CATEGORY: In the media

In the media: Week of April 19

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

100 Great Hospitals in America, Becker’s Hospital Review

Becker’s Hospital Review’s list of “100 Great Hospitals in America” includes four UC medical centers: UC Davis, UCLA, UC San Diego and UC San Francisco. They were among nine California hospitals that made the list.

Best colleges for a major in public health, USA Today

UC Berkeley is ranked first on College Factual’s list of the best colleges for a major in public health.

Editorial: Staking a claim to the future with big-data medicine, The Sacramento Bee

One of the most exciting and intriguing recent medical advances has been the development of tests that can analyze a person’s genetic makeup and then design a treatment tailored for that person’s disease. Precision medicine, as this field is known, holds great promise. But researchers believe scientists have only scratched the surface of what this field has to offer. That’s why a new precision medicine initiative announced last week by Gov. Jerry Brown and the University of California is so important. The project, to be led by UC San Francisco, will explore how the university can use its network of medical schools, computer scientists and other resources to aggregate patient data to better inform the research.

UC system uses data to create better health care (audio), KGO Radio

The UC system is launching a new initiative that will track patient data to help doctors provide better care. Governor Brown and the state have already promised $1 million to to program which will be hosted at UCSF. University health data will be cross referenced with clinical trials and environmental and sociological trends. Dr, Atul Butte, leader of the initiative, said, “the idea is for us to learn from our patients, learn from each other. What is working? What isn’t working?”

UC holds fifth Global Health Day event at UCLA, Daily Bruin

UC Global Health Day was held April 18 at UCLA’s Covel Commons. This year marked the first time the event took place at UCLA. A few hundred faculty and students from across the UC system attended. In its fifth year, the health day is an event that aims to bring together UC faculty, students and researchers to showcase their research and network, said Rahwa Neguse, a program analyst at the UC Global Health Institute and event organizer. The institute looks to combine the resources of all 10 campuses to improve health worldwide for the next generation.

New school of thought: UCD considers population and global health, Davis Enterprise

Should UC Davis open a School of Population and Global Health? And what exactly is that? Questions such as these have been asked for many years at UCD — as far back as the late 1980s, according to Kenneth Kizer, director of the Institute for Population Health Improvement at the UCD Health System. Kizer has been tasked by Chancellor Linda Katehi to “lead an effort to create a new School of Population and Global Health at UC Davis,” according to a memo from July 2014. To be clear, the original questions surrounded the idea of UCD establishing a School of Public Health, the more familiar form of the discipline. Along the way, however, the focus shifted. At last week’s town-hall meeting at the UCD School of Medicine devoted to the subject of a proposed School of Population and Global Health, Kizer began with a history lesson. In 2009, the University of California launched its Global Health Institute, which included two centers of expertise at UCD: Migration and Health, and One Health.

Hoop dreams (video), 60 Minutes

Bob Petrella is one of the only people in the world who possess the extraordinary ability to remember virtually every day of his life. … Dr. James McGaugh is a leading expert on memory and cognition at the University of California, Irvine. … “It’s not just a series of facts that he recalls, like the memory of the names of the presidents or the alphabet. It’s a whole story that he has.”

UCSD scientist awarded Japan Prize, U-T San Diego

UC San Diego researcher Theodore Friedmann was awarded the Japan Prize in Tokyo on April 23 for his pioneering efforts to find ways to alter genes to cure human disease. Friedmann was one of three scientists to receive this year’s Japan Prize, which is given by a foundation that says it honors people “who have made significant contributions to the advancement of science and technology, thereby furthering the cause of peace and prosperity of mankind.”

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments (0)

In the media: Week of April 12

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

California, UC form partnership for ‘precision medicine’ project, San Francisco Chronicle

Gov. Jerry Brown and the University of California announced a new “precision medicine” initiative April 14 that commits $3 million to a statewide project to compile existing patient data and use it to tailor drug therapies and other treatments to individuals’ specific needs. The California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine comes three months after President Obama announced a $215 million research investment in the same budding field. The investment from California will act as “seed money” for the state program, which will be hosted by UCSF. Read UC coverage.

See additional coverage: California Healthline, Nature, San Francisco Business Times

Meet the man leading California’s $3M ‘precision medicine’ initiative, KQED Future of You

“Precision medicine” may seem like a vague and futuristic term. But for President Obama and other policymakers, it represents the future of cancer treatment and care. For decades, doctors would prescribe treatments that work for some or most people — a “one sized fits all” approach. But precision medicine proposes that care providers treat patients on an individual basis. This week, the state of California stepped up its efforts to deliver more targeted health care by setting aside $3 million for precision medicine. Atul Butte, a physician and computational health buff, has stepped up to lead California’s $3 million initiative. KQED’s Future of You discussed with Butte the goals for the program,called the “California Initiative To Advance Precision Medicine,” a few of the challenges, and the real benefits for people.

California first in care for undocumented, UCLA researchers say, California Healthline

Undocumented immigrants get better health care in California than the rest of the country — but that’s not saying much, according to a new report released April 16 by UCLA researchers. “California is in the lead of a very sorry pack,” said Steven Wallace, associate director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and co-author of the report. “For California to stay in the lead, we need to keep innovating.” The report was a joint effort by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, the UC Global Health Institute and the UCLA Blum Center on Poverty and Health in Latin America.

See additional coverage: International Business Times, New York Daily News, Columbus Dispatch

UCSF Fresno celebrates 40 years, The Fresno Bee

When the San Joaquin Valley was hurting for doctors four decades ago, a unique medical education campus was created in Fresno to bridge the gap. Now, one-third of the physicians trained through the UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program remain in the Valley after graduation, helping to ease the region’s long battle with a doctor shortage and the need to increase training for existing physicians. “In my residency class, over half of us stayed here,” said Fresno pediatrician Christian Faulkenberry-Miranda a Fresno native who graduated from the program in 2007. “We have a higher physician shortage than any other area, and without the (UCSF) program here that would be higher. People don’t realize how important that has been for the medical care of people here.” UCSF Fresno — a regional campus of the University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine — is celebrating 40 years of training doctors. A gala and fundraiser, “Valley Visions,” was held April 11 at the Fresno Convention Center in downtown Fresno to commemorate the milestone.

The 100 Most Influential People, Time

Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People includes UC Berkeley  professor of molecular and cell biology Jennifer Doudna for her discovery of a revolutionary DNA-editing technique that has upended the world of genetics. The technique, called CRISPR-Cas9, exploits precisely targeted DNA-cutting enzymes from bacteria to snip and edit human and animal DNA, making it much easier to create animal models of disease and possibly correct human genetic disease via gene therapy. Doudna’s colleague and co-discoverer, Emmanuelle Charpentier of the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research and Umeå University, was also named to Time‘s 100 list.

Lessons from the fields, Slate

California’s 90-mile-long Salinas Valley, with its mild climate and rich soil, is known for abundant agriculture. Often called the “salad bowl of the world,” this fertile valley two hours south of the San Francisco Bay Area produces 70 percent of the nation’s lettuce, along with bountiful strawberries, broccoli and other cool-weather crops. But pioneering research from University of California at Berkeley, in partnership with the community in Salinas, has revealed some dire consequences from the use of chemical pesticides in the region.

Bill extends, expands benefits review, California Healthline

Who doesn’t like Ch-Burp? The much-beloved acronym CHBRP, belonging to the California Health Benefits Review Program, will get a longer life and expanded powers under a bill passed by the Senate Appropriations committee on April 13. CHBRP was created in 2002 in advance of the Affordable Care Act, to independently assess bills that would create health insurance benefit mandates. Analysis is coordinated within the University of California system. The program is due to sunset on June 30 this year. But that work isn’t finished, according to SB 125 by Sen. Ed Hernandez.

UC clinics in Southern California to remain open amid doctors strike, Los Angeles Times

The student health centers at five University of California campuses in Southern California, where unionized doctors are on strike over contract negotiations, will be open on April 13, according to university officials. The health professionals walked out of the health clinics at UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Irvine, UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara on April 11 as part of a rolling strike that began April 9 in Northern and Central California.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times, City News Service

FDA warns researchers on claims of drug to detect brain disease, The New York Times

The developers of a new drug aimed at diagnosing chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated head trauma, are under scrutiny by the Food and Drug Administration. In February, the F.D.A.’s Office of Prescription Drug Promotion sent a letter to two researchers at UCLA warning them that they had improperly marketed their drug on the Internet and had made overstated claims about the drug’s potential efficacy. The researchers at UCLA have been developing a biomarker called FDDNP, which aims to identify tau protein deposits in the brain (a signature of C.T.E.) when patients are given a PET scan.

State lawmakers take aim at UC brass’ lofty salaries, San Francisco Chronicle

State lawmakers from both parties are sending the University of California an angry message by advancing a bill to cap compensation for UC employees at $500,000 under penalty of losing public funding. The bill, approved by the Assembly’s higher education committee last week, is a prime example of how Gov. Jerry Brown’s concerns over high spending at the public university have spread to the state Legislature, where the bill is one of five in play — all meant to bring UC to its knees by reining in its spending, restricting its ability to raise tuition and ending its constitutional autonomy. The measure, AB837, and the other bills get at the heart of the irritation that students, lawmakers from both parties and Brown feel toward UC. Their complaint: The university keeps increasing compensation for its highest-paid employees while demanding that students pay more tuition and that the state contribute more toward its bottom line. But — as UC officials quickly point out, and as state lawmakers readily acknowledge — nearly all the money for those sky-high salaries, 91 percent, comes from non-state funds. Most employees earning that much are coaches paid from ticket sales and media deals, or doctors whose wages come from hospital revenue rather than tax dollars or tuition.

Heart chip beats toward better drug screening, personalized medicine, Reuters

A team led by UC Berkeley bioengineering professor Kevin Healy has developed a model of the human heart using pulsating cardiac muscle cells housed on an inch-long silicon device. The “heart-on-a-chip” is for use as a drug-screening tool for the development of cardiovascular medications, and it has already worked for established medicines. Anurag Mathur, a principle scientist on the team, says: “It is the first demonstration of an actual human heart which is based in a system that is mimicking the physiology as close as possible.”

A grateful heart may be a healthy heart, HealthDay News

Being thankful for the good things in life may benefit heart failure patients, a new study suggests. Study author Paul Mills, a professor of family medicine and public health at UC San Diego, is quoted.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of April 5

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Editorial: 40 years of life-saving for UCSF Fresno, The Fresno Bee

Longtime Valley residents might remember that in the 1970s there was a huge community effort to have Fresno named as the site of a proposed new UC medical school. The effort fell short, but state lawmakers approved the establishment here of a teaching facility for third- and fourth-year medical students from UC San Francisco in 1975. Thank goodness they did. Over the last 40 years, UCSF Fresno has been a life-saver for Valley residents, particularly those living in rural communities. But regardless of where you live, odds are that you have seen a UCSF Fresno trained doctor. University officials say that the school has trained about 3,000 physicians and 30% to 40% of them have made the Valley home. Can you imagine how much worse the Valley’s well-documented doctor shortage would be if not for UCSF Fresno? The good news is, UCSF Fresno’s positive impact figures to become even bigger.

Doctors at UC student health clinics start strike, Los Angeles Times

Unionized doctors began a rolling strike April 9 at student health clinics on UC campuses, accusing the university of unfair labor practices during negotiations for the physicians’ first contract.The walkout started early morning April 9 at five Northern and Central California campuses — Berkeley, Davis, San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Merced — and is scheduled to last four days. On April 11, the doctors, dentists and podiatrists are expected to begin a four-day strike at the southern UC campuses at UCLA, San Diego, Irvine, Riverside and Santa Barbara.

