UBC Research News Releases

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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New insights into the origins of our universe

Post Date: Aug 21, 2020

New data released today by the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) in Chile indicate our universe is around 13.8 billion years old, matching the measurements made by the Planck satellite in 2015, and calling into question the 2019 findings of another research group that determined the age of the universe to be much younger than what the Planck satellite had predicted. That study had measured the movement of galaxies to come up with their number, while the ACT measured polarized light to reach its conclusions.

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Mom and baby share “good bacteria” through breast milk

Post Date: Aug 21, 2020

The process of pumping, storing and bottle-feeding breast milk may reduce the transfer of bacteria from mom to baby

A new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia and the University of Manitoba has found that bacteria are shared and possibly transferred from a mother’s milk to her infant’s gut, and that breastfeeding directly at the breast best supports this process.

The research, published today in Cell Host & Microbe, found that certain bacteria, including Streptococcus and Veillonella, co-occur in mothers’ milk and their infants’ stool, and this co-occurrence is higher when infants nurse directly at the breast.

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Extreme rainfall events cause top-heavy aquatic food webs

Post Date: Jul 09, 2020

An expansive, multi-site ecology study led by UBC has uncovered new insights into the effects of climate change on the delicate food webs of the neotropics.

In research recently outlined in Nature, scientists across seven different sites throughout Central and South America replicated the extreme rainfall events predicted by climate change science. Using the insect larvae that live in the water trapped by bromeliad plants as a model ecosystem, they found that food webs became top-heavy with predators when there were large day-to-day variations in rainfall.

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UBC research shows hearing persists at end of life

Post Date: Jul 08, 2020

Hearing is widely thought to be the last sense to go in the dying process. Now UBC researchers have evidence that some people may still be able to hear while in an unresponsive state at the end of their life.

This research, published recently in Scientific Reports, is the first to investigate hearing in humans when they are close to death.

Using electroencephalography (EEG), which measures electrical activity in the brain, the researchers analyzed data collected from healthy control participants, from hospice patients when they were conscious, and from the same hospice patients when they became unresponsive. The patients were receiving palliative care at St. John Hospice in Vancouver.

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Gender employment gap among parents increases over first three months of pandemic

Post Date: Jul 07, 2020

As the Canadian economy reopens, mothers are much less likely to be back at work than fathers—a gender gap that has been widening since the COVID-19 pandemic began, new UBC research has found.

The change has been particularly striking among less educated parents. For parents with high school education or less, whose children are elementary-school age, women’s employment trailed men by 1.6 percentage points in February. By May, that gap had multiplied more than 10 times to 16.8 percentage points.

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New UBC course explores how COVID-19 is impacting society

Post Date: Jun 29, 2020

Even if you’re tired of COVID-19and who isn’t?hundreds of UBC students are preparing to embark on a new credit course examining the pandemic on a worldwide scale.

More than 270 UBC students have registered for COVID-19 and Society—the first course of its kind in Canada. As part of the final project, students will work with a community partner to develop materials and recommendations to inform the public about COVID-19. We spoke with the course’s instructor and developer Katherine Lyon to learn more about putting a course together within a few months, as well as what she hopes to achieve.

What are the objectives of the course?

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Social circles of visible-minority youth become less diverse as they get older

Post Date: Jun 26, 2020

Visible-minority children born in Canada to immigrant parents, and those who immigrate here at a young age, have less diverse friendship groups than their non-visible minority peers, new UBC research shows.

And as those youth get older, the proportion of their friends who come from outside their own ethnic group gets even smaller.

Sean Lauer of UBC’s department of sociology and Miu Chung Yan of the UBC School of Social Work published their findings last month in Ethnic and Racial Studies. We spoke with Lauer about the study.

What motivated you to conduct this study?

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UBC receives $14 million in federal funding for COVID-19 research

Post Date: Jun 25, 2020

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have received a combined total of $14.3 million in grants in the latest round of funding from the federal government in support of research aimed at addressing the health challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In total, 19 teams at UBC working in drug research, global health, obstetrics, medical imaging, public health, and Indigenous health are receiving support as part of a $109-million investment in research projects by the federal government, focused on accelerating the development, testing, and implementation of measures to mitigate the rapid spread of COVID-19 and its negative consequences on people, communities, and health systems.

