The UVic Torch · University of Victoria Alumni Magazine · Spring 1997


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Art/Science Combo Could Save Lives

Dr. Andrew Schloss (Music) and Dr. Tecumseh Fitch, a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University, are developing a revolutionary computer system that blends music and technology and could save lives during medical operations.

Until now, doctors had to look at two-dimensional electronic display graphs to monitor heart and respiratory rates. The system developed by Schloss and Fitch will translate a patient's vital signs into video images and audible tones. Doctors will not have to avert their eyes from the operation they are performing to look at graphs, but will hear changes by a fluctuation or variation in tone. These changes will alert them to a problem, enabling them to respond immediately while still concentrating on the procedure they are performing. Quick response is essential in the operating room and surgeons need to be able to respond within seconds.

UVic Study Shows Seniors Support Drug Policy

Despite a powerful campaign by the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Canada (PMAC) against reference-based pricing, a study recently completed by UVic's Centre on Aging and School of Nursing has found that B.C. seniors support the policy. Investigators conclude that, given their strong support of the program, seniors are unlikely to oppose a recent decision to add anti-hypertensive medications to the program.

More than 90 per cent of the 1699 seniors surveyed province-wide support reference-based pricing and only 14 per cent believe it will affect access to health care. The provincial program reimburses seniors only for the less expensive medications in a particular therapeutic category if these drugs are considered to be as effective as the higher priced drugs in the category.

"Our study suggests that reference-based pricing is not as hot an issue among seniors as the pharmaceutical industry would have us believe," says Dr. Howard Brunt, from UVic's School of Nursing and a co-investigator the study.

UVic Joins ISIS

A stress-monitoring system called StressNet, initially developed at UVic to test the strength of bicycle frame components under performance conditions, has attracted the attention of a national Network of Centres of Excellence. UVic is now a member of the Intelligent Sensing for Innovative Structures (ISIS) Centre which wants to apply StressNet technology to monitor the structural integrity of bridges and other major structures.

Professors in National Effort to Study Health, Information, Immigration, and Sustainable Forestry

UVic faculty members are participants in three new federal Networks of Centres of Excellence studying health information, sustainable forestry, and immigration. The Health Evidence Application Linkage Network develops information tools to help health care policy-makers make better decisions. The Sustainable Forest Management Network develops new knowledge, technologies and strategies for forest management. The Centre for the Study of Immigration and Integration works with community organizations to study how immigration affects housing, employment, education and the economy in southwestern B.C.

In Search of the Earth's Secrets

Do humans affect weather changes? Drs. Michael Whiticar (left) and Verena Tunnicliffe are exploring samples taken from the floor of the Saanich Inlet to answer questions about weather past...and to come.

Photo of Drs. Michael Whiticar and Verena TunnicliffeResearchers from the Centre for Earth and Ocean Research, Drs. Michael Whiticar and Verena Tunnicliffe, are seeking to discover the impact humans have on the climate of southern Vancouver Island. Last summer the world's largest ocean drilling vessel, the JOIDES Resolution, retrieved sediment samples from the floor of the Saanich Inlet, and Whiticar (who was aboard the vessel during its two-day trip to the Inlet), Tunnicliffe and other local and international scientists will study the samples, dating back 10,000 years. Reading the core samples like rings on a tree, they will reconstruct a detailed annual history of the area including air temperature, rainfall, ocean temperature and vegetation. They may also be able to determine how frequently large earthquakes shook southern Vancouver Island. They hope to report their findings within the next year.

Is the "Traditional" Family a Myth?

A UVic-based national collaborative study is uncovering the reality behind the stereotype of the "traditional" Canadian family. Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and directed by Dr. Eric Sager (History), the Canadian Families Project is using census data to reconstruct Canadian families of the past. Their findings may affect a wide range of decisions--from personal choices to the design of social programs--that have historically been based on the image of the "traditional" family.

Sustaining B.C. Forests and Forestry-Based Communities

Funded by more than $3 million in Forest Renewal BC grants, UVic researchers are conducting 16 projects that address forestry issues across the province from a broad range of perspectives, from law to engineering to economics and biology. They include research on mapping forests via satellite, enhancing forest community sustainability, marketing wild berries, better understanding forest ecosystems, and improving tree seed production.

STEPS Goes Provincial

The University of Victoria's successful STEPS program is going provincial. The 1995 study, which used a telephone hotline to track nearly 800 slips, trips, falls and hazardous conditions in Greater Victoria, concluded that deteriorating and hazardous conditions on city streets are the leading cause of accidents among such high risk groups as seniors and people with disabilities. The study's researchers, who called for action by civic officials to make streets safer for pedestrians, held a series of one-day workshops across the province to help municipalities recognize the conditions which lead to falls-related injuries.

"Falls are the sixth leading cause of death in Canada and account for 90 per cent of all hip fractures and 40 per cent of all admissions to nursing homes," says Dr. Elaine Gallagher, the project director from UVic's School of Nursing.

Related costs are skyrocketing, she says, and Canadian taxpayers are paying about $3.5 billion per year to treat falls, up $2 billion from a decade ago.

UVic Leading Country in Safety Training

Smoking and violence in the workplace, employee safety requirements, ergonomics and air quality are health and safety concerns that affect us all. As governments address these issues, a new field of occupational and environmental health is emerging and UVic has taken the lead in offering Canada's first distance education certificate in environmental and occupational health. The program will train specialists able to handle these health and safety issues and help cut soaring costs associated with preventable disease and injuries.

Funded by a $100,000 grant from the Max Bell Foundation, which supports projects within the health field that focus on health promotion for all Canadians and continuing education for health professionals, the University is creating four pilot courses which will be offered nationally.

Registrants will learn how to apply regulations governing employee health and safety, identify workplace hazards, and improve working conditions. The potential national enrollment for the program is estimated at 3,000 registrants per year. For more information contact the Division of Continuing Studies at (250) 721-8453.

Message from the Alumni President | Feature | Around the Ring | Campus Newsmakers | Notable Alums | Alumni News | Development News | Travel | Keeping in Touch | Where are You Now? | Tribute to Karlovsky | Vox Alumni

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