See additional coverage: CBS San Francisco, Davis Enterprise, Fox San Diego, KPBS, OC Weekly

In rare move, UC campus doctors plan 4-day walkout, San Francisco Chronicle

Unionized doctors at UC campus student health centers in Northern California plan to walk off their jobs April 9 as part of the longest labor action waged by staff physicians in 25 years. Nurses and other health professionals routinely picket and strike over bargaining issues, but it’s rare for doctors to be unionized, let alone go through with a walkout. The Northern California walkout will end the morning of April 13. “Historically, doctors just don’t go on strike,” said Sue Wilson, spokeswoman for the Union of American Physicians and Dentists in Oakland. She said the UC strikes — including a one-day walkout in January — are the first in the union’s more than 40-year history. The Northern California strike, which is set to begin at 7 a.m., includes doctors at UC Berkeley, UCSF, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz and UC Merced. In Southern California, doctors at UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Irvine, UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara will walk off their jobs from April 11 to the morning of April 15.

See additional coverage: California Healthline, Orange County Register, Riverside Press-Enterprise, San Jose Mercury News

UCSF researchers uncover what’s behind wasabi burn, may lead to better pain meds, CBS San Francisco

Researchers at UCSF uncovered the structure of the protein behind the burning sensation when people eat sushi with wasabi, a discovery that could improve future pain medications.The protein, known as TRPA1, detects the irritant in wasabi and triggers a warning impulse. TRPA1 is also triggered by other irritants, including tear gas, and when body tissue is either inflamed or injured. “The pain system is there to warn us when we need to avoid things that can cause injury, but also to enhance protective mechanisms,” UCSF professor and physiology chair David Julius, who co-authored the study, said in a university statement.

See additional coverage: NPR

50 most influential physician executives and leaders, Modern Healthcare

UC San Francisco’s Robert Wachter, a leading national expert on patient safety who helped pioneer hospital medicine, has landed at number one on Modern Healthcare’s list of the 50 most influential physician executives and leaders. No. 12 was David Feinberg, president of UCLA Health System and CEO for the UCLA Hospital System.

Business Journal names 2015 Women Who Mean Business, Sacramento Business Journal

Heather Young, associate vice chancellor for nursing and founding dean, Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis, was named one of the Sacramento Business Journal’s “2015 Women Who Mean Business.”

UC Irvine doctor miraculously rehabilitates man in coma (video), ABC Los Angeles

At 25, Marc Kaiser was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, which meant he had excess fluid on his brain. More than two decades went by before the Orange County father suffered from a brain infection last April. He descended into a vegetative state and was stuck in a coma for several months. Various doctors told his wife and three children to prepare for the worst.
“I was being told at another hospital that there was no hope, that we should pull the plug,” said Marc Kaiser’s wife Anne Kaiser, who refused to give up. That’s when she wrote a letter to doctors at UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange and everything changed. Dr. Leonid Groysman saw a spark and helped bring Marc Kaiser back to life.

Toddler brain images reveal which may have autism and struggle with language, The Washington Post

In an article published in the journal Neuron, scientists at UC San Diego have found that children with autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, with good language outcomes have strikingly distinct patterns of brain activation as compared to those with poor language outcomes and typically developing toddlers.

See additional coverage: Medical Daily

FDA forces UCLA researchers to stop touting experimental dementia scan, Los Angeles Times

The federal government has forced two UCLA researchers to stop making promotional claims about an experimental brain scan they hope to commercialize as a test for Alzheimer’s disease, long-term damage from traumatic brain injuries and other neurological conditions.The website for their fledgling company, Taumark, suggested that injecting patients with FDDNP — an experimental, short-lived radioactive compound — and scanning their brains could offer early detection of concussions and various forms of dementia.

Bundle of joyful microbes: Mom’s DNA alters baby’s gut bacteria, NPR

Right after birth, trillions of microbes rush into a baby’s gut and start to grow. Most of these critters come from the mom’s skin, birth canal and gut. But exactly which types of bacteria take up residence in an infant’s gut can depend on the mother’s DNA, scientists reported April 9. The study, published in the journal Microbiome, focuses on a microbe called Bifidobacterium that potentially benefits babies.

UC Irvine cancer specialist balances art and science, Orange County Register

When Frank Meyskens Jr., the oncologist, writes about cancer in medical journals, his words are scientific. When Meyskens, the poet, writes about cancer in his second book, his words are figurative. He calls tears the “lubricant of the soul,” and describes how a breast cancer patient disappears “pound by pound, her hopes an affair of ashes.” “I’ve entered into the artistic world,” said Meyskens, vice dean for the School of Medicine at UC Irvine. “My creativity before was always in science.” Last year, Meyskens, 69, published “Believing in Today,” which follows his 2007 collection of poetry, “Aching for Tomorrow.” All proceeds from sales of his books go to a hospital fund that covers non-medical costs, such as transportation after chemotherapy, for cancer patients.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of March 29

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

How scientists are engineering algae to fuel your car and cure cancer, Forbes

In December, UC San Diego’s California Center for Algae Biotechnology Director Steve Mayfield got a call from the White House. It was the Office of Science and Technology Policy, looking for advice on improving world food security. “We hear you’re Mr. Algae,” they said. The prominent research scientist was not surprised to hear from them. Algae, which Mayfield has studied for 30 years, are efficient protein additives. The tiny, single-cell organisms pack a powerful punch and have the potential to make a difference in a variety of industries. About 15 years into studying the genes of algae, Mayfield asked himself, “What’s the endgame here?” His answer: “You learn how the genes work so you can make something interesting.” In 1999, he zeroed in on monoclonal antibodies. These can specifically target cancerous cells to kill them, leaving healthy cells undamaged. Once Mayfield’s lab created cancer-fighting human antibodies, there was no looking back. “We said, what other products can algae make? Fuel? Plastics? Nutraceuticals? Animal feed? Cosmetics? A malaria vaccine? Now we make all those things.”

Future of Medicaid hospital improvement program in doubt, Modern Healthcare

A feature on the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) program, a federally approved waiver program that allows federal Medicaid funding to be used to create financial incentives for providers to pursue delivery-system reforms. Those reforms involve infrastructure development, system redesign and clinical-outcome and population-focused improvements. Under these programs, the initial focus is on meeting process-type metrics in setting up the reforms; in the later years, the focus shifts to outcomes-based metrics such as population health improvements. In 2010, California became the first state to win federal approval for and launch a DSRIP initiative as part of a broader Medicaid Section 1115 waiver. The waiver programs provide states with significant funding to support hospitals and other providers in reforming how they deliver care to Medicaid beneficiaries. But it’s unclear whether the Obama administration will renew the DSRIP programs in California and other states. The article includes photos that highlight DSRIP projects at UC Davis, UC Irvine and UCLA.

Cassie MacDuff: What’s in a name? ‘University’ must be, The Riverside Press-Enterprise

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors recently voted to change the name of Riverside County Regional Medical Center to Riverside University Medical Center. The county is still fully in charge. No university has a hand in running the medical center – nor helping with the costs of keeping it open. But county officials rationalize the “rebranding” as a way to highlight the residencies medical students from several universities will perform there. It’s a teaching hospital, they say. The dean of the UCR School of Medicine isn’t concerned. “Emphasizing the fact that they’re a teaching hospital is both true and a good thing,” Dean G. Richard Olds told The Press-Enterprise last week.

Online program converts physicians to family doctors, Times Record

A group at the UC San Diego School of Medicine could have an impact on Arkansas and Oklahoma with an online program launched last year to retrain doctors from other fields to help fill the growing demand for primary care physicians. Dr. Leonard W. Glass, M.D., president of Physician Retraining & Reentry through the UC San Diego School of Medicine, notes that more than 30 million Americans are projected to obtain health insurance through the Affordable Care Act and every day about 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare.

Report ranks California the 14th best state for physicians, California Healthline

California, which has the most doctors of any state in the U.S., ranks as the 14th best state for physicians based on several metrics, including wages and job opportunities, according to a new WalletHub report. In the report, Emily Dow, CMO of UC Irvine Health’s Family Health Center and a professor at the UC Irvine School of Medicine, wrote that states can attract more primary care physicians by “promot[ing] primary care as the bedrock of health and wellness.” Dow added, “Having an adequate supply of primary care physicians should not just be a local issue, but a national policy so that everyone has access to primary care no matter where you live.”

Kaiser to look for autism’s causes in large-scale study, San Francisco Chronicle

Kaiser Permanente is about to begin what is believed to be the largest genetic research project ever conducted by a health organization into the causes of autism, gathering biological and other health information from 5,000 Northern California families who have a child with the developmental disorder. “There have been a lot of genetic studies done, and the one thing we know for sure is it’s very complex,” said Neil Risch, study co-investigator and the director of UCSF’s Institute for Human Genetics. “It’s not likely there are just one or two ‘smoking gun’ genes contributing to it.”

The condition cancer research is in, The New York Times

UCSF Nobel laureate Dr. Harold Varmus, the departing director of the National Cancer Institute, addresses funding challenges and the state of the fight against the disease.

New film explores history of cancer, ‘The Emperor of All Maladies’ (audio), KQED

Cancer afflicts 1.7 million Americans each year and kills 600,000 of them. A new PBS documentary, “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies,” explores the history of the disease and the ongoing attempts to treat it. Guests include the director of the film, Barak Goodman; Brian Landers, patient at UCSF first diagnosed with melanoma about 20 years ago and has now started on immunotherapy; Bruce Ames, professor emeritus of biochemistry, UC Berkeley, and senior scientist at Children’s Hospital of Oakland Research Institute; and Lewis Lanier, American Cancer Society professor and chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and leader of the Cancer, Immunity, and Microenvironment Program at UCSF.

UC Irvine doctor is working toward a colon cancer-free O.C., Orange County Register

Colonoscopies may rank among people’s least-favorite cancer screening procedures, but one UC Irvine Health doctor says they are a necessary step toward his goal of a colon cancer-free Orange County. William Karnes, a gastroenterologist and director of the school’s High-Risk Colon Cancer Program, said about one in 20 people develop colon cancer in their lifetime. However, the routine screening, in which a thin, flexible scope is moved through the colon to look for small growths, or polyps, can drop the chance of developing cancer dramatically, Karnes said. UC Irvine Health is working in several directions to reduce the incidence of colon cancer in Orange County by 90 percent – the estimated amount of colon cancers that are preventable, Karnes said. Most, if not all, of UC Irvine’s project will require active participation from patients, he said.

Cigarette smoke makes MRSA worse, U-T San Diego

Cigarette smoke functions much like an alarm to the superbug MRSA, warning it to activate its defenses, according to a new study led by UC San Diego scientists. In lab studies in human cells and whole mice, MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria exposed to cigarette smoke extract become harder to kill, said Dr. Laura E. Crotty Alexander, a pulmonologist at UCSD and the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System.

Paralysis cluster cases linked to polio-like virus, San Francisco Chronicle

A team of researchers led by UCSF scientists has found strong evidence that recent, alarming clusters of sudden-onset paralysis cases — most of them in California and Colorado — were caused by the same virus that was also responsible for hundreds of severe respiratory infections in U.S. children last year. Particularly worrisome is that the enterovirus identified in the research is a new strain that appears to have mutated to become more polio-like, raising the prospects of future outbreaks of the disease, scientists said in a paper published March 30. “The changes were always in the direction to make it more similar to polio,” said Dr. Charles Chiu, head of the viral diagnostics laboratory at UCSF and lead author of the paper. “I want to make sure we don’t alarm people. There’s a chance this virus may never come back, which would be the best-case scenario. But we certainly need to be prepared.”

See additional coverage: New York Times, Washington Post

New DNA tests highly accurate in detecting Down syndrome, San Francisco Chronicle

A new prenatal blood test that’s becoming increasingly popular is extremely accurate in detecting Down syndrome very early in a woman’s pregnancy, according to a study led by UCSF scientists, but whether it should replace the current standard testing is still not clear.

