CATEGORY: In the media

In the media: Week of Nov. 23

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Randy Schekman: first, a breakthrough in cell research. Now for one in publishing, The Guardian

There is a knock at the door early on in my interview with Nobel prize-winning cell biologist Randy Schekman at his office at UC Berkeley, overlooking San Francisco Bay. The 2014 Nobel prize in physiology or medicine was announced in the early hours, California time, and one of his colleagues is calling by for a gossip. Schekman shared the 2013 prize with James Rothman of Yale University and Thomas Südhof of Stanford University for his role in working out how cells, the smallest units of life, transport and secrete proteins. Those proteins are much-needed molecules such as hormones, digestive enzymes and neurotransmitters. Schekman’s share of the prize was for discovering a set of genes required for transporting the proteins through and out of the cell in the small packages – called vesicles – in which they hitch a ride. Schekman didn’t bask in the glory. Instead, he decided to speak out about what he sees as the distorting effect elite journals have on the scientific enterprise.

How to stop the next Ebola: Call in the veterinarians, National Journal

How do you find the next Ebola, the next rabies, the next West Nile before it comes to infect humans? You actively look for it in the wild. That’s what the University of California (Davis) is doing by deploying teams of veterinarians into zoonotic hot spots around the world—in Africa, Asia, Central America, and South America—to detect outbreaks in animal populations before they get out of control. Through their Predict initiative, funded through USAID, they also empower local governments by giving them the tools to detect and diagnose strains without having to ship samples abroad. ”We’re looking for viruses in viral families that have had a lot of zoonotic diseases, especially ones that have high pandemic potential—viruses like influenza, viruses like MERS, flaviviruses [e.g., encephalitis],” Christine Kreuder Johnson, a UC Davis veterinarian and epidemiologist, says.

See additional coverage: Sacramento Business Journal

Bay Area nurses, hospitals clash over Ebola training, Contra Costa Times

Fear has sparked a vigorous debate over how much preparation and training is enough for health care workers to deal with the Ebola virus, after two Texas nurses contracted the disease from an infected patient. Bay Area hospitals are pursuing various approaches, with some focusing on training select staff members while others train more broadly. Some are opting for hands-on instruction while others resort to online training modules. The lack of a clear plan prompted thousands of nurses around the Bay Area to take to the streets last week to demand that their hospitals step up their efforts. Hospital administrators responded by saying the action had more to do with labor negotiations than Ebola training, adding that they are doing all they can to protect those on the front lines of the virus. Dr. Adrienne Green, associate chief medical officer at UCSF Medical Center, and Maureen Dugan, a nurse of UCSF’s medical-surgical abdominal surgery unit, are quoted.

Elk Grove’s state rep lead Ebola hearing, Elk Grove Citizen

State medical officials said at a state Assembly committee hearing that they are prepared to respond if a case of Ebola is diagnosed in California. The hearing was chaired by Assembly Member Dr. Richard Pan, whose district includes Elk Grove. Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health, said Nov. 18 that the state and federal governments are tracking the travel of people leaving the African countries of Guinea, Liberia, Mali, and Sierra Leone where Ebola is prevalent. Chapman said all five University of California hospitals including the Davis facility have identified themselves as able to treat Ebola patients.

Drugging Our Kids: The Rx alliance that drugs our kids, San Jose Mercury News

An investigation by this newspaper has found that drugmakers, anxious to expand the market for some of their most profitable products, spent more than $14 million from 2010 to 2013 to woo the California doctors who treat this captive and fragile audience of patients at taxpayers’ expense. Drugmakers distribute their cash to all manner of doctors, but the investigation found that they paid the state’s foster care prescribers on average more than double what they gave to the typical California physician. UCLA and UCSF are mentioned. UCLA social welfare professor David Cohen, who has studied medication use in the foster care system and drug company influence; Jerome Hoffman, a emergency medicine specialist at UCLA and critic of the pharmaceutical industry’s influence; and Dr. Raman Sankar, the chief of pediatric neurology at UCLA; and UCLA student Olivia Hernandez, are quoted.

Google offers high-tech spoon that stays steady in shaky hands, Los Angeles Times

For a company best known for its search engine, Google is making big investments in the medical field: A contact lens to help diabetics monitor their glucose levels; magnetic nano particles to detect signs of cancer and impending heart attacks. And now, spoons. Its latest medical venture is the Liftware spoon, which could make life easier for the millions of people who live with Parkinson’s disease or with essential tremor, a nervous system disorder that causes rhythmic shaking. Developed by health technology company Lift Labs, which Google acquired in September for an undisclosed sum, the spoon comes embedded with an electronic device that uses hundreds of algorithms to sense how a hand is shaking. Lift Labs founder Anupam Pathak, who has B.S. and M.S. degrees from UC Berkeley, and UC San Francisco Medical Center neurologist Dr. Jill Ostrem, who specializes in movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor and helped advise the inventors as they developed Liftware, are quoted.

See additional coverage: Associated Press

TV review: ‘Sleepless’ documentary is a real eye-opener, San Francisco Chronicle

It’s too bad Adam Mansbach already used “Go the F— to Sleep” as a book title, because it is the resounding message of the new documentary “Sleepless in America,” airing Sunday on the National Geographic Channel. The two-hour film is a collaborative effort by the Public Good Projects, the National Institutes of Health and NatGeo to bring public attention to what can only be called a national epidemic of modern American life: lack of sleep. Dr. Matthew P. Walker of UC Berkeley, who has studied the effects of sleeplessness on brain function, and  Dr. Thomas Neylan of UC San Francisco, are mentioned.

KQED panel on health metrics says social behavior applications are the future, KQED

A cardiologist who helped develop an electrocardiogram-reading gadget told a crowd at the San Jose Tech Museum last week that wearables, while great, still fall short. Mainly, they still haven’t solved the critical health problem of inciting motivation. Dr. Jeffrey Olgin, chief of cardiology at UC San Francisco, said doctors have faced the same problem for a long time. “Many people already don’t take the medicine that can help them,” he said. In a KQED-sponsored forum, Olgin and a pair of wearable experts talked about the rise and implications of big data from wearables.

Kaiser-Target partnership another step in ‘retailization’ of health care, California Healthline

Marking a significant step in what might be called the “retailization” of health care delivery, Kaiser Permanente is partnering with Target to open medical clinics in the retail stores in Southern California. Three Kaiser clinics opened last week in Target stores in Fontana, San Diego and Vista. Another is scheduled to open next week in West Fullerton. Chain retailers — CVS, Walmart, Target and others — have operated clinics in their stores for years, but the Kaiser-Target partnership is a notable new chapter: Kaiser’s size and previously insular reputation suggest a new, perhaps far-reaching change in health care delivery, relying heavily on telehealth technology. The partnership is new and small, but Kaiser officials hope the model will grow in the eight states and District of Columbia where Kaiser does business. Dylan Roby, director of UCLA’s Health Economics and Evaluation Research Program, is quoted.

4 incredibly easy ways to practice everyday gratitude, The Huffington Post

With Thanksgiving here, now is the time when many of us pause to reflect on all that we have and give thanks. But research shows there are major benefits to practicing gratitude — which Robert Emmons, a professor in UC Davis’ psychology department and author of Gratitude Works, defines as an “awareness of how we are supported and sustained by others, and a desire to give back the good that we have received” — throughout the year. It boosts well-being, improves sleep and may even help improve immune system function.

New research into Alzheimer’s disease (audio), Capital Public Radio

Associate Director of the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Center Dr. John Olichney talks about the latest research into the disease.

Study shows need for payment reform, according to California physicians group, California Healthline

The costs per patient for hospital-owned physician groups are higher than in groups owned by physicians themselves, according to a new UC Berkeley study.

Constipated? Try pressing your perineum, The Washington Post

This story reports on research led by Dr. Ryan Abbott, visiting assistant professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine and health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, finding that perineal self-acupressure, a simple technique involving the application of external pressure to the perineum, is an effective treatment for constipation.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments (0)

In the media: Week of Nov. 16

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

After UC regents OK tuition plan, eyes turn to Gov. Jerry Brown, state funding, Los Angeles Times

The votes were cast and the protesters’ chanting died down. Now months of political wrangling and budget negotiations are ahead before UC students know for sure how much next year’s tuition will be. Under the plan for a tuition increase, approved by the UC regents on Thursday by a 14-7 vote, students could pay as much as 28% more over five years, depending on state funding. Gov. Jerry Brown and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, both regents, voted against the measure and their next steps on state funding for the 10-campus university will be key. The regents took other steps that officials said will boost revenue and save millions of dollars, but which may upset critics of high pay. Patrice Knight, an IBM executive, was hired as chief procurement officer for UC hospitals and health divisions. Regis Kelly, a bioscience institute administrator at UC San Francisco, will be working three-quarters-time as a special advisor to Napolitano on getting UC inventions into the marketplace faster while keeping his current job one-quarter-time. Read UC coverage.

UC raises tuition amid students’ cries of opposition, San Francisco Chronicle

The regents of the University of California approved a plan to raise tuition by up to 28 percent over five years on Thursday as furious students in the audience shouted “Shame on you!” and “We’re still going to fight it!” The students briefly shut down the meeting as the regents concluded the 14-to-7 vote to raise tuition and fees by up to 5 percent a year beginning next fall. The Board of Regents, meeting at UCSF’s Mission Bay campus, adopted price increases for undergraduates and for UC’s 59 graduate professional degree programs — including 20 percent higher fees for nursing at San Francisco, Davis, Irvine and Los Angeles campuses — with no comment.

Innovation, entrepreneurship evangelist Reg Kelly to spread gospel throughout UC system, San Francisco Business Times

Regis Kelly preaches about better ways to translate the University of California’s lab research into drugs and tools that can help Californians live healthier longer. Now his congregation is getting bigger. Kelly — the director of the three-campus California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, or QB3 — on Dec. 1 will join the UC Office of the President as senior advisor on innovation and entrepreneurship. His initial focus will be to help each of the UC system’s 10 campuses identify ways to more efficiently morph research into products, but he also will work closely in helping UC officials develop a venture fund of up to $250 million. Kelly, a biochemist by training and a former vice chancellor at UC San Francisco, over the past decade has built QB3 into a hub of biomedical entrepreneurship. Working with scientists at UCSF, UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz, QB3 has set up a network of incubators, including a new partnership with StartX near Stanford University, and created a portfolio of programs to help researchers move science into the commercial realm.

Tech isn’t biggest S.F. industry; health care is, San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco’s health care industry generated more than $28 billion in economic activity this year — outpacing even the city’s much-hyped tech sector, according to a report released Tuesday by a hospital trade association. The Hospital Council of Northern California attributes the growth — up $11 billion since 2012 — to bigger and newer hospitals and more biomedical firms. One of the reasons for the growth in economic activity is due to several hospitals and medical facilities being expanded or built, with about $5 billion invested in the projects in the next five years, the report said. Those properties include California Pacific Medical Center, UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay, San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, a Kaiser Permanente medical building in Mission Bay and the Chinese Hospital.

130 nonprofit hospital and health system CEOs to know, Becker’s Hospital Review

UCSF Medical Center CEO Mark Laret made Becker’s list of 130 nonprofit hospital and health system CEOs to know.

Corona: Hospital partners with UC Irvine, The Riverside Press-Enterprise

UC Irvine doctors will advise physicians at Corona Regional Medical Center under a new partnership that hospital officials said will enhance their medical care. “This affiliation is a logical extension,” said Terry A. Belmont, CEO of UCI Health, which operates the clinical, medical education and research areas of the university.

UCLA researchers announce gene therapy cure for 18 ‘Bubble Baby’ patients, ABC Good Morning America

Researchers at UCLA announced that they had cured 18 children who were born with the so-called Bubble Baby disease, a genetic disorder that leaves the young sufferers without a working immune system, putting them at risk of death from infections, even the common cold. A team led by Dr. Donald Kohn, a stem cell researcher at the university’s Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research in Los Angeles, developed the breakthrough that cured 18 children who had adenosine deaminase (ADA)-deficient severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID).

