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Friday, December 17, 2004

  • How blood pressure affects cells
  • About UW's northernmost land
  • PhD students defend theses
Editor:
Chris Redmond
credmond@uwaterloo.ca

Saturnalia


HR memo on employee information

Here's a message from Sandie Hurlburt of the human resources department:

"On Tuesday, December 14, an e-mail was sent from Human Resources asking employees to verify/update information for the upcoming T4 mailing through the secure website at myHRinfo. If people have difficulty signing in to myHRinfo they should contact the CHIP at ext. 4357.

"If employees were able to sign in but could not complete an address change, please try again as the system issue has now been fixed. Human Resources apologizes for any inconvenience this may have caused. If employees need to change any other information (such as Social Insurance Number) please contact the appropriate Payroll Benefits Assistant."

[Rush in lab]

How blood pressure affects cells -- by Graeme Stemp for the UW media relations office

How does lifestyle affect cells? James Rush (left), Canada Research Chair in Integrative Vascular Biology at the University of Waterloo, is investigating the connection.

"Blood vessels don't dilate as well in hypertensive individuals as in people with normal blood pressure," said Rush, a professor of physiology in UW's department of kinesiology "We want to know what's happening on a cellular level to cause this effect."

One hypothesized cause of hypertension is an abundance of free radicals. Free radicals occur naturally in everyone and have important physiological functions at low levels. However, when there are too many free radicals, oxidative damage builds up and cells and tissues begin to malfunction. "The oxidative stress caused by free radicals results in dysfunction characteristic of cardiovascular disease (CVD)," Rush said. "This oxidative stress can lead to a significant decrease in nitric oxide, which is a major dilator of blood vessels."

The solution seems obvious: increase nitric oxide. But it's not that simple. Antioxidants, which protect nitric oxide, don't always work, can have negative effects and the cellular effects of antioxidant treatment are still unclear.

"One thing that does seem clear," says Rush, "is that a physically active lifestyle results in less hypertension, increased nitric oxide, and improved blood vessel dilation. Our work demonstrates that antioxidant enzymes in the blood vessel wall are increased in response to exercise training. This protects the blood vessels from free radicals and increases nitric oxide availability."

Part of Rush's ongoing research is aimed at identifying the cellular factors that link physical activity level with the expression of these vascular protective enzymes and molecules.

But exercise isn't the only lifestyle factor that affects hypertension. Rush is also studying the affects of diet and drugs in a gender-specific approach. "It is well known that men develop hypertension before women. Why is this? It could be that females are better at producing nitric oxide synthase, or it could be that there is less oxidative stress. Our research is hoping to learn more about how gender affects the CVD mechanism and the responses to diet- and drug-based prevention and therapy."

[Warriors' food drive at Conestoga Mall]
Rush's research is unique in its diverse approach. "We use an array of experimental approaches and analyses so that we can get a better idea of what's going on. We look at vascular biology problems from a physiology, cellular biology and biochemistry point of view.

"From a physiology point of view, we can the dilatory function of blood vessels. Pharmacology studies allow us to understand the signaling pathways involved and how drugs can affect the physiology and produce improved results, while cellular biology and biochemistry allows us to investigate the molecular basis for altered signaling. By looking at the problem in these different ways we think we get the best information."

Since receiving the Canada Research Chair position in October 2003, Rush has been able to expand his laboratory's research capacity by adding new equipment and more researchers, and creating more collaborations.

About UW's northernmost land

I had some interesting feedback on a note that appeared in Wednesday's Daily Bulletin, about the area where the new Westmount Road intersects with Bearinger Road and Laurel Creek.

There was an article in the Record a few days ago about the "sensitive ecological crossing" that has been designed, linking the Laurel Creek Conservation Area to the north with UW's environmental reserve to the south. The creek now flows gently under the two roads, bordered by wetlands and a route that wildlife can use to move back and forth safely -- "a sensitive ecological crossing", one neighbour happily called it.

I noted in this space two days ago, quoting Tom Galloway of the plant operations department, that although the Record gave no credit to UW, some of the land involved is in fact university property. The rest belongs to the Grand River Conservation Authority.

[From the tapestry]

The Bayeux Tapestry (which just happened to be the answer on Final Jeopardy last night) will be presented with special intimacy tonight by retired French professor Ray Dugan, who embroidered a faithful replica of the 12th-century treasure. Speaking at St. John's Anglican Church in downtown Kitchener, Dugan will present a historical and personal story of the tapestry's journey through time and through his family's life. The 7 p.m. talk will be followed by evening worship (optional) in the main sanctuary at 8:30. Everyone is welcome.

What followed was a letter from Carl Nagel of the UW library staff, who has lived in that neighbourhood for 21 years now. "I wanted to clarify something," he wrote. "Tom Galloway's comment about ownership is not entirely correct. The new bridge across the creek actually sits on what used to be conservation land. The dividing line between UW and the GRCA property was an old one-lane road and bridge which was removed when the then Beaver Creek Road (since renamed Bearinger Road) was rerouted and straightened out about 18 years ago. This 'sliver' of land referred to and created by the new Westmount extension is proportionately about 95% owned by the GRCA and only 5% by UW.

"The GRCA portion was in the news not long ago because the GRCA sought and unfortunately received zoning changes to develop their portion for commercial use. The left turn lane into this future development can be seen just before the traffic lights at the new Westmount and Bearinger Road intersection when coming from Northfield Drive.

"The piece of property that still belongs to UW is a very small piece immediately adjacent to and bordered by Bearinger Road, the new Westmount Road and the old Westmount Road (which now ends at Pineridge). It is at most 100 feet long and 50 feet wide. However, great care has been taken in the landscaping and routing of the creek through this section, addressing many environmental concerns in the process. This is to be applauded."

Well, Galloway responded yesterday, the UW-owned land is more than that -- it's about 280 by 240 feet, and it was recently enlarged as the university took ownership of what had been a roadway turning into GRCA property from the old route of Westmount. However, he agrees, "there's no question that the major piece of land between the old and new Westmount is owned by the conservation authority."

He said a sign will be going up soon to mark the area north of Bearinger Road that UW owns.

WHEN AND WHERE
Winter term fees due today if paid by cheque (December 30 by bank payment).

Certificate in University Teaching research presentations 9 a.m., Math and Computer room 5158.

Office of research, Needles Hall, will be closed 12:00 to 2:30 today for Christmas lunch.

Waterloo Siskins hockey (Teddy Bear Toss charity game), outing by UW Recreation Committee, 7:30, Waterloo Recreation Centre, information online.

'O Great Mystery' concert -- not by the DaCapo Chamber Choir, as yesterday's Daily Bulletin said, but involving some present and former DaCapo members, 8 p.m., Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church, tickets $15, students $10.

'A-Z Dining Experience' organized by UW Recreation Committee hits B with Brubacher's Grill House, Sunday 5 p.m., information online.

Registrar's office will be closed 11:30 to 2 p.m. Monday.

PhD students defend theses

Here's the latest list of graduate students who are coming to the end of their doctoral labours with the defence of their PhD theses.

Combinatorics and optimization. Kenneth J. Giuliani, "Sequences Over Finite Fields and Elliptic Curves Over Rings in Cryptopgraphy." Supervisors, S.A. Vanstone and G. Gong (electrical and computer engineering). Thesis on display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Thursday, January 13, 10:30 a.m. Math and Computer room 5136.

Computer science. Jiongxiong Chen, "Extensions to Fixed Priority with Preemption Threshold and Reservation-Based Scheduling." Supervisor, P. A. Buhr. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Friday, January 14, 10:30 a.m., Davis Centre room 1331.

Electrical and computer engineering. Isaac Chan, "Amorphous Silicon Vertical Thin Film Transistor." Supervisor, A. Nathan. Thesis on deposit in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Monday, January 17, 2 p.m., CEIT room 3142.

Computer science. Lei Chen, "Similarity Search Over Time Series and Trajectory Data." Supervisor, M.T. Ozsu. Thesis on deposit in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Monday, January 17, 2:30 p.m., Davis Centre room 3323.

Pure mathematics. Wolfram Bentz, "Characterizations of Separation Properties for a Special Class of Varieties." Supervisor, R.D. Willard. Thesis on display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Thursday, January 20, 10 a.m., Math and Computer room 5045.

Pure mathematics. Jason Lucier, "Polynomials and Intersective Sets." Supervisor, C. Stewart. Thesis on display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Thursday, January 20, 2:30 p.m., Math and Computer room 5046.

Computer science. Xiangdong An, "Towards Dynamic Multiagent Probabilistic Inference: Testbeds and Methods." Supervisors, N. Cercone and Y. Xiang (adjunct, University of Guelph). Thesis on display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Friday, January 21, 10:30 a.m., Davis Centre room 2306C.

CAR


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