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UBC Reports Dec 4, 2008

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VOL   54   I   NO   12   I   DECEMBER   4,   2008
3      Medical ethics
4     Eye doctor in Africa 5      2010 dental care
6     Creative writing
7      Biodiversity
No Pulp Fiction: Engineers see major paper
mill savings with new rotor technology
BY BRIAN LI N with files from
A partnership between UBC,
government and the pulp and
paper industry has resulted in
the development of three high
efficiency pulp screen rotors that
produce high quality paper while
reducing almost half the energy
"There are currently 300 pulp
screens in British Columbia's 20
pulp and paper mills," says UBC
Mechanical Engineering Assoc.
Prof. James Olson. "The industry
consumes almost 20 per cent of
all the electricity produced in the
province and pulp screening is
an energy intensive operation in
that process."
Pulp screens work somewhat
like the spin cycle in a household
washing machine by rotating
at high speeds and forcing pulp
through narrow openings in the
screen. Pulp screens in B.C. alone
consume 300 Gigawatt Hours
per year at an estimated cost of
$16 million - or enough energy
to light up 15,000 homes.
Olson and fellow UBC
continued on page 3        Prof. James Olson looks to a future of energy-efficient pulp and paper-making.
Preserving the bounty of breadfruit
Any way you slice it,
breadfruit is a big deal.
A traditional Polynesian crop
grown throughout the Pacific
for more than 3,000 years,
breadfruit's diversity is now
declining - some varieties have
already disappeared - due to
damage from tropical cyclones,
climate change, and loss of
cultural knowledge.
Susan Murch, Canada
Research Chair in Natural
Products Chemistry at UBC
Okanagan, hopes to not only
preserve breadfruit from further
decline, she's working on ways
to make it much more abundant
- improving food security in
tropical regions and creating
new food products for North
American tables.
"Every four seconds someone
in the tropics dies of hunger.
It is one of the biggest food
security issues in the world
at the moment," says Murch.
"Breadfruit is a tree that most
people in North America have
not heard of, but has huge
value for food security. A single
tree can produce 150 to 200
kilograms of food per year. But
distribution of breadfruit to
feed people who are starving
has been limited by difficulties
propagating and transporting the
Breadfruit, which reproduces
through suckers or root cuttings,
doesn't do well in transport.
Bread is made from flour, but Susan Murch hopes to turn breadfruit into
flour - gluten-free and high in protein and vitamins.
Murch points to some infamous
history that links the breadfruit
tree to the 1789 mutiny on the
HMS Bounty.
"The whole point of the
Bounty's journey was to go out
to Oceania, to collect trees and
bring them back to produce food
in the Caribbean," she says. "Part
of the reason for the mutiny was
that the ship's fresh water was
being used for the breadfruit
trees, rather than allowing the
sailors to drink it."
More than 200 years later,
breadfruit continues to be a
prized source of high-energy
food, but it remains hard to
reproduce and international
quarantine requirements
on root materials make
distribution difficult. Only now
is science beginning to make
this invaluable tree easier to
reproduce and send where it's
most needed.
At a field station at the
National Tropical Botanical
Garden (NTBG) in Maui,
Hawaii, Murch is working with
a collection of 230 70-foot-
tall breadfruit (Artocarpus
altilis) trees. The collection
was established in the 1970s
and 1980s by Diane Ragone,
a world expert on breadfruit,
and each tree is a unique variety
collected from a different Pacific
island, with different leaf shapes,
nutritional composition and
environmental requirements. It's
an important and rare collection,
vulnerable to damage from a
natural disaster such as one of
the Pacific's great cyclones.
Murch's team is eagerly
developing new ways to
maintain, conserve, mass
propagate, and distribute the
most beneficial traditional
varieties using modern
techniques of plant tissue culture
and biotechnology.
"My work is all about the
nutrition in breadfruit, and
the distribution of breadfruit,"
Murch says, explaining that
in Hawaii and at her UBC
Okanagan lab, her team has
learned how to grow the trees
in bioreactors. Though many
North American food crops are
produced this way, Murch is
the first to make it work with
breadfruit, and this new way of
reproducing breadfruit trees is
continued on page 4 2     |     UBC    REPORTS     |     DECEMBER    4,    200!
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Highlights of UBC media coverage in November 2008.  compiled by sean sullivan
One-third of all fish pulled from
oceans used in animal feed
A nine-year UBC study has
found about one-third of all
commercially harvested fish
taken from the ocean is fed to
farmed fish, poultry and pigs.
