UBC Research News Releases

Dr. Daniel Pauly’s extraordinary life and work revealed in new book

Post Date: Sep 24, 2021

Dr. Daniel Pauly is the world’s most-cited fisheries scientist, but life for the UBC professor has been far from easy. The biracial son of a French woman and an American GI, he was born in Paris and kidnapped as a child to be a live-in servant for a Swiss family. He escaped to Germany at 17 and put himself through high school by attending evening classes after a full day’s work.

Dr. Pauly went on to blow the whistle on the devastation caused to marine ecosystems by the global fishing industry, and to become a marine scientist whose work received worldwide recognition.

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Heightened food worries linked to worse mental health during COVID-19 pandemic

Post Date: Sep 23, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic and its associated lockdowns may have worsened worries over food insecurity among many Canadians and negatively impacted their mental health, according to a nationwide survey conducted during the first wave.

People who were younger or who had household incomes below $50,000 were more likely to worry about having enough food to meet their household needs, says researcher Dr. Corey McAuliffe, a postdoctoral fellow at UBC’s school of nursing in the faculty of applied science.

Indigenous participants, people who had pre-existing mental health conditions, a disability, or who had children under 18 living at home were also more likely to feel concerned about their food supply.

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Coral reefs are 50% less able to provide food, jobs, and climate protection than in 1950s, putting millions at risk

Post Date: Sep 17, 2021

The capacity of coral reefs to provide ecosystem services relied on by millions of people worldwide has declined by half since the 1950s, according to a new University of British Columbia-led study.

The study offers the first comprehensive look at what climate change, overfishing, and habitat destruction of coral reefs mean for their ecosystem services, or the ability of the reef to provide essential benefits and services to humans, including food, livelihoods, and protection from storms. Overall, the findings showed that the significant loss in coral reef coverage has led to an equally significant loss in the ability of the reef to provide these services.

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Chemotherapy drug puts young children with cancer at high risk of hearing loss

Post Date: Sep 07, 2021

75 per cent of patients five years old and younger had experienced cisplatin-related hearing loss three years after starting therapy

A chemotherapy drug known to cause hearing loss in children is more likely to do so the earlier in life children receive it, new UBC research has found.

Cisplatin is a life-saving treatment for many children with cancer, but the study published today in Cancer shows that the hearing of very young children is impacted early during treatment and is affected to a greater extent than that of older children.

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Food for seals and other Arctic predators is shrinking — literally

Post Date: Sep 03, 2021

Unchecked climate change may leave some Arctic predators surviving off of marine “junk food,” according to a new UBC study.

It found that transformations to the makeup and distribution of fish species—as well as the size of fish in Hudson Bay—will begin to accelerate by 2025 and become progressively more extreme unless action is taken to reduce carbon emissions.

Using computer models, the researchers examined how these changes to prey would affect ringed seals, a common Arctic marine predator.

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Do you hate seeing people fidget? New UBC research says you’re not alone

Post Date: Aug 31, 2021

Do you get anxious, annoyed or frustrated when you see someone fidgeting? If so, you may suffer from misokinesia–or the “hatred of movements.”

According to new UBC research, approximately one-third of the population suffer from the psychological phenomenon, which is defined by a strong negative emotional response to the sight of someone else’s small and repetitive movements.

Dr. Todd Handy

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New tool estimates how much affordable housing a city needs

Post Date: Sep 02, 2021

Canada needs a more cohesive strategy to help the more than 1.7 million people currently living in unaffordable, overcrowded or poor-condition housing, says UBC expert Dr. Penny Gurstein (she/her), head of the Housing Research Collaborative at UBC’s school of community and regional planning.

There is no standardized method in Canada to assess needs by income and future population growth at the federal, provincial and municipal levels, says Dr. Gurstein. Instead, planners have typically used a variety of tools with mixed results.

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Companion animals in the climate crisis: How pet owners can reduce their environmental impacts

Post Date: Aug 19, 2021

Pet ownership doesn’t have to be so tough on the planet, according to new UBC research.

“We should be mindful of what kind of impact pet ownership might have on the environment,” says assistant professor Dr. Alexandra Protopopova, NSERC and BC SPCA industrial research chair.

