CATEGORY: In the media

In the media: Week of May 17

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Which hospitals are best for patients who need common care, U.S. News & World Report

Working with Medicare data, the U.S. News team spent over a year analyzing more than 5 million patient records to assess outcomes at some 4,000 hospitals across the U.S. and its territories. Its findings, published May 20 at, reveal both reassuring and troubling patterns. Users can see for themselves. The Best Hospitals for Common Care initiative allows anyone to look up any U.S. hospital’s performance in three common surgeries — hip replacement, knee replacement and heart bypass surgery — and two widespread chronic conditions — congestive heart failure and the lung ailment known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. U.S. News assigned each hospital that treated enough patients up to five separate ratings, one for each procedure and condition. Four University of California medical centers are rated as high-performing hospitals in the rankings. Read UC coverage.

UC scientists discover drug makes brains, bodies young again, CBS San Francisco

Imagine a drug that could make your aging mind and body young again. It sounds like the fountain of youth. Researchers at UC Berkeley have discovered a small-molecule drug that does just that to the aging brains and muscles in older mice. They hope their findings will lead to a drug that does the same thing for humans.

Genetically modified yeast will make it possible to home-brew opiates, Wired

A paper published May 18 in Nature Chemical Biology details a novel process for replicating poppy’s opiate-producing chemical pathways by genetically modifying good ol’ Saccharomyces cerevisiae. That technology could lay the foundation for low-cost drug discovery, potentially producing anti-cancer therapeutics, antibiotics, and other narcotics. The only hitch: With the right opioid-producing yeast strains, it would also be easier to create morphine, heroin and other drugs at home—no Walter White-level smarts required. Just call it Breaking Bread. No, wait, Brewing Bad. “Right now, you would need a background in synthetic biology and genetics to overcome the challenges to produce the right kind of yeast,” says John Dueber, a bioengineer at UC Berkeley and lead author on the study. “It is not an imminent threat. But if a strain made for licit purposes got out, then all that would be required is knowledge of brewing beer to ferment it into morphine.”

See additional coverage: BBC News

Scientists are growing anxious about genome-editing tools, The Washington Post

Every human genome contains the blueprints for building a person, a library of roughly 20,000 genes that encode everything from eye color to cancer risk. Imagine if those genetic instructions could be tweaked at will — with a snip here and a cut there, a gene might be deleted, inserted or replaced by a different piece of DNA. Tools that can do this already exist, but one in particular, called CRISPR/Cas 9, has leapt ahead of other genome-editing tools because it’s cost-effective and simple. Researchers say that human clinical trials to fix genetic diseases — for example, sickle cell anemia — are only a few years away. Biochemist Jennifer Doudna of UC Berkeley is quoted.

When the brain can’t make its own maps, The Atlantic

Arne Ekstrom, a cognitive neuroscientist at UC Davis, compared the different ways of understanding the brain to auto mechanics: “There’s obviously value in understanding how a transmission of a car works … but if you want to see the whole picture, you need to take a perspective which allows you to see how these things interact with each other.” To understand the connections the brain makes while forming and recalling cognitive maps, Ekstrom and his team are using a technique that tracks brain activity more directly than MRIs.

Training Tijuana cops to avoid HIV infections from needle-sticks (video), KPBS

UC San Diego is partnering with Tijuana police and a Mexican research center to train the officers to avoid HIV infections from needle-sticks.

COPD, asthma and the environment, U.S. News & World Report

Smoking is the culprit of chronic obstructive lung disease – everybody knows that. Except when it isn’t. While smoking remains the major cause of COPD – the combined term for emphysema, bronchitis and some forms of asthma – about one-quarter of people affected are nonsmokers. Some have a genetic form of COPD. And for others, environmental factors play a role. “There’s very strong evidence that if you’re exposed to vapors, dust, gas and fumes at the workplace, then you have increased risk of COPD – independent of smoking,” says Dr. John Balmes, a professor with the UC San Francisco medical school and at the UCBerkeley School of Public Health.

Berkeley approves radiation warning for cell phones (audio), KQED Forum

Last week, Berkeley passed the nation’s first cell phone “right to know” ordinance, requiring retailers to warn customers of potential radiation exposure. Industry groups are expected to sue to block the law. And while many scientists and medical professionals say evidence of harm is inconclusive, nearly 200 scientists have called on the United Nations and World Health Organization to adopt tougher regulations for phones and other products that emit electromagnetic fields. Guests include Allan Balmain, professor in the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UCSF School of Medicine, and Joel Moskowitz, director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments (0)

In the media: Week of May 10

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Designing the perfect baby: UC scientists call for a pause in technology they invented, San Jose Mercury News

The University of California has transformed biology by designing a cheap, fast, precise and powerful way to “edit” DNA, creating the prospects of a future with less sickness, more food — and perhaps perfect babies. But now it wants to hit the pause button. Alarmed that their new gene-editing tool was recently used by Chinese researchers to create the first genetically modified human embryos, scientists at UC’s Innovative Genomics Initiative are leading the call to urge only safe and ethical use of the tool. And they plan to hold a landmark conference to debate how to proceed. “It is a really exciting thing and could have a potential impact on disease,” said Jacob Corn, the initiative’s scientific director. “But it is also something where we need to tread carefully.” UC Berkeley’s Jennifer Doudna also is quoted.

