CATEGORY: In the media

In the media: Week of Oct. 23

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Editorial: Delivering doctors, The Riverside Press-Enterprise

A large and growing shortage of doctors poses a serious long-range challenge for the Inland region. That condition will not heal itself, but requires prompt action: Legislators need to find money for the most promising first aid — a new medical school at UC Riverside.

UCSF chancellor: New companies make new jobs (video), CBS News

Scott Pelley speaks with UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann on how the United States will create new jobs to fix the struggling economy. Read a transcript of the interview.

UCSF trial offers new hope for melanoma patients, San Francisco Chronicle

Shannon Jimerson, an advanced-stage melanoma patient at UCSF, did a little dance this week while still sitting on the exam table after she got the news she desperately wanted to hear. Nine months after starting a combination drug therapy in early phase clinical trials, her tumors were continuing to shrink.

Bionic breakthrough helps a paralyzed Morris Plains woman get back on her feet, Newark Star-Ledger

Laurie Kammer slipped into the embrace of the high-tech backpack, connected to the lightweight black braces that ran down her unresponsive legs. Then, after some coaching, she stood on her feet and took her first steps since the fall in June that broke her back, leaving her paralyzed. The Ekso machine has four motors and 15 sensors that mimic the normal human gait. It was originally conceived by the UC Berkeley Robotics and Human Engineering Lab. In 2005 the company was spun out of the lab and soon after it licensed the technology to Lockheed Martin to develop exoskeltons for soldiers to carry heavy loads.

At 1 year, UCI stem-cell treatment safe, The Orange County Register

The world’s first test on patients of a treatment for spinal cord injury using human embryonic stem cells is so far proving safe, one year after the first of four patients received injections. The treatment, developed by researchers at UC Irvine, involves injection of neural cells derived from human embryonic stem cells into the site of a spinal cord injury within seven to 14 days — known as “acute” injuries, as opposed to longer-term injuries known as “chronic.” None of the patients has experienced any adverse reactions from the treatment, according to Geron Corp., which is conducting the trials, although a few “mild” adverse reactions were reported from a drug used to suppress the patients’ immune responses. “I’m pretty happy that the treatment appears to be safe at this point,” said UCI stem-cell researcher Hans Keirstead, who is not involved in the patient trials but developed the treatment with his colleague, Gabriel Nistor.

UC Davis, Chinese company form major genetics research partnership, The Sacramento Bee

In a potentially huge boost for Sacramento’s technology industry, UC Davis is embarking on a major partnership with one of the world’s leading genetics researchers. The university’s partnership with BGI, a research institute from Shenzhen, China, could help turn the Sacramento area into a hub for pharmaceutical and agricultural biotech companies – a status community leaders have been craving for years.

UC Merced students develop avatar medical care technology, The Fresno Bee

In a dark room lit only by the razor-thin beams of infrared cameras, University of California at Merced graduate student Carlo Camporesi spends most days — and many nights — in the company of avatars. This isn’t the next big sci-fi movie in the making or the latest Nintendo Wii video game. Camporesi is part of a research team working to solve a very real problem — how to overcome an expected shortage of physical therapists who will work with aging baby boomers. UC Merced received a $75,000 grant through the UC system for five graduate students to begin creating a software program this year that uses avatars to provide physical therapy to the elderly. UC Davis Medical School is partnering on the program, and doctors there will help develop therapy exercises over the next couple years. Students hope to renew the grant, which is through the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society, a collaboration between four UC campuses, to pay for a few more years of work on the avatars.

New law on telehealth may mean better care, easy access, California Healthline

AB 415 is a bill by Assembly member Dan Logue (R-Linda) that Gov. Jerry Brown (D) recently signed. The new law, effective Jan. 1, is designed to streamline the practice of telehealth in a number of ways. The article quotes Thomas Nesbitt, associate vice chancellor for strategic technologies and alliances at UC Davis Medical Center and includes a link to the UC telehealth fact sheet.

Telehealth may be led by telederm, California Healthline

April Armstrong thinks the medical specialty that’s perfect for California’s nascent telehealth system is dermatology. “Dermatology is visual,” according to Armstrong, director of the teledermatology program at UC-Davis Medical Center. “That’s the great thing about it, why it’s so suitable for telehealth, is that it’s a visual field. If the image quality is clear, you can tell a lot.” Today, the Center for Connected Health Policy is scheduled to release an issue brief Armstrong authored on teledermatology. The brief was funded by the California HealthCare Foundation, which publishes California Healthline. About 1,200 patients a year, mostly in rural areas, currently use the telehealth program at UC-Davis Med Center, she said. Dermatology is the most often-used telehealth specialty consult there.

Despite health care cutbacks, many nonprofit hospital executives reap million-dollar salaries, perks, Contra Costa Times

Amid rising medical costs that challenge families and health care organizations, East Bay hospital executives enjoy seven-figure salaries and an array of perks. Eight hospital leaders in Alameda and Contra Costa counties reaped more than $1 million each in 2009, and many had benefits such as car allowances, gym memberships, financial planning services and housing loans. View a nonprofit hospital employee pay database here. A previous story examined charity care at East Bay nonprofit hospitals. UC Health is not mentioned.

California hospitals cite issues with CMS data on blood infection rates, California Healthline

The California Hospital Association is challenging the validity of CMS data that show some California hospitals have blood infection rates that are considerably higher than the national average, Payers & Providers reports. The Payers & Providers article mentions UCLA and UC San Francisco.

Bay Area Science Festival features fun, discovery, San Francisco Chronicle

Science is breaking out all over the Bay Area this week as hundreds of scientists at research institutions, laboratories, universities and high-tech companies go public to show adults and kids alike that the scientific world is exciting, fun and well worth exploring. The events begin today and run through next weekend; most are free, but some will take place at institutions like the California Academy of Sciences, the Chabot Science and Space Center, the Exploratorium, Tech Museum in San Jose and the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, where normal admission fees will apply. The festival is intended to celebrate how science, engineering and math touch everyone. It is the brainchild of researchers at UC San Francisco, whose Science & Health Education Partnership has been bringing scientists directly into Bay Area elementary school classrooms for years.

Mammogram’s role as savior is tested, The New York Times

Has the power of the mammogram been oversold? At a time when medical experts are rethinking screening guidelines for prostate and cervical cancer, many doctors say it’s also time to set the record straight about mammography screening for breast cancer. While most agree that mammograms have a place in women’s health care, many doctors say widespread “Pink Ribbon” campaigns and patient testimonials have imbued the mammogram with a kind of magic it doesn’t have. Some patients are so committed to annual screenings they even begin to believe that regular mammograms actually prevent breast cancer, said UCLA Dr. Susan Love, a prominent women’s health advocate. And women who skip a mammogram often beat themselves up for it. “You can’t expect from mammography what it cannot do,” said Dr. Laura Esserman, director of the breast care center at UCSF. “Screening is not prevention. We’re not going to screen our way to a cure.”

Halloween candy myth an urban legend, expert says, NBC San Diego

You know the story: poor trick-or-treaters around the country return home Halloween night with razors in their licorice and poison in their Pixy Stix. If it wasn’t for their parents’ careful inspection, they could have been sick – or worse, they could have died. Or so we thought. It turns out that the old poison-in-the-candy story is nothing more than a myth. “Fortunately, it’s an urban legend,” said Lee Cantrell, director of the California Poison Control System – San Diego Division at UC San Diego Medical Center.

T.O. high school senior researching cause for debilitating inner-ear disorder, Ventura County Star

A profile of a high school student who is conducting independent research on the inner-ear disorder known as Meniere’s disease at the UCLA Department of Head and Neck Surgery. Dr.  Ivan Lopez, an adjunct professor of head and neck surgery in whose lab the teenager works, is quoted.

