Tuesday, 18 December 2018

A year of surprise and discovery at UBC News

Promising research discoveries that will help shape a better world emerged from UBC in 2018, as well as interesting findings that challenged what we thought we knew. From eye-opening research about the values of today’s young men, to counterintuitive stats about violence between teenage boys and girls, UBC News readers showed an appetite for the unexpected this year.

Here are the 10 most read stories from UBC News in 2018:

Millennial men value altruism and self-care above traditional male qualities

Young Canadian men hold masculine values that are distinctly different from those of previous generations, according to a study out of UBC’s men’s health research program in partnership with a Vancouver-based market research firm. Selflessness, social engagement and health ranked highest, and physical strength ranked lower than either intellectual or emotional strength.

Teen dating violence is down, but boys still report more violence than girls

Boys are more likely than girls to report being the victim of teen-dating violence such as being hit, slapped, or pushed, according to research from UBC’s School of Nursing and Simon Fraser University. The research shows that anti-violence interventions should not assume that girls are always the victims.

Could a DIY ultrasound be in your future? UBC breakthrough opens door to $100 ultrasound machine

UBC engineers developed a new ultrasound transducer, or probe, that could dramatically lower the cost of ultrasound scanners to as little as $100. Their patent-pending innovation—no bigger than a Band-Aid—is portable, wearable and can be powered by a smartphone. Sonograms produced by the device were as sharp as, or even more detailed than, traditional sonograms.

Stressed out? Try smelling your partner’s shirt

The scent of a romantic partner can help lower stress levels, according to a UBC psychology study that had women smell T-shirts before undergoing stress tests. Women felt calmer after being exposed to their partner’s shirt, but produced elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol after being exposed to a stranger’s shirt.

The Aga Khan awarded with honorary degrees from UBC and SFU

B.C.’s two largest universities got together for their first joint conferral ceremony to award honorary degrees to His Highness the Aga Khan. The spiritual leader of the world’s Ismaili Muslim community earned the recognition through his commitment to fighting poverty and improving health and education for millions around the world.

Hardwired for laziness? Tests show the human brain must work hard to avoid sloth

The human brain is inherently attracted to sedentary behaviour, according to a study out of UBC’s brain behaviour lab. By measuring brain activity while test subjects reacted to images of active and sedentary behaviour, the researchers found that avoiding inactivity requires more brain resources—perhaps a sign that humans have evolved to conserve energy.

Bacteria-powered solar cell converts light to energy, even under overcast skies

Researchers used photosynthetic bacteria to build a solar cell that worked as efficiently in dim light as in bright light, and generated a current stronger than any previously recorded from such a device. The innovation could be a step toward wider adoption of solar power in places like B.C. and parts of northern Europe where overcast skies are common.

Gut enzymes could hold key to producing universal blood

New enzymes found in the human gut are 30 times more effective than previously developed enzymes at removing antigens from blood, a team from the department of chemistry discovered. The finding could allow any type of blood to be turned into the universal type O, expanding the pool of potential blood donors who can save lives.

Genetic ancestry test users ‘cherry-pick’ which races to identify with

People who undergo DNA analysis to determine their ancestry can be selective about which results they embrace and which they reject, a study from the department of sociology found. Ancestry testing is a growing, billion-dollar industry, but its customers part with their money more easily than they part with their identities and pre-conceived biases.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond joins UBC as head of residential school centre and professor of law

Shortly after opening the Residential School History and Dialogue Centre, UBC announced the appointment of Turpel-Lafond as its first director and a professor in the Peter A. Allard School of Law. Turpel-Lafond advocated for child welfare during her decade as B.C.’s first official representative for children and youth, and as a lawyer and judge worked to improve supports for indigenous people in the legal system.

Many of the UBC people behind these stories are available for media interviews until Dec. 23. Please contact Erik Rolfsen at 604-209-3048 or erik.rolfsen@ubc.ca to make arrangements.

Read more from UBC http://news.ubc.ca/2018/12/18/a-year-of-surprise-and-discovery-at-ubc-news/

NASA asteroid WARNING: Giant space rock barrelling on ‘Earth Close Approach’ TONIGHT

The Daily Express quoted Matija Cuk, an asteroid expert at UBC, in an article about an asteroid which passed by Earth on Monday.

Speaking about an asteroid that erupted over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in 2013, he said that most injuries occurred when the blast destroyed windows and struck onlookers inside buildings.

“Fortunately, there are no reported deaths from the Chelyabinsk impact,” he said.

Read more from UBC http://news.ubc.ca/2018/12/18/nasa-asteroid-warning-giant-space-rock-barrelling-on-earth-close-approach-tonight/

U.S. and Canada condemn China’s actions

Wenran Jiang, a senior fellow at UBC’s Institute of Asian Research, was interviewed on CTV about relations between the U.S., Canada and China.