UC Davis institute gets $100 million to fight pandemics, Sacramento Bee

One of the largest grants ever given to UC Davis – $100 million – will fund international research to increase the detection of and response to viruses including Ebola, the university announced Nov 21. The grant comes from the U.S. Agency for International Development and its Emerging Pandemic Threat Program. The money will be distributed through the university’s One Health Institute, a global consortiumconducting a five-year effort in more than 20 countries, the bulk of them in Africa. The award will fund the second phase of the institute’s program, which includes researching how viruses such as Ebola and HIV transfer from animals to humans.

See additional coverage: KGO (audio)

Jesse Jackson joins UCI panel on Ebola and civil rights, Orange County Register

Don’t reject the infected, reject the infection. That was the message civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson delivered during a panel discussion titled “The Constitutional Implications of Ebola,” hosted by the UC Irvine School of Law on Nov. 19. Joining Jackson in the forum were Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Irvine School of Law, Andrew Noymer, associate professor at UCI’s Department of Public Health, Dr. George W. Woods from the International Academy of Law and Mental Health and Michele Goodwin, professor of law at UCI. At the heart of the discussion was how the ongoing Ebola crisis is affecting civil rights and personal liberties in the United States.

Charlize Theron discusses global campaign to end AIDS at UCLA, Los Angeles Daily News

More than 28 million new HIV infections can be prevented worldwide by 2030 with more funding toward better testing methods, education for teens and positive messages that end discrimination, according to the creators of a global campaign launched Nov. 18 at UCLA.

UC Merced takes grassroots approach to reducing obesity, California Healthline

An NIH grant designed to help researchers build partnerships with community organizations could lead to a better understanding of the obesity epidemic, particularly in low-income Latino communities in Merced County. “NIH is increasingly recognizing that to address many health issues, research needs to be more closely anchored in the communities affected by the health problem,” said Jan Wallander, a professor of psychological sciences at UC-Merced who co-wrote the grant proposal. The three-year, $90,000 grant awarded to UC-Merced and the Merced County California Regional Obesity Prevention Program from NIH’s Child Health and Human Development Institute allows academics from various disciplines to engage directly with community members affected by obesity.

Healthy aging a complex goal, U-T San Diego

Living well while growing older could mean finding creative ways to stay healthy, such as using interactive video games to exercise or sprinkling raw chocolate on everything you eat to boost antioxidants. Those topics were among several dozen discussed during a two-hour public forum Nov. 16 hosted by UC San Diego’s Think Tank on Healthy Aging, a two-year project featuring 14 renowned doctors and researchers. They hope to guide the country’s response to the Baby Boomer generation reaching retirement age. “Aging is not a disease to be cured, but a process to be enhanced,” said Dr. Dilip Jeste, a UC San Diego professor coordinating the group. The creation of the think tank marks the official opening of UC San Diego’s Center for Healthy Aging, an umbrella organization for all of the university’s age-related programs. It’s part of the Stein Institute for Research on Aging.

Triclosan may cause liver cancer, U-T San Diego

Triclosan an antimicrobial agent commonly found in antibacterial soaps, causes liver fibrosis and cancer in mice in a manner that may pertain to people, according to a study led by UC San Diego scientists.

If you’ve already cut out sugary drinks, this should be your next goal, Huffington Post

When Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo entered medical school in 1995, only one in ten teens had the beginning signs of diabetes. Now, 19 years later, one in four teens are at high risk of developing diabetes. As an internist at UC San Francisco and a researcher on diabetes prevention, Bibbins-Domingo is alarmed at how fast diabetes rates are rising in the general population, and how young people are when they first develop the disease. The culprit? Too much sugar. And Bibbins-Domingo is part of a new initiative at UCSF called SugarScience. The project, a collaborative effort with researchers at UC Davis and Emory University School of Medicine, is a public health campaign backed by more than 8,000 scientific papers on how sugar affects our bodies and contributes to conditions like diabetes (which can cause blindness and the need for amputations), stroke, heart attacks and tooth decay, to name a few. The new site says SugarScience aims to be “the authoritative source for the science about added sugar and its impact on our health.”

UCSF to study early menopause vs. preventive cancer surgery risks, San Francisco Chronicle

For Mimi Cavalheiro, who is genetically at risk for both breast and ovarian cancers, the question of a diagnosis is not an “if” but “when.” Now she’s faced with tough decisions. The 37-year-old San Francisco resident could have her breasts removed or opt for intensive screening. She could have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed, but at the risk of plunging into premature menopause. “The idea of going through menopause 10 years early is a little stressful,” Cavalheiro said. “I don’t know how it’s going to affect me, my love life, my energy level, my weight.” Medical experts don’t fully understand all the physical ramifications either. So a new UCSF study is trying to find out. Cavalheiro is one of about 100 Bay Area women between 35 and 50 years old with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations who are participating in a clinical trial that is examining changes in cardiovascular health, bone density, sexual function, quality of life and other effects on women who go into early menopause.

UCSF study suggests secondhand marijuana smoke as bad as tobacco smoke for heart health, CBS San Francisco

Secondhand marijuana smoke may be just as bad for your heart as breathing tobacco smoke, according to preliminary research from UC San Francisco.
A Berkeley biotech startup with a powerful new way to edit DNA said Tuesday it is licensing that technology to a company that intends to use it to develop therapies for genetic diseases.

Berkeley biotech licenses gene-editing tool to new company, San Francisco Chronicle

The newly created, Cambridge-based Intellia Therapeutics is off to a promising start with $15 million in financing led by pharmaceutical giant Novartis and investment firm Atlas Venture. The company was co-created by Atlas and Caribou Biosciences of Berkeley, which is led by some of the scientists who have shaped the gene-editing technology known as Crispr-Cas9. That tool can snip and edit DNA with more precision and ease compared to other gene-editing methods, allowing scientists to repair, knock out or replace specific genes in humans, other animals and plants. It works by harnessing the natural immune system of bacteria. Interest in Crispr-Cas9 soared two years ago when a team that included UC Berkeley scientist Jennifer Doudna figured out a way to use up the system to slice up any DNA sequence of their choosing. Doudna last week was among the winners of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, a $3 million prize funded by heavyweight tech CEOs, and also co-founded both Caribou and Editas Medicine.

Medical and tech researchers see smartphones as health’s next frontier, Los Angeles Times

This story reports on the potential and the challenges facing medical experts and others who want to harness the reach and power of mobile phones to revolutionize health care. Charles Lea and Thomas Davis, UCLA grad students, discuss a UCLA study about mobile apps and their potential ability to help improve health and combat disease. Ian Holloway, assistant professor at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and lead researcher on the Healthy Selfie project, is quoted. Dr. Bruce Dobkin, director of the UCLA Neurologic Rehabilitation Program and professor of neurology, also is interviewed about his use of custom, mobile-phone-linked motion sensors to monitor the gait of stroke and hip-replacement patients. Dr. Kevin Patrick, director of UC San Diego’s Center for Wireless and Population Health Systems, also is quoted.

Many seniors do not seek medical attention after a fall, UCLA study finds, MyNewsLA

More than half a million older Californians — 12.6 percent of the state’s senior population — fall more than once a year, but nearly 60 percent of them fail to seek medical attention afterward, according to a study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

State health exchange signs up 11,000 in first four days, Orange County Register

Health plan sign-ups in the first four days of Covered California’s second season outpaced the early days of last year’s maiden enrollment period by nearly four times, the state’s Obamacare health insurance exchange said. Dylan Roby, a professor at UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research, is quoted.

Covered California patients not only ones with network woes, KQED

UCSF is mentioned in this story about access to health insurance coverage and providers.

California hospitals make hundreds of errors every year, public is unaware (video), NBC Bay Area

State law requires hospitals to report medical errors to the California Department of Public Health. The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit discovered that meaningful details about adverse events are not readily available or easily searchable for California consumers. The Investigative Unit filed a public records request  to CDPH obtain this information and have now posted it online. According to the state data obtained by the Investigative Unit, over the past four fiscal years, two Bay Area hospitals, Stanford Medical Center and UCSF, lead the state in total number of adverse events. However, the majority of the adverse events at both of these facilities were bedsores. Dr. Josh Adler, chief medical officer at UCSF, said his staff is dedicated to tracking every error that occurs in order to better prevent them in the future and improve care for patients. “I believe we are a very safe hospital and part of the reason we are safe is that we have been in the error-finding and resolving business for a long time,” Adler said.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Nov. 9

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Op-ed: California needs to reinvest in public higher education, San Francisco Chronicle

From our perspectives in the world of private research universities, we have been watching with mounting alarm the general disinvestment by states in public higher education, write the presidents of Stanford and Caltech. This is painfully true in California, and we are especially concerned about the impact on the University of California and what it bodes for our state’s future. You might think that as the presidents of Stanford and the California Institute of Technology, we might view UC campuses primarily as rivals. This is not so (except, perhaps, on the athletic fields). Our campuses and the University of California are partners in making the state of California the economic and innovation powerhouse it is today. As research universities, the University of California, Stanford and Caltech all undertake basic research and translate the discoveries into products and companies, powering an engine of innovation and economic growth. Universities act as magnets for talent, making California schools the destination of choice for many of the most creative people in the world. The inventions, medical breakthroughs and products that emerge from their research benefit communities across California and beyond.

Scientists, and universe’s odd behavior, are recognized with $3 million prizes, The New York Times

Two teams of astronomers who discovered that the universe is apparently being blown apart by a,  mysterious something called dark energy had already shared a Nobel Prize and the $1 million Shaw Prize, among other honors. Now they have won the richest science prize of all. On Sunday night they were handed the $3 million Fundamental Physics Prize, an award established by the Russian Internet investor and philanthropist Yuri Milner in a quest to make science as glitzy as rock ’n’ roll. The award to the astronomers is part of the 2015 Breakthrough Prizes, 12 in all, totaling $36 million, announced Sunday night at a black-tie gala in Mountain View, Calif., hosted by Seth MacFarlane. Winners include Saul Perlmutter (physics) and Jennifer Doudna (life sciences) of UC Berkeley and Terence Tao (mathematics) of UCLA.

See additional coverage: Guardian, Re/Code, San Jose Mercury News, US A Today

These are 3 breakthrough science ideas you’ll be talking about in 2015, The Washington Post

For anyone who has ever said that all the STEM professions need is something to make them “cool” in order to attract more young people, look no further than the Breakthrough Prize award ceremony. Imagine being able to rewrite the human genome, removing and replacing damaged genes with healthy genes, just by unlocking a common  bacterial defense mechanism. That is the essential idea behind the award-winning genome editing tool created by two researchers — Jennifer Doudna, of UC Berkeley, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Berkeley Lab; and Emmanuelle Charpentier. The Nobel Prize-winning team led by Saul Perlmutter, of UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab; Brian P. Schmid; and Adam Riess, won the Breakthrough Award in the fundamental physics field for “the most unexpected discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, rather than slowing, as long had been assumed.”

UCSF develops site to make sense out of sugar science, San Francisco Chronicle

UCSF on Monday unveiled a repository of sugar science, designed to collect the evidence against sweetened foods and disseminate that information to the public — and persuade people to boot fructose and most other refined sugars out of their diets to protect their health — and not just their waistlines. The SugarScience Initiative, at SugarScience.org, is the result of 11 researchers, mostly from UCSF, spending a year poring over thousands of published scientific articles on sugar and its health effects. The group removed articles that didn’t hold up to certain scientific standards, including industry-funded papers.