Novartis steps in to help bankroll CRISPR-Cas9 pioneer Caribou, Fierce Biotech

Pharma heavyweight Novartis has stepped in to help bankroll Berkeley-based Caribou Biosciences, one of the upstart leaders in the race to develop the cutting-edge CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology. The pharma giant joined a group of backers that includes Fidelity Biosciences, Mission Bay Capital, and 5 Prime as well as company founder and UC Berkeley molecular and cell biology professor Jennifer Doudna, a key player among a small group of investigators which has spawned a lineup of closely watched biotechs. All together the group, which was also joined by an unnamed investor, provided $11 million in an A round to Caribou, which plans to use the cash to further advance technology spotlighted in projects at the University of California and the University of Vienna.

UC Davis Medical Center leads efforts to improve LGBT health care, The Sacramento Bee

After coming out as transgender at age 17, Kylie Blume shuffled between therapists and suffered years of depression before finding a physician who understood her desire to live as a woman, she said. It wasn’t until she enrolled at UC Davis that she found a doctor who would help her transition, a process that often involves hormone therapy and sexual reassignment surgery. Both treatments have been covered by campus health insurance since 2009, but that kind of policy is hard to find in the real world, she said. Now 32, Blume returned to UC Davis’ medical campus last weekend to attend the first ever Improving OUTcomes conference, a two-day event intended to help providers and patients better understand how to appropriately serve the needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. UC Davis and other medical centers have focused on the issue in recent years, especially as LGBT people increasingly seek benefits under the Affordable Care Act, which has expanded coverage to serve more of their needs.

Study shows sharp differences with introduction, withdrawal of fructose, California Healthline

Patients on a high-fructose diet showed increases in conversion of sugar to fat, reduction of conversion of fat and an increase in liver fat, according to results released this week of a pilot study by researchers at UC San Francisco and Touro University California in Vallejo. The same patients exhibited a reversal of that pattern when switched off the high-fructose diet, researchers said — in just nine days for each diet.

UCSD studies twin astronauts, U-T San Diego

The launch of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft Friday was of particular interest to some UC San Diego researchers studying the effects of long-term space travel on humans. “We have been preparing for the launch for over a year, so this is a very exciting time for us,” said Prof. Brinda Rana, of UCSD’s School of Medicine. The researchers held a launch-watching party on campus, celebrating with borscht, catered from the Pomegranate Russian Restaurant, Champagne and MoonPies. Rana is a key player in two of 10 health studies that NASA commissioned to co-monitor American Astronaut Scott Kelly in space and his identical twin brother, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, on the ground.

Money, brain size linked, U-T San Diego

Does growing up in poverty affect the size of your brain? A study published March 30 concludes yes. It finds that brain structures linked to key mental abilities — many of them needed for academic learning — tend to be smaller in children from low-income households than those with more affluent parents. The researchers, including some at UC San Diego, saw the biggest differences in the surface area of the cerebral cortex. This outer part of the brain is associated with language formation, memory, planning, problem solving, reasoning and other functions. The scientists also emphasized that such gaps in brain size appear to be environmentally related, because they already accounted for factors such as age, gender and genetic ancestry. That means the size gap isn’t necessarily permanent, they said. The brain may be able to remold itself in response to new experiences.

Doctors, stop sticking your patients so often, HealthLeaders Media

Doctors, stop sticking your patients so many times for redundant blood work during their hospital stays, especially when results won’t affect your clinical decisions. It’s not always so urgent. Blood draws add costs, and it’s not so much fun for patients to get poked with a sharp needle multiple times a day.Besides, you might be causing or hastening their anemia. Those are among the themes in the UCSF Medical Center’s “Think Twice, Stick Once” campaign that began last July through the efforts of young University of California, San Francisco internal medicine house staff doctors led by Daniel Wheeler. The project initially aimed to reduce blood draws among medical service patients by 5 percent in the 2014-15 academic year, compared to the prior year when draws averaged 2.1 per patient per day. Obstetric, pediatric, surgical and ICU patients are excluded because such patients may have more rapid fluctuations. So far the team is way ahead of its goal.

Olympus scopes may have infected more patients, Seattle health agency says, Los Angeles Times

More patients across the country may have been infected by medical scopes manufactured by Olympus Corp. than previously thought, health officials warned March 30. Olympus’ scopes are at the center of a string of recent endoscope-related superbug outbreaks that include Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and Cedars Sinai Medical Center, as well as an earlier case at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle.

All pets belonging to Davis woman killed in murder-suicide found, The Sacramento Bee

The missing dog and cat of a veterinary student who was killed in a murder-suicide last week in Davis have been found. Whitney Engler, 27, and Joseph Hein, 23, were found dead early March 27 on the second floor of a west Davis duplex, seven hours after police surrounded the home. When police eventually entered the home, Engler’s dog, named Rosie, ran from the residence. The brown-and-white Australian shepherd was found over the weekend by a man who refused any reward from Engler’s friends. Engler was a student at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and was expected to graduate in May, according to her mother, Virginia Bigler.

Calif. patients say HIEs worsen patient data privacy, HealthITSecurity

While EHRs and HIEs are being touted as necessary tools for the improvement of the nation’s health care system, some Californians believe that the use of HIEs in fact worsen patient data privacy, according to a recent study. Approximately 40 percent of respondents  think HIE worsens privacy while nearly one-third think it improves privacy and 42.5 percent believe it worsens security, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. The study interviewed 800 adult California residents and conducted by UC Davis and UC San Diego researchers.

Don’t be fooled by these medical myths, long since proved wrong by science, Orange County Register

Dr. Wade Crow, a UC Irvine ophthalmologist, debunks the myth that reading in dim light will ruin your vision.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of March 22

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Five years of California health reform: ‘A tremendous designed experiment,’ California Healthline

Nadereh Pourat, director of research at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, gives an involuntary gasp when she’s asked where California’s health care system would be without the reforms and changes of the past five years. “It’s not fathomable,” Pourat said. “I don’t know where we would be right now. California has made tremendous progress. It’s staggering what has happened in five years.” The state has launched the Covered California health benefit exchange, which has helped enroll 1.4 million into coverage. The Medi-Cal program has added 2.7 million more beneficiaries and now provides health services for more than 12 million Californians, or about one-third of the state’s population. Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program.

Medi-Cal rolls could swell under Obama’s deportation relief plan, Los Angeles Times

President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, which have sparked a fierce political backlash nationwide, could also provide an unlikely boost for another of his goals: increasing health insurance signups. Immigrants living in the U.S. without permission can’t enroll in Obamacare, but an unusual policy in California allows those granted temporary relief from deportation to sign up for Medi-Cal. That means up to half a million more Californians could apply for the state’s low-income health program, according to data released by UC Berkeley and UCLA.

UC Davis scientists win $7M in California stem-cell research grants, Sacramento Business Journal

California’s stem cell agency awarded $25 million in grants Thursday to develop new treatments — and researchers at the UC Davis School of Medicine got more than $7 million. Dermatology professor Roslyn Rivkah Isseroff got a $5 million grant to continue research on wound care that uses stem cells to treat diabetic foot ulcers. And Diana Farmer, a professor and chair of surgery at the UC Davis Medical Center, got almost $2.2 million to continue work on a placental stem cell therapy for spina bifida, a common birth defect that causes paralysis and incontinence. Also, UC Irvine’s Leslie Thompson was awarded $5 million to continue her effort to develop stem cell treatments for Huntington’s disease. Read UC coverage.

See additional coverage: California Healthline, Orange County Business Journal

UC San Diego researchers develop next generation of wearable medical devices (audio, video), KPBS

It wasn’t that long ago that you had to go to your doctor’s office to measure most of your vital signs. But now, you can buy wearable devices that measure your blood pressure, or even record the electrical activity of your heart. So what’s next? UC San Diego’s Center for Wearable Sensors offers a glimpse.

Guilt by association, Inside Higher Ed

Most medical researchers have a mantra about relationships with industry, financial and otherwise: disclose, disclose, disclose. It’s a position with which most professors (and journal editors) in other fields — even those without life-and-death implications — agree. But should colleges and universities be held to the same standard, and just how much disclosure is enough? Those are questions faculty members at the University of California at San Francisco are raising this week, ahead of a decidedly controversial medical conference co-sponsored by the university and the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a conservative think tank that the professors view as anti-science and pro-tobacco. The university meanwhile, says that such questions are important but that the event in question is about the future of medicine, not partisan politics.

UCI student develops an app for adults with autism, Orange County Register

UC Irvine medical student Chanel Fischetti is hoping for a little miracle. She has only four days left on her Kickstarter campaign aimed at developing a mobile application and website for adults with autism spectrum disorder. The campaign had generated $1,786 as of March 20. Fischetti, 27, and her co-developers need about $7,500 to complete the final phase of the project. The app, called TheraConnect, is essentially a social network that serves both as a database of resources and a tool for online communication for adults with autism spectrum disorder who wish to become more connected with their surrounding community.

USC brain research institute gets $50 million gift, Los Angeles Times

A Silicon Valley venture capitalist who is a USC alumnus and his wife are donating $50 million to a USC brain research institute in hopes of treating such disorders as Alzheimer’s disease, autism and traumatic brain injuries, university officials announced. The gift from Mark and Mary Stevens will support the USC Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute being named after them, an interdisciplinary unit that includes medicine, biology, computer science and pharmacology and other departments at the university. The institute’s leaders, neuroscientists Arthur Toga and Paul Thompson, and their research team moved from UCLA to USC in 2013 in what was described as an academic recruiting feat.

Medical scope maker blamed for superbug outbreak updates sterilization procedures, CBS Los Angeles

The maker of medical scopes linked to a potentially deadly “superbug” outbreak at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has issued an “urgent safety notification” to health providers detailing new procedures on how to disinfect the equipment.

How did hospital bills get so complicated?, Los Angeles Times

Today, the total cost of giving birth can run to more than $37,000 for an uncomplicated delivery, and nearly double that for a cesarean section, according to a recent UC San Francisco study.

Explainer: CRISPR technology brings precise genetic editing — and raises ethical questions, The Conversation

A group of leading biologists earlier this month called for a halt to the use of a powerful new gene editing technique on humans. Known by the acronym CRISPR, the method allows precise editing of genes for targeted traits, which can be passed down to future generations. CRISPR stands for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, which is the name for a natural defense system that bacteria use to fend off harmful infections. Bacteria are infected by other microorganisms, called bacteriophages, or phages. The intricate details of the mechanism were elucidated around 2010 by two research groups led by Jennifer Doudna of UC Berkeley and Emmanuelle Charpentier of Umeå University in Sweden.

Small study: Older, low-income women prefer digital questionnaire to paper, MobiHealthNews

Older, low-income women prefer to use digital health tools to a paper questionnaire when entering health data, according to a small study of 15 English and Spanish speaking women conducted by researchers from UC San Francisco.The women in the trial used an iPad app developed by five University of California medical centers, called Athena Breast Health Network. The app aims to assess the risk of breast cancer among women receiving mammograms. The app asked participants one question at a time and collected personal health, demographics, and lifestyle data. The Athena app was made available in both English and Spanish.

University and biotech firm team up on colorblindness therapy (audio), NPR

UC Berkeley research has paved the way for a landmark therapy for colorblindness, which Avalanche Biotechnologies and University of Washington, Seattle, scientists are planning to bring to market. The treatment involves injecting new genes into retina cells that respond to color, but early tests with squirrel monkeys involved retinal surgery, which is hazardous. The Berkeley researchers found a way of delivering genes to the retina by using a simple injection into the vitreous — a far safer method than surgery.

Building bone health reduces risk of fractures as women age, U-T San Diego

A new study shows that older women’s risk of broken bones increases with weight gain and with weight loss, findings that contradict long-held beliefs that weight gain actually offers protection against fractures.The study, conducted by researchers at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, was published earlier this year in the journal BMJ.

