep them from infecting patients who have medical devices implanted.

The team from UBC and the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute has developed a silver-based coating that can easily be applied to devices such as catheters and stents. Their novel formulation, discovered by screening dozens of chemical components, overcomes the complications of silver that have challenged scientists for years.

Dr. Jayachandran Kizhakkedathu

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Canada needs Indigenous-led fire stewardship, new research finds

Post Date: Apr 27, 2022

As a new wildfire season approaches, many Canadians are reflecting on the devastating losses of last season, and considering what they can do to protect themselves and the places where they live.

Dr. Kira Hoffman

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Health research overlooks important differences between sexes

Post Date: Apr 26, 2022

You might be surprised to learn how rarely health research accounts for the fact that male and female bodies are different.

Dr. Liisa Galea

Researchers from UBC’s women’s health research cluster and department of psychology have published an analysis of 3,193 neuroscience and psychiatry studies from 2009 and 2019. They found that:

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Expect to see more squid and less sockeye salmon on “climate changed” menus

Post Date: Apr 21, 2022

Vancouver seafood lovers may see more Humboldt squid but less sockeye salmon on restaurant menus in the near future due to climate change.

Dr. William Cheung

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Cross-racial friendships easier for children with good academic and social skills

Post Date: Apr 21, 2022

Some elementary school children may be better equipped than others to form cross-racial friendships, new research from UBC’s department of psychology suggests.

The study, just published in Child Development, looked at the relationship between cross-racial friendships and academic and social adjustment among 583 children in Canada and the U.S. at both ends of a recent school year.

We spoke with the study’s lead author, PhD student Hongyuan (Vivian) Qi (she/her), and UBC professor of psychology Dr. Amori Mikami (she/her) about the research, which they conducted with Dr. Julie Sarno Owens of Ohio University.

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New research highlights the role of green spaces in conflict

Post Date: Apr 19, 2022

Green spaces can promote well-being, but they may not always be benign. Sometimes, they can be a tool for control.

That’s the finding of a new paper that analyzed declassified U.S. military documents to explore how U.S. forces used landscapes to fight insurgency during the war in Afghanistan.

Author Fionn Byrne, an assistant professor at UBC’s school of architecture and landscape architecture, discusses the different ways that landscape can influence social behaviours.

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New report shows improvements in LGBTQ youth lives and health, but more work needed

Post Date: Apr 13, 2022

Most of B.C.’s LGBTQ teens experience safer environments and fewer health risks than previous generations, but more work is still needed to get them to where their straight peers are, according to a new report by UBC’s Stigma and Resilience Among Vulnerable Youth Centre (SARAVYC) and the McCreary Centre Society.

The report used data from the B.C. Adolescent Health Survey from 2008, 2013 and 2018, each of which sampled around 30,000 students in grades 8-12 across the province.

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U.S. insurance claims show strong link between ED medications and vision problems

Post Date: Apr 14, 2022

The risk of developing one of three serious eye conditions increases by 85 per cent for regular users of common erectile dysfunction (ED) medications such as Viagra, Cialis, Levitra and Stendra, new UBC research has found.

Dr. Mahyar Etminan

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Can bad reviews be good for business? New UBC research says yes

Post Date: Apr 07, 2022

Negative online reviews and low-star ratings are generally known to be bad for brands, so much that there are entire businesses devoted to reversing the damage. But a new study from the UBC Sauder School of Business found that this isn’t always the case.

UBC Sauder Associate Professor Dr. Lisa Cavanaugh (she/her) and her research team have found that negative online comments have little effect in cases where brand relationships are strong and consumers personally identify with a brand’s products. In some instances, they found negative reviews can actually have positive effects for brands.

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Pandemic shows how social factors impact health of Indigenous peoples

Post Date: Apr 07, 2022

Dr. Kimberly Huyser has worked throughout the pandemic to understand the social factors that impact Indigenous populations’ vulnerability to COVID-19.

The work has a personal connection for Dr. Huyser, an associate professor in UBC’s department of sociology. She comes from the Navajo Nation in Arizona, which has lost more than 1,600 community members to the virus and at one point in 2020 had the highest per-capita infection rate in the U.S.

