UBC Research News Releases

From destruction to construction: Former nuclear bunker now hosts life-saving research

Post Date: Jan 22, 2021

New agreement between UBC and French subterranean lab boosts scientific collaboration

A Cold War-era nuclear bunker buried 500 metres below the countryside in southern France hums with new life today as an epicentre of vital research in science and technology.

The facility, built in the 1960s to house the nuclear command centre of the French air force, was decommissioned in the late 1990s and converted into a unique research lab that now draws scientists from around the world, including researchers from UBC.

Its main attraction is a magnetically shielded, vibration-proof research chamber fortified by a two-metre thick wall of reinforced concrete and steel—ideal for highly complex, delicate experiments, particularly those involving electromagnetic waves.

Read More

Mental health conditions alarmingly high among children with autism

Post Date: Jan 19, 2021

Nearly 78 per cent of children with autism have at least one mental health condition and nearly half have two mental health conditions or more, according to a new U.S. study from UBC’s department of psychology and the AJ Drexel Autism Institute at Drexel University (Pennsylvania).

The study also found mental health conditions present in 44.8 per cent of pre-school age children with autism. The scope of the issue among that age group had not previously been established using a large, population-based sample.

Read More

New UBC professorship to advance addiction medicine in B.C.

Post Date: Jan 18, 2021

Dr. Nadia Fairbairn has been named the inaugural Philip Owen Professor in Addiction Medicine at UBC.

The newly established professorship—the first of its kind in Canada—will help close the evidence-to-practice gap to strengthen the addiction treatment system in British Columbia.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we can’t lose sight of the other public health emergency affecting families in every corner of British Columbia,” says Dr. Dermot Kelleher, dean of UBC’s faculty of medicine, and vice-president, health, at UBC. “The Philip Owen Professorship in Addiction Medicine at UBC will further our commitment to research and training in addiction medicine to help save lives.”

Read More

COVID-19 vaccines: what to expect and how to combat hesitancy

Post Date: Jan 15, 2021

With the arrival of the first COVID-19 vaccines in Canada, most are eager to roll up their sleeves. But not every Canadian is feeling confident about getting the jab.

According to a recent survey conducted by Angus Reid, less than two thirds of Canadians surveyed said they would get the vaccine right away. Twenty-three per cent indicated they would prefer to wait, while 12 per cent reported they would not get vaccinated and five per cent remained unsure.

Read More

MIND and Mediterranean diets associated with later onset of Parkinson’s disease

Post Date: Jan 13, 2021

A new study from UBC researchers suggests a strong correlation between following the MIND and Mediterranean diets and later onset of Parkinson’s disease (PD). While researchers have long known of neuroprotective effects of the MIND diet for diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia, this study is the first to suggest a link between this diet and brain health for Parkinson’s disease (PD).

Read More

Marginalized groups experience higher cumulative air pollution in urban Canada

Post Date: Dec 21, 2020

Different marginalized groups are exposed to higher cumulative air pollution in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, according to new research from the University of British Columbia.

The study, published last week in Environmental Research Letters, shows that in Vancouver, Indigenous residents are most at risk, while the burden falls on immigrant and low-income residents in Montreal and Toronto, respectively.

The study is an illustrative analysis for 2012 and by considering how exposure to air pollution overlaps with various socio-demographics, the study reveals unique patterns of risk.

Read More

Made-in-Canada method of producing life-saving radioisotopes receives Health Canada approval

Post Date: Dec 18, 2020

A made-in-Canada approach to producing the world’s most commonly used medical isotope has received Health Canada approval, ushering in a new era for patients in Canada and around the world who rely on these isotopes for critical diagnostic procedures.

A Canadian consortium, which includes the University of British Columbia, BC Cancer and TRIUMF, is the first in the world to obtain regulatory approval for this approach, allowing for the production of technetium-99m (Tc-99m) for clinical use in Canada using small particle accelerators known as cyclotrons.

Read More

A bit of stress might not be so good for us after all: UBC study

Post Date: Dec 18, 2020

The notion that a bit of stress makes people perform better has been baked into our everyday lives. But research from UBC neuroscientist Dr. Adele Diamond suggests it might not be so good for us after all.

The study, published recently in Cerebral Cortex, found that even mild stress may harm most people’s executive functions—mental skills such as self-control, focused attention, working memory and problem solving.

