A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:
What you need to know about flame retardants, Scientific American
Janine LaSalle, a microbiologist at the UC Davis MIND Institute, has investigated how persistent organic pollutants, including polybrominated diphenyl ethers, may influence fetal neurodevelopment at the molecular level.
Studies show big advance in HIV prevention, The Associated Press
Exciting research suggests that a shot every one to three months may someday give an alternative to the daily pills that some people take now to cut their risk of getting HIV. The experimental drug has only been tested for prevention in monkeys, but it completely protected them from infection in two studies reported at an AIDS conference on Tuesday. This article quotes Dr. Robert Grant, an AIDS expert at the Gladstone Institutes, a foundation affiliated with the University of California, San Francisco, and Dr. Judith Currier, an infectious disease specialist at UCLA.
Doctors hope for cure in a 2nd baby born with HIV, The Associated Press
A second baby born with the AIDS virus may have had her infection put into remission and possibly cured by very early treatment — in this instance, four hours after birth.Doctors revealed the case Wednesday at an AIDS conference in Boston. The girl was born in suburban Los Angeles last April, a month after researchers announced the first case from Mississippi. That was a medical first that led doctors worldwide to rethink how fast and hard to treat infants born with HIV, and the California doctors followed that example. “We don’t know if the baby is in remission … but it looks like that,” said Dr. Yvonne Bryson, an infectious disease specialist at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA who consulted on the girl’s care.
See additional coverage: New York Times
Twitter could give clues to HIV-related risky behaviors, The Huffington Post
This story reports on research led by Dr. Sean Young, assistant professor of family medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and co-director for the Center for Digital Behavior at UCLA, suggesting that real-time social media like Twitter could be used to track HIV and drug related behavior to detect potential outbreaks as a tool for prevention efforts.
A genetic entrepreneur sets his sights on aging and death, The New York Times
J. Craig Venter is the latest wealthy entrepreneur to think he can cheat aging and death. And he hopes to do so by resorting to his first love: sequencing genomes. On Tuesday, Dr. Venter announced that he was starting a new company, Human Longevity, which will focus on figuring out how people can live longer and healthier lives. To do that, the company will build what Dr. Venter says will be the largest human DNA sequencing operation in the world, capable of processing 40,000 human genomes a year. Obtaining the genomes to sample could also take time. Human Longevity said it would collaborate with the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego and offer to sequence the DNA of the tumors of all patients, as well as the DNA from healthy cells.
See additional coverage: U-T San Diego
Researchers at UCSF’s Mission Bay campus are opening a new window into the human brain. It’s an interactive lab that could soon be used to understand and even treat a variety of conditions. On the day we visited the system was being road tested by a celebrity supporter of the research — Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart. “I’m in training with my own brain waves, getting in sync with them,” says Hart as he drums along to videogame projected in front of him. The lab is the brain child, so to speak, of Adam Gazzaley, who specializes in combining biofeedback with videogames, to both probe and train the brain.
See additional coverage: KQED
Dr. Ephraim Engleman is 102 and has no plans to retire — ever, San Francisco Chronicle
On Monday, March 24, Dr. Ephraim P. Engleman turns 103. He doesn’t come into the office on Mondays, but the next day he’ll be driving the Cadillac Eldorado up from his home in San Mateo to UCSF Medical Center in Parnassus Heights. A Q&A with the UCSF arthritis expert.
UCLA program helps slow the mind’s aging, one exercise at a time, Kaiser Health News/The Washington Post
The UCLA Longevity Center and its innovative UCLA Memory Care program is featured in this article that points to the benefits discovered from combining memory training, stress management, and emotional support for both Alzheimer’s patient and caregivers. Dr. Gary Small, Parlow-Solomon Professor on Aging at the Semel Institute and director of the UCLA Longevity Center; Dr. Karen Miller, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute who developed the program; and Dr. Ashley Curiel, a psychologist and instructor at the UCLA Longevity Center, are quoted.
A powerful new way to edit DNA, The New York Times
UC Berkeley molecular and cell biology professor Jennifer Doudna’s founding contributions to the development of a revolutionary genetic engineering technique are discussed in a story about the “scientific frenzy” the discovery sparked. “I knew it was like firing a starting gun in a race,” professor Doudna said.
Young using e-cigarettes smoke too, study finds, The New York Times
Middle and high school students who used electronic cigarettes were more likely to smoke real cigarettes and less likely to quit than students who did not use the devices, a new study has found. They were also more likely to smoke heavily. But experts are divided about what the findings mean. The study’s lead author, Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, who has been critical of the devices, said the results suggested that the use of e-cigarettes was leading to less quitting, not more.
E-cigarettes, by other names, lure young and worry experts, The New York Times
The emergence of e-hookahs and their ilk is frustrating public health officials who are already struggling to measure the spread of e-cigarettes, particularly among young people. The new products and new names have health authorities wondering if they are significantly underestimating use because they are asking the wrong questions when they survey people about e-cigarettes. The article mentions a conference for high school students that was focused on health issues and held at UC Berkeley. The article quotes Emily Anne McDonald, an anthropologist at UC San Francisco who is studying e-cigarette use among young people.
