CATEGORY: In the media

In the media: Week of Sept. 21

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UC Riverside Med School seeks out, fast-tracks local med students to keep doctors in the region, KPCC

There’s nothing unusual about a medical student, such as Crystal Deedas, doing supervised work on real- life patients. That’s all part of the clinical rotation experience required by medical schools. But what is unique is that Deedas is seeing patients in her first year of medical school. Typically, med students wait until their third year before getting such clinical experience. Deedas, of Riverside, is part of the second class to enroll at the new UC Riverside School of Medicine. The school opened last summer,  in large part, to address the growing doctor shortage in the Inland Empire. “We need physicians,” says Dr. Ravi Berry, a pediatrician at the Riverside Medical Clinic who mentors Deedas. “If we grow our own they stay in the area.” To combat that dearth of doctors, administrators at UCR’s School of Medicine have created a novel program aimed at attracting home-grown med students, training them and then keeping the newly-minted doctors in the region.

UC Davis study links autism to low iron intake in some mothers, California Healthline

A new study by UC Davis researchers found a fivefold increase in autism spectrum disorder in children born to mothers with low iron intake and some metabolic conditions.

See additional coverage: CBS News

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In the media: Week of Sept. 14

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Hospitals and insurer join forces in California, The New York Times

In a partnership that appears to be the first of its kind, Anthem Blue Cross, a large California health insurance company, is teaming up with seven fiercely competitive hospital groups to create a new health system in the Los Angeles area. The partnership includes such well-known medical centers as UCLA Health and Cedars-Sinai. Anthem and the hospital groups plan to announce on Wednesday the formation of a joint venture whose aim is to provide the level of coordinated, high-quality and efficient care that is now associated with only a handful of integrated health systems like Kaiser Permanente in California, Intermountain Healthcare in Utah and Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania. Read UC story.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register, Torrance Daily Breeze, California Healthline

UC to create $250 million venture capital fund, San Francisco Chronicle

Seeking to boost entrepreneurship, the University of California will create a $250 million venture capital fund to invest in inventions developed by students and faculty. The UC Board of Regents voted Wednesday to start the fund, which will support work at the system’s 10 campuses, five medical centers, three national laboratories and more than 20 incubators and accelerators. “We really need to find a way just to be an active participant in this engine of innovation that’s going on here in this part of the country,” said Jagdeep Singh Bachher, chief investment officer of the UC Office of the President, at the Regents’ meeting at UCSF’s Mission Bay campus. UC Ventures will receive seed funding from the UC endowment and will operate without tuition or state funds.

See additional coverage: Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Business Times, San Jose Mercury News

Students struggle to access mental health services on UC campuses, KQED

Students throughout the University of California system are having trouble accessing mental health care, and health services directors are raising alarms that increased staffing and funding could be warranted to meet demand. “The increased need for mental health services on our campuses is outstripping our ability to provide those services,” said Dr. John Stobo, senior vice president for health sciences and services for the University of California. “It is a major problem. It’s not only a problem for UC, this is a national issue.” In the last six years, the number of students seeking help at university counseling centers has increased 37 percent, according to data presented at UC Regents board meeting on Thursday. “This is real. Students are having difficulty accessing mental health services on campus,” said Dr. Gina Fleming, medical director for the UC Self-Insured Health Plans. The UC Regents asked the health services committee to bring a list of potential solutions to the next board meeting in November. (Link to audio.)

Ebola outbreak hits home with Bay Area health specialists, San Francisco Chronicle

Dr. Dan Kelly had been in Sierra Leone only a few days last month when four patients showed up at the Wellbody health clinic he co-founded there, complaining of fevers, diarrhea, weakness and terrible headaches – all symptoms of Ebola. Wellbody had closed its doors when Ebola cases spiked in Sierra Leone, one of five West African countries at the center of the world’s worst outbreak of the deadly disease. But Kelly, a UCSF infectious disease specialist, made an impulsive decision to travel there to help. He reopened his clinic, and trained his staff and others to identify and treat possible Ebola patients and protect themselves. Bay Area medical institutions have relationships on the continent that span years or even decades, especially in parts of Africa burdened by the AIDS epidemic. They’ve built clinics and research facilities and slowly strengthened community-based health care systems. In places like Sierra Leone and Liberia, those health care systems are still fragile, said Dr. Gavin Yamey, a UCSF global health expert.

UCSF researcher forms alliance to better fund Ebola education in Africa (video), ABC 7

A UC San Francisco researcher has just returned from Africa and he said a new alliance has been formed in the fight against the spread of Ebola, which means more money and resources to help save lives. In Sierra Leone, Dr. Dan Kelly is a teacher. He’s taught 1,000 healthcare workers how to protect themselves from the Ebola virus. “I think what was more scary was to see the nurses just wearing gloves only in the wards taking care of these patients who were positive with Ebola,” Kelly said. Kelly is getting some backup. His group, Wellbody Alliance, is joining with Partners in Health, the leader in the health and human rights movement funded by Harvard’s Paul Farmer. The partnership means more resources and better connections.

Rare respiratory virus confirmed in California, Orange County Register

A rare respiratory virus that has sent at least 153 people to the hospital in 18 states has moved into California, and health officials are warning parents to be on the lookout for symptoms. The California Department of Health reported Thursday that four cases of enterovirus-68 have been confirmed in the state – three in San Diego County and one in Ventura County – and health officials are expecting that number to climb. Symptoms that should raise concern include difficulty breathing, wheezing and a prolonged dry cough that causes the abdomen to heave, said Dr. Shruti Gohil, an infectious-disease specialist with UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange.

Infectious disease preparedness (audio), Capital Public Radio

Enterovirus D68 begins with symptoms of a common cold, but quickly increases in severity. Infants, children, and teenagers are at highest risk of becoming infected. Pediatrician and infectious disease expert Dean Blumberg of UC Davis discusses what steps we can take to prevent the spread of infection in young people.

Groundbreaking study on Alzheimer’s taking place at UC Irvine (video), KCAL 9/CBS Los Angeles

UC Irvine researcher and doctor Aimee Pierce is involved in a clinical study to attempt to one day, slow memory loss. … “This is the first step toward developing a prevention for Alzheimer’s disease, and that’s critically important,” Pierce said.

Top scientists suggest a few fixes for medical funding crisis (audio), NPR

Many U.S. scientists had hoped to ride out the steady decline in federal funding for biomedical research, but it’s continuing on a downward trend with no end in sight. So leaders of the science establishment are now trying to figure out how to fix this broken system. It’s a familiar problem. Biomedical science has a long history of funding ups and downs, and, in the past, the system has always righted itself with the passage of time and plumper budgets. “You know I lived through those [cycles]; I know what they were like,” says cancer biologist Dr. Harold Varmus, whose long research career includes a Nobel Prize while at UC San Francisco. However, he says, the funding challenges “were never, in my experience, anywhere as dramatic as they are now.” Varmus knows the problem well — now head of the National Cancer Institute, he directed the entire National Institutes of Health in 1998, when President Clinton started an ambitious push to double the NIH budget.

No time to see the doctor? Try a virtual visit, Kaiser Health News/Washington Post

Patients looking for convenient medical appointments can now see UCLA Health System doctors using their cell phones, computers or tablets. It’s part of an ongoing effort at UCLA and elsewhere to extend alternatives to the in-person doctor visit to busy consumers outside rural areas. The doctors are available through LiveHealth Online, an already-existing service designed for business travelers and parents who may not have the time to show up for an appointment.

SF scientist tells you how to ‘hack your brain’ on Science Channel, San Francisco Chronicle

Dr. Michael Merzenich is close to the last person you’d expect to find on a reality show. The neuroscientist has contributed to more than 225 publications, led one of the teams that developed the first commercial cochlear implants and spent nearly 40 years as a respected faculty member at UCSF. But his passion for the concept of brain plasticity — the idea that the brain can rewire itself long after formative years are done — includes a willingness to be a bit of a proselytizer. Merzenich will appear Friday night on “Hack My Brain,” a three-part documentary airing Friday on the Science Channel.

San Diego neuroscientists find unexpected pathway to depression (audio), KPBS

We might tend to think of depression arising from a lack of stimulation in the brain. But in at least one part of the brain — the lateral habenula — negative emotions might actually be caused by overstimulation. “This part of the brain seems to be hyperactive in animal models of depression,” said UC San Diego postdoctoral researcher Steven Shabel, first author on a study published Thursday in Science. He and his colleagues in Roberto Malinow’s lab have discovered an unusual connection leading to the lateral habenula, which is associated with feelings of disappointment.

Measuring bone strength at University of California, Santa Barbara (video), KEYT 3

Revolutionary work in measuring bone strength is happening in Santa Barbara. A new invention with roots at the University of California, Santa Barbara, could help change lives in the not-so-distant future. UCSB physics professor Dr. Paul Hansma uses two small bones he bought at a supermarket to make his point: The darker one was baked, the white one wasn’t. Hansma says baking degrades organics in the bone, similar to what happens naturally to our bones through aging, disease and lifestyle choices such as smoking or excessive drinking. Hansma and his colleagues at Santa Barbara-based Active Life Scientific, Inc. say current bone density tests measure the amount of bone and minerals but not the quality of a person’s bones or overall strength.

The five-second rule and other things your mom said: Mythbusting 25 health and medical tales, Orange County Register

Can your little one get unsightly warts if she touches a toad? Should you wait at least 30 minutes after eating before jumping in the pool? Dr. Shalini Shah, the director of pain management at UC Irvine Health’s Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Care, is often peppered with a fascinating – and odd – assortment of questions posed by curious kids and their parents. Shah, a mother of two, takes on the role of myth buster.

Report: 57 percent of kids given antibiotics they don’t need (video), Fox News

Tanya Altmann, assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, is interviewed about why many kids are still prescribed antibiotics they do not need despite warnings of overuse. 

Think Sacramento is all about state workers? Health care sector is surging, The Sacramento Bee

Sacramento has long been known as a state worker town. These days, it’s just as accurate to call it a health worker town. The health care sector in the four-county Sacramento region has grown steadily and significantly for more than a decade, according to the California Employment Development Department. While most other sectors shed jobs during the recession, hospitals, doctor’s offices and nursing homes held strong, adding 10,000 workers between 2008 and 2014. As a result, roughly 83,000 health care workers live in the region, up nearly 60 percent since 2000. The Sacramento region now has about as many health workers as it does state civil-service employees. UC Davis Health System is mentioned, and its CFO, Tim Maurice, is quoted.

California broadens autism coverage for kids through Medicaid, Kaiser Health News/Los Angeles Daily News

Starting Monday, thousands of children from low-income families who are on the autism spectrum will be eligible for behavioral therapy under Medi-Cal, the state’s health plan for the poor. The state will most likely cover any new expenses with money from the general fund, said Dylan Roby, a health care economist at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

Expert: Only a matter of time before enterovirus hits California (audio), Capital Public Radio

A UC Davis health expert says it’s probably a matter of time before cases of the enterovirus strain that’s been hospitalizing patients in the Midwest appears in California. Some children at a San Diego hospital are now being tested for the virus. The Centers for Disease Control says enterovirus 68 has rarely been reported in the country since it was first recognized in 1962. Enteroviruses can cause rashes or neurologic illness. This one causes breathing problems. UC Davis chief of pediatric infectious diseases Dr. Dean Blumberg says enteroviruses circulate around this time of year.