Read More

UBC study highlights need for more effective staffing in care homes

Post Date: Dec 17, 2020

Even the best-managed long-term care homes will need to step up to get through the second wave of the pandemic, suggests a new study by researchers at the UBC school of nursing.

The team, led by Professor Farinaz Havaei, evaluated the management practices of a large B.C. long-term care facility that successfully kept COVID-19 at bay at the start of the pandemic. It did not experience a single outbreak until much later in the year—when the B.C. health care system was much better prepared to fight the virus.

Read More

New partnership aims to help B.C. communities adapt to surging seas

Post Date: Dec 21, 2020

Mud Bay in Surrey, B.C. is a recreational paradise. Bike riders zip down along the dike in all seasons, while walkers enjoy exploring the trails close to shore. The salt marsh—where the tide moves in and out twice a day—teems with plant and wildlife, including small fish, tiny crabs and other species that call the bay home. Up to 15 migratory bird species visit in spring and autumn, including snow geese, mallard and black-bellied plover.

Although the scenery is idyllic, it’s also in peril. Mud Bay is increasingly under threat as sea level rise pushes the salt marsh up against the dikes lining the shore—a phenomenon known as coastal squeeze. If the marsh disappears, so too will the marine life that it supports.

Read More

Crowdfunding can affect consumer product choices — especially when the products do good

Post Date: Dec 16, 2020

When it comes to introducing new products to the market, crowdfunding has become a hugely popular way for sellers to attract customers.

A new study from the UBC Sauder School of Business shows that people will pay far more for social good items when they’re crowdfunded.

Hundreds of thousands of start-ups have successfully pitched their offerings to millions of prospective buyers on sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo; in fact, according to data from the Pew Research Center, by 2016, 25 per cent of Americans had contributed to a crowdfunded project.

Read More

Pregnant women with COVID-19 at increased risk of hospitalization, ICU admission and early labour

Post Date: Dec 14, 2020

Early findings suggest transmission to infants is rare

While much remains unknown about the impact of COVID-19 on pregnancy, emerging data from a national surveillance project reveals pregnant women with COVID-19 seem to be at greater risk of being hospitalized, being admitted to intensive care units (ICUs), and going into early labour.

Read More

UBC experts on COVID-19 vaccine

Post Date: Dec 14, 2020

The first shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines arrived in Canada Sunday night.

UBC experts are available to comment:

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

Read More

Study finds gamblers ignore important information when placing bets

Post Date: Dec 03, 2020

People with gambling problems are less likely to consider important information that could prevent them from losing, according to new research published today from the UBC’s Centre for Gambling Research.

Instead, people with gambling disorder pay more attention to irrelevant information from the previous gamble to inform their next choice.

Read More

Peanut allergy treatment significantly lowers risk of life-threatening reactions in preschoolers

Post Date: Dec 07, 2020

After one year of treatment, nearly 80 per cent of study participants could eat 15 peanuts without a reaction

It’s a peanut-filled world—or at least it can feel that way for kids with peanut allergies. But a new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia and BC Children’s Hospital gives hope to parents and kids who face real danger from exposure to peanuts.

Dr. Edmond Chan

Read More

What’s killing killer whales? Orca report covering a decade of necropsies identifies threats

Post Date: Dec 02, 2020

Pathology reports on more than 50 killer whales stranded over nearly a decade in the northeast Pacific and Hawaii show that orcas face a variety of mortal threats—many stemming from human interactions.

A study analyzing the reports was published today in the journal PLOS ONE. The study findings indicate that understanding and being aware of each threat is critical for managing and conserving killer whale populations. It also presents a baseline understanding of orca health.

Read More

Researchers testing children across B.C. for COVID-19 antibodies

Post Date: Dec 02, 2020

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in British Columbia, a critical question remains on the role babies, children, teens and young adults play in transmission of the novel coronavirus.

Dr. Manish Sadarangani, associate professor in the UBC department of pediatrics and director of the Vaccine Evaluation Center at BC Children’s Hospital, is leading a research project that aims to provide further clues to this question.

Read More

Seismic guidelines underestimate impact of ‘The Big One’ on Metro Vancouver buildings

Post Date: Dec 01, 2020

Scientists examining the effects of a megathrust earthquake in the Pacific Northwest say tall buildings across Metro Vancouver will experience greater shaking than currently accounted for by Canada’s national seismic hazard model.