Dr. Edythe London, professor of psychiatry and molecular and medical pharmacology in the Semel Institute and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, is featured in this story about a study by her and her colleagues that showed young cigarette smokers have differences in a specific brain region compared with non-smokers, that the differences emerged even with a relatively light smoking habit, and finally, may be the reason adult smokers have such a difficult time quitting.
Health workers’ union pushes hospital cost control in California, Capital Public Radio/Kaiser Health News
A California health care workers’ union is collecting signatures to get two measures onto the ballot that it says would lower health care costs. United Health Care Workers West, or SEIU-UHW, wants to cap what hospitals can charge to 25 percent above the actual cost of services. SEIU-UHW says on average, hospitals charge 320 percent above the cost of care. The union also wants to cap CEO salaries at nonprofit hospitals to $450,000 a year. Health economist Dylan Roby at UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research is quoted.
Covered California begins ad blitz in final enrollment weeks, Los Angeles Times
With less than a month left for enrollment in Obamacare, California’s insurance exchange is applying a major dose of peer pressure. In a new TV ad blitz, recent enrollees extol the benefits of having coverage for checkups or a serious illness. A man plays soccer with his sons, a musician carries his guitar down the street. “I’m in,” young, fit-looking people say. “Are you in?” the announcer asks. This new marketing marks a more direct appeal to millions of uninsured Californians before open enrollment ends March 31. After March 31, people can’t enroll in most health plans again until late fall. Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, is quoted.
Same health plan, different costs in Los Angeles, San Bernardino counties, Los Angeles Daily News
While Californians may grumble about high health care premiums, consumers pay less through the Affordable Care Act in the Golden State compared with half the nation, according to a national analysis. Professor Shana Alex Lavarreda, director of health insurance studies and research scientist at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, is quoted.
Scripps celebrates $130M groundbreaking, U-T San Diego
Scripps Health moved another notch forward in its $2 billion renovation plan for Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla Wednesday with the ground breaking of a six-story $130 million medical office building on the Genesee Avenue medical campus. Scripps is not the only local health care player participating in the local health care building boom. La Jolla neighbor UC San Diego Health System opened its Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center in 2011 and broke ground in 2012 on Jacobs Medical Center, a 509,500-square-foot 10-story hospital building due to open in 2016. Kaiser Permanente San Diego made a move of its own in February, breaking ground on a new 565,000-square foot central hospital on Ruffin Road in Kearny Mesa at a cost of $900 million.
Big-name celebrities coming to S.F. event for kids, San Francisco Chronicle
A flock of big-name, big-heart celebrities – including Annette Bening, Danny DeVito, Josh Groban, Randy Newman, Jack Nicholson, Renee Zellweger and Bonnie Raitt – whooshes into Davies Symphony Hall on Monday for “A Starry Evening of Music, Comedy & Surprises.” The invitation list includes local tech stars, too. Jack Dorsey (Twitter and Square) and Sean Parker (Napster and Facebook) are on the event committee, along with more familiar names: Montana, Wilsey, Newsom, Traina and Baer. The evening is a benefit for the Painted Turtle, a camp for sick kids; the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, which cares for sick kids; and the Teddy Bear Rescue Fund, which helps the families of sick kids.
Fragile X in Colombia (audio), Capital Public Radio
Autism researcher Randi Hagerman from the UC Davis MIND Institute is interviewed on Insight about her work researching fragile X syndrome in Colombia.
New app helps with mental illness triage, Sacramento Business Journal
Sacramento-area youth in the early stages of severe mental illness can receive a smartphone app that helps them detect early warning signs of psychosis. The offer is part of a one-year, $588,000 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant to a UC Davis clinic to study whether this kind of mobile technology can improve patient care.
Meg Schwarzman, a research scientist at Berkeley’s Center for Occupational and Environmental Health and associate director of the UC Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry, joins a discussion of controversial plastics additives.
Embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie may be hurting politically, but he appears to be on track to shed much of his girth, says UC Irvine Health bariatric surgeon Dr. Ninh T. Nguyen. Nguyen, president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, says that Christie has likely shed between 90 to 100 pounds — or about 40 percent of his excess weight since undergoing bariatric surgery in February 2013.
Efforts to repeat controversial stem cell technique intensify, The Boston Globe
Paul Knoepfler, a stem cell scientist at UC Davis, has been chronicling the controversy about scientists who claim to have created stem cells with a simple acid bath and has been collecting early reports of scientists’ efforts to repeat the experiment on his blog.
Immediate medical help can save pet after poisoning, San Francisco Chronicle
Karl Jandrey, associate professor of clinical small animal emergency and critical care at UC Davis, discusses recent pet poisonings in San Francisco and offers advice to pet owners.
UC Santa Barbara began vaccinations for meningitis on Feb. 24. The vaccinations are welcome, but too late for UCSB lacrosse player Aaron Loy, whose feet were amputated after he contracted meningitis in November. The reason Loy and other UCSB students hadn’t already been vaccinated is because the federal Food and Drug Administration has delayed the vaccine’s approval, writes K. Lloyd Billingsley, a fellow at the Independent Institute.