Dr. Kimberly Huyser

We spoke with Dr. Huyser about issues the pandemic has brought into focus.

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Dr. Pieter Cullis named 2022 Canada Gairdner Award laureate

Post Date: Apr 05, 2022

Award recognizes contributions to foundational technologies for the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines

UBC professor Dr. Pieter Cullis has been named a 2022 Canada Gairdner International Award laureate for his pioneering work developing the lipid nanoparticle delivery technology that enables mRNA therapeutics such as the highly effective COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.

The Gairdner Awards recognize scientists whose discoveries have had a major impact on biomedical and global health research. Nicknamed Canada’s Nobel Prize, many of the annual Canada Gairdner Award laureates have gone on to receive the Nobel Prize.

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UBC research shows impact of rapid transit expansion on housing prices

Post Date: Apr 06, 2022

Recent UBC research finds the expansion of rapid transit generally benefits households from all income groups, but higher income households benefit the most.

Dr. Andrea Craig is an assistant professor of economics in UBC Okanagan’s Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Her latest research examines the effects of rapid transit expansion on neighbourhood prices, income and household welfare.

Dr. Craig, alongside Bank of Canada economist Dr. Alex Chernoff, analyzed the expansion of Vancouver’s SkyTrain system, including the Millennium and Canada lines, using Statistics Canada data covering a 10-year period.

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Migration from metro areas pose challenges for small communities: report

Post Date: Mar 31, 2022

In B.C., most people don’t leave small towns for big cities—they go the other way. It’s a trend that’s been happening for decades, but it has accelerated since 2015.

What’s driving this trend in B.C.?

For decades, most intra-provincial migration has gone to smaller cities like Victoria, Kelowna and Chilliwack. Citizens are searching for more affordable housing, more living space and a high quality of life. Although metropolitan Vancouver and Victoria remain the top choices for people migrating to B.C. from other provinces and territories, interprovincial migration to small towns has surged since 2015.

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New nasal spray treats Delta variant infection in mice, indicating broad spectrum results

Post Date: Mar 29, 2022

Researchers have shown a new compound delivered in a nasal spray is highly effective in preventing and treating COVID-19 caused by the Delta variant in mice.

The researchers, including at UBC, Université de Sherbrooke, and Cornell University, believe this is the first treatment of its kind proven to be effective against all COVID-19 variants of concern reported to date, including alpha, beta, gamma and delta. Published today in Nature, the research opens the door to developing a therapeutic spray for humans.

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Citizen scientists predict cherry blossom peak

Post Date: Apr 05, 2022

Cherry blossoms attract huge crowds in spring, but predicting when they’re at their peak is no easy feat. In order to do that accurately, scientists look at many factors including recent local weather patterns, temperatures and amount of daylight.

This year UBC climate change biologist Dr. Elizabeth Wolkovich in the faculty of forestry and colleagues had an idea. Why not get the public involved in determining peak bloom? Citizen scientists could draw on publicly available data and records to form predictions. Such a process could promote awareness of climate science and help scientists in their modelling work.

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Microbe-slaying copper applied to UBC buildings

Post Date: Mar 28, 2022

More than 400 sanitizing copper patches have been added to high-contact areas at UBC as part of a collaboration between Teck Resources and UBC to study the antimicrobial properties of copper.

How does it work?

When copper physically contacts a pathogen like the virus that causes COVID-19, it releases ions that punch through the exterior of the virus, eventually destroying its genetic material and deactivating it, says a UBC researcher involved in the project.

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Dr. Michael Kobor to lead new UBC research program in healthy aging

Post Date: Mar 28, 2022

Renowned biomedical researcher Dr. Michael Kobor has been appointed to lead the Edwin S.H. Leong Healthy Aging Program – a new UBC research program aimed at helping people live longer, healthier lives.

As the inaugural Edwin S.H. Leong UBC Chair in Healthy Aging – a UBC President’s Excellence Chair, Dr. Kobor will build a permanent program focused on deepening understanding of the aging process and developing innovative, practical strategies to improve how people age. The program, housed within UBC’s faculty of medicine, is supported by a visionary and transformational gift of $24-million from Hong Kong businessman, philanthropist and UBC alumnus Edwin Leong.