The region lies above the Georgia sedimentary basin, which is made up of layers of glacial and river sediments sitting on top of sedimentary rock. In the event of an earthquake, it would jiggle and amplify the seismic waves, causing more intense and longer-lasting tremors. However, the amplification caused by the sedimentary basin is not explicitly accounted for in the 2015 seismic hazard model, which informs Canada’s national building code.

Read More

UBC-Providence scientists join forces with WestJet and YVR for COVID-19 Testing Study

Post Date: Dec 01, 2020

This story is part of the “Making a difference” series, in which we shine a spotlight on the many ways—both big and small—that UBC community members are helping with the response to COVID-19. Share your story with us at media.relations@ubc.ca.

Over the last two decades, clinician-scientist Dr. Don Sin has spent his days doing research on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease while also caring with patients with the debilitating disease.

Then COVID-19 hit.

Read More

It’s not too late to save 102 species at risk of extinction

Post Date: Nov 27, 2020

The Fraser River estuary in British Columbia is home to 102 species at risk of extinction. A new study says it’s not too late to save these species if action is taken now.

“There is currently no overarching plan to save them. If we don’t act quickly, many species, including species of salmon and southern resident killer whales, are likely to be functionally extinct in the next 25 years,” says senior author Tara Martin, a professor of conservation science at UBC, in a paper published today in Conservation Science and Practice.

Read More

Better housing policies needed in a post-COVID world

Post Date: Nov 25, 2020

UBC report highlights gains but calls for longer-term solutions to improve housing supply

COVID-19 proved that governments can respond quickly to improve housing during a health crisis. The next step should be to build on these gains to make long-lasting improvements in the housing supply.

Read More

COVID-19 isolation measures can elevate mental health risks

Post Date: Nov 18, 2020

Quarantine and isolation measures are a critical tool in curbing the spread of COVID-19. But new analysis of data from a survey of the mental health impacts of the pandemic suggests we need to pay more attention to the unintended mental health consequences of these measures.

Researchers at UBC, in collaboration with the Canadian Mental Health Association, surveyed 3,000 adults across Canada and found that mental health generally worsened with the pandemic. However, people who spent time in voluntary self-isolation or mandated quarantine were among those who felt the impacts more keenly.

Read More

UBC releases 2019 animal research statistics

Post Date: Nov 17, 2020

UBC’s summary of animals involved in research at the university in 2019 is now available.

This is the tenth consecutive year the university has published the data. UBC is one of only three 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.

Read More

Health of transgender youth improving but stigma, violence still a concern

Post Date: Nov 16, 2020

Canada’s transgender youth are more supported in their identities nowadays, with more trans teens—50 per cent compared to 45 per cent five years ago—living in their felt gender full-time, finds a new survey led by UBC researchers.

The survey also revealed more transgender youth are asking their friends and families to call them by their correct names and pronouns since the previous survey. Specifically, 92 per cent have asked their fellow transgender friends to do so, and 86 per cent have asked their parents.

Read More

Online supports for COVID-19 stress are there—but Canadians aren’t accessing them

Post Date: Nov 10, 2020

Many Canadians are not making use of virtual resources that could help them cope with the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest analysis of a national survey led by researchers at UBC, in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).

Sixty-five per cent of the 3,000 survey participants reported adverse mental health impacts related to COVID-19 in May, yet only two per cent reported accessing online mental health resources such as apps, websites, digital tools or other supports not involving direct contact with a mental health care provider.

Read More

Half a billion bets teach UBC algorithm how to identify problem gamblers

Post Date: Nov 09, 2020

UBC researchers have successfully used machine learning to identify online gamblers whose betting behaviour could indicate a gambling problem.

By analyzing data from actual bets placed on the British Columbia Lottery Corporation’s (BCLC) PlayNow.com platform, an algorithm developed by the Centre for Gambling Research at UBC predicted with approximately 75-per-cent performance which players had, at some point, tried to curb their gambling by enrolling in BCLC’s Voluntary Self-Exclusion program (VSE).

