June 7, 2014.
A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:
Thousands of doctors born and trained in foreign countries who come to the United States hope to continue practicing medicine here. But instead of practicing medicine, many end up in low-paying jobs hoping to save enough money to take exams, compete for residencies and eventually, if they make it, become a doctor in the U.S. Some never achieve their dreams. The issue was troubling to doctors Michelle Bholat and Patrick Dowling from UCLA’s Department of Family Medicine. So in 2007, Bholat and Dowling developed the UCLA International Medical Graduate Program. The goal is to help bilingual, bicultural physicians from Latin American countries complete exams and residency in family medicine for free. In exchange, the doctors then practice in underserved communities. In California, 35 percent of the state’s 13 million Latinos reside in areas that not only need physicians, but need ones that understand them.
During the New York Times Health for Tomorrow conference at UC San Francisco Mission Bay Conference Center, Diana Dooley — secretary of California’s Department of Health and Human Services and chair of the Covered California board — discussed the challenges and successes of implementing health reform in the state.
Joshua Osborn, 14, lay in a coma at American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison, Wis. For weeks his brain had been swelling with fluid, and a battery of tests had failed to reveal the cause. The doctors told his parents, Clark and Julie, that they wanted to run one more test with an experimental new technology. Scientists would search Joshua’s cerebrospinal fluid for pieces of DNA. Some of them might belong to the pathogen causing his encephalitis. The Osborns agreed, although they were skeptical that the test would succeed where so many others had failed. But in the first procedure of its kind, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, managed to pinpoint the cause of Joshua’s problem — within 48 hours. He had been infected with an obscure species of bacteria. Once identified, it was eradicated within days.
See additional coverage: NPR (audio)
A UCLA study released yesterday made a dire prediction for the state’s public hospital system: The safety-net facilities will likely face a shortfall of between $1.38 billion to $1.54 billion by 2019, when federal funding cuts go into effect. The cuts will hit the poorest Californians hardest, according to the study. “Hospitals that can least afford a cut are the most at-risk,” said Dylan Roby, director of the Health Economics and Evaluation Research Program at UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research.
A bill in the California legislature would allow students in a UC Davis School of Medicine accelerated pilot program to obtain licenses in less than four years. The program was set up to address a growing problem in California. “We have far more patients than we have doctors,” says Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla. She says her bill AB 1838 would ensure that students who complete medical school in the accelerated program would have the opportunity to start practicing.
Dr. Clarence Braddock, vice dean of education at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, is featured in this story about how the authority for making medical decisions has increasingly shifted from being the physician’s sole responsibility to that of a partnership with well-informed patients.
The trauma center at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland has been verified as Level 1 by the American College of Surgeons.
ValleyCare Health System, which operates two hospitals and other sites in Pleasanton and Livermore, is exploring a merger with Stanford Hospital & Clinics, the two parties said Thursday afternoon.ValleyCare has had financial difficulties recently, and former CEO Marcy Feit left the organization abruptly in early February. Officials at both organizations say ValleyCare and Stanford have signed a non-binding letter of intent to affiliate. Such a move could bolster ValleyCare, which could use the support of a larger, wealthier system, and Stanford Hospital, which has been engaged in a vigorous competition with academic medical center rival UCSF Medical Center in recent years to grab more doctors, patients and philanthropic support throughout the Bay Area. Some are calling that rivalry the “clash of the titans.”
UC San Francisco, already a giant economic force in San Francisco, plans to add a mammoth 2.4 million square feet of space by 2035 — a 26 percent increase over the total space that UCSF is now using or building. The new space would give UCSF, part of the University of California system, a total of 11.58 million square feet in San Francisco, including owned and leased buildings. It now has 8 million square feet in use, and an additional 1.14 million square feet under construction at its burgeoning Mission Bay campus. Much of the proposed growth would occur in Mission Bay, but UCSF also plans to tear down and replace its Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute on the Parnassus campus with a new 308,000-square-foot hospital complex to meet state seismic requirements.
At UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, as in all hospitals, patients who lie in bed for hours sometimes develop painful skin sores. To prevent these wounds, nurses must check and move patients every few hours. But Dr. Hanmin Lee wonders if a device would do a better job of predicting and alerting staff to nascent bedsores. “That’s an area ripe for disruption,” said the hospital’s surgeon in chief, stealing one of Silicon Valley’s favorite lines. On Wednesday, UCSF will open the Rosenman Institute, a program intended to give Lee and other faculty members the resources to turn their ideas for medical devices into real products. As a renowned scientific-research university and medical center, UCSF has long teamed with pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs and diagnostics. But even as the institution has ramped up its commercial partnerships, it has not paid as much attention to medical devices, an industry that has spawned life-saving inventions such as pacemakers, artificial joints, replacement heart valves and surgical robots.
See additional coverage: Xconomy
A growing number of companies and researchers are applying smart algorithms and massive amounts of data to sift through gigantic stacks of medical research or the biology of the body itself for clues that could save the lives of cancer patients. The techniques in question cross the fuzzy boundaries of AI, machine learning, computational medicine, quantitative pharmacology and plain old big data (and any practitioner will happily argue at length about which is what and why their approach is superior). But institutions as big as IBM, Merck, Memorial Sloan Kettering, UC Berkeley and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are eager to explore the potential — and in most cases are investing millions to do so. The article quotes David Patterson, a professor of computer science at UC Berkeley developing machine learning tools for cancer research, and Michael Keiser, an instructor at the UC San Francisco School of Medicine and founder of SeaChange Pharmaceuticals.