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High-tech mouthguard tracks head impacts during varsity hockey playoffs

Post Date: Mar 17, 2022

UBC concussion study could pave the way for safer hockey

A high-tech mouthguard worn by UBC Thunderbird hockey players will record every big hit of the upcoming playoffs to capture data for UBC researchers who study concussions.

Dr. Lyndia Wu

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Drones get blood to patients faster—and reduce waste

Post Date: Mar 16, 2022

Using drones instead of ambulances for emergency delivery of perishable blood products in Rwanda resulted in blood arriving for transfusions 79 minutes faster on average. It also reduced the number of wasted blood units by two-thirds.

Why Rwanda?

In 2016 Rwanda became the first known African country to integrate drone deliveries into its healthcare system. Researchers from the University of British Columbia’s school of population and public health collaborated with researchers in Rwanda to analyze outcomes from more than 12,000 deliveries over four years. Their findings appear today in The Lancet Global Health.

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UBC scientists discover how to 3D print testicular cells

Post Date: Mar 16, 2022

In a pair of world firsts, UBC scientists have 3D printed human testicular cells and identified promising early signs of sperm-producing capabilities.

The researchers, led by UBC urology assistant professor Dr. Ryan Flannigan, hope the technique will one day offer a solution for people living with presently untreatable forms of male infertility.

Dr. Ryan Flannigan

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Paralympic Games left behind in the race towards gender equality, UBC expert says

Post Date: Mar 03, 2022

In the marathon towards a more gender-balanced and representative games, the Paralympics lags far behind the Olympics, according to a recent UBC study.

Dr. Andrea Bundon, an assistant professor in UBC’s school of kinesiology, estimates that in the upcoming 2022 Beijing Paralympic winter games there will be a roughly 75 per cent to 25 per cent split between men and women competitors represented.

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Thoughts of harming baby a normal but unpleasant part of postpartum experience

Post Date: Mar 01, 2022

Many new mothers experience unwanted and intrusive thoughts about intentionally harming their babies, but those thoughts don’t appear to increase the likelihood that they will actually harm their newborn, according to a new UBC study.

The researchers note that such thoughts should be discussed with new mothers as a normal, albeit unpleasant and likely distressing, postpartum experience. In the absence of any additional risk factors, however, they do not represent a risk to infant safety.

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British Columbians worried pandemic will never end, and climate change is only adding to the fear

Post Date: Mar 01, 2022

If you’re feeling like the pandemic is never-ending, you’re not alone. Sixty-four per cent of British Columbians are worried the COVID-19 pandemic will be around for years to come, with concerns about climate change adding fuel to the fire.

The latest results from a national mental health survey led by UBC researchers, in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), found that this sentiment was reflected nationally, with 57 per cent of respondents worried that COVID-19 will continue to circulate among the population for years to come. In BC, 65 per cent of people are worried about new strains and nearly half, 48 per cent of respondents in the province are worried about the compounding effects of COVID-19 alongside the climate crisis.

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Reduce ADHD with more parks, less pollution

Post Date: Feb 24, 2022

A study conducted in Metro Vancouver finds that the more green space and less air pollution children have in their neighbourhoods, the less likely they are to develop attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Less green space and more air pollution leads to a higher likelihood of ADHD.

Why does it matter?

ADHD affects five to 10 per cent of children and adolescents. Researchers from UBC’s school of population and public health and faculty of forestry explored associations between the disorder and environmental exposures while children’s brains are developing and vulnerable.

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Baby fever: UBC study finds advertising and social media can boost desire to have children

Post Date: Feb 17, 2022

What exactly motivates people to have children? Over time, researchers have attributed it to reasons like biological drive, social pressures and emotional fulfillment. But according to a new study from the UBC Sauder School of Business, advertising and social media should be added to that list.

