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UBC Reports Dec 3, 2009

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VOL   55   I   NO   12   I   DECEMBER   3,   2009
4      Odes to the Olympics
5        Preparing for the unexpected
Fertility drugs
8      Holiday advice
New research by forensic psychology professors Michael Woodworth (left) and Stephen Porter could help police generate predictions about the characteristics of a killer - or killers - based
on the crime scene evidence and victim.
Researchers compare the crimes and minds of individual vs. multiple killers
Crime investigators such as the RCMP, FBI and even
the CIA have powerful new knowledge at their disposal
to potentially help solve murders, thanks to a ground
breaking study involving UBC Okanagan forensic
psychology researchers. Their findings could help police
generate predictions about the characteristics of a killer -
or killers - based on the crime scene evidence and victim.
The study, Partners in Crime: A Comparison of
Individual and Multi-Perpetrator Homicides, looked
at 124 cases of convicted Canadian male offenders - a
third of the cases involving multiple people during the
crime - to determine what the crime scene could reveal
about the nature of the suspect, and the likelihood of
continued on page 3
Building with gingerbread	
Engineering students put holiday delight to the test
Ever wondered if your gingerbread house will still be
standing by Christmas? Well, worry no more - a couple
of UBC engineering students have analyzed the material's
structural strength in a series of "laboratory" tests.
As part of a second-year Integrated Engineering
program, Mercedes Duifhuis and Sean Heisler explored
how gingerbread stands up to pressure. Their 31-page
report, Structural Analysis of Gingerbread, earned them an
A+. And they got to eat the results.
"We'd made some gingerbread when we were studying
a few months earlier," says Duifhuis. "We pitched the prof
on testing gingerbread as an architectural material and he
went for it."
Integrated Engineering is a multidisciplinary program
with a strong focus on team-based engineering design.
Other class proposals included an automatic washer/dryer
for the ping-pong balls used to play beer-pong, a water-
conserving barista sink and a hamster wheel speedometer.
"Allowing students to propose project ideas lets them
branch off into their specific fields of interest," says course
co-instructor Leo Stocco of UBC's Dept. of Electrical
and Computer Engineering. For Duifhuis and Heisler
that meant materials engineering with Heisler being
particularly interested in test design and development.
"If students can apply their learning to something
they care about, they will care about learning,"
says Stocco.
Using a recipe found in the 1986 cookbook
Sweet Dreams of Gingerbread by Jann Johnson,
the duo made batches of dough that used fat as
the test variable, adding either butter, margarine or
shortening to determine which ingredient optimized
structural strength. Their analysis is full of tables,
diagrams and calculations and covers elements such as
design, budget, and environmental impact, noting that
"excess gingerbread ... is biodegradable and very
delicious with icing."
The students considered testing an entire
gingerbread house, but knew the icing that holds
such edible edifices together would confound and
continued on p.4 2     |     UBC    REPORTS     |     DECEMBER    3,    2009
UBC    REPORTS     |     DECEMBER    3,    2009     |     3
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Murder by numbers
continued from cover page
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UBC Thunderbirds women's field hockey 2009 CIS champions
Ocean Lady a 'wake-up call'
When an unflagged ship bearing
the name Ocean Lady arrived
at British Columbia's shores in
October, international media
turned to UBC Law Prof.
Benjamin Perrin for analysis.
Perrin, also a faculty fellow
at the Liu Institute for Global
Issues, told the Globe and Mail he
suspects the passengers may have
paid tens of thousands of dollars
for passage from Sri Lanka.
"The unfolding story strongly
suggests that this incident is part
of a sophisticated international
migrant-smuggling network," he
Perrin told CTV that identifying
these migrants accurately is a
heavy responsibility.
"A post- conflict scenario
creates a real opportunity for
terrorists, war criminals and
former combatants to simply
blend in with civilians."
Perrin also spoke to Agence
UBC takes women's field
hockey title
The UBC Thunderbirds won a
record-setting 12th CIS women's
field hockey title last month with
a 6-0 gold-medal win over the
Alberta Pandas, TSN reported.
The Thunderbirds' triumph is
their first since 2006 and gives
them one more McCrae Cup
championship than the University
of Victoria and two more than
"This is the game we've been
dreaming of," Robyn Pendleton
told TSN. "It's a pretty good
way to finish a season. As a
team we did really well and
we finished our opportunities,
which ultimately made all the
Men and arousal
Fox News reported on a recent
study from UBC that found that
while most men can regulate
their physical and mental sexual
arousal to some degree, the men
most able to do so are able to
control their other emotions as
"We suspect that if an
individual is good at regulating
one type of emotional response,
he/she is probably good at
regulating other emotional
responses," said Jason Winters,
the study's research head, told the
Live Science wire service. "This
has never been shown before."
Participants had to control
their response to 16 randomly
ordered video clips, half of them
erotic, the other half funny. The
study found that the men who
were best able to control their
response to the pornographic
videos were also able to control
their response to the funny video.
Winters said the next step
is to do a similar study with
sexual offenders. "I suspect that
sexual offenders will generally
be very poor regulators, and that
poor regulation is one of the
factors that contributes to their
offending," he said.
The thesis goes online
The Globe and Mail reported
on an ambitious project at UBC
that will see more than 33,500
master's theses and doctoral
dissertations put online.
"You never know what
is going to be of interest to
someone somewhere somehow
down the road," university
archivist Christopher Hives told
the newspaper.
Since the fall of 2007,
postgraduate students have
been able to file their theses and
dissertations electronically, a
process Hives compares with
filing income tax online.
Diet speeds healing
Researchers have found a
diet high in fat and low in
carbohydrates speeds recovery
in rats with spinal cord injuries,
UPI reported.
Dr. Wolfram Tetzlaff of the
University of British Columbia
told the wire service a diet high
in fat and low in carbohydrates,
known as the "ketogenic" diet,
is already used as a therapy for
Previous research showed
fasting is beneficial after partial
cervical spinal cord injury in rats,
but the strategy was unpopular
with patients and clinicians,
Tetzlaff said. The researchers
investigated the ketogenic
diet as a fasting alternative
because, as in fasting, a lack of
carbohydrates forces the body to
use fat as fuel. 13
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multiple perpetrators being
"It was the first empirical
study of this nature," says
Stephen Porter, professor of
psychology at UBC Okanagan
and a practicing forensic
psychologist. "We really had no
literature to draw upon to come
up with predictions, so it was
very exploratory in nature."
Porter and the team analyzed
victim characteristics, sexual
violence, sadistic/gratuitous
violence, instrumentality vs.
reactivity (premeditated vs.
spontaneous violence), motive,
weapon use and the role of
two-thirds of their victims were
male adults.
■ The crimes of multiple
perpetrators were generally
premeditated, well-planned
and with a clear goal in mind -
often some sort of retribution,
money or drugs.
■ Individual perpetrators were
much more likely to target
adult females, and although
there was usually some level of
premeditation, there was a lot
of emotion and anger present
that wasn't found with the
multiple perpetrator killers.
They also were much more
likely to engage in gratuitous
violence, such as torture.
"When we looked at murder by
multiple perpetrators, in general, these
guys were younger - on average mid-
20s - whereas the individual killers
tended to be mid-30s, and ranging into
their 40s, 50s and 60s."
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"Although it was a carefully
done scientific study, it has
clear practical applications,"
says Porter. "It can give police
a better understanding of these
types of crimes as well as offer
suggestions regarding the type
of suspect, or suspects, they are
looking for in a particular case.
It would help them get a quick
sense of who they are dealing
Quick indications about
who to look for are important,
Porter says, because in Canada
70 per cent of solved homicides
between 1991 and 2005 were
cleared within one week of the
incident, with the likelihood
of success dropping drastically
after that time.
Porter's co-investigators
were Marcus Juodis, a
PhD student at Dalhousie
University with a background
in domestic homicide reviews,
Michael Woodworth, associate
professor of psychology at UBC
Okanagan, and Leanne ten
Brinke, currently working on
her PhD in the area of forensic
psychology at UBC Okanagan.
The team finished data analysis
in 2008, and published the
findings in the current issue
of the psychology journal,
Criminal Justice & Behavior.
"We were surprised to
find that murders by single
individuals were dramatically
different from murders by
multiple perpetrators in a
number of ways," says Porter.
"For example, there were
demographic differences.
When we looked at murder
by multiple perpetrators,
in general, these guys were
younger - on average mid-20s
- whereas the individual killers
tended to be mid-30s, and
ranging into their 40s, 50s and
Some other findings suggested:
■ Multiple perpetrators tended
to target male victims who were
acquaintances - more than
■ For individual male
murderers, the victim tended to
be either an adult stranger or a
former partner.
■ The older males tended
to act individually, while a
significantly higher percentage
of younger offenders acted with
at least one accomplice.
"And one really interesting
point that we found was
that multiple perpetrators'
preferred method was to kill a
victim with firearms and they
were very unlikely to engage
in 'hands-on' methods like
strangulation," says Porter.
"We found the opposite pattern
with individual killers, whose
preferred method of homicide
was strangulation or stabbing."
When the researchers looked
at how psychopathy played a
role in a murder, they found
that individual psychopaths
typically used strangulation
and left evidence of sadistic
violence, even curiosity-driven
post-mortem violence. They
suspect that for multiple-
perpetrator crimes, there will
typically be a psychopathic
individual who, through his
keen manipulation skills, is able
to convince peers to engage in
heinous behavior.
"We already know something
about how psychopaths do
murders alone, but we suspect
that with many multiple-
perpetrator crimes there is
probably a ringleader - a
psychopathic fellow - who is
convincing others to do his
dirty work," Porter says.
Both Porter and Woodworth
strongly hope their research
will reach law enforcement
groups and other legal
professionals. To learn more
about this science, and
abouty training opportunities,
visit their websites http://
michaelwoodworth.ca/ and
https://people, ok. ubc.ca/
stporter/Welcome.html. 13
__^. ._     jmU              k* _
How do gangs influence homicidal
behaviour among youths? That
was one ofthe questions asked
in a follow-up to the Partners in
Crime study.
33 per cent of the adult sample.
To the researchers' surprise, the
study suggested that youth who belong
to official gangs committed about the
same number of homicides as non-gang
UBC Okanagan forensic psychologist
members of the same age, regardless of
Michael Woodworth and clinical
whether they were alone or with other
psychology PhD student Ava Agar,
offenders. That is, gangs did not explain
who studies at the University of
the high number of accomplice-assisted
Saskatchewan, set out to learn what, if
any, differences existed between youth
"Youth who belonged to more
(ages 12-17) who committed homicides
seemingly innocuous delinquent groups
and adult offenders, factoring in many
- groups that do not self-define as gangs,
of the variables used in the adult study,
but gather for the purposes of engaging
including the individual versus multiple
in criminal activities nonetheless -
perpetrator angle.
engaged in significantly more accomplice
"Multiple perpetrator homicide has
homicides," says Agar. "In fact, youth
more than tripled in the last 20 years
who belonged to such groups were three
compared to what was reported between
and a half times more likely to commit
the early '60s and early '80s," says Agar.
homicide with accomplices."
"Given how much emphasis has been
Woodworth and Agar have presented
placed on increases in gang membership
their findings at conferences for crime
and gang-related crimes, we wanted to
investigators in Canada and Italy, and
see whether or not this could explain
have been invited to present their work
why multiple-perpetrator homicides
at a large RCMP conference next April
had increased so dramatically in just 20
in Vancouver.
"The data can be used by all sorts
With the support of Dr. Heather
of individuals, but first and foremost
Gretton of Youth Forensic Psychiatric
we think it has real applications for
Services in Burnaby, B.C., the team
intervention," says Woodworth. "If
analyzed data from cases involving
we can understand more about what's
105 youth who had been convicted of
motivating these youth - why they are
committing particularly violent crimes -
"Very few researchers in the world
it can certainly help aim our treatment
have had access to such a large sample
goals with these youth and provide a
of youth homicides and have been able
better idea of the issue of treatability in
to explore and research them in a very
detailed, systematic, empirical and
"We're hearing more and more about
scientific manner," says Woodworth.
the influence of gangs at the youth
One of the most significant differences
level," Woodworth says. "I think the
between the adult study and the youth
data can also help law enforcement
study was that 67 per cent of the
better understand the dynamics with
youth sample participated in multiple-
multiple-perpetrator crimes at the youth
perpetrator homicides, compared with
level." 13 4 I  UBC REPORTS  |  DECEMBER 3,
UBC REPORTS  |  DECEMBER 3, 2009  | 5
UBC student composer Jared Miller's playful ode to Olympic construction will be performed by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
Electrical Engineering professor Jose Marti leads a team that has created a system that models essential services.