An upbeat emotion that’s surprisingly good for you, The New York Times

A UC Berkeley study has linked positive emotions, such as awe, contentment and spirituality, with lower levels of a molecule known to promote inflammation in the body. The link was strongest with individuals who reported frequently feeling awe-struck, and senior author Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor and faculty director of Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, says: “There seems to be something about awe. … It seems to have a pronounced impact on markers related to inflammation.” He acknowledges that the emotion is conceptually squishy and subjective, but says that a primary attribute is that it “will pass the goose-bumps test.” He suggests that people should “seek it often,” however it comes to them.

Saving pets through dialysis, Philadelphia Inquirer

Veterinarian Larry Cowgill moved to the University of California, Davis, where he developed the world’s first veterinary dialysis program in 1990. Then J.D. Foster, after graduating from Penn Vet, trained in hemodialysis at UC Davis and brought it back to Penn in late 2012.

Bay Area documentary ‘Mobilize’ examines cell phone dangers (video), NBC Bay Area

Joel Moskowitz, director of the Center for Family and Community Health at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, discusses the potential health risks of radiation emitted by cell phones. He co-produced a documentary, “Mobilize,” exploring the issues.

Op-ed: Why health care tech is still so bad, The New York Times

Robert Wachter, a professor of medicine at UC San Francisco, writes an op-ed about health care technology.

Op-ed: The myth of high-protein diets, The New York Times

Dean Ornish, a clinical professor of medicine at UC San Francisco and the founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, writes that the debate is not as simple as low-fat versus low-carb.

Parents of UCD student struggle to understand murder-suicide, The Sacramento Bee

The parents of a UC Davis veterinary student struggled to understand how a platonic relationship and a short-term rental agreement ended with their daughter being the victim in a murder-suicide. While Davis police have not publicly revealed who pulled the trigger, the parents of Whitney Engler said that officials told them their daughter was the victim.

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In the media: Week of March 15

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Regents consider recommendations from UC medical centers, Daily Bruin

The UC Board of Regents heard about challenges that the University’s medical centers face and discussed the results of its audit at the first day of its meeting March 17. The CEOs of medical centers at UC Davis, UC San Francisco, UCLA, UC Irvine and UC San Diego spoke about recent financial transactions at the centers and future initiatives. UCSF Medical Center CEO Mark Laret said they think the regents should consider establishing a separate advisory board – potentially with members who have financial expertise in the medical field – that could advise and oversee the health system. The CEOs also urged the regents to allow leaders at each campus to hire new health staff based on market wages. Finally, the CEOs recommended the regents give more power to presidents or chancellors at each campus to approve smaller-scale changes in the health system. The regents said they would consider these recommendations and revisit them.

See additional coverage: Daily Californian

Major Bay Area health pact could create new hospitals, San Francisco Business Times

UCSF Medical Center, already engaged in a regionwide battle with Stanford Health Care, has significantly tightened its connections with John Muir Health. The two hospital systems said late Monday they’re creating a jointly owned network “to provide patients with high-quality care at an affordable price.” They will also create a development company to build new medical facilities and increase the number of doctors in their network.

Eisenhower Medical Center in talks with UC San Diego, The Palm Springs Desert Sun

Eisenhower Medical Center, a major Coachella Valley institution since 1971, is pursuing a partnership with the larger UC San Diego that would allow the two health systems to work together. The move could potentially usher dozens of desert patients into clinical trials and expand the facility into a teaching and research hospital. Though the deal is still under contract negotiations for 90 days, the Rancho Mirage hospital’s management has held meetings with the university’s leadership and the board approved signing a letter of intent that would move them toward a clinical affiliation for medical services.

Match Day reveals future for graduating UC Irvine medical students, Orange County Register

With the swish of a letter opener, the uncertain years ahead came into focus for 96 UC Irvine Medical School students. The graduating class celebrated together March 20 at the school’s annual Match Day, a ceremony that reveals where the soon-to-be doctors will train.

See additional coverage: ABC 10 (video), City News Service, Fresno Bee

UCLA clinical informatics program achieves accreditation, Clinical Innovation+Technology

UCLA’s Clinical Informatics Fellowship Program has been approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), making it one of seven programs to earn the approval.

UCSF, White House search for better treatments for disease, KQED

Researchers at UCSF Medical Center see a potential ally in the White House, as they develop targeted therapies for diseases like cancer. In late January, the president asked Congress for $215 million in funding to help change the way we treat disease by encouraging the U.S. health system to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment. On March 19, Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell paid a visit to the new UCSF Mission Bay campus to tour the research labs, and elucidate on the president’s “precision medicine” plan.

Scientists seek ban on method of editing the humane genome, The New York Times

A group of leading biologists called for a worldwide moratorium on use of a new genome-editing technique that would alter human DNA in a way that can be inherited. The biologists fear that the new technique is so effective and easy to use that some physicians may push ahead before its safety can be assessed. They also want the public to understand the ethical issues surrounding the technique, which could be used to cure genetic diseases, but also to enhance qualities like beauty or intelligence. The latter is a path that many ethicists believe should never be taken. The new genome-editing approach was invented by Jennifer A. Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley, and Emmanuelle Charpentier of Umea University in Sweden. Doudna is the lead author of the Science article calling for control of the technique and organized the meeting at which the statement was developed.

See additional coverage: San Francisco Chronicle

Altered genes self-propogate, U-T San Diego

UC San Diego scientists have supercharged a powerful new gene engineering technology, enabling an engineered gene to spread on its own throughout an organism, perhaps even an entire species. Safety concerns must be addressed, however, before the technology can be more widely employed. The technology is a variant of CRISPR, or Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. This technology has spread like wildfire through the biotech world because it enables precise editing of a gene sequence at any desired location. CRISPR was recently used by Salk Institute scientists to remove HIV from infected cells in lab cultures, acting like molecular scissors.

A CRISPR solution to ‘bubble boy’ disease? (audio), KQED

They named him Phoenix because he was born five weeks early while his parents were on vacation, and spent his first few weeks in an incubator. Kristen and Patrick Wilkinson thought they knew exactly which ashes their son might soon rise from. But when they got him home to San Francisco things just got worse, Kristen says. Eventually he was admitted to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital with a diagnosis of “failure to thrive.” Phoenix had been born in Kentucky, a state where, unlike in California, infants are not routinely screened for a disease called SCID — Severe Combined Immunodeficiency. So at first, California doctors puzzled over what might be wrong with him. But Dr. Jennifer Puck, a SCID specialist at UCSF who pioneered the screening test, says Phoenix’s rash was the hallmark of an almost completely deficient immune system. Today, Puck is excited about a new tool for making precise changes in a baby’s genome. It’s called CRISPR. As UC Berkeley biologist Jennifer Doudna puts it, think of CRISPR as “a molecular scalpel.”

Letting patients call the shots, The Atlantic/Kaiser Health News

Rose Gutierrez has a big decision to make. Gutierrez, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last spring, had surgery and 10 weeks of chemotherapy. But the cancer is still there. Now Jasmine Wong, a surgeon at UC San Francisco, is explaining the choices — Gutierrez can either have another lumpectomy followed by radiation, or she can get a total mastectomy. In many hospitals and clinics around the country, oncologists and surgeons simply tell cancer patients what treatments they should have, or at least give them strong recommendations. But here, under a formal process called “shared decision-making,” doctors and patients are working together to make choices about care. “Patients and families need to be in the driver’s seat with their doctors, making decisions that are the right choice for them for their unique circumstances,” said the UCSF associate professor Jeff Belkora, who runs the shared decision-making program also known as the Patient Support Corps.

‘Did the surgery work?’ California registry asks patients, Modern Healthcare

A California-based orthopedic surgery registry posted new data this week that takes a different approach to showing how well patients fared within one year of undergoing common, often expensive, musculoskeletal procedures at six state hospitals. Rather than look at complication rates and the frequency with which patients have to be readmitted after surgery, the data released March 18 by the California Joint Replacement Registry comes from surveys of patients before and after surgery, basically seeking to answer a basic question: Did the procedure work? According to the results, 88% of the patients who underwent procedures at UCSF Medical Center, San Francisco, saw “clinically meaningful” improvements.

Health Matters: Personalized medicine for cancer patients (video), Fox 40

UC Davis researches have partnered with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to use a innovative biomedical technique called accelerator mass spectrometry to see how cancer patients respond or don’t respond to chemo drugs. Based on their findings they’re able to tailor treatment to cancer patients.

UC Davis doctors live tweet woman’s lung cancer surgery, CBS San Francisco

A team of doctors at the UC Davis Cancer Center in Sacramento live-tweeted Thursday as they removed a cancerous tumor from a Northern California woman’s lungs. The surgery was performed on Gwen Box of Chico. In an interview before the surgery, Box said she never smoked and was surprised to find out she had lung cancer in late 2014.

Dogs get life-saving jaw surgeries with help from UC Davis, shelter (video), ABC 10

Three dogs with severe jaw injuries were saved by two groups on a mission. It all started with a pup named Jaws who was brought to Marley’s Mutts Dog Rescue in Tehachapi. The dog rescue started calling around the state to see who would be able to help. Shelter founder Zach Skow eventually called the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, which said it could do the surgery.

Pet tales: Vaccines (audio), Capital Public Radio

Pet expert Gina Spadafori joins this month’s Pet Tales to bust some animal vaccine myths and talk about UC Davis’ Mercer Veterinary Clinic, which cares for the pets of homeless people.

Pros, cons of two state bills dealing with not-for-profit hospitals, California Healthline

Lawmakers are debating two bills in the California Legislature dealing with community benefits provided by not-for-profit hospitals. SB 346, by state Sen. Bob Wieckowski, would establish accountability standards to measure the amount of community benefits provided by tax-exempt private, not-for-profit hospitals. AB 1046, by Assemblyman Matt Dababneh, is designed to align federal and state community benefit laws and provide greater transparency and consistency in the reporting and disclosure of investments made by not-for-profit hospitals. Legislators, hospital officials and consumer advocates were asked to discuss pros and cons of these two proposals and asked whether the state would benefit if either bill became law. Those responding include Dylan Roby, senior research scientist, UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

California safety-net hospitals ‘at risk’ under health system changes (audio), Capital Public Radio

Safety-net hospitals serve a higher percentage of the uninsured, and low-income patients who have Medi-Cal. Jan Emerson-Shea with the California Hospital Association says these hospitals often don’t have enough patients with higher-paying commercial insurance to offset losses. “While Medi-Cal does provide some level of reimbursement to hospitals, we still lose significant amounts of money on every Medi-Cal patient we treat,” she says. Emerson-Shea says recent changes are adding to the burden. Jerry Kominski of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research is interviewed in the story.

Four med schools seek to expand Clinical Scholars program, Modern Healthcare

A new program is being created to replace and expand upon the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program as that effort broadens its reach beyond doctors to a wider range of healthcare professionals. The new National Clinician Scholars Program will be for physicians and nurses. It’s being launched by four medical schools that have served as Clinical Scholar training sites since 2002: UCLA, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania and Yale University.

Smart bandage detects bedsores before they appear, Gizmag

Bedsores are more than a pain in the backside for bedridden folk, they can develop into dangerous infections and heighten the chances of a patient dying. While swollen ulcers on the skin are a pretty sure sign of their presence, by this point it is often too late for some of their effects to be reversed. But a team of researchers have developed what could function as an early warning system, a smart bandage containing flexible electronics that detects tissue damage before it becomes visible on the surface of the skin. Using a technique known as impedance spectroscopy, the team of engineers at UC Berkeley set out to explore the electrical changes in tissue as it goes from a healthy to an unhealthy state.