The research team found that viewing positive parent-child images, like going to the park, having dinner, drawing, taking fun trips or playing with their children, reliably boosted young adults’ desire for their own little bundle of joy. This response is mostly driven by people’s empathic emotions.

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New COVID-19 study links nurses’ mental health to quality of care

Post Date: Feb 16, 2022

Stories of stress and burnout among healthcare workers, particularly nurses, continue to make news during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Farinaz Havaei

Now, new research shows these mental health problems could be contributing to decreased quality of patient care.

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Investigating the ‘skunk’ smell and other emissions caused by cannabis production

Post Date: Feb 15, 2022

What exactly causes that ‘skunky’ odour emitted by cannabis production facilities, and what do these emissions mean for air quality, workers, and the general public?

We should address these and other knowledge gaps while the industry is still developing, according to a new study led by Davi de Ferreyro Monticelli, a doctoral student in UBC’s department of earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences. In this Q&A, he discusses what’s missing in our knowledge about cannabis production emissions, their potential impacts on communities living nearby, and just how their smell stacks up against other odours.

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Identifying the portable toilets of the ancient Roman world

Post Date: Feb 11, 2022

New research published today in the Journal of Archaeological Science Reports reveals how archaeologists can determine when a pot was used by Romans as a portable toilet, known as a chamber pot.

“Conical pots of this type have been recognized quite widely in the Roman Empire and in the absence of other evidence they have often been called storage jars. The discovery of many in or near public latrines had led to a suggestion that they might have been used as chamber pots, but until now proof has been lacking,” says Roger Wilson, a professor in UBC’s department of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies who directs the Gerace archaeological project in Sicily where the pot was found.

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How UBC women in STEM are supporting each other to succeed

Post Date: Feb 25, 2022

Today is the United Nations International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

Role models for women in Science, Tech, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are important: 2010 statistics in Canada show women made up 44 per cent of first-year STEM students aged 19 and under in undergraduate degree programs, with representation lower in physical and chemical sciences at 32 per cent, engineering and engineering technology at 19 per cent, and mathematics and computer and information sciences at 28 per cent.

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Futuristic coating for hospital fabrics and activewear kills COVID and E. coli

Post Date: Feb 10, 2022

UBC researchers have developed an inexpensive, non-toxic coating for almost any fabric that decreases the infectivity of the virus that causes COVID-19 by up to 90 per cent.

And in the future, you might be able to spray it on fabric yourself.

“When you’re walking into a hospital, you want to know that pillow you’re putting your head onto is clean,” says lead author Taylor Wright, a doctoral student in the department of chemistry. “This coating could take a little bit of the worry off frontline workers to have Personal Protection Equipment with antimicrobial properties.”

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When people’s attitudes about aging improve, better health may follow

Post Date: Feb 09, 2022

Making people feel better about how they’re aging could lead to concrete improvements in health and wellbeing down the line, new UBC research suggests.

The researchers tracked changes in how participants felt about their own aging over a four-year period, then looked for measurable changes in health and wellbeing after another four years had passed. Participants whose attitudes had improved over the first four years were more likely to see measurable health improvements four years later.

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Mining industry would boom under a new global carbon tax, research shows

Post Date: Feb 08, 2022

When the mining industry fights carbon taxes, it is arguing against its own economic interests, suggests new research from UBC’s Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering and School of Public Policy and Global Affairs.

A global carbon tax would bring a financial windfall to the mining industry by forcing a shift in other industries to cleaner technologies that depend on metals and minerals, and any tax on carbon emissions from mining would be small in relation to the value of high-demand commodities generated by the industry.

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R links sound and touch across languages

Post Date: Jan 31, 2022

Turns out, some words are more tactile than you might expect.

That’s according to a new global study noting a clear linguistic connection between sound and touch.

The study found that words meaning “rough” were four times more likely to contain a rolled or trilled ‘r’ sound than words that mean “smooth.” The researchers detected this relationship in a sample of 332 spoken languages around the world, including words like zakarra (Basque), barzgar (Mongolian), ruw (Dutch) and durva (Hungarian). In the Indo-European language family, where the pattern is especially strong, it could date back more than 6,000 years.