As reported by Reuters,
Scientific American, the
National Post, the Canberra
Times, the New York Times and
the Seattle Post-Intelligencer,
so-called forage fish such
as anchovies, sardines and
menhaden account for 37 per
cent, or 31.5 million tons, of
all fish taken from the world's
oceans each year.
UBC senior researcher
Jacqueline Alder warns that the
excessive harvesting of forage
fish is "squandering a precious
food resource for humans
and disregarding the serious
overfishing crisis in our oceans."
Calling for a crackdown on
human trafficking
UBC legal expert Benjamin
Perrin made international
headlines after releasing
statistics showing Romania, the
Philippines, Moldova and China
are the top-four source countries
for foreign victims of human
trafficking to Canada.
Perrin says despite
31 documented cases of
international human trafficking
in Canada over a two-year
period, no one has been
convicted of the crime in a
Canadian court.
"We've confirmed that this
problem is a reality in Canada -
there are real Canadians who are
exploiting these women as well
as foreign traffickers exploiting
these women," Perrin told The
Canadian Press.
Metro, Canwest News Service,
the Edmonton Journal, the
Toronto Sun, Thaindian News
and CBC also reported his
UBC law professor Benjamin Perrin says Canadian officials must do
more to crack down on human trafficking.
Perrin also was called upon
to comment on measures being
taken by classifieds website
Craigslist to crack down on
human trafficking in the United
Tibetans ponder their future
As Tibetans gathered in
November to discuss their future,
UBC historian and professor
Tsering Shakya was called
upon for expert analysis by
the Los Angeles Times, TIME,
International Herald Tribune,
the New York Times and Abu
Dhabi's The National.
The shadow of China loomed
over the talks, as did the Dalai
Lama's mortality. The 73-year-
old leader was hospitalized
last month and had a gallstone
"China holds all the cards,"
Shakya told the Los Angeles
Times. Still, he said, "there's an
urgency among Tibetans to get
an agreement before the Dalai
Lama is no longer among them."
UBC financial expert in high
As the Canadian real estate
market began to dip, Tsur
Somerville, director of the Centre
for Urban Economics and Real
Estate, found himself called
upon to help explain the crisis
to readers and viewers across
Canada. Somerville was also
interviewed by the Montreal
Gazette and the Toronto Star
Somerville commented on
the uncertainty of Vancouver's
real estate market in a CBC
Television report, saying the
decline in home values and
sales won't end until economic
conditions improve.
And as news leaked out that
Vancouver city council secretly
loaned $100-million to bail
out the developers of the 2010
Olympic village, Somerville
explained the impact the bailout
will have on taxpayers to the
CBC, Vancouver Sun and
Vancouver Province.
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UBC Reports is printed by Teldon Print Media which is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) Certified. FSC Certification is a code of practices developed by
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sound practices have been taken out to the industry adopted where possible and consequently there is FSC Certified paper available today.
Companies operating in all three aspects of the industry have a distinct advantage over those that don't because FSC Certification is a "chain-of-custody"
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the source and audit all the industrial processes used from tree to paper and then finally to brand the finished printed product with the appropriate FSC logo. UBC    REPORTS     |     DECEMBER    4,
I     3
Ethicist studies patient-physician trust
UBC bioethicist Anita Ho
is trained to resolve tough
dilemmas such as end-of-life care
issues for families and hospitals.
An assistant professor at
UBC's W. Maurice Young Centre
for Applied Ethics, Ho is also an
ethicist for Providence Health
Care. Each week, she attends
interdisciplinary rounds at their
Ho describes one "gut-
wrenching" situation where a
family insisted on tube-feeding
for their father, in his 90s and
at end-of-life, since he could no
longer ingest solid foods.
The patient's healthcare team
advised against it since liquids
could leak into his lungs and
trigger infection. Despite the
team's good intentions, the
patient's son was distrustful of
the hospital's recommendation,
suspecting them of withholding
Ho waded into this welter of
charged emotions, reminding
both sides to centre their
decisions on the patient's wishes
and best interests. A Cantonese
speaker, she was able to explain
the hospital's perspective to
the family and listen to their
She then explained the
patient's cultural and family
dynamics to the healthcare team,
"which is concerned primarily
with medical considerations,
whether a treatment will
improve or worsen the patient's
underlying illness."
In the end, the team reached a
compromise with the family for
a less invasive procedure.
These types of interactions
inform Ho's research, which aims
to develop an ethical framework
that fosters greater trust,
consistency and transparency.