See additional coverage: New York Times, ABC 7, California Healhtline, Harper’s Bazaar, KQED, NPR

UCI is waging an Ebola battle that might lead to cure, Orange County Register

Michelle Digman examines microscopic fluorescent green buds that protrude from the surface of a human cell like pins pushing their way through the inside of pincushion. Under Digman’s microscope in the Laboratory for Fluorescence Dynamics at UCI, this cell has been injected with VP40, the main protein that creates the Ebola virus that has killed nearly 5,000 people in West Africa since March. Under Digman’s watch, the protein replicates itself thousands of times using the cell’s own machinery. It clusters near the cell membrane, bending that ultra-thin layer and pushing it outward in buds packed with VP40. Eventually, these buds drift away to infect other cells. What Digman – once a post-doctoral fellow in the lab she now helps lead – studies mimics the actual process that Ebola takes as it spreads through the human body. And as UCI scientists examine the protein, they collect data that researchers and public health officials need to develop a cure.

U.S. is now Ebola-free, and the panic is gone as well, Los Angeles Times

A few short weeks ago, Ebola was public enemy No. 1. About 1,000 people were being monitored by health officials. Several schools in Texas and Ohio shut down because of a single patient who boarded a plane. A cruise ship was refused permission to dock in Cozumel, off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. President Obama appointed an Ebola “czar.” Polls showed a majority of Americans were concerned that Ebola would spread out of control in the U.S. On Nov. 11, a fully recovered Dr. Craig Spencer was released from Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan. The U.S. was now Ebola-free for the first time since Sept. 5 — a milestone that barely seemed to register with a once-frenzied public. ”It’s hard to say definitively why the public thinks anything, but this is a welcome return to normalcy,” said Andrew Noymer, a professor of public health at UC Irvine.

The Ebola hot zone (video), CBS 60 Minutes

Lara Logan travels to Liberia to report on Americans working on the frontline of the Ebola outbreak. At the end of a dirt road, on the grounds of an old leper colony, we arrived after a five-hour drive at the International Medical Corps’ Ebola treatment unit and were hosed down again. It’s a one-disease hospital with 50 beds and a staff of nearly 200, run by American doctor Pranav Shetty, who trained in emergency medicine at UCLA.

Nurses picket UCSD Medical Center over Ebola safety (video), City News Service/Fox San Diego

Nurses set up picket lines at UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest Wednesday morning to demand more safeguards against the Ebola virus. The local protest was planned as part of a worldwide “wave of action,” in which 100,000 registered nurses are expected to participate, according to National Nurses United. Late last month, the University of California’s five medical centers, including those in San Diego, Los Angeles and Irvine, were identified by the state Department of Public Health as priority hospitals for the treatment of Ebola cases, should any arise in the state. Dr. John Stobo, UC senior vice president for health sciences and services, is quoted in a statement.

See additional coverage: ABC San Diego (video), CBS Los Angeles (video), CBS San Diego (video), KUSI (video), San Diego 6 (video)

California nurses say they’ll strike, without talking wages, NPR

As many as 18,000 nurses in Northern California are preparing for a two-day strike that will start Tuesday. Nurses plan to leave their posts at 7 a.m. and picket outside 21 Kaiser Permanente medical centers and clinics. The placards nurses carry and the chants they repeat will say little about salaries or pensions. No economic proposals have even been put on the bargaining table yet. “This seems awfully quick to go to a strike,” says Joanne Spetz, an economics professor at the UC San Francisco School of Nursing. Nurses have demanded better protective gear and more training for caring with potential Ebola patients — calls that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention heeded by updating its federal guidelines last month. Kaiser nurses say they still want more, and have timed the second day of their strike to coincide with nurse demonstrations across the country in a “National Day of Action” over Ebola preparedness.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Daily News, Patch, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner

Survey: UC system ranked best medical research institute in 2013, California Healthline

The University of California system was the top medical research institute in the country in 2013, according to a survey by the journal Nature Biotechnology, the Rochester Business Journal reports.

Local hospitals get kudos for work on pressure ulcers, Sacramento Bee

Nurses at some Sacramento-area medical facilities are making it a priority to stop bedsores long before they get to that point. Late last month, the Collaborative Alliance for Nursing Outcomes, a national registry tracking nursing patients, recognized 60 hospitals nationwide that have made significant strides in reducing the incidence of pressure ulcers. In Sacramento, these included Kaiser Permanente Sacramento Medical Center, Mercy San Juan Medical Center and the UC Davis Health System. Holly Kirkland-Walsh, registered nurse and certified wound-care specialist for UC Davis Medical Center, is quoted.

Are Joint Commission ‘Top Performers’ enjoying grade inflation?, Modern Healthcare

As more than 1,200 U.S. hospitals celebrate their designation as a “Top Performer” from the nation’s leading hospital accreditation body, some critics say the recognition does not necessarily provide an accurate picture of quality among the nation’s health care providers. A Joint Commission report released Nov. 13 summarized how more than 3,300 hospitals fared on about four dozen performance accountability measures. But the majority are measures of processes rather than clinical outcomes (such as how many patients died or had to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of receiving care). That’s a problem, according to some consumer groups. This year’s 1,224 top performers represent nearly 37% of the hospitals accredited by the Joint Commission. That’s an 11% increase over 2013, and triple the number of qualifying hospitals that made the list four years ago. Dr. Robert Wachter, a leading quality and safety expert and associate chairman of the department of medicine at UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco, is quoted.

UCLA student’s blog chronicles journey before, after double mastectomy, Daily Bruin

Rachel Stone, a graduate student at the UCLA School of Nursing, successfully underwent a prophylactic mastectomy in August and will undergo the second phase of the surgery in December. In May, she created Funky Genes, a blog that documents her experiences before and after she received the mastectomy. Stone said she hopes her blog will encourage women to get tested for the mutation and support women who are going through the same procedure.

Bus bench ad executive’s estate gives $50 million to UCLA medical school, Los Angeles Times

This story reports that the estate of bus bench advertising executive Norman Switzer and his wife Irma gave $50 million to the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. UCLA Chancellor Gene Block is quoted.

Spray-on DNA bar codes could be new weapon against food-borne illnesses, San Francisco Chronicle

To prevent and contain outbreaks of food-borne illness, which sicken 1 in 6 Americans annually, a Bay Area startup is developing bar codes that go directly on fruits and vegetables. But you may overlook them: they’re DNA-size. Using technology invented at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, DNATrek is creating liquids that each contain a unique DNA sequence. The odorless, colorless and tasteless solution peppers the surface of produce, or blends into other oils and liquids, with a genetic bar code that can be identified by a special machine. The technology could solve the enormous challenge of tracing an outbreak’s source — the places where food items are grown, packed and shipped. When people start feeling the symptoms of salmonella or E. coli, many clues about the contaminated product’s origins, such as the shipment boxes, already have disappeared.

Miscommunication a leading cause of medical errors, study finds (audio), KQED

According to the Journal of Patient Safety, medical errors may be the third biggest cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease and cancer. A new study conducted by UCSF and eight other institutions finds that improving verbal and written communication between health providers reduced patient injury by medical error by 30 percent. This show discusses the new study and proposals to improve communication in the health care system. Guests include Dr. Daniel West, professor of pediatrics, vice-chair for education and residency program director at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco and a co-author of the IPASS study.

Using sweat to monitor your health, U-T San Diego

Wrap your mind around this: Human sweat might provide the energy needed to power tiny body sensors that hawkishly monitor your health. It’s one of many ideas that will get a deep look Nov. 12 and 13 in La Jolla, when hundreds of the nation’s top engineers and scientists explore how sensors can be used in an ever-more connected world, especially in health care and medicine. The Trillion Sensors Summit was organized, in part, by Al Pisano, dean of UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering. He gave U-T San Diego a preview of what to expect during the two-day forum, which will include executives from San Diego-based chip maker Qualcomm.

Startup seeks $100,000 to make ‘smart’ earplugs, U-T San Diego

Three current and former UC San Diego students — all of them named Daniel — will go on Kickstarter Nov. 12 to try to raise $100,000 to begin manufacturing Hush, a “smart” earplug that lets in some sounds while blocking others. Hush is primarily designed for people who want to shut out noise so they can sleep, but hear selected sounds, such as an alarm clock. The earplugs connect wirelessly to smartphones, which send alarms and alerts to Hush. Users also will be choose which noise-maskers they want to hear.

Promising epilepsy Rx from UC Davis, California Healthline

A new treatment announced this week may offer some hope for severe “super-refractory” epileptic patients who are unable to stop their seizures by other means, according to a report from researchers at UC Davis. The first clinical use of the experimental new medication showed promising results in the first few patients to receive it, according to Michael Rogawski, co-author of the report and a professor at UC Davis Department of Neurology.

Dealing with California’s looming doctor shortage (video), Fox 40

UC Davis School of Medicine Associate Dean for Admissions and Outreach Dr. Mark Henderson explains how the university is addressing a growing gap between new doctors beginning practice and the accelerating  rate of retirement.

IOM panel urges more EHR collection of social, behavioral data, Modern Healthcare

Physicians should collect more information about patients’ behavior and social environment in their electronic health records, according to an Institute of Medicine panel. Panel co-chair Nancy Adler, director of the Center for Health and Community at UC San Francisco, is mentioned.

UCSF report says program to diminish tobacco use in California is fading, California Healthline

Experts discuss the funding conundrum of the California tobacco control program — because it has helped lower the number of smokers in the state, it gets about half the cigarette-tax funding it used to get. A new report from UC-San Francisco researchers said efforts to raise additional money have failed, in part because of increased willingness among state legislators to accept tobacco industry campaign donations. Experts include Stanton Glantz, director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education and co-author of the report.

$1M lawsuit filed vs. world-renowned former UCD vet (video), KCRA 3

Jack Snyder was a doctor of veterinary medicine at UC Davis who retired earlier this year — but the University of California Board of Regents is now suing the former professor, saying he made more than $1 million in outside income.The university claims that money should have gone to UC Davis, and that Snyder went to great lengths to hide it. Snyder worked for the school’s Center for Equine Health. He is known around the world as a prominent equine surgeon. The regents, however, say he spent most of his time away from school, getting paid millions as a consultant for clinics all over the globe.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Nov. 2

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UC Davis Medical Center nurses suit up for treating Ebola patients, The Sacramento Bee

Nurses at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento will be protected head-to-toe and are prepared to handle the Ebola virus if it shows up at their doors, they said at a media briefing Nov. 6. Nicole Mahr, clinical resource nurse and infection preventionist, and Carol Robinson, the medical center’s chief patient care services officer, are quoted. Mahr is part of the 15-member Infection Prevention Group, which meets two times a day – once in the morning and once at night – to discuss how the donning and doffing protocol is going over in training. They address questions raised by nurses about how to make the garb more practical and make adjustments accordingly.

See additional coverage: KBFK

Scientists step up work to find and contain ‘the Ebolas of the future’, Dallas Morning News

Headlines about alarming new viruses have been hard to escape. In just the past few months, Dallas has confronted its first cases of Ebola, of the mosquito-borne virus chikungunya and of the respiratory disease enterovirus D68. Many other threats, such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and new strains of the flu, lurk a plane ride away. In response, scientists are stepping up efforts to prevent the next pandemic. Teams of researchers have fanned out across the globe, trapping bats in China, rats in Vietnam and monkeys in West Africa in an effort to identify dangerous viruses before they cross into humans. Others are working in labs, screening hundreds of thousands of compounds to disarm the pathogens. “Instead of chasing the last epidemic, which is how we practiced historically, we want to be proactive, to get ahead of the curve,” said Dr. Jonna Mazet, a veterinary epidemiologist at UC Davis and director of PREDICT, a government-funded network of scientists who hunt viruses in disease hotspots around the world.

Robots versus Ebola (video), CBS News

As Ebola continues to ravage parts of West Africa, scientists and engineers at four U.S. universities and research centers are meeting Friday to discuss ways technology can be used to battle the ongoing health crisis. With the encouragement of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, engineers in Massachusetts, Texas, Washington, D.C., and at UC Berkeley will conduct research on how telemedicine technology could help in the fight against Ebola. Ken Goldberg, professor of engineering at UC Berkeley, is mentioned.

