UBC Publications

UBC Publications

UBC Publications

UBC Reports Mar 1, 1972

You are currently on our download blacklist and unable to view media. You will be unbanned within an hour.
To un-ban yourself please visit the following link and solve the reCAPTCHA, we will then redirect you back here.

Item Metadata


JSON: ubcreports-1.0118574.json
JSON-LD: ubcreports-1.0118574-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): ubcreports-1.0118574-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: ubcreports-1.0118574-rdf.json
Turtle: ubcreports-1.0118574-turtle.txt
N-Triples: ubcreports-1.0118574-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: ubcreports-1.0118574-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

MARCH    1,    1972,    VANCOUVER    8,   B.C.
3 =
o 0)
0) o
3 2.
0) w
dj ^ -h co m
8 s? i 3 c
c  <£. cu ro 30
<  J? ZZ. TJ 2
2 < o o
O 3 3- 3J
b|- i.
■ £ s
Special Issue on
Brain Research
Almost all of this issue of UBC Reports is
the work of UBC's assistant information
officer, Mr. Peter Thompson, who spent the
best part of a year interviewing UBC scientists
who are involved in brain research.
Mr. Thompson, who specializes in reporting
medicine and science, was faced with an
embarrassment of riches in compiling material
for this special issue.
Brain research, he found, was being carried
out in a multitude of UBC departments in the
Faculties of Medicine, Science, Agricultural
Sciences and Arts by neurologists, geneticists,
physiologists, n euro-pharmacologists,
anatomists, neuro-chemists, psychologists,
biochemists, neurosurgeons . . . the list goes
on and on.
The articles beginning on this page and
continuing to Page Eleven represent only a
fraction of the total brain research carried out
at UBC. Because of space limitations, work in
the Departments of Pharmacology, Physiology, Pediatrics, and Psychology and others
had to be left out.
Summarizing his work on the articles, Mr.
Thompson said: "As a result of research on.
the brain being carried out at UBC and
elsewhere, our understanding of that all-
important organ is emerging from the darkness of ignorance into the dawn of understanding.
"Our increasing understanding of the brain
is reflected in human attitudes toward it. For
some people it remains an austere, even
inhuman, organ. But for more and more
people the appearance and functions of the
brain are becoming commonplace familiarities.
"In large measure this is the result of the
recent   spurt   of   scientific   discoveries   by
researchers in laboratories around the world."
♦ * *
UBC Reports is grateful to the many
medical scientists who took time out from
busy schedules to assist in making this issue
possible. We are especially grateful to the
Department of Medical Illustration in the
Faculty of Medicine for the line drawings and
some of the photographs used to illustrate the
articles and to the photo department of the
campus Instructional Media Centre for their
2/UBC Reports/March 1, 1972
The brain has held a fascination for mankind since
the dawn of human history. The oldest surgical
operation we have any record of is that of
trephining or cutting a hole In the skull to release
evil spirits. The illustration at right from a medieval
manuscript shows a physician making an incision in
the scalp prior to piercing the skull. The operation,
which is still carried out in Africa, was not always a
failure. Skulls have been found which clearly show
that holes made in the trephining operation healed
over. As western medicine advanced, the idea of
grace and sin as a source of sanity and madness
gave way to the concept of health and disease. In
recent years psychiatric analysis came into vogue,
characterized by the image of the psychiatrist
making copious notes of his patient's experiences.
A more contemporary way of dealing with
emotional problems is through sensitivity or
T-groups, which sometimes involve direct human
contact, as illustrated at far right. Since the end of
the Second World War, a new breed of neuro-
scientist has attempted to explain the mind in
physical terms. The basic unit of their work is the
kite-shaped neuron, shown in the illustration at
centre right. The human brain contains between 10
and 1,000 billion neurons.
Brains, even the healthiest, suffer from megalomania.
They have an over-inflated idea of their own worth.
They live out a warped delusion that everything lies in
their shadow.
Now that sounds a bit much, doesn't it, even today
when it's fashionable for some psychiatrists to tear at
their own entrails, wondering whether they're not mad
and their patients sane. How can anyone glibly say that a
sane brain can be a megalomaniac?
How? Just think about brains for a minute. Think of
your own brain.
Your brain never or seldom thinks of itself as an
object, as a physical organ. You seldom catch your brain
thinking about itself, lying there like three pounds of
cold porridge behind your face.
Your brain will let you think about your feet, arms,
head, genitals, teeth, even about your heart and the veins
inside your hand. But seldom will it let you think about
itself. It tries to exclude itself from consideration.
Even in terms of the important questions of life, love
and death, your brain deceives you. When you have a
strong feeling of love or revulsion, something may
happen in your chest or gut, and you identify love with
your heart and revulsion with a queasy stomach, even
though you know that what you are feeling has to do
with your brain.
When your brain thinks of death it might imagine
that your heart stops, you stop breathing, you don't see
or hear anything anymore and you decay.
Such a thought is horrible. But it's a horror your
brain can handle because of a subtle, unconscious
delusion that it is somehow unaffected. For your brain
to think of death not as the death of your heart or lungs
or other parts of your body but as the death of your
brain itself is for some to flirt with naked terror.
Try it. Make your brain think of your death as the
extinction of itself. You can't because it's impossible to
think of nothing, to think of what it would be like not
to think. Oh, you can imagine nothingness similar to the
darkness of sleep. But you can't imagine it for more than
a few seconds because your brain is in constant activity,
receiving inputs and generating responses.
So, you see, your brain is forever deceiving you.
There are probably sound reasons for this. Your brain
really doesn't have much information about itself. It
can't see itself. It doesn't have a beat like your heart. It
has no sensation of itself at all.
You will never be able to feel your brain. Headaches
usually aren't caused by something wrong with your
brain but most commonly by dilation and contraction of
the blood vessels in your head. The squeezing of thj
vessel walls is what causes the pain.
If you could anesthetize your scalp and skull, cfflf
through them and plunge a scalpel into your
unanesthetized brain, you wouldn't feel a thing.
Apart from no visceral knowledge of itself, your brain
still doesn't have much scientific knowledge about itself
The brain has always been and is even today '
associated with the occult and unknown. Historically,
madness involved the supernatural. Victims were
possessed by demons or divinity. The oldest surgical
operation we have any record of is trephining, cutting a
hole in the skull with a sharp stone to let out evil spirits.
As Western medicine advanced, the idea of grace and '
sin as the source of sanity or madness gave way to the
concept of health and disease. The mentally ill were
treated by physicians rather than by the clergy on the
assumption that the victims were diseased, though even
today no trace of physical disease can be found in the
brains of many people who are emotionally ill.
Unable to find a physical cause of many forms of *
mental illness, therapists at the beginning of this century
put forward a variety of theories on the origins of
madness. Analysis came into fashion. Psychiatrists relied
on religious sources, early sexual experiences, social
dynamics, literature, music, art, symbolism, existential
philosophy and Marxist theory in their work.
Today, analysis is falling from favor. It has been the
prerogative of the rich and it takes too long to be an
attractive solution to emotional problems. It is partly for
these reasons that less expensive group sessions have
become popular — sensitivity groups, T-groups and
others that make up the human potential movement.
At a time when analysis is waning, one of its most
popular new lights is challenging some of its basic
assumptions. Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing says that
what society takes as "normality" is a half-mad
reconciliation of the personality to a world that is
insane. Psychiatry, he suggests, is a form of sociology. If .
you're different or you differ, your community will tell ^
you you're nuts. But if the patient is sane, what does
this say for the psychiatrist?
It shouldn't be taken as evidence that Laing is right
that many psychiatrists think he's crazy.
Another reason for the decline of analysis is that the
mind is no longer the exclusive domain of psychiatry. A
new breed of neuro-scientists — neuro-anatomists, neuro-
«rsiologists,   neuro-chemists, neuro-pharmacologists —
trying to explain the mind in physical terms. Many
:he advances in the treatment of mental disease since
the Second World War belong to them.
Major advances in brain chemistry are reflected in the
r 'obsession with the mind that many young people have,
who were born during the period the discoveries were
made. If the music of the older generation equated love
with the heart in a banal way, popular music today
revolves around the brain — " . . . that keeps you on the
backroads by the rivers of my memory, and keeps you
- * ever gentle on my mind . . ." The mind and its
associations are repeated almost endlessly in dozens of
Preoccupation with the mind shows no sign of
slackening. The brain is now a journalistic vogue. Many
of the new brain scientists are convinced that brain
research will be the fashionable area of medicine in the
-•»• • coming decade. We may have brain institutes, a Brain
Month, Brain Sunday, and door-to-door drives for brain
research and education just as there are now for the
The ambition of neuro-scientists is to answer the
ultimate scientific question. As long as science has
. existed man has been fascinated by the possibility of
some day being able to match mysterious physical
activities in the brain with mental events such as
memory, color, creativity, sadness, madness, joy. He has
wondered what brain changes correspond to, say, the
smell of the sea, or the memory of the smell of the sea.
What happens in the brain when man thinks of
immortality or is overcome with a rage to kill? Are there
physical changes in the brain associated with murder or
the idea of divinity? What weird alignment of aitoms
makes a man think he's Napoleon? When the mind
thinks, what strange motion flows through the brain,
. _   moving  like electronic music up cul-de-sacs, returning,
and eventually coming up with something or nothing at
This isn't to go into the tedium and profundity of the
philosophical argument between mechanical
determinism of the brain and the free will of the mind,
nor the contradiction — if there is one — of creatures
living in both a physical and mental condition at the
same time.
Nor are neuro-scientists crass materialists because
they prefer to work with what can be measured. Matter
and energy are interchangeable. So, some of them might
muse, are the brain and mind.
It's just that many neuro-scientists believe that every
mental event, whether conscious or unconscious, can be
theoretically reduced to a physical process or
Many if not all of the emotional diseases now
hounding man are "molecular" diseases, they believe,
caused by some biochemical misadventure, an inborn
error of metabolism or some other complex but wholly
unromantic cause.
If some of these diseases have an environmental
component — say a miserable childhood, incest, poverty,
or an unbearable spouse — the effects will manifest
themselves physically somewhere in the brain, they say.
They point to two celebrated examples,
phenylketonuria (PKU) and syphilis. The percentage of
first admissions to mental institutions in the United
States as a result of the ravages of syphilis was eight per
cent in the early 1920s. Modern treatment and
prevention of venereal disease cut first admissions from
this cause to about one per cent in the early 60s.