"How do we provide the
most ethical healthcare given
the constraints we have?" asks
Ho, explaining that current
ethical guidelines place great
emphasis on patient freedom
and autonomy, evolving from
previous eras when a more
paternalistic model prevailed.
"Now, the idea is that no
one can make decisions for
the patient. Instead, physicians
provide all relevant information
and options, and support
Bioethicist Anita Ho is researching an ethical framework that fosters greater trust and transparency in
health care.
patients to decide themselves the
best course of action."
But Ho says she wonders how
much control patients truly have
or want. Several years ago, Ho
thought best.
"I simply trusted them and
didn't know how to decide on
my own," recalls Ho. "Nothing I
had studied or written in medical
back in Canada, she questions
whether they were all necessary,
or whether the specialists would
have outlined all these options if
she not been receiving healthcare
"Despite the current emphasis on patient autonomy,
patients don't know what's going on in the system and
don't usually feel comfortable challenging the authority of
medical expertise."
experienced a cancer scare and
medical treatment that made her
test the soundness of medical
ethics. Panicked, Ho told the
doctors to do whatever they
ethics could prepare me for my
own personal experience."
Living in St. Paul, Minnesota
at the time, Ho agreed to
numerous treatments. Now
under her U.S. employer's
generous insurance plan.
"Despite the current emphasis
on patient autonomy," observes
Ho, "patients don't know what's
going on in the system and
don't usually feel comfortable
challenging the authority of
medical expertise."
Her current research
investigates how the changes in
Canada's healthcare system are
impacting the trust relationship
between physicians and patients,
and the public's perception of the
medical system as a whole. In its
first year, Ho's three-year study
has received support from the
Social Sciences and Humanities
Research Council.
"The study also considers the
meaning of patient autonomy
when the public has little control
or ownership over the medical
or research enterprise," says
Ho, who also serves as associate
chair for the UBC Behavioral
Research Ethics Board.
Patients are experiencing
a much more fragmented
model of medical care than
in previous decades, says Ho.
People no longer expect to have
one family doctor over their
lifespan. Instead, they may drop
into walk-in clinics or need a
healthcare team of different
specialists. Other dramatic
changes are in the offing with
increasing commercialization
and privatization of medical
Ho conducted a preliminary
survey on how much Canadians
trust what their doctors tell
them. The 43 respondents were
outpatients from a local hospital.
She has also been conducting
interviews with physicians on
their perspectives.
"Most respondents seem to
believe that physicians care as
much about their patients' health
as the patients themselves, and
that they feel comfortable asking
physicians questions," says Ho.
"However, respondents are
somewhat split in their opinions
of whether physicians respect
patients' disagreement. They
are also split on the impact of
commercialization on physicians'
Once Ho has gathered enough
data, she hopes to publish a
book-length manuscript to
help clinicians, healthcare
administrators and policy
makers to recognize the ethical
implications of various changes
in the system. 13
continued from page 1
engineers Carl Ollivier-Gooch
and Mark Martinez, along
with industrial partners at
Montreal-based Advanced
Tiber Technologies Inc., took
inspiration from aerospace
technology and designed a
family of uniquely shaped,
hydrodynamic rotors that
significantly reduce drag and
operate at much lower speeds
and power, while increasing the
capacity and efficiency of the
The technology was patented
and licensed to Advanced Tiber
Technologies and 100 new rotors
were installed in 30 mills across
"The trial results were beyond
everyone's expectations -
reducing electricity consumption
by 52 per cent compared to
current state-of-the-art rotors,"
says Olson. "If all pulp screens
used in B.C. mills were converted
to the new rotor technology, an
estimated $8 million could be
saved each year. Adopted nationwide, the industry could save
$20 million a year."
While the cost savings
would increase the industry's
competitiveness against new
paper producers such as China,
the reduced energy usage also
translates into lower greenhouse
emissions. The new technology
could also cement Canada's
leadership in pulp equipment
manufacturing and further
diversify a sector that currently
logs $53 billion in sales and $44
billion in exports per year.
As a result of the success
in the mill trials, the research
team has won BC Hydro's New
Technology of the Year Award
(2007), the Natural Sciences
and Engineering Research
Council of Canada (NSERC)'s
Synergy Award for Partnership
and Innovation (2007), and the
Trial results of the energy-efficient rotors reduced electricity consumption
by 52 per cent, says Olson.
British Columbia Innovations
Council's Lieutenant Governor's
Award (2008).
The work has also led to
a $2.2 million investment
from the Natural Sciences and
Engineering Research Council of
Canada and a partnership with
11 industry partners including
BC Hydro and most of the paper
mills in B.C.