UCSF doctor heads to Liberia, compares battle to ‘social justice’ (video), NBC Bay Area

A doctor at the University of California at San Francisco is leaving his safe post and family to spend a month in Liberia helping Ebola patients on a journey he feels is a matter of “social justice.” “It’s basically a fight for social justice,” Dr. Phouc Le said just before his plane took off from the San Francisco International Airport en route to Monrovia.

UC to consider raising tuition each year for five years, San Francisco Chronicle

University of California regents will consider raising student tuition for the first time in three years at this month’s meeting. But instead of the sky-high hikes that have led to angry student protests, the idea is for steady increases of up to 5 percent a year for five years starting next fall. Fees would also rise for out-of-state students and for certain professional degrees: nursing, teacher education, journalism and public policy, depending on which campus the program is offered. “Tuition should be as low as possible and as predictable as possible,” UC President Janet Napolitano and regents Chairman Bruce Varner wrote in an opinion piece for the Sacramento Bee. Read UC coverage.

UCI researchers lead study for drug to treat mild to moderate Alzheimer’s, Orange County Register

UC Irvine psychiatrist Dr. Steven G. Potkin tells the Orange County Register he is hopeful that clinical trials of an experimental drug prove effective in protecting against the loss of the brain tissue and neurons due to Alzheimer’s disease. The experimental compound, known as T817-MA, helps protect functioning neurons, says Potkin, lead investigator at UC Irvine for a national research trial called the Noble Study. He is seeking about 20 volunteers who are already being treated with the Alzheimer’s drugs donepezil or Aricept.

A cure for Lou Gehrig’s disease is sought in tiny cells, big data, Orange County Register

Before diving too deeply into this story on Lou Gehrig’s disease research, you should know about a technique that manipulates an adult’s blood or skin cell into behaving like an embryonic stem cell. Once reverted into that primitive state, this new cell can be directed to become any other type of cell in the human body. Funded by an $8 million federal grant awarded last month, UC Irvine researchers are leading a team of six institutions studying Lou Gehrig’s disease using stem cells generated through this reprogramming method. Along with UCI and Cedars-Sinai, participants include researchers from Johns Hopkins University, UC San Francisco, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease.

Lung cancer screenings help veterans breathe easier, Orange County Register

UC Irvine Health is offering eligible veterans free low-dose computed tomography lung cancer screening. This story follows veteran Sal Yniguez during his exam with Dr. Mohsen Davoudi, chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine at UC Irvine.

California hospital explores genetics-aided cancer treatment, Reuters

A major California university hospital is exploring ways to gather and use genetic information gathered from cancer patients, hoping to break new ground in a fledgling field of genomic medicine. UC San Francisco said in an interview it is working on a new project with Silicon Valley start-up Syapse. Using Syapse’s technology, it wants to build a store of genetic data about various metastatic cancer cases with patients’ consent, theoretically sharpening treatment or even coming up with new therapies. It plans to announce its initiative on Nov. 6.

UC pathfinder leads startups to success, San Francisco Business Times

University of California star innovator Reg Kelly has spent his career bringing science from lab bench to the patient bedside.

Health insurance recruiting project showing results at California colleges, California Healthline

Young, invincible, not particularly wealthy college students are prime candidates for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Many qualify for government subsidies or Medicaid, and most are healthy, representing a vitally important portion of the insurance pool. Without them, the clientele covered by state and federal exchanges would be older, less healthy and more expensive. A recruiting project at the California State University system has shown promising results and could be used as a model for other university systems, according to organizers. Walter Zelman, director of the CSU Health Insurance Education Project and chair of CSU-Los Angeles’ Department of Public Health, is quoted. Unlike the UC system that requires students to show health insurance coverage before starting classes at one of the 10 UC campuses, the CSU system does not require coverage. Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and professor of health policy and management, also is quoted.

New grant forms partnership between UC Merced and nonprofits to fight obesity, Merced Sun-Star

UC Merced and the Merced County Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program have formed a new partnership that aims to further efforts in reducing obesity, especially within the county’s Latino families. A $90,000 three-year grant, awarded to UC Merced from the Child Health and Human Development Institute of the National Institutes of Health, will allow researchers to go out and engage with community members who are affected by obesity. According to Jan Wallander, a professor of psychological sciences at UC Merced, an opportunity like this will give researchers a better understanding of the challenges faced by lower-income communities.

International baby trial hopes to find Achilles’ heel in HIV, Los Angeles Times

This story reports on a new global clinical trial announced by the National Institutes of Health in which newborns infected with the virus that causes AIDS will be given medication within two days of birth and stay on it for two years.  After that, they will stay off the medication as long as the virus remains undetectable and will be monitored through at least age 5.  Dr. Yvonne Bryson, a co-chair of the trial, professor and chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA and a member of the UCLA AIDS Institute, is interviewed.

New study finds asthma more harmful than previously thought, Examiner

A new UCLA study has found that asthma may be more harmful to one’s health than previously thought.

New genetic test diagnoses rare childhood diseases (video), Voice of America News

This story reports on the UCLA Clinical Genomics Center’s exome-sequencing test, which rapidly scans the entire protein-coding region of the genome to pinpoint a single mutation causing ultra-rare diseases that are hard to diagnose. The story profiled Calvin Lapidus, 3, the center’s first patient, who was diagnosed as an infant with a rare disease affecting only 500 known children in the world. Dr. Stan Nelson, professor of human genetics, pathology and psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, is interviewed.

Collateral damage: How a cancer diagnosis hurts employment and finances, Forbes

Two new studies examine work-related and financial setbacks experienced by cancer survivors. Both were presented at the recent Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium in Boston. While preliminary, the findings add to the growing perception that collateral damage – side effects of a cancer diagnosis, in terms of jobs and lifestyle – are significant. Details of these papers await further analysis. “Screening and support for these issues may be an important part of cancer care not only during active treatment, but across the entire survivorship trajectory,” said Robin Whitney, a registered nurse, lymphoma survivor and Ph.D. candidate at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis who presented one of the studies.

Children’s right to education: Where does the world stand?, The Huffington Post

Dr. Jody Heymann, dean of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, writes an opinion piece that discusses the most widely UN-ratified human rights treaty in history, and whether or not the Convention on the Rights of the Child is making the impact needed in the countries who signed on.

Op-ed: UC outsourcing is bad for workers and campuses’ bottom line, Sacramento Bee

Kathryn Lybarger, president of AFSCME Local 3299, which represents more than 22,000 workers at UC campuses, medical centers, research laboratories and other facilities, writes about staffing at UC medical centers.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Oct. 26

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

How to make the biggest impact with your breast cancer donations, Money

If you want to give in support of Breast Cancer Awareness month, don’t get “pinkwashed.” Instead, consider donating to one of these five worthy organizations. This list of organizations includes the California Breast Cancer Research Program. Run out of the University of California, this program is the largest state-funded breast cancer research effort in the nation. While it accepts donations, it also has a stable revenue stream from California’s tobacco tax.

A look inside San Diego’s Ebola isolation unit (video), KPBS

If anyone in San Diego were to be diagnosed with Ebola, they’d go to the UC San Diego Medical Center. Last week, the California public health department identified five hospitals in the state that were prepared to treat an Ebola patient, and this site in Hillcrest was the only one listed in San Diego. Dr. Jay Doucet, medical director for emergency preparedness, said volunteer nurses have received new in-person training on safely caring for one or two Ebola patients. “We’ve got a little over 50 people trained,” Doucet said. “We’d like to have all of our volunteers, close to 100, trained. But we could take (an Ebola patient) now if we had to.”

Practice paramount for UCSD Ebola unit (video), U-T San Diego

Wearing blue protective gowns over white biohazard suits and hoods with powered respirators, a doctor and nurse worked to take the blood sugar level of a dummy patient lying on a hospital bed at UC San Diego Medical Center Friday afternoon. The pair are among 50 selected to train for the hospital’s Ebola Response Taskforce, a new unit created to care for any patient who contracts the deadly disease in the region. UC San Diego is one of five university medical centers statewide designated for Ebola duty and just finished converting a former catheterization lab into a two-bed isolation unit separated from the rest of the hospital.

See additional coverage: ABC San Diego (video), CBS 8 (video), NBC San Diego

Ebola’s evolving threat studied in UCSF lab, San Jose Mercury News

Tiny vials of inactivated Ebola virus from Africa are coming into a San Francisco lab, carrying secrets that might reveal the killer’s past — and fateful future. So far, 30 samples have been genetically deciphered at UC San Francisco by Dr. Charles Chiu and his team, who are searching for any pattern of change that forebodes a worsening of an epidemic that has claimed at least 4,400 lives in its most recent outbreak in Africa. They have found no evidence of genetic changes — mutations — that could make the virus airborne or more deadly, said Chiu. Nor are there signs that it is weakening, which would make it less lethal but more burdensome. If Ebola killed more slowly, or just profoundly sickened people, victims would live longer and infect more people, and the disease would spread more widely. But it is critical to monitor its speedy evolution, he said.

Bay Area doctors join Ebola fight despite quarantine risks, San Francisco Chronicle

Doctors and other care providers from almost all major Bay Area health institutions are on the ground, or about to be, in West Africa to battle the Ebola epidemic at its source. But many potential volunteers may be held back by uncertainty over the long quarantine they may face upon their return, along with hurdles to traveling there in the first place, said doctors who are already in or on their way to West Africa. Those quoted include UCSF Dr. Phuoc Le leaves San Francisco next week for Liberia, where he’ll help shore up infection-control efforts and make sure patients get to new treatment centers in the Ebola-stricken West African nation. Also quoted are Dr. George Rutherford, director of the Institute for Global Health at UCSF who is heading the university’s Ebola task force; Dr. Dan Kelly, a UCSF infectious disease specialist who is in Sierra Leone now; and Sriram Shamasunder, an assistant clinical professor of medicine at UCSF who will follow Le to the clinic in Liberia later this year.

‘Scared’ but willing: Doctor heading to Africa to fight Ebola (video), NBC Nightly News

UCSF Dr. Phuoc Le is featured in this story about American doctors going abroad to treat Ebola patients. Some health care workers at UCSF are offering their vacation time to those going abroad to battle the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

State orders quarantine for workers who had contact with Ebola, Los Angeles Times

California’s top health officer has ordered a 21-day home quarantine for all returning medical workers or travelers who have had contact with a confirmed case of Ebola in West Africa, and invoked the possibility of imprisonment and fines if the restrictions are disobeyed. The order, issued Wednesday by California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ron Chapman, is the latest in a series of measures issued by state governments in response to widespread — and some say unwarranted — public fear. Epidemiologist Ralph Frerichs, a professor emeritus at the UCLA School of Public Health, is quoted.

See additional coverage: KPCC (audio)

UCI attempts to calm Ebola fears, even as two Orange County residents monitored for virus, Orange County Register

At UC Irvine, a panel of experts addressed a crowd of more than 700, discussing the science, politics, economics and, above all, the fear surrounding the Ebola virus. That was Monday night. The morning after, Orange County health officials said they are monitoring the health of two county residents who traveled recently to West Africa. The news marks the first time health workers in Orange County have looked for Ebola. Those quoted include Andrew Noymer, associate professor of UCI’s Public Health Program; Brandon Brown, assistant professor at UCI and director of the Global Health Initiative; UC Irvine hospital spokesman John Murray; and Joy Valdellon, a registered nurse at UCI Medical Center.

UCI Ebola meeting: Epidemic in U.S. is highly unlikely (video), CBS Los Angeles

Doctors from across California convened at UC Irvine on Monday night to discuss their plan to fight the spread of Ebola should the virus arrive in California. Doctors discussed their plan of attack at UCI’s medical center, one of five medical facilities prepared to treat patients, and spoke to an audience of concerned residents about the possibility of an outbreak in the United States. The expert panel also reassured audience members by claiming that the probability of an outbreak is slim to none. Those quoted include UCSF professor of epidemiology George Rutherfordand UCI professor of infectious diseases Michael Buchmeier.

