Patty Wellborn

Email: patty-wellborn@news.ok.ubc.ca


 

Sepideh Pakpour, a School of Engineering assistant professor, says test show levitating human plasma may lead to faster, more reliable, portable and simpler disease detection.

Sepideh Pakpour, a School of Engineering assistant professor, says test show levitating human plasma may lead to faster, more reliable, portable and simpler disease detection.

Floating human plasma helps researchers detect diseases like opioid addiction

New research from the UBC's Okanagan campus, Harvard Medical School and Michigan State University suggests that levitating human plasma may lead to faster, more reliable, portable and simpler disease detection.

The researchers used a stream of electricity that acted like a magnet and separated protein from blood plasma. Plasma is the clear, liquid portion of blood that remains after red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and other cellular components are removed.

“Human plasma proteins contain information on the occurrence and development of addiction and diseases,” says Sepideh Pakpour, assistant professor with UBCO's School of Engineering, and one of the authors of the research.

Pakpour is using the proteins to predict opioid dependencies and addictions, but the findings could one day lead to medical diagnosis using the technology.

As plasma proteins are different densities, when separated the proteins levitate at different heights, and therefore become identifiable. An evaluation of these types of proteins and how they group together can paint a picture that identifies whether a patient has the possibility of getting a disease or becoming addicted to drugs like opioids.

“We compared the differences between healthy proteins and diseased proteins to set benchmarks,” says Pakpour. “With this information and the plasma levitation, we were able to accurately detect rare proteins that are only found in individuals with opioid addictions.”

According to Pakpour, the researchers are particularly excited about the possibility of developing a portable and accurate new diagnostic tool for health care practitioners.

“More investigation is required, but our findings are certainly a step forward towards an optical imaging disease detection tool,” she adds.

The five-minute test uses machine learning and predictive models. It may one day lead to tools that can not only diagnose diseases, but also help practitioners prescribe medications that won’t lead to drug dependencies.

The researchers are now evaluating other dependencies and diseases to establish roadmaps for detection.

The research is supported by internal grants from the department of anesthesiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School, and the Precision Health Program at Michigan State University. It was published in Advanced Healthcare Materials.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

Engineering Professor Mina Hoorfar is using her ‘artificial nose’ technology to develop a roadside breathalyzer that can identify THC in breath molecules.

Engineering Professor Mina Hoorfar is using her ‘artificial nose’ technology to develop a roadside breathalyzer that can identify THC in breath molecules.

Five different technologies race to get on the market

It’s only a matter of time before breath detection devices, targeting drivers who are too high to drive, will be in the hands of enforcement agencies.

School of Engineering Professor Mina Hoorfar, who runs UBC Okanagan’s Advanced Thermo-Fluidic Lab, has been working on a device for several years using her ‘artificial nose’ technology—creating microfabrication appliances that are able to recognize hazardous molecules. The sensors can be fine-tuned to catch even the faintest amounts of targeted materials.

“Advances in microfabrication and nanotechnologies are enabling us to work at a smaller scale and with improved sensitivity,” explains Hoorfar. “We have responded to a need from regulators in North America to develop tools to accurately monitor tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and the artificial nose lends itself to this application.”

Hoorfar is collaborating with Cannabix Technologies to commercialize a marijuana breathalyzer device for law enforcement and workplaces.

In addition to her own technology, Hoorfar recently supervised a study of the five leading styles of THC breathalyzers that are either currently commercialized or under development. The review, led by doctoral student Hamed Mirzaei, looked at the prototypes and analyzed the science behind each one.

“Despite its large potential, breath analysis still has several technical difficulties,” says Mirzaei. “A healthy person can exhale a complex mixture of inorganic gases and many of these chemicals are from sources such as smoking, food consumption, bacterial microflora, work environments and medication.”

Diet, age, body mass index and gender can also influence the exact composition of a person’s breath, Mirzaei adds.