"There's a gap between
electricity supply and demand
in B.C. and we need to do more
to conserve power," says Lisa
Coltart, BC Hydro's director of
Power Smart. "We're excited
to contribute to research that
will provide substantial energy
savings while making the
province a world leader in the
field." m 4     I     UBC    REPORTS     |     DECEMBER    4,
continued from page 1
already having a big impact on
the plant's distribution.
Last year, Murch's lab donated
7,500 trees for food security
to tropical nations but she
was quickly swamped with
requests for more trees than
she could possibly produce in
the research facility. To produce
enough trees, Murch has
partnered with the NTBG, the
government of Western Samoa,
and a commercial horticultural
company - Cultivaris in San
Diego, California - to mass-
produce and distribute trees.
"If our research can have a
positive impact on food security
and provide food in regions
where there isn't enough food,
that is a valuable contribution,"
she says.
In addition to distributing
breadfruit trees in the tropics,
Murch is investigating how
to use the plant to improve
nutrition in North America.
Breadfruit fruits can be dried and
ground to produce gluten-free
flour high in several vitamins and
protein, making it potentially
useful as a food additive,
supplement or hypoallergenic
alternative to wheat flour in
North America.
Murch says that, overall,
she wants to understand the
role that plants play in human
health. "Everything we eat comes
from a plant or something that
ate a plant," says Murch. "The
nutrients and phytochemicals
we consume can greatly affect
our wellbeing. Understanding
the mechanisms of a plant has
a huge impact on how human
health will progress through
the next 50 years and on how
we can feed and care for the
growing population in the
Pind out more about Susan
Murch's breadfruit research at:
faculty/susmurch.html or
www.ntbg.org/breadfruit 13
A Celebration
of UBC Excellence
Wednesday, December 10
7:30 - 9:00 pm
Chan Centre for the
Performing Arts
6265 Crescent Road
Experience presentations, videos,
singing, acting and interviews
that showcase UBC's outstanding
Complimentary coffee
and dessert afterwards
FREE tickets
UBC Model UN
Emerging Green Builders
Tales from the Bay
Engineers Without Borders
Award-winning Theatre students
Blue Whale Project
CBC TV's show Project X
VIFF award-winning film
UBC Opera Ensemble
Rural Health Outreach Project
Copies Plus
Custom Calendars The Perfect Gift
Bring in 12
colour photos
and we will
create a
beautiful coil
bound calendar!
$20.00 for the 1st
$ 15.00 for each add'l
includes 281b. Xerox laser paper
801b card stock add $S.00 each
Dr. Paul Courtright is living and working in Africa to treat and prevent blindness.
UBC eye doctors establish
African centre
Over 20 years of Excellence www.copiesplus.ca
1950 West Broadway 604-731 -7868
Open 7 Days Mon-Fri 8am-9pm Sat-Sun I0am-6pm
To Dr. Paul Courtright,
improving the lives of others
means taking a hands-on
approach to reducing blindness
in Africa.
An ophthalmic epidemiologist
in UBC's Department of
Ophthalmology, Courtright
studies the prevalence of eye
disease among populations.
Working in Africa, he has found
there are many community issues
that contribute to increased
blindness - particularly for
"Research shows that women
represent two-thirds of blind
people in the world," says
Courtright. "The high rate of
blindness among women in
Africa is as much of a societal
issue as it is a need for adequate
resources. Tor example, the
social standing of women often
prevents them from seeking
Courtright adds that women
in some of these countries do not
have decision-making authority
within families and communities.
This limits their access to
surgical services, and the health
care systems do little to enable
individuals to come in and get
According the World Health
Organization the leading causes
of chronic blindness include
cataract, glaucoma, diabetic
retinopathy, trachoma, and eye
conditions in children. Three-
quarters of all blindness can be
prevented or treated.
Courtright's passion for
research and treating blindness
led to the establishment of The
British Columbia Centre for
Epidemiologic and International
Ophthalmology (BCEIO) in
1995 at UBC. The centre is an
international advocacy and
teaching program that focuses on
building local capacity to prevent
and treat blindness, and provides
teaching in research methods and
data management.
"The BCEIO is instrumental
in developing research and
training tools," says Courtright.
"However, to truly have an
impact and to enable change
we needed to be on the ground
working with local providers and
communities and applying what
we are learning."