See additional coverage: KTLA 5 (video)

Ebola concerns continue (video), Fox Los Angeles

One night after a public forum is held to talk about Ebola at UC Irvine another is held at UCLA. It comes at the same time Riverside County officials say they’re monitoring two county residents. They’re not sick. They haven’t displayed symptoms. They are believed to be “low risk,” but they just returned from West Africa. That’s what they monitoring. In Westwood, Ebola was the subject of a public forum where health officials and others talked about the virus and the concerns some have about it. Dr. Zachary Rubin with UCLA told the audience that “over the last couple of weeks there’s been a huge amount of fear and anxiety not only in the general public, but also among health care workers. He talked about the protocols in place at UCLA Medical Center and the precautions that would be taken if a patient were to talk in the door. And, he talked about how transmission is through bodily fluids.

UCR med school dean on Ebola (audio), KVCR

G. Richard Olds, head of UC Riverside School of Medicine, also happens to be a tropical disease specialist. Dean Olds talks about dealing with Ebola on a global scale and precautions we should take locally.

U.S. cases prove Ebola is ‘not a death sentence’, Los Angeles Times

When Amber Vinson walked out of Emory University Hospital in Atlanta on Tuesday, she became the sixth person in the country to be successfully treated for a disease that kills 70% of its victims in Africa, but has so far killed only one in the United States.Long thought to be a death sentence, Ebola has proved vulnerable to a mix of standard and invasive medical techniques, readily available in the U.S. but often beyond the reach of the impoverished nations at the heart of the outbreak. Breathing tubes, large-bore intravenous lines, blood dialysis, electrolyte monitoring and around-the-clock attention are largely responsible for the survival of patients under advanced Western care, experts say. ”It’s not a death sentence,” said Michael Buchmeier, a virologist at UC Irvine. “It’s a beatable disease.” The challenge for healthcare workers is to keep a patient alive long enough for the immune system to vanquish the virus and return to normal, according to Dr. George Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology and preventive medicine at UC San Francisco.

Union: California hospitals not ready for Ebola, Associated Press

Five California hospitals that say they are ready to treat the Ebola virus lack proper training and equipment, a nurses union said Tuesday. The contention was part of an effort by the California Nurses Association to call attention to what it said was inadequate preparation at University of California hospitals in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Davis and Irvine. On Friday, the hospital system told the California Department of Public Health the facilities were ready for patients. About half of the 80 workers at UC San Diego Medical Center who volunteered to treat Ebola patients have completed intensive training, hospital spokeswoman Jacqueline Carr said. Anyone who cares for an Ebola patient would have gear with no exposed skin, she added. The hospitals welcome suggestions from nurses, doctors and other staff members on how to be more prepared, said Dr. John Stobo, the University of California system’s senior vice president for health sciences and services.

See additional coverage: ABC Los Angeles (video), CBS Los Angeles (video), CBS San Francisco (audio, video), City News Service, CW 6 San Diego (video), Fox 5, KABC, KPBS, KPCC, KUSI (video), NBC Southern California (video), NBC San Diego (video)San Diego 6 (video)San Francisco Examiner

UCSF adding isolation room, staff for possible Ebola cases, San Francisco Examiner

UC San Francisco is preparing a second Ebola-specific isolation room and seeking additional volunteers to treat potential patients following the designation Friday of UC medical centers as the state’s priority hospitals to treat Ebola cases. The second isolation room designed for a patient with the deadly disease is being constructed at UCSF’s Mount Zion facility, where one isolation room was already set up that can handle the extra precautions needed with an Ebola patient, said Dr. Josh Adler, chief medical officer at UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. There have been no suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola in San Francisco, but hospitals in the city and throughout the U.S. have been preparing for that scenario. In addition to San Francisco, the California Department of Public Health on Friday identified UC medical centers in Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles and San Diego as those positioned to accept patients with Ebola.

UC Davis designated for Ebola treatment (video), Fox 40

“The document is 20 some pages long and growing,” said Chief Nursing Officer Carol Robinson as she describes UC Davis Medical Center’s plan to keep its staff safe. Her facility is one of five designated by the state as treatment centers for any confirmed Ebola patients in California.

California hospitals prepare for possible Ebola cases (audio), Capital Public Radio

California state officials say University of California medical centers are positioned to treat Ebola patients should cases appear here.  But they say all hospitals are expected to be able to screen, identify and isolate potential Ebola patients.

Should returning workers be quarantined? (video), CNN

UCSF Dr. Phuoc Le, who is getting ready to treat Ebola patients in West Africa, discusses whether returning Ebola workers should be quarantined. Read more.

Fearing Ebola? Doctors say get a flu shot, Associated Press

Fever? Headache? Muscle aches? Forget about Ebola – chances are astronomically higher that you have the flu or some other common bug. Dr. Kristi Koenig, director of public health preparedness at UC Irvine, is quoted.

Ebola, an (un)ethical crisis, PRIM&R’s Amp&rsand

Brandon Brown, assistant professor and director of the Global Health Research, Education and Translation (GHREAT) Initiative at UC Irvine, will be chairing a panel on ethics and Ebola at the Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research’s Advancing Ethical Research Conference, Dec. 5-7, in Baltimore.

Op-ed: Rigid quarantines may harm, not help, the fight against Ebola, San Francisco Chronicle

The biggest challenge of the Ebola epidemic is staffing, not stuff or systems. As the epidemic grows, we will need more health care workers, and Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea cannot meet the Ebola-related needs — much less that region’s broader health systems’ staffing needs — without international support, writes Dr. Dan Kelly, an infectious disease specialist affiliated with UCSF who maintains the Wellbody Alliance clinic in Sierra Leone.

Op-ed: Ebola isn’t a crisis in U.S.; hysteria is, San Francisco Chronicle

Robert Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley and senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, writes about Ebola.

New UC Riverside med school reaches out to minorities, San Bernardino Sun

Three African American surgeons will share their success stories in a program designed to increase minority representation at the UC Riverside School of Medicine. The event, “Imagine a Career in Medicine — Opening Doors: Contemporary African American Surgeons,” is a collaboration between the UCR School of Medicine and the San Bernardino-based Black Voice Foundation. For physicians to “change behaviors it is a huge advantage for them to look like the patient they are treating” and come from a similar community environment, said Dr. G. Richard Olds, founding dean of the medical school, which is in its second year. The UCR medical school is the first new public medical school in California in more than four decades. Olds stresses that despite its name, the UCR School of Medical school belongs to San Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial counties. The school targets incoming students from those three counties, he said, because they are likely to stay in the area after graduation.

Can video games fend off mental decline?, The New York Times

“You just crashed a little bit,” Adam Gazzaley said. It was true: I’d slammed my rocket-powered surfboard into an icy riverbank. This was at Gazzaley’s San Francisco lab, in a nook cluttered with multicolored skullcaps and wires that hooked up to an E.E.G. machine. The video game I was playing wasn’t the sort typically pitched at kids or even middle-aged, Gen X gamers. Indeed, its intended users include people over 60 — because the game might just help fend off the mental decline that accompanies aging. Gazzaley is a UCSF neuroscientist who directs the Neuroscience Imaging Center.

100 physician leaders of hospital and health systems, Becker’s Hospital Review

This list of 100 physician leaders of hospitals and health systems for 2014, based on leaders’ health care experience, accolades and commitment to quality care, includes  Dr. David Feinberg, president of UCLA Health System and CEO of the UCLA Hospital System. 

Therapy treats lung cancer based on patients’ genetic markers, San Francisco Chronicle

A new type of clinical trial for lung cancer patients getting under way at hospitals in the Bay Area and around the country may change the way drugs are tested in the future. That’s a pretty bold expectation, but researchers say the study — called the Lung Cancer Master Protocol, or Lung-MAP — will do just that. It’s the first study to recruit large numbers of patients, profile their tumors for genetic markers, and then direct those patients to the experimental therapy that is most likely to help them. In standard trials, one drug is tested at a time and researchers have little advance knowledge about which patients are likely to benefit or why. The new trial involves testing five different drugs at the same time. Every patient will receive a test drug based on the genomic profile of his or her tumor. The approach is expected to save time, and possibly money, and offer patients a better chance of survival. “It’s not an overstatement to say the world is watching us,” said Dr. David Gandara, director of the UC Davis Thoracic Oncology Program and a lead researcher in the Lung-MAP trial.

UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations finds innovative ways to treat most common health problems (video), California Health Report

UC San Francisco’s Center for Vulnerable Populations puts many of the most common health conditions in the crosshairs, and uses research and outreach to improve the health of society’s most vulnerable-sometimes in unexpected ways.

Doctors learn to push back, gently, against anti-vaccination movement, Los Angeles Times

This story reports on a recent lecture at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA given to local pediatricians on how to discuss vaccinations with parents who feel they are dangerous to their children’s health.  The lecture’s organizer, Dr. E. Richard Stiehm, an emeritus professor of pediatric allergy and immunology at UCLA, and Dr. Lisa Stern, an attending staff pediatrician at UCLA, are quoted.

‘Wandering eye’ may raise risk of falls for older adults, Reuters

This story reports on a study led by Dr. Stacy Pineles, an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Stein Eye Institute at UCLA, finding that strabismus, or a “wandering eye,” can increase the risk of falls in older adults. Pineles is quoted.

Sorry, your gut bacteria are not the answer to all your health problems, Mother Jones

We’re told that tweaks to the microbiome can cure everything from allergies to Ebola. Not exactly, say experts. Jonathan Eisen, a professor and biologist who studies the ecology of microbes at UC Davis, is quoted.

Berkeley’s autonomous surgical robotic system, MedGadget

While so-called surgical robots have been around for a few years now, they are really not robots at all, but rather remotely controlled machines that faithfully execute the commands of their masters. For robots to be real robots, they have to be autonomous and able to do tasks without much operator input. True surgical robots can help bring forth a future in which tele-surgery is possible and where physicians don’t have to deal with routine tasks such as suturing and debridement. Researchers at UC Berkeley have been working on getting a da Vinci surgical system to be smart enough to do some basic tasks on its own.

6 surprising reasons why gratitude is great for your health, Real Simple

“There is a magnetic appeal to gratitude,” says Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at UC Davis and a pioneer of gratitude research. Christine Carter, a sociologist at the Greater Good Science Center, at UC Berkeley, also is mentioned in this article.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Oct. 19

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UCLA, 4 other UC hospitals ready to treat California Ebola patients, Los Angeles Times

Officials announced Friday that all five University of California medical centers are positioned to provide care for Californians with confirmed Ebola — should any such cases arise. As of the announcement, there were no confirmed or suspected patients with Ebola in the state, the University of California Office of the President and the California Department of Public Health emphasized, in a press release announcing the hospitals’ readiness. But the UC facilities — in Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco — all said they would be ready to leap into action if that changed.

See additional coverage: San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Sacramento Bee, Sacramento Business Journal, San Francisco Business Times, U-T San Diego, KCRA 3, KQED, KTVU 2, Los Angeles Daily News, MyNewsLA/City News Service, San Diego 6/City News Service

Congressional hearing on Ebola was ‘shameful,’ Janet Napolitano says, The World Post

UC President Janet Napolitano lambasted Congress for politicizing concerns about the Ebola virus, and drew parallels to the response to 2009′s H1N1 flu pandemic, which she oversaw as Homeland Security Secretary.

Bay Area’s Vaxart seeks to test experimental Ebola vaccine, San Francisco Chronicle

A South San Francisco company is reviving an experimental Ebola vaccine that it previously shelved, joining other companies and health agencies in the rush to contain the deadly disease in West Africa. The potential vaccine from Vaxart and promising treatments and tools from scientists in the Bay Area and beyond form a growing response to an international public health emergency that has escalated since March. More than 4,800 people have died in the biggest outbreak of Ebola, which has no approved treatments or vaccines. The article quotes Charles Chiu, an associate professor of laboratory medicine and infectious diseases at UCSF, who is examining Ebola patients’ blood samples for biomarkers that can help diagnose patients before they show the telltale symptoms of fever, diarrhea and weakness. Also mentioned is Dan Kelly of UCSF, who has trained health workers to treat patients in Sierra Leone.