PKU is a congenital disease. Victims can't produce an
enzyme needed in the metabolism of a certain
breakdown product of food. The missing enzymatic link
results in a build-up in the body of a chemical that can
lead to mental deficiency.
Many PKU victims used to be diagnosed as
schizophrenics. Today they are treated with nothing
more occult than a special diet to short-circuit the
enzyme deficiency; diet, the same form of treatment
given those of us with such mundane complaints as
obesity and ulcers.
The man who gave PKU its name — Dr. J.H. Quastel
— and the man who designed its first successful
treatment — Dr. Louis Woolf — are now scientists at
The basic unit of the neuro-scientists work is usually
the brain cell, one of the 1,000 billion or so neurons that
make up the brain. Neurons undergo many of the same
chemical reactions that cells do in other parts of the
body. Under the microscope they look similar.
Yet somehow they have a property no other cells
possess. They are the home of the mind. "Were it not for
the brain," says Sir John Eccles, distinguished visiting
professor to the University of B.C.'s Division of
Neurological Sciences, "the drama of the universe would
be played before empty stalls."
A typical neuron looks like an old-fashioned,
four-cornered kite. The kite's tail is its axon. It's from
the axon that electrical impulses travelling through the
neuron pass to the next neuron. From the remaining
corners of the kite — there may be many more than
three — stretch the neuron's antennae" called dendrites
for receiving impulses from other neurons. The dendrites
from each corner divide like the roots of a tree, forming
thousands of branches.
The dendrites of a neuron are connected to roots
from the axon of another so that neurons are
interconnected with each other. These connections are
called synapses. It has been estimated that a neuron can
have as many as 50,000 synapses attached to it so that
the various paths open to a signal travelling through even
a small number of neurons are mathematically
When an electrical impulse travelling through a
neuron arrives at a synapse it's too weak to cross over to
the next neuron. Instead it releases chemicals at the base
of the axon which carry the impulse across the gap into
the other neuron. These chemical transmitters can carry
the impulse across the synaptic gap as often as once
every 1/1,000th of a second and the impulse can travel
through thousands of neurons making up a bundle of
nerve fibres at speeds up to 200 miles per hour.
The discovery and manipulation of these
neuro-transmitters coincides with major scientific
advances into the mystery of the mind.
One breakthrough came in ^43 when Swiss chemist
Please turn to Page Tour
UBC Reports/March 1, 1972/3 DECEPTION
Continued from Page Three
Albert Hofmann accidentally swallowed LSD. In his
famous description of his first "high," Hofmann said
that objects and his colleagues appeared to undergo
optical change. He went home and went to bed. "With
my eyes closed fantastic pictures of extraordinary
plasticity and intensive color seemed to surge toward
Later the n euro-transmitter "serotonin" was
discovered and LSD was found to cancel out the effects
of the transmitter in the brain. Researchers began to
wonder if this was the explanation of LSD's
hallucinogenic effect. Since some aspects of an LSD high
are similar to psychosis, they wondered if turning off the
effect of serotonin was part of the biochemical basis of
Then, in the early 50s, a scientist discovered that
reserpine, a drug used for many years for treating high
blood pressure but which also tranquillized some
patients and sank some into deep depression, depleted
serotonin levels in the brain.
Two years later another drug, iproniazid, used for
treating tuberculosis, was discovered to increase
serotonin levels in the brain. It also relieved some
patients from depression.
At last, simply by studying the side-effects of two
drugs, researchers had two chemicals that produced
opposite emotions and science had a tiny toe hold on
the mind. Reserpine, the chemical that gave birth to the
term tranquillizer, and iproniazid boosted or decreased
the levels of a neuro-transmitter and brought on either
depression or hyperactivity.
Serotonin was added to the two already known
neurotransmitters noradrenaline and acetylcholine.
Dopamine and GABA were discovered later.
These five neurotransmitters — there may be
thousands more yet undiscovered — may never be
household words but they will come close to it. Speed,
LSD, L-dopa, amphetamines, tranquillizers and other
chemicals that somehow manipulate neuro-transmitters
have entered into our everyday vocabulary. They are our
new generation of psychological jargon, jousting with
older terms such as neurotic, compulsive, fixation,
regressive and narcissistic.
Reserpine marked the beginning of a revolution in
psychiatry. It affects not only the level of serotonin in
the brain but the levels of dopamine and noradrenaline
as well, removing the transmitters from their synaptic
vesicles or reservoirs at the end of the axons so that
smaller amounts are available to cross the synapse and
trigger the next neuron.
The result is profound tranquillization. This allowed
psychiatrists to treat many patients effectively for the
first time.
"Other tranquillizers followed reserpine and for the
first time in history the populations of mental hospitals
began to go down," said Dr. Patrick McGeer, head of
UBC's Division of Neurological Sciences.
"Medicine's attitude toward mental illness changed.
So did the public's and the patient's. You didn't have to
take them into the country and lock them up. It became
possible to treat them at an earlier stage of their illness.
"Today you never see a classical case of lobar
pneumonia. It's treated with antibiotics before it ever
gets to that stage. It's a clinical curiosity.
"The same is true of mental illness. The day is gone
when you can walk into the back ward of a mental
hospital and take your pick of a dozen catatonic
The new drugs make patients accessible to treatment.
But in spite of these new medications, half of all hospital
beds in Canada today are for the emotionally ill.
Yet mental illness isn't the whole story of the diseases
that lie in wait for the brain. As a physical organ, the
brain is liable to many of the ailments common to other
parts of the body and then some. The majority of
Canadians who will die of brain illness this year have
never been diagnosed as emotionally ill. They'll succumb
to "physical" disease in the purest sense. Many of those
who'll survive will be impaired, slightly or completely.
The greater the physical paralysis the heavier will be the
burden on society, the family and the victim himself.
Who's to choose between mental and physical paralysis?
The prospect of lying motionless, speechless and fully
conscious for 20 years, or half a century, in an
institution, completely dependent on others until your
life-span runs out, might make insanity appear to be an
attractive alternative.
4/UBC Reports/March 1, 1972
Two University of B.C. researchers who are
concerned with treating people who suffer from
strokes are Dr.   Vincent Sweeney, above,  of the
Division of Neurology, and Dr. S.J. Peerless,'
pictured on the opposite page, of the Division of
Neurosurgery.    Dr.   Sweeney   has   establisfA^k^m
The brain is exquisitely dependent on the blood
vessels that feed it. Metabolism in the brain — the
biochemical breakdown and reconstruction of
substances, with the release of energy — relies
completely on a continuous supply of oxygen and
glucose, a type of sugar the body uses as a fuel.
Metabolism in many other parts of the body doesn't
dangle on the single thread of oxygen and glucose but
can use other substances as a source of energy. And
many other organs keep an emergency reservoir of
glucose, oxygen and other metabolic compounds on
Not so the brain. It has no reservoir of oxygen and
little of glucose. Nature has tried to compensate for this
folly by giving the brain a generous blood supply. No
less than four major arteries — the two carotid and two
vertebral — suffuse the brain with a constant supply of
Not content with a large blood supply, nature has
added collateral circulation. The four arteries are joined
in their network so that if one system is damaged, blood
to that area of the brain may be supplied from the other
Unfortunately, even collateral circulation often isn't
enough to keep the brain going after an artery has
packed up. If blood supply to vital parts of the brain is
shut off, permanent brain damage occurs after four to
six minutes.
So the brain is a flower dependent on a stem of four
arteries for nourishment. Disturb the stem and the petals
wither. Seriously damage the stem and the flower dies. It
isn't surprising that cerebral vascular disease —
disturbance in the brain's blood supply — is the most
common brain disease in the adult population.
These diseases bring on strokes, the third largest cause
of death in Canada after cardiovascular diseases affecting
the heart and its blood vessels and all forms of cancer.
A stroke is a sudden loss of brain function. The
commonest cause is blockage of the arteries by a blood
clot. If the clot forms somewhere else in the body and
floats through the blood stream until it lodges in the
cerebral arteries, it's called an embolism. If the clot
forms where the blockage occurs, the block is a
Arteriosclerosis or hardening and narrowing of the
arteries is the major cause of thrombosis. The disease is
common in industrialized countries and in many cases
appears to begin as early as the late teens. It ususally
isn't confined to one area of the body. The coronary
arteries feeding the heart itself with life-sustaining blood
are attacked by arteriosclerosis. A blood clot formed in
one of the narrow coronary arteries, cutting off all blood
supply, is the mechanism behind coronary thrombosis.
The cause of arteriosclerosis is unknown.
A thrombus that brings on a stroke is usually in the
large arteries in the neck and usually forms when the
victim is quiet, resting after a meal or while asleep
Embolisms may be more critical. They tend to bio
a specific part of the cerebral vascular system, causi
paralysis. A form of prevention for both embolisms and
thromboses are anti-coagulant drugs that interfere with
the normal clotting mechanism of blood.
Less common than a cerebral artery blocked by a
thrombus or embolism are strokes caused by an arterial
blow-out, rupture of the artery wall and damage to the
brain by hemorrhage. The ruptures can be either inside
the brain itself or just outside and below the brain.
Hypertension is the disease behind the rupture of
arteries within the brain itself. Hypertension is continued, abnormally high blood pressure against the inner
walls of the arteries of the body. The disease affects 10
per cent of the population. Its cause is unknown.
An arterial blow-out at the base of the brain is usually
caused by an aneurysm, a bulge in a weak spot along the
arterial wall that finally bursts. Doctors think the
weakness is congenital — present at birth — and further
worsens with age. Though hypertension and aneurysms
can occur in various parts of the body, the arteries
feeding the brain are especially susceptible to them.
It was strokes brought on by ruptured aneurysms that
earned the name apoplexy. Blood gathers in a pool at
the base of the brain. Victims often drop to the ground
as if shot but seldom die suddenly.
Since motor and sensory nerves from the left side of
the brain cross over at the entrance to the spinal column
and control movement on the right side of the body,
brain damage through hemorrhage to the left side of the
brain affects the right side of the body and vice versa.
The speech centre is usually located on the left side of
the brain in right-handed people, so damage to the left
side of the brain could result in a right-handed person
being unable to speak or read though it may leave a
left-handed person with speech intact.
Arteries tend to burst during or shortly after some
activity that increases the flow or pressure of blood
through   the circulatory system.   If the  hemorrhage is
• intensive   care   unit  for   stroke   victims  at   the    for stroke operations. Detailed records of stroke
Vatmamtver General Hospital, while Dr. Peerless is     operations have pinpointed several factors which
comWrned with the surgical procedures developed    jeopardize results of such operations.
small,   brain   function   may   be   recovered,   though  the
threat of further rupture will always be present.
