UBC Research News Releases

New study reveals high rates of iron deficiency in women during late-stage pregnancy

Post Date: Nov 22, 2022

Pregnant women may need to take more supplemental iron than current Health Canada guidelines recommend, after two UBC researchers found high rates of iron deficiency in a recent study.

The research investigated iron deficiency prevalence among 60 pregnant women in Metro Vancouver and found that over 80 per cent of them were likely iron-deficient in late pregnancy despite taking daily prenatal supplements that provided 100 per cent of the daily iron recommendation in pregnancy.

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UBC researcher to study young adults who live with their parents

Post Date: Nov 15, 2022

Umay Kader

Young adults in Canada are less likely to own a home and more likely to live with their parents than they were a decade ago, according to recently released census data.

But statistics only tell one part of the story.

Umay Kader (she/her), a PhD candidate in sociology at UBC, wants to understand the other part. For her PhD research, she is setting out to interview up to 50 people aged 25 to 34 who live with their parents in Metro Vancouver, to learn how they navigate these living arrangements.

We spoke with Kader about the project.

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Seafood farming’s growth rate has already peaked, and now it’s in decline

Post Date: Nov 15, 2022

The growth rate of seafood farming worldwide peaked in 1996 according to new UBC research, highlighting the importance of rebuilding wild fish stocks to feed future demand.

Dr. Rashid Sumaila

If we were to rely only on aquaculture to meet the demand for seafood by 2030, the world’s production would need to grow at three times the current projected rate, the study found.

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UBC releases 2021 animal research statistics

Post Date: Nov 10, 2022

UBC’s summary of animals involved in research at the university in 2021 is now available.

This is the 12th 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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UBC research could help astronauts eat well on future Mars missions

Post Date: Nov 09, 2022

If space is the final frontier, it’s food that will get us there in good shape, and UBC researchers are making sure that our food will be up to the task.

Dr. John Frostad, an assistant professor in chemical and biological engineering who studies the science of food, leads a team that is creating new ways of encapsulating omega-3 fatty acids so that they can go the distance.

Omega-3 is essential to mental sharpness. Even a couple of days without omega-3 in our diets may dull our brains and have us feeling less than our best. However, our bodies cannot produce it naturally so we must find it in the foods we eat, such as fish, flaxseed, or often by taking supplements.

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Bivalent vaccines are here: What it means for people who are pregnant

Post Date: Nov 14, 2022

Dr. Deborah Money

Appointments for bivalent COVID-19 boosters have opened up across Canada. Yet, vaccination rates among people who are pregnant trail the general population, and people at all stages of pregnancy have questions about what the new vaccine formulation means for them.

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One in seven billion: First-in-the-world diagnosis a result of incredible teamwork

Post Date: Nov 08, 2022

For the first couple years of his life growing up in Syria, Ebrahim Aldalati was, as he put it, “a regular baby.” He had no health issues and was just like other kids. But by the time he was two, that all changed.

“My family started seeing that my left leg was not working. I could straighten it, but I couldn’t bend it,” recalls Ebrahim.

Ebrahim and his family were living in Syria when he was born.

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National study suggests it’s time to rethink how we treat atrial fibrillation

Post Date: Nov 07, 2022

Early intervention with catheter cryoablation can halt disease progression, reduce risk of serious health impacts  

A national study led by UBC researchers at the Centre for Cardiovascular Innovation is shedding light on how to more effectively treat atrial fibrillation (AF) – a common heart rhythm problem associated with increased risk of stroke and heart failure.

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Is road salt killing salmon?

Post Date: Nov 07, 2022

UBC researchers led by Dr. Patricia Schulte, Dr. Chris Wood and Dr. Colin Brauner are joining forces with community groups to find out if road salt in streams could be harming Pacific salmon. They are investigating the seasonal impact of road salt in more than 20 streams around the Lower Mainland as well as growing baby salmon from eggs in high salt water in the lab.

In this Q&A, Drs. Schulte and Wood discuss how citizen scientists can contribute and how the public can help reduce any potential road salt impact.

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Environmentally friendly ‘biofoam’ could address plastic pollution crisis

Post Date: Nov 07, 2022

UBC and Wet’suwet’en First Nation collaborate to create new packaging foam from wood waste

A new biodegradable packing foam developed at UBC not only potentially addresses the world’s plastic pollution crisis but also serves as an equal and true partnership example of working with First Nations.