His family moved to Moshi,
Tanzania, and with help
from the BCEIO and Seva
Canada Courtright and his
wife, Dr. Susan Lewallen, also
an ophthalmologist at UBC,
established the Kilimanjaro
Centre for Community
Ophthalmology (KCCO) in
"We are working at it from
both ends, from a community
perspective and from a
healthcare provider perspective,"
says Lewallen. "At KCCO, we
are not training surgeons, but
rather we train people on how
to set up programs that support
the number of cataract surgeries
in programs serving rural
communities can be increased by
300 per cent."
One of the projects, in
collaboration with the BCEIO,
involves selecting local female
leaders who are trained in eye
conditions and simple promotion
techniques. They are asked to
visit households, meet with and
counsel family members and
refer people in need of eye care
To address blindness in
children, the KCCO and BCEIO
set up a program for getting
children to hospital and ensuring
adequate follow up with glasses
and low vision care.
"The most significant
development during the last
two years was expansion of a
"We are definitely making an impact on
reducing blindness. But really, we want to
change systems beyond eye care services...".
the surgeons in accomplishing
their work. Surgeons on their
own really can't do much — they
need to be supported by a team
that keeps the clinic running
smoothly and conducts outreach
to bring patients in from the
rural communities."
KCCO is the only training
institution for community
ophthalmology in Africa
dedicated to reducing blindness.
It serves 18 eastern African
countries with a population of
close to 210 million, from Egypt
to South Africa. KCCO directs
critically needed projects and
collaborations to bring eye-care
treatment and preventative
services to surrounding rural
"The demand for training
has grown so that doctors and
other eye care professionals have
come from countries across the
continent - Ghana to Eritrea to
Madagascar," says Courtright.
"Some of the programs assisted
by KCCO have seen two and
three-fold increases in eye care
services provided. Our work
has already demonstrated that
community-based program to
provide long-term post-operative
care for children with cataracts,"
says Ken Bassett, professor and
division head of the BCEIO.
The next step for Courtright
is to bring blindness and gender
issues to the forefront of the
international agenda. He, along
with other colleagues, will be
participating in a meeting with
other international leaders in
Washington, D.C. next spring.
"In many ways treating
blindness has become a tool and
entry way into the system," says
Courtright. "We are definitely
making an impact on reducing
blindness. But really, we want to
change systems beyond eye care
services - primarily at the health
provider level but also at the
community level."
The work of Courtright and
Lewallen has not gone unnoticed.
The world's largest association
of eye care professionals,
the American Academy of
Ophthalmology, awarded them
the 2008 International Blindness
Prevention Award. 13 UBC    REPORTS     |     DECEMBER    4,
I    S
Check out this
As energy usage continues
to be a hot topic, UBC Library
and the Sustainability Office are
teaming up in a unique effort to
cool consumption.
In November, the Library
began lending devices that
help people keep track of how
much energy is used - and often
wasted - by typical household
items such as laptops, monitors,
hair dryers and stereos.
The brick-sized devices,
dubbed Kill A Watt electricity
usage monitors, are easy to
use. They simply plug into a
wall outlet, and the plug of the
component being tested is then
inserted into the monitor, which
has an LCD display that counts
consumption by the kilowatt
The idea is to make people
more aware of their energy
consumption habits - and in
doing so, encourage them to
take steps to curb usage and save
Learning Centre are participating
in the project.
Crema adds that the Kill A
Watt gadget will also be used
to monitor energy consumption
within the UBC Library system.
"This helps raise individual
awareness, and I think that will
spread throughout the Library,"
she says.
According to the Princeton
Packet, a Princeton, New Jersey
publication, that town's public
library will save about US
$6,500 a year thanks to the Kill
A Watt devices, which it also
lends to patrons.
While some public libraries in
Canada and the U.S. have been
lending the tools, it appears that
no university library in North
America had undertaken such a
project - until now.
While Henderson's job focuses
mainly on cutting consumption
among staff, students and
faculty at UBC, he's pleased that
community users of UBC Library
can also take out the units for
home use.
The brick-sized devices, dubbed Kill A Watt
electricity usage monitors, are easy to use.
They simply plug into a wall outlet, and the
plug ofthe component being tested is then
inserted into the monitor. . . .
Leonora Crema, UBC Library's
Head of Borrower Services, tried
a Kill A Watt device in her office
and home for a few days. She
tested her office monitor and
printer overnight, and now flicks
off that equipment when the day
is done (the computer needs to
stay on for ongoing backups and
updates). She has also re-routed
her home computer electronics
to a power bar so they can be
switched off more easily. "The
Kill A Watt effort is all about
raising awareness as individual
power consumers," she says.