After seven years of Olympic
construction, it's fair to say Vancouverites
know a little something about
jackhammering and piledriving.
So when the Vancouver Symphony
Orchestra premieres 2010 Traffic Jam, a
playful ode to the cacophony of Olympic
construction by UBC student composer
Jared Miller, expect everyone in the house
to recognize the source material.
Miller, whose short composition will
be performed by the VSO on Dec. 5 at
the Orpheum, says his piece was inspired
by the daily impact on people's lives by
major Games-related construction projects
such as the Canada Line, Olympic Village,
Convention Centre and Whistler Highway.
"I wanted to capture the bombastic
sounds and emotions coming from the
construction and traffic, says Miller, a
fourth-year UBC School of Music student
who had plenty of time to think about
his masterpiece as his commute inched
along Cambie St. during the Canada Line
dig. Concert-goers can expect trumpets
imitating car horns, real sirens and other
literal effects, he says.
The 20-year-old Miller is the youngest
of five emerging composers from across
earlier this year. He says the biggest
challenge was keeping to the VSO's
desired length of around three minutes.
"If you are composing for a full orchestra,
that's like summarizing a 60-page Master's
thesis paper down to one page," he says.
The second UBC student to win a VSO
"I wanted to capture the bombastic sounds
and emotions coming from Olympic
construction and traffic."
Canada selected by the VSO to compose
orchestral music inspired by the 2010
Winter Games - and one of two from
UBC. With funding from the B.C.
government, each winner gets their music
performed by the symphony at least twice
and receives an $800 honorarium and a
professional recording.
Miller wrote his piece over four months
2010 commission is Ryan Trew, whose
work will premiere at the VSO's Cosmic
Masterpiece performance on March 13,
just as the Paralympics begin.
While Miller's piece explores the earthly
delights of Olympic roadwork, Trew's
composition Starlike is celestially inspired,
drawing parallels between the 400th
anniversary of Italian astronomer Galileo
Integrated Engineering students Mercedes Duifhuis and Sean Heisler subject gingerbread to cantilever stress test.
Galilei's first cosmic discoveries and
how the Games may impact the world's
understanding of Vancouver.
"The Games will illuminate Vancouver's
virtues and our challenges," says Trew, 30,
of his lush, ethereal work. "Like Galileo's
telescope or any major world event, the
Games are forcing us to question ourselves
and our priorities, helping us to face a new
self-perception as a city."
For tickets to Miller's and Trew's
Dec. 5 and March 13 premieres, visit:
vancouversymphony. ca.
UBC is a host competition venue for
2010 Olympic hockey and Paralympic
sledge hockey and UBC Robson Square,
the university's downtown campus, will
house unaccredited international media.
Eearn more about UBC 2010 research,
education programs and venues at:
UBC School of Music: music.ubc.ca
Ryan Trew's MySpace: myspace.com/
ryantrewmusic 13
GINGERBREAD continued from cover page
confuse their findings.
"One of the surprises in doing
this assignment was how a project
as seemingly trivial as gingerbread
can showcase so many engineering
fundamentals," says 20-year-old Heisler,
who plans to pursue a career in project
management. "Education isn't just
formulas - something fun can include
important learning."
The first challenge was standardizing
the shape and thickness of the gingerbread
pieces. After many frustrating attempts
in their lab, a.k.a. Heisler's kitchen, they
created samples in a variety of shapes,
including mini I- beams - tiny versions
of the girders that resemble a capitalized
letter I.
Once the material was ready, the
students designed several tests. In addition
to a density test, a tensile strength test
looked at how the material performed
continued on p.5
Imagine it's the final minute of the gold-
medal match, and Team Canada scores a
goal. GM Place starts to shake. You think
it's the excitement of the packed arena
and the reverberations of the applause -
but it keeps shaking - you realize it's an
Will there be a power outage? How
will the facility be evacuated? Where will
injured people be taken?