Other factors like temperature, humidity and operator training can influence the test results, meaning the science behind the tiny hand-held tool needs to be precise and reliable.

“As the size of sensors continue to decrease, and their sensitivity increases, we are getting closer to offering real-time, portable and accurate detection,” Hoorfar adds.

She says THC, in particular, is a tricky molecule to work with given that its concentrations in breath are quite low—estimated as up to 250 parts per trillion.

“This is a challenging detection limit that breath analyzers approaching the market must consider,” Hoorfar explains.

However, if THC is consumed during smoking, some particles will be deposited on lung tissues. These particles can be removed by exhalation and detected in breath—even three to six hours after someone has inhaled cannabis and when most behavioural and physiological effects associated with impairment have worn off.

“With legalization of cannabis consumption in Canada and many parts of USA, it is vital to create and improve technologies for public safety and awareness,” adds Hoorfar. “Breath analysis is not only the fastest technology available but it’s also a reliable and portable method to detect recent cannabis use and impairment. We just need to create the perfect device.”

Hoorfar says considering these platforms are relatively novel technologies to monitor THC in breath, they are not yet fully tested and understood. Meaning it may be a while before any are in everyday use.

“One day, in the not so far future, we will have portable devices that can tell us if we have a particular illness, or if there are dangerous fumes in our vicinity,” says Hoorfar. “And our team works hard every day to make that future a reality.”

The review, partially funded by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation Fund and a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, was published in the Journal of Breath Research.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

Research has shown that the more rigorous forests are thinned, the more resilient they can be under the impact of climate change.

Research has shown that the more rigorous forests are thinned, the more resilient they can be under the impact of climate change.

Turns out ‘thinning’ saves water and can combat climate change

New research suggests a backyard gardener’s tried and true method of ‘thinning’ could be beneficiary to tree growth and water supply, and ultimately help fight climate change.

UBC Okanagan Professor Adam Wei says thinning—the selective harvesting of a young crop to make space for growth—could improve the overall growing conditions of lodgepole pine stands in the BC Interior. Lodgepole pine trees are prolific growers and often overcrowd each other and affect tree growth.

The more rigorous forests are thinned, the more resilient they can be under the impact of climate change.

“Our study presented the short-term benefits of the juvenile thinning in terms of increasing tree-level radial growth, sap flow and reducing stand-level water absorption and evaporation,” says Wei. “While heavier thinning can mean more rigorous trees, it can also produce more ecological benefits, such as resistance to the effect of drought.”

Wei, who teaches forest hydrology in UBCO’s earth, environmental and geographic sciences department, says the world needs more rigorous forests and thinning of some species of trees is a good way to improve the overall growing conditions of the individual trees in overcrowded forests.

Wei’s research team, consisting of scientists from the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, the University of Waterloo and universities in Spain and China, conducted a multi-year study over three blocks of trees in the upper Penticton experimental watershed.

After selective trees were harvested, the individual forest blocks were monitored closely over a two-year period. The researchers tracked tree diameter, sap flows, moisture retention and at the same time kept track of the weather conditions including wind, precipitation, temperature, sunshine and relative humidity.

“Our results generally agree with other studies showing that thinning can greatly increase tree-level radial growth while at the same time, decreasing stand-level transpiration due to the decrease in stand density,” says Wei.

The researchers had three study plots—one heavily harvested, the other lightly harvested and one left alone. While the trees benefit from having more space and daylight, the study also states juvenile thinning could mitigate the effects of drought, as fewer trees need rainwater and moisture from the ground.

“Our two-year results demonstrate that the more heavily thinned treatment reducing the number of trees per hectare from 27,000 to 1,100 had the more pronounced effect on tree growth, sap flow velocity and stand-level transpiration,” says Yi Wang, who conducted this research as part of her graduate studies. “Significant improvements in radial growth and tree transpiration in the heavily thinned stand corresponded with improved quality of daylight and soil water availability than the other two stands.”