China’s polluted air may be affecting Fresno, The Fresno Bee

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District has contributed about $200,000 to help study whether polluted air from China may be affecting Fresno. The research is led by federal agencies, such as NOAA and NASA, as well as the University of California at Davis.  “We’re trying to quantify this source,” said atmospheric researcher Ian Faloona of UC Davis. “There is pollution coming from beyond the U.S., and it is affecting the western edge of North America.”  UC Berkeley professor Ronald C. Cohen, director of the Berkeley Atmospheric Science Center, also is quoted.

Op-ed: This is your child’s brain on alcohol, Zocalo Public Square

Each year, 40,000 American children are born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. The costs of caring for them are staggering, write Mary Jane Rotheram-Borus, a professor of psychology and the director of the UCLA Global Center for Children and Families, and Mark Tomlinson, a professor of psychology at Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments (0)

In the media: Week of Sept. 7

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UCSF researcher wins Lasker Award, known as the ‘American Nobel’, San Francisco Chronicle

A UCSF professor won this year’s coveted Lasker Award for basic medical research with a Japanese scientist for discovering a cellular quality-control system in the human body that protects against harmful misshapen proteins that can lead to disease. Peter Walter, UCSF professor of biochemistry and biophysics, was honored for his work into how the nuclei of cells make sure proteins, which are folded into three-dimensional shapes, are able to detect those that are misshapen or misfolded. Lasker announced five award winners, who also included former Bay Area researcher Mary-Claire King, who won the special achievement award for her work in discovering BRCA1, a gene that when mutated greatly increases the chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer. King, now at the University of Washington in Seattle, started her work at UC Berkeley and continued it at UCSF. Read UC coverage.

Lasker winner calls for more genetic testing for cancer, The New York Times

The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation awards — often called the “American Nobels” in medical science — were announced Monday morning, and one of the winners used the spotlight to call for dramatically widening the use of genetic screening for breast and ovarian cancer. The recipient, Mary-Claire King, 68, of the University of Washington in Seattle, is one of five scientists being honored; she won the special achievement award for “bold, imaginative” scientific and human rights accomplishments. Dr. King became interested in genetics while doing graduate work in statistics at the University of California, Berkeley, in the late 1960s, She took a genetics course and realized that mathematics held a key to solving a number of biological puzzles. Other Lasker recipients included Peter Walter, 59, of UC San Francisco, for discoveries concerning a cellular quality-control system that protects the body against potentially harmful proteins.

100 hospitals and health systems with great heart programs, Becker’s Hospital Review

Becker’s Hospital Review’s list of “100 hospitals and health systems with great heart programs” includes three from the University of California: UC Davis, UCLA and UC San Diego.

Treating infants for autism may eliminate symptoms, NBC News

Here’s how you might be able to turn autism around in a baby: Carefully watch her cues, and push just a little harder with that game of peek-a-boo or “This little piggy.” But don’t push too hard — kids with autism are super-sensitive.That’s what Sally Rogers of UC Davis has found in an intense experiment with the parents of infants who showed clear signs of autism. It’s one of the most hopeful signs yet that if you diagnose autism very early, you can help children rewire their brains and reverse the symptoms. It was a small study, and it’s very hard to find infants who are likely to have autism, which is usually diagnosed in the toddler years. But the findings, published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, offer some hope to parents worried about their babies.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Washington Post, California Healthline, CBS News (video), Fox News, Huffington Post, KCRA 3 (video), Newsweek, Sacramento Bee, Time

Editing DNA could be genetic medicine breakthrough, San Francisco Chronicle

A new way to make powerful changes at will to the DNA of humans, other animals and plants, much like how a writer changes words in a story, could usher in a transformation in genetic medicine. Scientists are not just excited about this recently discovered technique because it can snip and edit DNA with precision. It can also do the job more easily and cheaply than other gene-editing methods, making possible research that has historically been difficult, experts say. Now some of the biologists who unlocked this tool, derived from the immune system of bacteria, are forming companies around it. Although this molecular system, known as Crispr, is not fully understood, researchers believe it can be harnessed to create therapies for intractable genetic diseases. One of those scientists, UC Berkeley professor Jennifer Doudna, was part of the team that in 2012 first demonstrated the technique. It is now employed by two companies she has co-founded: Caribou Biosciences in Berkeley, and Editas Medicine in Cambridge, Mass.

UCSF harnesses Google Earth Engine for new malaria fight, San Francisco Chronicle

In the summer of 1854, a deadly strain of cholera struck London. Within two weeks, the outbreak claimed 500 lives. Residents fled. No one knew what caused cholera or how to stop it. The answers came when a local physician, Dr. John Snow, acted on a hunch that cholera somehow spread through water. Mapping the deaths and interviewing neighbors led Snow to suspect that the culprit was water from a single pump. It was the first time a map was used to determine how geography enables the spread of disease. Now, researchers at UCSF hope Snow’s logic and Google’s powerful mapping technology can be used to combat one of the world’s biggest health problems: malaria outbreaks in Africa. The team behind the project, along with dozens of other scientists and nonprofits, are turning to Google’s detailed maps to highlight worrisome patterns: shrinking rain forests, drying seas, melting glaciers.

ViaCyte starts diabetes trial, U-T San Diego

ViaCyte has started a clinical trial of its diabetes treatment derived from stem cells, the first such treatment ever tested in people. UC San Diego said Tuesday it is hosting the phase one trial in partnership with San Diego-based ViaCyte. The biotech company grows islet cells from human embryonic stem cells. The cells are placed into a semi-permeable envelope and implanted into the patient. In animals, the stem cells mature into islet cells, successfully controlling blood sugar. The treatment could provide what the company calls a virtual cure for Type 1 diabetes, which is caused by a lack of insulin-producing “islet” cells in the pancreas.

Can memories be implanted and then removed?, The New Yorker

Is memory formation now understood well enough that memories can be implanted and then removed absent the environmental stimulus?At the forefront of this project is the University of California, San Diego, neuroscientist Roberto Malinow. Ever since he was a medical student at N.Y.U., Malinow has been fascinated by the synapse, the small space between nerve cells that controls their communication. How, he wondered, could something so tiny control such complex, precise processes, with hundreds of molecules coming together to determine whether and how a memory will form? After finishing medical school, Malinow went on to complete a Ph.D. in neurobiology at the University of California, Berkeley, to better understand the nature of the neural process that had so captured his mind.

Berkeley’s talking about sugar — and the conversation isn’t sweet, KQED

In Berkeley, a place where politics is rarely sweet, sugar is an especially bitter topic. Right now it’s the talk of the town – in the form of six conversations leading up to the vote on Measure D, a tax on sugary drinks on the November ballot. “Soda: the Series” is taking a look at the impact of sugar-sweetened beverages on people’s health and the environment. The first conversation, which occurred on the evening of Sept. 4, featured four Bay Area health professionals who brought passion, anger and plenty of science to the Hillside Club in North Berkeley. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at UCSF, started off his presentation by saying he had no opinion on Measure D because university policy doesn’t allow it. “But you can’t understand the referendum unless you understand the science,” Lustig said. “And that’s my job.” UC Berkeley John Swartzberg and Pat Crawford also are quoted.

Vaccines — Calling the Shots (video), PBS NOVA

Diseases that were largely eradicated in the United States a generation ago—whooping cough, measles, mumps—are returning, in part because nervous parents are skipping their children’s shots. This program takes viewers around the world to track epidemics, explore the science behind vaccinations, hear from parents wrestling with vaccine-related questions, and shed light on the risks of opting out. Participants include UCLA autism geneticist Dan Geschwind.

Peurvian doctor saves the lives of children with heart problems (video), Univision Primer Impacto

This story is on a UCLA-led organization called “Hearts with Hope” that recently took a team of pediatric cardiology specialists to Arequipa, Peru, to offer medical services to young heart patients.  The organization’s founder, Juan Alejos, clinical professor of pediatric cardiology at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA; Brian Reemtsen, associate clinical professor of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery at UCLA; and Christian Eisenring, nurse practitioner with cardiothoracic surgery at UCLA, are interviewed.

Hollywood’s top doctors revealed: Exclusive survey, The Hollywood Reporter

This publication highlights Los Angeles’ best doctors, based on Castle Connolly ratings and peer reviews in the entertainment industry. More than 100 UCLA physicians made the list, and several were highlighted in feature stories.

Google buys Lift Labs in further biotech push, The New York Times

A person could be forgiven for thinking that Google is a biotech company. Google plans to announce on Wednesday that it has bought Lift Labs, a San Francisco company that makes a high-tech spoon designed to make it easier for people with neurodegenerative tremors to eat, the latest in a growing list of moves the search giant has made into biotech. Anupam Pathak, Lift Labs’ founder, is quoted. Pathak has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UC Berkeley.

See additional coverage: Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Slate, Business InsiderCNet, Re/code

150 hospital and health system CFOs to know, Becker’s Hospital Review

Becker’s Hospital Review’s list of “150 hospital and health system CFOs to know” includes three UC medical center CFOs:  Lori Donaldson, UC San Diego Health System; Tim Maurice, UC Davis Health System; and Paul Staton, UCLA Health System.

Grades don’t matter much if you’re using your MBA to advance neurosurgery, BloombergBusinessWeek

An increasing number of young professionals see the MBA as a path to an entrepreneurial career. It’s important, however, to look outside the confines of a business school to what its parent university can offer. As schools look to commercialize their research and patents, natural opportunities emerge for MBAs to collaborate with students in other disciplines. That was the thinking for Leo Petrossian, a Ph.D. in biomolecular nanotechnology from Arizona State, whose engineering and science background took him to a biotech startup in Silicon Valley before he pursued an MBA at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. He co-founded Neural Analytics, which licenses a technology developed by the department of neurosurgery at UCLA that makes it possible to diagnose conditions stemming from traumatic brain injury — without brain surgery.

UCSF’s first undocumented medical student begins training (audio), KQED

Jirayut “New” Latthivongskor, an undocumented immigrant who attended UC Berkeley as an undergraduate, has been admitted to medical school at UC San Francisco. UCSF says he is its first undocumented immigrant student. A Q&A with Latthivongskor.

Finding the next Ebola before it breaks out (audio), KQED

As African countries struggle to fight the worst outbreak of Ebola in history, a team at UC Davis is working to identify the next disease like Ebola, before it becomes a pandemic. Jonna Mazet runs the early warning project, called Predict, based at the School of Veterinary Medicine. Many of today’s emerging diseases come from animals. Scientists believe Ebola, for example, is transmitted when people eat fruit bats that carry the virus. So Mazet is searching around the globe for new viruses carried by animals that humans may not have had much contact with before.