A UBC team is imagining just such
a scenario during the upcoming 2010
Olympic Games and answering these
questions using software that models
essential services and utilities during
a disaster. Led by UBC Electrical
Engineering professor Jose Marti,
the Infrastructures Interdependencies
Simulation (I2Sim) team aims to minimize
human suffering should a disaster occur.
I2Sim was chosen by Defence Research
and Development Canada to assist in
planning and real-time decision support
for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games.
Adapted specifically for downtown
Vancouver, I2Sim's role includes modeling
utilities, responders, venues and hospitals;
running simulations with public data; and
assisting responders.
Developed by a team of experts from
electrical and computer engineering, civil
GINGERBREAD continued from
under tension; a cantilever beam test
measured bending strength; and a
compression test evaluated gingerbread's
reaction to crushing forces.
The tensile test was the hardest to
execute, they say. It involved clamping a
piece of gingerbread at one end while the
other was attached to a hanging weight.
Formulae were used to determine the
failure levels of stress and strain of the
material. Numerous trials led Duifhuis to
conclude, "Gingerbread is not very good
in tension - it's just not stretchy."
engineering, computer science, geography,
commerce and psychology, I2Sim models
the interaction of infrastructure systems -
the things we rely on for normal city life
- food, water, safety and order, healthcare,
finance, electricity, telecommunications,
transportation, government and defense.
I2Sim simulates and predicts how a
disaster may compromise any one or
several of these systems, and allows for
and it is on a peninsula, so bridges must
be safe to travel to other hospitals. Many
factors must be modeled at the same time.'
With key input measures in place,
the software can immediately evaluate
the evacuation needs of GM Place,
the availability of beds at St. Paul's
Hospital and the best route to get there,
and provide contingency if St. Paul's is
damaged or full.
"This is a tool that can be employed in any
area ofthe world in the event of a disaster.
It can save lives."
planning and real-time human decisionmaking support during a dynamic crisis
For example, if an earthquake rocks
GM Place during a game, the software
immediately models the dynamic situation
and advises managers of essential workers
such as paramedics, doctors, engineers
and transportation managers how to best
proceed to minimize human suffering.
"The Olympics in Vancouver provides
some specific challenges," says Marti.
"In developing exit strategies, you must
consider many fans may not speak
English. There is one hospital downtown,
Marti explains that on one level, this
project is about combining engineering
skills with human needs, and on another,
about decision-making when resources
aren't sufficient.
"The overriding question is, how do we
balance needs in critical decision-making
situations?" says Marti. "It's essentially
an optimization problem with the goal
of ensuring human lives and minimizing
The I2Sim tool assigns value to limited
resources and allocates them to the most
essential areas, helping curtail a cascading
collapse of infrastructures and escalation
of an emergency, thus optimizing what is
available at any given time. Understanding
the interdependencies of critical
infrastructures is essential to mitigating
the impact of a crisis, and is at the core of
I2Sim's effectiveness.
UBC Engineering faculty members
have played essential roles in the project.
Principle Investigator Marti understands
the capability of the simulation tool and
the expertise of the team. Civil Engineering
professor Carlos Ventura contributes a
keen understanding of structural damage
and extensive experience in earthquake
engineering. Electrical and Computer
Engineering professor KD Srivastava
provides expertise from his years of
organizational experience. The team
employs two professional engineers, one
for programming and one for project
I2Sim includes a team of 12 graduate
and undergraduate students.
"It has been tremendously motivating
to work on I2Sim," says Hugon Juarez
Garcia, a civil engineering PhD candidate.
"Certainly being part of the Olympics is
exciting, but ultimately, this is a tool that
can be employed in any area of the world
in the event of a disaster. It can save lives.
What greater reward could there be?" 13
The 19-year-old has always liked
to build things. A finalist in a North
American Lego construction contest while
in Grade 6, she is contemplating a career
in architecture.
The report describes the compression
test as "subjecting the material to crushing
forces until failure was induced." The pair
loaded all of Heisler's textbooks in a stack
about a metre high on a sample piece of
gingerbread - until the cookie crumbled.