UC-MIT battle over patent to gene-editing tool, San Jose Mercury News

Will the University of California reap the financial rewards of CRISPR’s commercial use, likely worth billions of dollars? That’s the source of a bitter fight. In June 2012, UC Berkeley’s Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, now a professor in Germany, showed how bacteria’s natural defense system could be turned into a “gene editing” tool to cut DNA strands. Seven months later, Feng Zhang of the Massachsuetts Institute of Technology, along with Harvard’s George Church, showed that the tool also works in human cells. UC and Doudna filed for a patent first. But in a shocking turn of events, MIT and Zhang won last month, earning the patent that covers use of CRISPR in every species except bacteria, including humans. UC and Doudna are fighting back, submitting thousands of pages of documentation to support their claim that they had the invention first. They are supported by a pioneer in gene editing, University of Utah’s Dana Carroll, who said Doudna’s report of her discovery was so detailed he could use it to work in human cells.

Jennifer Doudna, a pioneer who helped simplify genome editing, The New York Times

Three years ago, Jennifer Doudna, a biochemist at the University of California, Berkeley, helped make one of the most monumental discoveries in biology: a relatively easy way to alter any organism’s DNA, just as a computer user can edit a word in a document. The discovery has turned Dr. Doudna (the first syllable rhymes with loud) into a celebrity of sorts, the recipient of numerous accolades and prizes. The so-called Crispr-Cas9 genome editing technique is already widely used in laboratory studies, and scientists hope it may one day help rewrite flawed genes in people, opening tremendous new possibilities for treating, even curing, diseases. But now Dr. Doudna, 51, is battling on two fronts to control what she helped create.

Small but mighty VC doubles up with new biotech seed fund (video), San Francisco Business Times

Mission Bay Capital is coming back for more. The seed-stage venture capital firm, with its keen interest on pushing University of California life sciences innovations toward commercialization, said Monday that it raised a second fund of $25 million. New investors include the UCSF Foundation and Sobrato Capital. Returning investors include Jack Wadsworth, the honorary chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, and contributor Brook Byers of VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The oversubscribed new fund is more than double the size of the first one launched in August 2009 by Regis Kelly and Douglas Crawford of UC’s California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, or QB3, and a cadre off well-known venture capitalists.

Societal cost of obesity could exceed $1.1 trillion, new Brookings research finds (video), Brookings Institute

“The lifetime costs of obesity are sobering to say the least,” said University of California System President Janet Napolitano at an event May 12 to discuss new research that quantifies the economic costs of obesity in the U.S. President Napolitano — former U.S. secretary of homeland security and former governor of Arizona— addressed findings from the Center on Social and Economic Dynamics at Brookings, in partnership with the World Food Center of UC Davis, that estimate that if all 12.7 million U.S. youth with obesity become obese adults, the individual cost on average is just over $92,000, and “the societal costs over their lifetimes may exceed $1.1 trillion.”

See additional coverage: Modern Healthcare

UCSF Doctors Academy celebrates local grads, The Fresno Bee

Fifty-nine high school students from the central San Joaquin Valley will graduate this spring from the UC San Francisco Fresno Doctors Academy program, and all will attend post-secondary institutions in the fall.

Hospitals step up search for best way to clean troubled scopes, Los Angeles Times

Three months after deadly superbug outbreaks sparked alarm nationwide, U.S. hospitals are still searching for how best to clean a controversial medical scope and keep patients safe. Federal regulators have declined to pull the difficult-to-clean duodenoscopes off the market, and there’s no indication that manufacturers can quickly redesign the reusable devices, which are employed in nearly 700,000 procedures annually. Absent clear guidance from health officials, hospitals are resorting to a wide variety of cleaning and testing approaches — including some that remain unproven. Olympus Corp. controls 85% of the specialty endoscope market in the U.S., and its devices have been linked to six of the nine recent superbug outbreaks, including at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center, where two patients died this winter. This month, Olympus began shipping a tiny new brush to hospitals to help clean the troublesome tip of these scopes, where dangerous bacteria can become trapped inside an elevator channel that holds guide wires and catheters.