Orion Henderson, Associate
Director of Climate Change and
Energy at UBC's Sustainability
Office, has a similar view. "The
whole idea behind it is you
cannot manage what you cannot
measure," he says. "You're
almost creating a bit of a game.
You can really spark people's
interest." Indeed, he adds that
such "smart metering" practices
can lead to as much as a 20
per cent reduction in energy
So far, 10 Kill A Watt units
have been purchased for
$36 apiece. Stickers fastened
to the items feature a URL
html) where users can find the
Each device is boxed and
available for lending to card-
carrying UBC Library users for
two weeks. Koerner Library,
Woodward Biomedical Library
and the Irving K. Barber
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Crema, meanwhile, feels
that libraries will continue to
expand their lending services in
the future. She notes that UBC
Library already has a successful
laptop-lending program, adding
that camcorder loans are slated
to begin in 2009.
"The role of libraries has
always been to make different
kinds of technologies more
widely available," she says.
The Kill A Watt program
will run in its current form
throughout the coming winter
months. If it's deemed to be a
success, Henderson says more
units may be purchased and UBC
Library will expand its effort. 13
UBC dentist Chris Zed and alumnus Mark Parhar are leading dental care for the 2010 Winter Games.
20io athletes to get
top dental care
The closest to gold and silver
that dentists Chris Zed and
Mark Parhar usually get is in
their patients' dental work.
But that will change in 2010,
when their patients are wearing
gold, silver and bronze medals
around their necks.
"The Olympics and the
Paralympics are about excellence
and that is the standard we are
striving for with our dental
care programs," says Zed, UBC
Paculty of Dentistry, who is
leading dental care with Parhar,
a UBC alumnus, on behalf of
the Vancouver Olympic and
Paralympic Winter Games
organizing committee (VANOC).
With a new made-in-B.C. oral
cancer screening technology,
two state-of-the-art dental
clinics under construction and
prevention programs, Zed and
Parhar are working to give
Olympians and Paralympians
more than your average dental
checkup and offer UBC dental
residents a learning opportunity
to remember.
Zed and Parhar join a number
of UBC faculty engaging with the
2010 Games, including sports
physicians Dr. Jack Taunton
and Dr. Bob McCormack, Chief
Medical Officers for the Games
and Canada's Olympic Team,
respectively, and Canadian
Olympic Committee CEO Chris
Rudge, who recently joined
UBC as an adjunct professor to
advance Olympic studies.
Ironically, athletes' pursuit of
perfection may negatively impact
their oral health, says Zed,
UBC Dentistry's Assoc. Dean of
Strategic and External Affairs,
who leads a number of outreach
projects with Pirst Nations
and in Vancouver's Downtown
Eastside. "Athletes' demanding
schedules often trump a regular
trip to the dentist, so we try to
do as much as possible during
the Games," he says.
"Standards around oral
health care can also really vary
internationally," says Parhar,
who led dental care for the
2006 World Junior Hockey
Championship and is team
dentist for the Vancouver Giants
hockey team.
It is no surprise, then, that
dentistry is historically the
second busiest medical service at
Olympic and Paralympic Games.
During the four-week event,
Parhar expects their dental team
balm with UV protection and
another, tailored to athletes in
high-contact sports, will extol
the benefits of high-quality
Zed, who helped design
UBC's state-of-the-art Nobel
Biocare Oral Health Centre,
says the 2010 Winter Games
are a unique opportunity for
learning and research. Dentistry
faculty and students will be
studying oral health trends to
pinpoint problem areas and
"Outdoor winter athletes are at risk for
cancers ofthe lip and mouth because the
sun's UV rays are magnified by the snow,"
says Dr. Chris Zed,
UBC Faculty of Dentistry.
to treat more than 500 patients
for everything from routine
toothaches to severe sports-
related oral trauma.
Zed and Parhar are using the
Games to showcase the B.C.
College of Dental Surgeons'
world-leading oral cancer
screening guidelines, which UBC
research helped to produce. Tor
the first time, Games dental staff
will use veloscopes, a two-year-
old B.C. technology that floods
patients' mouths with light, to
help detect and remove oral
cancers before they spread.
"Outdoor winter athletes are
at risk for cancers of the lip and
mouth because the sun's UV
rays are magnified by the snow,"
says Zed, noting that 20 per
cent of athletes will receive oral
cancer screening. "There are also
anecdotal reports of tobacco-
chewing in some of the alpine
Zed and Parhar are also
developing a number of
awareness programs. One will
instruct athletes on the health
benefits of sunscreen and lip
improve future care. The dental
program's 14 student residents at
Vancouver General Hospital will
help with emergency care, while
other students are helping to
develop cancer and mouthguard
awareness programs.
As for the more than 30
volunteer dentists they have
recruited from around Canada,
Zed says: "This is all about us
giving back to the community.
By taking dentists out of their
day-to-day routine, we hope
to give them new skills and a
better understanding of people
and dentistry from around the
Parhar says he is happy he has
rekindled his relationship with
his alma mater. "UBC gave me
a really well-rounded education
and the tools to help me to be
successful in dentistry and the
community. It really laid a great
foundation for me to build
Tor more information,
visit UBC's 2010 web portal at
www.ubc.ca/2010 13 6     |     UBC    REPORTS     |     DECEMBER    4,    200!
UBC Creative Writing Adjunct Professor Deborah Campbell takes in the view while on a writing assignment in the United Arab Emirates.
Weaving the personal and political:
New writers drawn to genre
Krissy Darch got into UBC's
Creative Writing Program to
practice alchemy. She aims to
transform 400 pages of raw
notes into a lucid work of
literary nonfiction - a genre
also known as participatory or
immersion journalism.
An MA student, Darch arrived
in Vancouver this fall with a
suitcase full of journals about
her experiences working and
living in Accra, the capital of
"I came to the Creative
Writing Program for mentorship
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and support to edit this huge
amount of material," says
Darch, who has a BA from the
University of Ottawa in visual
arts. She will complete the book
as her MPA thesis.
Darch is one example of
the growing waves of young
writers intent on telling stories
that weave the personal
with the political - a trail
blazed by authors as diverse
as Joan Didion, Hunter S.
Thompson, Tom Wolfe, Ryszard
Kapuscinksi, David Poster
Wallace and George Orwell.
Student interest in the genre
has exploded, notes Deborah
Campbell, one of four instructors
teaching nonfiction writing
in UBC's Creative Writing
Program. A freelance journalist,
Campbell's work has appeared
in Harper's, The Walrus, The
Economist, Ms., New Scientist
and The Guardian.
Campbell says enrolment has
more than doubled over the past
three years, with 25 graduate
Darch saw these worlds colliding
during two separate eight-month
periods working as an intern and
volunteer in Ghana. Her first
assignment, from a Canadian
non-government organization,
had her teaching basic literacy
and visual arts skills to children
and adults. Her students were
mostly women who eked
out a living by working as
seamstresses, housekeepers or
as market traders selling basic
household items.
Darch lived close to the
community library where she
taught. She noticed, however,
that many volunteers stayed in
compounds or in Accra's affluent
neighborhoods, getting to and
from work in air-conditioned
SUVs, rather take than the city's
crowded buses.
Darch has chosen for her
working title an apt proverb
from Africa's Ivory Coast - "The
Stranger Has Big Eyes" - that
alludes to the blinkered view
of many Westerners. Her book
This Heated Place: Encounters
in the Promised Land, provides a
literary journey inside the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict.
Able to speak French,
conversational Farsi, Hebrew
and some Arabic, Campbell
immerses herself in the societies
she writes about. She spent more
than two months living among
Iraqi refugees in Syria for her
article Exodus: Where will Iraq
Go Next? The article appeared in
the April 2008 issue of Harper's
and was recognized this fall
with the Dave Greber Freelance
Writers Magazine Award.
Campbell's classes provide
students grounding in the basics
of journalism, with assignments
that focus on interview and
research skills combined with
narrative storytelling techniques.
She frequently counsels
students not to confuse the "I"
with the "eye" - the use of first-
person narrative must always
be justified. "If you're telling the
reader you're hungry or tired,
"Many of them have a global view and an interest in bringing
a writer's eye to real-world issues."
students currently in the
program's two nonfiction classes.
"Many of them have a global
view and an interest in bringing
a writer's eye to real-world
issues," explains Campbell, a
Vancouver native and UBC
alumna whose international
background includes studies
at the Sorbonne and Tel Aviv
For Darch, the attraction
is being able to explore ideas
of neo-colonialism, and the
phenomenon of "slum tourism,"
in which local people see
privileged foreign aid volunteers
and business expats "waltz in
and waltz out" in ever increasing
Between 2005 and 2008,
also addresses the fresh-faced
and idealistic youth who arrive
hoping to save the world, but
receive some harsh life lessons.
"Every year, NGOs send new
waves of workers," says Darch.