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COVID-19 survey highlights growing suicide and mental health risks across various groups

Post Date: Jun 25, 2020

COVID-19 has significantly increased the suicide risk for Canadians with preexisting mental health challenges and experiences of marginalization, reveals a new survey by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) in partnership with researchers at the University of British Columbia.

While six per cent of those surveyed said they experienced suicidal thoughts and feelings during the outbreak, this proportion rises to 18 per cent of those with preexisting mental health challenges, 16 per cent of Indigenous people and 15 per cent of those with a disability.

Other groups that experienced suicidal thoughts more frequently were people who identify as LGBTQ+ (14 per cent) and parents living with children under 18 (nine per cent).

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Wildfire smoke has immediate harmful health effects: UBC study

Post Date: Jun 24, 2020

Exposure to wildfire smoke affects the body’s respiratory and cardiovascular systems almost immediately, according to new research from the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health.

In a study published today in Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers found that exposure to elevated levels of fine particulate matter during wildfire seasons in British Columbia was associated with increased odds of ambulance dispatches related to respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, with increased ambulance dispatches occurring within only one hour after exposure. Among people with diabetes, the researchers found that the odds of health complications increased within 48 hours following exposure to wildfire smoke.

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UBC study identifies social and behavioural factors most closely associated with dying

Post Date: Jun 22, 2020

Smoking, divorce and alcohol abuse have the closest connection to death out of 57 social and behavioural factors analyzed in research published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study analyzed survey data collected from 13,611 adults in the U.S. between 1992 and 2008, and identified which factors applied to those who died between 2008 and 2014.

Eli Puterman

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Webinar: How community connection can reduce stress during COVID-19

Post Date: Jun 19, 2020

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, so do stress levels for many Canadians. From fears of becoming infected to concerns about job loss, financial security, and social isolation, the global pandemic has brought on a host of new daily challenges.

But it has also brought communities together in many ways, with stories of students volunteering to deliver groceries to seniors and neighbours joining together daily to cheer for frontline workers.

In this webinar, UBC experts in the School of Nursing and Faculty of Arts discuss how community connection can bring us hope, including what nurses can teach us from supporting patients, and the science behind coping with stress.

Panelists:

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Heat may kill more people than previously reported

Post Date: Jun 19, 2020

Even moderately hot weather may actually be killing thousands, not hundreds as previously reported. This summer, COVID-19 may make it harder to stay cool.

As temperatures rise this summer, a new study by University of British Columbia School of Population and Public Health (UBC SPPH) and Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers finds that thousands of U.S. deaths may be attributable to heat each year, far more than the 600 deaths previously estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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UBC signs Canada-wide charter to address climate change through responsible investment

Post Date: Jun 18, 2020

UBC has joined leading Canadian universities to launch Investing to Address Climate Change: A Charter for Canadian Universities, signaling a national commitment to tackle climate change through responsible investment practices.

“As public institutions and institutional investors, universities in Canada have a responsibility to take action to combat climate change,” said Santa Ono, president and vice-chancellor of UBC. “Together with our post-secondary partners across the country, UBC is proud to manage our long-term investments in ways that support a successful transition to a low-carbon economy.”

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‘Wobble room’ provides time-out for COVID-19 frontliners

Post Date: Jun 17, 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.

Working in a busy, major hospital can be incredibly demanding and stressful. But the COVID-19 pandemic brought on a different kind of stress for staff at the Vancouver General Hospital emergency department—one that they had never encountered before.

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UBC’s Class of 2020 to celebrate in virtual graduation June 17 

Post Date: Jun 15, 2020

It was February 2020 and things were going according to plan for UBC’s graduation ceremony planning teams in Vancouver and the Okanagan.

And then COVID-19 hit. Suddenly everything changed and old plans no longer applied. The possible implications on university operations­­—including the spring graduation ceremonies for the class of 2020­—began to come into focus.

Within weeks, health officials would limit gatherings to 250 or less, then 50 or less, on-campus research would be curtailed, classes would be shifted online and graduation postponed as the university reacted to COVID-19.

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Men can click their way to better health

Post Date: Jun 12, 2020

Men who regularly used a free web resource made significantly more health changes than men who did not, finds a new study from Intensions Consulting and the University of British Columbia.

The researchers compared differences in behaviour among 863 men who accessed DontChangeMuch.ca and a benchmark sample of 2,000 Canadian men who had not. They found 75 per cent of regular users of the site reported improving their eating habits, and 70 per cent said they were engaging in more sports or exercise.