The team came together to turn a timely research idea into reality while helping solve a critical community need at the same time: UBC researchers Dr. Feng Jiang and postdoctoral fellow Dr. Yeling Zhu, Reg Ogen and Joe Wong, president and CEO and vice president respectively of Wet’suwet’en First Nation’s Yinka Dene Economic Development Limited Partnership, and the office of the Chief Forester in the Ministry of Forests.

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Event: Emerging scholars share how they’re taking action on climate change

Post Date: Oct 26, 2022

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 27) is just around the corner so get inspired and join UBC students and faculty this Thursday as they share their work to combat climate change.

Featuring a keynote speech by Severn Cullis Suzuki, executive director of the David Suzuki Foundation, UBC climate researchers will share how their ongoing work contributes to the global struggle for our future in PechaKucha-style, seven-to-12-minute talks at VanDusen gardens, including:

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Sick queen bees have shriveled ovaries, putting their colonies at risk

Post Date: Oct 25, 2022

Queen bees with viral infections have smaller ovaries than their healthy counterparts, a recent UBC study has found, which could threaten the health and financial viability of their colonies.

Can’t get COVID, can get sick

Viral infections in honey bees are becoming more intense and widespread. UBC researchers Abigail Chapman and Dr. Alison McAfee found that virus-infected queen bees in the field have shriveled ovaries compared with healthy ones. The researchers then infected queen bees in the lab with a different virus, and noticed the same result.

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Peter Wall and UBC launch new program awarding up to $4 million per year to help create sustainable solutions in B.C.

Post Date: Oct 24, 2022

Today, Peter Wall and UBC announced the launch of the Wall Research Awards and Wall Fellowships, which will be supported by the Peter Wall Legacy Fund, for a total of up to $4 million each year.

These Wall Research Awards and Fellowships will be offered to UBC faculty members and students. They will initially focus on research relating to sustainability in the areas of urban development, water, energy, transportation infrastructure, environmental protection of oceans and waterfronts, and resource-intensive industry. A celebration will also accompany the announcement of the awards and fellowships each year.

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UBC professor’s new workbook offers tools for a better sex life

Post Date: Nov 07, 2022

Dr. Lori Brotto

When UBC psychologist and sex researcher Dr. Lori Brotto published her first book, Better Sex Through Mindfulness, she upended convention by revealing how mindfulness can be used to treat sexual difficulties in women, such as lack of desire, pain and trauma.

Soon after, Dr. Brotto’s Sexual Health Research Lab was inundated with requests from people who wanted to participate in her research program.

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Some screen time better than none during children’s concussion recovery

Post Date: Oct 17, 2022

Too much screen time can slow children’s recovery from concussions, but new research from UBC and the University of Calgary suggests that banning screen time is not the answer.

The researchers looked for links between the self-reported screen time of more than 700 children aged 8-16 in the first 7-10 days following an injury, and symptoms reported by them and their caregivers over the following six months.

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How to protect yourself and your family this flu season

Post Date: Oct 18, 2022

Adrian Ziemczonek estimates he’s put more than 500 needles into arms as a pharmacist who has provided immunizations to people in the community since 2015.

As a clinical pharmacist and lecturer at UBC’s Pharmacists Clinic, he plays a key role in organizing public vaccination clinics at UBC while also maintaining an active patient care practice based at the Pharmacists Clinic.

With influenza season approaching, we asked Ziemczonek what people should expect and how they can protect themselves in the months ahead.

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UBC experts and events on Orange Shirt Day

Post Date: Sep 27, 2022

September 30 is both Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It is a date to commemorate residential school survivors, intergenerational survivors and those who didn’t return home. It’s also a day to learn about and reflect on the history and ongoing impacts of the Indian residential school system and other colonial policies in Canada.

UBC experts are available to comment.

Brenna Bhandar Associate Professor, Peter A. Allard School of Law Email: bhandar@allard.ubc.ca Interview language(s): English

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COVID-19 lockdown may have accelerated HIV transmission in some at-risk populations

Post Date: Sep 23, 2022

A new study led by researchers at UBC and the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) is shedding light on how COVID-19 pandemic restrictions impacted another long-standing public health threat — HIV.

The study, published in the Lancet Regional Health – Americas, examined HIV transmission during B.C.’s initial COVID-19 lockdown (March 22 to May 20, 2020) when stringent public health measures reduced social interactions and curtailed access to critical health services. The researchers looked at the impact of these restrictions on populations at risk of acquiring HIV, including people who use drugs (PWUD) and men who have sex with men (MSM).

