SFU People in the News

April 05, 2012

This report on Simon Fraser University in the news lists the main items of known media coverage from 9 a.m. Pacific Wednesday April 4 to 9 a.m. Pacific Thursday April 5.
The report is compiled and distributed by SFU Public Affairs & Media Relations.
(Because of the Easter holiday period, the next issue of Media Matters will go online on Tuesday April 10.)

Breast cancer | Donations | CBC ads | Politics | Languages | HIV/AIDS | Sports


  • Media in several countries carried stories on how an international team of researchers—including four from SFU—has made a discovery that will change the way the most deadly form of breast cancer is treated. Our news-monitor spotted 256 stories in less than 24 hours.
    The international science-and-technology network of was first. It wrote:
    “One of the worst things you can hear from you doctor is that you, or a loved one, has ‘triple negative’ breast cancer. It stubbornly refuses to respond to the best treatments available, so doctors have to resort to chemotherapy. It strikes 16 per cent of breast cancer patients, most of them younger than 40. But we may finally have figured out how to beat it.
    “In the largest genetic analysis ever of these types of tumours, scientists have discovered we’ve been treating them all wrong, for years. By sequencing the DNA of 100 triple negative tumors, they’ve found that the tumours are vastly different. Which means doctors should be treating them vastly differently—but until now they were mostly treated basically the same way. No two tumour genomes were even similar, let alone exactly the same.
    “‘Seeing these tumours at a molecular level has taught us we’re dealing with a continuum of different types of breast cancer here, not just one,’ said Steven Jones, a co-author of the study, which is published  . . . in the journal Nature. Jones is a molecular biology and biochemistry professor  . . .  at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada.
    “‘These findings prove the importance of personalising cancer drug treatment so that it targets the genetic make up of a particular tumour rather than presuming one therapy can treat multiple, similar-looking tumours.’”
    Full story:
    SFU news release:
    Other news media soon followed, including:
  • The Canadian Press: “A news release from Simon Fraser University, where four of the researchers in the study are based, said the 59 scientists involved in the study expected to see similar gene profiles when they mapped the genomes of 100 tumours. But they found no two genomes were similar, never mind the same.
    Full story (in the Winnipeg Free Press):
  • The Vancouver Sun: “Steven Jones, a co-author of the study, Simon Fraser University professor and head of bioinformatics research at the BC Cancer Agency, said scientists expected to see genetic similarities in the tumours when they mapped their genomes. But they didn't find the similarities they expected. . . .
    “‘The genetic diversity of these tumours, even though they're clinically similar, probably explains why they are so difficult to treat,’ Jones said, in a news release.”
    Full story:
    (By way of Postmedia News, the Sun story also ran in the Montreal Gazette.)
  • CKNW: “Four Simon Fraser University scientists are part of an international team, credited with a discovery that could change the way the most deadly of breast cancers is treated. A study outlining the findings has been published in the journal ‘Nature’—which debunks the idea that the deadliest breast cancer tumours may have similar gene profiles.
    SFU professor Dr. Steven Jones, who co-authored the study, says they found no two genomes were even similar—let alone the same—which explains why the so-called primary triple negative breast cancers are so hard to treat.”
    Full story:
  • News1130 Radio: “Study co-author Steven Jones of Simon Fraser University  . . . says the study shows the importance of personalizing drug treatments for the cancer so they target the genetic make-up of a particular tumour instead of using a one-size-fits-all approach.”
    Full story:
  • “Jones credits the affordability of genetic sequencing—a process that now takes tens of thousands rather than millions of dollars to do—with making tumour analysis at the molecular level more readily available.  . . .
    “Other researchers associated with SFU involved in this research are Marco Marra, Martin Hirst and Gregg Morin. As well as being researchers at the Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre, they are SFU adjunct professors of molecular biology and biochemistry.”
    Full story:
  • CBC News: “Four scientists at British Columbia's Simon Fraser University have helped unlock the genetic code of the deadliest form of breast cancer. The scientists formed part of an international team that mapped the genomes of more than 100 tumours of triple-negative breast cancer, the largest ever genetic analysis of this type of cancer.”
    Full story:
  • And there was a BC Cancer Agency news release: It’s a PDF at