Dr. Alexandra Protopopova

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How to spot the elusive narwhal

Post Date: Aug 12, 2021

Finding animals in the wild can be tough, even for researchers with access to airplanes, high-end cameras and other costly gear.

Many animals blend with their surroundings or hide in places that human eyes can’t reach. This is especially true of marine animals, who move under cover of water.

That’s why researchers from the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries (IOF), the University of Manitoba, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada were surprised when the infrared video camera they brought aboard their plane captured narwhals swimming off the coast of Ellesmere Island, Nunavut.

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‘Sticky questions’ raised by study on coral reefs

Post Date: Aug 11, 2021

A new UBC study on the impact of climate change on coral reefs is raising sticky questions about conservation.

It found coral in more polluted and high traffic water handled extreme heat events better than a more remote, untouched reef.

The new study, conducted with researchers from the Republic of Kiribati’s Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resource Development, focused on two atolls in the Central Pacific, located 59 kilometers apart.

Sara Cannon

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Insects beware! This west coast plant wants to eat you

Post Date: Aug 10, 2021

First new carnivorous plant identified by botanists in 20 years

The delicate stalk and pretty white flowers of Triantha occidentalis may seem like the perfect place to perch if you’re an insect, but get trapped in its sticky hairs and it will suck the nutrients from your dead corpse.

That’s the surprising new finding by University of British Columbia and University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers, detailed in PNAS.

Dr. Sean Graham

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Innovative coating for blood vessels reduces rejection of transplanted organs

Post Date: Aug 09, 2021

Researchers have found a way to reduce organ rejection following a transplant by using a special polymer to coat blood vessels on the organ to be transplanted.

Dr. Jayachandran Kizhakkedathu

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UBC experts on Canada reopening its border to U.S. travellers

Post Date: Aug 06, 2021

The Canadian border reopens to fully vaccinated U.S. travellers on Monday, August 9. UBC experts are available to comment.

Dr. Stephen Hoption Cann Clinical Professor, School of Population and Public Health Cell: 778-928-8339 Email: hoption.cann@ubc.ca Interview language(s): English

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UBC’s HVAC teams are making sure we can breathe easy

Post Date: Aug 06, 2021

Over the past 18 months, learning, research, and work at UBC has been taking place remotely wherever possible.

But one group of people has diligently stayed on campus to keep infrastructure humming: the team responsible for ensuring that heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems function properly.

Now, as UBC prepares for a return to on-campus learning and instruction, these essential workers are doubling their efforts to ensure university spaces meet or exceed guidelines set out by WorkSafeBC, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

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Surprising insights into the migration pattern of world’s farthest-migrating species

Post Date: Aug 05, 2021

The Arctic tern—which has the world record for the longest annual migration—uses just a few select routes, a key finding that could help efforts to conserve the species, according to a new University of British Columbia study.

Globally, Arctic terns are declining and their wide geographical range has posed a challenge for researchers hoping to see where different tern colonies bottleneck when they migrate.

Joanna Wong

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Up to 85 per cent of historical salmon habitat lost in Lower Fraser region

Post Date: Aug 05, 2021

In order to reverse salmon declines, researchers say, more than 1,200 blocked-off streams and habitats need to be restored

For perhaps the first time ever, researchers have mapped out the true extent of habitat loss for salmon in the Lower Fraser River, one of the most important spawning and rearing grounds for Pacific salmon in B.C.

Salmon have lost access to as much as 85 per cent of their historical floodplain habitat—the biologically rich wetlands next to a river or stream that typically harbour wildlife—due to dikes and similar infrastructure, say researchers at UBC and the Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

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When maternity care providers don’t take ‘no’ for an answer

Post Date: Aug 05, 2021

People who decline maternity care services such as prenatal testing or epidurals often face pressure or scolding from their care providers, according to new UBC-led research.

In the largest study of its kind in B.C. — including analysis of 1,540 written accounts from 1123 women from across the province —  53.5 per cent of the total study sample reported declining some kind of care or procedure.

While most people reported care providers were supportive, almost one in three respondents said their care providers reacted with disrespect, tried to coerce them or disregarded their wishes. These negative interactions resulted in childbearing people feeling invisible, disempowered and in some cases traumatized.