To ACO or not to ACO, that is the Bay Area question, San Francisco Business Times

Bay Area health care organizations that have been sitting on the fence may be more likely to explore starting an ACO, now that the feds have loosened rules and time lines, and enhanced financial incentives. Accountable care organizations, a key part of President Barack Obama’s health reform package, are in effect an experimental Medicare pilot designed to control costs while improving quality, although other forms of ACOs are being explored outside that government framework. Many Bay Area health care players, notably Blue Shield of California, Hill Physicians Medical Group, Catholic Healthcare West, Sutter Health’s California Pacific Medical Center, Brown & Toland Physicians and UCSF Medical Center have already launched pilot ACOs, but many others — locally and nationally — have been hesitant to start the process.

Johnson & Johnson to fund awards for University of California bio startups, San Francisco Business Times

An arm of Johnson & Johnson will fund University of California projects with a high potential to get to market. The amount of money from J&J’s Corporate Office of Science and Technology was not disclosed by the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, or QB3.

Cal health research benefits from a spry 83-year-old, San Francisco Business Times

Li Ka Shing spent his first 80 years amassing a huge fortune in ventures from plastics to real estate. He’s devoting the time he has left to fulfilling a 2006 pledge to give away more than a third of it. As Li is one of the world’s richest men, with a net worth somewhere north of $25 billion, that’s $8 billion or more to be aimed at educational and medical causes around the world by the Li Ka Shing Foundation and other charitable operations he’s spawned. So while Li may be less known in the United States than Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, he’s in their league wealth-wise — and is considered just as much a rock star in the world of Asian philanthropy. That status was clear when he turned up this week at UC Berkeley to dedicate the Li Ka Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences, a $267 million project to which he contributed $40 million.

UCSF nabs $6 million for seven-state AIDS prevention project, San Francisco Business Times

UC San Francisco’s Center for AIDS Prevention Studies has won $6 million in federal funding over four years to lead a seven-state effort to help HIV-AIDS patients get diagnosed and receive continuing care. The funds come from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration and its Special Projects of National Significance Program, UCSF said Tuesday. The grant is for $1.5 annually for four years.

Hospital projects hit milestones, San Francisco Business Times

The region’s two major academic medical centers — UCSF Medical Center and Stanford Hospital & Clinics/Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital — have hit milestones on $5 billion worth of construction work. Last week, UCSF and DPR Construction “topped out” its $1.5 billion new women’s, children’s and cancer specialty hospital at Mission Bay by placing a 1,600-pound steel beam at the structure’s apex.

UC Davis study questions link of fast food to lower-income obesity, The Sacramento Bee

Fast food alone cannot be blamed for high obesity rates among people with low incomes, according to a new UC Davis Center for Healthcare Policy and Research study. The research calls into question stereotypes that have led some cities in Southern California to cite obesity when passing laws limiting or banning new fast-food restaurants in poorer communities.

Number of children with autism rising quickly in Modesto area, The Modesto Bee

The number of children with autism has skyrocketed. Modesto City Schools serves nearly seven times as many children today as the district did eight years ago. Stanislaus County as a whole has had slightly less than a fivefold increase. No one knows what causes autism. Also unknown is if its phenomenal growth is because of better and broader diagnosis of autism, or a growing risk. The article quotes autism expert Irva Hertz-Picciotto, deputy director of the Children’s Center for Environmental Health at UC Davis and lead author of a study published in 2010 that found a cluster of autism cases born in north and east Modesto.

Recovery for bomb survivor involves family, helping others, Camp Pendleton Patch

This article highlights UCLA’s Operation Mend, a program established to provide surgery for U.S. military personnel severely wounded and disfigured in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. Timothy Miller, plastic and reconstructive surgeon and executive director of Operation Mend, is quoted.

Fish oil supplements slow growth of prostate cancer cells, UCLA study finds, City News Service/Los Angeles Daily News

This article reports on a study by researchers at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center that found that a low-fat diet with fish oil supplements helped slow the growth of cancer cells in prostate tissue. Dr. William Aronson, clinical professor of urology and a Jonsson Cancer Center researcher, is quoted.

Lab fight raises U.S. security issues, The Bay Citizen/New York Times

Synthetic biology — which includes the development of fuels, organ tissue and tumor-destroying bacteria — became a focus of government and law enforcement agencies after 9/11 and the anthrax attacks that quickly followed it. The field’s “extraordinary promise,” a presidential commission concluded in December, is accompanied by “potential risks” to humans and the environment. A dispute at the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center, a prominent coalition of biology labs that is led by UC Berkeley, illustrates the potentially dangerous consequences of the research. At the heart of the controversy is a biosafety expert who resigned last summer amid complaints that the coalition was not doing enough to prevent a biological disaster.

Can you see what I see?, The Atlantic

How much better it would be, though, if we could actually get inside another person’s head, to see what they see, and feel what they feel, from the inside. To judge by recent reports, something like this may now be possible for the first time. It’s old news that what you see affects your brain. In principle, then, it ought to be possible to figure out what you are seeing — or thinking or feeling or desiring — by looking at what is going on in your head. And this is exactly what Jack Gallant and his neuroscience group at UC Berkeley seem to have managed to do. They have been able to reconstruct what you are seeing — they literally make a film clip — just on the basis of looking at what is going on your brain.

See additional coverage: The Economist

Study asks who’s funnier, men or women?, Time

If men are funnier than women, then it’s not by much — and mostly just to other men. Such is the conclusion of a new study by psychologists at the University of California, San Diego, who judged comic wit by asking students to write original captions for New Yorker cartoons.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times editorial


CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Oct. 16

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UCR redoubles efforts to open medical school, North County Times

UC Riverside refuses to give up. Rebuffed by Sacramento last summer in its quest to secure the necessary money to open a top-flight medical school, the university has turned elsewhere for the cash. Richard Olds, founding dean of UCR’s planned School of Medicine, said that if the university can obtain enough pledges by next spring to ensure a steady stream of revenue totaling $10 million a year for several years, the school’s will open its doors in 2013.

Gladstone to announce new stem cell center, San Francisco Chronicle

For nearly three decades, the Gladstone Institutes has played a largely behind-the-scenes role in studying some of the world’s most pressing health crises: Alzheimer’s, heart disease and AIDS, just for starters. But stem cells, increasingly part of the institute’s studies, are putting Gladstone in the spotlight. Today, it is announcing a new stem cell center, funded with a $5 million donation from the Roddenberry Foundation. Creating the new Roddenberry Center for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine – named after the man who created “Star Trek” – underscores Gladstone’s new emphasis on shepherding potential treatments beyond the labs and into patient hands, researchers there say. Gladstone is affiliated with UCSF.

Obama to honor UCSD’s Chien for improving human health, San Diego Union-Tribune

Walk down certain hallways at UC San Diego and you may overhear someone say, “Be like Shu.” The phrase is catching on at the Jacobs School of Engineering, where faculty member Shu Chien is being held up not only as an example of how to succeed in research, but in life. Friends and colleagues call the bioengineer a gentle genius. On Friday, President Barack Obama may say something similar at the White House. He will award Chien the National Medal of Science for bringing together the worlds of biology, engineering and medicine to improve human health, notably the “river of life” that is the cardiovascular system.

See additional coverage: The Associated Press

OB/GYN’s solar suitcase saves lives in poor nations, San Francisco Chronicle

In March 2008, Dr. Laura Stachel arrived in the obstetrics ward of a state hospital in Zaria, Nigeria, determined to find out why so many women were dying in childbirth. Stachel, an obstetrician-gynecologist then pursuing a doctorate of public health at UC Berkeley, expected to provide clinical advice on ways to improve procedures. But she learned something far more basic was going wrong: The hospitals and health clinics simply didn’t have electricity for large and unpredictable parts of the day. So instead of giving medical advice, she decided to get them more reliable power. As it happened, she knew whom to ask. Her husband, Hal Aronson, has spent more than a decade teaching about renewable energy systems throughout California. When Stachel returned from Nigeria, they set to work designing a solar system for the hospital. The project would eventually lead them to form WE CARE Solar, a Berkeley nonprofit that’s now delivered 80 compact solar systems to health clinics around the world.