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UBC researcher creates wood-based alternative to single-use plastic

Post Date: Oct 06, 2022

UBC researcher Dr. Feng Jiang has developed a cellulose film that looks like plastic and behaves like plastic—but is biodegradable.

How it’s made

Dr. Jiang’s process breaks down wood fibres (sourced from forest waste) in a solution of cold sodium hydroxide combined with mild mechanical blending. The sodium hydroxide is then recycled. The result is a translucent, strong and water-resistant film.

Other researchers have also developed cellulosic films but the UBC project—funded by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development—is the first to use small amounts of energy and chemicals in the manufacture.

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Converging epidemics: COVID-19 lockdown may have accelerated HIV transmission in some at-risk populations

Post Date: Sep 23, 2022

A new study led by researchers at UBC and the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) is shedding light on how COVID-19 pandemic restrictions impacted another long-standing public health threat — HIV.

The study, published in the Lancet Regional Health – Americas, examined HIV transmission during B.C.’s initial COVID-19 lockdown (March 22 to May 20, 2020) when stringent public health measures reduced social interactions and curtailed access to critical health services. The researchers looked at the impact of these restrictions on populations at risk of acquiring HIV, including people who use drugs (PWUD) and men who have sex with men (MSM).

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Why whales don’t get brain damage when they swim

Post Date: Sep 26, 2022

Special blood vessels may protect whales from pulses in their blood that would damage the brain while swimming, new research has suggested.

Whaley high blood pressure

Land mammals such as horses experience ‘pulses’ in their blood when galloping, where blood pressures inside the body go up and down on every stride. UBC researchers have suggested for the first time that the same phenomenon occurs in whales when they swim.

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UBC experts on new census data

Post Date: Sep 21, 2022

Statistics Canada has released 2021 census data on housing and Indigenous peoples across Canada. UBC experts are available to comment.

Dr. Penny Gurstein Professor Emeritus, School of Community and Regional Planning Tel: 604-319-0242 Email: penny.gurstein@ubc.ca Interview language(s): English

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New tools aim to improve care for people experiencing substance use stigma

Post Date: Sep 23, 2022

Stigma and discrimination associated with substance use, known as substance use stigma, contribute directly to significant harms and barriers to care. Due to widespread negative attitudes towards substance use issues, people are often treated in disrespectful or discriminatory ways in health care settings.

Now a team of researchers at UBC and Western University are offering a suite of tools and strategies to ensure that people who experience substance use stigma can receive better care in the future.

Dr. Colleen Varcoe

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Warmer Earth could see smaller butterflies that struggle to fly, affecting food systems

Post Date: Sep 15, 2022

New UBC research has shown warmer temperatures can lead to smaller butterflies that collect less pollen and visit fewer flowers.

Warmer temps = smaller wings

Dr. Michelle Tseng and recent graduate Erez Büyükyilmaz grew butterflies in the lab at different temperatures and found that the warmer the temperature, the smaller the butterfly, mimicking how increasing global temperatures due to climate change might affect the size of the insects. Then, using special equipment, they found smaller butterflies did not fly as far or as fast as the bigger ones, due to their smaller wings.

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We’re heading to the moon and maybe Mars. So who owns them?

Post Date: Sep 20, 2022

Humanity is set to make a return to the Moon with the Artemis program, in what NASA says is a first step to Mars. So, who gets first dibs?

Dr. Aaron Boley, a professor in UBC’s department of physics and astronomy, discusses the mission’s plans and why we need to sort out access and resource rights before we return to the lunar surface.

What’s going on with the moon right now?

There’s a push to have a sustained presence on the Moon by many players, including the United States, China and Russia. One such effort is NASA’s upcoming Artemis 1 launch, a three-part mission that starts with an upcoming unmanned launch and results in returning people to the lunar surface.

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Global fish stocks can’t rebuild if nothing done to halt climate change and overfishing, new study suggests

Post Date: Sep 01, 2022

Global fish stocks will not be able to recover to sustainable levels without strong actions to mitigate climate change, a new study has projected.

Researchers at UBC, the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions and University of Bern projected the impact that different global temperature increases and ranges of fishing activity would have on biomass, or the amount of fish by weight in a given area, from 1950 to 2100. Their simulations suggest that climate change has reduced fish stocks in 103 of 226 marine regions studied, including Canada, from their historical levels. These stocks will struggle to rebuild their numbers under projected global warming levels in the 21st century.