Read More

UBC scientists receive $3M for COVID-19 research projects

Post Date: Nov 06, 2020

New funding to cover urgent need for research equipment

Scientists at the University of British Columbia are receiving $3 million to support COVID-19 research projects through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

The funding—announced today by Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry—is part of $28 million that will support 79 projects at 52 universities and research hospitals, colleges, polytechnics and Cégeps across Canada. The funding covers the urgent need for equipment for ongoing research related to COVID-19.

Read More

The unique mental health and brain impacts of COVID-19

Post Date: Nov 06, 2020

As COVID-19 infections spike around the globe, with no end in sight for months, questions are beginning to arise around the long-term effects of the pandemic on our mental health and brain health.

In a new paper published this week in Trends in Neuroscience, Judy Illes, neuroethicist and professor of neurology, and her team at UBC, examine the unique neurological impacts and neuroethical challenges posed by COVID-19, especially compared to other 21st century epidemics such as SARS, H1N1 and Zika virus.

Judy Illes

What are the main observations of the COVID-19 pandemic outlined in your paper?

Read More

Hospital ER visits by children down 70% during pandemic peak in B.C.

Post Date: Nov 05, 2020

A new study from University of British Columbia researchers found a significant decline in the number of families with children accessing emergency departments across B.C. during the peak of the pandemic.

The findings, recently published in Emergency Medicine Journal, suggest that many families may have avoided visiting emergency departments for minor illnesses during the peak of the pandemic from March 17 to April 30, during which public health emergency and stay-at-home orders were declared.

Dr. Ran Goldman

Read More

More Republicans follow COVID guidelines when they’re told it will protect themselves: study

Post Date: Nov 02, 2020

New research from the UBC Sauder School of Business suggests Democrats feel responsible for others, while Republicans feel responsible for themselves

For decades, scientists have predicted that a deadly pandemic would sweep the globe — but what they didn’t expect was that basic public health measures such as mask wearing and social distancing would become political flashpoints, especially in the United States.

But according to new research from the UBC Sauder School of Business, a different approach to public health messaging could help ease those tensions – and potentially save lives.

Read More

Teens who participate in extracurriculars, get less screen time, have better mental health

Post Date: Nov 02, 2020

A new study from UBC researchers finds that teens, especially girls, have better mental health when they spend more time taking part in extracurricular activities, like sports and art, and less time in front of screens.

Read More

Scientists detect 39 new gravitational wave events

Post Date: Oct 29, 2020

Results provide new clues about how stars live and die

The LIGO-Virgo Collaboration, including researchers at the University of British Columbia, has confirmed 39 new gravitational wave event detections, more than quadrupling the total known gravitational wave events from 11 to 50.

The results, published in four papers on arXiv, and soon to appear in Physical Review X and other journals, were collected from the first half of the most recent LIGO-Virgo observing run, O3. The two LIGO detectors in the U.S. and the Virgo detector in Italy gathered the data from April to October 2019.

Read More

Social isolation puts women at higher risk of hypertension

Post Date: Oct 28, 2020

It’s no secret that loneliness and social isolation have a negative impact on the mental and physical health of older adults. Now, researchers at the University of British Columbia are discovering that social isolation affects the health of men and women in different ways—including placing women at higher risk of high blood pressure.

In a study recently published in the Journal of Hypertension, researchers discovered that middle aged and older women who lacked social ties were much more likely than men to suffer from hypertension—a known risk factor for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death among women—and stroke.

Read More

Global COVID-19 treatment trial shows current antivirals are of little benefit to hospitalized patients

Post Date: Oct 16, 2020

In just six months, the world’s largest randomized control trial on COVID-19 therapeutics has generated conclusive evidence on the effectiveness of repurposed drugs for the treatment of COVID-19.

Interim results from the Solidarity Therapeutics Trial, coordinated by the World Health Organization, indicate that remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon regimens appeared to have little or no effect on 28-day mortality or the in-hospital course of COVID-19 among hospitalized patients. In total, 11,266 patients across 405 hospitals were studied. The results of the trial are under review for publication in a medical journal and have been uploaded as a preprint.

Read More

On-scene care saves more lives than transporting cardiac arrest patients to hospital 

Post Date: Oct 14, 2020

If someone experiences cardiac arrest—a condition in which the heart suddenly stops beating—what’s the best way to keep that person alive?

A new study led by UBC researchers, and recently published in JAMA, compared the survival rates of two different strategies used by paramedics when treating cardiac arrests: 1) performing resuscitation at the scene, or 2) transporting the patient to hospital with resuscitation en route.