Mini-medical schools helping people age in better health, The Sacramento Bee

Dr. Michael McCloud started off thinking small. He expected only a handful of people to show up in early 2002 for what he thought would be a one-time series of classes on healthy aging, his spin on the growing “mini-medical school” concept. In general, mini-medical schools – a public outreach program with a catchy name – provide classroom sessions on the health sciences for laypeople. Universities across the country have used them primarily to showcase their institutional research. McCloud, a UC Davis Medical Center geriatrician, liked the mini-medical school idea, but wanted to finesse it for older adults. Classes would be free, taught by medical school faculty members. At the end of the series, participants would receive diplomas. He just hoped enough people would sign up for classes on aging that he could fill the 150-seat Maidu Community Center meeting room in Roseville.

Two at UC Davis named to Institute of Medicine, The Sacramento Bee

The dean of UC Davis’ medical school and a veterinary medicine expert at the university were named to the prestigious Institute of Medicine. Claire Pomeroy, dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine, and Patricia Conrad, veterinary parasitologist in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, were elected to the institute, considered one of the top honors in health and medicine in the country. (A total of 14 UC members were elected to the IOM: See story.)

See additional coverage: North County Times

Slideshow: UCSF’s Mission Bay hospital takes shape, San Francisco Business Times

Earlier this week, UCSF Medical Center celebrated a milestone in the construction of its $1.5 billion new women’s, children’s and cancer specialty hospital at Mission Bay, “topping out” the new structure with a 1,600-pound steel beam.

UC Berkeley dedicates Li Ka Shing biomedical center (video), San Francisco Business Times

Billionaire philanthropist Li Ka Shing, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and a standing-room-only crowd on Friday dedicated the campus’ new Li Ka Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences. The $80 million, six-level, 200,000-square-foot facility, which will feature UC Berkeley’s stem cell program on the third and fourth floors, was funded in large part with a $40 million gift in 2005 from Hong Kong businessman Li. It also received $20 million from California’s taxpayer-supported stem cell research funding agency.

Free clinic puts emphasis on prevention, Los Angeles Times

Health professionals meeting with patients at the CareNow event at L.A.’s Sports Arena aim to promote diet, exercise, smoking cessation and screenings. Jose Alexander Chavez, a scholar with UCLA’s International Medical Graduate program, is quoted.

Stricken Italian tourist leaves San Diego with new liver (video), NBC San Diego

An Italian woman who arrived in California on vacation two months ago is leaving San Diego for home Saturday with a new liver, thanks to UCSD Medical Center. Monica Rossi was stricken with a critical case of Hepatitis B, and wound up comatose for almost two weeks.

The collaboration of cancer, The Atlantic

If someone asked you to name the most recent and promising advancement in cancer research, would you guess that it had nothing to do with an FDA-approved drug?  Would you believe that the process by which a discovery is made, is just as important as the discovery itself? At the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Research Center, they revolutionized the research process by bringing patients, physicians, scientists and the bio-depository under one architectural-award winning roof.  Instead of operating in their separate silos of academia and medicine, the essential elements to cancer therapy are integrated in a strategic collaboration that ensures success on all sides.

UCSF study suggests annual mammograms unnecessary, San Francisco Chronicle

More than half of women who are screened annually for breast cancer will get a false positive result within 10 years of their first mammogram, according to a UCSF study that throws more fuel on the controversy over when, and how often, women should be tested.

See additional coverage: KQED Forum (audio)

Treating TB, HIV at same time found to save lives, San Francisco Chronicle

Treating tuberculosis and HIV infections at the same time can be a challenge for patients and their doctors, but attacking both diseases early and aggressively isn’t harmful and could save the lives of those who are sickest, according to a global study led by UCSF researchers.

UC Irvine professor donating $10 million to school, Los Angeles Times

The gift to UC Irvine’s School of Biological Sciences by Francisco J. Ayala, one of the world’s top molecular biologists and owner of more than 2,000 acres of Central Valley vineyards, follows recent budget cuts in response to state funding reductions.

Telehealth grant will put remote docs in touch with local patients, Redwood Times

The Southern Humboldt Community Healthcare District is one step closer to acquiring a telehealth program that will allow local patients to be seen by specialists at UC Davis and other hospitals without leaving Garberville. The Northern California Health Care Authority announced that SHCHD will receive a grant of $65,000 to be used for telehealth equipment, as part of a larger grant NCHCA obtained from the UC Davis Health System and the California Telehealth Network.

Hip surgery option loses key backer, The New York Times

In another controversy involving all-metal hips, an influential group has found that there is insufficient evidence to show that an alternative technique known as hip resurfacing is as safe and effective as a traditional replacement. The author of the report, Dr. Judith Walsh of the University of California, San Francisco, noted that the group’s previous assessments of hip resurfacing indicated the lack of clinical trials directly comparing the outcomes of patients who got a hip resurfacing with similar patients who got a standard replacement.

Medicare releases patient safety ratings for hospitals, Kaiser Health News/MSNBC

Medicare has begun publishing patient safety ratings for thousands of hospitals as the first step toward paying less to institutions with high rates of surgical complications, infections, mishaps and potentially avoidable deaths. The new data, available starting last week on Medicare’s Hospital Compare website, evaluate hospitals on how often their patients suffer complications such as a collapsed lung, a blood clot after surgery or an accidental cut or tear during treatment. The article quotes Dr. Patrick Romano, a professor at the UC Davis School of Medicine who helped the government design the measures.

Vitamin E no panacea for prostate cancer, San Diego Union-Tribune

Last week, the NIH published the results of a major study investigating whether taking vitamin E or selenium supplements reduced the risk of developing cancer, as earlier research had suggested. The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) discovered just the opposite to be true: Men who took significant daily doses of vitamin E had a greater prostate cancer risk. A Q&A follows with Dr. J. Kellogg Parsons, a urologic oncologist at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center and one of the SELECT study co-authors, and Dr. Christopher Kane, chief of the division of urology at Moores.

Healthcare reform helps bring docs to Central Valley, HealthyCal

A severe physician shortage in rural California is just one reason that many farm workers don’t get health care. But in Stanislaus County, the Valley Consortium for Medical Education is taking on the shortfall with a boost from the federal health reform law. Now, a $2.5 million dollar annual grant to the Valley Consortium under the Affordable Care Act will help the residency program chip away at the Central Valley’s yawning physician gap. The article mentions that one of the participants, Gilberto Cota, grew up in the border city of Mexicali, and landed a spot in a UCLA program designed to train Spanish-speaking doctors to practice in the United States.

Hmong get ally in fight to prevent hepatitis B, Merced Sun-Star

Many first- and second-generation Hmong immigrants to America fought their way through wars, jungles, starvation and thirst to get to their adopted land from Indochina. Now some of them and their children are facing another serious threat. hepatitis B is highly prevalent among the Hmong people, including those living in Merced and throughout the Central Valley, but nothing is being done to combat the issue, a Merced group said. Project Prevention — an organization of young professionals, a community researcher and UC Merced students — decided it was time to take action to address the problem, at least on a small scale, targeting the Hmong community in Merced.

Doctor sees collaboration with UC Merced, Vida en el Valle

A Mexican doctor sees great opportunities for collaboration with UC Merced on binational health initiatives intended to decrease the spread of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases among Mexicans and migrants. “Binational efforts are amazingly important,” Dr. Carlos Cabrera, of the Mexican non-profit organization Brazos Abiertos (Open Arms), said last Thursday evening, following a presentation at UC Merced.

Obesity ‘worse for teen girls’ blood pressure’, BBC News

Obesity has a greater impact on the blood pressure of teenage girls than on teenage boys, a U.S. study has suggested. The researchers from the University of California say the link may be counteracting the known protective effect of the hormone oestrogen on the heart. The article quotes UC Merced associate professor Rudy Ortiz, who led the study.

Frustrated Central Valley congressman retiring, The Associated Press

Five-term Rep. Dennis Cardoza of California announced Thursday he will not seek re-election next year, expressing frustration with a political process that rewards “screamers” and criticizing the Obama administration for what he characterized as a failure to solve the housing crisis. He was instrumental in locating the University of California’s newest campus in Merced, and said he will continue to work for the creation of a medical school there.