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Beyond COVID-19: How mRNA technology could transform how we treat disease

Post Date: Aug 04, 2021

B.C. could be next hub for developing, manufacturing the high-tech vaccine platform

When Dr. Anna Blakney interviewed for a position at the University of British Columbia at the start of 2020, mRNA technology—her area of research expertise—wasn’t yet widely known by the general public.

Then COVID-19 hit. Today, more than a billion doses of mRNA vaccines have been administered worldwide to protect against the novel coronavirus.

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‘Cultural burning’ important for biodiversity: UBC expert

Post Date: Aug 06, 2021

As wildfires blaze around the province, a UBC researcher reminds us that some types of fire can be life-giving and help protect the planet.

Dr. Kira Hoffman

Indigenous peoples have practiced “cultural burning” for millennia, says faculty of forestry ecologist and former wildland firefighter Dr. Kira Hoffman, and this practice has helped manage wildfires, benefited food supplies and encouraged diversity of local plant and wildlife.

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What really goes on in a hospital emergency department

Post Date: Aug 03, 2021

Medicine has changed in the two decades that Dr. Fred Voon has been a physician. The questions from his patients in the emergency department have remained the same.

“Why is the wait so long?”

“Why did that person get seen ahead of me?”

“Why do I have to tell you the same story I told the last person?”

Dr. Fred Voon

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UBC experts on heat and wildfires

Post Date: Aug 03, 2021

UBC experts are available to comment on heat, wildfires and associated issues.

Heat wave

Dr. Sally Aitken Professor, Faculty of Forestry Email: sally.aitken@ubc.ca Interview language(s): English

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New book helps readers spot online health scams

Post Date: Jul 28, 2021

Internet health scams have increased in recent years, often spread through social media and causing untold harm, according to a new book by UBC nursing professor, Dr. Bernie Garrett.

Dr. Bernie Garrett

The New Alchemists focuses on some of the many deceptive healthcare and marketing techniques used to mislead people—and offers readers tips to avoid falling prey to scammers.

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Scientists capture most-detailed radio image of Andromeda galaxy to date

Post Date: Jul 28, 2021

‘Disk of galaxy’ identified as region where new stars are born

Scientists have published a new, detailed radio image of the Andromeda galaxy – the Milky Way’s sister galaxy – which will allow them to identify and study the regions of Andromeda where new stars are born.

Sofia Fatigoni

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Virtual contact in pandemic prompts over 60s’ loneliness

Post Date: Jul 26, 2021

Older adults who had more virtual contact than their peers during the pandemic actually experienced increased loneliness, according to new research published today.

The study, published in ‘Frontiers in Sociology’, found virtual interaction—including things like phone calls, texting, online audio and video chat— was not helpful on its own as an alternative to face-to-face time for people over 60.

Dr. Yue Qian

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Health and wellbeing a top priority as students return to campus

Post Date: Jul 22, 2021

As UBC prepares to welcome students back to campus this September, the university is taking extra care to keep them safe and in good health.

From embedded mental health counsellors to extended physician hours and a new nurse practitioner, UBC has expanded its health and wellbeing services to help ease the transition for students.

Dr. Ainsley Carry

Building on the developments of the last year, student health services will continue to be offered both in person and virtually, giving students more choice and better meeting their needs.

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UBC community supports COVID-19 research with rapid antigen testing clinic

Post Date: Jul 20, 2021

Twice a week over this past spring, Joe Stevens, residence life manager in Orchard Commons, headed to a room on the third floor of the building. There, he self-administered a COVID-19 test that provided results in under 15 minutes, while also contributing to important scientific research.

“I live in residence during the week and see my partner on weekends,” he explains. “So, I would do rapid tests on Friday before going to see my partner, and then on Tuesdays it would be a way of following up on the weekend.”

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How the pandemic shaped the sex lives of Canadians

Post Date: Jul 20, 2021

At the start of the pandemic, there were ample predictions that more time at home would lead to more time between the sheets.

But a new UBC study, recently published in the International Journal of Sexual Health, uncovers a more nuanced picture of how COVID-19 has shaped the sex lives of Canadians.