There are often warning signs of an impending stroke
caused by thrombosis. Few signs precede a stroke
brought on by a hemorrhage or embolism. If you feel a
numbness in a leg or arm, have difficulty thinking clearly
or have blurred vision or dizziness, you may be
experiencing the warnings of an imminent stroke,
probably caused by thrombosis. If this feeling lasts from
a few seconds to 24 hours and clears up without any
^i^^Bfects, you may have had a "transient ischemic
attack." Part of your brain was temporarily deprived of
its normal supply of blood. If the feeling lasts longer,
you've had a stroke.
Little is known of the cause of interference with the
brain s blood supply or the consequences. Dr. Vincent
Sweeney of UBC's Division of Neurology set up a
four-bed cerebral vascular intensive care unit for stroke
•patients at the Vancouver General Hospital in the fall of
1971 to try to find out.
In a search for clues, equipment in the unit measures
*" the parameters of each victim's condition. Blood
chemistry, pressure, pulse, breathing and other factors
are recorded. Continuous electroencephalograms or
recordings of the brain's electrical activity are made. If a
patient has another stroke at, say, three in the morning,
researchers will be able to study the readings
immediately prior to three o'clock for clues. They may
discover a pattern that could serve as a warning of an
impending stroke in the future. All the data recorded
will be fed into a computer for analysis. When warning
signals have been discovered, the computer will be
programmed to give instant warning of an impending
• * All this, of course, is old hat in the treatment of heart
attacks. Dr. Sweeney's unit is really a cerebral version of
coronary care units that have been available in North
America since the early 1960s, units which make
detailed recordings of the body functions of heart attack
^victims so that instant treatment can be given when
something goes wrong or threatens to go wrong. Patients
entering coronary care units today have twice as good a
chance of surviving their heart attack as they would if
the units weren't available.
The reason why cerebral vascular intensive care units
are  only  now  being established  is society's apathetic
' attitude towards cerebral and mental disease. Up until
recently the possibility of understanding the brain, and
so of being able to repair what can happen to it, has
seemed remote and perhaps unattainable.
Among the things Dr. Sweeney wants to find out at
the unit are the factors determining whether stroke
victims die or survive, and if they survive whether they
have severe paralysis or little impairment.
"A stroke can lead you into a vicious circle," he said.
"Let's say a person has advanced arteriosclerosis and
eventually a blood clot forms causing a thrombosis,
cutting off blood supply to parts of the brain controlling
breathing and heart action.
"With breathing and heart rate down, the body's
ability to supply the brain with oxygenated blood is
hampered, which in turn affects the brain's ability to
function, and so on.
"We also want to find out what factors can cause a
stroke in a patient with advanced arteriosclerosis apart
from formation of a clot. For example, does a
temporary shortage of blood to the brain, due to falling
blood pressure as a result of a change in heart rhythm,
bring on a stroke?"
The Vancouver Foundation contributed $50,000
towards the unit, the Rotary Club of Vancouver
$10,000 and the B.C. Hospital Insurance Service
$18,000. BCHIS is also picking up the operating
He has also set up a laboratory at VGH under a
$12,000 grant from the Heighway Foundation to study
the clotting mechanism of blood. Anti-coagulant drugs
now being used are more effective in preventing blood
clots from forming in the veins than in the arteries. In
the sluggish currents of the veins, a clot usually begins
when a fine network of fibrils form like cotton candy.
The fibrils are made up of a substance called fibrin. Onto
the fibrin meshwork adhere platelets, large cells floating
freely in the blood whose main function is to form clots
to prevent blood from hemorrhaging out of cuts and
wounds. Fibrin isn't normally in the blood, otherwise
our blood would freeze into one gigantic thrombosis.
Instead, fibrin is manufactured when needed through a
long chain of reactions. What anti-coagulants do is
interfere with one of the steps in the formation of fibrin.
But formation of clots in arteries usually follows the
reverse procedure. Platelets first stick to the wall of the
arteriosclerotic artery where the brittle surface has
cracked, exposing a small wound. More platelets stick to
the first layer and the thrombus grows. Only when the
clot is half formed does a fibrin meshwork form over the
Dr. Sweeney has been using three drugs in his
laboratory to try to decrease the "stickiness" of platelets
— aspirin, anturan, a drug used for treating gout, and
dipyridamole. He is beginning work on a Canada-wide
trial on the effectiveness of two of them — aspirin and
anturan — as a preventive treatment for stroke caused by
thrombosis. Seven other Canadian centres are involved.
The project will try to find out whether the platelets of
stroke victims are more sticky than normal and whether
the two drugs have any effect on their stickiness.
Neurosurgeons around the world have noticed a
strange pattern of mortality among stroke victims
following an operation to repair a hemorrhaged artery.
Often the patient will regain consciousness in hospital
shortly after a stroke and have headache, neck stiffness
but few signs of body paralysis. If at that point a
neurosurgeon operates, the patient may go rapidly
downhill, even though the operation was perfect, and die
of massive damage to the brain from 24 to 72 hours
after surgery. But if surgery is delayed for two or three
weeks, the patient has a better chance of surviving
surgical repair of his aneurysm.
Dr. S.J. Peerless of the UBC Division of Neurosurgery
said that after summarizing the results of stroke operations at VGH over the past 10 years and keeping a
detailed record of stroke patients over the past three
years, neurosurgeons have discovered several factors that
jeopardized the results of stroke operations. "One was
our anesthetic technique," said Dr. Peerless. "A common
procedure used in neurosurgery is to hyperventilate the
patient — give him lots of oxygen so that the amount of
carbon dioxide in his body goes down. When this
happens the blood vessels in the brain narrow. The
technique makes it easier for us to reach the damaged
blood vessels at the base of the brain."
Probable reason for the failure of the hyperventilation technique in aneurysm operations, he said, is
a spasm mechanism in the cerebral blood vessels. At the
time of hemorrhage they go into spasm and contract in a
desperate attempt to stop blood fro'm draining out
through the rupture. After this first spasm the blood
vessels relax. Then between the fifth and tenth day they
go into spasm again. This time the spasm is more severe.
If the operation to repair the hemorrhage is done during
the first spasm or before the second, patients have less
chance of surviving.
Dr. Peerless said hyperventilation compounded the
spasm mechanism. By using the technique the danger of
a thrombus forming in the narrowed arteries has
"Death usually occurs 24 to 72 hours after the spasm
mechanism begins. The vessels begin to narrow and the
brain becomes hypoxic — deficient in oxygen — and as a
result begins to swell with fluid. This causes local
compression of the veins and arteries which in turn raises
the blood pressure. Once you're into it you usually
can't get out. There's almost nothing we can do but
helplessly watch the patient go down.
"But what happens by waiting into the second or
third week after the hemorrhage before operating is that
you're eliminating all the patients who would die of the
second spasm anyway. You're avoiding the primary
He says neurosurgeons want to find a drug which will
counteract the spasm mechanism so that patients can be
operated on safely without having to wait for the second
lspasm to pass.
A second factor to come out of the 10-year survey of
stroke operations is indirectly linked to research Dr.
Peerless has done. For more than half a century
medicine has thought that cerebral blood vessels had few
nerve endings attached to them and that the nerve fibres
had little influence on the behavior of the vessels.
It was also thought, and is still believed in some areas,
that the opening of cerebral vessels is controlled by the
amount of carbon dioxide and other metabolic
breakdown products directly affecting the vessel walls.
According to this view, as carbon dioxide goes up, the
calibre of the vessel opening increases to bring in more
oxygen-rich blood and wash out the carbon dioxide.
Dr. Peerless discovered in the winter of 1969 while at
the University of Zurich that cerebral vessels have a rich
pattern    of    nerve    fibres    attached    to    them.    His
Please turn to Page Eleven
UBC Reports/March 1, 1972/5 Five of UBC's leading medical researchers, each
of them concerned with some aspect of brain
research, pose for the UBC Reports camera with
a model of the human brain. From left to right
are Dr. J.H. Quastel (see story on Page Eleven),
Dr. Patrick McGeer (see story below), Dr. Louis
Woolf (see story on Page Eleven), Dr Julin Wada
Sung (see story on Pages Eight and Ten). All are
members of the Division of Neurological
Sciences of the Department of Psychiatry, which
(see story on page opposite) and Dr. Shan-Ching     is part of UBC's Faculty of Medicine.
The Brain and the Bod/
The brain and the rest of the body are different in a
number of basic, physical ways. First of all, you have as
much brain as you'll ever have the day you're born.
Unlike the cells of most of the rest of the body, which
are constantly dying and being replaced, neurons have a
life-span of about 90 years. Your brain grew while you
were a fetus in your mother's womb and stopped a few
days before birth. Ruin a few thousand neurons and
you'll never replace them. Brain damage is irreparable.
Another difference is the so-called blood-brain
barrier. Your brain is finicky. It's very choosy about the
substances it extracts from the blood nourishing it.
Many chemicals, including some that are poisonous, that
easily pass from the capillaries into other parts of the
body, never penetrate the brain. Among the materials
excluded are the three transmitters dopamine, acetylcholine and serotonin. They must be manufactured in
the brain itself. Noradrenaline can't leave the brain. It
must be broken down into other substances that can.
The cause of Parkinson's disease — the "shaking
palsy" — is still unknown. It's a degenerative disease that
hits older people. Their muscles become rigid, their
fingers and hands shake and their body crumples up on
itself with the head sunk on the chest and the back and
knees bent. If the case is bad the only way the patient
can walk is with short, quick, shuffling steps. In
advanced cases the victim may be as rigid as a piece of
Parkinson's disease involves destruction of neurons in
certain parts of the brain which use dopamine as their
transmitter. More than 10 years ago UBC's Dr. Patrick
McGeer came up with the notion that the degeneration
6/UBC Reports/March 1, 1972
was because of a low level of dopamine in the brain.
Symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease had been
noticed in schizophrenics treated with tranquillizing
drugs and Parkinson's disease victims had low levels of
dopamine in their urine.
Dopamine can't reach the brain if injected into a
patient because it can't penetrate the blood-brain
barrier. So Dr. McGeer decided to give a group of
patients doses of L-dopa, a chemical precursor of
dopamine which can pass through the blood-brain
barrier and be converted by the brain to dopamine.