The myopia boom, Nature

Christine Wildsoet, an optometrist at the University of California, Berkeley, is quoted in this story about the rise of myopia. In a small, pilot study of wearable light sensors, she found that people’s estimates often do not match up with their actual exposure.

10 ways to get happy, CNN

Happy people don’t sit around waiting for good vibes to happen to them.Whatever makes them happy, they go for it, said Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at UC Riverside and author of “The Myth of Happiness.” People who kept a weekly gratitude journal actually did more exercise, had fewer physical problems and felt more optimistic about the coming week and life in general, according to gratitude researcher Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at UC Davis.

There could soon be a pill to make us more compassionate, Time

Biology may have a lot to do with our behavior, especially in social situations. And that means our social interactions could be manipulated by a pill. That’s what a new study, published in the journal Current Biology, suggests. A group led by researchers at UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco shows that by manipulating a brain chemical, people can become more compassionate and act in prosocial ways to equalize differences.

UCSF student fatally shot in Albany hours after temple visit, San Francisco Chronicle

A UCSF dental student found shot to death in her Albany apartment was attacked hours after attending services at a Sikh temple in El Sobrante, police said as they revealed more details and asked for tips in the investigation into the city’s first homicide since 2004. Randhir Kaur, 37, was found dead in a pool of blood in her apartment at 1068 Kains Ave. about 4 p.m. last Monday. Her cousin found her body after being summoned by UCSF officials who became concerned after she missed scheduled appointments earlier in the day.

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In the media: Week of March 8

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

U.S. News releases 2016 Best Graduate Schools rankings, U.S. News & World Report

U.S. News has released the 2016 Best Graduate Schools rankings, which include admissions information for those aspiring to study law, business, medicine, education and engineering. For the first time, U.S. News is also offering expanded rankings and data for nursing schools. Among part-time MBA programs,UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business again took the No. 1 spot. The School of Law at UC Irvine, which was not ranked last year, advanced to No. 30. In each discipline, all or nearly all UC graduate schools were highly ranked. Read UC coverage.

See additional coverage: Sacramento Bee, California Healthline, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Orange County Register, LA Weekly, City News Service

Hospital ratings can be more confusing than helpful, CBS MoneyWatch

As the big hospital chains absorb smaller and financially weaker facilities, consumers are facing a lot of confusion about which hospitals will give them the services they and their loved ones need. And conflicting scores from several nationally recognized hospital ratings systems are making it even harder for people seeking quality health care, according to a new report from the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality. The study, which involved researchers from Johns Hopkins as well as Harvard, UC Davis, UC San Francisco and Vanderbilt University, looked at ratings from the from U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals, Healthgrades America’s 100 Best Hospitals, Leapfrog’s Hospital Safety Score and Consumer Reports’ Health Safety Score. Using data from those hospital ratings, the authors found was no one hospital ranked as a high-performing facility in all four lists and that only 10 percent of the nearly 850 hospital rated as high-performing by one rating system had the same rank on another system.

How Bay Area’s hospital landscape is shifting radically, San Francisco Chronicle

A small Bay Area hospital chain is scrambling to find a new buyer after a deal suddenly fell through this week, and it may eventually have to file for bankruptcy. A lone public hospital in San Pablo remains on the brink of closure, unable to find a buyer. Meanwhile, other stand-alone hospitals — like Children’s in Oakland — are being scooped up by larger systems (UCSF). The Bay Area hospital landscape is going through a shakeup, one that’s particularly directed at independent medical centers or small chains that serve a preponderance of patients who are uninsured or covered by government programs.The Los Altos Hills’ Daughters of Charity Health System, a nonprofit Catholic chain of six hospitals that’s losing more than $140 million a year, was the latest to become endangered with Prime Healthcare Services, a for-profit Southern California hospital network, backing out of a deal this week to buy it. In San Pablo, Doctors Medical Center, a public hospital operated by a district that’s bleeding $18 million a year, will close soon if its directors don’t find a sustainable source of revenue.

‘Sugar Papers’ show industry’s influence in 1970s dental program, study says, KQED

Hundreds of pages of newly-found documents show that the sugar industry worked closely with the federal government in the late 1960s and early 1970s to determine a research agenda to prevent cavities in children, researchers who analyzed the documents say. In the analysis, published Wednesday in the journal PLOS Medicine, researchers concluded that industry influence starting in the late 1960s helped steer the National Institute of Dental Research, part of the National Institutes of Health, away from addressing the question of determining a safe level of sugar. “What this paper has shown is that our (NIH) was working toward potentially answering that question,” said Cristin Kearns, a fellow at UC San Francisco and lead author of the analysis, “and the sugar industry derailed them from doing the research to help to answer that question, so we’re still debating (it) here in 2015.” Read UC coverage.

See additional coverage: Washington Post, Time, NPR, Salon, Pacific Standard

New bill plays hardball with soft drinks (audio), California Healthline

Experts discuss the proposal to put a label on sugary drinks that would warn consumers of the link between sugared drinks and the health conditions of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay. More than one-third of California children are overweight or obese, and advocates say soda and other sugary drinks have a lot to do with that. One of the concerns, though, is that many factors contribute to the rise in obesity and diabetes and that singling out the soda industry may be short-sighted. The report includes comments from Laura Schmidt, lead investigator for the UCSF SugarScience initiative.

Heart the size of a strawberry transplanted in 3-week-old baby (video), CBS News

A feature on the story of an infant who received a lifesaving heart transplant at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA when he was only 3 weeks old.

See additional coverage: Orange County Register

Sacramento homeless pet care program in limbo (video), KCRA 3

On the second Saturday of every month, UC Davis veterinary students get together to treat hundreds of animals that belong to the homeless community. For many homeless in the area, a trailer at the Loaves and Fishes is the only hope they have to get their cats and dogs checked out. And for some, their pets are their only companions. “I think it’s a wonderful thing, especially when you are low-income and homeless,” said Irvin Catherine. The free Sacramento pet clinic, however, is in jeopardy of closing its doors this weekend. The city is asking the clinic to do something students say they can’t afford: get up to code. The Mercer Vet Clinic program must also get a building permit. At about $200,000, the total for all of the upgrades has students beyond frustrated. The students have started a fundraising campaign to continue to help cats and dogs in Sacramento.

Airport screening misses more than half of infected travelers, Los Angeles Times

Airport screening procedures to combat the spread of infectious diseases, such as SARS, Ebola and H1N1, miss 50 percent to 75 percent of infected travelers, according to a UCLA study.

Clues to jet lag in brain of a fly, Voice of America

A plane ride across time zones can throw off your biological clock, sometimes for days. Fruit flies can suffer from jet lag, too. A new study of their brains reveals why, and suggests ways we humans can avoid it. In lab experiments, researchers at UC Irvine removed the brains of genetically-engineered fruit flies and kept the brains alive in petri dishes. They off-set their circadian rhythm by two hours using pulses of light. Light is the most powerful environmental cue for re-setting our biological clock. They used a highly sensitive camera to make movies of the activity of individual neural circuits of the jet lagged brains. “The study marks the first time we’ve seen this in real time,” according to Logan Roberts, a Ph.D. student at UC Irvine, and lead author of the study in the journal Current Biology.

Low recruitment could lead to doctor shortage (video), NBC Southern California

The schools that train the doctors of tomorrow are warning that the industry is facing a crisis as a growing number of students are opting out of medical school, daunted by high debt levels, just as more and more physicians are beginning to retire. UCLA is beginning to reach out to prospective students, trying to bring them into the field before more decide it isn’t the way to go.

New Apple app lets you contribute ‘real data’ to studies, KPCC

The Apple Watch got the lion’s share of attention when the company unveiled several new products  Monday. But a lot of people in the health care industry are going to be interested in ResearchKit, which the Apple describes as a “powerful tool for medical research.”So far, researchers at UCLA have developed an app with ResearchKit for breast cancer, called Share the Journey: Mind, Body and Wellness after Breast Cancer. UCLA researcher Dr. Patricia Ganz is excited about the opportunity to collect data from a large pool of women of all ages. “If you have enough people, patterns will emerge that might be informative,” she says.

Getting to the core of childhood obesity, U.S. News & World Report

UCLA Health System is joining forces with the Sound Body Sound Mind Foundation, which focuses on providing under-resourced schools state-of-the-art fitness equipment and a whole new fitness curriculum. What they’re doing in Los Angeles can serve as a model for school districts across the U.S., writes Dr. David Feinberg, president of the UCLA Health System.

Roadmap to equality: Are women better off than 20 years ago?, Los Angeles Times

Dr. Jody Heymann, dean of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and director of its WORLD Policy Analysis Center, is featured regarding a center study, “Closing the Gender Gap,” which shows that more than 170 countries still have legal barriers preventing women and girls from experiencing the same rights, protections and liberties as men and boys. The report coincided with a United Nations session to evaluate the global community’s progress on gender equality in the 20 years since 189 countries adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

UCSF dental student, slain in rare Albany homicide, is mourned, San Francisco Chronicle

When UCSF dental student Randhir Kaur failed to show up Monday for her scheduled appointments, the university contacted a cousin in an effort to check on her. The cousin arrived and found 37-year-old Kaur dead in a pool of blood in her Albany apartment. Now, relatives of the slain woman are mourning her loss, as Albany police investigate the city’s first homicide since 2004. UCSF officials called Kaur a “treasured member” of the school community. Kaur, who was from India, was a student at the UCSF School of Dentistry’s International Dentist Program, which admits 24 foreign-trained dentists each year. She had been at the university for eight months and was to graduate in June 2016.

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In the media: Week of March 1

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Hospital rating systems differ on best and worst, The New York Times

Four popular national rating systems used by consumers to judge hospitals frequently come to very different conclusions about which hospitals are the best — or worst — potentially adding to the confusion over health care quality, rather than alleviating it, a new study shows. The analysis, published on Monday in the academic journal Health Affairs, looked at hospital ratings from two publications, U.S. News & World Report and Consumer Reports; Healthgrades, a Denver company; and the Leapfrog Group, an employer-financed nonprofit organization. The Health Affairs analysis was done by a group of well-respected researchers, all of whom have recently served as experts for the Leapfrog Group. Leapfrog did not finance the study, and the study does not single out any one rating system as a model. The researchers include Dr. Ashish K. Jha, a professor of health policy at Harvard, and Dr. Robert M. Wachter, a professor at UC San Francisco.

14 Calif. hospitals among Truven Health’s list of 100 best facilities, California Healthline/Sacramento Bee

Fourteen California hospitals made Truven Health Analytics’ 22nd annual list of the “100 Top Hospitals.” For the annual list, which began in 1993, Truven evaluates U.S. hospitals’ performance in various areas of patient care and operations. The California hospitals that made the list of the best teaching hospitals included UC San Diego Health System.

Superbug outbreaks prompt calls for mandatory reporting, Los Angeles Times

Well before the recent superbug outbreaks at UCLA and Cedars-Sinai hospitals, federal health officials had labeled deadly CRE bacteria an urgent threat. Yet there are still no national reporting requirements for the antibiotic-resistant superbug, and only 20 states have imposed any rules. California is not among them. The incidents at UCLA and Cedars are “just the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr. Benjamin Schwartz, deputy chief of the acute communicable disease control program at the L.A. County Department of Public Health. “It’s really a problem that is much more widespread.” Now outbreaks across the nation have prompted calls for mandatory reporting to stem the spread of CRE and to make the public more aware of the risks.

Second Los Angeles hospital identifies ‘superbug’ infections, Reuters

A second top Los Angeles hospital has reported an outbreak of drug-resistant “superbug” infections, and dozens more potential exposures, from procedures performed with a fiber-optic instrument called a duodenoscope. The notice from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center of four such infections and 67 more patients who were at risk coincided with a hospital in Hartford, Connecticut, reporting a similar outbreak involving at least five infections and more than 280 potential exposures. The Cedars-Sinai cases, like the larger number of infections and potential exposures reported last month at the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center in Los Angeles, involved a family of germs called carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE. The bacteria identified on Wednesday in the Hartford Hospital outbreak was a drug-resistant strain of E.coli.