Dr. Brian Grunau, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor in UBC’s department of emergency medicine, explains why the chances of survival among patients transported to hospital are so slim.

Read More

Immediate CPR saves more lives than transporting cardiac arrest patients to hospital 

Post Date: Oct 14, 2020

If someone experiences cardiac arrest—a condition in which the heart suddenly stops beating—what’s the best way to keep that person alive?

A new study led by UBC researchers, and recently published in JAMA, compared the survival rates of two different strategies used by paramedics when treating cardiac arrests: 1) performing resuscitation at the scene, or 2) transporting the patient to hospital with resuscitation en route.

Dr. Brian Grunau, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor in UBC’s department of emergency medicine, explains why the chances of survival among patients transported to hospital are so slim.

Read More

Will we ever shake hands again?

Post Date: Oct 09, 2020

UBC researcher examines the psychological toll of the pandemic

From facing fears of contracting the virus, coping with extended separation from loved ones, and combatting the everyday emotional and financial repercussions of COVID-19, the pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on our mental health and wellbeing.

Dr. Lakshmi Yatham

Dr. Lakshmi Yatham, professor and head of the UBC department of psychiatry, explores the psychological toll of COVID-19 and offers his advice on combating stress and anxiety.

Read More

Nearly half of parents willing to accept less rigorous testing of COVID-19 vaccine

Post Date: Oct 06, 2020

A new study from researchers at the University of British Columbia reveals many parents are willing to accept less rigorous testing and expedited approval of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The international study, recently published in Clinical Therapeutics, surveyed more than 2,500 families from Canada, Israel, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the United States who visited 17 different emergency departments between the end of March to the end of June.

When asked if they were willing to accept less rigorous testing and faster approval of a COVID-19 vaccine, nearly half (43 per cent) of parents surveyed globally said they were willing.

Read More

Spinal cord injury research at UBC receives $48M grant

Post Date: Oct 01, 2020

An international research team, co-led by researchers at the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, has received a $48 million grant (US$36.5M) for research that aims to improve long-term outcomes for patients with spinal cord injury (SCI).

The five-year project—made possible through a grant from the United States Defence Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA)—will revolutionize SCI treatments using innovative, implantable technologies.

Read More

Webinar: Growing up in a pandemic

Post Date: Sep 30, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the daily lives of families everywhere.

From changes in outdoor play and physical activity to screen time and use of technology, the way children and teens spend their time looks much different than it did a year ago.

These new experiences and environments—combined with the stress of an uncertain future—affect brain health and learning, and will continue to impact the generations of young people growing up during the pandemic.

Join UBC experts from the faculty of medicine to learn more about these unique changes, how they’re impacting the brain, and how to help children and teens thrive during the pandemic.

After a short presentation by each speaker, viewers will have the opportunity to ask questions using Slido.

Read More

New survey shows links between COVID-19 pandemic and B.C. nurses’ mental health

Post Date: Sep 29, 2020

B.C. nurses working in the front lines at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic experienced high levels of emotional exhaustion, depression and anxiety, finds a new survey by UBC nursing researchers and the BC Nurses’ Union (BCNU).

Three out of five nurses surveyed, or 60 per cent, reported emotional exhaustion, compared with 56 per cent from a similar survey conducted in late 2019. Forty-one per cent suffered from depression – up from 31 per cent earlier. And 38 per cent of nurses said they experienced anxiety, compared to 28 per cent last year.

Read More

Earlier testing and tracing could have prevented spread of COVID-19 in U.S. and Europe

Post Date: Sep 25, 2020

Earlier testing and contact tracing might have prevented SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, from becoming established in the United States and Europe, suggests a new study recently published in Science.

For the study, an international research team—including UBC scientist Jeffrey Joy—reconstructed the spread of SARS-CoV-2 across the world using genomic data from coronavirus samples, travel records, and computer-simulated models of how the virus spread and mutated over time.

Read More

Camera traps show impact of recreational activity on wildlife

Post Date: Sep 25, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has fired up interest in outdoor activities in our parks and forests. Now a new UBC study highlights the need to be mindful of how these activities may affect wildlife living in protected areas.