In addition, 58 per cent said they recently made an effort to sit less and walk more, and almost half (46 per cent) lost weight. Forty-five per cent said they had cut back on alcohol consumption.

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Pregnancy and birth in the time of a pandemic

Post Date: Jun 12, 2020

When it comes to COVID-19 and pregnancy, there’s a lot we don’t know.

UBC’s Dr. Deborah Money, professor in the faculty of medicine’s department of obstetrics and gynaecology, is trying to fill that knowledge gap. She is leading a national surveillance study examining maternal and infant outcomes among pregnant women with COVID-19.

Money, who has been on the front lines supporting pregnant women through COVID-19 and past outbreaks, including H1N1 and SARS, discusses the national study and what we know about the risks of COVID-19 to pregnant women and their babies.

Dr. Deborah Money

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Recovery of sea otter populations yields more benefits than costs

Post Date: Jun 11, 2020

New model puts dollar value on ecological transformations driven by otters

After sea otters were hunted to near extinction by the maritime fur trade, they were reintroduced to the Pacific coast in the 1970s. Their rapid recovery and voracious appetite for tasty shellfish such as urchins, clams and crabs has brought them into conflict with coastal communities and fishers, who rely on the same valuable fisheries for food and income.

But the long-term benefits of thriving otter populations – such as healthier kelp forests, higher fish catches, carbon storage and tourism – could be worth as much as $53 million per year, according to new UBC research. If well-managed, these economic benefits could offset commercial losses to shellfish fisheries of $7 million per year.

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E-health resource improves men’s health behaviours with or without fitness facilities

Post Date: Jun 11, 2020

Men who regularly used a free web resource made significantly more health changes than men who did not, finds a new study from Intensions Consulting and the University of British Columbia.

The researchers compared differences in behaviour among 863 men who accessed DontChangeMuch.ca and a benchmark sample of 2,000 Canadian men who had not. They found 75 per cent of regular users of the site reported improving their eating habits, and 70 per cent said they were engaging in more sports or exercise.

In addition, 58 per cent said they recently made an effort to sit less and walk more, and almost half (46 per cent) lost weight. Forty-five per cent said they had cut back on alcohol consumption.

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Making a difference: ‘Wobble room’ provides time-out for COVID-19 frontliners

Post Date: Jun 09, 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.

Working in a busy, major hospital can be incredibly demanding and stressful. But the COVID-19 pandemic brought on a different kind of stress for staff at the Vancouver General Hospital emergency department—one that they had never encountered before.

Read More

Climate change an imminent threat to B.C.’s ‘living dinosaurs’

Post Date: Jun 01, 2020

First long-term lab study of glass sponges reveals dire impacts of ocean warming and acidification

Warming ocean temperatures and acidification drastically reduce the skeletal strength and filter-feeding capacity of glass sponges, according to new UBC research.

The findings, published in Scientific Reports, indicate that ongoing climate change could have serious, irreversible impacts on the sprawling glass sponge reefs of the Pacific Northwest and associated marine life – the only known reefs of their kind in the world.

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Canadian COVID-19 trial gets additional $3.5 million in federal funding

Post Date: May 28, 2020

The Canadian arm of a major international clinical trial—led by a University of British Columbia researcher—that aims to find the best treatment for COVID-19 has received an additional $3.5 million in funding from the federal government through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

The Canadian Treatments for COVID-19 (CATCO) trial is the Canadian arm of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global SOLIDARITY clinical trial, which involves nearly 100 other countries.

Canada’s participation in the trial will give Canadians hospitalized with COVID-19 access to the drugs under study. It will also contribute to the evidence being gathered by the WHO from all the country studies on which drugs are safe to give patients and most effective in treating COVID-19.

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UBC researchers join with partners to develop portable ultrasound scanner network for COVID-19

Post Date: Jun 17, 2020

Scanner expected to speed up diagnoses in rural and remote areas

UBC researchers are collaborating with local partners to establish a network of portable, handheld ultrasound scanners th­at can soon accelerate COVID-19 diagnosis in B.C. and potentially beyond.

The scanners pair a locally developed ultrasound device with a secure online library of lung ultrasound images and a specially developed artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm, allowing health care practitioners to diagnose COVID-19 at the point of care—almost instantly.

Family doctors and acute care units in rural B.C. will be the first users, with 50 units ready for deployment. More than 30 additional scanners will be distributed to urban acute care sites managed by Vancouver Coastal Health.

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Webinar: Climate action in the wake of COVID-19

Post Date: May 26, 2020

Climate action was at the forefront of public consciousness recently—until COVID-19 pushed the global issue to the background.

But does it need to be an either-or situation? Some say the COVID-19 response demonstrates that extreme measures are possible in the face of significant threats.

Join UBC experts from the Faculty of Science and Faculty of Forestry as they answer questions about lessons that we can learn from the COVID-19 pandemic response, and how they can be applied to the global climate emergency.

Panelists:

Kai Chan Professor, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES) and Institute for Oceans and Fisheries, UBC Faculty of Science

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Majority of cannabis use in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside for therapeutic purposes, may also reduce opioid overdose risk

Post Date: May 26, 2020

Most people at high risk of overdose in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside who use cannabis do so for pain relief and other therapeutic reasons—and they may be at lower risk of overdosing on opioids as a result, suggests new research published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE.

“We’re seeing more and more in our research that people are using cannabis for therapeutic reasons,” says Stephanie Lake, a doctoral candidate at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health and the lead author of the study. “We’re also seeing that, for some individuals in our study, this therapeutic use corresponds with either less use of illicit opioids or a reduced risk of overdose.”

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UBC researchers develop portable ultrasound scanner network for COVID-19

Post Date: May 26, 2020

Scanner expected to speed up diagnoses in rural and remote areas

UBC researchers have designed a network of portable, handheld ultrasound scanners th­at can soon accelerate COVID-19 diagnosis in B.C. and potentially beyond.

The scanners pair a commercial ultrasound device with a secure online library of lung ultrasound images and a specially developed artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm, allowing health care practitioners to diagnose COVID-19 at the point of care—almost instantly.

Family doctors and acute care units in rural B.C. will be the first users, with 50 units ready for deployment. More than 30 additional scanners will be distributed to urban acute care sites managed by Vancouver Coastal Health.

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What will the post-pandemic workplace look like?

Post Date: May 25, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in millions of people working from home. As businesses begin to reopen, employees may find themselves in a very different workplace than before the pandemic.

Rebecca Paluch, an assistant professor in the UBC Sauder School of Business’s Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Division, studies the relationship between organizations and employees during changing employment trends.

Rebecca Paluch

We spoke with her to find out how the pandemic has changed the workplace and what we should expect going forward.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we work?

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How small-scale fishers are struggling amid COVID-19 crisis

Post Date: May 25, 2020

As COVID-19 affects global food systems, tremendous impacts are being felt by coastal communities and small-scale fishers, many of whom are self-employed and rely on the catch to feed their own households or local communities.

In a review published in Coastal Management, researchers explore the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on small-scale fisheries in Canada and worldwide, and provide recommendations on how to support them.

We spoke with lead author Nathan Bennett, research associate with the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries at UBC, and Chair of the People and the Ocean Specialist Group for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), about the findings.

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UBC students help frontline medical workers

Post Date: May 21, 2020

COVID-19 may have changed every aspect of life as we know it—but it is also restoring our collective faith in humanity as stories emerge of people quietly lending a helping hand in their communities.

Among them are many UBC students, faculty, alumni and staff.

In this series, called Making a difference, we shine a spotlight on acts of kindness—both big and small—that UBC community members are carrying out to help others during this turbulent time.

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UBC researchers develop biodegradable medical mask for COVID-19

Post Date: Jun 02, 2020

Made in Canada design uses local wood fibres and can be produced in B.C. 

The shortage of medical grade masks worldwide has hobbled health care professionals responding to the novel coronavirus—highlighting the need for improving supply lines and manufacturing more masks locally.

Researchers in the BioProducts Institute at the University of British Columbia have stepped up to the challenge, designing what could be the very first N95 mask that can be sourced and made entirely in Canada. It’s also possibly the world’s first fully compostable and biodegradable medical mask.

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UBC scientist identifies a gene that controls thinness

Post Date: May 21, 2020

Why can some people eat as much as they want, and still stay thin?

In a study published today in the journal Cell, Life Sciences Institute Director Dr. Josef Penninger and a team of international colleagues report their discovery that a gene called ALK (Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase) plays a role in resisting weight gain.

“We all know these people, who can eat whatever they want, they don’t exercise, but they just don’t gain weight. They make up around one per cent of the population,” says senior author Penninger, professor in the department of medical genetics and a Canada 150 research chair.