New research center aims to develop second generation of surgical robots, The New York Times

With funding from the National Science Foundation and two private donors, scientists at UC Berkeley will establish a research center intended to help develop medical robots that can perform low-level and repetitive surgical tasks, freeing doctors to concentrate on the most challenging and complex aspects of the operations they perform. Ken Goldberg, a professor of engineering at the university and a founder of the new Center for Automation and Learning for Medical Robotics, is quoted. The center’s other founders are Pieter Abbeel, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and Sachin Patil, a postdoctoral researcher. In May, in collaboration with surgeons at UC Davis and the Center for Robotic Surgery in Singapore, the researchers presented a paper detailing what they described as the first example of a robot automating surgical tasks involving soft tissue. Dr. W. Douglas Boyd, a professor of surgery at the UCDavis Health System, is quoted. Read a related Q&A with Goldberg.

Study: Sugary sodas linked to accelerated aging, The Washington Post

You knew that drinking sugary sodas could lead to obesity, diabetes and heart attacks — but, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, it may also speed up your body’s aging process. As you age, caps on the end your chromosomes called telomeres shrink. In the past several years, researchers at the University of California at San Francisco, have analyzed stored DNA from more than 5,300 healthy Americans in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from some 14 years ago. And they discovered that those who drank more pop tended to have shorter telomeres.

Medical costs up to 20% higher at hospital-owned physician groups, study finds, Los Angeles Times

Raising fresh questions about healthcare consolidation, a new study shows hospital ownership of physician groups in California led to 10% to 20% higher costs overall for patient care. The UC Berkeley research, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., illustrates the financial risks for employers, consumers and taxpayers as hospital systems nationwide acquire more physician practices.

Whole-gene scan analyzes mystery illnesses in kids, NBC News

This story reports on a UCLA study finding that a new genetic test helps doctors identify a diagnosis in 40 percent of children with mystery genetic diseases—a quantum leap over the field’s 5 percent success rate 20 years ago.

Did a son’s autism drive a woman to murder?, Newsweek

This story about autism and a mother’s struggles with her son, who had severe autism, highlights the work of UC Davis’ Judy van de Water, Irva Hertz-Picciotto and Sally Rogers and UC San Francisco’s Robert Hendren. The Koegel Autism Center at UC Santa Barbara also is mentioned.

Study: Half of California’s children are Latino, 94% of whom are U.S. citizens, California Healthline

A study released Tuesday on Latino children’s health in California found that 94% of Latino children in the state were born in the U.S., which may have policy implications in the next legislative session when the issue of health coverage for the undocumented will be debated. Claire Brindis, director of the Institute for Health Policy Studies at the UC-San Francisco School of Medicine, is quoted.

Berkeley team to transform MRI, ABC 7

At a busy imaging lab at UC Berkeley, researchers are preparing for a journey to unmapped corners of the human brain. To get there, the team led by neuroscience professor David Feinberg is pushing the boundaries of magnetic resonance imaging, also known as MRI. Instead of imaging the entire brain, they’re focusing on the surface, where the neural pathways are clustered.

Genetic variant linked to lower breast cancer rates in Latinas, KQED

Researchers have long known that Latina women have lower rates of breast cancer compared to African-American and white women. They have mainly pointed to lifestyle and environmental factors to explain why –- Latinas tend to have more children, breast feed longer, and drink less alcohol, all factors that are associated with lower disease rates. Now, an international study led by scientists at UC San Francisco shows that a genetic variant unique to Latina women with indigenous ancestry plays a significant role, too.

UCLA Health System fined by federal officials over banned doctor, Los Angeles Times

Federal officials fined UCLA Health System $470,000 for allowing an anesthesiologist who was banned from Medicare and other federal programs to treat patients and bill the government for their care.The university attributed the problem to human error and software problems. “Once the errors were unearthed, UCLA took prompt action, reported the matter to the Department of Health and Human Services and conducted a thorough audit to confirm that no other members of the UCLA medical staff are or were on the exclusion list,” the university said.

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In the media: Week of Oct. 12

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Hospitals rethinking precautions in wake of nurse’s Ebola infection, San Francisco Chronicle

At the urging of federal health officials, U.S. hospitals, including some in the Bay Area, are rethinking the protocols they have in place even while assuring the public they are prepared to deal with an Ebola patient. News that a 26-year-old nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital had contracted Ebola after treating a patient has unsettled hospital administrators and health care workers because it seemingly contradicts assurances from federal health officials that U.S. hospitals are well equipped to treat and contain the disease, which has killed more than 4,000 people, primarily in West Africa. “Unnerving” is how Dr. Josh Adler, chief medical officer of UCSF Medical Center, described the transmission of the disease to the nurse, “who presumably was doing her best to protect herself and yet was still infected.” “It tells us this is a fairly contagious virus and really requires every bit of infection control and training that we can muster,” Adler said. Read UC coverage.

Ebola safeguards are being taken, Southland health officials say, Los Angeles Times

Amid news of the first Ebola death in the U.S. — that of Thomas Eric Duncan, who died in a Dallas hospital that initially misdiagnosed him and sent him away — local officials say they are working to get medical providers ready, should an Ebola case emerge in Southern California. So far, there have been no confirmed or suspected Ebola cases in Los Angeles County, and officials say they do not expect a major outbreak. Infection control experts at UCLA medical centers in Westwood and Santa Monica have provided emergency departments with Ebola kits containing recommended protective gear such as suits, masks, gloves and booties. UCLA has an Ebola response team that will take the lead should a case arise and designated areas that are equipped to handle waste disposal, said infectious disease specialist Dr. Daniel Uslan, who is part of the effort. The hospital is also drilling medical workers on procedures.

UCLA Medical Center preparing for Ebola (video), ABC 7

Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center is taking steps to prepare in the event that an Ebola patient is admitted. Dr. Zachary Rubin, head of the medical center’s Infection Prevention, says personnel are equipped what they call an “Ebola kit.” Every step in using the kit must be followed exactly to the letter, but Rubin says it can be tricky if a member of the staff has never done it before.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Daily News; CBS Los Angeles: Oct. 17 (video), Oct. 13 (video); Fox Los Angeles (video); NBC Los Angeles: Oct. 17 (video), Oct. 14 (video)

Ebola scare prompts two Sacramento hospitals to ramp up preparedness, The Sacramento Bee

UC Davis Medical Center’s chief medical officer briefed the public on the hospital’s preparedness Thursday, after an Ebola scare earlier in the week tested the response of its emergency department workers and revealed some areas in need of improvement. “This is a very fluid process,” Dr. J. Douglas Kirk said of the Sacramento hospital’s protocols for treating infectious diseases such as the notorious Ebola virus. “We’ve stepped up education and training for our staff and set new guidelines for front-line staff.”

See additional coverage: Fox 40 (video)KCRA 3 (video)KFBK

California health officials seek to assure public amid Ebola scare, The Sacramento Bee

California’s top health officials tried to assure an increasingly nervous public on Wednesday that they are ramping up readiness to fight the deadly Ebola virus, including seeking screening at all of the state’s international airports. UC Davis Health System spokeswoman Karen Finney is quoted.

Editorial: Hospitals need to give facts, not spin on Ebola, The Sacramento Bee

Even as the messy facts from Dallas were emerging, hospital systems here were stonewalling this week when asked for their strategies on Ebola. Only after Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, explicitly demanded their plans for informing the public did a couple of local hospital chiefs step up and start sharing information. And the news, unsurprisingly, was that preparedness is evolving. Or, as the chief medical officer at UC Davis Medical Center termed it after a false Ebola alarm there, “a good learning experience.” Learning is good. Even the CDC has done some. At Kaiser, a video on proper use of protective equipment has been issued, and training sessions for hospital workers were ramped up this week. We hope hospital systems will continue to learn – and keep us posted. Good information will be so reassuring if, as in Dallas, the emergency isn’t a drill someday.

Bay Area scientists work on test to find Ebola virus early (video), CBS San Francisco

It will take a monumental effort to stop the Ebola outbreak in its tracks, but scientists in the Bay Area are working on a new way to detect the virus before it can spread. Imagine, at any port of entry into the U.S., being able to quickly identify travelers infected with Ebola before they show any symptoms. “This is actually an area that we’re currently working on in my laboratory,” said Dr. Charles Chiu, an expert in infectious diseases at UCSF. His team is currently analyzing samples from Ebola patients. “The goal is eventually to use this information, if we can, to establish and make available a rapid diagnostic test for diagnoses of the Ebola virus,” Chiu said.

Ebola nurse in Dallas: Why one Texas hospital couldn’t contain Ebola, International Business Times

The United States has the most expensive health care system in the world, its gleaming hospitals outfitted with the latest technologies and equipment, and yet health care professionals couldn’t prevent a Texas nurse treating an Ebola patient from contracting the disease last week. The spread of Ebola at the Dallas hospital has raised questions about the U.S. health care system’s ability to contain the contagious virus and protect medical workers amid a growing outbreak poised to soon claim 4,500 lives worldwide. Art Reingold, head of epidemiology at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, is quoted.

Op-ed: Nurses shouldn’t be guinea pigs, Slate

John Villasenor, professor of public policy in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and a professor of electrical engineering in the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, as well as a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, recommends more rigorous training protocols to protect those charged with treating people who are sick. He suggests using big data to help protect health workers from Ebola exposure.

California investments could reap 5-to-1 return, HealthData Management

A University of California center that fosters health care innovation at UC’s five medical centers is proving to be a boon to both patient health and the bottom line. Grants made by UC’s Center for Health Quality and Innovation to fund projects that improve patient care and satisfaction at UC hospitals are paying off with positive results, including fewer blood clots and better post-surgical care at UC hospitals.

See additional coverage: California Healthline

Study: Tobacco use toll drops in California, but smoking still more deadly than AIDS, San Francisco Examiner

Smoking is more fatal and its associated health care costs are likely much more expensive in California than AIDS, Alzheimer’s or diabetes, according to a study published today by UC San Francisco researchers. However, the toll of smoking in the state actually decreased between 1999 and 2009 after rising the previous decade, from 1989 to 1999, said Wendy Max, the study’s principal investigator and a professor of health economics at the UCSF School of Nursing and director of the UCSF Institute for Health and Aging. The study is the third in a series of reports published every 10 years on costs attributed to smoking in California. It was conducted over three years at the Institute for Health and Aging thanks to a grant from the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program of the University of California’s Office of the President.

In hopes of fixing faulty genes, one scientist starts with the basics (audio), NPR

Whether they admit it or not, many (if not most) scientists secretly hope to get a call in October informing them they’ve won a Nobel Prize. But I’ve talked to a lot of Nobel laureates, and they are unanimous on one point: None of them pursued a research topic with the intention of winning the prize. That’s certainly true for Jennifer Doudna. She hasn’t won a Nobel Prize yet, but many are whispering that she’s in line to win one for her work on something called CRISPR/Cas9 — a tool for editing genes. The idea came when she and her colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, were in essence trying to figure out how bacteria fight the flu. The goal was really more of a basic science question, Doudna says.

East Bay woman sparks debate on aid in dying, San Francisco Chronicle

Brittany Maynard doesn’t want to die. But more than anything, she doesn’t want to die a horrendous death — like the kind that comes with the type of brain cancer she was diagnosed with nine months ago. So if all goes as planned in the coming weeks, Maynardwill dissolve a deadly dose of prescribed medicine into a cup of water and drink it. Within minutes, she will slip into a coma-like state. And an hour or two later, the 29-year-old newlywed will be dead. The East Bay resident moved to Oregon to take advantage of that state’s Death with Dignity law, and a video in which she talks poignantly about her fate has gone viral — with nearly 6 million views in a mere five days — making the onetime teacher one of the most compelling spokespersons for advocates of assisted dying. Maynard is a UC Berkeley graduate.