The trouble was that his thinly-financed laboratory
couldn't afford to pay $23 for each gram of L-dopa, the
going pharmaceutical price in the early 1960s. So he had
to improvise. He had a research acquaintance in South
Carolina send up a large sack of velvet beans used for
cattle fodder in the southern U.S. These beans have the
largest concentration of L-dopa of any known food
At that point he and his wife, neuro-chemist Dr.
Edith G. McGeer, faced a problem that neurological
science couldn't surmount. Their work in the next few
weeks revolved around the kitchen as they struggled to
find a way of cooking the beans in a way that would
make them agreeable.
"Parkinson's patients would have had to eat three
meals of these beans a day to get the amount of L-dopa
we wanted to give them," Dr. McGeer said. "But my
wife and I couldn't get the stuff to taste any more
pleasant than cooked grass. We gave up the bean idea,
mostly because of an experience we had had a few years
before with a special diet we put together for another
disease called alcaptonuria, a rare disease where an
enzyme is missing as in PKU. I prepared a processed diet
that  would  get around the enzyme deficiency  but  it
didn't taste very interesting. The patient said he would
rather die of the disease than face the diet. And he did."
The McGeers then settled for second best. Unable to
afford L-dopa, they bought the less expensive D L-dopa
and gave it to a group of patients, becoming the first in
the world to try large oral doses as a treatment for
Parkinson's. As they feared, the D-dopa interfered with
the beneficial action of L-dopa. The sweat and urine of
the patients turned black, worrying both the patients
and the McGeers. On the threshold of effective
treatment, they abandoned the trail because of the bad
Parkinson's victims had to wait another five years
until L-dopa was successfully used in treating the
disease. The effectiveness of L-dopa was discovered in
1967 by Dr. George C. Cotzias working in a wealthy
laboratory in the United States. He used massive doses
of the drug to try to treat another neurological disease
which by the sheerest chance also caused a low level of
dopamine in the same area of the brain as Parkinson's. It
worked. So he tried it on Parkinson's patients. It worked
Today two large pharmaceutical firms are manufacturing L-dopa and the price is about five per cent of
what it was 10 years ago.
Dr. McGeer is continuing the hunt for the cause of
the disease by investigating two compounds that are
thought to be neuro-transmitters and which just might
be involved in the disease. Trouble is, their chemical
pathways aren't known. But if they are transmitters, the
body must have a method of manufacturing them and a
way of breaking them down to get rid of them. Such changes always involve enzymes. So he is measuring the
suspected transmitters and enzymes in various parts of
th"e brain and the effect of drugs and lesions on their
Neurologists have described the use of L-dopa in the
treatment of Parkinson's as the greatest advance in
neurology in 50 years. Dr. McGeer doesn't agree. "The
greatest advance will be when the disease is cured. That's
• wbat's occupying our work now. We're trying to find a
cure rather than a better treatment. In the next 10 to 15
years the cause of Parkinson's will be found."
Epilepsy is probably second only to cerebral vascular
-djsease as the most common neurological disorder
among Canadians.
The disease is really a group of symptoms, like
coughing, with many causes. Epilepsy, which means
"attack from without" and was once considered of
divine origin, can result from an old blow or infection in
the brain, scar tissue or malformation of the cerebral
blood vessels.
A^Mrding to traditional terminology, if an epileptic
<3oA—Wmo convulsions, he's having a major seizure. If he
has onef staring spells with or without minor twitching,
it's a minor seizure. Still another form of epileptic
behavior is a psychomotor seizure. The victim usually
"goes through some normal action such as tying his shoe
laces, choosing a magazine to read, walking upstairs to
get a jersey or a number of other events lasting from a
few seconds to a few minutes. The only thing that's
abnormal about it is that once it's over, he can't
remember anything about it.
Seizures can be triggered off by a stimulus. It's
possible for a particular piece of music — say
Beethoven's Fifth Symphony — to evoke a seizure iin
some people. Or even a certain touching sensation meiy
bring one on, though this is rare. Physicians often bring
on a seizure in a patient through drugs or light stimulus
— ^■oeated flashes of light — to diagnose the nature of
tn^Mpilepsy. Most epileptics have recurring seizures
without apparent stimulus.
An essential part of the diagnosis is an electroencephalogram (EEG). Electrodes are taped onto a
patient's head to pick up the electrical activity of the
millions of neurons that appear as wave patterns traced
by an ink pen on a moving roll of paper. Though brain
waves give no clue to a person s intelligence or thoughts,
they do provide strong indications as to whether a
person has epilepsy or not. An EEG recorded during a
seizure is likely to show unusually high bursts of energy.
The ink pen traces large waves unusually fast or
unusually slowly, the pattern varying with the type of
''seizure. Even between seizures, the EEG of most
epileptics often shows some irregularity.
Seizures usually run their course. But stimulus can
break some seizures as well as bring them on. In some
patients, for instance, an electrical shock to the foot will
snap the brain waves out of their epileptic pattern.
Dr. Juhn Wada, professor in the Division of Neuro-
""lo'gical Sciences at UBC and director of EEG at UBC's
psychiatric hospital, has worked for more than 20 years
on epilepsy. He has discovered that the part of the brain
causing epilepsy — say an area covered with old scar
tissue — can teach other areas of the brain over a number
of years to bring on the seizures. He showed this by
, applying aluminum hydroxide to the surface of the
brains of monkeys and placing electrodes in their brains.
For some unknown reason aluminum hydroxide causeis
epileptic-like behavior. Three to seven years later he
removed the original epileptic area surgically but the
monkeys continued to have seizures because the epilepsy
had moved into deeper areas of their brains.
His work concentrates on epilepsy that can be
triggered off by stimulus. He is convinced that epilepsy
occurring without apparent stimulus is in fact caused by
stimulus   so  far  undiscovered,   perhaps  a   biochemxal
Please turn to Page Eight
Dr.  Ian  Turnbull, of the Division of Neurosurgery in the Faculty of Medicine, performs
eliminate intractable pain which /s be\ ond the
reach of drugs.  A  probe is pushed into the
operation  which lie developed to reduce or     patient's brain to destroy target tissue.
An Operation for
Intractable Pain
The first lobotomy was performed in Lisbon by
Egas Moniz, a neurologist, in 1936. It became very
popular and Moniz received a Nobel Prize. It was an
operation for schizophrenia. Part of the brain tissue
immediately behind the eyes was destroyed. For
some unknown reason, the intelligence of the patients
wasn't affected, though they ran the risk of
developing epilepsy from the scar tissue.
Although schizophrenia was often reduced, about
one-quarter of the patients lost interest in life. Many
were emotional vegetables. It was a hideous example
of the old, black-humor saw that the operation was a
success but the patient died. Since that unfortunate
venture into psycho-surgery, medicine has been wary
of operating on the brain to treat emotional
Dr. Ian Turnbull, of the UBC Division of
Neurosurgery, has resorted to psychosurgery for the
treatment of intractable pain. Many of his patients
have had terminal cancer. All other treatment
methods had been tried unsuccessfully. Apart from
their cancers the patients were in good general health
but they were in constant and excruciating pain
beyond the reach of drugs. And if that wasn't
enough, the cancer was often of the face, so the
patient had the added burden of anxiety. Normally
stable, they had become depressed, and for very good
reason. They could see the advance of their cancer
every time they looked at their face in a mirror and
the experience was so distressful that their emotional
balance shifted. Most of them had only six months or
so to live.
Dr. Turnbull's procedure — he's the only
neurosurgeon in the world doing it — is a
combination of two neurosurgical operations. It's a
stereotaxic procedure. The patient is fitted into an
apparatus that holds his head firmly so that it can be
manoeuvred in three planes to precisely locate targets
in the brain. The target tissue is reached with a probe
and destroyed by heat.
The first half of the operation is to sever as much
as possible of the pain pathway from the tumor or
other ailment to the brain. If the area affected is
below the neck, Dr. Turnbull severs the pathways in
the spinal cord. If the area is above the spinal cord, in
the face for example, he makes lesions — destroys a
small segment of tissue — in the thalamus, an area the
size of an acorn at the core of the brain. The
thalamus is a major relay station of sensory impulses
from the body to the cerebral cortex, the outer layer
of the brain.
These operations are to eliminate as much of the
pain as possible. They are combined with another
operation to make two lesions in a part of the brain,
called the cingulum bundles, which is involved in
generating anxiety and is directly connected to the
pain pathways. The uniqueness of the procedure is
that not one but three specific targets are hit using a
heat probe, each within an accuracy of one
In cases involving cancer of the face, "the
thalamus lesion alone doesn't knock off all the pain,"
Dr. Turnbull said. "There are too many pathways
from the cancer into the brain.
"And in the cingulumotomy, lesions in the
cingulum bundles aren't enough to reduce anxiety
because the pain is too overwhelming. The two
operations should be combined." He said the
operations have little effect on the patients'
personalities. They remain interested in life. One
patient went to the races the day he was discharged.
"I must say I was really quite concerned that the
operation would have a bad psychological effect
when I did my first patient," he said. "He was a man
about 35 with cancer of the face. He was threatening
to commit suicide and was terribly distraught.
Someone had to help him so eventually I went ahead.
But after the operation he was fine. He went back to
work for a while. His cancer progressed. There was
swelling but it didn't upset him much. The pain did
return but not as much as before."
UBC Reports/March 1, 1972/7 EPILEPSY Continuedfrom Page Seven
trigger within the body itself. If this hunch is correct,
and if he is able to unfold the workings behind the type
of epilepsy that can be brought on by stimulus, he will
have unravelled the mechanism controlling all forms of
the disease.
Some of his most promising work involves baboons.
About five years ago a group of researchers in Marseilles,
France, accidentally discovered that a few baboons
imported from Senegal went into seizures when given
light stimulus. The discovery was amazing. Light is the
most common form of stimulus inducing seizures in
humans. Until then, sound had been the most effective
stimulus in animals.
This led the Marseilles group, internationally known
for their work in epilepsy, to examine 600 Senegal
baboons. The animals had a tendency to seizures similar
to photogenic or light-caused epileptic convulsions in
humans. Meanwhile Dr. Wada imported 12 baboons
from Senegal. Four died. He went the Marseilles group
one step better and ran tests on the surviving eight
baboons to see if they were in fact true epileptics and
not just susceptible to photogenic seizures resembling
He placed 50 to 70 electrodes in each of their brains
and continuously recorded their EEGs and monitored
their behavior on videotape during the past four years.
He found that at least two of them had spontaneous and
recurrent seizures, the first discovery of true epilepsy
outside of man. He had found the ideal experimental
animal. Instead of artificially inducing in animals conditions similar to epilepsy in humans, and so never being
sure of the validity of the experimental results, researchers now have a source of naturally occurring
epilepsy in a colony of baboons in Africa.