  • Following up a Vancouver Sun story, the Peace Arch News and the Cloverdale Reporter told readers:There was no rule against using Simon Fraser University funds for political donations when Wilf Hurd, SFU’s director of government relations, gave SFU money to the BC Liberals.
    “But now, there will be a policy against it, following a report in the Vancouver Sun newspaper this week that the former Surrey-White Rock Liberal MLA used university money to make $2,045 in donations to seven BC Liberal party fundraisers.
    “According to the report, the payments were made over a period of just over a month this year. They included, among other things, $1,000 for six tickets to an event staged by Liberal MLA and former cabinet minister Harry Bloy (Burnaby-Lougheed) and a $350 contribution to deputy Speaker Linda Reid (Richmond East).
    “The 61-year-old Hurd—who could not be reached for comment by press time Wednesday—attended the fundraisers and wrote out personal cheques to the BC Liberals, then filed an expense claim for the money with the university, which paid him back.
    Don MacLachlan, SFU’s director of public affairs and media relations, said there was no written rule covering donations to political fundraisers, but the president of the university, Andrew Petter—a former New Democrat MLA (Saanich South)—has ordered a halt until a policy officially forbidding it is in place.
    “‘It’s absolutely, definitively, been put to a stop,’ MacLachlan told Peace Arch News. ‘Expenditures such as this are not to happen.’ An internal investigation has been ordered by Petter, MacLachlan said.”
    Full story:
  • Then The Vancouver Sun did its own followup story: “Simon Fraser University is launching an audit of the expense claims made by one of its directors who was reimbursed by the university for more than $2,000 spent attending B.C. Liberal events in 2012.
    “Former BC Liberal MLA Wilfred Hurd, now SFU’s director of government relations, expensed $2,045 in just over one month to attend seven party fundraisers, The Sun reported on Tuesday. He also donated $18,766 to the B.C. Liberals between 2005 and mid-2011, Elections B.C. records show.
    “SFU spokesman Don MacLachlan could not say how much of that money was reimbursed by the university, but SFU’s internal auditor will be looking into all Hurd’s expense claims going back ‘as far as they need to,’ he said.
    “The auditor will also evaluate the university’s procedure for approving business expenses with an eye to identifying improvements, MacLachlan said.”
    Full story:
  • Political scientist Marjorie Griffin Cohen was in a Georgia Straight story: “The B.C. Liberals may be in trouble in the polls, but they sure have a lot more money than their competitors.
    “According to records released by Elections B.C. on April 4, the ruling party has reported that it received a total of $8.9 million in contributions in 2011. That’s more than twice the $4.4 million pulled in by the B.C. NDP, and more than 20 times the B.C. Conservative Party’s $210,397.
    “But SFU political-science professor Marjorie Griffin Cohen says this situation may change this year, as the B.C. Liberal Party continues to register dismal showings in various opinion surveys.
    “‘As donors respond to political polls, I would imagine a large increase in [contributions to] the Conservatives and a decrease in the Liberals, just because people do seem to be switching from the Liberals to the Conservatives,’ Cohen told the Straight in a phone interview.”
    Full story:


  • Two SFU profs were in a Victoria Times Colonist story that reported: “Cuts to the CBC are motivating the corporation to put ads on part of its radio service, a move that is drawing some negative reviews. . . . The network applied Wednesday to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for permission to run ads on CBC Radio Two.”
    The story added: “Simon Fraser University communications professor Catherine Murray said she worked on a report in the mid-1990s with former CBC and CRTC head Pierre Juneau, called Making Our Voices Heard. ‘And we particularly wanted to protect radio from any kind of pressure [to accept ads],’ Murray said.”
    SFU Communication prof Rowland Lorimer said Canada might have to adopt the National Public Radio model of funding from corporate sponsors.  “Canadians wouldn't be so upset by that," Lorimer said. "They are going to be upset by the gradual movement of Radio Two and the radio system as a whole over to an advertising model."
    Full story:


  • Marketing prof Lindsay Meredith was in the Georgia Straight, saying Premier Christy Clark’s hopes of turning around BC Liberal fortunes are hampered by baggage from the party’s past.
    “‘Christy Clark is the equivalent of Liberals trying to put lipstick on a pig,’ Meredith told the Straight in a phone interview.
    “‘You can pretty the pig up but it’s still a pig,’ the SFU professor said. ‘And the problem is yeah, she puts a new face on it but the fact is there’s still fundamental, key problems with the party that have not gone away.’”
    Full story:


  • Time magazine quoted SFU Linguistics prof Murray J. Munro in a story about the difficulties adults have in learning a foreign language—and trying to perfect the native accent.
    Wrote Time: “For decades, traditional language instruction held up native-like pronunciation as the ideal, enforced by doses of ‘fear, embarrassment and conformity,’ in the words of Murray J. Munro, a professor of linguistics at Simon Fraser University in Canada.
    “Munro and a co-author, University of Alberta linguist Tracy Derwing, argue that this ideal is ‘clearly unrealistic,’ leading to disappointment and frustration on the part of most adult language learners. . . .
    “Adult students of language should be guided by the ‘intelligibility principle,’ not the old ‘nativeness principle.’ As Derwing and Munro note, ‘even heavily accented speech can be highly comprehensible.’”
    Full story:


  • SFU prof Jamie Scott was on GlobalTV Regina as it looked at the incidence of AIDS in Saskatchewan (some 1,600 known cases) and at the faster-than-usual progression of the disease in some of them.
    Said Global: “A new study proposal from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver is looking for funding to find out (why).”
    On what is being found in the unusual Saskatchewan cases, Scott said: “From one person’s virus to the next person’s virus, there’s less variability there than you would see if you did the same thing in Vancouver or in Montreal, for instance.” But, she said, it’s not a new strain, as some have reported.
    (Scott is Canada Research Chair in molecular immunity.)
    GlobalTV video:


  • A string of sports media carried a story on former SFU Clan quarterback Jason Marshall, now playing professional rugby in France. He’s hoping to recover from an arm injury so he can play for Canada at Burnaby’s Swangard Stadium on June 23, when Canada completes a three-game international series with a match against Georgia. Swangard was the home field for the Clan when Marshall played for SFU.
    The Canadian Press:
    Globe and Mail:
    The Province:
    The Vancouver Sun:




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