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One letter that links sound and touch across languages

Post Date: Jan 31, 2022

Turns out, some words are more tactile than you might expect.

That’s according to a new global study noting a clear linguistic connection between sound and touch.

The study found that words meaning “rough” were four times more likely to contain a rolled or trilled ‘r’ sound than words that mean “smooth.” The researchers detected this relationship in a sample of 332 spoken languages around the world, including words like zakarra (Basque), barzgar (Mongolian), ruw (Dutch) and durva (Hungarian). In the Indo-European language family, where the pattern is especially strong, it could date back more than 6,000 years.

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Data from thousands of cameras confirms protected areas promote mammal diversity

Post Date: Jan 27, 2022

A new University of British Columbia study offers new evidence that protected areas are effective at conserving wildlife.

Researchers at UBC’s faculty of forestry analyzed data from a global data set drawing from 8,671 camera trap stations spanning four continents. They found more mammal diversity in survey areas where habitat had a protected designation—compared to forests and other wilderness areas that lacked that designation.

Dr. Cole Burton

This was true even when these protected areas experienced human disturbances such as recreational use and logging.

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When relationships break down, men are at risk of mental illness

Post Date: Jan 26, 2022

A new UBC study confirms that when men transition out of relationships, they are at increased risk of mental illness, including anxiety, depression and suicide.

“Most men experienced the onset or worsening of mental illness symptoms during a distressed relationship or following the breakdown of a relationship,” says the study’s lead author Dr. John Oliffe, a Canada Research Chair and UBC professor of nursing whose work focuses on men’s mental health. He noted that marital separation quadruples the risk of male suicide and suggests that distressed relationships as well as separation and divorce contribute to men’s mental health challenges.

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UBC-led research team finds nine new coronavirus species

Post Date: Jan 26, 2022

A former UBC post-doctoral research fellow led an international research team in re-analyzing all public RNA sequencing data to uncover almost ten times more RNA viruses than were previously known, including several new species of coronaviruses in some unexpected places.

This planetary-scale database of RNA viruses can help pave the way to rapidly identify virus spillover into humans, as well as those viruses that affect livestock, crops, and endangered species.

Dr. Artem Babaian

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Salmon camps show youth Indigenous science at work

Post Date: Jan 25, 2022

Imagine a summer camp where you can watch grizzly bears catch salmon in streams, while learning about the migration and preparation of the fish hovering in the water at your feet.

Welcome to the Salmon Science Camp for Nisga’a youth, run by Dr. Andrea Reid (she/her), principal investigator of the Centre for Indigenous Fisheries at UBC. With new funding from the multi-institutional $24 million Ărramăt Project, Dr. Reid plans to expand these camps and open doors to scientific learning.

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Nearly half of countries’ shared fish stocks are on the move due to climate change, prompting dispute concerns

Post Date: Jan 18, 2022

Climate change will force 45 per cent of the fish stocks that cross through two or more exclusive economic zones to shift significantly from their historical habitats and migration paths by 2100, a challenge that may lead to international conflict, according to a new UBC study.

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Sunflowers’ invisible colours help them attract bees and adapt to drought

Post Date: Jan 18, 2022

It turns out sunflowers are more than just a pretty face: the ultraviolet colours of their flowers not only attract pollinators, but also help the plant regulate water loss, according to new UBC research.

The dense collection of yellow petals of a sunflower (technically an ‘inflorescence’, or collection of many flowers) is a familiar sight, but it’s hiding something from the human eye: an ultraviolet (UV) bullseye pattern, invisible to humans but not to most insects including bees.

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More Canadians may be driving high since cannabis legalization: UBC study

Post Date: Jan 13, 2022

THC is being detected in twice as many injured drivers since cannabis was legalized in Canada, according to new UBC research published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.  

The findings may be a signal that more Canadians are choosing to drive after using cannabis.

“It’s concerning that we’re seeing such a dramatic increase,” said Dr. Jeffrey Brubacher (he/him), associate professor in UBC’s department of emergency medicine and the principal investigator of the study. “There are serious risks associated with driving after cannabis use. Our findings suggest more is needed to deter this dangerous behaviour in light of legalization.”