In 1971 Dr. Wada received a shipment of 20 baboons
about eight to ten months old, probably corresponding
to two to three years old in human terms. He wants to
do an uninterrupted study of the changes in their
seizures over their life-time — something difficult to do
with humans — to judge the effectiveness of different
treatments. There is a definite pattern to epilepsy in
many humans. The frequency of the seizures often peaks
between the ages of three and seven and then again in
the teens. Sometimes the disease completely disappears
in later life.
While in Marseilles last year on sabbatical, Dr. Wada
discovered that if the .baboons are given doses of the
neuro-transmitter serotonin, their EEGs showed brainwave patterns usually associated with epilepsy.
Results of that experiment are now being used to
diagnose epilepsy in patients in Vancouver. Physicians
can now give a patient a serotonin precursor — to get
around the blood-brain barrier — and bring on epileptic
brain activity that can be recorded on the EEG without
putting the patient through the experience of having an
actual seizure.
One of Dr. Wada's contributions to epilepsy is a test
to determine exactly where a patient's speech centre is
located. It's generally located on the left side of the
brain in right-handed people and vice versa. Knowing
exactly where it's located is critical since surgery to
brain tissue that turns out to contain the speech centre
may leave the patient "speechless."
He took up the problem while a resident physician in
Japan after seeing a patient lose his speech following
brain surgery. His technique is to inject a small amount
of sodium amytal, a fast-acting barbiturate, in turn into
each of the two carotid arteries feeding the brain.
Injection of amytal into the left carotid artery feeding
the left side of the brain causes temporary paralysis of
the right side of the body and vice versa. It would also
affect the patient's ability to speak if his speech area is
partly or totally in the left side of his brain.
He published the successful results of his procedure in
a Japanese research journal in the late 1940s. Because
few of the international medical community read
Japanese, it went unnoticed. The procedure was used for
the first time on a non-Japanese patient in the mid-50s.
The operation was done by Dr. Wada while on the staff
of the Montreal Neurological Institute. It's now being
used throughout the world not only to locate speech
areas but to evaluate memory function as well.
The cortex or outer part of the brain is divided by a
gap or fissure into two hemispheres. According to text
books, the two hemispheres are anatomically identical.
Work by Dr. Wada not yet published shows that the two
halves aren't symmetrical at all. The area of the left
hemisphere where the speech function is usually located
is much larger than the corresponding area in the right
Please turn to Page Eleven
8/UBC Reports/March 1, 1972
German psychiatrist Hans Berger was the first man to
record electrical brain activity. He began in 1929,
worked in secrecy for five years, doing brain recordings
on his son. He also gave the electroencephalogram its
EEG has since become a major diagnostic tool. Dr.
Morton Low, head of the EEG department at VGH, is
taking EEG beyond its normal use. He's using it to
investigate what up until now have been regarded as
"mental" states — anxiety, motivation, attention,
performance and other complex brain functions.
A simple test for anxiety, for example, would be to
ask a person to choose the louder of two bells. A
mistake would cause a buzzer to sound. What's the
brain's reaction, as measured by the EEG, to the sound
of the buzzer? Is the EEG normal? Is the person
abnormally anxious?
The research may lead to objective EEG tests for
measuring the effectiveness of psychiatric treatment. Is
the patient less anxious than when treatment began?
Run an anxiety test and find out.
Before coming to UBC Dr. Low was with the Baylor
Medical School in Houston, Texas. While there he was
involved in medical research which was a spin-off from
the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's
projects. Baylor was commissioned to produce a method
of taking the EEG of an astronaut while in flight. Some
of this research is being applied here.
Conventional EEG equipment is large and clumsy.
About 21 electrodes are taped one at a time to the
patient's skull. It takes about 20 minutes to get a patient
ready for a recording. Baylor's solution is a disposable
cap of elasticized fabric with electrodes attached. The
cap can be put on and tied around the chin and the
astronaut is ready for recording immediately. Baylor also
developed power amplifiers and pre-amplifiers to boost
the recording over the noisy electrical background of the
inside of a space capsule. The cap and electronic
equipment were used in the NASA Tektite project and
will be used in the SKYLAB flight this summer.
Dr. Low, associate professor in the Faculty of
Medicine, plans to use both cap and electronic hardware
on patients. VGH is a monster hospital. Some patients
must travel two blocks underground through a maze of
tunnels that resemble something out of The Phantom of
the Opera to get to the EEG lab. Or clumsy,
conventional equipment must be wheeled through the
tunnels to them.
Cables will be run from the Intensive Care Nursery
and the neurology and neurosurgery special care units to
the EEG lab. The caps will be put on the heads of
critically ill patients in their own wards and their EEGs
will be passed through power preamplifiers and
amplifiers in these areas, then through the cables to the
EEG lab for recording. The system will be especially
advantageous in the Intensive Care Nursery. At present
the critically controlled atmosphere of incubators in the
unit is destroyed each time an EEG is taken because the
incubators must be opened for up to 20 minutes while
electrodes are attached.
Eventually other areas of VGH will be linked to the
EEG lab with cables. Dr. Low has designed similar
systems, following circuit diagrams from Baylor, for
installation in teaching hospitals being built at the
University of Western Ontario and McMaster University
as well as the new Children's Hospital in Ottawa.
He is also developing a telephone link for use between
remote community hospitals and the VGH EEG lab so
that patients in these areas can have their EEGs recorded
without travelling to Vancouver or Calgary. The Mr. and
Mrs. P.A. Woodward Foundation has footed the cost of
the cable connections within VGH and of the EEG cap
and electronic equipment, as well as the telephone links.
Recording equipment in his lab is being connected to
a computer he is installing under a $115,000 grant from
the Mr. and Mrs. P.A. Woodward Foundation and
$43,000 from the B.C. Hospital Insurance Service. The
computer system will be unique in Canada. It will be a
pilot project to show that it's feasible to automate the
monitoring of patients receiving critical care and will be
used initially to process information on the condition of
babies in the Intensive Care Nursery and patients in the
adult Intensive Care Unit and Stroke Monitoring Unit
being installed by Dr. Vincent Sweeney.
The computer will also be used to determine wiAber
a patient is dead or not. Dr. Low worked in the^Jne
institution in Houston as Dr. Michael DeBakey and right
next door to Dr. Denton Cooley, the two American
heart transplant surgeons, and did the terminal EEGs to
determine whether the donors were dead on the firs*
four heart transplants done by Cooley.
"It's much more difficult than you think to
determine clinical death," Dr. Low said. "At present we
have to record a potential organ donor's EEG for 20
minutes when we think he's dead, then leave and come
back and record again. But we don't know what went on
during the time we were away.
"We know that if there has been no EEG activity for
between six and 12 hours the patient has no hope of
recovery. The computer will materially shorten the time
necessary for being able to declare a person dead. The
computer will easily decide whether the electronic ^^p ,
it is picking up is from the patient's brain or frorr^me
electronic equipment itself, something we find
impossible to do now when the signals are extremely
Secrets of
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) has been said to be the
most important word of the second half of the century.
For better or worse, the solution to its molecular
structure by two obscure scientists, James Watson and
Francis Crick, nearly 20 years ago opened a Pandora's
box of genetic possibilities. Molecular biologists may
soon be able to change the genetic structure of a human
being in the embryo stage. This knowledge could make it
possible for an oligarchy to manipulate legions of
zombies, or it could correct genetic defects which lis
behind an estimated 50 per cent of human afflictions.
DNA's molecular chain is the basic material of our
genes. Written into DNA's structure is the formula for
creating   every   scrap   of  the  staggering  thousands  of
Please turn to Page Ten
He Found
There are several thousand known metabolic
disorders affecting the brain and there may be thousands
more yet undiscovered. These afflictions damage the
brain because food can't be metabolized properly. The
chemical that can't be broken down builds up in the
system and is toxic to the brain. The most famous of the
known metabolic diseases is probably phenylketonuria
Dr. Louis I. Woolf of UBC's Division of Neurological
'Sciences wrote the scientific paper giving the cause of
the disease in 1949, published it two years later while at
the Hospital for Sick Children in Great Ormond Street in
London, and developed the first effective treatment
which is now being used around the globe.
Phenylketonurics have a missing or defective enzyme
needed to metabolize phenylalanine, an amino acid
derived from the diet, which builds up in the body and
damages the brain, bringing on mental retardation. The
process begins almost as soon as the victims are fed for
the first time after birth.
The defect is caused by an abnormal gene. It's an
inherited disease. PKU hits about one out of every
20,000 live births in North America. In Japian the
incidence is approximately one in 60,000. In Western
Scotland and Southern Ireland about one in 4,000. No
cases have been reported among A.fricans living in Africa.
Soon after publishing his paper Dr. Woolf prepared a
diet free of the amino acid, using a technique he had
worked on during the Second World War for producing
pre-digested food to be given to those in the liberated
populations starved to the brink of death. He didn't have
a phenylketonuric to try it on but was approached by a
Birmingham physician who did.
"She was two-and-one-half years old," Dr. Woolf said.
"Today we'd regard this as very old to start treatment.
But in those days we didn't know any better. Besides,
we couldn't diagnose PKU any earlier with the
techniques available.
"It must have taken great courage for the doctor to
give her a completely unproven diet. I warned that some
of the amino acid would have to be given to her in the
form of normal food, otherwise the child wouldn't be
able to grow. In the first few years of this treatment for
PKU this advice either wasn't known or wasn't followed
by some other doctors and the results were disastrous."
The Birmingham child's condition changed
dramatically in a few days as did others treated in the
first group under Dr. Woolf's guidance. Most of the
epileptics — about one of every four phenylketonurics is
epileptic — stopped their seizures two or three days after
beginning treatment. Their EEGs began to change to
Slowly, their IQs began to increase from 30 to about
70 to 80, the point at which they can probably just
manage to live in society without being put into an
institution. One hundred is considered a normal IQ. The
average university graduate has an IQ of about 118.
"Back in 1956 we were very lucky," Dr. Woolf said.
"We got a child about two years old with severe PKU.
She was fitting all the time. We put her on the diet and
she was one of those who showed no response at all,
neither frequency of fits, IQ or anything. Then we
discovered that her mother wasn't coming to visit her in
hospital and we found out why. Her mother was in
maternity hospital giving birth to twins.
"So at age 17 days the twins were brought to our
hospital and — I still remember this, it was a Sunday
morning — we tested their urine and discovered that one
twin was phenylketonuric and the other wasn't. They
were fraternal and not identical twins.