Soda may age you as much as smoking, study says, Time

Nobody would mistake sugary soda for a health food, but a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health just found that a daily soda habit can age your immune cells almost two years. Senior study author Elissa Epel, professor of psychiatry at UC San Francisco, wanted to look at the mechanisms behind soda’s storied link to conditions like diabetes, heart attack, obesity, and even higher rates of death. She studied telomeres, the caps at the end of chromosomes in every cell in our body, from white blood cells. Shorter telomeres have been linked to health detriments like shorter lifespans and more stress, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, the study notes.

See additional coverage: CBS San Francisco (video), The Guardian

UCLA plans behavioral health center, California Healthline

A ceremony Oct. 14 at UCLA officially unveiled plans for a research center devoted to behavioral health, a $7.5 million investment that mirrors a sister effort at UC Davis in Sacramento. Together, they are called the Centers for Excellence in Behavioral Health, funded by $15 million over three years from the Mental Health Services Act, created in 2004 when California voters passed Proposition 63. “The idea is to take what we do here at the UC [system] and … translate the science into policy and bring it to evidence-based practice in the community,” said Peter Whybrow, director of UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, where the behavioral health center will be.

New UCLA telehealth program part of national trend, California Healthline

A new consumer service launched by UCLA is part of a growing national trend of using telehealth technology to let patients and physicians connect using mobile phones, tablets and computers. LiveHealthOnline, launched last month by UCLA Health System, is one of about 200 telemedicine networks in the U.S., according to the American Telemedicine Association. Like many remote physician services, the goal is to provide convenience to busy patients with minor ailments who don’t have time to get into a doctor’s office. “For population health, it gives us the ability to expand our reach but in a convenient way,” said Peter Kung, director of strategic technologies for the UCLA Health System. “People don’t have to drive in Los Angeles traffic for a cold and cough and we can uphold quality.”

Study backs use of stem cells in retinas, The New York Times

Since they were first isolated 16 years ago, human embryonic stem cells have been thought to have the potential to replace the body’s worn-out tissues and treat a wide variety of diseases. The progress has been slow. But now researchers are reporting an encouraging step. A therapy for eye diseases that was derived from stem cells appeared to be safe and might have improved the vision of some patients, according to a new study. The results, published on Tuesday evening by the journal The Lancet, represent the most extensive human data yet on any treatment derived from such embryonic stem cells. The 18 patients in the study were followed for a median of 22 months, two of them for more than three years.  Dr. Steven D. Schwartz, a retina specialist at UCLA and the lead author of the paper, is quoted.

UCLA study shows why one of the biggest Obamacare fears may not come to pass, California Healthline

Something like 10 million Americans — give or take a few million — have gained health coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act. And here’s one way to put that in perspective: In just six months between late 2013 and early 2014, the nation’s persistently high uninsured rate fell by a staggering 25%. So does this mean that the nation’s already busy emergency departments are about to bust at the seams, as some Obamacare critics suggest? That states still nixing the Medicaid expansion are right to worry it would overcrowd their hospitals? Not necessarily, says UCLA’s Gerald Kominski. Kominski, director of UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research, and colleagues looked at what happened when hundreds of thousands of Californians signed up for a proto-version of Obamacare: the Low Income Health Plan, better known as the LIHP. And UCLA’s new study — released on Wednesday — tracks nearly 200,000 enrollees in the LIHP between 2011 and 2013.

See additional coverage: NPR

Dance medicine workshop at Davis conference engages younger crowds, The Sacramento Bee

Dozens cycled in and out of a UC Davis classroom this weekend to hear the story of Isha Loyd, a seven-year cast member of the Sacramento Ballet who was forced to leave the stage earlier this year because of a ganglion cyst in her right foot. Raising the next crop of physicians was the main focus of the 12th annual UC Davis Pre-medical and Pre-health Professions National Conference held Saturday and Sunday for high school, college and post-graduate students interested in the medical field.

Email hacking source of UC Davis breach, Clinical Innovation+Technology

The University of California Davis Health System has notified 1,326 patients that their protected health information was compromised when a physician’s email account was hacked.

See additional coverage: Healthcare IT News

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In the media: Week of Oct. 5

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Why some shocking Ebola fears are likely unfounded, CBS News

Dr. Carl Schultz, director of disaster medical services at UC Irvine Medical Center, says fear that the Ebola virus could be spread by terrorists is unwarranted. Schultz, a professor of emergency medicine and director of research for the UC Irvine Center for Disaster Medical Services, says that small pox would be a better example of a deadly virus that could be weaponized.

Biotechs work to spread Ebola treatments, U-T San Diego

While a local biotech company works to scale up production of its anti-Ebola drug ZMapp, a second experimental medication also developed by San Diego researchers has been enlisted in the fight against the deadly virus. Brincidofovir was given to Thomas Eric Duncan, who died Wednesday at a hospital in Dallas. He was the first person to die of Ebola in the United States. Brincidofovir was discovered by Dr. Karl Hostetler, a professor of medicine emeritus at UCSD School of Medicine. The drug is being tested for two viral infections by Chimerix, which Hostetler founded in 2002. In addition, the federal government is helping to develop the drug as a measure against smallpox.

UCSF Ebola preparedness harkens back to early days of AIDS (audio), CBS San Francisco

Officials at UCSF say its hospitals have prepared should someone at any of its facilities show signs of the Ebola virus, despite the very low risk of anyone contracting the disease locally.

Local health experts prep for Ebola, U-T San Diego

A few weeks back, a man who had just returned from West Africa came to Thornton Hospital in La Jolla complaining of a fever. The patient found himself quickly isolated in a private room while the hospital’s infectious-disease team and the county health department were notified. All this for a fever that probably wouldn’t have made it past Thornton’s triage station last year. But last year, the Ebola virus hadn’t killed more than 3,300 people in a handful of African countries and was not on pace to pass the 1.4 million case mark by Jan. 20, 2015. Today no hospital, no matter how many oceans away from the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak, can afford to miss the common warning signs that the deadly virus is incubating in a patient’s bloodstream. Dr. Robert Schooley, head of the Division of Infection Control at UC San Diego, is quoted.

High fever alone not reason to be admitted to hospital, experts say, Los Angeles Times

When Thomas Eric Duncan first appeared at a Dallas hospital, his temperature reportedly soared to 103 degrees, but he was sent home, prompting complaints from his fiancee’s family that he should have been admitted.But such a high fever by itself is not enough to have forced him to be kept in the hospital, according to several experts in emergency room practices. Dr. Kristi L. Koenig, professor of emergency medicine and director of the Center of Disaster Medical Services at UC Irvine, is quoted.

Rare illness in California afflicts children with polio-like symptoms (video), National Geographic

At least 20 confirmed cases of polio-like illness have been reported in the past two years scattered throughout California, leaving victims, mostly children, with paralyzed limbs. Doctors suspect a virus, but officials have yet to identify a clear cause. The article quotes Emmanuelle Waubant, a neurologist at UC San Francisco Medical Center, who is working with Stanford’s Keith Van Haren to identify the cases.

Big data, meet big money: NIH funds centers to crunch health data, Los Angeles Times

Calling the world’s wealth of health data a formidable “engine of discovery,” the National Institutes of Health on Thursday awarded $32 million in grants in a bid to make huge biomedical data sets accessible to researchers the world over. Of the 12 “centers of excellence” to be established under the BD2K initiative, four California institutions — UCLA, USC, UC Santa Cruz and Stanford University — will be tapped to play a major role. Collectively, the four universities are to be awarded $7 million in 2014 and are slated to receive close to $38 million over the next four years.

UCSC genomics center awarded $11 million NIH grant, Santa Cruz Sentinel

The National Institutes of Health has awarded an $11 million grant to UC Santa Cruz for a new center facilitating the sharing of large amounts of genetic data. The Center for Big Data in Translational Genomics will be a multi-institutional partnership headquartered at UCSC’s Genomics Institute, led by professor David Haussler.

UCI awarded $8 million for creation of brain cell database, Los Angeles Times

UC Irvine announced Wednesday that it had been awarded an $8-million grant to establish one of six centers around the country tasked with creating a database of brain cell activity, expected to help develop treatment for a number of diseases. The grant from the National Institutes of Health will allow researchers to study brain cell activity in motor neuron disorders like Lou Gehrig’s disease and build a detailed collection of these diseases’ signatures.

UCSF opens $100 million+ global health complex, also houses chancellor’s office, San Francisco Business Times

UC San Francisco, which boasts of its emergence as a global health powerhouse, has opened a new 264,000-square-foot complex at Mission Bay to house its decade-old Global Health program as well as the biomedical university’s office of the chancellor. The new seven-story Mission Hall complex, which cost $99.5 million to build, is also known as the Global Health and Clinical Sciences Building. It’s located at 500 16th Street, across the street from the new UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay, slated to open in February. Along with housing UCSF’s Global Health Services program, the complex is the new home for the university’s Office of the Chancellor, and thus will be home base for Chancellor Sam Hawgood.

After hospitals unite, labor divide deepens, East Bay Express

Since Children’s Hospital Oakland became affiliated with UC San Francisco, resident physicians in the East Bay have questioned why they can’t get the same support as doctors across the bay.

Terminally ill 29-year-old woman: Why I’m choosing to die on my own terms, People

For the past 29 years, Brittany Maynard has lived a fearless life – running half marathons, traveling through Southeast Asia for a year and even climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. So, it’s no surprise she is facing her death the same way. On Monday, Maynard will launch an online video campaign with the nonprofit Compassion & Choices, an end-of-life choice advocacy organization, to fight for expanding Death with Dignity laws nationwide. And on Nov. 1, Maynard, who in April was given six months to live, intends to end her own life with medication prescribed to her by her doctor – and she wants to make it clear it is NOT suicide.  Maynard is a UC Berkeley graduate.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month (audio), KFI

UC Irvine Health surgical oncologist Dr. Alice Police discusses breast cancer decisions.

Patients with diseases leg arteries who quit smoking live longer, Reuters

People with clogged arteries in their legs can extend their lives – and save their limbs – if they quit smoking cigarettes, new research shows.In so-called “peripheral artery disease,” blood from the heart can’t reach the legs because the arteries are clogged. The result can be painful cramps while walking or climbing stairs, leg numbness or weakness, coldness in the lower leg or foot – and in the worst cases, amputation. The authors of the new study expected that people with peripheral artery disease, or PAD, who stopped smoking would do better in the long run – but they didn’t expect the benefit to be as large as it was. Senior author Dr. John Laird,  a cardiologist who is the medical director of the UC Davis Vascular Center, is quoted.

Mixed bag so far for duals program: Some glad, some livid, most confused (audio), California Healthline

Experts discuss the promise and pitfalls of the state’s rollout of Cal MediConnect, which offers 456,000 Californians who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medi-Cal a new pilot program of coordinated care through a Medi-Cal managed care plan. The state is about halfway through the passive enrollment process and, so far, about a third of participants have opted out of the program. The report includes comments from Kathryn Kietzman, research scientist at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Sept. 28

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Anthem’s new partnership with seven hospitals builds on an old idea in California, California Healthline

A new payer-provider partnership in Southern California called Vivity has been billed as a first-of-its-kind in the nation. The new partnership, announced by Anthem Blue Cross two weeks ago, will operate in Los Angeles and Orange counties. Vivity members there will be able to access some 6,000 physicians, 14 hospitals and clinics, laboratories and surgery centers affiliated with seven health systems, including UCLA Health System. “This seems to be a very encouraging step in the maturing and evolution of the health care system in California,” said Stephen Shortell, former dean of UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. Shortell is now the school’s Blue Cross of California Distinguished Professor of Health Policy and Management. Vivity was inspired in part by the Berkeley Forum, a collaboration of health care CEOs, insurers, public policymakers and health care researchers based at Berkeley’s School of Public Health.