Deadly superbug-related scopes sold without FDA approval, CNN

CNN has learned that the manufacturer of the endoscope involved in two superbug deaths at UCLA never obtained permission to sell the device, according to an official at the Food and Drug Administration. Olympus started selling its TJF-Q180V duodenoscope in 2010, but the FDA didn’t notice until late 2013 or early 2014 that the company had never asked for clearance to put it on the market, according to Karen Riley, deputy director of strategy for the FDA’s Office of External Affairs.

Ebola outbreak fades, but UC Davis and Kaiser call preparation worthwhile, Sacramento Business Journal

A story about Ebola preparations at UC Davis and Kaiser.

Isolation can take emotional toll on volunteers at risk of Ebola, Los Angeles Times

This story about medical workers’ experiences being quarantined after returning from relief work in areas affected by Ebola in West Africa features comments by Dr. Matthew Waxman, associate clinical professor, department of emergency medicine,  Los Angeles County Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, who recently returned from providing patient care at the Ebola Treatment Center in Lunsar, Sierra Leone.

Darrell Steinberg lands UC Davis post, The Sacarmento Bee

Former Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is joining the ranks of academia – at an institution funded by a measure he championed while in the Legislature. Steinberg, a Sacramento Democrat, will become director of policy and advocacy for the new UC Davis Behavioral Health Center of Excellence, the school announced March 4. The position is unpaid. The $7.5 million UC Davis center is funded by Proposition 63, California’s tax on millionaires to fund programs for the mentally ill. Steinberg, a longtime advocate for mental health programs, wrote the 2004 measure. “With UC Davis as a partner, my goal is to strengthen and unite our voice for mental and behavioral health in California,” Steinberg said in a prepared statement. “We will connect and inform the next generation of policy leaders, researchers, health professionals, providers and our communities.” Steinberg will be a visiting professor at Davis’ Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

UC Davis biology dean to lead Tennessee medical college, The Sacramento Bee

James Hildreth, dean of UC Davis’ College of Biological Sciences, will leave the university in June to become president of Tennessee’s Meharry Medical College in Nashville.

Three-legged dog to get 3-D-printed limb from UC Davis students, The Sacramento Bee

Hobbes the terrier mix can do a lot, for a dog with three legs. He can climb stairs, graze the backyard and jump roughly 4 feet in the air – more than high enough to clamber onto the bed with his owner, Andrea Bledsoe. Even so, Bledsoe and a few of her fellow UC Davis graduate students are determined to give him a fourth leg. They’ve cast him in a plaster mold, fitted him for harnesses and tried a few materials in an effort to come up with a design for a prosthetic limb, which they plan to produce with a 3-D printer. The project took root after Bledsoe, a veterinary student, adopted Hobbes from a pet clinic, where he was taken about two years ago with a badly broken front left leg. The break had healed incorrectly, and the veterinary surgeons were forced to amputate, she said.

Red hot, The Scientist

Scientists have a fever for genome tinkering, and the latest thing shooting up temperatures is CRISPR. The number of publications referring to CRISPR/Cas technology has mushroomed since
its co-invention by UC Berkeley molecular and cell biology professor Jennifer Doudna, who won a 2015 Breakthrough Prize for it. In a testament to the method’s popularity, a recent guest lecture at Vanderbilt University by Doudna packed a 300-person classroom and a 160-person overflow room—which then itself overflowed, recalls attendee Douglas Mortlock, a research assistant professor at Vanderbilt who blogs about advances in CRISPR technology.

Recruiting retired physicians to help solve a looming doctor shortage, The Washington Post

An online program created in collaboration with the UC San Diego School of Medicine faculty aims to help address the nation’s shortage of primary care physicians, a critical health care issue highlighted by the Association of American Medical Colleges on March 3. Created by educators at the medical school and primary care physicians who are renowned experts in physician training and assessment, Physician Retraining and Reentry (PRR) provides physicians of all backgrounds, retired and otherwise, the tools needed to offer adult outpatient primary care in their current practices or at understaffed clinics across the country.

David Geffen donating $100 million to New York’s Lincoln Center, Los Angeles Times

Since his heyday as a music executive and entertainment mogul, David Geffen has given away hundreds of millions of dollars to organizations that now bear his name. In Los Angeles, there is Geffen Playhouse and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the Geffen Contemporary in downtown. Now his name will be associated with a major cultural institution in New York. On Wednesday, Lincoln Center announced that Geffen is donating $100 million toward the major renovation of Avery Fisher Hall, which will be renamed David Geffen Hall in September at the start of the New York Philharmonic’s 2015-16 season. The naming gift isn’t the the largest sum the Brooklyn-born, Malibu-ensconced Geffen has given away. In 2002, he made a $200-million, unrestricted donation to UCLA’s medical school, which was renamed after him. A decade later, he gave another $100 million to UCLA to create a scholarship fund for medical students. He is the university’s largest individual donor.

Stepping up the fight against cancer, Orange County Register

Researchers at UC Irvine Health and across the globe are studying new ways to attack cancer cells directly. Richard Van Etten, director of the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at UC Irvine, highlighted some of the cutting-edge research into new treatments during a recent lecture at Newport Beach Central Library.

Why not to fear the impact of virtual reality goggles on your long-term health, The Washington Post

Last week, Magic Leap chief executive Rony Abovitz caused a stir when he said that many virtual reality goggles can cause permanent neurological deficits. Although it’s true that virtual reality systems can trigger a range of unwanted symptoms such as fatigue, headaches and nausea, there’s no evidence that wearing stereoscopic 3-D goggles creates permanent health issues. Martin Banks, a professor of optometry and vision science at UC Berkeley, is quoted.

SF General investigates security breach involving patient records, San Francisco Chronicle

A former UCSF doctor who worked at San Francisco General Hospital from 2005 to 2013 wrongfully removed copies of patient records from the medical center, public health officials said March 6. UCSF reported the security breach to the San Francisco Department of Public Health on Feb. 13. The incident is under investigation and authorities don’t yet know how many patients were affected or when the files were taken. The public health department is working with UCSF to alert patients whose records were taken and retrieve the files. Patients will receive written notification from the department if they were part of the security breach.

Jahi McMath: Oakland girl’s family sues hospital, surgeon, Oakland Tribune

Jahi McMath’s family plans to file a lawsuit against UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, full of new details that bring to life their harrowing hours inside a hospital room after her botched surgery. Officials from the hospital, aside from earlier court declarations, have not commented because the family would not release them from federal patient confidentiality laws.

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In the media: Week of Feb. 22

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Geisinger Health System names UCLA Health president as its chief, New York Times

Geisinger Health System, which is viewed as a national model in providing both high-quality and cost-effective medical care, announced on Monday that it had chosen Dr. David T. Feinberg, the president of the UCLA Health System, as its next chief executive.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times, Modern Healthcare, CBS Los Angeles, NBC Southern California, KPCC

UC Davis student hospitalized after being infected with a form of meningitis, The Sacramento Bee

A UC Davis student has been diagnosed with meningococcal disease, a contagious bacterial infection, university officials announced Feb. 23. The student has been hospitalized and is doing well, said Constance Caldwell, health officer for Yolo County. University health officials and Yolo County public health officers are working to identify people who had close contact with the student and are recommending they take preventive antibiotics, a university news release states. Meningococcal disease – a type of meningitis – is most common in teens and young adults, Caldwell said. The disease is spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions such as spit, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It is not spread through casual contact. University officials are recommending antibiotic prophylaxis to people who lived in close quarters, had prolonged close contact with or kissed the student.

See additional coverage: Reuters, ABC 10 (video), CBS Sacramento, Fox 40 (video), KCRA 3

Vaccine-preventable diseases are back! But are they here to stay?, San Jose Mercury News

First it was whooping cough. Now it’s measles. As the number of measles cases in California over the past 2½ months rose Friday to 130, the Golden State is still battling its worst whooping cough epidemic in seven decades. Whooping cough is the “canary in the mineshaft,” said Dr. George Rutherford, director of the Prevention and Public Health Group at UC San Francisco. “It’s a warning sign of waning population immunity.” In 2011, UC Berkeley was among a handful of U.S. college campuses that reported mumps — in Cal’s case after an unvaccinated student on a trip to Europe contracted the virus, returned and infected at least 29 others. And whooping cough will be around until there are vaccines that provide long-term protection — and until most adults are vaccinated. “We can make strides,” said Dr. Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UC Davis Children’s Hospital. “We can get better vaccines and higher vaccination rates, but I don’t think we can say” that the scourges will disappear any time soon.

UCLA superbug: Lawmaker asks Congress to investigate FDA response, Los Angeles Times

Prompted by the UCLA superbug outbreak, a federal lawmaker is calling on Congress to investigate what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and device makers are doing to prevent further patient deaths and infections. In a letter sent Feb. 23 to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) said outbreaks related to contaminated medical scopes “have national security ramifications.” Last week, UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center became the latest in a string of U.S. hospitals suffering outbreaks involving CRE and other deadly bacteria.

See additional coverage: California Healthline, Modern Healthcare, Associated Press

Patient, 18, sues medical-scope maker tied to UCLA superbug outbreak, Los Angeles Times

In the first lawsuit stemming from the superbug outbreak at UCLA, an 18-year-old patient accused a major health care device maker of negligence for selling a medical scope prone to spreading deadly bacteria. Aaron Young, a high-school student still hospitalized at UCLA for his infection, sued Olympus Corp. of the Americas in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleging negligence and fraud. Young and his San Fernando Valley family declined to comment on the suit filed late Monday, said attorney Pete Kaufman. UCLA and the University of California regents may be added as defendants after more investigation into the matter, Kaufman said. More patient lawsuits are also expected. The patient’s complaint offers some support for UCLA, saying it complied with the cleaning protocols provided by the manufacturer. L.A. County public health officials made a similar determination and said they observed no breaches in UCLA’s cleaning procedures during their investigation of the outbreak.

UCLA outbreak: Family of 48-year-old who died sues scope maker, Los Angeles Times

Following a superbug outbreak at UCLA, the family of a 48-year-old patient who died there has sued a medical device maker for wrongful death. The family of Antonia Torres Cerda sued Olympus Corp. of the Americas on Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

See additional coverage: NBC Los Angeles

Editorial: When medical devices spread superbugs, The New York Times

Germs that are resistant to antibiotics are cropping up with alarming frequency at American hospitals. A lethal “superbug” known as CRE infected seven patients at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and killed two of them. The germs were apparently transmitted on inadequately sterilized medical scopes. The episode brought an immediate reminder and warning from the Food and Drug Administration that the complex design of the instruments, known as duodenoscopes, makes them hard to clean after they are used. It is imperative that government agencies, medical institutions and the manufacturer take more aggressive steps to ensure sterilization and protect patients.

UCSF doctors helping to develop Ebola test to speed up diagnosis, San Francisco Examiner

Two UC San Francisco doctors are helping to develop a diagnostic test that they say can detect Ebola within 15 minutes instead of the current 24-hour turnaround time. “It’s a game-changer. This will be the first point-of-care novel Ebola diagnostic that will be available for clinical use in the outbreak,” said Dr. Dan Kelly, a UCSF clinician who helped with the test’s final validation trial in Sierra Leone this month. Meanwhile, at a town hall meeting highlighting UCSF’s Ebola response, health officials noted that while there has been a steep decline in the number of new Ebola infections, there is still much work to be done to eradicate the epidemic and ensure health systems are prepared for another possible outbreak.

Veterinary clinic for the homeless needs help (video), ABC 10

Mercer Veterinary Clinic for the Homeless, which is run by UC Davis veterinary medicine students, needs help to raise money so it can be up to code for the city of Sacramento.