Breast cancer inhibitor found, U-T San Diego

Breast cancer spread less effectively to the lungs when an enzyme regulating cell growth is blocked, according to a study performed in female mice given human breast cancer cells. The results support testing drugs that inhibit this pathway, said UC San Diego-led scientists who published the study Sept. 2 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

New ACA rules, forms complicate and confus Medi-Cal renewal effort (audio), California Healthline

Experts discuss the low return rate of Medi-Cal renewal forms, and the more-complicated requirements and sometimes-confusing language of the forms. Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program. The report includes comments from Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

Fish oil might ease tough-to-treat epilepsy: Study, HealthDay

Low doses of fish oil may help reduce the number of seizures experienced by people with a form of tough-to-treat epilepsy that no longer responds to drugs, a small new study suggests. The research was led by Dr. Christopher DeGiorgio of UCLA and included 24 people with epilepsy that could no longer be controlled using medications.

George Bartzokis dies at 58; studied Alzheimer’s origin at UCLA, Los Angeles Times

An obituary of Dr. George Bartzokis, professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute. The article highlights his research that focused on myelin, the fatty sheath that covers the brain’s nerve fibers, and his argument that the breakdown of myelin plays a major role in the development of disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. Bartzokis was 58.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Aug. 31

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UC president encourages Fresno students in health careers, The Fresno Bee

University of California President Janet Napolitano made a rare visit to the central San Joaquin Valley on Friday to meet with UCSF Fresno Doctors Academy students who aspire to be doctors, nurses, dentists and other health professionals. Napolitano encouraged the high school students to pursue health careers — and assured them that they can afford a higher education. Read UC story.

See additional coverage: ABC 30 (video)

UC student looks to fill medical gap in Central Valley, New America Media

When Benny Escobedo moved with his family from Long Beach to Merced, located in the heart of California’s Central Valley, six years ago, their financial fortunes took a turn for the better. Now a sophomore at the University of California at Merced, Escobedo is working to give something back to his adopted home. “People generally want to get out of the Central Valley to improve their financial situation. For us it was the opposite,” said the 19-year-old biology major. Escobedo plans to go into medicine, and says he’d like to remain in Merced to help fill what he sees as a widening gap between demand for health services and what’s now available.

Flurry of bills approved as session ends, California Healthline

California’s Legislature last week approved a laundry list of legislation at the end of its session — including a number of health-related laws. A last-minute bill extends the sunset date of the California Health Benefit Review Program. AB 1578 by Assembly member Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) would extend the life of CHBRP till Jan. 1, 2016. It also would expand the role of CHBRP, which uses university researchers to analyze proposed health care legislation in California.

FDA OKs Merck drug, 1st in new cancer drug class, The Associated Press

Merck & Co. on Thursday won the first U.S. approval for a new kind of cancer drug with big advantages over chemotherapy and other older cancer treatments. The Food and Drug Administration said it has granted accelerated approval to Merck’s Keytruda, for treating melanoma that’s spread or can’t be surgically removed, in patients previously treated with another melanoma drug called Yervoy. Experts called the news “game-changing” for patients with the deadly skin cancer, which is becoming more common and kills nearly 10,000 Americans each year. Keytruda, a genetically engineered drug known chemically as pembrolizumab, is part of a hot, promising new class of antibody-based drugs. They work by taking a brake off the immune system so it can better recognize and attack cancer cells. Dr. Antoni Ribas, a researcher and professor at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center who was the lead investigator of a crucial study of Keytruda, is quoted.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal

With no cure, little hope, a family struggles with Huntington’s disease, The Sacramento Bee

This feature on Huntington’s disease highlights a family that is being treated at UC Davis Medical Center. The story notes that the UC Davis Huntington’s clinic has received a $19 million grant for the first FDA-approved stem-cell therapy for Huntington’s patients, hoping to restore brain health early in the disease process. The phase one clinical trial, which begins in 2015, will implant customized stem cells into the brains of people who are in the earliest stages of Huntington’s, using a therapy that’s proved effective in trials on animals. Vicki Wheelock, the neurologist who directs the Huntington’s disease clinic at UC Davis Medical Center, is quoted.

UC Davis researchers develop nanoparticle cancer-fighting treatment (video), CBS Sacramento

UC Davis biochemist Yuanpei Li says the nanoparticles are multitasking geniuses in the fight against cancer. They are drawn to tumor and help doctors, helping them show up better on scans. They can also be heated with a laser and can kill tumors.

Setting you straight on vaccines, Orange County Register

Shruti Gohil, associate medical director of hospital epidemiology at UC Irvine Medical Center and an assistant clinical professor of infectious diseases, answers questions to help clear up confusion about vaccines.

UC Davis to study autism in girls (audio), Capital Public Radio

There’s a reason a lot of the autism research centers on boys, they’re diagnosed with the condition more often. UC Davis researcher Christine Wu Nordahl says for every one girl diagnosed, there are four to five boys. And she says the lack of research on girls can be frustrating for parents.

Shriners Hospital in Sacramento launches new program in pediatric surgery, Sacramento Business Journal

Shriners Hospital in Sacramento has launched a new program in pediatric surgery — its first major expansion since the hospital opened in 1997. The program builds on a partnership with the UC Davis Medical Center across the street, a relationship first established when Shriners began looking for a place to build a new hospital. Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California is a flagship in the 21-hospital system and the only one that offers all four Shriners specialties in one location.

Rideout Health chooses former UC Davis chief as interim CEO, Sacramento Business Journal

Former UC Davis Medical Center CEO Bob Chason is back at the helm again — only this time, it’s as interim CEO at Rideout Health. The board at the nonprofit community-based health system headquartered in Yuba City announced the appointment Wednesday. UC Davis trauma surgeon David Wisner was appointed chief medical officer at Rideout the same day.

Student-led health-tech incubator to launch at UC Berkeley, VentureBeat

Not to be outdone by StartX, the accelerator loosely affiliated with Stanford University that officially opened the doors to its biotech lab last week, a group of UC Berkeley students are launching a new program to help health-tech entrepreneurship flourish on their own campus. Catalyst@Berkeley, a student-led incubator program focusing on health tech, is kicking off Sept. 4 with its first informational session aimed at recruiting applicants for its first batch of health-enthusiastic entrepreneurs. In other words, the program wants to attract undergraduate students seeking to take the plunge into health tech.

Surveys show unbalanced supply, demand in California nurse labor market, California Healthline

Prospective nurses in California are facing a classic enigma: how to find a job requiring experience if you can’t get hired to gain the experience. As a result, an excess of nursing graduates in California cannot find jobs, even though employers are declaring a shortage of recruits. According to UC-San Francisco’s “Survey of Nurse Employers in California, Fall 2013,” approximately 41% of responding hospitals reported moderate to high demand for registered nurses relative to supply. In the 2012 survey of employers, 51% said the same thing.

We might have autism backwards, Salon

Gregory Hickok, a professor of cognitive science at UC Irvine, where he directs the Center for Language Science and the Auditory and Language Neuroscience Lab, writes about autism. His piece is excerpted from his book, “The Myth of Mirror Neurons: The Real Neuroscience of Communication and Cognition.”

UC Davis and the Flying Eye Hospital (audio), Capital Public Radio

On Sept. 5, a team of doctors from UC Davis including eye surgeons, anesthesiologists and a recovery room nurse will fly to Trujillo, Peru, to perform special eye care for Peruvian citizens. The team will travel via the Flying Eye Hospital, a DC10 cargo jet that transformed from within into a state-of-the-art operating room and classroom. They plan to test the vision of both adults and children in addition to perform sight restoration surgeries. UC Davis’s new dean of Health Systems will attend the trip as well in order to explore further medical partnership with a local university hospital in Trujillo.

Is cancer lurking in your toothpaste? (And your soap? And you lipstick?), Newsweek

This story about the impact of triclosan notes that a review by scientists at UC Davis concluded that when it comes to triclosan and triclocarban, a chemically related antibacterial agent, “the benefits may not be worth the risks.” The researchers wrote that triclosan and triclocarban could cause neural and cardiac ailments, though they also conceded that “the research is in its early stages.”

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Aug. 24

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Op-ed: Public universities need to be nurtured, protected as an investment for all, Washington Monthly

UC President Janet Napolitano writes about the value of public higher education in Washington Monthly, noting UC’s role in health sciences training and in serving California’s safety net needs. Her piece coincided with the magazine’s rankings of how well colleges and universities serve the public interest. UC had the top three ranked campuses in the nation, four of the top five and eight in the top 100. Read UC release.

100 Most Influential People in Healthcare, Modern Healthcare

UC San Francisco’s Robert Wachter has been named one of the “100 Most Influential People in Healthcare” by Modern Healthcare. Wachter is chief of the medical service and chief of the Division of Hospital Medicine at UCSF Medical Center. Former UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, now CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, also made the list, as did Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, who completed his residency at UCSF.

UCLA’s DNA detectives in action, U.S. News & World Report

Calvin Lapidus, 3, sits on an exam table at UCLA Medical Center and points correctly when asked to identify different animals on an iPad. His mom, Audrey Davidow Lapidus, lowers him to the floor and holds him as he moves his legs in “purposeful steps” as UCLA geneticist Stanley Nelson observes. Calvin can’t walk, but his movements are far beyond what they were at 10 months old, when he still wasn’t rolling over or sitting up and first came to UCLA. Medical tests had not turned up anything, though one doctor had wondered about possible genetic implications of some “interesting” facial features. Indeed, a cutting-edge analysis of Calvin’s DNA revealed a mutation resulting in ultrarare Pitt Hopkins syndrome. UCLA is one of a number of institutions now regularly charting patients’ exomes, the protein-coding portions of genes that account for only about 1 percent of DNA but close to 85 percent of known disease-causing DNA errors, and putting that information to clinical use.

UC Davis clinic serves the uninsured in Sacramento for free, The Sacramento Bee

Daniel Heidelburg normally heads to the emergency room when his breath gets short and his heart starts racing. But on one of his recent visits to the ER at UC Davis Medical Center, his doctor told him about a different option for follow-up care: the school’s free TEACH clinic. Earlier this month, Heidelburg, 51, a former Paratransit driver from Oak Park, paid his first visit to the UC Davis clinic. Heidelburg was examined by third-year medical student Kevin Dias and Dr. George Gallardo, a third-year resident. Dias and Gallardo are part of a core group of 25 medical students and nine residents who work at the TEACH clinic, which treats about 2,000 patients a year. Started in 2005 with a $3 million federal grant, the TEACH clinic has likely saved taxpayers millions of dollars in emergency room visits, said Mark Henderson, UC Davis Medical School dean of admissions. At the same time, Henderson said, the clinic has helped UC Davis attract a more ethnically diverse crop of medical students, many of whom intend to remain in primary care.