Kelly and Kristi Ouimet’s son Matthew Ouimet, 3, still struggles with a few issues such as brittle bones from doing dialysis and not being able to eat much solid food yet, but is doing well as he comes up on the one-year anniversary of his transplant. Matthew suffered from primary hyperoxaluria Type 1 and received a liver and kidney transplant at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital on June 4-5, 2013. His sister Molly, 11, has a less serious form of the disease.
A new treatment for skin cancer is just one possible outcome of the 15 undergraduate research projects highlighted at the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Awards ceremony Friday. Senior Beau Norgeot used computer analysis to create a drug designed to make cells more receptive to chemotherapy. The bioengineering major received the day’s top honor, the Steck Family Award. When melanoma, a type of skin cancer, spreads, only 20 percent of patients survive, said Glenn Millhauser, UCSC chemistry and biochemistry professor and Norgeot’s adviser. What’s novel about Norgeot’s seven-month project, said Millhauser, is the collaboration it represents. For the first time, Norgeot brought together David Bernick, UCSC biomolecular engineering professor, with Millhauser, to link their work on computer algorithms and chemistry.
Sacramento State and UC Davis over the past three years have boosted the mental health services offered to students. For example, they have added counselors and implemented programs that encourage students with mental health issues to seek help.Last week, thousands of UC Davis students, alumni, faculty and staff gathered in the evening twilight, burning candles in tribute to the six fellow University of California students slain by an emotionally disturbed young man on May 23. Elliot Rodger’s shooting rampage in Isla Vista that Friday night took the lives of six UC Santa Barbara students and left 13 others injured. The massacre, like others before it, has fueled discussion about what families, schools and society at large can do to identify and address mental health issues among young adults.
Popular media are full of dramatic claims that sugar is toxic. And there’s intense disagreement about recommendations to replace table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup with “natural” sweeteners like agave nectar or fruit juice. What to make of it all? UCSF’s Robert Lustig and UC Davis’ Kimber Stanhope are highlighted in this piece.
Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center was part of a select group of hospitals and health systems that were named in this edition of 150 Great Places to Work in Healthcare.
You can’t just open up a living brain and see the memories inside. So Roberto Malinow, a brain scientist at the University of California, San Diego, has spent years trying to find other ways to understand how memories are made and lost. The research — right now being done in rats – should lead to a better understanding of human memory problems ranging from Alzheimer’s to post-traumatic stress disorder.
See additional coverage: IB Times
Prohibiting the use of federal food stamps to purchase sugar-sweetened beverages and subsidizing the purchase of fruits and vegetables with the coupons would improve nutrition, foster weight loss and drive down rates of Type 2 diabetes among the program’s 47.6 million recipients, according to a new study by a group of medical and health economics researchers from Stanford University and UC San Francisco.
When Adam Zeboski started using the HIV drug Truvada in November 2012, he was HIV-free himself, but in a relationship with a man who had been infected. He was taking one Truvada pill a day for prevention, or PrEP – the breezy term for pre-exposure prophylaxis. Multiple international studies had shown that daily use of Truvada could nearly eliminate the risk of contracting HIV. But PrEP wasn’t something most of Zeboski’s friends talked about, and even fewer admitted taking. But that may be about to change. Last month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the first recommendations for who should consider the drug, focusing on groups of people at highest risk of contracting HIV. The recommendations would apply to roughly half a million people in the United States – a radical jump from the 2,000 or so currently taking PrEP. The article quotes Robert Grant, a UCSF professor and chief medical officer of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation who led the international clinical trials demonstrating that Truvada worked for prevention.
Paul Leigh is a professor of economics at UC Davis Medical School. He and research partner DaeHwan Kim crunched numbersfrom a multistate health study that lasted from 1999-2007. In some of the states, the minimum wage went up during that time.In one case, they looked at the effect of the wage increase on rates of high blood pressure. “We found a higher minimum wage was associated with fewer cases of hypertension, especially at lower income levels,” Leigh said. The researchers used the same data set to look at weight. “We found low-wage workers had higher rates of obesity, and when wages went up there was a reduction in prevalence of obesity,” Leigh said.
Pierre Theodore, a cardiothoracic surgeon at the University of California, San Francisco, calls wearable computers “a game changer.” “In surgery, Google Glass is incredibly illuminating,” said Theodore, who uses Glass to float X-rays and CT scans in his field of view at the operating table. “It helps you pinpoint what you’re looking for, so you don’t have to shift your attention away from the operation to look at a monitor somewhere else.”
As U.S. health regulators consider what rules to impose on electronic cigarettes, in their tally of costs and benefits they have placed a value on the lost pleasure consumers may suffer if they used the products less or not at all. The article quotes Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine and a tobacco control expert at the University of California, San Francisco, who favors tough regulation of e-cigarettes and cigars.
The Health Data Exploration project, developed at UC San Diego and UC Irvine, received a $1.9 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Funds from the grant will be used to build out the Health Data Exploration’s network of researchers, scientists, companies that want to experiment with and analyze personal health data.
How long does it take to remodel a helicopter landing zone atop a hospital? When UCSD Hillcrest Trauma Center hired Pacific Building Group for its helipad renovation, the officials expected a two-week closure of the landing zone. Actual down time? Eight hours.
Depression, lack of education, physical inactivity and high blood pressure all increase the likelihood of memory complaints in adults ages 18 to 99.However, senior author, Dr. Gary Small, director of the UCLA Longevity Center, said depression was the strongest single risk factor for memory complaints in all of the adults.