November 4, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 36  

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News Briefs

Profs get soothed with money
A group of Western professors have gotten a whole sack of money to study the placebo effect — and now they all feel much healthier.

A group of Canadian researchers, including several from Western, received a $1.2 million grant over five years from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, said Leora Swartzman, associate professor of psychology and medicine and co-leader of the study the grant is funding.

The research group at Western includes psychology professor Gary Rollman, Patrica Morley Forster from the department of anesthesia and neurology professor Dwight Molin, Swartzman said.

The grant will be funding a study that will look into the placebo effect and unite the efforts of 32 researchers from Ontario and Quebec who all have separate studies, Swartzman said. “We have a series of studies we’re interested in,” she added.

According to Swartzman, the researchers recently attended a conference to decide how the money is to be spent and which individual studies will be focused on. She pointed out the money will be spread among most of the researchers’ projects.

The research group at Western will be studying patients’ responses to placebo techniques and placebo effects on patients with chronic pain, Swartzman explained, adding the advantage of the studies is the test subjects will not know they are not receiving fake pills, so the nature of the placebo effect can be fully studied.

“We will continue picking each other’s collective brains — we plan to be piloting and trying to make plans for the studies,” Swartzman stated.

—Marshall Bellamy

Engineers building bridges? No kidding!
When you eat a yummy frozen popsicle, what do you do with the stick? Don’t, I repeat, don’t throw that stick away! The world’s bridges may depend on it. Besides, the engineering students want to break high schoolers’ art & crafts projects.

This Thursday, Western’s engineering students will hold their annual polar stick bridge building competition, said Dennis Rijkhoff, a third-year structural engineering student.

“We do this every year, but this is the first year we’re including high school students,” Rijkhoff explained.

Each team is given a kit which includes one kilogram of sticks, five metres of dental floss and wood glue. “[Contestants] are given specifications on how big the bridge should be — they build it and bring it to the competition, then we break it for them,” Rijkhoff said.

He explained the competition tests each bridge to determine how much weight it can sustain.

The competition will be held this Thursday in Rm. 2202 of the Engineering Building from 1 to 3 p.m. and Thu., Nov. 13 in Rm. 2200 from 1 to 2 p.m..

Awareness delivered to you in movie form
Do you enjoy free movies? Do you enjoy romantic comedies? Do you enjoy efforts for democracy in war-torn countries? How about watching a free movie about democracy in Kosovo? Did we mention it’s free?

The World University Service of Canada club at Western will be holding a movie night this Tuesday, said Amy Bi, first-year representative on the WUSC executive. The movie that will be shown is called Kosovo: A Fragile Peace.

The film is a documentary following two American people trying to work in local areas to encourage democracy and get people in Kosovo to vote, Bi explained. If you want to get a peek at one aspect of reconstruction in Kosovo, this is the film for you, she added.

“[WUSC is showing the film] for general awareness sake,” Bi added, saying WUSC is a club that focuses on cultural and political awareness.

“Our club slogan is ‘knowledge for an equitable world,’” Bi explained.
The movie night is open to anyone, Bi said. It will take place in Rm. 2028 of the Social Science Centre, starting at 5 p.m. Best of all, the event is completely free.

—Laura Katsirdakis



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