Ashok Gadgil: The humanitarian inventor, IEEE Spectrum

No! No! No! In Ashok Gadgil’s cluttered office at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, hidden among the stacks of books and awards and whiteboards and ID badges from humanitarian organizations, you’ll spot tiny pictures of former U.S. first lady Nancy Reagan. “Just Say No!,” each picture implores. Gadgil has appropriated Reagan’s antidrug slogan for his own ends. “I tend to say yes too often,” he says, laughing. “Saying no is valuable, because I’m interested in lots of stuff, but my time is full.” Gadgil’s work on water purification, cookstoves and arsenic removal has helped tens of millions of people worldwide.

Dr. Deborah Cohan prescribes dancing as a healing remedy, San Francisco Chronicle

Deborah Cohan reached peak Internet fame a few days after her double mastectomy. In the minutes leading up to her surgery, Cohan led her team of doctors and nurses in a Beyoncé dance party that was captured on video. Suited up for surgery, her wild, curly hair tucked under a cap and medical bracelets on her wrists, Cohan shimmied all around the operating room, shaking her hips and letting her hospital gown slip down past her bare shoulders. The video went viral shortly after the surgery in November 2013, and it’s since been viewed more than 8 million times on YouTube. It’s inspired dozens of similar festive dances. She’s the “dancing doc” on the Internet. But in San Francisco and the global public health community, Cohan, a UCSF obstetrician, has reached a different kind of fame. She’s widely respected for her work in HIV care — specifically, in treating pregnant women with HIV and pioneering efforts to help HIV-affected couples have healthy families.

When memory misses a beat, music can offer dementia patients new meaning (audio, video), PBS NewsHour

Special correspondent Judy Muller has been exploring how music can provide help for people suffering from several forms of dementia. UCLA neurobiologist Marco Iacoboni is interviewed, as is Sam Mayo, a retired UCLA history professor whose dementia has robbed him of the ability to speak clearly. Mayo plays harmonica in a band called The Fifth Dementia, a humorous reference to the fact that they all suffer, to varying degrees, from dementia, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.

Best friends forever: Separated in China, 2 girls reunite in U.S., San Francisco Chronicle

Mae and Mai spent the first years of their lives in the same orphanage in southern China, before they were adopted by families on opposite coasts of the United States. They were inseparable in China. As close as sisters. They ate together and played together, and even after they were moved to separate foster families in the same town, they went to school together and often shared meals at one girl’s home. Adoption may have saved their lives, but they both lost someone they loved. This week, four years after the best friends were split up, the girls reunited in Oakland, where they’re receiving treatment for the same genetic blood disease at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.

Stem cells: A weapon for Huntington’s disease? (video), ABC 30

Huntington’s is a deadly, inherited disease that affects about 30,000 Americans. 150,000 more are at risk. Until now, there has been no hope for these patients who typically die of the disease within 15 years of diagnosis. But for the first time, scientists are studying a therapy that could slow down this killer, and stem cells are the weapon. UC Davis’ Vicki Wheelock and Jan Nolta are interviewed in this story.

What it’s like to see 100 million colors, New York Magazine

Tetrachromats can see colors that most people cannot — up to 100 million, estimates suggest, which is 100 times that of the average human. Concetta Antico, a tetrachromat artist and oil-painting teacher from San Diego, recently spoke with Science of Us about her hyper-charged color perception. She is now being studied at UC Irvine by Dr. Kimberley Jameson and her colleagues.

CIRM’s Klein proposes $100B biomed program, U-T San Diego

Bob Klein, the main backer of California’s 2004 stem cell initiative has proposed a $100 billion international bond program in life sciences, to speed up research and clinical testing of disease therapies. The program would be focused on stem cells and genomics. The United States and a few other countries would jump-start the program, and other countries would join, said Klein, a real estate investor, at last Thursday’s UCSD Moores Cancer Center symposium. The UCSD Moores Cancer Center symposium at which Klein and Peters spoke mainly discussed scientific advances and challenges in cancer treatment, but included the political discussion, and an appearance by a cancer patient rescued by an experimental drug, to present different perspectives on issues in biomedical research.

UCI Care-a-thon raises more than $26,000 for premature babies, Orange County Register

UC Irvine students and supporters raised more than $26,000 last week to benefit the UCI Medical Center’s unit for premature babies. The Care-a-thon, a six-hour dance marathon, was held Feb. 26 in the Pacific Ballroom at the UCI Student center.

Report: California uninsured rate fell by as much as 40% under ACA, Payers & Providers/California Healthline

California’s uninsured rate fell by as much as 40% in 2014, in large part because of expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act, according to a fact sheet by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

UCSF to let public see trove of medical history murals, San Francisco Chronicle

After more than 50 years of hiding in plain sight, little-known but classic fresco murals at UCSF will be on display to the public. The works are on the walls of a lecture hall on the school’s Parnassus Avenue campus. The murals, painted over four years by the celebrated — and controversial — artist Bernard Zakheim, had kind of an underground reputation. They cover much of the walls of a large lecture room at Toland Hall. The 10 murals, which show the history of medicine in California, are colorful and vibrant.

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In the media: Week of Feb. 15

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Low-profile retail titan’s gift to UCSF: $100 million, San Francisco Chronicle

A $100 million gift to UCSF has made an ex-billionaire who is determined to give away all his money the largest single donor not only to the academic medical center, but to the entire UC system. The donation, announced late Wednesday, brings to $394 million the total given to UCSF by Charles F. “Chuck” Feeney, a philanthropist who made his fortune by co-founding a company that runs duty-free shops across the world. The money will be used to support the medical students, faculty and new hospitals that opened Feb. 1 at UCSF’s Mission Bay campus. The money will also be directed to research programs focused on the neurosciences and aging.

Fighting patient, fighting doctor, U-T San Diego

The struggle against cancer involves advanced medical research and bold risks. But most of all, it concerns sick people seeking relief, otherwise known as patients. Hundreds of top doctors and scientists heard from one of those patients, Theresa Blanda, at an annual meeting at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center on Thursday. Her message to the doctors: Patients who won’t give up want doctors who also won’t give up. Backed morally and medically by her inpatient medical team and her hematologist, Catriona Jamieson of UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, Blanda struggled to stay alive until another experimental drug became available.

Superbug linked to 2 deaths at UCLA hospital; 179 potentially exposed, Los Angeles Times

Nearly 180 patients at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center may have been exposed to potentially deadly bacteria from contaminated medical scopes, and two deaths have already been linked to the outbreak. The Times has learned that the two people who died are among seven patients that UCLA found were infected by the drug-resistant superbug known as CRE — a number that may grow as more patients get tested. The outbreak is the latest in a string of similar incidents across the country that has top health officials scrambling for a solution. UCLA said it discovered the outbreak late last month while running tests on a patient. This week, it began to notify 179 other patients who were treated from October to January and offer them medical tests.

See additional coverage: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, Kaiser Health News, Reuters, NPR, CNN, Associated Press

Who are best-paid public employees? UCLA, Cal coaches are tops, but UCI surgeons also make the list, Orange County Register

The best-paid public workers in the state of California are the athletic coaches at UCLA and UC Berkeley, with compensation often eclipsing $2 million a year, according to data from the state controller’s office. Orange County folks didn’t weigh in at the tippy-top of the list, but four placed in the Top 30, including former Sheriff’s Lt. Bill Hunt ($1.25 million following a lawsuit) and three surgeons at UC Irvine, who made more than $1 million each.

Number of Latino doctors isn’t keeping pace with population, study says, Los Angeles Times

The supply of Latino physicians in California and other states has not kept pace with the increasing growth of the Latino population in the U.S., according to a UCLA study published in the journal Academic Medicine.

Chris Dufresne: For Erik Compton, there’s more than golf at the heart of the matter, Los Angeles Times

This column cites UCLA regarding two-time heart transplant patient and professional golfer Erik Compton’s efforts to raise awareness about organ donation.

Measles hit Hollywood amid vaccination battle: Doctor addresses ‘grave and sad situation’, The Hollywood Reporter

Dr. Nina Shapiro, director of pediatric otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat conditions) at UCLA’s Geffen School of Medicine, looks at the progression of the anti-vaccination movement in upscale Los Angeles, and emphasizes how the conversation must shift from addressing non-immunization as a political issue to the health crisis it is.

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In the media: Week of Feb. 8

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UC to mandate vaccines for incoming students by 2017, San Francisco Business Times

The University of California, citing a widespread measles outbreak that originated in Disneyland and the re-emergence of other vaccine-preventable diseases, said it will require incoming students to be vaccinated against a host of diseases under a plan set to take effect in 2017. Currently, the Oakland-based university system only requires students to be vaccinated against hepatitis B, although some individual campuses have additional requirements. Under the new rules, students will be screened for tuberculosis and vaccinated for measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, meningococcus, tetanus and whooping cough, the university said. Read UC coverage.

See additional coverage: California Healthline

Roll up your sleeves, Inside Higher Ed

The outbreak of measles in the United States is leading some institutions to change rules or practices. The University of California System, which has been studying the issue since before the current outbreak, announced Friday that it will require incoming students to be screened for tuberculosis and vaccinated for measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, meningococcus, tetanus and whooping cough.

Measles outbreak highlights the importance of adult immunization, Los Angeles Times

Measles was once considered a childhood illness, spreading rapidly across schools, playgrounds and parks. But the national measles outbreak that began two months ago at Disneyland has showed another side of the highly infectious disease — that it is a danger to people of all ages. Some institutions already are taking action. The University of California announced last week that it will for the first time require proof of four immunizations, including for measles, in addition to an existing Hepatitis B vaccine requirement. The article quotes Dr. James Cherry, a UCLA professor and primary editor of the Textbook of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Gina Fleming, medical director of the UC Student Health Insurance Plan.

Vaccine avoiders put Californians at risk, San Francisco Chronicle

In a state with some of the most lenient childhood immunization laws in the country, thousands of California children enter kindergarten every year with incomplete vaccination records, and it’s easy for parents to opt out of vaccinating their kids. California’s immunization rates are lower than the national average for almost all vaccine-preventable diseases, including measles, which is still spreading widely in the largest outbreak in the state in more than a decade. Dr. Art Reingold, head of epidemiology at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, and Dr. George Rutherford, director of UCSF’s Institute for Global Health, are quoted.

California officials warn against ‘measles parties’, The Washington Post

In a warning issued Feb. 9, the California Department of Health seemed to state the obvious: “CDPH strongly recommends against the intentional exposure of children to measles,” the agency said. “It unnecessarily places the exposed children at potentially grave risk and could contribute to further spread.” Epidemiologist Art Reingold of UC Berkeley is quoted.

Whooping cough vaccine failing for many patients, Sacramento Bee

As debate simmers nationwide about whether parents should be forced to vaccinate their children, Elk Grove residents have made their choice: Only 80 of the suburb’s 4,500 kindergartners opted out of vaccinations last year, state data show. Despite those precautions, whooping cough ripped through Elk Grove’s classrooms and cul-de-sacs in 2014. Infection rates within the large Sacramento suburb were three to five times higher than rates elsewhere in the county, local health records show. The paradox – high infection rates amid high immunization rates – underscores a disturbing truth about the current whooping cough vaccine: It is wearing off after just a few years, and many Californians who thought they were protected instead are catching the disease. Dr. Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UC Davis Children’s Hospital, and Dr. Mark Sawyer, a professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego, are quoted.

Vaccines are one of our best weapons against global warming, Mother Jones

Kirk Smith — an environmental health expert at UC, Berkeley, and a lead author of the IPCC chapter on health impacts — points out that “a child weakened by measles is more likely to die from the malnutrition caused by climate change.” In other words, anything we can do to reduce the impact of existing health problems will be even more important in a warming world. And vaccinating children, he says, is one of the most cost-effective public health tools we have.