Federal panel calls medical scopes unsafe, Los Angeles Times

A federal panel concluded May 15 that the medical scopes linked to a deadly string of superbug outbreaks are unsafe as designed and urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to do more to protect patients. But the agency’s advisory committee stopped short of calling on the FDA to halt further use of the scopes. Patients and doctors should continue to have access to the device, the group said, because it’s used in a potentially life-saving procedure with no better alternative. Nonetheless, the panel’s decision marked a high-profile rebuke to Olympus Corp., the dominant maker of these duodenoscopes, and to the FDA for failing to impose sufficient measures to stop the spread of dangerous bacteria from patient to patient. Both Olympus and federal regulators have scrambled to devise new cleaning methods ever since news of an outbreak at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center set off alarms nationwide in February.

Big boost to San Diego HIE as Scripps, Sharp join, HealthData Management

Scripps Health and Sharp Healthcare are joining San Diego Health Connect, a substantial boost for the region’s health information exchange that soon will give clinicians authorized access to medical data covering 2.7 million county residents. San Diego Health Connect, funded with $15.3 million in HITECH Act dollars in April 2010, started as San Diego Beacon Community, one of 17 such communities across the nation charged with accelerating use of health information technologies and disseminating lessons learned across the industry. Scripps and Sharp expect to be live on San Diego Health Connect this summer. Hospital organizations already live include University of California, Rady Children’s Hospital, Kaiser Permanente, VA San Diego Healthcare System, and Navy Medical Center of San Diego. Fourteen community health centers and clinics also are live.

Editorial: Hospice-UCSF partnership holds promise, Marin Independent Journal

The partnership of Marin-based Hospice By The Bay and the University of California at San Francisco is a bond that should benefit the important missions of both well-respected organizations and, most importantly, patients and their families who face the need for palliative end-of-life care.

New UCSF research facility navigating red tape, San Francisco Examiner

Two decades in the making, a new $160 million UC San Francisco research facility at San Francisco General Hospital is closer to reality than ever before. The long-proposed five-story facility, to be constructed at the existing B-C parking lot at the southeast corner of the hospital campus near 23rd and Vermont streets, will be home to about 200 UCSF physician-scientists and some 800 employees working under them.

With specialists in short supply, L.A. County turns to e-consulting, Kaiser Health News

Doctors called it the black hole. If their low-income or uninsured patients needed specialty care, they put in a referral to the massive Los Angeles County health care bureaucracy and then waited — for weeks or even months. It could take eight months to see a neurologist, more than three to see a cardiologist. With a million patients a year depending on Los Angeles County for health care, local officials decided they had to act. Hiring scores of costly specialists wasn’t an option. So in 2012 they created a program called eConsult, modeled after a system at San Francisco General Hospital, to streamline the referral process. Nwando Olayiwola, associate director of UC San Francisco’s Center for Excellence in Primary Care, said the program “solves a huge part of the problem, but it doesn’t solve all of it.”

Legislation to regulate e-cigarettes is facing stiff resistance in California (audio), California Healthline

Experts discuss the legislative effort to ban electronic-cigarette vaping in public — the same regulation imposed on cigarette smokers. E-cigarette proponents say smoking cigarettes is more hazardous than vaping, and that the proposed regulation should not apply to them. But less-hazardous secondhand vapor still carries carcinogens, such as formaldehyde and benzene, and legislators are discussing a ban on their use in public places.The report includes comments from UC San Francisco’s Stanton Glantz.

Covered California takes conservative fiscal move toward self-sufficiency, California Healthline

Covered California officials yesterday released a budget proposal for the 2015-16 fiscal year. As expected, the agency has scaled down its advertising and outreach budget, and cut back the large initial outlay for information technology services. Those moves lay the fiscal groundwork for the exchange’s long-planned effort to become self-sufficient by the end of the next fiscal year. There were two developments that were less expected: Covered California will continue to charge the same fee of $13.95 per month on individual policies to maintain operating expenses. Exchange officials previously discussed the possibility of lowering that fee slightly. In the proposed budget, the exchange will spend its $100 million reserve, the last of its federal funding. “They have to be self-sufficient, they’ve always planned to be self-sufficient. The question is: How do you achieve self-sufficiency?” said Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

Assembly committee squashes soda tax, California Healthline

A proposed 2-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages failed May 11 in the Assembly Committee on Health. AB 1357, by Assemblyman Richard Bloom, would have established the Children and Family Health Promotion Program, raising $3 billion a year in soda taxes to spend on the prevention and treatment of diabetes and obesity. The biggest concern for Dean Schillinger, a professor at UC San Francisco who testified May 11, is that many children now are starting to get so-called “adult-onset” diabetes.

Inside the ambitious (and affordable) plan to bring ‘health care for all’ to California, California Healthline

Five hundred or so days ago, the nation’s health insurance system was in the throes of change. Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges had begun to overcome their sputtering launch. The law’s Medicaid expansion was starting to roll out across the country. And in California, state Sen. Richard Lara brought advocates together to take a new approach on an old issue. Their decision: It was time to fight for health coverage for undocumented workers, too. Lara’s plan involved expanding Medi-Cal and creating a new health insurance exchange for undocumented immigrants to purchase coverage. His bill — SB 1005 — ultimately stalled in the Senate. But he’s back with a new bill (SB 4), more co-sponsors and more momentum. While supporters of SB 4 say it would cost just $350 million to expand Medi-Cal under the bill, others are pointing to new estimates from UCLA and UC Berkeley that fully covering undocumented immigrants through the program would be a $740 million annual expenditure. UCLA health policy professor Steven Wallace is quoted.

Why autism is different in the brains of girls than in boys, Time

Autism, already a mysterious disorder, is even more puzzling when it comes to gender differences. For every girl diagnosed with autism, four boys are diagnosed, a disparity researchers don’t yet fully understand. In a new study published in the journal Molecular Autism, researchers from the UC Davis MIND Institute tried to figure out a reason why. They looked at 112 boys and 27 girls with autism between ages 3 and 5 years old, as well as a control sample of 53 boys and 29 girls without autism. Using a process called diffusion-tensor imaging, the researchers looked at the corpus callosum — the largest neural fiber bundle in the brain — in the young kids.

What makes peaceful neighbors become mass murderers, Nature

An interview with Dr. Itzhak Fried, a professor of neurosurgery and psychiatry at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and Semel Institute, about a recent conference he organized in Paris. The meeting examined the brain mechanisms behind Syndrome E, which transforms peaceful neighbors into mass murderers.

UC Santa Cruz professor develops HIV vaccine, Santa Cruz Sentinel

For 30 years, UC Santa Cruz professor and vaccine developer Phil Berman has been chasing a moving target — the insidious, ever-changing HIV virus — and now, finally, he thinks he has it cornered.Berman’s lab has developed an experimental vaccine he believes will guard against HIV and AIDS. The model is expected to go to clinical trial within three years.

The truth about vaccines, The Daily Beast

An interview with Dr. Nina Shapiro, a professor of head and neck surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and director of pediatric otolaryngology at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, discussing childhood vaccinations and why some parents opt out of having their children vaccinated.

UC Merced graduate student looks at use of social media in health care, Merced Sun-Star

The use of social media can have a significant impact on health care communication, according to new research at UC Merced. Graduate student Holly Rus has taken the lead on a new study that analyzes how health-related Facebook posts influence and connect with readers.

UCSD gets poor grade in global health, U-T San Diego

UC San Diego received a C+ from a Washington, D.C.-based student group that graded the nation’s top research schools on their efforts to improve the health of the world’s poor people. Campus officials say the report card issued by Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) doesn’t reflect UC San Diego’s current and future commitments in global health research, especially in the area of neglected diseases. The nonprofit UAEM evaluated 59 schools nationwide, 25 of which received grades ranging from a D+ to an F. Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore was the only school to receive a grade as high as an A-. UC San Diego finished in 13th place, one spot ahead of UC Irvine, which also got a C+. UCSF finished in 5th with a B, UCLA was 11th with a B- and UC Davis was 18th with a C+.

See additional coverage: New York Times, California Healthline

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of May 3

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Finding patients for clinical trials has grown difficult, U-T San Diego

UC San Diego will try to double the number of patients it enrolls in clinical trials in the next few years, a push that could prove to be one of the toughest undertakings in campus history. A Q&A with with Gary Firestein, UC San Diego’s associate vice chancellor of translational medicine.

UCSD Health System to partner with El Centro hospital, San Diego Business Journal

UC San Diego Health System and the City of El Centro are entering into an agreement to expand health care services to Imperial Valley, the university announced.

UCLA players wear sensor-laden helmets to study concussions (video), ABC World News

Football players at UCLA have started wearing sensor-laden helmets so researchers can study head-hits and concussions for the next three years, the school announced this week. The $30 million project is funded by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Department of Defense, and it involves UCLA, Virginia Tech and the University of North Carolina. All three schools’ football teams are using the helmets and will send data to Indiana University to be studied. The project is called Advanced Research Core, or ARC. At UCLA, 27 volunteer players will wear the helmets that gauge where and how hard they’ve been hit, measuring hits in units of force of acceleration called g’s, Dr. Chris Giza, who directs the UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program, told ABC News.

UCSF team: trauma screening should be standard in health care, San Francisco Chronicle

Experience with trauma is so pervasive in the United States and has such profound effects on a person’s physical and mental health that screening and treatment for anything from childhood abuse to domestic violence should be a standard part of mainstream primary care, according to a UCSF-led team of researchers.

Narrow provider networks don’t affect quality of care, study says, KPCC

Narrow provider networks are often considered synonymous with a lower quality of health care, but a new study challenges that conventional wisdom. The study – carried out by researchers from UC Irvine and the University of Wisconsin-Madison - focused on 338 California hospitals listed in statewide networks offered in 2013-2014 by Anthem, Blue Shield, Kaiser Permanente and Health Net.

Smartphones can be smart enough to find a parasitic worm (audio), NPR

Smartphones aren’t simply an amazing convenience. In Africa they can be used to make a lifesaving diagnosis. In fact, scientists are hoping to use a souped-up smartphone microscope to help them eradicate a devastating disease called river blindness. Onchocerciasis, as the disease is also known, is caused by a parasite that’s spread by flies. Thirty years ago, it was simply devastating in parts of Africa, like Mali. The story interviews Daniel Fletcher, a bioengineering professor at UC Berkeley who has been working on novel ways to use iPhones as the centerpiece of inexpensive, portable microscopes. Fletcher’s group at Berkeley set to work and came up with a way to detect the squirming motion of parasitic worms when they emerge and circulate in the blood. They report their advance in the journal Science Translational Medicine. Read UC coverage.

See additional coverage: CBS San Francisco, Forbes

FDA reveals 142 cases of tainted scopes, Los Angeles Times

Federal regulators shed more light on the potential harm to patients from a controversial medical scope, disclosing 142 reports of contaminated devices and possible patient infections since 2010. The Food and Drug Administration had previously said it received about half that many reports, 75, on duodenoscopes that caused patient infections in 2013 and 2014. The number of patients involved could be far higher than 142 because one adverse event report may include numerous people. The new details emerged this week in advance of an advisory panel the FDA is convening next week to examine recent scope-related superbug outbreaks at several U.S. hospitals, including ones at UCLA and Cedars-Sinai medical centers.

Scientists identify novel drug mechanism that fights brain cancer, Gizmag

Researchers at UC Davis have developed and tested a molecule that has the ability to disrupt the body’s regulation of cancer cells, causing them to self-destruct rather than multiply. The method was found to be effective when tackling dormant brain cancer cells that existing treatments are ineffective at eradicating.

UCSD study finds low exposure to sunlight increases risk of pancreatic cancer (audio), KPBS

Too much sunlight is bad for you. But so is too little. New research from UC San Diego suggests a lack of sunlight is a risk factor for pancreatic cancer.

VCU, UC San Diego collaborate on population health initiative, FierceHealthIT

Virginia Commonwealth University is embarking on an initiative to test how big data can help improve population health on the other side of the U.S. The Richmond, Virginia-based school is partnering with data scientists at the University of California San Diego’s Qualcomm Institute to support Live Well San Diego, a population wellness program through San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency, according to an announcement. Funding for the project is being provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

Someone in their corner: Facing serious illness and a complex health system, two in O.C. learn value of care advocates, Orange County Register

Despite test results and professional opinions from two other hospitals and a rehabilitation center, Ann Kaiser still strongly believed that her husband, Marc, could be revived from the coma he had been in for six-and-a-half months.  She knew Marc’s recovery and rehabilitation would take time, but the first step was to get a second opinion. Ann tells the Orange County Register that she turned to the UC Irvine Health neurological critical care experts – Dr. Leonid Groysman, Dr. Cyrus Dastur and Dr. Yama Akbari.

Latest tool for neurosurgeons: Virtual reality headsets (video), CBS This Morning

A virtual reality headset that enables neurosurgeons to see inside their patients’ brains is covered in this story. Dr. Neil Martin, chair of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, is developing the technology with Cincinnati-based firm, Surgical Theater, to allow surgeons to practice surgeries on their patients before entering the operating room. Martin is interviewed.

Joel Criste named to head new UCSF-John Muir network, San Francisco Business Times

UCSF Medical Center and John Muir Health, which recently joined forces to create a new Bay Area-wide health care network, have named Joel Criste as its first CEO.

Cat gets eyelids thanks to surgery at UC Davis, ABC 10

Born without eyelids, 9-month-old cat Billie underwent surgery at UC Davis two months ago. Today, she is healed and can safely see.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of April 26

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

California’s brain initiative announces first wave of funding (audio), KPBS

California’s neuroscience program, Cal-BRAIN, designed to complement the Obama administration’s federal BRAIN Initiative, announced its first wave of funding this week. Two of the 16 researchers selected to receive grants of $120,000 each are based at UC San Diego. Read UC coverage.

Mission to Mars may warp astronaut brains, PBS NewsHour

One day, space explorers might stroll along the red rocks of Mars. But radiation exposure during the trip may wipe away their memories of home. A new report says that cosmic rays can change the physical architecture of the mind’s nerves, harming the brain regions that govern memory. One item of concern is radiation-induced memory loss, says cancer researcher Charles Limoli of UC Irvine, who led the report published May 1 in Science Advances. Cancer radiotherapy can impair human memory and spawn dementia, which is what drew Limoli’s team to the research.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times, Pacific Standard, Popular Science, Wall Street Journal

Influential Women in Business 2015, San Francisco Business Times

San Francisco Business Times’ list of Influential Women in Business 2015 includes UC Berkeley professor of molecular and cell biology Jennifer Doudna and School of Information Dean AnnaLee Saxenian and UC San Francisco Vice Chancellor of Strategic Communications and University Relations Barbara French.

Mental-health crunch on campus, The Wall Street Journal

Universities are hiring more social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists as demand for campus mental-health services rises. But persistent budget gaps mean that students in some cases foot much of the cost of the positions. Students at George Washington University will be charged an additional $1,667 in tuition next year, a jump of 3.4 percent. More than $830,000 of the resulting new revenue will pay for mental-health services. Regents at the University of California system are weighing a plan to hire 70 additional psychologists—a 40 percent increase—and 20 more psychiatrists—a 60 percent jump—to keep up with the demand at counseling centers across its 10 campuses. Administrators estimate the annual cost of the hires would top $17.4 million, and they plan to raise a mandatory annual student services fee to $1,242 from $972 by the 2019-2020 academic year to cover some of the expense.

Bay Area medical groups gear up to send aid to Nepal, San Francisco Chronicle

Many Bay Area medical organizations already are helping or planning to provide specialized care to victims of the Nepal quake long after the headlines have faded. The 7.8-magnitude quake April 25 has claimed more than 6,000 lives and injured more than 10,000. UCSF orthopedic surgeons plan to travel to Nepal this summer to help treat some of the more complex crushing injuries and limb fractures that are so common in earthquakes. The article quotes Dr. Richard Coughlin, a foot and ankle specialist and director of UCSF’s Institute for Global Orthopaedics and Traumatology, and Dr. Theodore Miclau, who is head of orthopedic surgery at UCSF and San Francisco General Hospital.

Letter: The truth behind UC hiring spike, Orange County Register

“UC pensions, paychecks balloon” [Editorial, April 23] ignores critical information that the Register itself reported and wrongly accuses UC of fiscal mismanagement, writes UC Chief Financial Officer Nathan Brostrom. It fails to mention that UC has already implemented pension reform, increasing both the university’s and employees’ contributions. Unlike California State University, we receive no state funding for our pension program. Health sciences employees account for 60 percent of UC’s staff growth between 2007 and 2014. This is due to increasing demand for health care, the addition of UC Irvine Medical Center and UC Riverside School of Medicine, and growth in government programs. These employees are primarily paid with clinical and research funds – not state funds. In fact, the portion supported by state funds has dropped by more than half during this period.

See additional coverage: Capitol Weekly

Almost 40% of California hospitals graded C or lower for patient safety, Los Angeles Times

Nearly four in 10 California hospitals received a grade of C or lower for patient safety in a new national report card aimed at prodding medical centers to do more to prevent injuries and deaths. The Leapfrog Group, an employer-backed nonprofit group focused on healthcare quality, issued its latest scores April 29, it said, so consumers and employers can be aware of poorly performing hospitals before using them. UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center received a C. (The other UC medical centers received As, including UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco and UCLA Medical Center at Santa Monica.)

City pushes back against new critics of Warriors arena, San Francisco Chronicle

After a previously unknown group announced its opposition to the Warriors’ arena in Mission Bay, evoking visions of people unable to get to the nearby UCSF hospital, city officials said April 29 that they have parking and traffic issues under control. Since the Warriors announced plans to move their arena site from Piers 30-32 on the Embarcadero to Mission Bay a year ago, the city has routinely met with neighbors, UCSF officials and the Giants to work out parking and traffic issues, said Adam Van de Water, project manager for the city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. The Chronicle’s Matier and Ross column reported April 29 that a group called the Mission Bay Alliance had announced its opposition to the arena, citing concerns over parking and traffic and particularly the impact on UCSF, which has developed a large medical campus in the formerly industrial neighborhood.

See additional coverage: San Francisco Business Times

A new kind of emergency preparedness, Pacific Standard

Until recently, health care organizations have only been reacting to climate events as they occur. Hospitals now realize that environmental preparedness goes hand-in-hand with geographic resilience, which leads to data-driven climate forecasts dictating what infrastructure technologies and tools are important to include, says Robin Guenther, a co-author of the White House report who serves as principal at Perkins+Will and a senior advisor for Health Care Without Harm, an organization the promotes environmentally responsible health care. One of the newest state-of-the-art hospitals in the country to incorporate many of these sustainable, climate-resilient technologies is the UC San Francisco Medical Center at Mission Bay, which opened on Feb. 1. Designed with climate disaster resilience, resource sustainability, and patient care in mind, Mission Bay is currently the best hospital in the country to showcase how hospitals can adapt to geographic-specific climate change. Dan Henroid, the director of nutrition and food services at UCSF who serves as a sustainability officer, says what the campus accomplished goes far beyond any typical “going green” calls to action. And with the California drought draining the state dry on resources, the hospital’s lauded methods are being put to the test.

High-fructose heart risks, The New York Times

Only two weeks of modest consumption of high-fructose corn syrup causes cholesterol and triglycerides levels to rise, and the more consumed, the greater the increases. “It was a surprise that adding as little as the equivalent of a half-can of soda at breakfast, lunch and dinner was enough to produce significant increases in risk factors for cardiovascular disease,” said the lead author, Kimber L. Stanhope, a research scientist at the University of California, Davis. “Our bodies respond to a relatively small increase in sugar, and that’s important information.”

Fitness Files: Taking the cutting out of surgery, Costa Mesa Daily Pilot

UC Irvine Health is leading the way in advancing no-incision approaches to surgery, according to Dr. Jaime Landman, professor and chair, Department of Urology, UC Irvine. Daily Pilot Fitness Files columnist Carrie Luger Slayback covered Landman’s recent presentation at the Newport Beach Public Library, where he discussed the rapid surgical innovations being made possible by revolutionary advances in high-definition imaging and technology.

The science of telemedicine: A lifesaver in the right place, Wired

Telemedicine — doctors talking to patients or other doctors via video — may yet find a place as a tool in mainstream health care. Physicians are already finding important uses for it. But it has one critical limitation: contact. “You can’t feel a joint and see whether it’s warm and lax,” says Thomas Nesbitt, a physician and a founder of the telemedicine program at UC Davis. “But we’re less reliant on touch as a diagnostic tool now, thanks to imaging.”

Chris Pine, Ziggy Marley help John Varvatos raise $957,000 for charity, Los Angeles Times

A fundraiser hosted by designer John Varvatos benefited Stuart House at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica, an innovative treatment facility for sexually abused children.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has another health scare, The Washington Post

NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the league’s 68-year-old leading scorer, has survived leukemia, a house fire that destroyed his jazz record collection, and appearances on the television show “Diff’rent Strokes.” And, despite enduring quadruple-bypass surgery earlier this month and a post-op scare earlier today, he is still alive and well. After a brief visit to the hospital this morning, Abdul-Jabbar was sent home. He contacted his physicians who told him to come to the emergency department at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center,” read a statement posted by the hospital on its Facebook page. “He was evaluated by his surgeon and cardiologist. After a battery of tests, they found no complications.”

Even when medically necessary, children face barriers to epileptic surgery, study finds, California Health Report

When anti-seizure drugs no longer help, children with epilepsy often need surgery, but a new study has found that they face barriers to treatment and often wait more than a year for the surgery. The UCLA study found that, on average, children had had seizures for more than five years before they had surgery. Parents described confusion over the disease and its medications, insurance obstacles and difficulty finding the right doctors, researchers said.

Nationally ranked UCSD hospital deals with roach infestation (audio), KPBS

The UC San Diego Medical Center at Hillcrest is addressing an issue with cockroaches in its kitchen. The Hillcrest medical center is a nationally ranked teaching hospital and part of the UCSD Health System. Officials at UCSD declined requests for an interview. Jacqueline Carr, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said in an email the production kitchen is where food is cooked for patients and employees. Some of that food is served in the adjacent cafeteria, where staff and visitors eat. The cafeteria is inspected separately. Carr wrote that management dealt with the August cockroach infestation inspection “promptly.”

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of April 19

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

100 Great Hospitals in America, Becker’s Hospital Review

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

Best colleges for a major in public health, USA Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hoop dreams (video), 60 Minutes

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

UCSD scientist awarded Japan Prize, U-T San Diego

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

Scripps, UCSD to collaborate on hospice training, U-T San Diego

Scripps Health and UC San Diego will collaborate on a hospice training program for doctors, filling a void left when San Diego Hospice closed in 2013 amid questions about its Medicare billing practices. The two organizations jointly announced a new five-year agreement April 22 that will house the fellowship program, which will be patterned on the one San Diego Hospice offered, within the university’s school of medicine.

San Diego doctors use rare surgery treatment for rare espohageal cancer (audio), KPBS

April is esophageal cancer awareness month and it comes as doctors in San Diego use rare treatments to help patients fight the disease. At UC San Diego, a rare procedure on patients has been conducted since 2006. The procedure, called robotic-assisted transhiatal esophagectomy, creates a new esophagus by pulling the stomach up through the chest into the neck. Robotic technology has enabled doctors to perform this procedure with a laparoscope through a small incision. Michael Bouvet, an surgical oncologist at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, said it results in less pain and a quicker recovery for patients.

Overnight fasting may reduce risk of breast cancer: researchers, NBC San Diego

Women who fast for longer hours at night may reduce their risk of breast cancer, according to a new study by UC San Diego School of Medicine researchers.

Severe morning sickness linked to neurodevelopmental problems in children, study says (audio), KPCC

Extreme morning sickness may cause neurodevelopmental disabilities in children, according to a newly-published study. The joint UCLA-USC research finds mothers who suffer extreme morning sickness, known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), are three times more likely to give birth to children with neurological developmental issues than those who did not.

UC Davis researchers study newborn foal behavior (video), KTVU 2

On the Victory Rose thoroughbred farm near Vacaville, they have had a curious problem with some newborn horses — a problem that breeders call maladjusted foals. Eileen Jackson, owner of Victory Rose thoroughbred farm, said the foals seem confused. “They’ll walk into a corner of a stall and they don’t understand why they can’t just keep walking,” she said. “They try to walk up the edge of the wall. They really have no clue of their surroundings.” The foals also do not recognize their mothers or nurse. In the wild they would die. Dr. John Madigan — a distinguished professor of veterinary science at UC Davis and expert in equine neonatal health – says veterinarians use to think it was lack of oxygen at birth but research has ruled that out. Last year, he realized maladjusted foal symptoms reminded him of children’s autism symptoms. He thought he would run it by a fellow colleague. Professor Isaac Pessah of UC Davis, a neurotoxicologist, also is interviewed.

Miss America makes surprise visit to UC Davis Children’s Hospital (video), KCRA 3

Miss America Kira Kazantsev, who grew up in Walnut Creek, surprised patients at the UC Davis Children’s Hospital with a fun visit April 24.

See additional coverage: Sacramento Bee

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In the media: Week of April 12

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UCSF Fresno celebrates 40 years, The Fresno Bee

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

The 100 Most Influential People, Time

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

Lessons from the fields, Slate

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

Bill extends, expands benefits review, California Healthline

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

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

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

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times, City News Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

A grateful heart may be a healthy heart, HealthDay News

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

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In the media: Week of April 5

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See additional coverage: NPR

50 most influential physician executives and leaders, Modern Healthcare

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

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

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

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

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

UCLA’s Operation Mend provides disfigured veteran with life-changing surgery (video), CBS Los Angeles

A retired Navy officer badly burned while stationed abroad had limited use of his left hand and third-degree steam burns on 31 percent of his body. “I can’t turn it on. If I hold the back side, I can,” Matt Bove said while trying to maneuver his maimed appendage. Doctors told Bove there was nothing they could do to fix his left hand. UCLA’s Operation Mend changed all that. The program gives wounded service members access to the nation’s top plastic and reconstructive surgeons for free.

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

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

See additional coverage: Medical Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In the media: Week of March 29

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

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

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

Future of Medicaid hospital improvement program in doubt, Modern Healthcare

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

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

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

Online program converts physicians to family doctors, Times Record

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

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

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

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

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

The condition cancer research is in, The New York Times

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

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

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

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

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

Cigarette smoke makes MRSA worse, U-T San Diego

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

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

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

See additional coverage: New York Times, Washington Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UCSD studies twin astronauts, U-T San Diego

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

Money, brain size linked, U-T San Diego

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

Doctors, stop sticking your patients so often, HealthLeaders Media

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

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

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

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

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

Calif. patients say HIEs worsen patient data privacy, HealthITSecurity

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

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

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

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of March 22

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

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

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

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

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

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

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

See additional coverage: California Healthline, Orange County Business Journal

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

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

Guilt by association, Inside Higher Ed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saving pets through dialysis, Philadelphia Inquirer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of March 15

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Regents consider recommendations from UC medical centers, Daily Bruin

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

See additional coverage: Daily Californian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UCLA clinical informatics program achieves accreditation, Clinical Innovation+Technology

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

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

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

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

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

See additional coverage: San Francisco Chronicle

Altered genes self-propogate, U-T San Diego

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pet tales: Vaccines (audio), Capital Public Radio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Smart bandage detects bedsores before they appear, Gizmag

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

The myopia boom, Nature

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

10 ways to get happy, CNN

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

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

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

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

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

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of March 8

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

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

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

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

Hospital ratings can be more confusing than helpful, CBS MoneyWatch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See additional coverage: Orange County Register

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In the media: Week of March 1

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

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

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

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

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

Superbug outbreaks prompt calls for mandatory reporting, Los Angeles Times

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

Second Los Angeles hospital identifies ‘superbug’ infections, Reuters

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

Deadly superbug-related scopes sold without FDA approval, CNN

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

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

A story about Ebola preparations at UC Davis and Kaiser.

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

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

Darrell Steinberg lands UC Davis post, The Sacarmento Bee

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

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

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

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

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

Red hot, The Scientist

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

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

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

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

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

Stepping up the fight against cancer, Orange County Register

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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