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Connect Issue 2 | 2013
Drug-resistant flu meets its match

UBC researchers have developed a class of drug that takes a slightly new approach to targeting drug-resistant strains of the flu.

“Our drug agent uses the same approach as current flu treatments – by preventing neuraminidase from cutting its ties with the infected cell and moving on to the next,” says UBC chemical biologist Steve Withers. “But our agent latches onto this enzyme like a broken key, stuck in a lock, rendering it useless.”

The solution, which Wither’s team has tested in mice, might remain effective longer, since resistant virus strains can’t arise without destroying their own mechanism for infection. Influenza affects three to five million people globally each year, causing 250,000 to 500,000 deaths.

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TB Keller Serengeti

Why are TB rates so high in Cape Town, South Africa?
Robert Wilkinson presents 10 years worth of data to help us understand the high incidence of TB in this city.
» March 18, 2013


What kind of divide separates biology from culture?
MIT physicist, author and feminist Evelyn Fox Keller discusses the history and philosophy of modern biology.
» April 4, 2013


50 years in Serengeti: The story behind the science
UBC ecologist Anthony Sinclair on the story behind Serengeti National Park, its rich biodiversity, and its future.
» April 25, 2013

Blood vessel drug might be Alzheimer’s treatment

UBC researchers at Michael Smith Laboratories have reversed an apparent cause of Alzheimer’s. Mice with Alzheimer’s disease were immunized with the protein amyloid beta, which normalized the production of blood vessels in their brain.

Mice and humans with Alzheimer's show a high increase in the concentration of blood vessels in their brains. Drugs targeting blood vessels could reduce and repair damage to the brain.

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UBC researcher busy building a better sunflower
Loren Rieseberg, credited with putting the sunflower on the evolutionary map, is one of three UBC Science researchers that earned support this week from the Canada Research Chair program. Statistician Gabriela Cohen Freue and immunologist Ken Harder also received funding.

UBC researchers, alum honoured by LifeSciences BC
UBC microbiologist Brett Finlay has been awarded the Genome British Columbia Award for Scientific Excellence by Lifesciences British Columbia. UBC Science alum Ali Tehrani was also recognized for Zymeworks, the province’s Emerging Life Sciences Company of the Year, which he co-founded.

Suttle recognized for pioneering marine virology
Extreme virus hunter Curtis Suttle has been recognized for his pioneering work in the field of marine virology with the G Evelyn Hutchinson award.

UBC researcher to go national with wildfire smoke forecasting
Extreme weather expert Roland Stull has won $325,000 in research support from the Canadian Safety and Security Program to expand his work on predicting and tracking smoke from forest fires.

Field school plans, ESB earn sustainable architectural awards
Ecologically friendly designs for UBC's 60-year-old geological field school, and the use of advanced wood products in the new Earth Sciences Building, have received architectural awards.

2013 Sloan Research fellowships awarded to CS and Zoology profs
Mary Connor (Zoology) and Nicholas Harvey (Computer Science) have been recognized with American Sloan Research fellowships.


Science alumni and friends reconnected and networked during Vancouver Round Up.


Didn't attend or want to relive the evening? Browse through our Flickr gallery!


Interested in upcoming events? Bookmark our events page and our reunion page.

Astrophysics alum earns US rising star award

UBC alumnus Jason Kalirai has been awarded the 2013 Newton Lacy Pierce Prize, which recognizes outstanding achievement in observational astronomy by an astronomer under the age of 36. Kalirai's work has provided new insights on the processes by which ’stellar death’ occurs.

Kalirai received a PhD in Astrophysics from UBC in 2004. He is currently working at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Maryland and serves as the deputy project scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope.

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Support undergraduate research

Research experience brings learning to life, translates theory to the working world, builds confidence, and allows students to develop a supportive relationship with a mentor. But not enough students have a chance to conduct research at the undergraduate level.

In celebration of the Faculty of Science’s 50th anniversary, we've launched the Science Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) initiative. SURE will raise funds to support students interested in conducting summer research. The Dean of Science has committed up to $100,000 in matching funds, meaning your donation to SURE is instantly doubled.

Learn more about SURE »

Recreating ancient languages with digital help

Like living organisms, languages mutate and evolve. Reconstructing that evolution is now faster and easier, thanks to a new computer system developed by UBC and Berkeley researchers.

Researchers led by UBC statistician Alexandre Bouchard-Côté have created a machine-learning algorithm that allows reconstruction of protolanguages with an accuracy of 85 per cent when compared to manual processes. The new system also operates at a greater scale than previous computerized tools.

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Rosetta stone

First UBC MOOC is a big hit

Launched this January, UBC’s first Massive, Open Online Course  attracted more than 130,000 registrants from around the world. The game theory course taught by UBC computer scientist Kevin Leyton-Brown and Stanford professors marks UBC’s first incursion into the land of large-scale open learning.

Starting this May, UBC will deliver three additional free courses utilizing the online Coursera platform. The topics covered will be genetics, systematic program design and climate change.

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