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UBC team developing oral insulin tablet sees breakthrough results

Post Date: Aug 30, 2022

A team of University of British Columbia researchers working on developing oral insulin tablets as a replacement for daily insulin injections have made a game-changing discovery.

Researchers have discovered that insulin from the latest version of their oral tablets is absorbed by rats in the same way that injected insulin is.

“These exciting results show that we are on the right track in developing an insulin formulation that will no longer need to be injected before every meal, improving the quality of life, as well as mental health, of more than nine million Type 1 diabetics around the world.” says professor Dr. Anubhav Pratap-Singh (he/him), the principal investigator from the faculty of land and food systems.

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UBC scientist is sending yeast and algae to space on Artemis 1

Post Date: Aug 23, 2022

When NASA’s Artemis 1 lunar mission takes off on August 29, on board will be four science experiments—including one from Canada.

UBC pharmaceutical sciences professor Dr. Corey Nislow is sending yeast and algae cultures into space, in a pod not much bigger than a shoebox, to study the effects of cosmic rays and near zero gravity on living organisms.

When the spacecraft returns after its uncrewed 42-day orbit around the Moon, Dr. Nislow will get his samples back, along with the information they contain.

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Children are entering a fourth school year in a pandemic — expert advice for parents

Post Date: Sep 01, 2022

Dr. Manish Sadarangani

As children head back for a fourth school year with COVID-19, many parents are hoping their kids will be able to enjoy a mostly normal school experience. But with new variants circulating and respiratory virus season on the horizon, many also have concerns and questions about what the new school year will look like.

We sat down with Dr. Manish Sadarangani, a pediatrics professor at the UBC faculty of medicine and father of three, who shared his perspective and advice for parents.

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UBC researchers discover ‘weak spot’ across major COVID-19 variants

Post Date: Aug 22, 2022

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have discovered a key vulnerability across all major variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including the recently emerged BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron subvariants.

The weakness can be targeted by neutralizing antibodies, potentially paving the way for treatments that would be universally effective across variants.

The findings, published today in Nature Communications, use cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) to reveal the atomic-level structure of the vulnerable spot on the virus’ spike protein, known as an epitope. The paper further describes an antibody fragment called VH Ab6 that is able to attach to this site and neutralize each major variant.

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Why some pro hockey players don’t seek help even when they need it

Post Date: Aug 17, 2022

A new UBC study highlights that help-seeking behaviours in professional men’s ice-hockey is heavily impacted by cultural and systemic factors.

Katie Crawford, who completed the study as part of her master’s degree in UBC’s school of kinesiology, has always had some insight on the high and low points of the profession. She grew up in a hockey family where her dad was a former coach and brother currently works in the National Hockey League (NHL).

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COVID-19 vaccine and young children — expert answers for skeptical parents

Post Date: Aug 18, 2022

Thanks to a recent decision by Health Canada, children in British Columbia over the age of six months are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations. And a recent study by UBC researchers reveals some surprising attitudes about child vaccination from parents who remain unvaccinated.

Dr. Ran Goldman, professor of pediatrics at UBC, answers some questions for parents looking for more information before vaccinating their children.

Dr. Ran Goldman

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How to avoid becoming a mosquito’s dinner

Post Date: Aug 16, 2022

Dr. Ben Matthews

Summer is almost over, but that doesn’t mean mosquitoes aren’t still searching for their next meal—and you might be next.

A new study co-authored by UBC’s Dr. Ben Matthews suggests humans may just be the most sought-after delicacy for the pesky insects. A common type of mosquito, the globally invasive Aedes aegypti, literally sniffs out humans, driving them to bite us even over other animals.

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Time machines and black holes on the agenda at quantum gravity meeting

Post Date: Aug 15, 2022

A theory of everything, that works at a cosmic and quantum level, has eluded researchers for years.

Next week is the Quantum Gravity Conference, with physicists from around the world gathering  in Vancouver for the launch of the Quantum Gravity Institute, as well as trying to solve one of science’s biggest mysteries.

In this Q&A, Dr. Philip Stamp, co-founder of the Quantum Gravity Society, and a professor in the UBC department of physics and astronomy, discusses what the conference hopes to achieve.

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UBC team deploys pollution-sniffing mobile lab

Post Date: Aug 18, 2022

Watch out, Vancouver. The PLUME van is coming soon to a location near you.

