Peter Wall News Feed





Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Prize-winning author Camilla Gibb visits UBC

Prize-winning author Camilla Gibb visits UBC

The Institute is delighted to host prize-winning Canadian author, Camilla Gibb, at the Institute and UBC as 2014 writer-in-residence. 

She has written four critically acclaimed novels—Mouthing the WordsThe Petty Details of So-and-so’s LifeSweetness in the Belly and The Beauty of Humanity Movement—and is published around the world in fourteen languages. 

During her two week stay, Gibb will participate in the creative and intellectual life of the Institute, and will meet with with professors and students from UBC Creative Writing. 

On November 5, 2014, she will give a public talk as part of the Wall Wednesday Afternoon Series entitled Empathy, Narrative Truth and Artistic Process.

Read a recent Q&A with Camilla Gibb in The Wall Papers.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Peter Wall Faculty Associate, Kiley Hamlin, shares research on early moral cognition with the Dalai Lama

Peter Wall Faculty Associate, Kiley Hamlin, shares research on early moral cognition with the Dalai Lama

The Institute was thrilled and honoured to support the Dialogue with the Dalai Lama - Educating the Heart in the Early Years, held today at UBC's Chan Centre. 

The sold out auditorium of students listened intently as His Holiness the Dalai Lama provided insights to a panel of UBC researchers and to the audience about his own questions around science research, early childhood development, kindness and compassion. 

Peter Wall Faculty Associate and UBC Canada Research Chair in Developmental Psychology, Kiley Hamlin, was among one of the panelists. She shared her research in early development of moral cognition, which examines whether pre-verbal infants make judgments about which behaviors and individuals are good and praiseworthy, and which are bad and blameworthy.

Her studies suggest that infants come into the world liking niceness and appreciating generosity, she said. 

"Young humans are sensitive to goodness, they enjoy being helpful, compassionate and good," she indicated. This means that we need to give kids opportunities to see these behaviours and engage in these behaviours, she added. 

"I have seen no research prior to hers that shows how generosity is built into the human spirit," offered John, Helliwell, co-panelist, UBC professor and co-Director of CIFAR's program on "Social Interactions, Identity and Well-Being." 

His Holiness the Dalai Lama ended the event with words of encouragement for the generation of the 21st century. He suggested that we must not think of ourselves as part of a nation, but as part of humanity - as part 7 billion other people living on the planet. He urged the generation of the 21st century to act now to see a more peaceful, humane and happy world at the end of the century. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Wall Scholar brings men's health exhibit to small town Alberta

Wall Scholar and UBC Nursing Professor, John Oliffe, is bringing the Man-Up-Against-Suicide exhibit, which was on display in Vancouver this summer, to Rimbey, Alberta - a rural community an hour south west of Edmonton.

Risk for suicide among men in rural areas increases by 40% or more the further away one gets from urban centres. Men are four to five times more likely to die by suicide than women in rural areas in Canada. But it wasn’t the stark statistics that brought two local Rimbey friends to lobby Oliffe's team, asking them to extend their research project to the small town in Alberta.

Emma Palm and Cayley Thomas Haug, united by the loss of both of their brothers to suicide, lobbied John Oliffe and his colleague, John Ogrodniczuk, to bring the exhibit to Rimbey. Palm and Haug will co-host the Movember-funded photography exhibit in Rimbey from October 16-20, 2014.

The Man-Up Against Suicide project, led by Oliffe and Ogrodniczuk, also a Rimbey native, interviewed over 40 men and women who were affected by men’s suicide. The participants narrated their experiences through taking photographs, and a collection of these photographs are shared at various local, national, and international photo exhibits as well as online.

For more information on the project, please visit

Monday, September 29, 2014

Brett Finlay awarded Prix Galien Canada

Brett Finlay awarded Prix Galien Canada

Dr. B. Brett Finlay, Peter Wall Distinguished Professor and UBC Professor in the Departments of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Microbiology & Immunology, has been awarded the Prix Galien Canada Research Award 2014.

The award is presented to the researcher or the research team judged by the Jury to have made the most significant contribution to pharmaceutical research in Canada.

"I am absolutely thrilled and honoured to have been awarded the Prix Galien Research Award 2014," says Dr. Finlay. "Our hope is that our most recent research into the microbiota and its effect on diarrhea and asthma will help to deliver new preventions and treatments."

The award is the most prestigious award in the field of Canadian pharmaceutical research and innovation. Referred to as the Nobel Prize of pharmaceutical research, it recognizes the efforts and achievements of pharmaceutical research and development. The Prix Galien Canada is a branch of Innovation Life Canada.

Please join the Institute in congratulating Dr. Finlay on this prestigious award.

To learn more about his research, watch The World of Microbes.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fashioning Cancer project raises nearly $40 000 for cancer research

Fashioning Cancer project raises nearly $40 000 for cancer research

Fashioning Cancer: The Correlation between Destruction and Beauty has raised approximately $40 000 for cancer research by auctioning off ball gowns inspired by microscopic images of cancer cells.

The 10 ball gowns, designed by UBC Theatre's Jacqueline Firkins and inspired by Christian Naus' lab at UBC, were sold at an auction on September 23 at the Porsche Centre Vancouver.

"It was an amazing evening of great energy and inspiration and personal stories. I was truly overwhelmed," said Firkins. "I'm so grateful for all of the support from start to finish on this project. It means so much to be able to give something back to the community and to use my skills in a new and exciting way."

