Wednesday, May 21, 2008

  • Funds for 6 health research projects
  • Help for those with a sensitive nose
  • Home again: this ain't Tennessee
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Funds for 6 health research projects

from the UW media relations office

Six health-related research projects, including one that probes bone density related to spinal cord injury, have received $1.5 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. They are among 764 projects across Canada that were announced by the federal minister of health earlier this month.

"The University of Waterloo research being supported with the CIHR funding will enable our researchers to investigate important health issues affecting Canadians," says George Dixon, UW's vice-president (university research).

One of the awards will go to Lora Giangregorio, a kinesiology professor who specializes in osteoporosis and rehabilitation. Her project was awarded $299,171 for research on bone health in individuals with spinal cord injury, as these individuals experience extensive bone loss after their injury. The bone loss places them at a greater risk for fractures during low-trauma events, such as during a transfer from bed to chair or when being turned in bed. As well, fractures in individuals with spinal cord injury can lead to pressure sores, infection and gangrene and may require prolonged immobilization and hospitalization.

"We will conduct a comprehensive study of bone quality in individuals with chronic spinal cord injury," says Giangregorio, who seeks to improve the health of people coping with chronic conditions and disabilities. "It is important to know if individuals with spinal cord injury continue to lose bone years after their injury and what the fracture rate is in this population." She says the research will aid in developing strategies for identifying individuals with spinal cord injury at the highest risk of fracture. It will inform future research exploring effective interventions for fracture prevention.

Two other UW projects will explore the use of non-viral gene delivery systems to treat skin diseases and the design of intelligent walkers equipped with sensors to enhance mobility of older adults. As well, projects will study strategies for pandemic preparedness and new tools to treat diabetes and obesity.

Back to top

[We Share the Air poster]Help for those with a sensitive nose

A new version of a familiar health and safety poster is available from the UW safety office: “We Share the Air”, pictured at left, which reminds staff, students and faculty that scented products, from perfume to laundry detergent, can produce environmental sensitivities in some people.

Copies of the poster are available on request (call ext. 33587) or downloadable from the safety office web site. The site also points readers to UW guidelines about the sensitive issue of sensitivities.

“Some people,” says one guidelines document, “have become very sensitive to certain chemicals as a result of past exposures. They can suffer a wide range of health effects such as rashes, severe headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue, whenever they are exposed to very low levels of chemicals in scented products.

“The potential impact of chemicals in scented products on human health is magnified because people spend much of their time indoors. Most people on a daily basis use soap, shampoo, deodorant, laundry products, hair spray, lotions, cosmetics and fragrances. Many scented products are respiratory irritants. They are known triggers for asthma, allergies and migraines. Even people that do not have pre-existing health problems can have an irritation to their upper airways, eye symptoms and general malaise.”

It suggests that the first approach to such problems is a direct, positive approach: “share your concerns about the scented product being worn in your area . . . express how their wearing scented products is affecting your health. Cooperation and understanding will be the solution. But if problems continue, a supervisor might be drawn into the situation.

Eventually, “The Department Chair or Head will respond to each situation separately based on the specific circumstances involved. The Department through the supervisor of the area will endeavour to resolve the issue in a way that is respectful of the feelings and dignity of all concerned. However, the Department's response will be guided by its responsibility to provide employees and students with a safe environment, which does not compromise their health or well being. Where necessary your supervisor may direct that a scented product not be worn in the area.”

In general, the safety web site tells people with environmental sensitivities or allergies that “The University of Waterloo can not guarantee an allergy/sensitivity free environment,” but “we will endeavor to work with our students, staff and faculty to provide a healthy environment.”

Students who need assistance with such issues can get it from the office for persons with disabilities, on the first floor of Needles Hall. Staff and faculty members can consult their supervisor or the occupational health nurse.

Back to top

Home again: this ain't Tennessee

I’m back from a few days away from the campus, including a brief visit to Nashville, Tennessee, and no, I did not stay at the Opryland resort or get to a performance of the Grand Ole Opry. To some folks Nashville is first and last “Music City”, but I learned that its earlier nickname was “the Athens of the South”, reflecting the number and quality of its institutions of higher learning. Probably the best-known is Vanderbilt University, where I was able to spend a few minutes walking across the red-brick campus under magnificent magnolia trees. I drove past, but didn’t actually visit, Fisk University, one of the distinguished “historically black” institutions. And there are 19 other degree-granting colleges and universities in Nashville, from Argosy to Lipscomb and Middle Tennessee State, plus a number of community and vocational colleges. But what’s with that sign over there: “Gaylord University”? I learned that it's not a genuine university, and not related to a similarly named institution in Michigan. In fact, it's the training department of Gaylord Entertainment, the conglomerate that owns the Grand Ole Opry.

Meanwhile, things have been happening on the Waterloo campus, including an extended visit from more than 100 people taking refuge here because of flooding in their home community in the Attawapiskat area of James Bay, 500 kilometres north of Timmins. They were heading home yesterday on flights from YKF, the splendidly named Region of Waterloo International Airport.

In other developments, I see that the Perimeter Institute has a new director, UW and Conestoga College have received funding for several chairs in fields of research related to aging, and Jason Testart, formerly of the Computer Science Computing Facility, is taking on a new role as Manager, Telecommunications Services, in the information systems and technology department. Oh, and an election is under way in which staff members will choose one of three candidates to fill a seat on the university’s board of governors; online voting begins today.

“We have now moved back to Needles Hall,” writes Maureen Jones, acting director of student awards and financial aid, whose office was seeing clients at a temporary Federation Hall location in the first few days of the spring term. “The centre did work well for the first week,” she says, “but we did not see the number of students expected and have moved back. We anticipate that will be doing this again in September.” Friday’s Imprint had a front-page story about the experiment, in which editor-in-chief Maggie Clark reported on the rising number of Waterloo students whose applications for Ontario Student Assistance Program funding were successful. “It’s hard to deal with the volume here,” Jones said, talking about the office’s headquarters in NH.

Alternatives journal, based in UW’s faculty of environmental studies, is running a contest: “list your top 4 environmental books for two chances to win a set of four books”. • The university’s continuing education department will offer “Writing for Public Relations and Marketing” in morning-long sessions on four consecutive Fridays starting May 30. • A mathematics alumni reunion that had been scheduled for this Saturday has been cancelled, the math faculty advises.


Back to top

Link of the day

World Day for Cultural Diversity

When and where

UW Retirees Association annual general meeting 1:30 p.m., Ron Eydt Village room 102.

TD Canada Trust Walter Bean Visiting Professor in the Environment: Tavi Murray, Swansea University, Wales, “Warming Climate, Melting Ice”, 3:30, Humanities Theatre, reception follows.

Communitech workshop: “Delivering Successful Agile Projects: A Team Approach” 4:30 to 7:00 p.m., Accelerator building, 295 Hagey Boulevard, free registration online.

Columbia Lake Health Club lunch-and-learn session: “Elder-Care” 5:30, boardroom at TechTown, 340 Hagey Boulevard.

Pension and benefits committee Thursday 8:30 to 12:00, Needles Hall room 3004.

Surplus sale of UW equipment at central stores, East Campus Hall, Thursday 12:30 to 2:00 p.m.

John Bullen, university secretariat, retirement open house Thursday 4:00 to 6:00, University Club, RSVP ext. 32749.

Book launch and discussion: Robert Paehlke, founding editor of Alternatives journal, published at UW, Some Like It Cold, moderated by present editor Nicola Ross, Thursday 5:30 to 7:00, 215 Spadina Avenue, Toronto.

Dropping courses: no-penalty period ends (last day to withdraw with 100 per cent fee refund) May 23.

'Transforming TVO for a Digital World' with Lisa de Wilde, CEO of TV Ontario, Friday 10 a.m., Cambridge City Hall, information 519-740-4680 ext. 4623.

CD release event for “Notes Towards”, which includes work by Leonard Enns of Conrad Grebel University College and the DaCapo Chamber Choir, Friday 8 p.m., Music Plus, 5 Michael Street, Kitchener.

You @ Waterloo Day open house for students considering offers of admission from UW, Saturday, displays and booths in Student Life Centre 10:00 to 2:00.

Spring into Song fundraiser for UW Well-Fit, with the Twin City Harmonizers and Grand Harmony, Sunday 2 p.m., Humanities Theatre, details online.

Mathematics alumni reception at Statistical Society of Canada annual meeting, Tuesday, May 27, Ottawa, details online.

Education Credit Union presents “Estate Planning 102”, Wednesday, May 28, 12:15 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

UW Safety Awareness Day, sessions on safety at work, details online. May 29, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop: “Do Students Learn from Laboratory Work?” May 29, 10:00 to 11:20 a.m., Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library, details online.

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop: “Using the Web to Enhance Face-to-Face Learning” June 3, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library, details online.

UW Board of Governors quarterly meeting June 3, 2:30 p.m., Architecture building, Cambridge.

Perimeter Institute presents William D. Phillips, National Institute of Standards and Technology, “Time and Einstein in the 21st Century: The Coolest Stuff in the Universe”, June 4, 7:00 p.m., Waterloo Collegiate Institute, ticket information 519-883-4480.

Spring Convocation: applied health sciences and environmental studies, Wednesday, June 11, 10:00; science, June 11, 2:30, arts (some programs), Thursday, June 12, 10:00; arts (some programs), June 12, 2:30; mathematics, Friday, June 13, 10:00; computer science, June 13, 2:30; engineering (some programs), Saturday, June 14, 10:00; engineering (some programs), June 14, 2:30, details online.

25-Year Club annual reception June 17, 6:00 p.m., Physical Activities Complex, by invitation, information ext. 32078.

Student Life 101 open house for September’s new students, Saturday, July 19, information online.

Positions available

On this week’s list from the human resources department:

• Director of security, police and parking services, USG 15
• Lab technician, kinesiology, USG 5
• Records assistant II, development and alumni affairs, USG 4/5
• Business analyst, co-operative education and career services, USG 9
• Department secretary, religious studies, USG 4

Longer descriptions are available on the HR web site.

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin