CATEGORY: In the media, News

In the media: Week of Oct. 9

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

An innovator shapes an empire (video), The New York Times

A profile of UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann. UCSF also has reprinted the article on its website.

Supervisors to weigh plans for new MLK hospital, The Torrance Daily Breeze

County leaders this week will consider an environmental review and construction bids for the much-anticipated work at Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Center, which is expected to relieve pressure on surrounding hospitals. The new 120-bed inpatient hospital in Willowbrook is slated for completion in the spring of 2013, and open for patients in September of that year. Work includes a $237 million renovation of the existing inpatient tower and construction of a new, four-story Multi-Service Ambulatory Care Center expected to cost $150 million. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider a detailed environmental review for these two projects, along with conceptual work to develop another 1.4 million square feet of space for medical offices, general offices and possibly commercial and retail businesses. The new MLK hospital will be run by the University of California system, what leaders described as a “historic” partnership when the agreement was reached in 2009.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Wave

New high-tech UCSD training facility puts doctors to the test (audio/video), KPBS

The practice of medicine is constantly evolving, and medical schools have to stay on the cutting edge. That’s not a problem at UC San Diego. The school just opened a four-story state-of-the-art medical training center.

Mouth swab could detect pancreatic cancer, Sky News

A new study has linked mouth bacteria to the development of pancreatic cancer. Researchers say they cannot be sure whether the bacteria cause the deadly cancer or are a consequence of the disease. Scientists from UCLA are now investigating whether a simple mouth swab could be used to screen for pancreatic cancer.

HealthWatch: Doctors warming to caveman diet trend (video), CBS 5

UC San Francisco researchers are showing how a modern-day Paleo diet works just as well as statin drugs when it comes to dropping cholesterol levels. CBS 5 medical reporter Dr. Kim Mulvihill was so intrigued by the UCSF research that she became a guinea pig for the scientists. She was told that she could not lose any weight and was given a Paleo plan to follow. Within 10 days, her cholesterol dropped dramatically, as did her blood pressure. She then asked if she could lose weight, and modified the diet to eat less. Dr. Mulvihill then shed 30 pounds and two dress sizes.

Op-ed: One road out of ‘the Valley of Death, San Diego Union-Tribune

This op-ed highlights the role of the UC San Diego William J. von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism and Technology Advancement, whose mission is to accelerate innovation and facilitate interaction between academia and industry. In particular, it mentions the breakthrough discovery of a sepsis treatment by Geert Schmid-Schonbein, director of the Microcirculation Lab at UC San Diego.

Experimental treatment for scoliosis: stapling, San Francisco Chronicle

Grace Rego’s spine is curved so sharply that the “S” shape of it is obvious under the skin of her back. But you’d never know it to watch the 4-year-old clamber over a sofa or chase her little brother around the family’s home in Piedmont. Until very recently, Grace’s only option for treatment would have been wearing a heavy plastic brace around the clock. Eventually, she’d likely need metal rods implanted in her back to further protect her spine. Instead her doctor performed surgery to staple together several vertebrae in her spine, hopefully correcting the curve and preventing it from getting worse. The surgery was designed and refined at a children’s hospital in Philadelphia and is now being used by a UCSF orthopedic surgeon for childhood scoliosis cases like Grace’s. “I don’t want people lining up for this. I’m inherently cautious, and it’s not for everyone,” said Dr. Mohammad Diab, the UCSF surgeon who’s performing the stapling procedure. “But I want people to pay attention, because there may be alternatives” to the traditional treatments.

Dorothy Leland: UC Merced critical to rebirth of Valley, The Fresno Bee

UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland highlights the importance of UC Merced to the San Joaquin Valley, including the impact of its health sciences.

Berkeley Bionics changes its name to Ekso Bionics, San Francisco Busines Times

Berkeley Bionics, which makes technology to help paraplegics walk again, changed its name to Ekso Bionics this week. The Berkeley business rebranded its line of “exoskeletons,” as it calls the wearable robots that let paralyzed people stand and walk. A year ago, the company, which former CEO Homayoon Kazerooni helped start, made a splash as it unveiled its first set of mechanical legs. Kazerooni is a UC Berkeley professor of mechanical engineering.

UC reaches labor deal with its largest union, Los Angeles Times

The labor union representing the largest organized group of University of California employees has ratified its new contract overwhelmingly, raising hopes for a period of labor peace at the university system and its hospitals, officials said Monday. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, which represents more than 20,000 UC employees, including hospital assistants, custodians, gardeners and cafeteria workers, approved the contract by voting margins of at least 98% in its two units, union representatives said.