The project originated through the Peter Wall Institute's Research Mentorship Program and aimed to get people talking about the disease, and how it relates to beauty and body image.

To learn more, read Professor designs gowns inspired by microscopic images of cancer.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Janis Sarra named in Top 25 Women of Influence

Janis Sarra named in Top 25 Women of Influence

Dr. Janis Sarra, UBC Presidential Distinguished Professor at the Peter Wall Institute and UBC Professor of Law, has been ranked as one of this year's Top 25 Women of Influence.

Dr. Sarra ranked 5th right behind Kathleen Wynne, Premier of the Government of Ontario in the public sector category.

The Top 25 Women of Influence recognizes a select group of executives who have achieved the highest levels of professional success in business, health, non-government organizations, professional services and the public sector. Having made a significant difference  in their fields, these women serve as important role models for future female leaders across Canada. All 25 women will be profiled in the winter issue of Women of Influence magazine.

For more information on Women of Influence, please visit

Learn More

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Peter Wall Distinguished Professor to lead new CIFAR research program

Peter Wall Distinguished Professor to lead new CIFAR research program

Dr. B. Brett Finlay, Peter Wall Distinguished Professor, and Dr. Janet Rossant, Chief of Research at The Hospital for Sick Children and Professor, University of Toronto, will lead a new Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) program, which will explore the role that microbial organisms have in human development and behaviour.

The research program was recently approved by the CIFAR Board of Directors after a Global Call for Ideas was issued in April 2013. Leading researchers from across Canada and around the world were invited to submit proposals to create research networks that would tackle complex questions of global significance.

The program, Microbes & Humans, aims to develop a deeper understanding of how human microbiota effect human health, development and evolution. It will explore the role that the microbial organisms that reside within us (microbiota) have in human development and behaviour, and how the microbiota has impacted evolution and the dynamics of society and culture – new thinking in this emerging field will improve our understanding of personal and global health.

Dr. Finlay's areas of research interest and accomplishment include host-parasite interactions of pathogenic bacteria, especially enteric bacteria, and pioneering the use of polarized epithelial cells as models to study pathogenic bacteria penetrating through epithelial barriers. Research in his lab is focused on understanding bacterial pathogenesis from the perspective of both pathogen and host. Dr. Finlay holds appointments as UBC Professor in the Michael Smith Labs and in the Departments of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Microbiology & Immunology. To learn more about his research, watch this short video.

The start-up phase of the program is expected to begin in 2015.

To learn more about CIFAR’s new research programs, click here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Dr. Jamie Peck named a 2014 Highly Cited Researcher

Dr. Jamie Peck named a 2014 Highly Cited Researcher

Dr. Jamie Peck, 2013-2014 Peter Wall Distinguished Scholar in Residence and UBC Professor of Geography, has been named one of 2014’s most Highly Cited Researchers according to Thomson Reuters.

The multimedia and information firm has generated a new list of Highly Cited Researchers in the sciences and social sciences to update and complement a previously published list that was presented on the website

Highly Cited Researchers 2014 represents some of world’s leading scientific minds. Over 3000 researchers earned the distinction by writing the greatest numbers of reports officially designated by Essential Science Indicators℠ as Highly Cited Papers—ranking among the top 1% most cited for their subject field and year of publication, earning them the mark of exceptional impact.

To learn more about Highly Cited Researchers 2014, please follow this link.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Dr. Janis Sarra receives YWCA Women of Distinction Award

Dr. Janis Sarra receives YWCA Women of Distinction Award

The Institute wishes to congratulate Dr. Janis Sarra on receiving a YWCA Women of Distinction Award for Education, Training and Development on June 3, 2014.  

Dr. Sarra is a UBC law professor and UBC Presidential Distinguished Professor at the Peter Wall Institute. She is an internationally recognized expert in corporate finance, banking and securities regulation. She is an innovative educator, adept at fostering life-long professional development.

During her recent tenure as Director of the Peter Wall Institute at UBC, she created new programs of research and education, connecting early-career female scholars to world-leading researchers, supporting innovative interdisciplinary research. As founding Director of the UBC National Centre for Business Law, she helped educate and place women in business and finance, developing innovative new courses to ensure all law students, but particularly women, are well prepared to assume leadership roles.

Recognized nationally as one of Canada’s most prestigious awards for women, the Women of Distinction Awards honour women whose outstanding achievements contribute to the well-being and future of our community. The Awards also honour businesses and organizations that support the wellness and diverse needs of their employees. The Women of Distinction Awards is YWCA Metro Vancouver’s premier fundraising event.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Sarra on this award.

Learn More

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

New Interim Director Announced

New Interim Director Announced

The Institute is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Nancy Gallini as the Director, pro tem of the Peter Wall Institute.

Dr. Gallini is a professor in UBC’s Vancouver School of Economics (VSE).  Prior to coming to VSE, she was a faculty member in the Department of Economics at the University of Toronto (1979-2002, chair of the Department 1995-2000) and Dean of Arts at the University of British Columbia (2002-2010).  Her research focuses on the economics of intellectual property, competition policy, strategic alliances, licensing, and patent policy. She has served on editorial boards of the American Economic Review and the International Journal of Industrial Organization, and is currently a member of SSHRC Council and the Mitacs Research Council.  Dr. Gallini has also worked with the Competition Bureau and Industry Canada on projects related to Canada’s patent and competition policies.

Her appointment is for a one year term, effective July 1, 2014.  A search for a permanent director will be started in the Fall.

Please join the Institute in welcoming Dr. Gallini to her new role at the Institute.