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Black-white U.S. life expectancy gap narrows

Researchers at McGill have found that the gap in life expectancy between white and black people in America has narrowed substantially, largely because of a decrease in deaths of young African American males from homicide and AIDS. The study, conducted by Sam Harper, a postdoctoral fellow in McGill's department of epidemiology, biostatistics and occupational health, and John Lynch, Canada research chair in population health, is published in the March 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Published: 18 Mar 2007

Wainberg adds fresh data to recent JMB study

Mark Wainberg, Bluma Brenner and colleagues at U de M presented new findings at an AIDS symposium in Montreal on Friday to add to a recently published eight-year study on transmission rates, published in April's Journal of Molecular Biology. Their study, out last month, showed that half of all HIV transmissions happen when newly infected people don't know they are carrying the virus. The new data, from 2,500 HIV patients in several Montreal clinics, dealt with transmission of drug-resistant HIV strains.

Published: 18 Mar 2007

Templeton Prize awarded to Charles Taylor

McGill professor emeritus Charles Taylor, a philosopher who says the world's problems can only be solved by considering both their secular and spiritual roots, was named Wednesday as the recipient of a religion award billed as the world's richest annual prize. Taylor, a professor of law and philosophy at Northwestern University, and emeritus professor of Philosophy at McGill, has won this year's Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries About Spiritual Realities. The award is worth more than $1.5 million.

Published: 14 Mar 2007

South Pole telescope to probe 'dark energy'

The South Pole Telescope, a 22-metre tall, 280-ton monstrosity housed in one of the coldest places on Earth, has successfully collected its first test observations. And now astrophysicists hope it will shed light on the mysteries of the universe. CTV speaks with McGill astrophysicist Matt Dobbs, who is involved in the project.

Published: 13 Mar 2007

Knowledge transfer

"There's a mountain of clinical practice guidelines and recommendations out there, unfortunately, they're collecting dust on shelves." Dr. Eddy Lang, an emergency doc and assistant professor of medicine at McGill, should know. A longtime disciple of evidence-based medicine, Dr. Lang works in the fast-growing and relatively new area of medical research known as knowledge transfer, or KT for short. The holy grail of KT is getting medical research results to make the leap into clinical practice.

Published: 12 Mar 2007

How touching

Haptics is the science of simulating pressure, texture, vibration and other sensations related to touch. Most of today's haptic devices rely on motors that either prod or vibrate the skin, but a new technology is emerging that is an even more flexible and effective means of stimulating the sense of touch: skin stretch. By laterally stretching the surface of the skin (without pushing or poking into it) it is possible to mimic the feeling of complex shapes and sensations. This is because the sense of touch seems to depend far more on the way in which the skin is deformed and stretched than it does on the degree of pressure applied. So it should be possible to recreate sensations purely by stretching skin, says Vincent Hayward, a researcher who first developed such a device at the Centre for Intelligent Machines at McGill University.

Published: 9 Mar 2007

Printing better bones

Jake E. Barralet of McGill's Faculty of Dentisty and colleagues have adapted a printer to produce synthetic, three-dimensional structures to make bone grafts. Tests indicate that such porous, tailor-made structures could one day be implanted into patients to serve as biodegradable scaffolds for regrowing missing or damaged bone.

Published: 9 Mar 2007

Newly infected spread half of HIV

Half of all new HIV transmissions occur when people are unlikely to know they carry the virus and in some cases, wouldn't test positive for it because they are so newly infected, according to a new study authored by Mark Wainberg, director of the McGill AIDS Centre. The study is to be published in the April edition of the Journal of Infectious Diseases and is one of the first in the world to quantify how many of the newly infected are responsible for spreading the disease to others.

Published: 2 Mar 2007

McGill women's hockey gets $1-million boost

The McGill Martlets women's hockey team is the beneficiary of the largest single monetary donation to a women's sports program in Canadian university history. David Kerr and his wife Sheryl, Montreal natives and former McGill student-athletes, have bestowed a $1-million gift to ensure the women's program will always have a full-time head coach.

Published: 2 Mar 2007

Non-invasive heart treatment to mend a broken heart

McGill cardiologists perform a new procedure that lets patients avoid open-heart surgery and return home within 48 hours. According to Dr. Joe Martucci and Dr. Adrian Dancea, the procedure can significantly delay the need for open-heart surgery and greatly reduce the life-long morbidity associated with some heart malformations.

Published: 23 Feb 2007

Making the edible urban landscape

Vikram Bhatt, Director of the Minimum Cost Housing Group of the McGill School of Architecture, and his team of students have been travelling the world over the last three years with a project called "Making the Edible Urban Landscape," designed to use even an impoverished piece of land to benefit those who live there — and the planet itself.

Published: 19 Feb 2007

Breathing tied to waist size

Morbidly obese men tend to have more breathing difficulties than morbidly obese women, partly because they have much larger waistlines, a new study suggests. Dr Gerald S. Zavorsky from the McGill University Health Centre and colleagues led the study.

Published: 18 Feb 2007

Evolutionary psychology

"The idea that evolution is an important determinant of who we are as human beings is unquestionable," says Laurence Kirmayer, director of the division of social and transcultural psychiatry at McGill. "The question is, what does our evolutionary history or our theories of evolution tell us specifically about the nature of human problems or about their potential solutions?" The Los Angeles Times writes on evolutionary psychology, a burgeoning field that is starting to influence psychotherapy. Evolutionary psychology sees the mind as a set of evolved mechanisms, or adaptations, that have promoted survival and reproduction.

Published: 16 Feb 2007

A mother's love

McGill researchers have found that a good dose of motherly love may be enough to alter our genetic code, leaving us less fearful and stressed out in later life. If the finding is confirmed it could lead to dramatic new insights into the effects of upbringing and life experiences on a vast range of medical conditions, including obesity, diabetes and depression. The study, by Moshe Szyf, Michael Meaney, Ian Weaver and their team at McGill, is published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Published: 14 Feb 2007

What's in your milk?

A McGill- and Harvard-sponsored conference held recently in Boston brought together about three dozen dairy researchers, from nutritional epidemiologists to dairy scientists, to discuss the hypothesis that hormones and growth factors in dairy increase cancer risk. Michael Pollak, an oncologist who studies cancer risk and IGF-1 at McGill, was one of the conference organizers.

Published: 13 Feb 2007