Read more from UBC http://news.ubc.ca/2018/12/18/u-s-and-canada-condemn-chinas-actions/

B.C. just scrapped the future of the gas-powered car

The Tyee quoted Sumeet Gulati, a professor in environmental and resource economics at UBC, in an article about the NDP’s policy that every new vehicle sold will be zero-emission by 2040.

Gulati said that there is currently not enough charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, which would prevent low and middle-income earners from buying them.

Read more from UBC http://news.ubc.ca/2018/12/18/b-c-just-scrapped-the-future-of-the-gas-powered-car/

Inclusive primary care improves people’s health, finds UBC-Western study

Respectful, inclusive practices in primary care clinics can significantly improve the health of low-income, marginalized people who may have previously experienced trauma or discrimination, a new study from the University of British Columbia and Western University has found.

“As health-care providers, we need to make everyone feel safe and comfortable when they walk into a clinic, and this is even more critical when the client is struggling with chronic health challenges or has experienced racism or prejudice, which may have stopped them from accessing health care in the past,” said the study’s lead researcher, Annette Browne, a professor of nursing at UBC.

Annette Browne

These practices and policies—which can be as simple as greeting patients warmly and being genuinely concerned about what’s important in their life—were the focus of a study on the impact of what the researchers call equity-oriented health care.

“Equity-oriented care means paying particular attention to those at greatest risk of poor health, and that typically means people who have been or remain the most marginalized in our society,” said Browne.

“In practical terms, this means care that promotes harm reduction and respects their cultures and any experiences of trauma or violence. It’s avoiding using judgmental language or making immediate assumptions about people. It means being interested in what else is going on and telling them they don’t need to limit their visit to one problem alone.”

For the study, researchers worked with four primary care clinics—two located in B.C. and two in Ontario—that serve large numbers of low-income groups, including Indigenous communities and people with complex health conditions.

They developed information and educational modules on providing equity-oriented care for the clinic staff. Each clinic then tailored the recommended practices and policies to fit their specific clinic and community needs. Afterwards, the team interviewed 395 individuals who had received care at the clinics.

“We found that participants felt comfortable about the care they received, and this in turn gave them more confidence in their ability to prevent and manage health problems,” said Marilyn Ford-Gilboe, a professor in Western’s Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, who co-led the study. “As these things happened, clients started reporting less pain, fewer depression and trauma symptoms, and improved quality of life.”

The study, described recently in the Milbank Quarterly, is the first to show that providing equity-oriented health care predicts improvements in client health over time, said study co-author Colleen Varcoe, a professor of nursing at UBC.

“It’s important to spread these types of health-care policies and practices more widely,” said Varcoe, adding that primary care clinics are often people’s first experience of the health-care system, and in many cases their only experience of it. “We should provide care that is mindful of their complex needs and histories of abuse, discrimination or trauma.”

Researchers acknowledged that such a culture shift will require serious commitment from everyone involved. These kinds of changes in organizational culture can be disruptive and require extra planning by staff and leaders, but one way to start is by empowering clinic staff, suggested study co-lead Nadine Wathen.

“Clinic staff can be encouraged to take the initiative, even for things as basic as offering water or coffee in the waiting area,” said Wathen, a professor in the faculty of information and media studies and the Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing at Western. “By creating a culture that allows all staff members to advocate for the poorest and most marginalized individuals, we can start building a stronger health care system that ensures better health for all Canadians.”

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research provided funding for the study. For more information, or to access free tools for integrating equity-oriented approaches in health care clinics, visit equiphealthcare.ca To schedule interviews with the researchers, contact lou.bosshart@ubc.ca

Read more from UBC http://news.ubc.ca/2018/12/18/inclusive-primary-care-improves-peoples-health-finds-ubc-western-study/

UBC student hopes to grow support for her ‘green roof’ bus shelter

Vancouver Courier reported on UBC’s Tree Canopy project which hopes to build a bus shelter with environmental benefits.

Tabinda Shah, an urban forestry student, is raising money by crowdfunding to build a prototype shelter and further research the design.

Read more from UBC http://news.ubc.ca/2018/12/18/ubc-student-hopes-to-grow-support-for-her-green-roof-bus-shelter/

B.C.’s pot players: The caretaker

B.C. Business interviewed Bonnie Henry, a provincial health officer and clinical associate professor at UBC, in a series about the main players in the B.C. cannabis industry.

“Businesses have a responsibility to understand that cannabis is not just an innocuous food product. Like with alcohol, everybody has a part to play in trying to minimize the harms,” she said.

Read more from UBC http://news.ubc.ca/2018/12/18/b-c-s-pot-players-the-caretaker/