Wei also notes the more heavily thinned stands did maintain the highest tree growth and the best moisture absorption even during a drought year. He suggests the information from this study will be useful in future years, especially when it comes to planning management strategies for forests impacted by climate change.

But he also notes, previous studies have determined that thinning trees may not guarantee a healthy forest.

“However, other forestry research has shown that tree species, the age at which forests are thinned, and the number of trees left after thinning all have a substantial effect on the health of the future forest and wood products, says Wei. “So forest management decisions on thinning must be made within a much broader context and take into consideration timber supply, forest health, carbon stocks, water conservation, wildfire risks and wildlife habitat.”

“More studies on long-term effects of thinning are still needed to support development of sustainable management for both water and wood,” says Rita Winkler, researcher with the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “As well as for carbon sequestration and the many other ecological functions of lodgepole pine forests, particularly in the context of climate change.”

The study, partially funded by a collaborative research grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, was recently published in Forest Ecology and Management.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

UBCO doctoral student Saeed Mohammadiun says many urban drainage and stormwater systems are not designed well enough to handle extreme weather conditions.

UBCO doctoral student Saeed Mohammadiun says many urban drainage and stormwater systems are not designed well enough to handle extreme weather conditions.

New design approach needed to handle impact of climate change

During a typical Canadian winter, snow accumulation and melt—combined with sudden rainfalls—can lead to bottlenecks in storm drains that can cause flooding.

With that in mind, researchers at UBC’s Okanagan campus have been examining urban stormwater drainage systems, and they too have concerns about the resilience of many urban drainage systems.

A recently published paper from the School of Engineering says existing design methods for urban drainage systems aren’t going far enough to withstand possible catastrophic storms or even unpredictable failures during a moderate storm.

“As engineers, we run simulations of possible catastrophic events, and current systems often do not fare well,” says doctoral student Saeed Mohammadiun. “We are seeing sources of overloading such as structural failures, severe rainfalls or abrupt snowmelt stressing these systems.”

Add any extreme situation including quick snowmelt or a heavy and sudden rainfall, and Mohammadiun says many systems aren’t built to handle these worst-case scenarios. Mohammadiun has conducted several case studies of drainage systems in major urban areas around the world. He has determined many current urban standards designed for a 10-to-50 or even 100-year storm scenario are not meeting the increasing demands of climate change as well as intrinsic failure risk of networks’ elements.

“Conventional, reliability-based design methods only provide acceptable performance under expected conditions of loading,” he says. “Depending on the system, if something breaks down or there is a blockage, it can result in a failure and possible flooding.”

According to Mohammadiun, the resiliency of a system is not just dependent on the load it can handle, but also on its design and build. Many do not take into account the effects of climate change or unexpected weather conditions.

To establish an efficient resilient system, Mohammadiun says it is important to consider various sources of uncertainty such as rainfall characteristics, heavy snowfalls followed by a quick melt and different possible malfunction scenarios along with budget constraints, he says.

“Building or improving the resilience of urban stormwater drainage systems is crucial to ensuring these systems are protected against failure as much as possible, or they can quickly recover from a potential failure,” he adds. “This resilient capacity will provide urban drainage systems with the desired adaptability to a wide range of unexpected failures during their service life.”

The research points to several measures municipalities can proactively address the issue. Municipalities could build bypass lines and apply an appropriate combination of relief tunnels, storage units, and other distributed hydraulic structures in order to augment drainage system capacities in a resilient manner.

With the recent heavy snowfalls across Canada, Mohammadiun says the silver lining when it comes to drainage is that it takes snow time to melt whereas heavy rainfall puts an immediate stress on these systems. But from the engineering point of view, it is necessary to consider both acute and chronic conditions.

Not surprising, the research shows that urban drainage and stormwater systems that are built or modified to be more resilient, will handle extreme weather events more effectively and efficiently than conventional designs.

This research was recently published in Hydrological Sciences.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

UBCO engineering instructor Ray Taheri watches as student prepares a bin before installing a retrofit that will make donation bins safer.

UBC Okanagan engineering students have solved the problem that took several lives and cost Canadian charities thousands of dollars of lost income.

This time last year, charities across Canada pulled their clothing donation bins off the street after a number of people had climbed inside the bins and died.

“When this last death happened in Vancouver, we decided to move all our bins off the street,” says Slav Gudelj with Big Brothers’ Vancouver office. “It did have a huge impact on our bottom line and is going to cost us about half a million dollars.”

The donation bin industry is a multi-million dollar enterprise across North America, raising funds for charitable organizations including the Salvation Army, Diabetes Canada, Big Brothers and Sisters, Goodwill and many others.

Gudelj, who is general manager of clothing donation operations for Big Brothers, says the organization now has about 180 boxes sitting in storage.

UBCO engineer instructor Ray Taheri has a few of those bins parked outside the engineering building. As part of his first-year design course, he tasked his students to come up with a way to modify the bins and make them safer.

Taheri also established a task force to look the bins and this spring received a $75,000 donation from Firstline Foundation to design and retrofit the existing bins. The students worked with bin manufacturing company Rangeview Fabrication to find reasonable, viable and economically realistic proposals.

At the same, other students—including a graduate student who is studying the social side of this issue and an mechanical engineering graduate student—looked at specifics of the individual deaths. Taheri says most deaths happened within few hundreds yards from a homeless shelter, and took place between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m.

“Most engineers know that modifying an existing design is often more difficult than starting from scratch. It was a perfect challenge for my students,” says Taheri.

The students came up with a number of solutions, including where they these bins should be located, and self-locking features that automatically come on at specific times. He also notes, if the bins are full, people take items outside the bins and then perhaps climb in to search for more items. If the bins had a sensor, altering the organization that they were almost full, this would prevent piles of donations left outside.

“We ended up with a number of different models and eventually settled on four prototypes—each a little bit different,” says Taheri. “Some will come with more bells and whistles, some will be a very basic model. But definitely they are a much safer than what we had in the past.”

Gudelj is back on the campus this week meeting with Taheri and the engineering students with the goal of finalizing plans to get the 180 bins back on the street as soon as possible. He credits UBCO’s engineers for ‘stepping up’ and not ignoring a chronic and dangerous issue.

Taheri says it has been a great learning curve for all his students, and staff and faculty who have put in hundreds of hours of volunteer time on this project.

“I can’t stress enough how proud I am of my students and my colleagues in the School of Engineering,” he says. “These are the type of people we have at UBC Okanagan. Our students

Jennifer Davis, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Management, explores the value of patient reported measures in the fields of healthy aging.

Getting a good night’s sleep is sound advice for most people, but a new UBC study says sleep is vital for those who are recovering from a stroke.

Jennifer Davis is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Management at UBC’s Okanagan campus. Her goal is to improve the health of Canadians and her research area includes exploring the value of patient reported measures in the fields of healthy aging—including cognition, mobility and various surgical outcomes.

Davis, along with a team of UBC researchers, recently published a study in the Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases examining the relationship between depression and sleep among stroke survivors.

“Sleep disturbances are common in older adults who have had a stroke and there is mounting evidence that stroke and sleep are interconnected,” she says. “Because a stroke can damage the central nervous system, it often leads to changes in brain activity, brain function and sleep.”

Davis says one in six older adults, worldwide, will suffer a stroke and data suggests that 20 to 40 per cent of those stroke survivors have a sleep disorder, while a further 50 to 70 per cent will have a sleep-related breathing disorder.

Poor sleep, she says, may significantly interfere with post-stroke recovery and may also lead to depression if a stroke survivor suffers from daytime confusion and inability to cope due to being overtired.