Steroids given to preemies may harm brain growth: study, HealthDay News

Giving premature babies even low doses of steroids after birth interferes with development of the brain’s cerebellum, which is important to motor skills, learning and behavior, new research finds. For the study, researchers analyzed MRIs of 172 babies born very early (under 32 weeks’ gestation) at two medical centers, the University of British Columbia and the University of California, San Francisco.

Carl Steward: Monte Vista High football player making most of abbreviated prep career, Contra Costa Times

This column about Monte Vista High School football player Ryan Neil notes that he successfully had a brain tumor removed at UCSF Medical Center. Neurosurgeon Mitchel Berger is mentioned.

County designates Kaiser’s Vacaville hospital as trauma center, Fairfield Daily Republic

Kaiser Permanente will begin offering trauma center services at the Vacaville Medical Center Monday. The center’s Level III status will allow Kaiser to accept and treat accident and violence victims, saving travel time and possibly lives. Previously, severely injured victims were airlifted to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek and UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.

Dr. Byron Demorest was ophthalmologist, one of UC Davis medical school founders, The Sacramento Bee

Dr. Byron H. Demorest, a longtime medical and community leader who was a founding father of the UC Davis School of Medicine, died Friday of multiple myeloma, his family said. He was 86. Dr. Demorest was a widely respected ophthalmologist for more than 50 years. He was active in efforts to start a medical school at UC Davis and co-founded the ophthalmology program in 1965. As the first department chairman, he helped organize the faculty and created the medical school’s first accredited residency program.

John Baxter, UCSF cloner of growth hormone, dies, San Francisco Chronicle

Dr. John D. Baxter, 71, a longtime UCSF faculty member who with his colleagues first cloned the key genes for human and bovine growth hormone, died Oct. 5 after surgery for cancer. As a endocrinologist, Dr. Baxter founded the UCSF Diabetes Center, and as a scientist he entered deeply into the early days of research on recombinant DNA and genetic engineering that led to major advances in medical therapies, major new gene cloning technologies, and the booming biotech industry. His lab’s success in cloning the key genes for human growth hormone led Genentech, then a new biotech company, to develop a synthetic form of the hormone that has been widely used in the treatment of children and adults with growth hormone deficiencies.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Oct. 9

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

An innovator shapes an empire (video), The New York Times

A profile of UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann. UCSF also has reprinted the article on its website.

Supervisors to weigh plans for new MLK hospital, The Torrance Daily Breeze

County leaders this week will consider an environmental review and construction bids for the much-anticipated work at Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Center, which is expected to relieve pressure on surrounding hospitals. The new 120-bed inpatient hospital in Willowbrook is slated for completion in the spring of 2013, and open for patients in September of that year. Work includes a $237 million renovation of the existing inpatient tower and construction of a new, four-story Multi-Service Ambulatory Care Center expected to cost $150 million. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider a detailed environmental review for these two projects, along with conceptual work to develop another 1.4 million square feet of space for medical offices, general offices and possibly commercial and retail businesses. The new MLK hospital will be run by the University of California system, what leaders described as a “historic” partnership when the agreement was reached in 2009.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Wave

New high-tech UCSD training facility puts doctors to the test (audio/video), KPBS

The practice of medicine is constantly evolving, and medical schools have to stay on the cutting edge. That’s not a problem at UC San Diego. The school just opened a four-story state-of-the-art medical training center.

Mouth swab could detect pancreatic cancer, Sky News

A new study has linked mouth bacteria to the development of pancreatic cancer. Researchers say they cannot be sure whether the bacteria cause the deadly cancer or are a consequence of the disease. Scientists from UCLA are now investigating whether a simple mouth swab could be used to screen for pancreatic cancer.

HealthWatch: Doctors warming to caveman diet trend (video), CBS 5

UC San Francisco researchers are showing how a modern-day Paleo diet works just as well as statin drugs when it comes to dropping cholesterol levels. CBS 5 medical reporter Dr. Kim Mulvihill was so intrigued by the UCSF research that she became a guinea pig for the scientists. She was told that she could not lose any weight and was given a Paleo plan to follow. Within 10 days, her cholesterol dropped dramatically, as did her blood pressure. She then asked if she could lose weight, and modified the diet to eat less. Dr. Mulvihill then shed 30 pounds and two dress sizes.

Op-ed: One road out of ‘the Valley of Death, San Diego Union-Tribune

This op-ed highlights the role of the UC San Diego William J. von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism and Technology Advancement, whose mission is to accelerate innovation and facilitate interaction between academia and industry. In particular, it mentions the breakthrough discovery of a sepsis treatment by Geert Schmid-Schonbein, director of the Microcirculation Lab at UC San Diego.

Experimental treatment for scoliosis: stapling, San Francisco Chronicle

Grace Rego’s spine is curved so sharply that the “S” shape of it is obvious under the skin of her back. But you’d never know it to watch the 4-year-old clamber over a sofa or chase her little brother around the family’s home in Piedmont. Until very recently, Grace’s only option for treatment would have been wearing a heavy plastic brace around the clock. Eventually, she’d likely need metal rods implanted in her back to further protect her spine. Instead her doctor performed surgery to staple together several vertebrae in her spine, hopefully correcting the curve and preventing it from getting worse. The surgery was designed and refined at a children’s hospital in Philadelphia and is now being used by a UCSF orthopedic surgeon for childhood scoliosis cases like Grace’s. “I don’t want people lining up for this. I’m inherently cautious, and it’s not for everyone,” said Dr. Mohammad Diab, the UCSF surgeon who’s performing the stapling procedure. “But I want people to pay attention, because there may be alternatives” to the traditional treatments.

Dorothy Leland: UC Merced critical to rebirth of Valley, The Fresno Bee

UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland highlights the importance of UC Merced to the San Joaquin Valley, including the impact of its health sciences.

Berkeley Bionics changes its name to Ekso Bionics, San Francisco Busines Times

Berkeley Bionics, which makes technology to help paraplegics walk again, changed its name to Ekso Bionics this week. The Berkeley business rebranded its line of “exoskeletons,” as it calls the wearable robots that let paralyzed people stand and walk. A year ago, the company, which former CEO Homayoon Kazerooni helped start, made a splash as it unveiled its first set of mechanical legs. Kazerooni is a UC Berkeley professor of mechanical engineering.

UC reaches labor deal with its largest union, Los Angeles Times

The labor union representing the largest organized group of University of California employees has ratified its new contract overwhelmingly, raising hopes for a period of labor peace at the university system and its hospitals, officials said Monday. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, which represents more than 20,000 UC employees, including hospital assistants, custodians, gardeners and cafeteria workers, approved the contract by voting margins of at least 98% in its two units, union representatives said.

Closing time in California, Inside Higher Ed

The 38-year-old California Postsecondary Education Commission will not be getting a funeral when it is laid to rest next month. When the state coordinating board closes its doors for the last time on Nov. 18, few will be there to pay respects to the once-touted agency that served as a check on the governor and on institutions of higher learning. A year and a half ago, CPEC produced a study identifying whether the University of California at Riverside needed a proposed medical school. CPEC concluded there was a need for the medical school, but advised delaying the opening until adequate funding was secured. However, the university opted against the recommendation and went ahead with the construction of the school.

Telehealth services to reach more rural Californians, Healthcare IT News

A bill signed last week in California aims to greatly increase access to healthcare in rural areas by providing more telehealth services, through more providers, in more care settings.Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 415, the Telehealth Advancement Act of 2011, on Oct. 7. Authored by Assembly Member Dan Logue (R-Chico), the bill was also supported by the state’s telehealth stakeholders and leaders and passed with no opposing votes in the legislature. The article quotes Eric Brown, CEO of the California Telehealth Network. (UC has played a key role in the CTN and supported AB 415).

See additional coverage: Modern Healthcare

L.A. County expands no-cost healthcare, Los Angeles Times

Hoping to establish new programs before Medi-Cal takes over in 2014, Los Angeles County plans to register as many as 550,000 patients and assign them to medical clinics for free services. This article mentions that the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research is evaluating Healthy Way L.A. and quotes the center’s associate director, Gerald Kominski.

Memo shows how state caved to industry pressure on pesticide, environmentalists say, HealthyCal

Environmentalists say a newly uncovered memo shows how the California Department of Pesticide Regulation gave in to industry pressure when it approved the controversial soil fumigant methyl iodide for use in California agriculture at levels more than 100 times higher than those its own scientists recommended. The Feb. 16, 2010 memo by an executive of methyl iodide manufacturer Arysta Lifesciences said that maximum exposure levels the state’s scientists had recommended for workers and people who live near agricultural fields were unacceptable to the company because they were too low. The article quotes UCSF’s Paul Blanc and UC Berkeley’s Tom McKone, who served on the scientific review committee. 

A night of shining stars,

California nurses took one night off from their hectic lives to attend an event that pays tribute to the heart and soul of nursing for which many don’t expect to be recognized. The 2011 Nursing Excellence Awards, held Aug. 26 at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank, honored 30 finalists in six categories. After finalists were called to the stage to be recognized,’s Judith G. Berg unveiled six regional winners and one Diane F. Cooper Lifetime Achievement Award honoree. The honorees included Ellen Lewis of UC Irvine.

State: Cal student picked up mumps overseas, Contra Costa Times

A UC Berkeley student contracted mumps on a trip to Europe and infected others upon returning to campus, where up to 44 people have been now been diagnosed with the disease, state public-health officials said Monday.

David Lazarus: Autism treatment law again shows insurers’ need for therapy, Los Angeles Times

Cost is at the forefront of why health insurers had balked at including coverage for treatments associated with autism, which requires not just medical care but also extensive educational, behavioral and vocational support. This column mentions that a study for the state Legislature by the California Health Benefits Review Program estimated that the cost to insurers of implementing the law would be closer to $93 million. (CHBRP is a UC-administered program whose faculty and staff analysts provide independent analysis to the Legislature.)

Prognosis: Slight rise in blood pressure carries risk, The New York Times

A review of studies suggests that young and middle-aged people with slightly elevated blood pressure, or prehypertension, are nonetheless at much greater risk for stroke than those in the normal range. Scientists at the University of California, San Diego, reviewed 12 prospective cohort studies of prehypertension and stroke incidence covering more than 500,000 participants with follow-up periods as long as 32 years.

Scientists turn iPhone into microscope with $30 mod, Wired

Researchers from UC Davis have developed a tiny, inexpensive lens that transforms an iPhone into a medical-quality imaging and chemical detection device. The lens gives the iPhone an extra 5x magnification, which is enough to spot diseased blood cells. The low cost — along with ease of use and startlingly good results — means that doctors on the ground in developing countries could soon have an important new tool to fight disease.

Five things industry can do to support true FDA reform, and restore public confidence, Xconomy

In this column about five things industry can do to support the FDA, the suggestions include financing strong “regulatory science” programs at U.S. business schools and medical schools, noting that UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann has advocated for this discipline.

Why the ‘Moneyball’ approach isn’t a home run for health care, California Healthline

This analysis of applying the “Moneyball” approach used by the Oakland Athletics in baseball to health care quotes Erich Loewy of UC Davis.


CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Oct. 2

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UCSD biologist helps produce second Nobel laureate, San Diego Union-Tribune

In Bruce Beutler‘s path to this year’s Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine was partly shaped by Dan Lindsley, a UC San Diego biologist who has helped not one, but two, of the university’s students win the highest prize in science. Beutler is a graduate of UC San Diego.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times

UC Riverside, UC Merced turn to new models for med schools, California Healthline

For decades, training for medical students has revolved around a large academic institution and a central university hospital, but that model might give way to different ways of doing things in California, as new medical schools look to trim costs and diversify student experiences.  Two University of California schools — UC Merced and UC Riverside — already are working toward a new vision for medical schools. Both universities have turned to partnerships and new teaching models to circumvent a daunting economic climate.

Doctor shortage looms amid hospital funding gap, Bloomberg

With a shortage of doctors looming that may damage patient care in the U.S., teaching hospitals say President Barack Obama’s deficit-reduction plan could make things worse. After doctors graduate from medical school they must train at teaching hospitals, which get some of their funding through Medicare, the health program for the elderly and disabled. Obama’s proposal to cut $248 billion from Medicare over 10 years includes $1 billion in trims to teaching hospitals, which could lead to fewer residency slots for doctor training programs. The article quotes Sam Hawgood, UCSF medical school dean.

Why universities are key to the future of biotech, and how UCSF’s chief is showing the way, Xconomy

These are hard times at universities in America. State support is dwindling, tuition is booming, and federal research dollars are in jeopardy. Morale has taken a beating. But U.S. academic research centers are still the driving force for innovative new medicines, like always. And anyone who cares about U.S. universities should pay attention to what’s happening at UC San Francisco under the leadership of chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann.

The microbe maverick, San Diego Union-Tribune

No one accuses J. Craig Venter of thinking small.The biologist gained international fame in the 1990s when his research team nearly outraced the federal government’s effort to map the human genome. Next, he created the world’s first synthetic organism, setting off a global debate over the ethical boundaries of research. Now, the La Jolla scientist is planting a $35 million anchor in the heart of this region’s cluster of scientific centers to push his most passionate professional interests — turning microbes into powerful factories capable of cleaning up the environment and producing biofuels, drugs and food. The new home being built for the J. Craig Venter Institute is on the southwestern corner of the UCSD campus. Collaborative projects will allow scientists from Sanford-Burnham, The Scripps Research Institute, the Salk Institute, UCSD and other research centers in and around the Torrey Pines mesa to tap into what Venter says is the defining science of the time. The project also will serve as a monument to one of UCSD’s most famous graduates.

Amid budget crisis, UC debates management bloat, The Bay Citizen

Over the past decade, the number of managers and senior staff at the University of California grew at a much faster rate than that of faculty and students, leading some professors and legislators to question the university’s priorities as it looks to close a $2.5 billion budget gap. University officials say the growing complexity of running a system that includes 10 campuses and five medical centers has required the university to hire more personnel with managerial expertise and specialized skills. Steve Montiel, a UC spokesman, said teaching hospitals, research initiatives and auxiliary services such as residence halls and parking, accounted for roughly 70 percent of UC’s personnel growth since 1998.

Ribbon cutting today for new MLK Center for Public Health in South LA (audio), KPCC

A well-known name in public health resurfaces Friday in South Los Angeles. The ribbon cutting for the first section of the new Martin Luther King hospital complex is scheduled for 9 a.m. The opening of the Martin Luther King Center for Public Health marks a milestone. It’s the first phase of a $400 million health care campus in the Watts-Willowbrook area of South Los Angeles County. The center will focus on preventive care. L.A. County closed the original Martin Luther King hospital four years ago after reports of chronic mismanagement and subpar conditions and allegations of negligent patient care. The new 120-bed hospital and outpatient clinic are scheduled to open a couple of years from now. University of California medical staff will deliver services at that facility.

Report: UCR’s economic impact tops $1.4 billion, The Riverside Press-Enterprise

New campus buildings, bigger research projects and more students are the main reasons UC Riverside’s economic impact has expanded to $1.4 billion, a study released this week by the school found. That’s a figure based on direct spending by the state university campus, as well as the dollars that circulate in the community due to spending by faculty and staff members, students, visitors to the campus and retirees. The study is based on the 2009-2010 fiscal year, according to a statement. The school and local leaders are working to find funding for a medical school at UCR, but even at an embryonic stage, the UCR School of Medicine generated $28 million. Currently a program has more than 50 students studying medicine in a partnership with UCLA, but that impact could be more than five times that by 2021, according to the study.

OSHPD hands out $2.6M for residency programs in family practice care, California Healthline

The Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development has awarded $2.6 million in grants to 26 hospitals to support residency programs that train family practice physicians. Grant recipients include UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego and UCSF.

Hospitals adjust to shorter resident shifts, Sacramento Business Journal

UC Davis Associate Dean James Nuovo is quoted in this story on the new rules that recently went into effect at hospitals in the Sacramento region restricting the number of hours worked by medical residents.