Teen crushed by bricks in Napa earthquake recounts pain, fear, San Francisco Chronicle

Nicholas Dillon felt the weight of the bricks fall on his back. Panic set in. His screams filled his pitch-black house in Napa as his mother struggled to reach him. The 13-year-old yelled. He couldn’t move. “I thought I was paralyzed. I couldn’t feel my legs. I couldn’t feel my back,” said Nicholas, who was crushed by a falling chimney in Sunday’s magnitude 6.0 earthquake, which injured more than 250 people in Napa and surrounding areas. Nicholas spoke to reporters Tuesday for the first time from his hospital bed at UC Davis Children’s Hospital in Sacramento. He said he was tired and in pain, but his eyes were alert and he’s listed in fair condition. He’s still taking inventory of his injuries, the worst of which was a badly fractured pelvis that required nearly 10 hours of surgery. A large scar stretches across his lower belly, he said. “I do consider myself lucky to be alive,” Nicholas said. “If I hadn’t moved, I’m telling you, I shouldn’t be here right now. I should be dead. … I didn’t black out. I remember the whole thing.”

Healing burns at Shriners Hospitals for Children Northern California, The Sacramento Bee

For someone who spends his days around severe burns, Dr. David Greenhalgh is exceptionally cool. Greenhalgh, chief of burns at Shriners Hospitals for Children Northern California, built the facility’s burn program almost singlehandedly at its start in 1997. Now, thanks to his cutting-edge medical research, it has grown into the busiest pediatric burn center on the West Coast and one of the nation’s leading facilities for this specialization. In a peach-and-mint building nestled next to the UC Davis medical campus on Stockton Boulevard, Greenhalgh treats dozens of burned and scalded children from 13 Western states, plus Mexico and Canada. He also runs the adult burn program at the UC Davis Medical Center across X Street.

Janet Napolitano hopes UC can cash in on companies, not just research, KQED

When Google went public, Stanford University made millions. The windfall came because Stanford had equity: not only Google’s intellectual property but also the company itself. This kind of direct investment in a startup was not allowed at the University of California — that is, until now. UC President Janet Napolitano made the change possible by removing guidelines for industry-academic relations. Her action is raising questions about ethics, funding and the future of basic research. This piece cites the example of a company called Caribou Biosciences, co-founded by UC Berkeley grad Rachel Haurwitz and UC Berkeley professor Jennifer Doudna, which grew out of their basic research on RNA at UC Berkeley.

Napolitano delivers clever message at Nexenta OpenSDx Summit, San Francisco Chronicle

Out of the hundreds of technology executives and venture capitalists that filled the St. Regis Hotel Thursday, Janet Napolitano must have felt like the lone wolf. Not because, as Napolitano humorously noted, she was perhaps the only speaker at the Nexenta OpenSDx Summit who did not bring a book to peddle. Nor because she was one of the few whose salary did not depend on a stock price. Instead, the president of the University of California system was bearing a message that might seem contrary to the startup factory ethos that dominates Silicon Valley; that not all innovation leads to profit. In fact, there’s plenty of research that might not lead to anything at all. Basic research, the study of something for pure scientific and intellectual inquiry, is just as critical to the long-term economic health of the United States as the latest tech craze.

StartX, QB3 partnership targets biotech startups in Palo Alto accelerator, San Francisco Business Times

Two powerhouses for biotech startups — StartX and QB3 — are joining forces to open lab space in Palo Alto for as many as 20 life sciences companies. StartX-QB3 Labs already has a handful of companies that pay $1,500 a month for a five-foot lab bench in the facility’s 2,000 square feet, or less for only a desk — and a startup ecosystem three blocks away from Stanford University, access to vital core lab facilities and two organizations with big-name connections and enviable track records for translating fresh ideas into standalone companies. The labs are part of a boom in accelerators and incubators in the Bay Area aimed at moving ideas into the marketplace or helping large companies more quickly identify up-and-coming drugs and technologies. QB3 has focused on turning ideas from researchers at UC Berkeley, UCSF and UC Santa Cruz into companies. Within its two on-campus incubators and three other affiliated incubators in Berkeley and San Francisco, it has helped spawn more than 100 companies.

See additional coverage: San Francisco Chronicle

Cedars-Sinai didn’t make the list in year 1. What will year 2 of narrow networks hold?, California Healthline

Not a single health plan available through Covered California’s Region 15 and Region 16 — the Los Angeles County — initially offered access to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center last year. (Health Net ended up contracting with Cedars for the ACA’s first enrollment period.) Earlier this year, Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic  detailed how insurers’ decision to leave out Cedars-Sinai (and generally avoid UCLA, ranked the top hospital in California by U.S. News) was driven by a focus to control costs and offer low-price plans in the insurance exchange. All told, about half of the plans sold on and state health insurance exchanges in 2014 had “narrow networks,” a McKinsey report found. The limited networks sparked a political and media outcry — especially among patients who had a specific preference for hospitals like Cedars and UCLA, which are known for their top-tier health services. In California, Anthem and Cedars struck a deal this spring that will allow the hospital to be offered through Anthem’s plans in Covered California’s next enrollment period.

World struggles to stop Ebola, Nature

Dan Kelly felt as if he were entering a war zone when he arrived at Connaught Hospital on Aug. 19. His friend Modupeh Cole, the physician in charge of the Ebola isolation ward at the hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone, had died six days earlier. Marta Lado, a doctor from Spain, was caring for the ward’s 10 patients. “She was mopping the floors herself,” says Kelly, an infectious-disease physician and co-founder of the Wellbody Alliance, a nonprofit health care organization in Sierra Leone. The international aid group Médecins Sans Frontières has called the world’s response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa “dangerously inadequate.” As Kelly traveled around Freetown, noticing closed clinics and health care workers without adequate protective training and equipment, he had to agree. Kelly is raising money through UC San Francisco to teach infection-control practices to health care workers fighting the outbreak.

Research program opens doors to careers, EdSource

A summer internship program at one of the nation’s premier biomedical research labs puts high school and college students on the front lines of cutting-edge medical research. It’s a unique internship opportunity with a twofold purpose: increase diversity in medical research and give students a real-life introduction to the work world, a goal under state and national efforts to better prepare students to succeed in college and jobs. “It used to be, several years back, that if you were an intern you did the dishes,” said Vasanthy Narayanaswami, co-director of the Summer Student Research Program at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI). “But I think at a certain point it became clear that is not what research is about. You have to be involved in a research project so students get an idea of what a career in research is like.” CHORI is the research arm of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.

New ‘biochips’ that mimic our bodies could speed development of drugs, Kaiser Health News/Wired

Imagine if scientists could recreate you — or at least part of you — on a chip. That might help doctors identify drugs that would help you heal faster, bypassing the sometimes painful trial-and-error process and the hefty costs that burden our healthcare system. Right now, inside a lab at the University of California, Berkeley, researchers are working to make that happen. They’re trying to grow human organ tissue, like heart and liver, on tiny chips. These aren’t your standard computer chips. They’re miniature networks, derived from adult skin cells coerced into becoming the type of tissue scientists want to study, that grow on miniscule pipe-like plastic chambers glued atop a microscope slide.

People with Down syndrome are pioneers in Alzheimer’s research (audio), NPR

When researchers at UC San Diego wanted to an experimental Alzheimer’s drug last year, they sought help from an unlikely group: people with Down syndrome.

How less sleep increases your risk of disease (audio), KQED Forum

More and more Americans are sleeping less and less. That’s according to data from the Centers for Disease Control that show a growing number of people sleep less than six hours a night. And research shows people who sleep less are at greater risk for heart disease, obesity and diabetes. We talk with experts about all things sleep. Guests include Matthew Walker, professor of psychology and neuroscience at UC Berkeley, where he runs the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory.

Percentage of newborns breastfed in hospital on the rise, California Health Report

More infants are exclusively consuming breast milk immediately after being born in California hospitals than before, according to a new report from the California Women, Infants, Children Association and the UC Davis Human Lactation Center. Nicole Casalenuovo, the interim unit director at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center’s perinatal unit, is quoted.

Does ‘futile’ care needlessly clog the ICU?, KPCC

If a patient in the intensive care unit is receiving futile care, can that hurt another patient’s chances of getting needed treatment? In the journal Critical Care Medicine, researchers from UCLA and RAND Health conclude: Yes.

Shared decision-making in high gear at UCLA, HealthData Management

Using a combination of technological tools, videos, and surveys, clinicians and patients at UCLA are undertaking shared decision-making in several treatment areas.

Junk food rats ditch balanced diet to eat just like obese people, Science 2.0

Aaron Blaisdell, a professor of psychology in the UCLA College and a member of UCLA’s Brain Research Institute who is an expert in animal cognition, conducts research that addressed the relationship between a junk food diet and cognitive impairments that can result. 

Oakland physicians take no-confidence vote in Children’s Hospital negotiator, Bay City News

Union-represented resident physicians at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland are taking a no-confidence vote on hospital management’s negotiator in the slow-moving contract talks between the two sides, which have been going on for 16 months.

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In the media: Week of Aug. 17

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UC program aims to increase number of health care professionals in Central Valley, California Healthline

A feature on UC’s San Joaquin Valley PRIME program. PRIME — Programs in Medical Education — is a training program at six UC campuses focused on preparing students for health care jobs as clinicians, administrators and policymakers in underserved parts of California. SJV PRIME is a collaborative effort. UC Merced and UC Davis fund the program, and special consideration is given to UC Merced students. UC Davis Medical School partners with UC San Francisco, which has been training medical students in Fresno since the 1970s. The hope is that UC Merced will eventually open its own medical school.

35 Innovators Under 35, MIT Technology Review

Two UC Berkeley alumni and one current postdoc have been named to MIT Technology Review’s “35 Innovators Under 35″ list. All three are recognized in the humanitarian category. George Ban-Weiss, who earned his Berkeley Ph.D. in mechanical engineering in 2008, is a USC professor developing reflective roof technology to help keep urban areas cool. Kuang Chen, who earned his Berkeley Ph.D. in computer science in 2011, founded Captricity, a company that digitizes paper records faster and more efficiently than the previous standard manual-entry methods. Kurtis Heimerl is an electrical engineering and computer science post-doc who developed the Village Base Station, which brings cellular telecommunications to remote places of the world. The list also includes UC Santa Barbara alum Kathryn Whitehead, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, whose systematic search discovered nanoparticles that could improve drug delivery.

The cancer drug that almost wasn’t, Science Magazine

This article highlights Dennis Slamon, UCLA professor of medicine in the division of hematology/oncology; and Richard Finn, UCLA associate professor of medicine in the division of hematology/oncology; and their 10-year journey to bring to market the revolutionary drug palbociclib, shown to double progression-free survival in women with advanced breast cancer. Slamon and Finn, both members of UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, are quoted. Frank McCormick, a veteran cancer researcher at UC San Francisco, who played an early role in the drug’s discovery, also is quoted.