"We began putting together a diet for the
phenylketonuric twin. The problem was to come up
with a liquid diet she could take in a bottle. All the
other phenylketonurics treated up until then had been
given a solid diet. We couldn't think of any way of
putting fat — human milk contains quite a lot of fat —
into the liquid. We tried corn oil and emulsifying agents
and mixed them up and it was a horrible mess.
"Then a dietitian said, why not try whipping cream —
double cream, it's called in Britain — and it made a
wonderful milk and the child took it beautifully. Her IQ
was measured repeatedly as she matured and it has
levelled off at about 90. Her untreated older sister has an
IQ of 20. Her twin's IQ is 110. It was a splendid
comparative test for the effect of PKU and our
Dr. Woolf was among the first to suggest what
enzyme defects are involved in another disease of
metabolism, Maple Syrup Urine disease, named because
the urine of its victims smells like maple syrup. Victims
seldom live past a few months of age because their brains
are so badly damaged.
Despite the fact that doctors know how to treat the
inherited disease, only a dozen or so victims have been
saved. By the time doctors realize what's wrong the baby
is usually dead.
Dr. Woolf was one of three groups of researchers in
different parts of the world which simultaneously and
independently suggested the current treatment for the
disease. If treated in time, victims survive and are
completely normal.
Today he is trying to isolate the enzyme involved in
PKU to find out how it differs in different forms of the
disease. He is also studying lipids, a group of fat-like
compounds, in the brains of patients suffering from
lipidoses, an ailment in which certain lipids are in excess
in the brain. Lipidoses is really a number of diseases.
Most of them are inherited and affect the central
nervous system. Victims die between the ages of two and
10, depending on the variety of the disease. The process
is especially hard on the parents because the child
doesn't die suddenly but slowly deteriorates and
becomes a human vegetable before succumbing.
A Pioneer
In Brain
The name of J.H. Quastel is known in every
biochemistry lab from Vancouver to Vladivostok. He
was one of the first to apply modern scientific and
systematic methods to neuro-chemistry, a watershed in
brain science. Previous to this most psychiatric patients
were cloistered somewhere in the country, far from the
curiosity of both society and biochemistry. And many
of the few scientists working with problems concerning
emotional illness prior to this were so overwhelmed and
discouraged  by the staggering complexity of the brain
that they retreated into obscure research little connected
with psychiatric treatment.
Half a century ago few were involved in biochemistry,
the chemistry of life. Today it is one of the strongest
sciences. The half century Dr. Quastel has devoted to it
coincides with its period of bloom. Much of his work
was concerned with the basic roots from which the
science has blossomed.
His associates and admirers describe him as a
Darwinian scientist. There are styles among scientists
just as there are among musicians. Some are rhapsodic,
some meticulous and conservative. Some scientists are
brilliant experimenters but mediocre theoreticians,
unable to grasp the implications of what they find.
Others are clumsy experimenters who excel in exploring
the various theoretical possibilities of their and other's
Dr. Quastel's style includes the best of both —
meticulous experimentation combined with a shower of
insights, few of which he's ever been able to chase down
He was born in Sheffield, England, in 1899 and took
his Ph.D. degree from Cambridge University in 1924 and
D.Sc. degree two years later from London University.
Some of his fundamental work was done before he
considered the problems of the chemistry of the brain.
His neurochemical research began in a small lab in the
Cardiff City Mental Hospital in Wales. Like most of his
labs it was meagre. Hospital staff had to pass through it
on their way to the dispensary.
Much of the modern view of the action of enzymes
was laid down by him more than 40 years ago. He did
much of the early work on the citric acid cycle years
before science devoted serious attention to it. The cycle
is the second stage of the metabolism of glucose, a series
of chemical reactions in the cells from which the body
gets most of its energy. It is often called the Krebs cycle
after the man who received the Nobel Prize for solving
Almost two decades before science became excited
over the neuro-transmitters Dr. Quastel discovered the
existence in the brain of the enzyme monoamine oxidase
which destroys the neuro-transmitter noradrenaline. He
also showed that certain drugs such as amphetamine
inhibit or block the action of monoamine oxidase,
increasing the amount of noradrenaline at the synapses
and increasing transmission and relieving depression.
He discovered the phenomenon of "competitive
inhibition." It was this work which led ultimately to the
creation of sulfa drugs, antihistamines and some
anti-cancer drugs. Competitive inhibition is one of the
major areas of cancer research today.
He coined the name phenylketonuria and was the
first to confirm the findings of the Norwegian physician
who discovered the disease.
"I began brain research in 1930 in a mental hospital
laboratory in south Wales," Dr. Quastel recalls. "It was
the first asylum for the insane called a mental hospital.
It was also the first mental hospital to employ female
"It had a wonderfully progressive superintendent who
was able to urge his views on the Cardiff City Council
because he was so extraordinarily fluent in Welsh. The
Council would do almost anything for him if only he
spoke to them in Welsh. One of his ambitions was to
have a research laboratory attached to the hospital.
Unfortunately he couldn't find the money to run it and
so he asked the help of the Medical Research Council in
England, which had a very able and efficient secretary at
that time by the name of Sir Walter Fletcher, who had
done pioneering work in biochemistry and physiology. It
was through Fletcher's encouragement that I went to
this hospital from Cambridge.
"I went to work in a very modest way with one
assistant. Our work was fundamental research on the
biochemistry of the brain, oriented in such a way that it
could throw light on the problems of mental disorder.
At that time many patients were given prolonged
narcosis treatment — they were put to sleep for several
days by giving them barbiturates — and remarkable
progress was made by some of them.
"Soon after I arrived a new superintendent, a very
able Scotsman and a humane man, said, Well it's all very
well giving this treatment but some of our patients have
died. And since quite a number of these patients are
Please turn to Page Ten
UBC Reports/March 1, 1972/9 DNA
Continued from Page Eight
complex biochemical substances that make up the
human body.
Most DNA is in the nucleus in the centre of cells.
When a certain substance is needed, atoms and molecules
form into a chain beside the appropriate section of the
long DNA molecule giving the code of the substance
needed. The new chain — called ribonucleic acid or RNA
— is an exact copy of the appropriate section of DNA.
When the matching is complete, the RNA leaves the
nucleus for another part of the cell where the RNA
chemical code is read off and the wanted substance
manufactured according to instructions.
When a cancer grows in a human body, cancer cells
multiply, endlessly reproducing more DNA, RNA and
protein, the basic material of living tissue, until the host
body is killed. But in the adult brain there is almost
no synthesis of DNA because there is no cell
reproduction. The brain is almost fully grown at birth.
That's why the heads of infants are so large compared
with the rest of their bodies.
Dr. Shan-Ching Sung of the Division of Neurological
Sciences at UBC is trying to unravel more of the mystery
surrounding   DNA.   He   has   chosen   the   DNA   in   the
nucleus of brain cells as his field of work. DNA is of
course the same all over the body, whether in kidneys,
brain or heart cells.
The main reason why he has selected brain DNA is-
that there are some proteins manufactured in brain cells
that aren't made anywhere else in the body. They're
brain-specific. This means that the RNA to make these
proteins from the DNA code must also be brain-specific.
So by limiting himself to the brain, he is making his
research less complicated by narrowing the number of
substances involved.
Unlike human brains, the brains of rats continue to
grow for about 18 days after birth. During that time the
part of the rat brain called the cerebellum multiplies 10'
times. By concentrating on the cerebellum of rats. Dr.
Sung has an easy source of rapidly growing DNA, since
each new cell must have the DNA master molecule to
carry on its functions. A number of vital body
functions seemed linked to the production of protein
from RNA. Memory, for example. Experimental animals
injected before a learning session with a substance
known to interfere with the production of protein from
RNA don't recall what they normally would 24 hours
Certain antibiotics act by inhibiting the production of
Continued from Page Nine
going to get better sooner or later, I don't think it's
worth exposing them to unnecessary risk.
"He was about to abandon the whole thing. I used to
accompany him on rounds through the hospital and I
said to him. This is not the way to handle the situation.
Here is a treatment that seems to be effective in certain
cases. What we have to find out is why certain patients
don't respond but become ill. If we find out, perhaps we
will be able to modify it.
"The superintendent, who had been completely
adverse to our work, turned completely round in our
favor when, as a result of our work, we found that these
barbiturates have effects on glucose metabolism that
might result in some of the ill effects that distressed the
patients. So I advised him that insulin be given to the
patients, together with large doses of glucose, so that
glucose utilization in the body would be improved.
"The result was that the toxic effects of the
barbiturates were alleviated. Prolonged narcosis
treatment then became much safer.
"This persuaded the psychiatric staff that work in the
lab could have practical results. The people who were
hesitant about our work really swung round. The
pendulum swung round so much the other way that it
became rather embarrassing. They began to think that
we could solve any problem, which of course was never
"We were able to show that of all substances, glucose
has a dominant position in providing the main fuel for
the brain, that almost the entire energy of the brain
comes from the combustion of glucose.
"We were also able to show for the first time that
acetylcholine is synthetized by brain cells at the expense
of glucose breakdown. We also demonstrated that
acetylcholine exists in the brain cells in what we call a
bound form. This bound form exists in what are now
called vesicles and occupies the attention of hundreds of
physiologists and biochemists. When acetylcholine is
liberated to affect another brain cell it comes from
either the breakdown of these vesicles or through
liberation of the substances from them.
"We   also   did   the   early   work   on   the   effect   of
barbiturates on the brain. We showed how barbiturates
affect metabolic events in brain cells, particularly their
suppression of the oxidation of glucose. At that time —
well over 30 years ago — the theory was put forward
that the mode of action of barbiturates in bringing about
the unconscious state might be linked with its ability to
suppress glucose oxidation in the cell and thereby the
energy the cell  needs for normal  activity. Today the
main concept still survives.
"In the same old hospital laboratory we showed for
the first time the existence in the brain of monoamine
oxidase. We started to work with the group of chemicals
known  as the amines because we thought  it possible
that, in certain cases of mental disorder, amines might
affect metabolic processes in the nervous system. Today
this is an enormous subject. Many of the amines with
which we worked  are  formed  in  the brain. They are
10/UBC Reports/March 1, 1972
called biogenic amines and include the
neuro-transmitters. We took a gamble that they might
play an important role in the nervous system and
investigated them in the brain. That was 35 years ago.