“There is an emerging area of research examining the benefit of sleep in regulating emotional brain reactivity,” she says. “In this study, we found that depression was significantly associated with sleep quality, how long it takes a person to fall asleep, how well they sleep and their daytime dysfunction due to a lack of sleep.”

Davis notes it is common for stroke survivors to experience depression—while they recover, they are also dealing with lower levels of health-related quality of life, physical function and general cognition. Add on a poor night’s sleep and it’s easy to assume that stroke-associated effects on sleep quality can also impact a person’s general, physical and mental wellbeing.

“The specific associations that depression, health related quality of life, physical function, and cognition have with sleep quality among stroke survivors remains unknown,” Davis says. “Fortunately, sleep quality is modifiable—it’s something we can recognize and work to improve. Thus, sleep should be considered in the management of those who have suffered a stroke to optimize post-stroke rehabilitation outcomes.”

 

A participant performs a computerized task designed to probe cognitive function in Paul van Donkelaar’s concussion lab.

A participant performs a computerized task designed to probe cognitive function in Paul van Donkelaar’s concussion lab.

Groundbreaking research seeks to create better supports and outcomes for women

While the diagnoses and treatment of sport-related concussion have well-established guidelines and protocols, a new study from UBC’s Okanagan campus is looking at what has previously been an understudied group—women survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV).

Their hope is to develop a simple screening tool to help front-line services, like women’s shelters, identify traumatic brain injury (TBI) earlier, says Paul van Donkelaar, lead researcher and professor with the School of Health and Exercise Sciences.

“It is widely known survivors of intimate partner violence face many short- and long-term consequences from abuse which can have profound impacts on both their mental and physical health,” says van Donkelaar. “But there is currently very little direct evidence for the potential link between this violence and traumatic brain injury-induced brain dysfunction.”

Despite the abundance of research and public awareness around brain injury in athletes, van Donkelaar says traumatic brain injuries suffered by survivors of IPV are largely ignored. In fact, his most recent research, which is hoping to establish the incidence and effects of TBI on these women, is only the fourth study he knows of that deals specifically with this issue.

“IPV happens behind closed doors and usually there are no witnesses—if there are witnesses they are generally the children and they are traumatized,” says van Donkelaar, adding that if a survivor does seek medical help after an attack it is often for other traumatic injuries. “In many cases, survivors of IPV don’t necessarily know they have had a traumatic brain injury and yet they are suffering from chronic symptoms including headaches, dizziness, and difficulty remembering,” he says.

“If a brain injury is diagnosed, it might be several months or even years after the initial damaging blow took place. And was it caused by one blow, multiple attacks over several months, or from being shaken or even strangled?”

While diagnosis is a challenge, there also remains a social stigma with IPV. Van Donkelaar says many women who do seek medical help, may not tell the truth when asked how the injury occurred. For these reasons alone, van Donkelaar and his research team, including former UBCO postdoctoral fellow Jonathan Smirl, want to make concussion assessments and care for survivors of IPV accessible and straightforward.

“Although the health care system is a good place for TBI diagnoses in the context of IPV, many survivors do not feel comfortable accessing care in this manner so this leaves staff at women shelters as the first line of defense,” says Smirl. “Yet these staff members aren’t necessarily aware TBI can be part of their client’s experience and currently do not have appropriate screening tools available to them.”

For this latest research, the team used two brain injury questionnaires—the Brain Injury Severity Assessment tool (BISA) and the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT5)—to get a better sense of the symptoms experienced by survivors of IPV. Eighteen women who had experienced IPV took the part in the study.

The research, published in Brain Injury, determined that by using the BISA test, which asks questions about symptoms resulting from episodes of IPV, more brain injuries were reported by the survivors. The study determined that each of the participants have suffered at least one previous TBI, and most had suffered many.

“It’s estimated that several hundred thousand Canadian women a year experience a TBI, an even greater number than hockey or football players,” says Smirl. “And yet, due to the perceived stigma around IPV, many of these women don’t seek medical support. Unfortunately, living in this situation is their normal, waking up in a daze because she was punched again is her normal. Not only is it going undiagnosed, it’s going untreated.”