‘Bubble boy’ disorder more common that thought, San Francisco Chronicle

A potentially fatal but treatable immune disorder known as “bubble boy” disease is rare but twice as common as previously believed, according to a UCSF-led study published Tuesday. Researchers, in what’s considered the first look at the national impact of the disease, found that severe combined immunodeficiency, called SCID, affects 1 in 58,000 newborns instead of 1 in 100,000 as previously estimated on much more limited data. The discovery that SCID is more prevalent than believed highlights the importance of screening newborns for conditions that can be treated.

California patient being tested for Ebola had been in West Africa, San Francisco Chronicle

This story about Ebola quotes Dr. Charles Chiu, head of the viral diagnostics laboratory at UCSF.

Op-ed: Protective gear a must for those fighting Ebola, San Francisco Chronicle

This piece about Ebola is written by Dr. Dan Kelly is an infectious disease specialist and global health researcher at UCSF, a student at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, as well as co-founder of Wellbody Alliance, the largest primary care clinic in eastern Sierra Leone. He is training health workers there to protect themselves from infection.

Why access to screens is lowering kids’ social skills, Time

People have long suspected that there’s a cost to all this digital data all the time, right at our fingertips. Now there’s a study out of UCLA that might prove those digital skeptics right. In the study, kids who were deprived of screens for five days got much better at reading people’s emotions than kids who continued their normal screen-filled lives.

UCSF study: Hand-wringing over hospital handwashing, San Francisco Business Times

Handwashing using antibacterial soap may expose doctors, nurses and other hospital staffers to “significant and potentially unsafe levels of triclosan,” a commonly used chemical that’s under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to a clinical study led by researchers at UC San Francisco.

Can we make people with severe schizophrenia happier?, New York Magazine

Schizophrenia, especially in its more severe forms, robs people of their personality in a fundamental way by inflicting delusions, hallucinations, and crushing paranoia, often putting severe strain on both sufferers and their loved ones. The results of a new study, though, suggest that it doesn’t always have to rob patients of their happiness, and that there may be ways to better help those with schizophrenia manage their mood, regardless of the severity of their symptoms. The study was led by Dr. Dilip V. Jeste, a professor of psychiatry and neurosciences at UCSD, and published online in Schizophrenia Research.

Goodbye glasses: Future smartphone screens could correct vision, Live Science

A team led by UC Berkeley researchers has developed a device that uses algorithms to compensate for computer users’ visual impairments. Lead author Fu-Chung Huang, who conducted this study for his dissertation, says: “The significance of this project is that, instead of relying on optics to correct your vision, we use computation. This is a very different class of correction, and it is nonintrusive.”

5 ways successful people avoid freaking out, Time/Inc.

Research conducted at UC Davis found that people who worked daily to cultivate an attitude of gratitude experienced improved mood, energy, and physical well-being.”

Low-income households hit hardest by water restrictions (audio), KPCC

Brian Cole, an adjunct assistant professor of environmental sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, is interviewed about a health impact assessment report he wrote that offered short- and long-term recommendations for urban water conservation to protect and promote public health.

Dr. Joseph K. Perloff dies at 89; head of UCLA cardiology, Los Angeles Times

This story is about the recent passing of UCLA cardiologist Dr. Joseph Perloff, who founded the Ahmanson/UCLA Adult Congenital Heart Disease Center in 1980, one of the first comprehensive centers in the nation to address education, research and clinical care for this patient population. Perloff was a pioneer in helping educate and train doctors in transitioning patients from pediatric to adult care. He served as the center’s first director and wrote several medical textbooks on adult congenital heart disease and the clinical recognition of heart disease. He retired from UCLA as the Streisand/American Heart Association professor of medicine and pediatrics.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Aug. 10

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Does medical school take too long? (audio), KQED Forum

Like the rest of the United States, California is currently experiencing a deficit in primary care physicians. This shortage is expected to worsen with the influx of new patients covered by the Affordable Care Act. In response, some universities like UC Davis are offering accelerated three-year medical school options instead of the traditional four. Guests are Dr. Tonya Fancher, associate professor at UC Davis School of Medicine, director of Accelerated Competency-based Education in Primary Care (ACE-PC), and Mark Henderson, associate dean for admissions and outreach and vice chair and residency program director at UC Davis Health System.

Residencies a shot in the arm for Inland doctor shortage, The Riverside Press-Enterprise

Local health officials say that if they can get young doctors to come to the Inland Empire as medical residents, there is a good chance they will stay here and set up practice. Adding more residencies has long been seen as a strategy to increase the chronically low numbers of physicians in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. But it’s only been in the past decade that there has been a solid push to add resident positions. The opening of a medical school at UC Riverside has energized the effort. In the past two years, at least 170 new residencies have been established in the two-county area, an increase of about 15 percent. More are expected in the coming years. G. Richard Olds, dean of the UCR medical school, is quoted.

UC Davis medical school dean opens specialty surgery clinic, Sacramento Business Journal

Six months after Dr. Julie Freischlag became dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine and vice chancellor for human health sciences, she has opened a clinic on campus to continue her own specialty surgery and research. The clinic treats thoracic outlet syndrome, which occurs when blood vessels or nerves running from the upper body through the arm become compressed, causing problems that range from reduced mobility and pain to life- and limb-threatening blood clots. Freischlag performs a rare surgical procedure that involves removing a muscle in the neck and the first rib through an incision in the armpit. She also hopes to launch clinical trials to help refine treatments for the condition.

New procedure helps restore vision in kids with serious condition (video), NBC Los Angeles

Dr. Robert Lingua and 7-year old Grace Nassar talk about the operations that restored her vision. Lingua, a pediatric ophthalmologist at the UC Irvine Health Gavin Herbert Eye Institute, is perfecting a surgery to treat nystagmus, a condition marked by uncontrollable eye movements.

UCSF doctor on personal mission to stop Ebola (video), ABC 7

Ebola has now claimed more than a 1,000 lives and another doctor leading the fight against the disease has died in Sierra Leone. Two Americans who are currently being treated for Ebola were given an experimental drug in the United States and are improving. Dr. Dan Kelly of UCSF recently returned from Sierra Leone and is talking about the friends he’s lost. “I’ve had too many friends die and it’s disheartening,” said Kelly. For Kelly, the fight to end the spread of the deadly virus is personal. He co-founded Well Body Alliance for the sole purpose of combating the disease.

Depression itself can be a symptom of Parkinson’s disease, experts say, Los Angeles Times

Patients with Parkinson’s disease often suffer from depression, medical experts said Thursday, after Robin Williams’ widow revealed that the comedian was in “early stages” of the neurological disease at the time of his apparent suicide.The same biochemical changes in the brain that cause the hallmark physical symptoms of Parkinson’s — tremors, slowed movement, rigidity, balance loss — can also affect mood, said Dr. Jeff Bronstein, a neurologist in the Movement Disorder Program at UCLA.

Low-income diabetics more likely to lose a limb, UCLA researchers say, Los Angeles Daily News

This story reports on a UCLA study finding that poor people with diabetes are up to 10 times likelier to lose a limb than patients living in wealthier neighborhoods.

Our microbiome may be looking out for itself, The New York Times

Your body is home to about 100 trillion bacteria and other microbes, collectively known as your microbiome. Naturalists first became aware of our invisible lodgers in the 1600s, but it wasn’t until the past few years that we’ve become really familiar with them. This recent research has given the microbiome a cuddly kind of fame. We’ve come to appreciate how beneficial our microbes are — breaking down our food, fighting off infections and nurturing our immune system. It’s a lovely, invisible garden we should be tending for our own well-being. But in the journal Bioessays, a team of scientists has raised a creepier possibility. Perhaps our menagerie of germs is also influencing our behavior in order to advance its own evolutionary success — giving us cravings for certain foods, for example. Maybe the microbiome is our puppet master. Carlo C. Maley, an evolutionary biologist at UC San Francisco, and a co-author of the new paper, is quoted.

Is this the next big leap for organ transplants?, The Boston Globe

For decades, an ordinary picnic cooler has been the best way to transport donated organs. One entrepreneur thinks we can do much better — and save more lives. This feature on Waleed Hassanein and his company TransMedics mentions a lung transplant using its Organ Care System that took place at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. UCLA surgeon Abbas Ardehali is quoted.

Valley fever research moves forward at UC Merced, Merced Sun-Star

Researchers at UC Merced are moving forward with two research projects that aim to better understand Valley fever in the San Joaquin Valley. The university’s Health Sciences Research Institute recently received approval and funding to conduct patient studies at Children’s Hospital Central California in Madera. Researchers will study the blood of 30 pediatric patients with Valley fever to understand the immune system’s response to the disease. Another UC Merced research project looks at the psycho-social issues faced by Valley fever patients and their families.

Study finds $10 to $10,000 price range for same blood test at different California hospitals (video), CBS San Francisco

A study of prices for common blood tests in California has discovered patients are subjected to an extreme range of price differences, some charged as little as $10 all the way up to more than $10,000 for the same test.Researchers at UC San Francisco looked at charges at more than 150 California hospitals and their prices for ten common blood tests that are often required of patients.

The obesity paradox, Easy Reader News

Kamyar Kalantar-Zadeh, the world’s foremost expert on end-stage kidney disease, has followed his research to the controversial proposition that obesity might be a patient’s best friend in the hour of greatest need. Recent findings by Kalantar-Zadeh and some of his colleagues have landed him square in the middle of an “obesity paradox,” which is the subject of sometimes heated debate among physicians, researchers and public health officials. The controversial paradox concept, cheerfully defended by Kalantar-Zadeh, goes like this: while obesity is a clear cause of many serious illnesses, once people becomes seriously ill, obesity might be just the thing to save them from death. And on top of that, the paradox defenders say, obesity might be helping healthy people live longer than their “normal-weight” counterparts. Kalantar-Zadeh is a physician-researcher who divides his time between seeing patients, teaching medicine and public health at UC Irvine, and conducting research through the  Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute.

Calling on cancer’s A-team, U.S. News & World Report

When Gary Hinze began coughing up blood after working out, his doctor sent him to an oncologist near his home in Grass Valley, California. The diagnosis: Stage IIIA lung cancer. “He pretty much told me I was a goner,” says Hinze, then 62. A recommendation from another local doctor sent Hinze and his wife, Sandie, to the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center in Sacramento, a couple hours away. “The team at UC-Davis didn’t give up,” says Hinze. An unusual combination of chemotherapy and radiation shrank the tumor to the point that “the doctors had trouble finding it on an x-ray,” and the diseased part of his lung could be removed. Today, the part-time musician and local TV variety show host has been cancer-free for three years. “Those doctors saved my life,” he says.

National effort to find new cancer-fighting drugs takes root at UC Davis, The Sacramento Bee

A national lung cancer trial launched earlier this summer with the help of a UC Davis oncologist has the potential to dramatically affect the way cancer drugs will be developed in the future. The trial, called Lung-MAP, puts a cancer-fighting approach into action that uses genomic profiling. This involves testing a patient’s tumors for “bio markers,” or genetic identifiers, that can help physicians determine which genetically targeted drugs will work for them.