Researchers placed motion-activated cameras on the trails in and around the South Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park in southwestern B.C., a region popular for its wildlife and recreational activities such as hiking, horseback riding, ATV riding and mountain biking. Overall, they found that environmental factors—like the elevation or the condition of the forest around a camera location—were generally more important than human activity in determining how often wildlife used the trails.

Read More

Powerful, double-decker bus-sized microscopes help scientists uncover possible COVID-19 treatment

Post Date: Sep 17, 2020

Researchers at UBC’s faculty of medicine are working with microscopes—some up to 13 feet tall—to help prevent and treat COVID-19.

The research team, led by Sriram Subramaniam, a professor in UBC’s department of biochemistry and molecular biology, is using a powerful imaging technique known as cryo-electron microscopy to take pictures at near-atomic resolution to see how various antibody treatments bind to the virus.

Read More

Easing restrictions on abortion pill greatly improved access to care in Canada

Post Date: Sep 15, 2020

UBC-led study offers lessons for other nations on deregulating mifepristone

Removing restrictions on how mifepristone—the medical abortion drug—can be prescribed and dispensed in Canada greatly improved access to abortion, especially in rural communities across the country.

That’s one of the key findings of new University of British Columbia-led research published today in the Annals of Family Medicine.

Read More

New Indigenous Strategic Plan establishes UBC’s role in upholding the rights of Indigenous Peoples

Post Date: Sep 15, 2020

Today marks a significant milestone in UBC’s commitment to truth and reconciliation: the university will celebrate the launch of its new Indigenous Strategic Plan (ISP). This makes UBC the first university in North America to commit to taking a human rights-based approach to its Indigenous strategic framework. The plan represents a university-wide response to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ Calls for Justice. It also represents the UBC Vancouver campus’ response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

Read More

Study says basic mindfulness can be key to solving workplace conflict

Post Date: Sep 10, 2020

Workplaces are fraught with conflict — but UBC Sauder researchers say just five minutes of mindfulness per day can be a game changer.

Everyone wants to work in a place where everybody gets along, but in reality, workplaces are fraught with conflict — and it’s no wonder, given that people with different personalities and approaches are forced to cooperate, often under pressure.

In response, most people try to avoid conflict, which can result in issues going unresolved and festering over time. Studies have shown that workplace conflict can make employees less productive and less satisfied with their jobs, and lead to lower performance and higher turnover.

Read More

Long live the queen: UBC scientists find clues to queen bee failure

Post Date: Sep 10, 2020

Scientists at UBC are unravelling the mysteries behind a persistent problem in commercial beekeeping that is one of the leading causes of colony mortality—queen bee failure.

This occurs when the queen fails to produce enough fertilized eggs to maintain the hive, and is regularly cited by the Canadian Association of Professional Apiarists as one of the top causes of colony mortality.

Read More

UBC researchers help detect the most massive black hole collision ever observed

Post Date: Sep 03, 2020

An international team of researchers, including scientists with the University of British Columbia’s gravitational wave astrophysics group, has detected a signal from what may be the most massive black hole merger yet observed. The discovery, outlined in papers published today in Physical Review Letters and The Astrophysical Journal, raises a slew of new questions about the nature of black hole formation, and upends previously held theories about how big holes can get.

Read More

Q&A: Rebuilding depleted Canadian fish stocks is good business

Post Date: Aug 24, 2020

Fish populations in Canada need to be urgently rebuilt, but short-term socio-economic concerns – such as the impacts of fisheries closures on local fishers – often slow down or even prevent the process of rebuilding stocks.

Read More

One in three people avoiding healthcare workers during pandemic

Post Date: Aug 24, 2020

Many people who show support for healthcare workers with nightly noise-making also avoid healthcare workers throughout the day.

New UBC research reveals fears that have arisen among the general public about coming into contact with healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. One in four people surveyed went so far as to agree that the freedoms of healthcare workers should be restricted.

The study is believed to be the first on stigmatization of healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read More

This ‘Cold Tube’ can beat the summer heat without relying on air conditioning

Post Date: Aug 21, 2020

Chilled panels use less energy than conventional A/C and work in open spaces

Many people beat the summer heat by cranking the air conditioning. However, air conditioners guzzle power and spew out millions of tons of carbon dioxide daily. They’re also not always good for your health—constant exposure to central A/C can increase risks of recirculating germs and causing breathing problems.

There’s a better alternative, say a team of researchers from the University of British Columbia, Princeton University, the University of California, Berkeley and the Singapore-ETH Centre.

They call it the Cold Tube, and they have shown it works.

Read More

More parents plan to get flu shot for kids this fall

Post Date: Aug 21, 2020

COVID-19 concerns may be motivating factor

New research from University of British Columbia researchers suggests the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may drive more parents to immunize their children against the upcoming seasonal influenza strain.

The study, recently published in the Journal of Pediatrics, surveyed nearly 3,000 families from Canada, Israel, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the United States who visited 17 different emergency departments between mid-March to the end of June. Families were asked how COVID-19 has influenced their willingness to vaccinate their children in preparation for the flu season.

Read More

Staying fire-smart in the era of COVID-19

Post Date: Aug 11, 2020

Nearly 100 wildfires are burning across B.C. following the recent wave of hot and dry weather.  With the COVID-19 pandemic still upon us and primarily affecting people’s respiratory tracts, minimizing accidental wildfires is critical. We asked UBC faculty of forestry wildfire expert Lori Daniels what can be done.

Why is it even more important this year to be fire-smart?

Read More

What will our cities look like after COVID-19?

Post Date: Aug 06, 2020

The past few months have been a highly unusual time as people sheltered in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Schools, streets and stadiums fell silent, tourist hot spots became ghost towns, and sidewalk traffic largely consisted of grocery and meal deliveries.

Read More

Canadians wary of new technologies that allow employers to spy on staff

Post Date: Aug 05, 2020

Emerging surveillance technologies designed to help employers monitor the productivity of staff are largely viewed by the public as unreasonable and intrusive, according to new UBC research.

Resistance was especially high for those technologies that are difficult to connect directly to performance measurement. Devices and software that conduct physical surveillance by recording images, tracking movements and analyzing voices scored the worst, while those focused on digital surveillance such as computer and internet activity scored slightly better, even if they were seen negatively.

The study focused explicitly on public sector use of these tools.

Read More

Early Mars was covered in ice sheets, not flowing rivers

Post Date: Aug 21, 2020

A large number of the valley networks scarring Mars’s surface were carved by water melting beneath glacial ice, not by free-flowing rivers as previously thought, according to new UBC research published today in Nature Geoscience. The findings effectively throw cold water on the dominant “warm and wet ancient Mars” hypothesis, which postulates that rivers, rainfall and oceans once existed on the red planet.

Read More

Obesity linked to social ties in older women, more so than in men

Post Date: Aug 21, 2020

Women who lack social ties have a greater likelihood of being obese, according to new UBC research published today in PLOS One. Men, on the other hand, were less likely to be obese if they lived alone and had a smaller social network.

Using data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, researchers analyzed the social ties of 28,238 adults aged 45 to 85 and how these link to waist circumference, body mass index and general obesity.

Read More

Want to fuel your personal performance? You’re probably choosing the wrong foods

Post Date: Jul 30, 2020

A new study from the UBC Sauder School of Business shows people incorrectly believe that sugary, fatty foods will supercharge their activities.

Whether they’re prepping for a big presentation, cramming for a final exam or striving to hit new workout goals, people constantly push themselves to perform their best — and many use food to help fuel those endeavours.

But are they eating the right foods? According to a new study from the UBC Sauder School of Business, consumers are choosing high-calorie foods, even those that are low-nutrition, believing they’ll help them hit their performance targets — but in reality, their choices could be doing just the opposite.

Read More

Lead released in Notre-Dame Cathedral fire detected in Parisian honey

Post Date: Aug 21, 2020

Elevated levels of lead have been found in samples of honey from hives downwind of the Notre-Dame Cathedral fire, collected three months after the April 2019 blaze.

In research outlined in Environmental Science & Technology Letters, scientists from UBC’s Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research (PCIGR) analyzed concentrations of metals, including lead, in 36 honey samples collected from Parisian hives in July 2019.

Read More

Supportive communities and progressive politics can reduce suicide risk among LGBTQ girls

Post Date: Jul 28, 2020

Many LGBTQ youth continue to experience stigma and discrimination despite Canada’s progress in protecting human rights. New research from UBC’s school of nursing shows that supportive communities—and a progressive political climate—can help mitigate the effects of stigma on mental health.

