Biodegradable medical mask: COVID-19

UBC_2020-05-15_PJ_7727-768x511Researchers in the BioProducts Institute at the University of British Columbia have stepped up to the challenge, designing what could be the very first N95 mask that can be sourced and made entirely in Canada. It’s also possibly the world’s first fully compostable and biodegradable medical mask.
The mask frame is made entirely from B.C. wood fibres from sources such as pine, spruce, cedar and other softwoods. One prototype uses a commercial N95 filter on the front of the mask, the other uses a filter specially designed by the UBC team from wood-based products. Both prototypes are currently being tested to ensure they meet health industry specifications for fit and permeability, with plans to apply for Health Canada certification in the near future.
The researchers believe the mask is a good alternative to the synthetic masks currently in use. “With millions of disposable masks and gloves already polluting city sidewalks and potentially entering our rivers and oceans, we urgently need a biodegradable option to avoid making a massive impact on our environment,” says Foster.

More here on UBC researchers develop biodegradable medical mask for COVID-19 via UBC News.

Ideas: Restarting the Economy

“Researchers in Israel have formulated a new workweek model that they say would allow workers to return to offices, but help mitigate a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

The 10-4 plan entails a four-day workweek followed by 10 days in quarantine, which Eran Yashiv, a professor of economics at Tel Aviv University and London School of Economics Centre for Macroeconomics, says is contingent on COVID-19’s perceived window of infectiousness.

The model hinges on research conducted by his collaborators — professors Uri Alon and Ron Milo at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel — which estimates that a patient is not contagious to others for “three days, possibly longer” after they are infected, he said. Models created by the researchers predict that the two-week cycle could reduce the virus’s reproduction number to below one.”

More on “4 days at work, 10 days in lockdown would restart economy amid fears of COVID-19 resurgence, says economist” here via CBC.


UBC Scholar Project: Uprooting Mood Disorders in the Fraser Valley


We had amazing presentations at our UBC Scholar Evening: Pub & Papers event last week. I want to take this opportunity to showcase our Residents’ stellar work and commitment to address our community’s needs. I was particularly fond of this project as it approached mood disorders through community gardening. And as we know, community gardening initiatives help to feed and nourish the collective’s health and wellness on multiple levels.

Uprooting Mood Disorders in the Fraser Valley
Drs. Michelle Hanbidge & John Stimson
As mental health becomes an ever-important, yet demanding pillar of primary care, community gardening has been identified as a low-risk, low-cost intervention with promising results for reducing depression and anxiety. Our health advocacy project aimed to create a community garden for people living with anxiety and/or depression in the Fraser Valley and to evaluate the effectiveness of our program.

Download the powerpoint here: Hanbidge & Stimson UBC Garden Project 2020

Enjoy the read and thank you to Drs. Hanbidge & Stimson for sharing their work with the global community.

~ Jacqueline

CHES: Articles of Interest in Medical Education


CHES distributes a collection of medical education article abstracts to members. “We thank Dr. Gisèle Bourgeois-Law who has created these summaries for the education community at the Island Medical Program. While these articles have a medical education focus, we are using this opportunity to explore the value of such an initiative to our larger CHES community. Article themes include topics such as: feedback and mindfulness, those by local/BC educators, those relevant to a distributed medical program, and those with new ideas. Our aim is to include a variety of quantitative and qualitative research articles, review articles, and concept articles, some of which contain an interesting editorial or commentary. This summary is not meant to be comprehensive, nor to include everything of potential interest.”

Please click here for the May 2020 edition.

If you would like to nominate an article for future inclusion or have any questions, please email

The Lancet Microbe

“The Lancet Microbe, our new open access journal’s first issue is now live. SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 inevitably set the tone in the inaugural issue, as reflected in the artwork on the cover by David S Goodsell. The journal, in its first Editorial, commits to supporting work on SARS-CoV-2 long after it has left the headlines and to ensuring that other pathogens are not overshadowed. The Editors quote ‘current events have also made it clear that a journal such as ours has arrived just in time to help the microbial research community as it works tirelessly to uncover the inner workings of SARS-CoV-2.’ Also included are two Research Articles on MCR1 in Ecoli.” Read the first issue here.

COVID-19 & Overdose

What measures have been taken to protect the Downtown Eastside population since the outbreak? What more should be done?

“A critically important development is that the federal government gave the green light on providing a medically prescribed ‘safer supply’ of drugs. Championed by my colleagues at the BC Centre on Substance Use and a provincial working group of addiction medicine clinicians and people with lived experience, the province has announced new clinical guidelines to both stem the spread of COVID-19 and respond to the ongoing overdose emergency. These guidelines allow people to access alternatives to the toxic drug supply and even have them delivered, to reduce the likelihood of infection as well as risks associated with the toxic drug supply.

The Canadian Drug Policy Coalition has developed a resource hub to support people who use drugs and the service providers that work with them. There is also harm-reduction guidance from the BC Centre for Disease Control and drug user advocacy groups in the neighbourhood, such as suggesting ways to avoid contracting COVID-19 from drug use supplies, buddying up and making sure to have an overdose plan.”

UBC Associate Professor, Sociology

Read more of Dr. Richardson’s interview here “When crises collide: COVID-19 and overdose in the Downtown Eastside” via UBC Faculty of Arts.