"It was only much later than the time of our work
that it was discovered that these amines actually do exist
in the brain. But it was our work which led scientific
interest to concentrate on monoamine oxidase and our
our own  behavior
is more precious
than a ton
of moon rocks'
finding that certain neurotropic drugs such as
amphetamine, or benzedrine as it was then called,
blocked the action of monoamine oxidase." Dr.
Quastel has been able to function simultaneously in a
number of fields. Agricultural chemists can't believe that
he's a neuro-chemist and vice versa. During the Second
World War he discovered the non-toxic, bio-degradable
herbicide 2,4-D and guessed at the properties of 2,4,5-T
but didn't pursue it because it was toxic.
"The effects of 2,4-D we discovered in 1941, only
one year after we started work," he said. "We were
interested not so much in the fact that it could destroy
weeds but that it was a potential weapon in the war. We
weren't allowed to publish a word until the war was
over. As a result of which my colleagues and I never
really got credit for it.
"Another thing to come out of our war work was our
finding that it was possible to condition the soil by
well-known chemicals so that it would support crop
production without the necessity of using manures for
the necessary humus. This gave rise to work on what are
called artificial soil conditioners which later was taken
up by Monsanto Chemical Co. They came out with a
substance called Krilium. Soil conditioners stabilize the
soil so that it crumbles and is porous, allowing roots
better access to air and water, both of which they need
for growth.
"We also evolved a technique, used extensively
nowadays, usually referred to as the perfusion or
percolation technique, for measuring the stability of
substances in soil; for example, how long a herbicide or
pesticide persists in soil and what happens to it while it
Dr. Quastel went to McGill University in 1947 where
he worked in cancer research and, as a teacher, spawned
legions of younger scientists. Many of them are now
eminent researchers, some still pursuing the leads he gave
them. He guided more than 70 students to their Ph.D.
degrees and supervised about 50 post-doctoral fellows,
Ph.D. holders continuing their research.
He joined UBC's Division of Neurological Sciences in
1966 to resume his work in neuro-chemistry. He says
that progress in brain research now demands that
neuro-scientists come together in co-ordinated efforts.
Their disciplines individually "can't understand exactly
what happens when a sensory impulse affects a nerve
cell, what exactly happens when this cell stimulates a
neighboring one.
"This to me is the central problem for understai)
what we mean by the conscious state, the faculty
memory. To understand memory we must know not
only how a passing impulse can leave a permanent trace
but how the impulse can be recalled and re-shaped. Is
memory a chemical substance, a new form of circuitry, a '
chemical modification of something already present in
the brain cell? These are problems of the future."
The future seems to promise a return of man's
attention from outer space to problems more at hand.
Over the centuries the ring of science has been drawing
closer and closer to man himself. Modern science began
with the outer universe and the classical ideas of
Newton, Galileo and Copernicus. Interpretation of the
formation and movement of the surface of the earth
itself had to wait at least one century after the motion
of the planets was charted until the science of geolocj
was established. Biochemistry, the chemistry of li1
things, came into being more than one century after:
fundamental laws of inorganic chemistry were laid
Perhaps the decade of expensive space exploration we
have gone through is the last fling of the type of science
that still concentrates on the universe beyond us. The
turning of interest from sterile space to man and the'
earth has influenced even the people central to the space
programs. Standing for the first time on the surface of
the moon, astronauts were fascinated by their vision of
the earth which they had spent so much time and money
to leave.
Seven years ago when the excitement of space
exploration was just beginning to quicken, Nobel
Prize-winning neuro-physiologist Sir John Eccles said
space travel is a low-level type of human activity. "It will
be appreciated quite soon how sterile it is," he said,
"because what are we finding? Dust and craters
everywhere. . . . "In a million years man will never be
to get to and return from any of the planetary systems
that there may be, even the nearest fixed star such as
Alpha Centauri, which is 4.3 light-years away."
:r t^F
If the planets of other solar systems are closed to
man, so are the planets in our own system. They are
uninhabitable. Man will be able to live nowhere in the
universe except on earth. We are beginning to realize
that understanding our own behavior is more precious
than a ton of moon rocks. Discovering the secrets within
the three pounds of warm tissue, within the inner
universe behind our eyes, is worth more than the
mountains of the moon or all the mysteries of the
universe worth knowing. As has often been said, man's
fate is within himself. Our destiny, whether madness or
sanity, will not be decided among the stars.
"The working of man's own brain," says Sir John,
"must transcend every other activity." RNA in bacteria cells but don't interfere with RNA
production in animal or human cells. Other chemicals
have the opposite effect.
Strangely, there is an enzyme in the brain whose only
job is to break down DNA, an odd thing to do since
DNA can't be replaced in the adult brain. Normally, this
type of enzyme is present in the body to get rid of a
substance after it has done its job.
One theory that tries to explain the presence of the
enzyme concerns the body's defence mechanism against
viruses. There are two general types of viruses. One
contains only RNA, the other DNA as well as RNA.
Perhaps the mysterious enzyme is in the brain to attack
and destroy DNA viruses invading the brain.
There is one type of RNA virus that causes a certain
kind of cancer. And, weirdly, it has an enzyme
associated with it that can make DNA, a complete
reversal of orthodox molecular biology. As a result of
this information, a drug has been found that will inhibit
the formation of this DNA and stop the cancer from
There are also indications that certain neurological
disorders may be caused by viruses.
Besides studying the production of DNA in the brain.
Dr. Sung is also working on the inhibition of the
production of DNA in cancer cells, production of RNA
from DNA and how the body breaks down RNA after it
has manufactured the protein it was coded for.
Continued from Page Five
observations were confirmed when he returned to UBC.
He also discovered that the nerve fibres have a direct
effect on the size of the opening of the vessels.
His hypothesis is that the brain itself, through the
'   nerve fibres attached to the vessels, controls the size of
the vessel openings. This is how blood vessel diameter is
^^fclated in the rest of the body.
^^^lis experiments  have shown three types of nerve
fibres attached to the vessels. The  largest system has
noradrenaline as the transmitter linking the nerve fibre
and the vessel wall. The second system uses acetycholine
'   as its transmitter.
The fibres also pick up noradrenaline passing through
the vessels in the blood stream. Dr. Peerless believes that
after a hemorrhage the fibres are damaged by the pool of
loose blood and can't remove noradrenaline from the
blood stream as they normally do. The accumulated
. noradrenaline then acts directly on the vessel wall,
bringing on the second and often fatal spasm.
It's probably for this reason, he said, that reserpine
has proved a poor drug for reducing the blood pressure
of   cerebral   hemorrhage   victims.   "It's   important   to
jjeduce blood pressure and relieve tension on the rupture.
r ^Lmrnosx all drugs used for reducing blood pressure fail in
the case of cerebral hemorrhage."
Reserpine, the drug used for reducing blood pressure
for years before its effects as a tranquillizer were
noticed, had a bad effect in its trials at VGH. This may
be because reserpine slows the uptake of noradrenaline
from the blood stream into the nerve fibres,
compounding the direct action of noradrenaline on the
vessel walls, and bringing on more severe spasm and a
greater chance of thrombosis.
Going on the hunch that hemorrhage victims would
have abnormally high levels of noradrenaline in their
blood stream because their nerve fibres would be out of
commission, VGH began measuring the noradrenaline
level of stroke patients a year ago.
Some patients showed levels 10 to 20 times higher
than normal. Results so far indicate that patients with
high noradrenaline levels died more often following
surgery than those with lower levels.
EPILEPSY Continued from Page Eight
hemisphere. He also found a curious sex difference. A
larger number of female brains had a larger speech area
in the right hemisphere. The larger speech area in both
males and females is present long before speech develops
and is visible as early as in the brain of a five-month-old
fetus, indicating that the hemisphere where the speech
centre is located is determined genetically.
He believes this genetic influence is partially
responsible for determining whether a person's speech
centre will shift or not if part of the brain is injured
* • when the person is learning to speak during early
childhood. For example, if a person's dominant speech
area is damaged and the "reserve" speech area in the
other hemisphere is small, his speech function may not
shift or there may be partial shift. But if the reserve
speech area is large and the dominant speech area is
^ damaged, speech function may shift to the unharmed
hemisphere so that speech is unaffected.
UBC representatives told a committee of the B.C.
Legislature Feb. 18 that the principle of tenure for
faculty members should be retained.
And UBC, they added, should remain free to work
out appropriate internal procedures for granting
tenure to junior faculty members and for dismissing
those who already hold tenure.
Support of the tenure principle was the main
feature of two briefs presented to the Legislature's
Select Standing Committee on Social Welfare and
Education, which was asked in the Throne Speech
that opened the 1972 session of the Legislature to
review tenure at UBC's three public universities.
Full texts of the briefs presented to the committee
appeared in the Feb. 23 edition of UBC Reports.
Readers wishing copies should write to the
Department of Information Services, UBC, or
telephone 228-3131.
Separate briefs were presented to the Legislature
Committee by Dean Ian McT. Cowan, head of the
Faculty of Graduate Studies, who represented UBC's
academic administration, and Dr. Robert Kubicek,
president of UBC's Faculty Association.
Both Dean Cowan and Dr. Kubicek emphasized
that UBC is currently involved in the second year of a
detailed assessment of tenure and has drafted a more
detailed restatement and elaboration of principles and
procedures that will retain the advantages of tenure
while removing most of the potential seeds of
Other groups which plan to appear before the
committee are the UBC Alma Mater Society and the
Women's Action Group, a women's organization
made   up   of   representatives of  faculty,  staff  and
students at UBC.
* * *
March 15 is the final day for the receipt of
nominations for the post of Chancellor of the
University and Convocation members of the Senate.
Nominations should be sent to UBC's Registrar,
Mr. J.E.A. Parnall, who has full details of the method
of nomination for the posts.
If an election for Chancellor and the Convocation
members of Senate is necessary, it will take place on
June 7. Ballots will be counted on the afternoon of
June 7 and the results announced that night at a
meeting of the Senate.
* * *
UBC's Library is now the second largest academic
library in Canada, but physical deficiencies for
education, fine arts and the sciences are detrimental
to campus teaching, learning and research.
Such are the paradoxes outlined by UBC Librarian
Basil Stuart-Stubbs, who notes in his annual report to
UBC's Senate that the Library now has 1,500,000
catalogued volumes on its shelves, but will be faced
with moving more of its collection into storage unless
new facilities for 2,525,000 volumes are constructed
by 1980.
The most pressing needs of the UBC Library
system, he notes in his report for the 1970-71
academic year, are construction of an education
library and learning resource centre, a fine arts library
within a fine arts building and units for the pure and
applied sciences.