Most insurance exchanges just got bigger. Covered California is getting smaller, California Healthline

Kynect. Maryland Health Connection. The Washington Health Benefit Exchange. Every one of those state insurance exchanges added new carriers in preparation for Obamacare’s second open enrollment period this fall. Covered California did not. Instead, the Golden State took a different approach: Its exchange is getting smaller. UCLA’s Dylan Roby is quoted.

Op-ed: Our internal sleep clocals are out of sync, The Wall Street Journal

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, a distinguished professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, write about “circadian disruption” and its impact on health.

Readmission rates high in lupus, MedPage Today

One in six patients with lupus discharged from the hospital was readmitted within a month, with underserved minority populations being most vulnerable, researchers found.In a study of admissions in five states during 2008 and 2009, there were 55,936 hospitalizations among 31,903 patients with lupus. Of these, 16.5% required readmission within 30 days, according to Jinoos Yazdani of UC San Francisco, and colleagues.

100 accountable care organizations to know, Becker’s Hospital Review

UCLA Health System is noted in this annual list of “100 Accountable Care Organizations to Know.”

Study shows amputation rates higher in low-income areas, Voice of OC

Diabetics from low-income neighborhoods in Orange County are up to five times more likely to have a limb amputated than those in wealthier areas, according to a new study by researchers from UCLA and USC that maps amputations throughout California according to ZIP code. David Schriger, professor of emergency medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, is quoted.

4 healthcare organizations tell us how they’re using social media, Healthcare Exchange

This story spotlights the live-tweet of the UCLA Department of Neurosurgery 500th deep brain stimulation procedure involving a musician who had tremors.  Linda Ho, director of digital marketing, and Ashely Dinielli, program promotional manager, UCLA Health System, are quoted in the article on how they used this unique patient story to capture the public’s interest through social media.

UC Davis ‘whistleblower’ wins $730,000 verdict, The Sacramento Bee

A Sacramento Superior Court jury has awarded a $730,000 verdict to a former UC Davis administrative nurse who claimed in a lawsuit that her career was ruined when she blew the whistle on an unethical pain management research project on prison inmates. The jury’s decision came down late Monday in favor of Janet Keyzer, who had worked as an administrative nurse researcher for the UC Davis Center for Healthcare Policy and Research for more than nine years at the time of her termination in November 2007. Keyzer, 59, is a 30-year nurse with a Ph.D. in human and community development, according to her lawsuit. She said she was subject to a series of retaliatory actions after she began work on the university’s Community Oriented Pain-Management Exchange Program in December 2006 and raised questions about whether a research project on physically and mentally disabled inmates at San Quentin Prison had obtained the consent from its “human subjects.”

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In the media: Week of Aug. 3

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

The drawn-out medical degree, The New York Times

A recent, unpublished survey of 120 medical schools, conducted by the New York University School of Medicine, found that 30 percent were considering or already planning to start three-year programs, according to Dr. Steven B. Abramson, the senior vice president and vice dean for education, faculty and academic affairs. N.Y.U. enrolled its first three-year medical students a year ago. A handful of other pioneers include the medical schools at Mercer University in Savannah, Ga.; Texas Tech in Lubbock; the University of California, Davis; and Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.

California experiments with fast-tracking medical school (audio), NPR

Some doctors in the state of California will soon be able to practice after three years of medical school instead of the traditional four. The American Medical Association is providing seed money for the effort in the form of a $1 million, five-year grant to the University of California at Davis.

See additional coverage: California Healthline

For medical students, it’s summer ‘vacation’, The Riverside Press-Enterprise

Even after a grueling year of study, Esther Chu Zarecki and most of her fellow students in the UCR School of Medicine’s inaugural class opted not to spend their summer breaks decompressing on a distant beach. Instead, they bolstered their medical studies through externships, research or individual pursuits. The five students The Press-Enterprise has been following as they study to become doctors – including Zarecki – were similarly engaged.

New cancer classification system shows promise as lifesaver, San Francisco Chronicle

Classifying cancer tumors by their molecular structure rather than the tissue or organ where they were found, such as the breast or bladder, may lead to more accurate diagnoses and potentially better treatments and outcomes for patients, a new study finds. In the largest undertaking to analyze and compare different cancer types based on genomic sequencing, researchers found at least 10 percent of tumors – and possibly as high as 30 to 50 percent – would be identified differently if oncologists determined their diagnoses by a tumor’s molecular makeup. Those quoted include Dr. Christopher Benz, a professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, a breast cancer specialist at UCSF and co-senior author of the study, and Josh Stuart, professor of biomolecular engineering at UC Santa Cruz and a senior author of the paper.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times, Newsweek

The kids who beat autism, The New York Times

This feature story about kids who beat autism mentions applied behavior analysis, which was developed at UCLA.

Two insurers to pool medical records in California, The Wall Street Journal

Two major California insurers are teaming up to create what will be one of the nation’s largest health-information exchanges, making the medical records of about nine million plan members available to participating doctors and hospitals. It is an ambitious effort, as dozens of similar information exchanges have closed or consolidated because of financial and administrative problems. Blue Shield of California and WellPoint Inc.’s Anthem Blue Cross said they would spend $80 million to fund the first three years of the California Integrated Data Exchange, or Cal Index. The new entity will be set up as an independent nonprofit organization, though each insurer is appointing a member of its board. David T. Feinberg, president of the UCLA Health System, will chair the new nonprofit’s board. He said UCLA would conduct due diligence but that he was certain that the system would participate and it was likely that other University of California health systems would join.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times, MedCity News, Modern Healthcare

Study: Emergency room closures can be deadly for area’s residents, Los Angeles Times

It stands to reason that when a hospital emergency room closes, people in the surrounding neighborhood suffer. But how much? A new study quantifies the impact in California, finding that patients affected by ER closures were 5% more likely to die after being admitted to a hospital than were patients who didn’t lose an ER in their neighborhood. The authors of the study, published Monday in the journal Health Affairs, couldn’t say exactly how the disappearance of emergency rooms translated into higher mortality for hospital patients. For the new study, a trio of researchers from Harvard Medical School, UC San Francisco and the Ecologic Institute in San Mateo examined data from the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development to see how many hospital emergency rooms were in operation and what happened to the patients they treated.

See additional coverage: Kaiser Health News

Study: Poor people with diabetes 10 times more likley to lose limb, Los Angeles Times

Diabetic people in low-income neighborhoods in California were up to 10 times more likely to lose a leg or a foot than diabetic patients in wealthier ZIP Codes, UCLA researchers have reported.

See additional coverage: New York Times, PBS NewsHour, California Healthline

UC Berkeley study: Sports, energy drinks as unhealthy as soda, KQED

Because of their very name, sports and energy drinks are often viewed by consumers as a healthier alternative to sugar-sweetened sodas. A study out Wednesday from UC Berkeley researchers disputes that view, finding that 21 popular beverages have high sugar content and other additives including caffeine and sodium, which may be harmful to children and teens.

See additional coverage: KTVU 2 (video), KPCC

UCSD surgeon uses unique 3-D tools during brain surgery (audio, video), KPBS

UC San Diego is a pioneer in using cutting edge 3-D imaging tools as a guide during brain surgery. In the second of a two-part series, KPBS Health Reporter Kenny Goldberg goes inside the operating room, where the surgeon treats a woman with a deep-seated brain tumor.

It’s not brain surgery — well it is for Accurexa and Dr. Daniel Lim, San Francisco Business Times

Dr. Daniel Lim was frustrated. A neurosurgeon and assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco, Lim regularly uses a surgical device to deliver potentially life-changing treatments into patients’ brains. But he thought the crude syringe invented in 1986 could be better. Lim sketched his new device and turned it over to a group of UC Berkeley engineering students, who created a prototype. Then he won a $1.8 million grant in 2010 from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the state’s stem cell research funding organization, to push it through preclinical testing. Now Lim and Accurexa Inc., the tiny San Francisco company that hopes to sell the device, are on the cusp of asking the Food and Drug Administration for marketing clearance.

Nurix, Imprint Energy top UC Berkleey and UCSF spinoff companies list, San Francisco Business Times

Bionic exoskeletons, health diagnostic kits on your smartphone and 3-D augmented-reality glasses are just a few of the cool products being commercialized from technologies created at UC Berkeley and UCSF.

Telemedicine gets help to children in rural communities (video), ABC 10

UC Davis Children’s Hospital telemedicine program gets help to young patients who can’t easily come to Sacramento. News10 and the Children’s Miracle Network are teaming up for the Give for Kids Telethon on Friday, Aug. 8.

Car seat program hopes to prevent further visits to Children’s Hospital (video), ABC 10

The UC Davis Children’s Hospital has established a car sear education program to prevent trauma and keep kids safe.

The science of being happy, Sacramento News & Review

UC Berkeley neuroscientist Emiliana Simon-Thomas works as science director at the Greater Good Science Center. Simon-Thomas is one of a pair of GGSC instructors offering an upcoming free massive open online course, or MOOC, on the edX platform called The Science of Happiness. The class, still open for enrollment, launches on Sept. 9, and has so far signed up a whopping 65,000 students. UC Davis professor Robert Emmons, a psychologist and national expert on the benefits of gratitude, gets hyped up quick about the “new generation of researchers” that have entered the gratitude field. “Some of the findings are really amazing,” he said. According to Emmons, clinical trials show that the practice of gratitude can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep. Additionally, it can reduce lifetime risk for depression, anxiety and substance-abuse disorders. “Gratitude is good medicine!” says Emmons.

Loma Linda University Health plans $1.2B Inland Empire expansion, California Healthline

Following a string of development projects in the Inland Empire, Loma Linda University Health is about to launch its most expensive and extensive project to date. The health system is planning a $1.2 billion expansion on its main medical campus in Loma Linda. The health system also is planning to expand its hospital complex in Murrieta. ”Health care is a very regional industry,” said Dylan Roby, assistant professor and researcher at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. “There is quite a lot of consolidation in Northern California. In L.A. and Southern California, you see a different situation.” In Southern California, hospitals that perceive financial opportunities related to expansion are taking action, he said. For example, UCLA is expanding its primary care capacity in the South Bay and San Fernando Valley.

Google Glass may help medical professionals treat patients, Chicago Tribune

This story about the medical use of Google Glass quotes Dr. Warren Wiechmann, associate dean of instructional technologies at the UC Irvine School of Medicine.

UC Davis nursing school in line for $2.1M to study diabetes care, Sacramento Business Journal

The UC Davis nursing school has initial approval for a $2.1 million grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute in Washington, D.C., to study ways to improve health for individuals with diabetes. The three-year project will study whether approaches such as mobile technology and nurse coaching help people with diabetes better manage the chronic disease.