Of all the tests, the researchers deemed
the cantilever beam test most important
as "it directly corresponds to typical
gingerbread applications." In a three-
point bending test, a gingerbread beam
was suspended across a known span
(between counters) and centrally loaded
with a hanging weight. Dough made with
margarine did best on this test.
So of the three fats, which is the best
ingredient for architectural gingerbread?
The report states that samples made
with butter, although the tastiest of
the three according to the researchers,
"exhibited a very ductile quality through
compression." In other words, too squishy.
Beams made with margarine failed under
compression, but were quite good in
bending applications. Shortening was
declared the best - but least scrumptious -
fat for gingerbread construction.
Classmates consumed the construction
materials in a post-presentation repast.
More information on UBC's Integrated
Engineering program may be found at
UBC REPORTS  |  DECEMBER 3, 2009  | 7
Fertility drug may be a bitter pi
Choosing to cycle, rather than drive, is one way to cut greenhouse gas emissions, says the UBC Design Centre for Sustainability.
Evidence suggests fertility drugs contribute to increased rates of multiple pregnancies, which have a higher risk of problems for newborns.
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A new 100-year sustainability
plan that takes a holistic
view of North Vancouver's
environmental impact has netted
a prestigious award for that city
and the UBC Design Centre for
The centre, based in the
School of Architecture and
Landscape Architecture, aims
to bridge the gap between the
applied research carried out at
the university and the practical
tools communities need to
create a low-carbon future.
The plan considers how the
city can achieve the provincial
greenhouse gas emissions
reduction target of 80 per cent
by 2050, despite an expected
increase in population and jobs.
The project brought together
researchers, municipal staff,
citizens and local stakeholders
to consider energy consumption
and associated greenhouse gas
emissions. Looking at mobility,
density, water use and the long-
term livability of the area, the
100 Year Sustainability Vision
is one model of how university
research can make a tangible
necessarily associated with
high costs or negative side
effects," she says. "There are
many effective actions that can
be taken to reduce greenhouse
gas emissions that are low cost,
such as providing incentives for
people to walk or bike to the
store instead of driving."
Just through land use and
transportation, it's easy to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions
by 50 per cent, Campbell says.
"We need to start building
communities so they are denser.
Can you live closer to where
you work, or walk to meet
"Whether it's increasing housing density, improving
public transit, or community-centre spaces, we need
to make sure that the solutions fit the problem."
As communities struggle
to find ways to reduce their
environmental footprint,
the participation of research
initiative such as the UBC
Design Centre for Sustainability
may be the key to a low-carbon
"Cities generally don't have
the institutional knowledge it
takes to implement a variety
of programs that really work,
and that work together,"
says executive director Elisa
Campbell. "Whether it's
increasing housing density,
improving public transit, or
community-centre spaces, we
need to make sure that the
solutions fit the problem."
The North Vancouver
plan earned the Union of BC
Municipalities' Community
Excellence Award for
Leadership and Innovation.
impact in B.C. communities.
"UBC's work is out there in
the real world," Campbell says.
"Conversely, we're bringing the
knowledge we learn from our
community projects back into
the research environment."
One of the challenges faced
by the program is convincing
people of the need to act now.
"The long-term effects of
climate change are beyond the
purview of a normal person,"
Campbell says. "Most people
have bought on to the whole
sustainability thing, but when
push comes to shove, and
when tradeoffs start to emerge,
commitments become a little
Those tradeoffs don't always
have to be negative, she notes.
"Better lifestyles and low-
carbon communities are
not mutually exclusive or
most needs? If not, do you have
access to efficient and accessible
The North Vancouver case
study sits within a larger
project called Sustainability by
Design, a collaborative effort
to produce a compelling visual
representation of what Greater
Vancouver region might look
like in 2050, at neighbourhood,
district and region-wide
scales. The centre is presently
embarking on a case study with
the District of Langley.
"We want to come to the
point where sustainability can
actually be implemented into
communities by using the tools
we have created, based on
research from UBC," Campbell
says. 13
Making babies with the
assistance of fertility drugs
helps couples create families,
but do we really understand
all the impacts of these
Sarka Lisonkova doesn't
think so. A post-doctoral fellow
in the Dept. of Obstetrics and
Gynecology, she is launching
the first population-based study
in North America to examine
trends in use of the fertility
drug clomiphene and its impact
on birth outcomes.