These needs, detailed for the Senate Committee on
Academic Building Needs, fared badly in the assignment of priorities by the committee in the fall of
1971. No proposed library facility was included in
the list of four projects recommended by the
committee for construction in the next two years.
Turning to the ultimate requirements of the UBC
library system, Mr. Stuart-Stubbs says 10,450 study
places will be required when UBC reaches the
enrolment limitation of 27,500 students established
by Senate in 1970.
* * *
Six Canadians prominent in the worlds of entertainment, science and business will receive honorary
degrees at UBC's Spring Congregation on May 24, 25
and 26.
Honorary Doctor of Laws degree will be conferred
on Miss Frances Hyland and Mr. Arthur Hill, well-
known stage personalities; theatre and television
producer Mr. Lister Sinclair, who is currently
producer of arts and science programs for the
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; and Mr. Allan M.
McGavin, Chancellor of the University.
Honorary Doctor of Science degrees will be
awarded to Dr. M.Y. Williams, professor emeritus of
geology at UBC, and Prof. Norman J. Berrill, a noted
invertebrate zoologist who formerly taught at McGill
# * *
A total of eight active and retired members of the
UBC faculty have died since Dec. 31, 1971. Dead are:
— Mr. Benjamin R. Whitinger, associate professor
of Education, on Dec. 31, 1971. Mr. Whitinger was
the founder of an audio-visual training program for
students in the Faculty of Education and was 58
years old at the time of his death.
— Mr. Hugh M. Mcllroy, professor emeritus of
Mechanical Engineering, died Jan. 9 at the age of 66.
Prof. Mcllroy was a member of the UBC faculty for
34 years and during the Second World War was
commander of the UBC naval contingent. He also
headed the University ceremonies committee for 10
— Mr. Richard W. Pillsbury, assistant professor
emeritus of Botany, died on Jan. 11 at the age of 68.
A UBC graduate, Mr. Pillsbury taught at UBC from
1946 until his retirement in 1970.
— Dr. Robert J. Clark, honorary lecturer in the
Department of Physics, died Feb. 2 at the age of 78.
Dr. Clark studied at Cambridge University, where he
was associated with Nobel Prize winner Dr. Ernest
Rutherford. He lectured at UBC from 1946 until his
retirement in 1963.
— Dr. G. Howell Harris, professor emeritus of
Horticulture, and his brother. Dr. J. Allen Harris,
professor emeritus of Chemistry died within 24 hours
of each other on Feb. 5 and 6.
Prof. Howell Harris, who died the day before his
74th birthday, was a UBC graduate and a member of
the faculty from 1925 until his retirement in 1963.
His brother, Dr. J. Allen Harris, was also a UBC
graduate and was widely-known for his discovery of a
rare earth element called illinium at the age of 25. He
joined the UBC faculty in 1932 and retired in 1966.
He was 72 at the time of his death.
— Prof. Patrick Guthrie, of the Department of
Classics and a faculty member since 1936, died on
Feb. 11 at the age of 59.
— Dr. John A. Gower, a UBC graduate and
associate professor in the UBC geology department,
died Feb. 22 after a long illness at the age of 50. He
was one of Canada's leading experts in the field of
mineral exploration.
# * *
Four leading scientists and humanists, including
two Nobel Prize winners, will give a total of ten
public lectures at the University of B.C. in March.
Three of the lecturers will be the first visiting
professors brought to UBC as the result of a gift from
Dr. Cecil Green, a former UBC student, and his wife,
The fourth speaker will give two Dal Grauer
Memorial Lectures.
The Cecil H. and Ida Green Visiting Professors are:
Dr. Gerhard Herzberg, Canada's 1971 Nobel Prize
Winner and a research scientist at the National
Research Council in Ottawa;
Dr. Donald O. Hebb, one of Canada's best-known
experimental psychologists and Chancellor of McGill
University, and
Dr. J. Tuzo Wilson, one of the world's leading
geophysicists, who teaches at the University of
The Dal Grauer Memorial Lecturer is Prof. George
Wald, professor of biology at Harvard University and
winner of the Nobel Prize for Physiology in 1967.
Prof. Wald is perhaps best known for a 1969
speech that he gave at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology in which he attacked U.S. militarism and
analysed the disaffection of contemporary young
A flyer listing the dates, titles and locations of the
lectures is available from UBC's Department of
Information Services, telephone 228—3131.
■ ■■%#% Vol. 18, No. 5 - March 1,
IIIkI 1972. Published by the
^jfl^jfl MM UniversitV of British Columbia
^mmwmy and djstrjbUted free. UBC
Reports     appears     on
Wednesdays during the University's winter
session. J.A. Banham, Editor. Louise Hoskin,
Production Supervisor. Letters to the Editor
should be sent to Information Services, Main
Mall North Administration Building, UBC,
Vancouver 8, B.C.
UBC Reports/March 1, 1972/11 a0^ UBC ALUMNI    ■ ■
ALUMNI government relations committee member -
Mrs. Bev Field (left foreground) discusses university
problems with New Democratic Party leader Dave
Barrett and Deputy NDP leader Mrs. Eileen Dailly
(centre foreground). Standing behind carrying on
their own discussions are (left to right) government
relations committee chairman Mr. Bob Dundas, UBC
Commerce Dean Philip White, Surrey NDP MLA Mr.
Ernie Hall, Alumni Association President Mr. Frank
Walden, Executive Director Mr. Jack Stathers and
Vancouver East NDP MLA Mr. Bob Williams. Jim
Ryan Photo.
Erosion Control Project
This has been a winter of intensive activity for the
UBC Alumni Association's government relations
The committee began its activities by
co-ordinating development and dissemination of 15
FYI information bulletins to all members of the
provincial Legislature, all B.C. municipal councillors,
all B.C. school trustees and other education officials.
The bulletins conveyed information about the latest
developments and trends at UBC in fields ranging
from oceanography to continuing education.
Following  the completion of that  program,  the
Films and Talks
The Young Alumni Club has launched a special
series of current affairs discussions and classic films as
part of its expanded spring program.
The film series began in February with Thursday
evening showings of flicks involving such comedy
greats as Charlie Chaplin, W.C. Fields and Laurel and
Hardy. On Thursday, March 2, the feature films will
feature Little Rascals and Burns and Allen. And on
March 9 the attractions will be Buster Keaton, Fatty
Arbuckle and Charlie Chase. Shows get underway at 9
p.m. at Cecil Green Park.
The UBC Young Alumni are joining with the
McGill University Young Alumni in Vancouver to
stage the current events discussions. The program
began on Feb. 15 with a panel discussion of
Canada-U.S. economic relations.
At 8 p.m., Tuesday, March 21, the program will
feature a panel discussion on "The Environment:
Some Ideas as to How We Can Ensure the Survival of
Our Air, Forests and Waters — and Ourselves."
Participants will be Mr. Ben Metcalfe of the
Greenpeace Foundation and representatives of the
Council of Forest Industries of B.C. and the Society
for Pollution and Environmental Control.
Young Alumni Club members are invited to attend
these events. Membership in the club is open to
alumni and members of the graduating classes of all
faculties for a $3 fee. Information may be obtained
by phoning: 228—3313.
12/UBC Reports/March 1, 1972
government relations committee met with members
of all parties in the provincial Legislature to discuss
questions relating to higher education in B.C.
Accompanying the committee for these discussions
were Dr. Robert Kubicek, president of the UBC
Faculty Association, and Dean Philip White, head of
the Faculty of Commerce and Business
"Tenure was a major topic of discussion," said Mr.
Jack Stathers, Association executive director. "Many
of the MLAs expressed concern at the difficulties
universities seemed to have had in the recent past
with tenure disputes. We pointed out to them that
the problems centred not so much on tenure as on
cases involving faculty where tenure was not being
granted or teaching contracts were not being
Mr. Stathers said that various MLAs expected that
our Association would be invited to submit a brief on
university tenure to the Legislature committee that is
studying the subject during the current session. The
government relations committee hopes to do so, said
Stathers, after first making its views known to UBC.
Another important topic of conversation with
provincial government members was the question of
continuing erosion of the Point Grey cliffs. It was
pointed out that the cliffs were eroding away at a rate
of up to one-and-a-half feet a year and that now
several University buildings were threatened with
collapsing into the sea.
As the land in question is under provincial
jurisdiction, the government relations committee
recently launched an appeal to persuade the
provincial government to finance an erosion control
project to stop the continuing erosion in the area.
"We are urging the provincial government to
undertake an erosion control project before it's too
late — before public buildings collapse into the sea,"
said Mr. Stathers. "It's our hope that the engineering
work will be of such a nature that it will do minimum
disruption to the natural environment of the beaches
around Point Grey."
A report on the progress of this campaign will be
contained in the spring issue of the Chronicle.
Turner Speaks
At UBC Dinner
The Hon. John Turner, Canada's minister of
finance, will be guest speaker at the annual
awards banquet of the UBC Big Block Club to
be held at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 16, in the
UBC Faculty Club.
The annual banquet will see the awarding of
Big Blocks to top University athletes. The affair
will begin with an alumni reception at 6 p.m.,
followed by dinner and the address by Mr.
Turner. Tickets at $10 per person may be
obtained by contacting the UBC Athletic
Office, War Memorial Gymnasium (228—2531).
John Turner, BA'49, BCL, MA (Oxford), is
himself holder of a Big Block in track, having
been Canadian champion in the 100-yard and
220-yard sprints in 1948. He won his "blue" in
track at Oxford, while studying there on a
Rhodes scholarship.
New Secretary
For Branches
The UBC Alumni Association's recent
appointment of a field secretary is expected to result
in further expansion in the alumni branches program.
Leona Doduk, BA'71, was appointed field
secretary at the beginning of February and is now
hard at work helping alumni groups in various
communities organize meetings and programs. She
has already completed trips to Kamloops, Vernon,
Kelowna, Penticton, Calgary and Edmonton to meet
with alumni and help them plan future activities.
February, in fact, was a busy month for branches,
with other functions being held in Edmonton and
The Association's ultimate ambition is to help
alumni organizations develop more meaningful
Preferred Parking
Alumni returning to study at UBC in the 1972-73
academic year may qualify for preferred parking
Such parking is restricted to students who by Aug.
31, 1971, have completed at least three years of
study at UBC or are enrolled in fourth-year or more
senior courses for 1972-73. Inquiries and applications
(together with a $1 fee, which is over and above car
registration ieesl should be directed to the Traffic
Office, Wesbrook Crescent, University of B.C.,
starting April 4.


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items