Dr. Demaria of San Diego talks new heart attack reducing project (video), KUSI San Diego

A group of San Diego hospitals and research centers was awarded a $5.8 million grant Monday. The federal grant will help fund a program designed to reduce heart attacks. The 3-year project will involve about 4,000 high-risk patients; the goal is to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Participants will get blood pressure cuffs to monitor levels at home and work closely with a health care coach. The program is set to start later this year. Cardiologist Dr. Anthony Demaria of the UCSD Health System talks about the grant as well as what it means to San Diego.

Retired doctor, 104, a survivor, trailblazer, U-T San Diego

Looking back on 104 birthdays, retired Dr. Trude Hollander said she’s had a wonderful life: a long and happy marriage, a trailblazing career in medicine, good health and great friends. But things weren’t always easy for the gracious La Jolla resident, who survived the Holocaust in Germany, then dealt with intense sexism when she moved to the U.S. in the mid-1930s to launch her medical practice. For 45 years, Trude Hollander ran her practice, and her husband became world-renowned in the field of dermatology, serving on the teaching staffs at Harvard and Boston universities and at UC San Diego. Although losing her husband was the most difficult life challenge she faced, Hollander stayed active in local causes she has endowed, including UCSD ophthalmology department and the Shiley Eye Center. Don Kikkawa, who works at Shiley Eye Center in La Jolla, is quoted.

UCLA medical researcher studies using hallucinogenics, ecstasy to treat autism, Torrance Daily Breeze

A small supply of a drug known widely as Ecstasy or Molly, highly controlled since it was outlawed nearly 30 years ago, sits inside a safe bolted to the floor of a locked room that is only accessible through another locked room at County Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. Until recent years, even psychotherapists who suspected the empathy-inducing drug might ease symptoms of some of the most difficult-to-treat mental illnesses were denied access to Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA. Dr. Charles Grob, a psychiatrist at Harbor-UCLA and investigator at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, or LA BioMed, was the first to win approval from the federal Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration to begin clinical trials of MDMA. Since he began the testing about 10 years ago, he has found that the drug may be helpful to adults grappling with varying degrees of autism. And just recently, Grob began a new round of research on patients with the neurodevelopmental disorder.

UCSC engineering lab awarded $2.28M grant, Santa Cruz Sentinel

The National Human Genome Research Institute awarded a three-year $2.28 million grant to a UC Santa Cruz lab headed by professor Mark Akeson for its research on low-cost genome sequencing.

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In the media: Week of July 27

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UC Davis is trailblazer in three-year medical school model (audio), Capital Public Radio

A handful of UC Davis students are trailblazers in a new medical school model that has won the approval of Californian Governor Jerry Brown. Brown signed legislation that will allow doctors to practice with three years of medical school instead of four.

John Muir Health to partner with UCSF Medical Center to form new health care network, Contra Costa Times

UC San Francisco Medical Center and John Muir Health are teaming up to form a regional health care network, with the goal of providing “better health care, at lower costs,” the agencies announced Tuesday. In a joint news release, the two health care providers said they would remain independent but would equally own and operate a new company, which would serve as a funding vehicle for joint initiatives, including the health care network. The new network, or “accountable care organization (ACO),” would lower health care benefit premiums by providing “the right care at the right time and in the most appropriate setting, whether that is the primary care physician’s office, an outpatient center or a hospital,” according to the news release.

See additional coverage: San Francisco Business Times

Fatal beach lightning strike: Surfer still in critical condition, Los Angeles Times

A freak lightning strike killed one and injured more than a dozen people, including one patient that was brought to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and two that were treated at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica.

Water main break floods streets in Westwood near UCLA (video), ABC Los Angeles

A water-main pipe burst and flooded streets in Westwood and parts of the UCLA campus Tuesday afternoon. Parts of the UCLA campus, including Drake Track and Field Stadium, Pauley Pavilion, the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center, J.D. Morgan Center, Acosta Center, John Wooden Center, the North Athletic Field, intramural field and Bruin Plaza were flooded. UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said Pauley Pavilion, the Wooden Center and two parking structures sustained damage. Workers placed sandbags on the north side of Pauley Pavilion, which underwent a $133-million renovation in 2012. Parking structures 4 and 7 were closed due to flooding. No one was injured, Block said. Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center was not affected by the water-main break, as multiple water sources feed the hospital.

UC San Francisco researchers to analyze deadly Ebola virus; experimental vaccine in the works (video), CBS San Francisco

Bay Area researchers are gearing up to help analyze a deadly Ebola virus that has killed hundreds in Western Africa, while the government says an experimental vaccine is in the works. Dr. Charles Chiu, professor of laboratory medicine and infectious diseases at UC San Francisco, said Friday his lab is expecting a shipment of non-infectious samples of the current Ebola outbreak to analyze and find the genetic sequence of the strain. Chiu said the results of the UCSF analyses will lead to better ways to diagnose and treat the disease.

New lungs, new heart, new life, U-T San Diego

This story reports on a 22-year-old Escondido woman who is recovering from a rare heart-lung transplant at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Her physician, Dr. David Ross, medical director of the lung and heart-lung transplant program, is quoted. Her surgeon, Dr. Abbas Ardehali, director of the heart, lung and heart-lung transplant programs, is cited.

3 reasons you should eat more spicy food, Time

Hot peppers add a lot of flavor to our food, but they may be doing much more than just making our eyes water. New research from UC San Diego shows they might have tumor-fighting benefits, as well. Researchers at the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition have also shown that peppers might actually encourage your body to burn more calories.

3 simple lifestyle habits that may slow aging, Time

There’s more evidence for eating well, sleeping, and exercising. Stress makes our bodies age faster, but thankfully we can combat that with healthy eating and exercise, a new study says. When cells age, telomeres—tips at the end of chromosomes—shorten. Telomeres help regulate the aging of cells, and their length has been used to determine the body’s current state of health. Things like stress and lifestyle behaviors can influence their length, as compelling earlier research has shown. In the new study, UC San Francisco researchers looked at 239 post-menopausal women for a year and found that for every major life stressor they experienced during the year, there was a significant shortening in their telomere length. That’s not great news, but the researchers also discovered that the women who ate a healthy diet, exercised and slept well had less shortening of their telomeres. It could be that the women’s healthy habits actually protect them from cellular aging, even in the face of life’s stresses.

Fighting their way into medical school, Inside Higher Ed

It may take extra effort and planning, but hearing impaired medical students now have access to an array of technology including amplified stethoscopes, advanced text-to-speech technology, and amplified telephones. In 2011, a deaf medical student at UC Davis completed her surgery rotation by using a tablet to send the sounds of an operating room to an off-site transcriber. The transcriber then turned the audio into typed messages that appeared on an overhead monitor back in the operating room.

Study finds parental disconnect on kids’ obesity, San Francisco Chronicle

Despite the nation’s well-publicized childhood obesity problem, new research reveals that nearly one-third of parents are surprised when doctors tell them their child’s weight is putting his or her health at risk. Researchers at UC San Diego surveyed more than 200 parents whose primary care doctors referred their kids to an obesity clinic. Among the findings: Many parents were unconcerned about their children’s weight and perceived them to be in very good health before doctors pointed out the problem. Then, more parents were interested in improving kids’ diets than their levels of physical activity. The survey results don’t surprise Dr. June Tester, co-director of Healthy Hearts, the obesity clinic at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. The clinic sees about 300 new patients each year, and Tester said many parents are surprised to get the referrals.

UCLA pursues apps in fight against addictions, HealthData Management

Researchers at UCLA are developing web and mobile apps to aid patients struggling with addiction–and their therapists–to track progress and have quick access to help. The program is starting with gambling addiction, but will expand to support treatment of other addictions, as well as other behavioral problems such as depression, says Ardeshir Rahman, program manager of the behavioral technologies lab at the UCLA Gambling Studies Program. “We’re looking for people who want to get better,” Rahman adds. “As long as a user is proactive, we can see progress.”

Sorry, Lucy, The myth of the misused brain is 100 percent false (audio), NPR

UCLA Dr. Ariana Anderson, an assistant research statistician at the Semel Institute, is featured in this segment about the movie “Lucy,” and the fictitious claim that humans only use 10 percent of their brains.

Should you be afraid of the Ebola threat?, Vox

The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control have both said the risk that Ebola will spread beyond West Africa is extremely low. Still, fear-mongering headlines about the worst outbreak in Ebola history abound in the press. Art Reingold, the head of epidemiology at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, is interviewed about this issue.

Op-ed: Bay Area must invest in health services for older adults, San Francisco Chronicle

The problem isn’t what we do have here in the Bay Area, it’s what we lack: health care and philanthropic giants focused on the segment of our population that does routinely need medical care: older adults, writes Louise Aronson, an associate professor of geriatrics at UCSF and the author of “A History of the Present Illness.”

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In the media: Week of July 20

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

100 hospitals and health systems with great oncology programs, Becker’s Hospital Review

Four UC medical centers — Davis, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco — have been named to Becker’s Hospital Review’s 2014 edition of “100 Hospital and Health Systems with Great Oncology Programs” honor roll list.

Whooping cough epidemic spreads in California (audio), Capital Public Radio

Marin, Humboldt, Sonoma and Fresno counties have some of the highest rates of pertussis. Whooping cough surges every three to five years, but Dr. Dean Blumberg of the UC Davis Health System says this year is terrible.

Pregnancy doesn’t drive women doctors out of surgical training, Reuters

A new study disputes a common stereotype that women who become pregnant during surgical training often drop out of those training programs. Researchers led by Dr. Erin G. Brown of UC Davis found that neither women nor men who had children born during their school’s surgical residency program were more likely to quit than residents who did not have children during training.

Hillary Clinton puts kids in front of politics in Oakland, San Francisco Chronicle

Wednesday was a day off from politics for former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who spent the morning in Oakland with babies, small children and their parents, talking about talking. It was the local kickoff for the “Too Small to Fail” campaign, an early childhood education effort designed to let parents know that talking is teaching when it comes to the youngest children. The multimedia campaign is designed to remind people that “parents are a child’s first teachers and the family is the first school,” Clinton told a group at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute. If parents take the time to “talk, read and sing to their babies,” she said, they can boost their children’s chances in school and beyond at little or no cost. Local partners in the effort include the business-oriented Bay Area Council, Kaiser Permanente and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. Lynne and Marc Benioff of gave $3.5 million to the project to pay for research into what parts of the new program hold the most promise.

How your chilli addiction could be helping you live longer, Newsweek

While capsaicin might set our mouth on fire, it also leads blood vessels to relax, so it could help people with high blood pressure. Prolonged activation of TRPV1 on the membranes of pain and heat-sensing nerve cells also depletes substance  P, one of the body’s messenger chemicals. That is why the compound that puts the fire in jalapeños is used as an analgesic in ointments, nasal sprays and patches to relieve minor aches and pains, and the itching of psoriasis. Now a study by Andrew Dillin of the University of California, Berkeley, suggested this analgesic effect could have a yet more profound impact on humanity. This story also mentions UC Davis research.

Study finds 3 out of 4 children with mental health needs don’t get treated (audio), KPCC

A UCLA study released Thursday suggests only about a quarter of California children with mental health needs receive treatment.