The findings from the current investigation can help develop TBI-informed screening tools to help front-line staff at women’s shelters identify a brain injury as a possible factor in the symptoms experienced by IPV survivors.

“What we’re hoping to do is implement a simple informed screening tool, just a few questions that front-line staff can ask which can help reveal whether a woman has potentially experienced an IPV-related TBI,” he says. “We will then be able to use it as a means to refer them to appropriate supports in the community.”

Van Donkelaar says providing these practical support resources to IPV survivors will improve their chances of breaking the cycle and enable them to move forward into an abuse-free future for themselves and their children.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

Panel discusses the need for forest restoration to mitigate the risks of flood and wildfire

What: Community Water Forum
Who: A panel of experts including UBC researchers, Okanagan Nation Alliance representatives, and a wildland fire ecologist
When: Tuesday, November 19, from 4:30 to 6:30 pm
Where: Okanagan Regional Library, Kelowna Branch, 1380 Ellis Street

UBC Okanagan’s third annual Community Water Forum will host a panel of experts who will explore how forests and water interact and the role restoration can play in creating more resilient ecosystems.

Wildfires, floods, droughts, landslides, and damage done by the Mountain Pine Beetle have all had significant environmental and socio-economic impacts on communities throughout B.C. These cumulative effects threaten not only the quality and quantity of our drinking water, but other cultural, social, environmental and economic values as well.

Panel members:

  • Assistant Professor Mathieu Bourbonnais, UBC Okanagan, LiDAR and remote sensing technologies; environmental and socio-economic impacts of wildfire
  • Robert Gray, Wildland Fire Ecologist, fire science, management and operations; landscape level restoration
  • Natasha Lukey, Okanagan Nation Alliance, Okanagan waterway restoration initiatives
  • Professor Adam Wei, UBC Okanagan, forest hydrology; watershed ecosystems, cumulative effects of forest disturbance

The Community Water Forum is an annual event hosted by UBC Okanagan in partnership with the Okanagan Basin Water Board and the Okanagan Nation Alliance.

This public event is free, but registration is required: research.ok.ubc.ca/cwf

Psychology graduate student Cassidy Wallis won UBCO's 3MT when she presented her research on how and when child abuse is reported.

Research to be shared at gala dinner for the Child Advocacy Centre

A special working relationship between a UBC grad student, the RCMP and the Kelowna Child Advocacy Centre (CAC) may lead to enhanced support and faster treatment for victims of child abuse.

PhD candidate Cassidy Wallis, supervised by psychology Professor Michael Woodworth, did her master’s thesis on how and when child abuse is reported. For her research, she collaborated with Kelowna RCMP and the CAC—coding more than 300 files on child abuse. Her work focused on identifying and understanding factors that contribute to the timing of when a disclosure of childhood abuse formally takes place.

“Providing support to parents of victims would facilitate children’s greater ability to report instances of abuse more quickly. If children report abuse when it happens, and parents are supportive, they will have greater access to psychological treatment and potentially more positive outcomes.”

Woodworth notes the relationship that Wallis formed with the CAC and the RCMP is a good example of the on-going community collaboration between UBCO and local resources.

“Sometimes people in the community aren’t necessarily aware how research coming out of the university can make a meaningful difference in their community or their lives,” he says. “This project demonstrates how research can have incredible value outside of academia and highlights the power of collaboration between agencies. This project simply couldn’t have occurred without the collaboration and support of the CAC and RCMP.”

According to CAC statistics, one in three children in Canada suffer trauma-related forms of abuse—and people who have been abused are less likely than others to graduate high school, more likely to experience unemployment and homelessness and more likely to perpetrate abuse throughout their lives.