"There is extensive research
on more invasive assisted-
reproductive techniques such
as in vitro fertilization, but
less is known about the effects
of fertility drugs," she says.
Research results will help
prospective parents, health-care
providers and health-policy
experts with decision-making.
Clomiphene, introduced in
1965, stimulates the ovaries
to trigger release of an egg.
It is widely used to treat
fertility problems such as those
associated with advanced
maternal age (older than 35).
Evidence from Europe suggests
that such fertility drugs may be
the most significant contributor
to increased rates of multiple
"We don't really know
what's happening in Canada
but we do know the increase in
multiple births is being called
a perinatal disaster because of
the elevated risk of pregnancy
complications and problems for
newborns," says Lisonkova, a
trainee at Vancouver's Child &
Family Research Institute and a
member of the Women's Health
Research Institute.
Fetal, newborn and infant
mortality rates are four to 10
times higher among twins and
triplets than single births, and
clomiphene use among B.C.
women from 1996-2006.
The research will capture
data on approximately 1.1
million women aged 20-55
parents need to carefully
evaluate the pros and cons of
delayed childbearing and the
use of these powerful drugs."
Research resources
"The increase in multiple births is
perinatal disaster because ofthe e
pregnancy complications and problen
cerebral palsy rates are at least
eight times higher.  Pregnancy
complications of multiple
births include higher incidence
of pre-eclampsia or toxemia,
gestational diabetes, low birth
weight and developmental
difficulties. In addition, there is
higher risk of the mother dying.
There are efforts to regulate
techniques such as in vitro
fertilization to ensure a
singleton pregnancy. However,
it is impossible to regulate
the number of eggs released
during ovulation stimulation,
which can result in multiple
Assisted reproductive
technologies of all kinds have
led to an increase in multiple
births in Canada. The rate of
twins increased by 50 per cent
-from 19 per 1,000 in 1985
to 29 per 1,000 in 2004. The
relative increase in triplet and
higher order multiple births has
been more substantial, with the
rate increasing by 175 per cent
from 42 per 100,000 births in
1985 to 115 per 100,000 births
in 2004.
Lisonkova will use
pharmaceutical and health-
related data to evaluate
and a total of 360,000 births.
Pregnancy and birth outcomes
of women using fertility drugs
will be compared to those
who conceive spontaneously,
looking at issues such as
differences in occurrence
of multiple pregnancies,
congenital anomalies, preterm
births, newborn deaths, and
Although couples bear the
costs of assisted reproduction
techniques, including fertility
drugs, Lisonkova says the
impacts of the drugs are
a public issue because the
consequences of those choices
are publicly paid for.  Multiple
Births Canada, a national
support group, estimates
that health-care costs for
one set of premature twins
is approximately $130,000
from birth to discharge.  Costs
include more frequent pre-
and post-natal monitoring,
specialized birthing procedures
such as caesarean delivery and
intensive care of newborns.
"We can't control
reproduction entirely and
assisted reproduction is not
always the easy answer that
some might think," says
Lisonkova. "Prospective
being called a
levated risk of
is for newborns."
include BCPharmanet which
collates data on all filled
prescriptions; Population
Data BC that captures health
and demographic data on all
residents; and the BC Perinatal
Health Program database
registry that has information
on all births at 20 weeks of
gestation or more.
Lisonkova works with
perinatal epidemiologist Dr.
K. S. Joseph, UBC professor of
obstetrics and gynecology and a
scientist at the Child & Family
Research Institute. Her research
was funded by the Michael
Smith Foundation for Health
Research. 13
The Dickens Luncheon Buffet-$45/person
at Cecil Green Park House on December 9, 11 :OOam & 1:30pm
Holiday Banquets
anywhere on campus including Sage Bistro, Botanical Garden,
Cecil Green Park House & Ponderosa Centre
Reservations and Holiday Banquets:   BD4.Bap.2ai B
Book your holiday get together
at your neighbourhood White Spot on Main Mall
Call B04-822-3B31 or speak to a supervisor on site
Swirls Christmas Bakeshop
November 17 - December 23
Take home a UBC Tradition this holiday season.
www.food.ubc.ca or 604.822.3649
£W I     UBC    REPORTS     |     DECEMBER    3,
What to get your dog . . .
and other holiday insights from UBC experts
As the holiday season approaches, we
asked four UBC experts for their advice on
gift-giving, having a sustainable Christmas
and how to beat the winter blahs.