Psychological biases play a part in vaccination decisions, NPR

With the recent outbreak of measles originating from Disneyland, there’s been no shortage of speculation, accusation and recrimination concerning why some people won’t vaccinate their children. There’s also been some — but only some — more historically and psychologically informed discussion, writes Tania Lombrozo, a psychology professor at UC Berkeley.

New UC medical center supports Obama’s precision medicine initiative, California Healthline

The new UC San Francisco Medical Center at Mission Bay sits on the site of what was once a wasteland of abandoned railroad tracks. It has evolved from a single bioscience office in 2003 — an overflow of scientists from UCSF’s Parnassus campus — to an 878,000-square foot complex housing three hospitals catering to women, cancer patients and children. The medical center moves the university one step closer to achieving its precision medicine mission by integrating research and patient care, and providing more efficiency, a UCSF spokesperson said. To Keith Yamamoto, vice chancellor of research at UCSF and executive vice dean of the UCSF Medical School, Mission Bay Medical Center represents an opportunity for UCSF to promote its core mission — precision medicine — an initiative supported by President Obama and first announced during his 2015 State of the Union address.

New medical technology could bolster chemotherapy (video), ABC 7

Chemotherapy helps save the lives of thousands of cancer patients each year. But now, researchers at the Lawrence Livermore Lab and UC Davis believe they’ve developed a technology that could make chemo treatments even more effective.

Finding ways to create cancer-killing swords, U-T San Diego

For cancer research and treatment, precision medicine has become practiced medicine. At the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, for example, the Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy already performs advanced, clinical-grade molecular diagnostics on any patient with advanced cancer where the physician feels such information may be relevant to the patient’s care.Last year, UC San Diego and Human Longevity, a San Diego-based company cofounded by Craig Venter, who famously helped sequence the first human genome, began a collaborative effort to sequence the genome of every consenting Moores Cancer Center patient. A few weeks ago, scientists at UC San Diego School of Medicine and UC San Francisco, with multiple collaborators, launched the Cancer Cell Map Initiative, an ambitious plan to essentially draw up the complete wiring diagram of a cancer cell and then figure out how these cells work together to wreak havoc.

For complex brain surgeries, doctors turn to robotic ROSA, Orange County Register

UC Irvine Medical Center is the first hospital on the West Coast, and one of only a dozen nationwide, to use ROSA – a robotic device employed to perform neurological procedures including finding exactly where in the brain seizures originate and burning off deep brain tumors in a minimally invasive manner. Dr. Sumeet Vadera, a neurosurgeon at UCI, says this $650,000 device approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has revolutionized certain types of brain surgery. Vadera says he underwent training to perform surgery using the robotic device at the Cleveland Clinic. He talks about how the device works, what it is used for and the risks associated with it.

Road to Reform: How two states are addressing consumer concerns about narrow networks, California Healthline

During the first enrollment period, some consumers learned that despite promises to the contrary, they were not able to keep their health care plans if they liked them. President Obama took immediate action to rectify the issue, letting people stay in their preferred plans even if those policies did not meet the Affordable Care Act’s minimum coverage requirements. This year, consumers ran into a different, but related, problem: After selecting and enrolling in their preferred plans through the ACA’s exchanges, some people learned that they would not have access to the providers of their choice. So is 2015 the year to address narrow networks? If so, what exactly are policymakers and legislators doing about it, and how will this affect narrow networks going forward? This edition of “Road to Reform” takes a closer look. Gerald Kominski, director of UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research, is quoted.

Health care for the undocumented complicated by cost questions (audio), California Healthline

Experts discuss the possible pitfalls and promise of SB 4, a recently introduced legislative bill that would provide health coverage to the uninsured. The effort comes on the heels of two major shifts in low-income programs — the expansion of Medi-Cal to include millions more Californians, and the recent federal executive action that extends temporary work status and other benefits to millions of the undocumented immigrants in America, including the roughly 1.5 million undocumented in California. The report includes comments from Nadereh Pourat, director of research at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

DPH fines 10 California hospitals $700K for adverse events, California Healthline

On Feb. 11, the California Department of Public Health announced that it has fined 10 hospitals hundreds of thousands of dollars for medical errors.  Those fined included UC San Diego and UC San Francisco medical centers.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Daily News, CBS San Francisco, City News Service, U-T San Diego, NBC San Diego

Researchers find clues about human autism in foals (audio), Capital Public Radio

New research into a horse disorder that has puzzled horse owners and veterinarians for a century may offer clues to autism in humans. Veterinary researchers at UC Davis are teaming up with colleagues in human medicine to investigate the disorder known as neonatal maladjustment syndrome.

Tobacco smoke exposure in womb increases diabetes risk, UC Davis researchers find, CBS San Francisco

A new study from researchers at UC Davis and the Public Health Institute found women exposed to tobacco smoke from their parents in the womb have are at higher risk for diabetes.

Food for Thought: Ahhhh, sweet chocolate, a life saver, Santa Cruz Sentinel

“Our work supports the concept that the chronic consumption of cocoa may be associated with improved cardiovascular health.” Those are the words of UC Davis researcher Carl Keen. Who am I to doubt him?

Dr. Lois Barth Epstein of Tiburon, noted cancer researcher and artist, dies at 81, Marin Independent Journal

Dr. Lois Barth Epstein, former associate director of the Cancer Research Institute at the University of California at San Francisco, died Feb. 6 after a brief illness. She was 81. She retired in 1996 after 16 years as a professor of pediatrics at UCSF. Read UCSF coverage.

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In the media: Week of Feb. 1

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UC widens vaccination requirements for 2017, Los Angeles Times

All UC students will have to be vaccinated against measles, meningitis, whooping cough and several other diseases or they will not be allowed to register for classes in fall 2017, university officials announced Friday. Those shots will be in addition to the current systemwide requirement for the hepatitis B vaccine. The announcement has been in the works for years and was not triggered by the measles scare that has rattled the state, according to Gina Fleming, a high-ranking UC health official. If anything, she said, it was pushed by the 2013 meningitis outbreak at UC Santa Barbara that sickened four students and led to the amputations of one student’s legs below the knees, she said. UC is giving 2 1/2 years’ notice to make sure everyone is adequately warned and has time to take the needed steps, said Fleming, medical director for UC Student Health Insurance Plan. Read UC coverage.

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UCSF officially opens new Mission Bay medical center, KTVU

UCSF officially opened its new $1.52 billion medical center at Mission Bay on Sunday (Feb. 1). The facility on Sunday transferred about 120 combined patients from its main Parnassus campus, as well as its Mt. Zion facility. Ambulances took patients to the new Mission Bay location, which is along the San Francisco waterfront, near Pier 54. The 878,000 square foot facility actually consists of three hospitals, including a children’s hospital and cancer center.

Zuckerberg, wife give $75 million to S.F. hospital, San Francisco Chronicle

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, are donating $75 million to San Francisco General Hospital to help fund critical equipment and technology for the new public hospital, which is scheduled to open at the end of the year. Sue Currin, San Francisco General’s chief executive officer, said the gift has special meaning given that Chan, a pediatric resident at UCSF, has trained alongside doctors at the public safety-net hospital. Chan “knows the patient population and the mission of San Francisco General,” she said. While some tech titans have taken heat for not being as generous as critics would like, the health sector has been a beneficiary of benevolence from the Zuckerbergs and other philanthropists in the tech industry. Last fall, Zuckerberg, who has an estimated worth of $33.3 billion, gave $25 million to the Centers for Disease Foundation to help fight Ebola. founder Marc Benioff’s name was added to UCSF’s children’s hospitals after donating $200 million, and venture capitalist Ron Conway’s name was added to UCSF’s Gateway Medical Center after his $40 million contribution.

U.S. FDA approves Pfizer’s high profile breast cancer drug, Reuters

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday (Feb. 3) approved Pfizer Inc’s Ibrance, a potential new standard of care for advanced breast cancer, in a regulatory decision that came more than two months earlier than expected. UCLA which helped test the drug for Pfizer, in a statement, said Ibrance produced “groundbreaking results” in studies conducted at the university and has potential to become a mainstay treatment.

Many California child-care centers have low measles vaccination rates, Los Angeles Times

Dr. James Cherry, distinguished research professor of pediatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and attending physician of pediatric infectious diseases at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, is interviewed in this story about low measles vaccination rates at many California child-care centers.

UC Davis researchers get almost $4M in stem cell technology grants, Sacramento Business Journal

Two UC Davis researchers were awarded more than $1.8 million each in new grant funding to continue their work on tools that enable doctors to assess the effectiveness of stem cell therapies. The two local awards are part of almost $30 million in three-year “tools and technologies” grants awarded Thursday (Jan. 29) by the state stem cell agency, the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine. The awardees included 10 UC recipients from six campuses. Read UC coverage.

Vulnerable to measles, Inside Higher Ed

Students at three California campuses — Moorpark College, California State University at Channel Islands and California State University at Long Beach — are now believed to have contracted measles, joining more than 90 other people in the state who have contracted the largely eradicated disease. California students are within their legal rights to come to campus without having been vaccinated — the state is one of 22 that does not require college students to be vaccinated against measles. As a result, many California colleges, including the 10 campuses of the University of California System, do not require students to receive immunizations before enrolling. The University of California may soon move to change its policy. A proposed three-year plan would require incoming students in 2017 to receive vaccinations for measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, meningococcus; and tetanus. Currently, the system only requires students to be vaccinated against hepatitis B.

Trying to be less stupid: The hard work of brain science, National Geographic News

Michael Gazzaniga was still a graduate student when he helped make one of the most intriguing discoveries of modern neuroscience: that the two hemispheres of the brain not only have different functions, but also operate independently — the so-called split-brain phenomenon. A lover of fine wine and conversation, Gazzaniga, today a professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is also that rarity: a scientist whose life and work cross over into the humanities. From his home in Santa Barbara, the author of “Tales From Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience” talks about where the next big breakthroughs in our understanding of the brain will come from, why a 14-day-old blastocyst isn’t a human being, and how he came to meet Groucho Marx.

Announcing the honorees of the 40 Under 40 class of 2015, San Francisco Business Times

The San Francisco Business Times’ 40 Under 40 list includes Jennifer Lai of UC San Francisco.

UC Davis Medical Center faces Medicare penalty for patient infections, injuries, The Sacramento Bee

UC Davis Medical Center is the only hospital system in the Sacramento region to be penalized by Medicare for its rates of infection and other harm to patients. UC Davis Medical Center Chief Medical Officer J. Douglas Kirk said Medicare’s formula to tally human error is weighted heavily against urban academic medical centers. Comparing the urban teaching hospitals to smaller, rural hospitals is unfair, he said, because the larger medical-school centers see a sicker, poorer population of patients who often have not taken good care of their health. He noted that Leapfrog ranked the medical center as one of the 54 best urban hospitals in the United States.

UCLA study finds Latino physicians decreasing while Latino population surges, Examiner

Latinos are the fastest growing ethnicity in California as well as other parts of the nation; since 1980, their numbers having soared about 243%. However, according to a new study by UCLA’s Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture (CESLAC), the Latino physician workforce per 100,000 Latinos has decreased by 22%. The growing disparity is likely to impact the quality of healthcare among Latinos.

Pros and cons of sitting, standing, walking, perching at work (audio), KPCC

Jennifer Mempin, injury prevention program manager for UCLA Health System, is featured in this report on the pros and cons of sitting, standing, walking or perching at work.

Op-ed: What causes girls to enter puberty early?, The New York Times

UC Berkeley School of Public Health associate professor Julianna Deardorff and Louise Greenspan, a pediatric endocrinologist at Kaiser Permanente, discuss what is known about the causes of early puberty in girls. They also go over ways parents and society at large can help protect against early puberty.

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