Scientists take key step in stem cell therapy, Los Angeles Times

For the first time, scientists have used cloning techniques — inserting genetic material from adult cells into unfertilized human eggs — to create embryonic stem cells. The stem cells created by the team at the New York Stem Cell Foundation Laboratory in New York City and collaborators at Columbia University and UC San Diego were genetically abnormal, containing a mixture of DNA from the adult skin cells that were cloned and from the egg used in the procedure.

Herceptin boosts breast cancer survival, study says, Los Angeles Times

Breast cancer that is highly aggressive but caught early appears to be best treated with a combination of Herceptin and chemotherapy, according to a study released Wednesday. UCLA researchers conducted a three-armed study looking at women with early-stage breast cancer that is an aggressive type known as HER-2 positive.

Operation Mend, The Private Journey

This feature from an in-flight magazine for private jets profiles UCLA’s Operation Mend, a program that provides reconstructive surgery to wounded soldiers.  The piece highlights Dr. Timothy Miller, executive director of Operation Mend and professor of plastic surgery; and Ron Katz, founder of Operation Mend and member of the hospital’s board of advisers.

Prostate cancer test advice creates confusion, San Francisco Chronicle

Recommendations by an influential U.S. task force advising healthy men not to get prostate cancer blood tests has created confusion and set off debate about the risks and benefits of routine screenings. The article interviews former prostate cancer patient Art Wagner, who was treated at UCSF, and his doctor, Peter Carroll, associate dean of the UCSF School of Medicine and head of the urology department.

See additional coverage: CBS 5

Mumps hitting UC Berkeley — 7 cases confirmed, San Francisco Chronicle

Mumps – an illness typically associated with little kids – is roaring through UC Berkeley, with seven confirmed cases and 13 more suspected.

SF General’s brain injury treatment certified, San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco General Hospital has become the first hospital in the country to gain certification for the treatment of traumatic brain injury, a recognition that is expected to set the standard for other hospitals around the country. San Francisco’s public hospital, which received national attention for caring for Giants fan Bryan Stow after he was brutally beaten, received the certification after an intensive on-site visit by the Joint Commission, a national independent organization that accredits hospitals and offers disease-specific certifications. The certification for traumatic brain injury was based on the hospital’s medical skills, neuro-monitoring capabilities, imaging technologies and research, said Dr. Geoff Manley, San Francisco General’s chief of neurosurgery. Manley is also a professor of neurosurgery at UCSF.

Study: 69M must travel longer to a trauma center, The Associated Press

One hour can spell the difference between life and death for victims of severe injury, but about a quarter of Americans now have to travel farther to reach the nearest hospital trauma center, a study published Wednesday concludes. Lead researcher Renee Hsia, an emergency room doctor at San Francisco General Hospital who also teaches emergency medicine at UCSF, is quoted.

UC Davis to study poverty’s causes, effects with grant, The Sacramento Bee

UC Davis will join a select group of institutions studying a topic that is a dreadful reality to millions of Americans. UC Davis has received a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to establish a Center for Poverty Research. It will be one of three U.S. centers designated to study the causes and effects of policies aimed at addressing poverty in the United States. The other centers are at Stanford University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

IPhone transformed into microscope and spectrometer, MedGadget

Researchers from UC Davis have tweaked iPhones in such a way that they can be used as high-quality medical imaging and chemical detection devices. By adding some hardware and maxing out the capability of the iPhone, they were able to transform it into a microscopy and spectroscopy tool. The research team will present their findings at the Optical Society’s Annual Meeting in San Jose,  Oct. 16-20.

See additional coverage: CNET News

Editorial: Covering maternity care in California, Los Angeles Times

This editorial urges Gov. Jerry Brown to sign two bills state lawmakers passed that would require maternity coverage to be included in comprehensive health insurance policies. The editorial mentioned that the UC-administered California Health Benefits Review Program (whose faculty and staff analysts provide independent analysis to the Legislature) estimates that premiums would go up by a little less than $7 a month per policy, for a statewide total of $110 million a year. On the other hand, taxpayers are already covering some of the costs rung up by women with no maternity coverage; nearly 10% of the women in the state’s Access for Infants and Mothers program have private health policies that don’t cover pregnancy. And providing prenatal care to more women will reduce the incidence of premature births, which cost Californians an estimated $2 billion each year. (The governor signed the maternity care bills into law on Thursday, Oct. 6.)

See additional coverage: Capitol Weekly

Many Southern California hospitals not prepared for massive quake, Center for Health Reporting/The San Bernardino County Sun

Within a few dozen miles of California’s most dangerous earthquake fault, scores of hospitals have failed to install safeguards to assure they can keep their doors open after a major quake. This story quotes UC San Diego structural engineering professor Tara Hutchinson and cites a UCLA analysis.

Cal State to offer doctor of nursing practice degree, Los Angeles Times

California State University will begin offering a doctorate in nursing practice in the fall of 2012, a move expected to boost the number of practitioners qualified to serve as faculty in the state’s understaffed nursing programs. Two programs will be offered jointly by several campuses — Fresno and San Jose in one grouping and Fullerton, Long Beach and Los Angeles in another — which will develop curriculum and share resources and faculty. Cal State San Diego will offer a stand-alone program. Cal State will be the first public university in the state to offer the doctor of nursing practice degree, designed to enhance scholarship in clinical practice, officials said. The University of California offers a doctorate in nursing that is research-based.

Nurses union, Alta Bates divide widens, San Francisco Chronicle

The death of an Oakland cancer patient at the hands of a replacement nurse has further divided unionized nurses and the hospital that locked them out after a one-day strike, raising questions about the interplay of labor politics and patient care. The article quotes Joanne Spetz, health economist and nursing professor at UCSF, and UCSF nursing professor Jean Ann Seago.

UCI: Dietary supplement can halt progress of M.S., The Orange County Register

A dietary supplement sold over the counter appears to halt the  progress of multiple sclerosis, fending off paralysis in laboratory mice, a new study by UC Irvine researchers shows.

Conference explores Alzheimer’s fears, The Orange County Register

“When Does It Become Dementia? Transitioning from Healthy Aging to MCI and Dementia” was the theme of the recent 19th annual Southern California Disease Research Conference sponsored by UC Irvine’s Institute for Memory Impairment and Neurological Disorders, the UCI School of Medicine, the Orange County Alzheimer’s Association and Alzheimer’s Family Services Center.

UCD vet school wins FDA food safety grant, The Sacramento Bee

The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine has been awarded a $1.3 million U.S. Food and Drug Administration grant to develop a food-safety training program for government and industry. UCD said the grant funds the first year of a five-year agreement and is renewable for $6.5 million. The grant is aimed at ways to prevent food-borne illnesses, which each year sicken 48 million people in the United States and cause 3,000 deaths.

Vet delivers Eastern, Western medicine to horses, San Francisco Chronicle

A feature on Alana Alpern, a veterinarian specializing in horses. Alpern did her Western training at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, then studied Eastern medicine at the Chi Institute in Reddick, Fla.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Sept. 25

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

$5M boost for UCR medical school plan, The Palm Springs Desert Sun

The Desert Healthcare District board on Tuesday approved a $5million, five-year grant for the University of California, Riverside’s proposed medical school and an additional $4.9 million for a health and wellness center in Desert Hot Springs.

Judge rules Sacramento County must pay hospital care for indigent residents, The Sacramento Bee

A judge has ruled that Sacramento County must pay for medical care that UC Davis Medical Center provided to indigent county residents since mid-2008, costs estimated so far at tens of millions of dollars.

See additional coverage: California Healthline, Sacramento Business Journal

UCSD engineer wins nation’s top science award, San Diego Union-Tribune

A UC San Diego researcher who made major discoveries about blood flow, advancing everything from the treatment of sickle cell anemia to atherosclerosis, will receive the National Medal of Science, the highest honor of its kind given in this country. Shu Chien, who also helped UCSD build the country’s top-ranked bioengineering department, is one of seven researchers and innovators who will be awarded the medal by President Obama at a White House ceremony likely to be held in November. See related editorial.