Dr. Lori Brotto

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UBC researcher embraces big data, helping uncover deeper insights into the genetics of autism

Post Date: Jul 19, 2021

A future where autism care is personalized to fit an individual’s unique genetic makeup is now one step closer to reality, thanks to a new big data initiative.

Dr. Suzanne Lewis

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Lhoosk’uz Dené village taps into clean water after a 20-year wait

Post Date: Jul 28, 2021

Today, a remote Lhoosk’uz Dené community is holding a celebration to mark a joyful milestone.

After decades of relying on bottled water, the village of about 50 people, located 200 kilometres west of Quesnel on Kluskus Lake, now has a steady supply of clean drinking water straight out of the tap, thanks to a new water treatment plant crafted to their unique needs.

“We had to do things differently. And now, what was just a dream many years ago is reality,” says Chief Liliane Squinas.

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Physical fitness of wild Pacific sockeye salmon unaffected by PRV

Post Date: Jul 13, 2021

The respiratory performance of wild Pacific sockeye salmon functions normally even when infected with piscine orthoreovirus (PRV), according to a new study released today.

The findings by researchers at UBC, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries are published in BMC Biology.

Dr. Yangfan Zhang

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UBC research shows wastewater genomic testing can effectively track COVID-19 variants of concern within a region

Post Date: Jul 12, 2021

Wastewater testing can accurately and rapidly identify levels of COVID-19 infections in the community, including the rise of variants of concern, suggests new research led by UBC professor Dr. Ryan Ziels.

Dr. Ryan Ziels

Ziels and his colleagues analyzed sewage samples from five municipal wastewater plants in the Metro Vancouver region during a period of increased COVID-19 case counts, from February to April 2021.

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New survey aims to improve care for families grieving loss of baby

Post Date: Jul 08, 2021

A new University of British Columbia survey looks to improve future care for Canadian families coping with stillbirth and neonatal loss.

The online questionnaire is open to people over 18 in Canada who have experienced perinatal loss between Jan. 30, 2018, and Dec. 30, 2021. The findings will contribute to an international study led by researchers in Australia.

Dr. Wendy Hall

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Better mental health supports for nurses needed, study finds

Post Date: Jun 24, 2021

Pandemic deepened anxiety and depression among nurses—those working in long-term care affected the most

Working in the highly charged environment of COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the mental health of nurses, according to a new survey by researchers at UBC and the Institute for Work & Health in Toronto.

The findings, described recently in the Annals of Epidemiology, are the first to compare Canadian nurses’ mental health prior to and during the pandemic.

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UBC experts on heat wave

Post Date: Jul 08, 2021

UBC experts are available to comment on B.C.’s current heat wave.

Dr. Mathieu Bourbonnais Assistant Professor, Department of Earth, Environmental and Geographic Sciences Email: mathieu.bourbonnais@ubc.ca Cell: 778-583-0272 Interview language(s): English, French (written)

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B.C.’s spending on K-12 education drastically increased over the last 50 years

Post Date: Jun 21, 2021

British Columbia’s K-12 public education operating spending is now 250 per cent of what it was in 1970, according to a new UBC study.

UBC faculty of education’s Dr. Jason Ellis called this rise in K-12 operating spending “astounding” since there’s only been a minimal increase in enrolment over the past five decades.

“There are many claims that school funding and spending in B.C. has decreased, and academic studies that only talk about cuts and underfunding, but this misperception of spending reductions is not based on historical research,” says Dr. Ellis.

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Study highlights pandemic impact on adolescent mental health

Post Date: Jun 28, 2021

Adolescents who were in a good headspace before COVID-19 suffered a decline during the pandemic, whereas those with poor mental health fared better, according to new research.

The study, published today in the Journal of Adolescent Health, fills an important gap in research examining adolescent mental health during the pandemic.

Dr. Yue Qian

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New study finds contaminants in many generic drugs may have harmful effects

Post Date: Jun 15, 2021

Contaminants in generic medications used to treat conditions like diabetes, heart disease, stomachaches and heartburn may cause damage to DNA, affect basic cell functions and even increase a person’s risk of cancer, according to a new UBC study.