“Reporting child abuse is a challenging subject,” says Woodworth. “While it’s a difficult issue, it’s important that children can ideally report abuse right away or have resources to facilitate disclosing abuse sooner. Wallis’s research proved to be important and has all sorts of potential benefits to both our community in general as well as to invaluable services like the CAC.”

Wallis’ research determined that if frontline workers had additional knowledge on how to understand and support children, it could lead to earlier disclosures of abuse. She also concludes that perpetrators are more likely to be caught with earlier disclosure because evidence would be more readily available.

Wallis will speak about her research project at an upcoming gala dinner in Kelowna on November 21. Organized by the Kelowna Foundation for Hope and Social Innovation, the event is a fundraiser to finish building and begin operating the new CAC, which will be the first of its kind in the community.

CACs are community-based programs that aim to treat and support abused children, youth and their families. Kelowna’s CAC is a collaborative effort by the RCMP, Interior Health, and the Ministry for Child and Family Development and will feature a multidisciplinary team on site. When the new centre opens next year, it will also allow for continued and further research for faculty and students.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

Collaboration brings cancer research to the community

What: Future of Health Forum on cancer care
Who:  More than 150 delegates and 30 renowned speakers
When: Friday, October 18, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: The Innovation Centre, 460 Doyle Ave., Kelowna, BC
Cost: $50 registration fee

With cancer remaining the leading cause of death in BC, the first-ever Future of Health Forum will focus on research, innovation and strides to improve outcomes for all cancer patients.

UBC Okanagan, Accelerate Okanagan, BC Cancer and Interior Health have joined forces to host an annual forum called Future of Health—an event designed to foster connection and provide an opportunity to exchange ideas around health research and innovation.

For this inaugural year, the Future of Health focuses on cancer and follows the patient journey from preventing and detecting the disease through to diagnosis and treatment and finding ways to support survivors and a patient’s quality of life.

“Our hope is that we have created an environment where clinical and academic colleagues can share their perspectives on the complex problems facing the health-care system today,” says Dr. Ross Halperin, regional medical director for BC Cancer—Kelowna. “Our strategy is to attract and engage the regional innovation community to assist in developing innovative solutions.”

Taking place at the Innovation Centre in downtown Kelowna, leaders in cancer care and research will discuss the current state of cancer care in BC and the innovative research that is shaping the future of health in this province.

“We have attracted top talent from across the country to take the stage at this event,” explains Anne-Marie Visockas, vice-president research and planning with Interior Health. “I think this speaks volumes about the collaborative nature of Canadian health care and our community's reputation for innovation.”

Dr. Connie Eaves, an international leader in stem cell research will deliver the keynote address. Eaves is the winner of the prestigious 2019 Canada Gairdner Wightman Award for her pioneering discoveries and advocacy for early-career researchers and women in science.

Dr. Eaves is an extraordinarily creative and accomplished biomedical scientist at the forefront of cancer research. Her work establishing the role of cancer stem cells in breast cancer and leukemia have led to paradigm-shifting insights,” says Phil Barker, vice-principal and associate vice-president, research and innovation at UBC. “She is dedicated to training the next generation of researchers to help find cures for cancer and her research is a superb demonstration of the value of collaborating across disciplines.”

The closing reception will include a screening of The Nature of Things documentary, Cracking Cancer. This short film recounts the journey of seven cancer patients at BC Cancer as they take part in the Personalized Onco-Genomics (POG) program—a cutting-edge clinical research initiative that is changing the way oncologists view cancer treatment.

“The strength of our region lies in our ability to collaborate and innovate. This event is another example of these skills at work,” says Brea Lake, acting CEO at Accelerate Okanagan. “Our hope is that this documentary will give hope to those living with cancer and inspire our innovative and entrepreneurial community to join in building the future of health and cancer care right here in BC.”

The Future of Health Forum takes place October 18 and is open to all, including researchers, clinicians, students, innovators, entrepreneurs and the public.

For event information and registration details, visit: futureofhealth.ca

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca