Preparing for today’s strong geomagnetic storm

“B.C. Hydro says crews are getting ready for some stormy space weather Thursday. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the U.S. is predicting a G3 (strong) category geomagnetic storm on Thursday, and a G2 or moderate storm on Friday, according to an alert posted Tuesday. says it’s a noteworthy event. It’s apparently significant enough that B.C. Hydro said Wednesday they’re preparing for a strong solar magnetic storm, which could lead to power cuts. Solar magnetic storms are gusts of charged particles that come from the Sun, and can potentially cause serious damage to high-voltage transmission systems leading to outages, says Brett Hallborg, senior system control manager with B.C. Hydro.”

More on B.C. Hydro prepares for strong geomagnetic storm via Vancouver Sun.

You may want to consider charging your devices this morning. 🙂

UBC scientists partner with AI experts to develop next generation of cancer imaging & treatment tools

“‘The process of image analysis in clinical practice, not just in B.C. but worldwide, is primarily qualitative,’ says Dr. Rahmim, the project’s principal investigator and senior scientist at BC Cancer Research Institute (BCCRI). ‘A specialist must view the image and make an assessment of disease from what they see. Our intention is to develop new technologies using AI that can help better identify and evaluate tumours, with the ultimate aim of impacting care and outcomes for our patients.’

The group plans to publish their research and openly share the developed AI models online, to make them available for researchers and physicians worldwide. As part of the agreement, the anonymized data shared by BC Cancer, and the AI models and methods developed within the partnership, cannot be used for commercial purposes. The initial application of the models will be for clinical research trials, and the possibility of their use in clinical practice will be investigated.”

More on UBC scientists partner with Microsoft to develop next generation of cancer imaging and treatment tools via UBC Faculty of Medicine.

On Leadership: Margaret Keenan

The biggest vaccine campaign in NHS history kicked off this morning, as 90-year-old grandmother Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 jab following its clinical approval.

“I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against COVID-19, it’s the best early birthday present I could wish for because it means I can finally look forward to spending time with my family and friends in the New Year after being on my own for most of the year. I can’t thank May and the NHS staff enough who have looked after me tremendously, and my advice to anyone offered the vaccine is to take it – if I can have it at 90 then you can have it too!”
~ Margaret Keenan

Read more on Landmark moment as first NHS patient receives COVID-19 vaccination via NHS.

#COVID19 #Vaccinate

HMI Podcast: Leadership & Change

The Harvard Macy Institute Podcast #8: Leadership and Change – Reflections on the COVID-19 Pandemic

“In this episode Victoria Brazil interviews two clinical and educational leaders from Boston Children’s Hospital about their strategies for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Peter Waters (Chief of Orthopedic Surgery) and Peter Weinstock (Director, SIMPeds) describe the rapid and extensive changes that were made to clinical and educational practice to support the health and welfare of patients and caregivers at their institution. 

We reflect on how these activities illustrated the principles of leadership and change management from John Kotter, and consider what this means for our future practice as educators and leaders.”

Happy Listening via HMI!

Pet Therapy @ uOttawa

Huge fan of University of Ottawa’s pet therapy program that’s now gone virtual to help support members’ mental health and wellbeing during COVID-19. You can learn more about their dogs and activities here.

On the topic:
* How Animals Help Us During the COVID-19 Pandemic via Tufts.
* Pet therapy: Animals as healers via Mayo Clinic.
* Human-animal relationships and interactions during the Covid-19 lockdown phase in the UK: Investigating links with mental health and loneliness via PLOS.

COVID-19 and Animals

“Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some coronaviruses cause cold-like illnesses in people, while others cause illness in certain types of animals, such as cattle, camels, and bats. Some coronaviruses, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, infect only animals and do not infect humans.

Some coronaviruses that infect animals can be spread to humans and then spread between people, but this is rare. This is what happened with SARS-CoV-2, which likely originated in bats. The first reported infections were linked to a live animal market, but the virus is now spreading from person to person.

SARS-CoV-2 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, and talking. At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. More studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by COVID-19.”

Learn more about COVID-19 and Animals via the CDC.

In Plain Sight

This week, Dr. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond released her report, In Plain Sight, which was commissioned by Hon. Adrian Dix  to review Indigenous racism in BC’s health care system following allegations about racism experienced by Indigenous peoples in some BC emergency rooms in June 2020. The review examined data through an Indigenous Peoples’ Survey to collect the experiences of Indigenous people using the health care system, and a Health Workers’ Survey to examine experiences of health care workers regarding Indigenous-specific acts of racism in their work. There was also a website, email, and phone number for anyone to share their experiences. Dr. Turpel-Lafond interviewed First Nations and Métis leaders and health advocates as well as healthcare leaders. In total, the review examined the experiences of almost 9,000 people and 185,000 pieces of health sector data. 

The full report details the stories and experiences of extensive racism which are extremely upsetting to read. Tying together the countless stories of racism were five key findings: (1) extensive Indigenous-specific racism in BC healthcare; (2) racism limits Indigenous people’s access to medical care which further compounds their health and wellness; (3) Indigenous women and girls are disproportionately impacted by such racism; (4) current public health emergencies, such as COVID-19 and the overdose crisis, disproportionately impact Indigenous peoples; and (5) racism is also experienced by Indigenous health care workers. The review also found that although there are well-intentioned efforts to address and stop these acts of Indigenous-specific racism, those efforts have not translated into real and sustainable change. 

A total of 24 recommendations were made by the review team. Importantly, the first one asked that the BC government apologize for Indigenous specific racism, and that apology came on November 30 by BC’s Health Minister, Adrian Dix which you can read about here.

I, our teams, and our leadership at the Women’s Health Research Institute unequivocally denounce Indigenous-specific racism, and racism in all of its forms to all people. We will be giving deliberate attention to how we can enact the recommendations of In Plain Sight. Our actions must include respectful planning and partnership with Indigenous peoples. 

To all of our members, staff, and trainees in the WHRI, I urge you to take the time to read the full report here and a summary of the recommendations here. It is time for us to think deeply about our own participation in and witnessing of such acts of racism in the context of our research, and to take action to eliminate it.

Lori A Brotto PhD, R Psych
Executive Director, WHRI
Professor | Department of OBGYN, UBC
Canada Research Chair | Women’s Sexual Health

6PPD & Coho Health

PORT ANGELES, WA – NOVEMBER 29: A coho salmon is tagged and measured by Mike McHenry, the Fisheries Habitat Manager, and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe hatchery, at a Washington state hatchery, west of Port Angeles, Wash. on the state’s Olympic Peninsula on November 28, 2012. About 60 coho salmon were tagged, with their DNA and data collected to better track their movements and reproduction. Afterwards, they were released into Indian Creek, a tributary of the Elwha River that was unaffected by the dam removal and an optimal place for salmon reproduction. (Photo by Chris Wilson For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

“For decades, scientists say something alarming has been happening in the streams and rivers where coho salmon return from the Pacific Ocean to spawn along the West Coast. After heavy rain events each fall, the fish have been turning up dead in huge numbers before they spawn, a mysterious phenomenon that has been the subject of intense research for years. Now, scientists think they have found a key piece to this morbid puzzle — and according to a new study, it’s strewn all over North America’s roadways. It starts with a chemical antioxidant known as 6PPD, used in tires around the world to make them last longer.
Roughly 3.1 billion tires for the planet’s more than 1.4 billion vehicles are produced annually, the study said, and this chemical appears to be used in nearly all of them. Previous studies have found that tire abrasion is one of the most significant sources globally of microplastics in aquatic ecosystems, and it’s responsible for an estimated 30% of all the microplastic particles in our oceans. Better treatment and management of runoff before it enters coastal streams is part of the solution, the study authors said, but source control and the development of “green” chemical substitutes for 6PPD in tires is also needed.”

More on “Salmon have been dying mysteriously on the West Coast for years. Scientists think a chemical in tires may be responsible” via CNN.