Dr. Corey Nislow

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New global air pollution and health impact study the most comprehensive ever

Post Date: Jun 15, 2021

An international research team led by the University of British Columbia’s Dr. Michael Brauer and Washington University in St. Louis’ Dr. Randall Martin has published the most detailed analysis ever conducted on global air pollution sources and their health impacts.

They have estimated the contribution of major sources of air pollution for 204 countries and territories, making the data publicly available on an interactive website.

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Pandemic underlines need to address physician burnout, study finds

Post Date: Jun 12, 2021

Two out of three Vancouver physicians surveyed in a new UBC study faced burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Researchers from UBC’s faculty of medicine reviewed survey responses from 302 internal medicine physicians who worked for Vancouver General Hospital and St. Paul’s Hospital between August and October 2020.

They found burnout was prevalent among 68 per cent of physicians and noted over 20 percent of surveyed physicians were considering quitting the profession, or had already quit a position.

Dr. Nadia Khan

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Canadian telescope detects 500 fast radio bursts in a year, quadrupling number of known FRBs

Post Date: Jun 09, 2021

The CHIME telescope detected 535 new fast radio bursts during its first year of operation – from 2018 to 2019 – quadrupling the number of known occurrences of the puzzling pulses of radio energy from far outside our galaxy.

Scientists with the CHIME (Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment) collaboration are presenting a catalogue of the year of fast radio burst (FRB) signals today at the American Astronomical Society meeting.

“This catalogue marks a significant turning point in the FRB field,” says Bradley Meyers, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of British Columbia (UBC) department of physics and astronomy and member of the CHIME collaboration.

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A planet without apes? New research highlights danger to gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos in shifting habitats

Post Date: Jun 07, 2021

Globally, great ape populations and their habitats have drastically declined in recent history. New analysis published today reveals that if the pressures on their habitat remain unchecked, Africa’s great apes could lose between 85 per cent and 94 per cent of their range by the year 2050. As their range shrinks, their chances for survival also diminish.

In this Q&A, Jacqueline Sunderland-Groves, a great ape expert in UBC’s faculty of forestry who contributed to the study, explains what can be done to ensure the long-term survival of gorillas, chimpanzees and other great apes.

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Childhood cancer discovery may stop tumour spread before it starts

Post Date: Jun 02, 2021

New understanding of how Ewing sarcoma tumours travel through the body has the potential to prevent metastatic spread in a number of cancer types

A new discovery in Ewing sarcoma, an aggressive and often fatal childhood cancer, has uncovered the potential to prevent cancer cells from spreading beyond their primary tumour site.

The breakthrough provides new insight into what triggers the process that allows cancer cells to survive while traveling through the body in the bloodstream.

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Strong school and family ties buffer gender-diverse teens from bullying and hostility

Post Date: Jun 02, 2021

New report first to highlight experiences of gender-diverse youth in B.C. schools

B.C.’s gender-diverse youth continue to face significant bullying and harassment, but a new report underlines how social supports like strong school and family relationships make a significant impact on their well-being.

Researchers at UBC and McCreary Centre Society analyzed data from the B.C. Adolescent Health Survey, completed by more than 38,000 youth, ages 12-19 in schools across the province—including almost a thousand individuals who identify as transgender, non-binary or gender-questioning.

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UBC launches COVID-19 rapid testing clinic for students, others on campus

Post Date: May 27, 2021

UBC is launching a new COVID-19 rapid testing clinic for any students living in residence and other select groups living and working on the Vancouver campus.

The clinic—the first in Canada to use the Roche SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen Test Kit in a university setting—launches May 26 and will run for 13 weeks. It also includes a clinical trial component with researchers studying the viability of self-administered rapid screening tests for the general public across Canada. The clinic will be run on software provided by Vancouver-based health software company Thrive Health.

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Salmon virus originally from the Atlantic, spread to B.C. wild salmon from farms: Study

Post Date: May 28, 2021

Piscine orthoreovirus (PRV) – which is associated with kidney and liver damage in Chinook salmon – is continually being transmitted between open-net salmon farms and wild juvenile Chinook salmon in British Columbia waters, according to a new genomics analysis published today in Science Advances.

Dr. Gideon Mordecai. Credit: Amy Romer

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New program makes planning a birth after C-section simpler

Post Date: May 20, 2021

UBC researchers have created a new interactive online program to support people who have had a previous C-section make better-informed decisions about navigating their next pregnancy and birth.

There’s minimal support for people between pregnancies, says Dr. Sarah Munro, an assistant professor in obstetrics and gynaecology, who developed the program, My Next Birth, with her team at UBC, to help bridge this gap in care.

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Researchers launch COVID-19 vaccine registry for pregnant and breastfeeding individuals in Canada

Post Date: May 19, 2021

As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout ramps up across the country, the risks and benefits of immunization for pregnant and breastfeeding people remain largely unknown because the initial vaccine clinical trials did not include these populations.

In an effort to fill the knowledge gap, researchers are launching a COVID-19 vaccine registry and survey in Canada. They will collect real-time data on the impact of immunization on pregnant and breastfeeding individuals across the country.

UBC’s Dr. Deborah Money, professor in the department of obstetrics and gynaecology, shares why this research is critical. We asked her how pregnant and breastfeeding people in Canada can get involved.

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UBC breaks ground on $23 million renewable energy hub

Post Date: May 18, 2021

‘Test bed’ showcases clean energy solutions – receives $5.6 million funding from Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation

A new $23 million renewable energy hub will transform an entire city block at the University of British Columbia into a smart energy district, including the province’s first-ever hydrogen refuelling station for light- and heavy-duty vehicles.

It will also include the addition of a solar array, as well as intelligent charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.

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New book maps links between global finance and the places we call home

Post Date: May 13, 2021

Matthew Soules has a multifaceted career. The busy architecture professor at UBC is a thought-provoking artist, designer and author.

Most recently Soules contributed to the design for šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square (formerly known as the Vancouver Art Gallery North Plaza) where he designed the white, cloudlike pavilion at the northeast corner.

Matthew Soules

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Canadian researchers lead development and testing of promising treatment for COVID-19 variants

Post Date: May 11, 2021

A new anti-viral drug could improve COVID-19 outcomes and survival rates — and is highly effective against multiple variants — according to a new study led by researchers at the University of British Columbia and Université de Sherbrooke.

The drug, called N-0385, blocks the SARS-CoV-2 virus from entering human cells through its favoured cell gateways. The results of the study are under review for publication in a scientific journal and have been uploaded as a preprint.

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Where should our digital data go after we die? UBC study explores possibilities

Post Date: May 06, 2021

People want control over what personal digital data is passed along after they die, along with tools to make it easier to do so, according to a new case study by computer science researchers at the University of British Columbia.

On the other hand, people found the idea of creating AI-powered replicas of a deceased person “creepy.”

The study’s full findings — among the first to look at ways of preparing personal digital data for death – will be presented next week at the 2021 Human Computer Interaction Conference (CHI.)

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Historic collection from the Klondike Gold Rush gifted to UBC in $2.5M donation

Post Date: May 06, 2021

UBC alumnus and Canadian telecommunications icon, Philip B. Lind, CM, has donated $2.5 million to UBC. This gift is comprised of the Phil Lind Klondike Gold Rush Collection, an unparalleled rare book and archival collection, dating from the Klondike Gold Rush (1894–1904), and financial support to ensure it is preserved and made available to the public at the UBC Library, where it will support research and learning.

Philip B. Lind, CM

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COVID-19 survey shows almost eight out of 10 adults are worried, bored, stressed, lonely or sad

Post Date: May 03, 2021

Pandemic exacts continued toll on mental health—outdoor activity and social connections are helping people cope

The pandemic continues to take an emotional toll on people in Canada, with 77 per cent of adults reporting negative emotions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest mental health survey by UBC researchers, in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).

The five most common emotional responses to the pandemic across Canada were “worried or anxious,” “bored,” “stressed,” “lonely or isolated” and “sad”, says lead researcher Dr. Emily Jenkins, a professor of nursing at UBC who studies mental health and substance use.

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Potential ‘Achilles’ heel’ of SARS-CoV-2 virus captured on video

Post Date: Apr 30, 2021

Proteins known as lectins can bind to the spike protein on the SARS-CoV-2 virus and prevent it from accessing human cells, an international team of researchers led by the University of British Columbia’s Dr. Josef Penninger has demonstrated.