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Webinar: COVID-19 drug trials and vaccine development

Post Date: May 19, 2020

Scientists around the world are hard at work trying to find potential treatments and vaccines to protect against COVID-19.

Join UBC experts from the Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences as they explain the process and timelines of developing and testing therapeutic drugs and vaccines, and discuss why a collaborative global approach is so important in addressing the global pandemic.

Panelists:

Dr. Fawziah Lalji Professor, UBC Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Dr. Srinivas Murthy Clinical Associate Professor, UBC Department of Pediatrics Infectious Disease Specialist and Investigator at BC Children’s Hospital Principal investigator of the CATCO (Canadian Treatments for COVID-19) trial

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UBC economists create tool to measure COVID-19 risk in B.C. jobs

Post Date: May 19, 2020

Researchers at the Vancouver School of Economics have created a novel tool to assess the risks and benefits of reopening different sectors of British Columbia’s economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The VSE COVID-19 Risk/Reward Assessment Tool has been shared with the B.C. government and public health officials with the goal of informing policy recommendations for restarting work.

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UBC In The News

Post Date: May 13, 2020

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Caring for seniors living with dementia during COVID-19

Post Date: May 13, 2020

Physical distancing is now part of every day life, but it can be particularly challenging for seniors living with dementia and their caregivers.

Dr. Mark Fok, clinical assistant professor of geriatric medicine in the UBC faculty of medicine, answers some questions and offers practical tips for those caring for seniors with dementia during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Dr. Mark Fok

Does dementia increase a person’s risk of getting COVID-19?

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UBC seahorse expert wins top animal conservation award

Post Date: May 12, 2020

Amanda Vincent becomes first marine conservationist to win Indianapolis Prize

University of British Columbia marine biologist Amanda Vincent has won the 2020 Indianapolis Prize, the world’s foremost award for animal conservation, for her trailblazing work to protect seahorses and other marine life.

The influential prize recognizes conservationists who have made significant progress in saving a species, or multiple species, from extinction. Vincent, who was the first biologist to study seahorses in the wild, has dedicated her career to investigating their ecology, uncovering their extensive global trade and establishing projects for their conservation around the world.

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UBC researchers establish new timeline for ancient magnetic field on Mars

Post Date: May 01, 2020

Mars had a global magnetic field much earlier—and much later—in the planet’s history than scientists have previously known.

A planet’s global magnetic field arises from what scientists call a dynamo: a flow of molten metal within the planet’s core that produces an electrical current. On Earth, the dynamo is what makes compass needles point north. But Mars’ dynamo has been extinct for billions of years.

New findings from UBC researchers working with colleagues in the U.S. and France, published today in Science Advances, bring us closer to knowing the precise timing and duration of Mars’ dynamo.

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UBC Forestry professor receives ‘Nobel Prize’ of forest research

Post Date: Apr 28, 2020

Marcus Wallenberg Prize will support research on how forests respond to climate change

The Faculty of Forestry at UBC has announced faculty member and Canada Research Chair in Remote Sensing (I), Nicholas Coops, is the recipient of the world’s most prestigious forestry honour, the Marcus Wallenberg Prize. With this distinction, UBC is the top-ranking institution on the globe in terms the highest number of prizes received in the 40-year history of the Marcus Wallenberg Prize, and Canada is now tied with Sweden as the top two nations with the most prize winners.

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Experts call for more equitable housing policy post-COVID-19

Post Date: Apr 28, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages, it’s highlighting unique pressures on certain groups like Canada’s seniors, Indigenous communities, and people experiencing homelessness.

UBC housing expert Penny Gurstein, a professor in the school of community planning who studies the impact of planning on marginalized communities, and her collaborator Carolyn Whitzman, an adjunct professor in the Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies at the University of Ottawa, are calling for policy changes after the pandemic, along with more than 150 organizations and individuals across Canada. They share their views in this Q&A.

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Making a difference: UBC students help frontline medical workers

Post Date: Apr 27, 2020

COVID-19 may have changed every aspect of life as we know it—but it is also restoring our collective faith in humanity as stories emerge of people quietly lending a helping hand in their communities.

Among them are many UBC students, faculty, alumni and staff.

In this series, called Making a difference, we shine a spotlight on acts of kindness—both big and small—that UBC community members are carrying out to help others during this turbulent time.

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