Top schools may bolster poor teens health, The Associated Press

This story reports on research led by UCLA Dr. Mitchell Wong finding that students admitted to high-performing high schools were less likely to engage in very risky health behaviors and also achieved higher test scores than their counterparts who were not admitted to those schools.

California pharmacies resist push to translate drug labels, The Sacramento Bee

Kai Ming Tan, one of the many UC Davis students who staff the Paul Hom Asian Clinic in East Sacramento, often writes out directions for 63-year-old Chek Lun Wong in Chinese characters. When Wong goes to the pharmacy to pick up his prescription bottle, labeled in English, he will rely on this information to take the drug. “Patients need things written down,” said Tan. “If a medical student is presenting, (the patients) can’t keep it in their head. They need something written down so they have something if they go home and forget what I said.” Dr. Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, director of the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities, also is quoted.

UCLA gets domain-specific healthcare computing grant, HealthData Management

A group led by UCLA engineering researchers that designs high-performance, customizable computer technologies to improve healthcare has received a $3 million grant from a public-private partnership between the National Science Foundation and semiconductor manufacturer Intel Corp.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of July 13

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Best Hospitals 2014-15: Overview and Honor Roll, U.S. News & World Report

U.S. News & World Report released its America’s Best Hospitals survey. UC has two of the nation’s top 10 hospitals and all five of its medical centers rank among the nation’s best hospitals. Read UC story.

See additional coverage: California Healthline, CBS News (video), CNN, Fox San Diego, NBC Los Angeles, NBC San Francisco, San Francisco Business Times, U-T San Diego

We’re genetically linked to our friends, CNN

This brings a whole new meaning to the phrase, “You’ve got a friend in me.” A new study published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science suggests friends may be more than just people you lean on when you’re not strong; they might actually help you carry on — genetically speaking. “Looking across the whole genome, we find that on average, we are genetically similar to our friends,” said James Fowler, co-author of the study and professor of medical genetics and political science at UC San Diego. “We have more DNA in common with the people we pick as friends than we do with strangers in the same population.”

Governor signs bill to let doctors graduate faster, Sacramento Business Journal

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Friday that allows students at accredited medical school programs in California to complete their education and become doctors in three years instead of four. The goal of Assembly Bill 1838 by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla from Concord is to churn quality doctors out faster with less student debt. The bill comes at a time when demand for doctors is high due to federal health reform. AB 1838 was sponsored by the University of California — which operates six medical schools in the state — and the Medical Board of California. Read UC press release.

The List: Medical groups, Sacramento Business Journal

This week’s list of medical groups stretches out to include 27 local medical groups employing two or more physicians. Groups surveyed have operations in Sacramento, El Dorado, Placer or Yolo counties. Groups are ranked by the number of physicians at local facilities. Combined, they employ 4,934 physicians in the four-county area. Of those, 1,528 are primary care physicians. Topping the list again is The Permanente Medical Group inc., which has 1,541 physicians at facilities in the area. UC Davis Medical Group ranks second with 960 physicians. The group employs an additional 539 residents and fellows.

Researchers aim for an electrical memory prothesis, Science

Last fall, Geoffrey Ling, a top biotechnology research official at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), challenged neuroscientists to do something extraordinary: Develop an implantable device that can reverse memory loss in veterans with traumatic brain injuries. Dangling up to $40 million in funding, Ling said: “Here’s the golden ring—who’s brave enough to step up and actually grab it?” Last week, DARPA announced that two academic teams have made the lunge. Both teams, at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), aim to develop electrical prostheses that will tickle brain regions critical to memory. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and device manufacturer Medtronic will also participate, aiming to build neurostimulators at least 10 times smaller than previous devices.

Study emphasizes role of exercise in controlling weight, San Francisco Chronicle

A surprising and somewhat bemusing study out of Stanford was making the blog rounds last week, after it suggested that American weight gain over the past 30 years is linked more to exercise than to the number of calories people consumed. The story quotes Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, co-director of UCSF’s Center for Vulnerable Populations at San Francisco General Hospital, and Patricia Crawford, co-director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Weight and Health.

Nancy Scheper-Hughes responds to our profile, ‘The organ detective’, Pacific Standard

UC Berkeley anthropology professor Nancy Scheper-Hughes writes a response to a profile of her — “The organ detective: A career spent uncovering a hidden global market in human flesh” — that was published in the July/August issue of Pacific Standard. She refutes the claim that she has a “deep animus toward the medical establishment” and discusses omitted details regarding a scandal at a forensic institute in Israel.

Teaching surgery, helping the underserved with Google Glass (video), KTLA 5

This story features an educational project that uses Google Glass to help bring the latest hernia surgical techniques to doctors in resource-poor countries. With UCLA doctors’ help, local surgeons in Paraguay and Brazil in late May wore Google Glass while performing adult surgeries to repair a common type of hernia. Through Google Glass, the surgeries were viewed “live” via wireless streaming in the United States to a select group of leading surgeons who could watch and oversee the procedures. Dr. David Chen, assistant clinical professor of general surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, is interviewed and surgical resident Dr. Justin Wagner demonstrates how Google Glass works.

Costs of diabetes epidemic high in Los Angeles homes, hospitals, California Healthline

As steadily increasing rates of diabetes drive health care costs higher in Los Angeles County, providers and consumer advocates say prevention is the best way to reduce financial and personal effects of a disease many believe has reached “epidemic proportions.”Using 2011 hospital patient discharge data and annual financial data from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, a May policy brief from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research found almost one-third of all hospitalized patients ages 35 and older in the state had diabetes.

The night shift, Los Angeles Magazine

Dr. Christopher S. Colwell, UCLA professor of psychiatry and director of the Laboratory of Circadian and Sleep Medicine at the Semel Institute; and Dr. Jerome Siegel, UCLA professor of psychiatry and director of the Center for Sleep Research at the Semel Institute, are featured in this story discussing Los Angelenos’ sleep habits, and the health issues that can arise from insufficient sleep. A UC Berkeley study also is mentioned.

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In the media: Week of July 6

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Probing brain’s depth, trying to aid memory, The New York Times

The Department of Defense on Tuesday announced a $40 million investment in what has become the fastest-moving branch of neuroscience: direct brain recording. Two centers, one at the University of Pennsylvania and the other at UCLA, won contracts to develop brain implants for memory deficits. Their aim is to develop new treatments for traumatic brain injury, the signature wound of the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Its most devastating symptom is the blunting of memory and reasoning. Scientists have found in preliminary studies that they can sharpen some kinds of memory by directly recording, and stimulating, circuits deep in the brain. The article also mentions UC San Francisco research.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times

Livermore Lab to help build memory-restoring brain implant, San Francisco Chronicle

Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have been assigned to develop a tiny computer that would be implanted in the brain of humans to restore memory in the fragile network of nerve cells damaged by combat or disease, the laboratory reported Tuesday. A $2.5 million contract from DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, will finance the lab’s development of a neural implant with researchers at UCLA and Medronic, a high-tech medical device firm. Satinderpall Pannu, director of the Livermore Lab’s Center for Bioengineering, is quoted. A separate DARPA grant, announced in May, also called for Pannu’s group to work with UCSF researchers to develop a different implantable device that would retrain the brain’s neurons to cope with neurological problems like major depression and anxiety disorders.

See additional coverage: San Francisco Business Times, San Jose Mercury News, KQED

Medical school dean selected to lead UCSF, San Francisco Chronicle

UC President Janet Napolitano has selected Dr. Sam Hawgood, dean of the UCSF School of Medicine and interim chancellor, to be UCSF’s 10th chancellor, the president’s office announced Wednesday. Hawgood, 61, would replace outgoing Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, who left the university to become chief executive of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Hawgood has been serving in the interim role since April.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times, Contra Costa Times, San Francisco Business Times

New target: UCSF researchers eye common cold drug to beat back multiple sclerosis, San Francisco Business Times

A common cold treatment and seven other drugs already approved for other conditions could help restore a protective coating eroded around neurons in multiple sclerosis patients, according to researchers led by a team at the University of California, San Francisco. UCSF is spearheading a 50-patient clinical trial of the most promising drug — an over-the-counter antihistamine branded by Novartis as Tavist — that is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Patients still can enroll in the trial.

New vision app keeps baseball players’ eye on the ball (video), CBS This Morning

UC Riverside has developed a new app that helps baseball players train their brains for better vision.

The organ detective, Pacific Standard

UC Berkeley anthropology professor Nancy Scheper-Hughes is profiled for her long-term work tracking and fighting the illegal trade of human organs. She first heard about organ thieves while doing fieldwork in northeastern Brazil in 1987. Since then, she has documented the global black market for organs, and has come to understand that human organs and tissue tend to move from south to north, from poor to rich, and from brown-skinned to lighter-skinned people. Her work has raised questions about what the role of anthropologists should be in such situations, and she’s inclined to drop the traditional academic cloak in favor of joining the fights of the powerless.

With high school football concussion cases rising, limits on contact at practice likely, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

This story reports on a UCLA-hosted Practice Like Pros event to educate coaches, parents, trainers and others on football techniques that would be legal under AB 2127. Authored by Assemblyman Ken Cooley, the bill aims to prevent concussions in high school football players by reducing high-impact contact during field practice.

Program to help ‘forgotten’ teen cancer patients (video), CBS News

This story on hospitals tailoring cancer programs to better serve teen patients features the Daltrey-Townshend Teen & Young Adult Cancer Program based at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica. Dr. Noah Federman, director, UCLA Pediatric Sarcoma Program, comments in the story.

1 in 5 teens smoke hookah; half think it’s healthful, The Washington Post

A study from the UCLA School of Nursing finding that many young adults don’t think hookah smoking is harmful to their health is featured in this story.

Fungal disease ‘valley fever’ proves tricky to diagnose (audio, video), PBS NewsHour

George Thompson of the UC Davis School of Medicine discusses treatment for the fungal disease known as “valley fever.”

UC Davis biomedical academy helps move research to market, Sacramento Business Journal

In what is perhaps the most formal event to commercialize research coming out of UC Davis the Biomedical and Engineering Entrepreneurship Academy began Wednesday as a three-day boot camp of sorts for aspiring entrepreneurs. The event, which connects students, researchers and faculty with industry representatives and investors, for the first time assembled some of the university’s largest departments — the College of Engineering, School of Medicine and School of Veterinary Medicine.

We tell kids to ‘go to sleep!’ We need to teach them why, The New York Times

A blog calling on parents to explain to their children why sleep is so important to their health offers up an analogy of UC Berkeley psychology professor Matthew Walker, director of Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory. He has likened the function of sleep to emptying an email inbox so that it can receive new messages.

Can raising the state’s minimum wage improve public health? (audio), California Healthline

Experts discuss research efforts to gauge public health effects of public policy decisions — such as the recent effort to increase the minimum wage, which some researchers say could mean long-range health improvements for lower-income Californians. The report includes comments from Rajiv Bhatia, visiting scholar at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, and Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

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