Read More

Canadians’ physical activity dwindles despite resumption of harder workouts

Post Date: Jul 27, 2020

Canadians’ physical activity declined as expected following declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, but moderate-to-vigorous physical activity rebounded over the first six weeks of the pandemic. However, lighter and more incidental physical activity did not.

Read More

COVID-19 pandemic causes ‘quiet period’ for seismic noise

Post Date: Aug 21, 2020

Seismometers are used to detect vibrations travelling through the ground after an earthquake, but they also pick up the background “buzz” of human activity at the surface.

According to new research published today in Science, lockdown measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 led to a 50 per cent reduction in seismic noise observed around the world in early to mid 2020.

We spoke to study co-author Mika McKinnon, a geophysicist and adjunct professor in the department of earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences at UBC about the findings.

Mika McKinnon

Read More

One billion tweet dataset investigates impact of COVID-19 on human communication

Post Date: Aug 21, 2020

Researchers from a number of disciplines can now use a billion-scale dataset of tweets from around the world to answer their research questions about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Assistant professor Muhammad Abdul-Mageed and his team in the UBC iSchool (school of information) and department of linguistics developed Mega-COV, a longitudinal, publicly available dataset of 1.5 billion tweets in 104 languages.

Abdul-Mageed, a UBC language sciences research lead, discusses initial analysis of the data, including how Twitter users are interacting directly with one another more than ever, why news stories from Canadian outlets were shared less in 2020 than in previous years, and why this massive dataset is important for future work.

Read More

New UBC study reveals older adults coped with pandemic best

Post Date: Jul 22, 2020

Adults aged 60 and up have fared better emotionally compared to younger adults (18–39) and middle-aged adults (40–59) amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new UBC research published recently in the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences.

Based on daily diary data collected between mid-March and mid-April of this year, the researchers found that older adults experienced greater emotional well-being and felt less stressed and threatened by the pandemic.

Read More

UBC scientists sequencing the genomes of Canadians with COVID-19

Post Date: Aug 21, 2020

Research could explain why COVID-19 is mild for some, fatal for others

For years, genome sequencing has helped scientists better understand the factors that predispose humans to disease. Now, the tool is being used in the fight against COVID-19.

Through the Canadian COVID Genomics Network (CanCOGeN)—a new initiative launched by Genome Canada and backed by $40 million in federal funding—scientists across Canada are collaborating on genomics-based research to find solutions to COVID-19.

Terry Snutch

Read More

Popular seafood species in sharp decline around the world

Post Date: Jul 21, 2020

Fish market favourites such as orange roughy, common octopus and pink conch are among the species of fish and invertebrates in rapid decline around the world, according to new research.

In the first study of its kind, researchers at UBC, the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and the University of Western Australia assessed the biomass—the weight of a given population in the water—of more than 1,300 fish and invertebrate populations. They discovered global declines, some severe, of many popularly consumed species.

Read More

Portable DNA device can detect tree pests in under two hours

Post Date: Jul 20, 2020

New method tests for harmful species like the Asian gypsy moth and sudden oak death pathogen

Asian gypsy moths feed on a wide range of important plants and trees. White pine blister rust can kill young trees in only a couple of years. But it’s not always easy to detect the presence of these destructive species just by looking at spots and bumps on a tree, or on the exterior of a cargo ship.

Now a new rapid DNA detection method developed at the University of British Columbia can identify these pests and pathogens in less than two hours, without using complicated processes or chemicals – a substantial time savings compared to the several days it currently takes to send samples to a lab for testing.

Read More

Sexual health and domestic violence during COVID-19

Post Date: Aug 21, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has produced many visible casualties—seniors in care homes, exhausted health-care workers, boarded up storefronts. But there are also less-visible consequences, which often manifest behind closed doors, including gender-based or domestic violence.

Dr. Lori Brotto, a professor in the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at UBC’s faculty of medicine, is leading a national survey to measure changes in sexual health and the prevalence of gender-based violence during COVID-19.

How is the pandemic affecting sexual behaviour, particularly among couples?

Read More

Leaning on art to catch rays of light

Post Date: Aug 21, 2020

UBC team launches art initiative to promote mental health of men in prison

Supporting people in prison to create something beautiful during a dark and difficult time is how UBC school of nursing professor Helen Brown and her team describe their new program to deliver “art and reciprocity kits” to people disproportionately impacted by the Canadian criminal justice system.

Read More