"A lot of them are young women
who've never experienced
gender inequality or abject
poverty. They often don't realize
when local men want to take
advantage of them."
Darch says she's grateful to
have Campbell's guidance "as
a working writer" to capture
these myriad realities. Campbell
has earned a reputation for
distilling complex global
issues into truthful narratives,
particularly about the Middle
East. Campbell's 2002 book,
that must in some way serve the
When critiquing student work,
Campbell says she's careful to
stress that no amount of time at
the keyboard can replace true-
life experience.
"The students who really
flourish are inquisitive," says
Campbell. "They're able to look
at the world from more than one
The workshop style classes
provide instant feedback, which
Darch has found extremely
useful. "This is a group of some
of the most discerning readers
you can find. You always end
up walking away seeing things
in your work you hadn't seen
before, positive and negative." 13 UBC REPORTS  |  DECEMBER 4, 2008 | 7
Hannes Dempewolf believes the best way to preserve rare plant varieties is by encouraging their agricultural use.
Project cultivates ancient
chocolate delights
Profitable gourmet chocolate
and biodiversity conservation
aren't mutually exclusive,
according to UBC graduate
student Hannes Dempewolf.
And the World Bank agrees,
to the tune of $200,000.
Dempewolf and other
collaborators from UBC and
Bioversity International, a nonprofit research organization
based in Italy, were among 22
winners - out of 1,800 proposals
"Currently, the majority
of cocoa farmers around the
world grow high-yielding, more
pest-resistant varieties called
Forastero, resulting in a lack
of genetic agro-biodiversity,
whereas cocoa plants in Trinidad
and Tobago are either the ancient
Criollo or a uniquely Trinidadian
variety called Trinitario, a hybrid
of Criollo and Forastero," says
"If we could demonstrate
the economic potential of these
ancient varieties and offer
"If we could demonstrate the economic
potential of these ancient varieties .... we
could create strong incentives to conserve -
and even increase - agricultural biodiversity
in the region."
- of the 2008 Development
Marketplace competition,
sponsored in part by the World
Bank and the Bill and Melinda
Gates Foundation.
The theme of this year's
competition encourages creative
solutions in agricultural
development, and funds pilot
projects with the goal of
establishing self-sustaining,
non-profit organizations in the
developing world.
The team proposes developing
inexpensive and reliable ways
to genetically identify and
authenticate varieties of cocoa
beans that date back to the
ancient Mayan and Aztec times.
These beans could produce high
quality "boutique flavours"
for discerning chocolate
connoisseurs and fetch a higher
market price. This would
encourage farmers to continue to
cultivate them.
inexpensive and reliable ways
for growers, certifiers and buyers
to authenticate them for the
market, we could create strong
incentives to conserve - and
even increase - agricultural
biodiversity in the region."
To achieve this, the team
proposes authenticating varieties
through a part of a plant's DNA,
which is located in chloroplasts
- the structures in which
photosynthesis takes place.
Unlike in typical chromosomes,
the DNA in chloroplasts is
inherited only through the
maternal line when the plant
reproduces, and thus remains
more distinct across generations.
"They are unique to most
varieties, like fingerprints are to
humans," says Dempewolf.
Over the next two years,
Dempewolf and his PhD
advisors, Quentin Cronk in
the Faculty of Land and Food
Systems and Loren Rieseberg in
the Dept. of Botany, will work
with cocoa farmers and experts
in Trinidad and Tobago and Italy
to create a database of cocoa
genetic diversity. They will also
develop standardized testing
methods for varieties grown
in local farms and plantations
and in the International
Cocoa Genebank, located in
St. Augustine in Trinidad and
While preserving rare plant
varieties in gene banks is
important, Dempewolf says
it doesn't allow for a species
to evolve with the changing
environment, a point especially
poignant with effects of global
"The best way to conserve
agricultural biodiversity is
through consistent cultivation of
different varieties. To accomplish
that, we have to make it
profitable," says Dempewolf,
who got interested in
international development work
when he came to UBC several
years ago as an international
exchange student.
The idea, and the UBC team's
expertise in plant genomics,
caught the attention of World
Bank President Rober Zoellick
when Dempewolf presented the
proposal to judges at a sort of
"idea marketplace" along with
100 finalists.
"He asked very in-depth
questions about the science
behind our proposal," recalls
Dempewolf, who was invited
to lunch with Zoellick along
with representatives from two
other winning teams, a rarity
according to World Bank
"We had a once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity to discuss our ideas
with one of the top economists
in the world," says Dempewolf.
"The whole experience was
surreal." 13
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