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UBC researchers lead $24 million project to treat spinal cord injury

Post Date: Jan 12, 2022

Federally funded work will develop a biomaterial bridge to help regrow nerve fibres

A key challenge in treating traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI)—the kind caused by impact from a car crash, a fall, a sporting activity or a violent act—is repairing the gap that is formed when the spine is broken.

This gap, typically a few centimetres wide, essentially blocks nerve impulses from getting through, leading to serious health issues that may include paralysis, loss of blood pressure, bladder and bowel control, sexual dysfunction, and chronic pain.

Now a new, multidisciplinary team—aptly named Mend the Gap—is working on a novel approach that may help people with SCI.

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Machine learning and AI used to rapidly detect sepsis, cutting risk of death dramatically

Post Date: Jan 10, 2022

A groundbreaking advance in quickly detecting sepsis using machine learning has been pioneered by researchers in the Hancock Lab and the department of microbiology and immunology at UBC.

Sepsis is one of the biggest killers in the world, responsible for one in five deaths worldwide including those from severe COVID-19 disease, but it is difficult to detect early. It’s defined as the body’s dysfunctional response to an infection and has a variety of symptoms— including fever, fatigue, hyperventilation and a fast heart rate—that may appear at first to be from other diseases.

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UBC clinical trial supports new self-administered rapid antigen test

Post Date: Dec 23, 2021

When it comes to COVID-19, peace of mind is difficult to come by.

But thanks to new research compiled with data from UBC’s first on-campus clinical study, a new self-administered rapid antigen test will soon be available in Canada. It’s a tool that could help combat growing uncertainty, prevent transmission and potentially save lives.

Dr. Sabrina Wong

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UBC scientists unveil world’s first molecular-level analysis of Omicron variant spike protein

Post Date: Dec 22, 2021

Findings show strong antibody evasion and binding with human cells that contribute to increased transmissibility—and that vaccination remains the best defence

UBC researchers are the first in the world to conduct a molecular-level structural analysis of the Omicron variant spike protein.

The analysis—done at near atomic resolution using a cryo-electron microscope—reveals how the heavily mutated variant infects human cells and is highly evasive of immunity. The findings shed new light on why Omicron is highly transmissible and will help accelerate the development of more effective treatments.

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UBC researchers launch first-in-Canada testing program for Alzheimer’s disease

Post Date: Dec 16, 2021

For the first time, Canadians can access a new test to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, thanks to a study being led by researchers at UBC’s faculty of medicine.

The test—which measures proteins known as biomarkers in the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord—could assist with earlier and more accurate diagnosis of the disease, giving patients and their families much needed answers and assistance with planning.

Over half a million Canadians are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related form of dementia. With a rapidly aging population, that number is projected to double by 2031.

Dr. Mari DeMarco

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Farmed seafood supply at risk if we don’t act on climate change

Post Date: Dec 13, 2021

Study shows marine fish farms are not climate change safety nets

The supply of farmed seafood such as salmon and mussels are projected to drop 16 per cent globally by 2090 if no action is taken to mitigate climate change, according to a new UBC study.

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Stretchy, washable battery brings wearable devices closer to reality

Post Date: Dec 09, 2021

UBC researchers have created what could be the first battery that is both flexible and washable. It works even when twisted or stretched to twice its normal length, or after being tossed in the laundry.

“Wearable electronics are a big market and stretchable batteries are essential to their development,” says Dr. Ngoc Tan Nguyen (he/him), a postdoctoral fellow at UBC’s faculty of applied science. “However, up until now, stretchable batteries have not been washable. This is a critical addition if they are to withstand the demands of everyday use.”

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UBC releases 2020 animal research statistics

Post Date: Dec 09, 2021

UBC’s summary of animals involved in research at the university in 2020 is now available.

This is the eleventh consecutive year the university has published the data. UBC is one of the few Canadian universities to publish animal research statistics annually. The university publishes the data as part of its overall commitment to openness and transparency.

The data was collected for UBC’s annual report to the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC), a national organization that oversees the ethical use of animals in science.

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