An “air pollution lab on wheels,” PLUME will be used to measure concentrations of air pollutants across the city including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, ground-level ozone, black carbon, methane, volatile organic compounds, and various sizes of ultrafine particles that can affect air quality.

PLUME, which stands for Portable Laboratory for Understanding Human-Made Emissions was developed by Dr. Naomi Zimmerman, a professor of mechanical engineering who studies air quality and its impacts on health and the environment.

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B.C. ocean’s worth of almost $5 billion to GDP likely an underestimate

Post Date: Aug 09, 2022

British Columbia’s ocean contributed almost $5 billion to provincial gross domestic product in 2015, a sum that is likely an underestimate, a new UBC study has found.

The ‘back of the envelope’ estimate could be used by non-economists to work out a baseline of what oceans contribute to the economy, as part of achieving the United Nations’ goal of sustainable oceans by 2030.

Senior author Dr. Rashid Sumaila, professor in the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries and school of public policy and global affairs, discusses why this value is likely an underestimate when the living ocean’s full contribution is taken into account.

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How artificial intelligence can make our food safer

Post Date: Aug 09, 2022

Food recalls could be a thing of the past if artificial intelligence (AI) is utilized in food production, according to a recent study from UBC and the University of Guelph.

The average cost of a food recall due to bacterial or microbial contamination, like E. coli, is US$10 million according to study co-author Dr. Rickey Yada (he/him), a professor and the dean of the UBC faculty of land and food systems.

We spoke with Dr. Yada about how AI can help optimize the current systems used in the food processing industry, and how it can help make our food supply safer.

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Travel restrictions significantly reduced COVID-19 cases entering Canada — but insufficient to prevent new outbreaks

Post Date: Aug 02, 2022

Canada’s restrictions on international travel drastically reduced the number of COVID-19 cases entering the country during the first waves of the pandemic but were insufficient to prevent new outbreaks, according to a new study led by University of British Columbia researchers.

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With just a tablespoon of blood, B.C. researchers aim to transform cancer treatment

Post Date: Aug 11, 2022

Researchers at the Vancouver Prostate Centre and BC Cancer have developed a new blood test that provides unprecedented insight into a patient’s cancer make-up, potentially allowing doctors to better select treatment options that will improve patient outcomes.

The technology was outlined in a study published today in Nature.

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Even low levels of air pollution contribute to increased health risk

Post Date: Jul 20, 2022

Levels of air pollution well below national and international air quality guidelines are associated with an increased risk of death, according to a new Canada-wide study led by researchers at the University of British Columbia.

The study, published today in a Health Effects Institute (HEI) report, provides an in-depth analysis of air pollution levels across Canada and their relationship with mortality. The findings reveal that long-term exposure to even the lowest levels of fine particulate matter — microscopic air pollutants from sources like wildfires and fossil fuel emissions — poses a significant health risk.

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Breaking up is hard to do – but many men find healthy ways to cope

Post Date: Jul 14, 2022

The popular stereotype that men don’t want support during a breakup, separation or divorce is simply not true, according to a new paper by researchers at the UBC school of nursing.

In reality, many men do seek out help by accessing online resources, coaches and self-help books, or they reach out to friends, family and community-based groups, and some engage professional counsellors.

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Space rocket junk could have deadly consequences unless governments act

Post Date: Jul 12, 2022

The re-entry of abandoned stages of rockets left in orbit from space launches have a six to 10 per cent chance of severely injuring or killing a human being in the next decade, according to a new UBC study.

Researchers say governments need to take collective action and mandate that rocket stages are guided safely back to Earth after their use, which could increase the cost of a launch, but potentially save lives.

“Is it permissible to regard the loss of human life as just a cost of doing business, or is it something that we should seek to protect when we can? And that’s the crucial point here: we can protect against this risk,” says lead author Dr. Michael Byers, professor in UBC’s department of political science.

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What robots can learn from therapists

Post Date: Jul 07, 2022

A transformative experience working with very sick children changed Paul Bucci’s mind about how robots used in human therapy should be designed.

Bucci, a doctoral student in UBC’s department of computer science, researches how robots can be used in therapy to help comfort humans, like PARO, a cute seal pup robot that wiggles and blinks and is used in dementia wards for companionship. After spending time at Canuck Place Children’s Hospice, he says designers of therapeutic robots can take lessons from therapists – and leave the actual therapy up to humans.

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Cancer drug shows potential as treatment for muscular dystrophy

Post Date: Jul 14, 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: Jul 13, 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. 

Fungal diseases are major threats to food security

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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