For many, Christmas gift-giving extends
beyond the human members of the
family. What, if anything, should you get
your dog: an old-fashioned bone, or a
rhinestone-studded designer collar?
Stanley Coren, a UBC professor of
psychology and world-renowned expert
on man's best friend, says dogs understand
gifts in two ways: the pleasure of the
social attention they receive during the
ritual, and the gift, if it brings them
Coren, author of How Dogs Think:
Understanding the Canine Mind, suggests
that pleasing dogs is a no-brainer. His
research has found a dog's mind is roughly
equivalent to that of a two or two-and-
a-half year old human, and indicates that
Fido may not care whether or not she gets
the latest in doggy fashion.
"Anything pleasurable that we give
them - even just a dog biscuit in the
morning - might have the same status in
their minds as that 'special gift' that we
give them for Christmas," he says.
The best gifts for most dogs are things
that are edible, in part so the dog can make
its own fun during holiday celebrations
(and not interrupt the rest of the
proceedings), he says.
The dog won't feel left out if it doesn't get
a present, as long as it's not the only one. "If
other dogs in the room are getting gifts and
they are not, they are apt to get annoyed
and respond negatively," Coren says.
UBC researcher Lara Aknin studies
happiness and spending choices. Her
previous work led to a 2008 paper co-
authored with UBC psychology professor
Elizabeth Dunn that found individuals
reported significantly greater happiness if
they spent money "pro-socially" - that is
on gifts for others or charitable donations -
rather than spending on themselves.
Aknin suggests that gift-giving may have
played an important evolutionary role.
"Giving gifts may increase our happiness
by facilitating and  strengthening our social
ties," she says.
"I don't know what makes for a 'perfect
gift,' but a gift that would make the gift-
giver happier should involve spending time
with the recipient."
The holiday season also brings the shortest
days of the year, with just eight hours
of daylight as the winter solstice rolls
around. The dark days are a prime cause
of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also
known as winter depression.
Dr. Raymond Lam, professor of
psychiatry and head of the Division of
Clinical Neuroscience at UBC, says studies
show between two and three per cent of
the general population has SAD. Another
10 to 15 per cent gets the "winter blahs,"
troublesome symptoms that are not severe
enough to warrant a diagnosis of clinical
People with significant symptoms of
winter depression (i.e., low mood, fatigue,
oversleeping, overeating, concentration
problems) should be checked out by their
family doctor and/or a mental health
professional, Lam says.
"People with milder symptoms of
winter blahs can often feel better by
staying active and spending more time
outdoors during the winter, maybe by
incorporating an outdoor walk into their
daily schedule," he says.
Light therapy is also helpful for
people with SAD, and can also improve
symptoms of winter blahs.
What's better for the environment: a
natural of artificial Christmas tree?
John Robinson, professor in the
Institute for Resources, Environment and
Sustainability, suggests there's no clear-cut
"It depends on where you get the real
tree and how you dispose of it, or how long
you keep the artificial tree," he says.
Stefan Storey, a researcher who works
with Robinson, points to a Quebec study
that considered artificial versus natural
"It's a close call, but if you keep your
artificial tree for only six years of use, a
natural tree comes out as a winner in terms
of C02 production (eight kilograms versus
3.1 kg)," he says.
However, the study authors make it very
clear that this is a small impact compared
to the impacts of owning and running a car.
"If your annual journey to pick up the
natural tree involves a drive that's about 16
kilometres or more, the artificial tree starts
to fare well," Storey says.
Robinson recommends Granville
magazine and the David Suzuki
Foundation's website as an excellent source
of information on sustainable products and
services that can be used to choose more
sustainable presents. 13
Watch for a special UBC and the Games edition of UBC Reports in January.
The issue will feature UBC research that is helping improve athletes' performances,
UBC's participation in the torch relay, what the UBC community is learning from the Olympics ... and more.
Information for the university community about UBC and the Games:
Information for journalists about UBC Olympic and Paralympic experts, research, education programs, and our Olympic venues:


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