University cuts could wound San Diego economy, KPBS

When Anton Monk and three colleagues came up with a solution for fast multimedia networking in homes in 2001, they started to build a business around their invention. Entropic Communications now employs about 320 people, more than 200 of them work in the company’s offices in Sorrento Valley. A strong connection to UC San Diego played a role in the company’s beginnings and has remained key over a decade. Supplying skilled workers for the hundreds of biotech and telecommunications companies started in San Diego by UCSD alumni and others is important for those industries’ growth. And while those jobs make up just about 15 percent of San Diego County employment, they are part of a group of industries whose jobs supply the building blocks for most other employment in the county.

Bay Area at forefront of new global health field, San Francisco Chronicle

Dr. Jaime Sepulveda’s first lesson in global health was a tough one: As head of epidemiology in Mexico in the early 1980s, he had to tackle the AIDS epidemic that was rapidly cutting across international borders. It was a huge undertaking that would send him around the globe seeking advice from the world’s top public health experts. And it was an experience that, three decades later, would land him in San Francisco, where he took over the Global Health Sciences division at UCSF earlier this month. Now, he hopes to make the Bay Area a powerhouse in research and development of global health policies worldwide. And he won’t be alone: In the past five years, global health has taken off at the Bay Area’s top research institutions.

Patt Morrison Asks: The brain, Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, Los Angeles Times

Here’s a Hollywood pitch for you: Leading U.S. neurosurgeon started life as a struggling Mexican boy who made it from illegal-immigrant California farmworker to Harvard Med. Not buying it? You should. Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa was that kid and is that man — associate prof, surgeon and head of the brain tumor stem cell lab at Johns Hopkins. His work puts him, passionately, on the cutting-edge of brain cancer research, and his life wedges him, reluctantly, into the immigration quarrel. He tells his story — his traumas and triumphs, and his patients’ — in an autobiography, “Becoming Dr. Q,” and here, now. Quiñones-Hinojosa has a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and completed his residency at UCSF. UC Press is publishing his book.

Tobacco companies knew of radiation in cigarettes, covered it up, ABC World News

Tobacco companies knew that cigarettes contained a radioactive substance called polonium-210, but hid that knowledge from the public for over four decades, a new study of historical documents revealed. Scientists from UCLA reviewed 27 previously unanalyzed documents and found that tobacco companies knew about the radioactive content of cigarettes as early as 1959.

Reconstructing the mind’s eye (audio), KQED Forum

UC Berkeley scientists are figuring out how to decode and reconstruct our dynamic visual experiences — in one instance through subjects watching Hollywood movie trailers. We meet a lead scientist looking at how one day we may be able to go inside the mind of a coma patient, or even to watch a dream.

Blood pressure only slightly high? You may still be at risk of stroke, Time

Even people whose blood pressure is slightly higher than normal may have a significantly increased risk of stroke, finds a new review of past research. The new meta-analysis led by Dr. Bruce Ovbiagele of the University of California, San Diego, included 12 previous studies involving more than 518,000 people in the U.S. and Asia.

See additional coverage: ABC World News, HealthDay News

Clinics offer Santa Ana hope, but challenges remain, Voice of OC

In July the federal government provided a $1.5-million grant to open Santa Ana’s first free clinic, which will be staffed by nurse practitioners from UC Irvine. This article highlights UC Irvine clinic efforts.

Diabetes again linked to colon cancer risk: study, Reuters

People with diabetes have a somewhat increased risk of colon cancer, an international study said — but the reasons for the connection, and what should be done about it, remain unclear. Researchers headed by Hiroki Yuhara at UC Berkeley combined the results of 14 international studies and found that, overall, people with diabetes were 38 percent more likely to be diagnosed with colon cancer than those who were diabetes-free.

Being easily embarrassed could make you more trustworthy, The Huffington Post

Easily embarrassed? That could make you more trustworthy, a new study suggests. People who are easily embarrassed — not to be confused with people with social anxiety or constant feelings of shame — were shown in several experiments to be more generous, trustworthy and desirable in social situations, according to a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. “Moderate levels of embarrassment are signs of virtue,” study researcher Matthew Feinberg, a doctoral student in psychology at UC Berkeley, said in a statement.

200 women and five men: How Women in Bio opened my eyes to a big opportunity, Xconomy

After attending the kickoff meeting for the Seattle chapter of Women in Bio, BioBeat columnist Luke Timmerman interviewed Susan Desmond-Hellmann. He wrote: She’s the chancellor of UC San Francisco, one of the nation’s top biomedical research centers. She’s a biotech industry legend from her experience as president of product development at Genentech, during its impressive run in the 2000s, when it became the world’s biggest cancer drug maker. I prepared a lot of questions for my exclusive interview with Desmond-Hellmann, not thinking of gender at all. But she brought it up, and not in a way that I expected.

Services for aging need better coordination, experts say, HealthyCal

Aging Californians depend on a wide range of connected services – health, housing, transportation and access for the disabled – that must be better coordinated to maximize the quality of their care, according to a panel of experts at a Tuesday conference on long term services and supports. Steven Wallace, associate director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, is quoted.

Findings on BRAF inhibitor resistance translate to clinical trials, Dermatology Times/Modern Medicine

Research by Dr. Roger Lo that tested combination drug therapy to combat drug resistance in melanoma patients is featured in this story. Lo is a member of UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and an assistant professor of dermatology and molecular and medical pharmacology.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Sept. 18

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UCSF neurologist, Marin County poet among MacArthur grant winners, Los Angeles Times

The 22 recipients of this year’s “genius” grants receive $500,000 over the next five years. The winners from California are William Seeley of UC San Francisco, who is researching treatments for early-onset dementia, and Marin County poet Kay Ryan, known for her spare, often witty verses.

See additional coverage: The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Contra Costa Times, KQED Radio (audio)

UC San Diego Health System ‘Most Wired,’ lands top HIMSS status, California Healthline

UC San Diego Health System has been named one of the country’s “Most Wired” hospitals by Hospitals and Health Networks, a publication of the American Hospital Association. This marks the 13th year that Hospitals and Health Networks has conducted its “Most Wired” survey and the sixth consecutive year that USCD made the list.

Venter Institute breaking ground on $35 million center, San Diego Union-Tribune

J. Craig Venter, the La Jolla biologist who cracked the human genome and created the first synthetic microbe, will break ground Tuesday on a new $35 million home for his genomics research institute. The 45,000-square-foot facility will be located in the southwestern corner of the UC San Diego campus where Venter earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology in the 1970s. The institute, which focuses on human genetics and ways to create energy from microbes, has been housed in a leased building just north of UCSD since its founding in 2006. At the new structure, the institute’s current 65-member staff will have space to double in size. Scientists will serve as adjunct professors at the university, which will allow UCSD students to work at the facility, Venter said.

Paralyzed patient in major Geron stem cell study, San Francisco Chronicle

A Bay Area patient who recently suffered a serious spinal cord injury and is now paralyzed from the waist down joined the world’s first-ever embryonic stem cell study in humans last week, when Stanford doctors injected 2 million cells designed to replace damaged neurons in the patient’s spine. The patient, who is not being identified, is the fourth person to be enrolled in the clinical trial being run by Menlo Park’s Geron Corp. and the first person in California. In the Geron study, scientists from the company and UC Irvine are turning embryonic stem cells into a type of cell called oligodendrocytes. The article quotes Arnold Kriegstein, director of stem cell research at UCSF.

German is 1st to get UCI stem-cell treatment, The Orange County Register

A 23-year-old German man paralyzed from the waist down is the first to receive an injection of human neural stem cells as part of a treatment developed at UC Irvine.

UCSD surgeons use one liver to save two lives, City News Service/La Jolla Light

One donated liver saved the lives of two men in a first-of-its-kind surgical procedure performed in June at UCSD Medical Center, hospital officials announced Wednesday.

See additional coverage: NBC San Diego (video)

UC Davis researchers get $8.9M in grants, Sacramento Business Journal

Three UC Davis researchers have received highly competitive awards from the National Institutes of Health.  They are among 14 UC grant recipients.

Operation Mend: to reconstruct soldiers and marines wounded in war, KPCC

This show features UCLA’s Operation Mend, a program established to provide surgery for U.S. military personnel severely wounded and disfigured in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. Timothy Miller, Operation Mend’s executive director and lead surgeon, is interviewed.