They have captured the action on the pathogen’s spike protein via video.

“Lectins are proteins that can bind the sugar molecule structure on lipids or proteins such as the spike protein,” explains Dr. Penninger, director of the Life Sciences Institute in Vancouver. “Our idea is to harness this property to develop a drug to combat COVID-19 disease.”

The researchers developed the largest lectin library in the world to find two lectins that are particularly adept at binding to glycans on the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.

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A baby’s first poop can help predict risk of developing allergies

Post Date: Apr 29, 2021

It may seem like an unusual place to go looking for answers, but the contents of a baby’s first diaper can reveal a lot about a newborn’s future health.

In a new study published today in Cell Reports Medicine, a team of University of British Columbia (UBC) researchers has shown that the composition of a baby’s first poop—a thick, dark green substance known as meconium—is associated with whether or not a child will develop allergies within their first year of life.

Dr. Brett Finlay

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UBC-grown biotech companies lead global pandemic efforts

Post Date: Apr 26, 2021

Millions of Canadians have received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, but what many may not realize is that a key component of the injection was developed right here at UBC.

Acuitas Therapeutics, a UBC spin-off company co-founded by Dr. Pieter Cullis, developed the lipid nanoparticle technology that allows the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine to enter human cells.

For the UBC professor, he says he never imagined Acuitas’ technology might one day help bring an end to the global pandemic.

Dr. Pieter Cullis

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UBC researchers identify the most dangerous prescriptions for B.C. drivers

Post Date: Apr 22, 2021

It’s well-known that drinking and driving is linked to a high risk of causing a car crash.

But taking common prescription medications like sleeping pills, opioids and medication used to treat anxiety and depression also poses a risk, a new UBC study of millions of drivers finds.

British Columbia drivers prescribed sedating antipsychotics have a 35 per cent increased risk of causing a road collision, while people on commonly prescribed benzodiazepines (like Valium or Xanax) increase their risk by 25 to 30 per cent.

The researchers from UBC’s faculty of medicine also found that high-potency opioids such as morphine showed a 24 per cent increased risk of road collisions.

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UBC’s budget for 2021/22 set to bolster EDI, expand student supports, and further the university’s impact

Post Date: Apr 20, 2021

The UBC Board of Governors has approved the budget for 2021/22, setting spending priorities for the year ahead to support the ongoing recovery from COVID-19, to further UBC’s impact through key priorities, and to continue support for excellence in teaching, learning, and research.

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Cool and COVID-safe: How radiant cooling could keep our cities comfortable and healthy

Post Date: Apr 20, 2021

Combination of special cooling panels and natural ventilation can minimize disease transmission while saving energy

A novel system of chilled panels that can replace air conditioning can also help reduce the risk of indoor disease transmission, suggests new analysis from the University of British Columbia, University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University.

The researchers computed air conditioning requirements in 60 of the world’s most populous cities—with the additional ventilation required due to COVID-19. Then, they compared the energy costs with their cooling method, using the chilled panels and natural ventilation.

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Incongruent messaging key to getting people to register as organ donors

Post Date: Apr 19, 2021

A new study from the UBC Sauder School of Business finds a subtle shift in organ donor messaging can lead to a big boost in registration.

Organ donation saves countless lives every year, and most people think it’s the right thing to do — but when it comes to people actually registering to donate, the numbers around the world are surprisingly low. This is particularly so in countries that rely on informed consent and require people to learn about organ donation before they opt-in to register as a donor.

In fact, in Canada, just 32 per cent of people have registered to become organ donors.

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Canada’s first 5G drones fly over UBC

Post Date: Apr 15, 2021

Drone test flight shows potential of 5G networks to support essential services and accelerate innovation

Canada’s first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flights over a 5G network took place at UBC last week, showcasing some of the future potential applications of 5G-enabled autonomous flight.

Two UAVs—standard quad models fitted out with a 5G signal transmitter receiver—were put through their paces by Vancouver drone R&D company InDro Robotics using UBC’s 5G network, installed by Rogers as part of a multiyear collaboration to pursue 5G research.

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How to change the world without leaving home

Post Date: Apr 12, 2021

UBC students find ways to tackle global issues despite pandemic

Ria Gupta always knew she wanted to spend a summer taking part in an applied research project abroad. But when the pandemic hit, the fourth-year arts student’s travel plans were suddenly stalled.

Ria Gupta

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Weight loss changes people’s responsiveness to food marketing: study

Post Date: Apr 01, 2021

Obesity rates have increased dramatically in developed countries over the past 40 years — and many people have assumed that food marketing is at least in part to blame. But are people with obesity really more susceptible to food marketing? And if they are, is that a permanent predisposition, or can it change over time?

According to a new study by UBC Sauder School of Business Assistant Professor Dr. Yann Cornil (he/him/his) and French researchers, people with obesity do tend to be more responsive to food marketing — but when their weight drops significantly, so does their responsiveness to marketing.

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Canadian-built laser chills antimatter to near absolute zero for first time

Post Date: Mar 31, 2021

Researchers achieve world’s first manipulation of antimatter by laser

Researchers with the CERN-based ALPHA collaboration have announced the world’s first laser-based manipulation of antimatter, leveraging a made-in-Canada laser system to cool a sample of antimatter down to near absolute zero. The achievement, detailed in an article published today and featured on the cover of the journal Nature, will significantly alter the landscape of antimatter research and advance the next generation of experiments.

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How to talk to people about climate change

Post Date: Mar 30, 2021

As our planet warms, seas rise and catastrophic weather events become more frequent, action on climate change has never been more important. But how do you convince people who still don’t believe that humans contribute to the warming climate?

New UBC research may offer some insight, examining biases towards climate information and offering tools to overcome these and communicate climate change more effectively.

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UBC Okanagan to offer Canada’s first bachelor’s degree of Indigenous language fluency

Post Date: Apr 28, 2021

Undergraduate degree taught in Nsyilxcn the first of many to come, degree organizers say

UBC’s Okanagan campus, located in the territory of the Syilx Okanagan Nation, is set to become the first university in Canada to offer a bachelor’s degree in Indigenous language fluency.

The Bachelor of Nsyilxcn Language Fluency (BNLF) program, created in collaboration with the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT) and the En’owkin Centre, is designed to work closely with the community to provide a comprehensive and high-quality education in Nsyilxcn—the language spoken by members of the Syilx Okanagan Nation—and to promote new, fluent speakers with a deep understanding of the language, culture, and customs.

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Therapeutic bed can help keep preterm newborns’ brain oxygen levels stable

Post Date: Mar 25, 2021

A medical device that has been shown to manage pain among babies born preterm can also help keep their brain oxygen levels steady during medical procedures, finds new analysis by researchers at UBC.

The device, called Calmer, is a pillow-sized therapeutic bed covered in soft fabric and inserted into the incubator. It can be programmed to mimic a parent’s heartbeat and breathing rate— providing a soothing presence by moving up and down gently to simulate a breathing motion and heartbeat sound for the baby when their parent cannot be present.

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Knowing someone with COVID-19 increased men’s anxiety more than women’s

Post Date: Mar 25, 2021

It started as a research project to track student mental health over an entire term at university.

Then, four weeks into the 13-week study, COVID-19 hit.

Suddenly, a group of UBC researchers and their partners had an unprecedented opportunity to learn how students were faring emotionally as a global pandemic inched closer and closer to them.

“It surprised me that 19 per cent of the students felt no emotional impact and another 54 per cent were able to manage,” said Dr. Daniel Vigo, lead author of the study published today in the British Journal of Psychiatry. “That’s 73 per cent of students who were either not impacted or were able to manage. That speaks to a very resilient student body.”

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Weaker antibody response to first COVID-19 vaccine dose found in long-term care residents

Post Date: Mar 25, 2021

A single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine produces a much weaker antibody response in long-term care residents than it does in younger healthy adults, new research has found.

The pre-print findings, yet to be peer-reviewed, raise questions about the optimal timing of the second dose of vaccine for older adults.

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Female salmon are dying at higher rates than male salmon

Post Date: Mar 24, 2021

Female adult sockeye from the Fraser River are dying at significantly higher rates than their male counterparts on the journey back to their spawning grounds, finds new UBC research. For every male salmon that doesn’t make it to their natal stream, at least two, sometimes three female salmon die.

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