Closing time in California, Inside Higher Ed

The 38-year-old California Postsecondary Education Commission will not be getting a funeral when it is laid to rest next month. When the state coordinating board closes its doors for the last time on Nov. 18, few will be there to pay respects to the once-touted agency that served as a check on the governor and on institutions of higher learning. A year and a half ago, CPEC produced a study identifying whether the University of California at Riverside needed a proposed medical school. CPEC concluded there was a need for the medical school, but advised delaying the opening until adequate funding was secured. However, the university opted against the recommendation and went ahead with the construction of the school.

Telehealth services to reach more rural Californians, Healthcare IT News

A bill signed last week in California aims to greatly increase access to healthcare in rural areas by providing more telehealth services, through more providers, in more care settings.Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 415, the Telehealth Advancement Act of 2011, on Oct. 7. Authored by Assembly Member Dan Logue (R-Chico), the bill was also supported by the state’s telehealth stakeholders and leaders and passed with no opposing votes in the legislature. The article quotes Eric Brown, CEO of the California Telehealth Network. (UC has played a key role in the CTN and supported AB 415).

See additional coverage: Modern Healthcare

L.A. County expands no-cost healthcare, Los Angeles Times

Hoping to establish new programs before Medi-Cal takes over in 2014, Los Angeles County plans to register as many as 550,000 patients and assign them to medical clinics for free services. This article mentions that the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research is evaluating Healthy Way L.A. and quotes the center’s associate director, Gerald Kominski.

Memo shows how state caved to industry pressure on pesticide, environmentalists say, HealthyCal

Environmentalists say a newly uncovered memo shows how the California Department of Pesticide Regulation gave in to industry pressure when it approved the controversial soil fumigant methyl iodide for use in California agriculture at levels more than 100 times higher than those its own scientists recommended. The Feb. 16, 2010 memo by an executive of methyl iodide manufacturer Arysta Lifesciences said that maximum exposure levels the state’s scientists had recommended for workers and people who live near agricultural fields were unacceptable to the company because they were too low. The article quotes UCSF’s Paul Blanc and UC Berkeley’s Tom McKone, who served on the scientific review committee. 

A night of shining stars,

California nurses took one night off from their hectic lives to attend an event that pays tribute to the heart and soul of nursing for which many don’t expect to be recognized. The 2011 Nursing Excellence Awards, held Aug. 26 at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank, honored 30 finalists in six categories. After finalists were called to the stage to be recognized,’s Judith G. Berg unveiled six regional winners and one Diane F. Cooper Lifetime Achievement Award honoree. The honorees included Ellen Lewis of UC Irvine.

State: Cal student picked up mumps overseas, Contra Costa Times

A UC Berkeley student contracted mumps on a trip to Europe and infected others upon returning to campus, where up to 44 people have been now been diagnosed with the disease, state public-health officials said Monday.

David Lazarus: Autism treatment law again shows insurers’ need for therapy, Los Angeles Times

Cost is at the forefront of why health insurers had balked at including coverage for treatments associated with autism, which requires not just medical care but also extensive educational, behavioral and vocational support. This column mentions that a study for the state Legislature by the California Health Benefits Review Program estimated that the cost to insurers of implementing the law would be closer to $93 million. (CHBRP is a UC-administered program whose faculty and staff analysts provide independent analysis to the Legislature.)

Prognosis: Slight rise in blood pressure carries risk, The New York Times

A review of studies suggests that young and middle-aged people with slightly elevated blood pressure, or prehypertension, are nonetheless at much greater risk for stroke than those in the normal range. Scientists at the University of California, San Diego, reviewed 12 prospective cohort studies of prehypertension and stroke incidence covering more than 500,000 participants with follow-up periods as long as 32 years.

Scientists turn iPhone into microscope with $30 mod, Wired

Researchers from UC Davis have developed a tiny, inexpensive lens that transforms an iPhone into a medical-quality imaging and chemical detection device. The lens gives the iPhone an extra 5x magnification, which is enough to spot diseased blood cells. The low cost — along with ease of use and startlingly good results — means that doctors on the ground in developing countries could soon have an important new tool to fight disease.

Five things industry can do to support true FDA reform, and restore public confidence, Xconomy

In this column about five things industry can do to support the FDA, the suggestions include financing strong “regulatory science” programs at U.S. business schools and medical schools, noting that UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann has advocated for this discipline.

Why the ‘Moneyball’ approach isn’t a home run for health care, California Healthline

This analysis of applying the “Moneyball” approach used by the Oakland Athletics in baseball to health care quotes Erich Loewy of UC Davis.


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