BRAIN initiative is underway, funding new ways to map cells, circuits, Los Angeles Times

Dr. Kelsey Martin, professor and chair of biological chemistry and a professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute, and the director of UCLA Neuroscience, a campuswide effort to encourage collaboration among scientists, is cited in this article about the first grants made for President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative, short for Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies. The article also detailed the research of the two UCLA awardees, Dr. X. William Yang, a professor of psychiatry, and Dr. Daniel Geschwind, a professor of psychiatry, neurology, and genetics. Of the 58 NIH grants, 14 are led by UC researchers. Read UC story.

See additional coverage: San Francisco Business Times

Experts discuss Ebola virus at conference in SF (video), ABC 7

Some of the world’s top epidemiologists are in San Francisco talking about the Ebola virus and how to stop it from spreading. The virus has killed more than 3,300 people in West Africa. “First of all, it’s going to get worse before it gets better,” said Dan Kelly, M.D., with the UCSF School of Medicine. Kelly has worked in Sierra Leone for eight years. He says the delay in action has been devastating. That’s what this panel was discussing Thursday at a conference at UCSF.

See additional coverage: San Francisco Examiner

UCSF Ebola expert: Ebola is not as infectious as influenza, tuberculosis, measles and other airborne diseases (video), CBS San Francisco

Amid questions and concerns over the recent cases of the deadly Ebola virus in the United States, KPIX 5′s interview with Dr. Charles Chiu, an expert on infectious diseases at UCSF may provide answers.

Op-ed: Brandon Brown: Don’t let Ebola obfuscate the big picture, Orange County Register

Brandon Brown, director of the Global Health, Research, Education and Translation Program at UC Irvine, writes about Ebola preparations.

First U.S. Ebola case exposes weakness in hospital procedure, The Huffington Post

As luck would have it, the hospital currently treating the first Ebola patient to be diagnosed in the U.S. had actually held a meeting a week prior on what to do if a case ever presented itself. The article quotes Brandon Brown, an assistant professor of public health at UC Irvine and the leader of the campus’ global health research program.

Why did it take 2 days to get Texas Ebola patient into a hospital?, Reuters

The first patient to be diagnosed with Ebola in a U.S. hospital was evaluated initially and turned away, a critical missed opportunity that could result in others being exposed to the deadly virus, infectious disease experts said. UCLA epidemiologist Ann Rimoin is quoted.

UCI public lecture on fighting diseases like Ebola can’t come soon enough, OC Weekly

With the first reported case of Ebola in the United States now a cause for alarm (at least among the teevee news anchors), the only thing one wishes about the first presentation of UC Irvine Physical Sciences’ annual Breakfast Lecture Series is that it was sooner. Dr. Aaron Esser-Kahn is scheduled to discuss innovative vaccine approaches to combat diseases like Ebola on Oct. 7.

Are Sacramento hospitals prepared for an Ebola outbreak? (audio), KFBK

Here in Sacramento, hospitals say they’re prepared to admit and manage any possible Ebola patients. Dr. Stuart Cohen, the chief of infectious diseases at UC Davis Medical Center, says their team has been preparing — and continue to prepare — for the possibility of a patient with Ebola symptoms.

Ebola outbreak: Feds squash calls for travel restrictions, San Francisco Chronicle

Federal officials on Thursday rejected calls for mandatory travel restrictions to contain the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, despite public fears about a man who traveled from Liberia to Dallas before being diagnosed with the virus. Dr. Art Reingold, head of epidemiology at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. is quoted.

See additional coverage: Fox LA (video), KABC (video)

A groundbreaking treatment at UCLA improves failing memories of some patients (video), KTLA 5

An Alzheimer`s treatment study at UCLA has, for the first time, improved failing memories of people with the disease. In some cases, patients experienced so much improvement they could return to their jobs, according to the study.

See additional coverage: ABC 7 (video), Marin Independent Journal

New UC Davis mental health research center will pursue mysteries of the brain, The Sacramento Bee

UC Davis Health System’s Sacramento campus launched a $7.5 million behavioral health center. The facility, which is part of a $15 million research effort funded by Proposition 63 to support mental health services, will focus on neuroscience. UCLA is launching a similar center.

See additional coverage: Capital Public Radio, Sacramento Business Journal

Health 2.0: The customer is king, California Healthline

Placing more care decisions in the hands of consumers and personalizing that experience is a major theme in health application and product development today, as evidenced at the Health 2.0 conference, held last week in Santa Clara. However, providers, payers and government regulators may tap the brakes on this trend, as they continue to worry about patient safety and privacy in the new digital realm. A survey by Medscape and WebMD released at the conference indicated that while the majority of physicians and patients (63% and 64%, respectively) agree that the smartphone can be a useful diagnostic tool in regards to blood tests, just one-third of physicians said they would use a smartphone to perform an ear or eye exam and about a half of patients would do so. The article mentions that San Francisco-based CellScope created Oto, an optical attachment to the smartphone for diagnosis of ear infections in children. CellScope co-founders Erik Douglas and Amy Sheng met at the Fletcher lab at UC Berkeley, from which they both have degrees.

Doctors find barriers to sharing digital medical records, The New York Times

Doctors and hospital executives across the country say they are distressed that the expensive electronic health record systems they installed in the hopes of reducing costs and improving the coordination of patient care — a major goal of the Affordable Care Act — simply do not share information with competing systems.The issue is especially critical now as many hospitals and doctors scramble to install the latest versions of their digital record systems to demonstrate to regulators starting Wednesday that they can share some patient data. Those who cannot will face reductions in Medicare reimbursements down the road. Michael Minear, the chief information officer at the UC Davis Health System, is quoted.

Some California community colleges will offer bachelor’s degrees for first time, San Francisco Chronicle

For the first time in California, up to 15 community colleges will be able to offer bachelor’s degrees in fields where skilled workers are especially needed — health, science and technology— under a pilot program signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown. Duplicating courses offered at the University of California or California State University would not be allowed under the bill authored by Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego, which shakes up the California Master Plan for Higher Education. For 54 years, the Master Plan has defined separate roles for the state’s three higher education systems, with community colleges able to offer only two-year associate’s degrees or vocational certificates. But the idea of expanding college offerings has broad support, and dozens of colleges are already lining up with proposals they hope will win the competition, including Skyline College in San Bruno (respiratory therapy); Cañada College in Redwood City (radiologic technology, or medical imaging); and the College of San Mateo (dental hygiene).

UCSF, GE, agencies team up to define, attack traumatic brain injuries, San Francisco Business Times

UCSF will collaborate with General Electric, other universities, the Defense Department and other government agencies, and patient advocacy groups through a $17 million, five-year project to devise better ways to run clinical trials aimed at new drugs and medical devices for traumatic brain injuries. The project will look at data from thousands of traumatic brain injury, or TBI, patients to find effective measures of brain injury and recovery. It will use blood biomarkers, new imaging equipment and software and other tools. TBI includes not only military injuries but falls, car accidents, assaults and more. “TBI is really a multifaceted condition, not a single event,” University of California, San Francisco, neurosurgeon Dr. Geoffrey Manley said in a statement from UCSF.

To counter gun violence, researchers seek deeper data (audio), National Public Radio

For the first time in nearly two decades, federal money is beginning to flow into gun violence research. And there’s growing momentum behind creating a reliable national reporting database for firearm injuries and deaths. Garen Wintemute, director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis, is interviewed.

Antioxidant found in wine may help fight acne-causing bacteria, researchers say, Fox News

Wine drinkers, rejoice! Researchers at UCLA have found that an antioxidant derived from grapes — and also found in wine — inhibits the growth of acne-causing bacteria. The study, published in the journal Dermatology and Therapy, found that combining the antioxidant resveratrol with benzoyl peroxide, a common acne medication, may enhance the drug’s ability to kill the bacteria, possibly leading to new acne treatments.

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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.

Editorial: Anthem Blue Cross’ welcome new HMO idea, Los Angeles Times

UCLA Health System and six other top hospital systems in Los Angeles and Orange counties have partnered with Anthem Blue Cross to offer Anthem Blue Cross Vivity, an integrated managed health plan that will be offered to local employers. An editorial on this partnership — the first in the nation between an insurer and competing hospital systems.

Two from UC Davis working on front line of Ebola fight in Sierra Leone, The Sacramento Bee

Two graduates of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine are battling the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone,which recently initiated a three-day nationwide shutdown to slow the deadly disease.

Letter: Education about Ebola an imperative, Orange County Register

The current outbreak of Ebola is the worst outbreak since 1976, and is present in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone, writes Brandon Brown, director of UC Irvine’s Global Health Research, Education and Translation program.

Wearable artificial kidney hopes to gain FDA approval soon, Endgadget

As neat as your smartwatch is, there are other existing wearables which, you know, can actually make the world a world a better place — though that’s not to say whatever you have on your wrist now is useless and for pure vanity purposes. Aptly named the Wearable Artificial Kidney, a projected started back in 2008, this medical gadget hopes to make the dialysis process better for patients, thanks in particular to its portability features. As opposed to the more traditional, stationary machines found at hospitals or in homes, which tend to be extremely heavy, the current version of WAK weighs a mere 10 lbs (around 4.5 kg.) and can be attached around a person’s waist. The real advantage of the Wearable Artificial Kidney, according to the people behind it, is that it would allow patients to mobilize while still being treated, giving them chance to go to places such as work or school. After multiple tests overseas, Dr. Victor Gura and researchers from UCLA are set to run their first clinical trial here in the U.S. later this year.

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

Study finds ER waiting times vary significantly, Lafayette Journal & Courier

When it comes to emergency room waiting times, patients seeking care at larger urban hospitals are likely to spend more time staring down the clock than those seen at smaller or more rural facilities, new research suggests. “The experience of crowding and our ability to provide timely emergency care varies dramatically across hospitals in the United States,” said one of the authors of the new research, Dr. Renee Hsia, an associate professor at the University of California, San Francisco.

UCI neonatal ICU team honored for saving baby girl born with intestines outside her body (video), KCAL 9/CBS Los Angeles

Watching 2-year-old Irelynn Gossett walk through the doors of UCI Medical Center’s neonatal ICU is something of a miracle.When Irelynn was born, surgeon Mustafa Kabeer wasn’t sure if the girl would ever make it outside the hospital’s walls.

Which flu shot is right for you and your loved ones? (audio), KPCC

Southern California broke records last week during a late summer heat wave. But, while it may not feel like it, don’t be fooled: flu season is almost upon us. “I would get the flu shot earlier rather than later,” said Dr. Shruti Gohil, associate medical director at the University of California, Irvine. The reason: “it affords you protection throughout the flu season,” she said.

Feeling bummed? How disappointment works in the brain, LiveScience

In a new study, a team of scientists led by Dr. Roberto Malinow, a professor of neurobiology at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, found that two well-known neurotransmitters — glutamate and GABA, which is short for gamma-aminobutyric acid — are released simultaneously by neurons in a small region of the brain called the lateral habenula to signal the emotion of disappointment.

‘Time-outs’ are hurting your child, Time

UCLA Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute and the founding co-director of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, co-wrote this article making the argument that using “time-outs” to discipline a child for behavior doesn’t work, and that a better solution might be a “time-in” where a parent might sit with the child, talking or comforting.

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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, KPCC (audio), 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.

Duchess Kate’s pregnancy puts focus on ills of severe morning sickness, Los Angeles Times

This story cites the research of Marlena Fejzo in an article on the extreme morning sickness condition known as hyperemesis gravidarum. Fejzo, an associate researcher in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, is quoted.

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.

UC Davis startup gets National Science Foundation grant to make high-tech surgical blades, Sacramento Business Journal

A startup company at UC Davis has won a $200,000 award from the National Science Foundation to move its silicon blades to commercial development. Atocera Inc. is working to fine-tune the manufacturing and packaging of its silicon blades for the surgical market and shaving uses, said Saif Islam, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at UC Davis.

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.

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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.

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