Poison control hotline (video), Santee Patch

A feature on the UC-administered California Poison Control Center.

SF Empower helps diabetics with mental illness, San Francisco Chronicle

Diabetes is a tough chronic disease for many patients to manage, but it’s even harder for those with mental illnesses.Two UCSF graduate nursing students are trying to get people who have a mental health diagnosis and are either diabetic or are at high risk of developing diabetes to better understand the disease and what to do to stay healthy.

Need help with health? There’s an app for that, San Francisco Chronicle

At UCSF, engineers have already designed 20 apps for researchers – among them, one that prompts patients to keep a daily diary of their exercise, and one that asks users whether they’ve eaten a certain kind of food each day. And there are dozens more in the pipeline, said Jeff Jorgenson, deputy director of telemedicine at UCSF – who joined the university less than two years ago, after working seven years at Apple.

Special Reports: Groups tap funding for mobile health efforts targeting seniors with chronic conditions (audio), California Healthline

In August, the Center for Technology and Aging awarded a total of $477,150 to five organizations for efforts to demonstrate how mobile health technology could improve care for older adults with chronic conditions. In this Special Report, experts discussed how advances in mobile health technology could benefit seniors. Guests include Steven Wallace, associate director at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

UC Irvine to create a medical industry research center, OC Metro

After the successful launch of TechPortal, a business and technology incubator, UC Irvine is launching a medical business and technology incubator. The university hopes the new research center, which will be associated with the UCI Medical Center, will encourage medical industry startups and foster economic growth.

Research indicates caregivers face greater hardships, The Riverside Press-Enterprise

Relatives and friends caring for aging or disabled Californians are under financial and emotional strains and likely to face greater burdens because of recent state budget reductions, according to new research. A study released by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research shows the state’s estimated 6 million informal caregivers suffer higher levels of serious psychological distress, such as depression, and negative health behaviors, including smoking, compared to the general population. Researchers say about 3 million caregivers between ages 45 and 64 particularly are at risk.

See additional coverage: California Healthline

UCSD nerve damage research shows promise (video), KGTV 10

Biologists at UC San Diego believe their research into the regeneration of damaged nerve cells is showing promise.

Fukushima fallout in California waters: A threat?, ABC News

The radioactive fallout from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant accident has spread as far as California waters, according to scientists from UC Berkeley. But although the level of radioactivity in the water was higher than normal, they said, it was still very low and not harmful to humans.

Brain scans let computers reconstruct movie scenes, The Associated Press

It sounds like science fiction: While volunteers watched movie clips, a scanner watched their brains. And from their brain activity, a computer made rough reconstructions of what they viewed. Scientists reported that result Thursday and speculated such an approach might be able to reveal dreams and hallucinations someday. In the future, it might help stroke victims or others who have no other way to communicate, said Jack Gallant, a neuroscientist at UC Berkeley, and co-author of the paper.

See additional coverage: San Jose Mercury News

Katehi: Replacing hospital CEO would cost more than raise, The Sacramento Bee

In this item, UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi defends the raise given to Ann Madden Rice, CEO of the UC Davis Medical Center.

Watts Winery raised funds for pediatric cancer, The Sacramento Bee

Watts Winery of Lodi has presented a $5,000 check to the pediatric oncology research team at UC Davis. The Watts Winery Butterfly line of wines donates its proceeds to cancer research and was created in honor of Kyle Watts, the 14-year-old son of Watts Winery owners Craig and Sheri Watts, who was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma in 2008.

Op-ed: Putting the Caped Crusader on the couch, The New York Times

UCLA Dr. Praveen Kambaum, assistant clinical professor in psychiatry at the Semel Institute, wrote this op-ed with two colleagues about the introduction of 52 new comic books by DC comics, and the hope they will feature characters and story lines that reflect modern understanding  about mental disorders.

Forever young: Scientists figure out how to renew muscle tissue, Irish Independent

Muscle tissue can be renewed by chemically resetting its biological clock to an earlier stage of development, a study has shown. “The research opens the door to the development of new treatments to combat the degeneration of muscle associated with muscular dystrophy or ageing,” said study leader Dr Irina Conboy, from UC Berkeley.

UCSD water polo match celebrates cancer survivors, San Diego Union-Tribune

At UCSD’s Canyonview Aquatic Center, they can pack in 2,000 fans for a water polo match and have done so in the past when the Tritons have played rivals like UCLA and Loyola Marymount. There has been much to celebrate for those big crowds over the years, with UCSD taking 14 Western Water Polo Association championships in the amazing 31-year run of head coach Denny Harper. Another anticipated large and raucous crowd will wield giveaway Thundersticks for an early season clash between the 10th-ranked Tritons (7-1) and No. 11 LMU (4-2) tonight (Thursday) at 6, and the fans’ emotions will be stirred before either team enters the pool. Unofficially, it’s Beat Cancer Night, because in a horrible twist of destinies, Harper, his 4 ½ year old nephew, Bode Paulson, and LMU head coach John Loughran all were diagnosed with a form of the disease in a six-month span in the past year. Bode was treated at UCSD Moores Cancer Center.

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In the media: Week of Sept. 11

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

New UCLA hospital facility makes debut, Santa Monica Daily Press

The brass of the UCLA Medical System convened Friday to dedicate its newest state-of-the-art hospital in Santa Monica, closing the books on a project 16 years in the making. The dedication healed the scar created by the 1994 Northridge earthquake, a natural disaster that left an indelible mark on much of Santa Monica.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Business

UCSD medical school opens $70 million training center, San Diego Union-Tribune

The UC San Diego School of Medicine has opened a $70 million state-of-the-art medical training center — the first since the medical school opened in 1968 — fulfilling a longstanding desire by UCSD to bring all of its training programs under one roof. The 100,000-square-foot Medical Education and Telemedicine Center, which opened as classes started last week, combines and expands programs now scattered around the La Jolla campus and at the UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest.

State OKs opening UCSD’s Sulpizio center ER, San Diego Union-Tribune

The emergency department of the $227 million UCSD Sulpizio Family Cardiovascular Center opened this month, five months late and only after patient safety violations at UCSD’s other two hospitals were resolved.

UCR medical school one step closer to $5M grant, The Palm Springs Desert Sun

A committee of the Desert Healthcare District voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend a $5 million grant for University of California, Riverside’s proposed medical school, with the money all targeted at programs to improve health in the Coachella Valley.

UC Regents endorse tobacco tax for cancer research, The Oakland Tribune

The University of California regents this week endorsed the tobacco-tax-for-cancer-research ballot measure co-chaired by former state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, perhaps seeing a windfall of research dollars in their future.

UC regents recoil at idea of annual steep tuition increases, Los Angeles Times

The University of California regents Thursday were so divided over a proposal that could raise tuition by 8% to 16% a year through 2015-16 that a vote on the plan is now expected to be delayed until next year. The article mentions that in other action, regents approved incentive awards and pay raises for eight UC financial and medical center executives.

See additional coverage: San Francisco Chronicle; San Jose Mercury News; The Bay Citizen; The Sacramento Bee: story, blog post

UC Merced professors settling in on campus, Merced Sun-Star

The deep deprivations and health disparities in the area attracted Paul Brown to UC Merced. The professor of health economics and public health wants to help make a constructive difference in the community. Brown recently relocated to Merced. He previously taught at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He and his wife, Linda Cameron, who also teaches at UC Merced, are settling into their jobs at the newest UC campus. “I like it a lot. It’s a great university,” he said. “One of the things that was good to see is that students like it, and if students like it, then that’s a good sign that it is a good university.” Brown is among several new faculty members the university hired this school year. The campus now has 144 faculty and 123 lecturers. Two more faculty members will join the institution later this academic year.

Laboratory conditions, The New Yorker

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger features UCSF’s Ray and Dagmar Dolby Regeneration Medicine as one of three new science buildings in the United States “crafted with the specific intention of fostering interaction and connections, as a means of generating ideas.” UCSF has additional coverage.

Census: Nearly 1 in 5 Californians lack health insurance, Los Angeles Times

Shana Alex Lavarreda, director of health insurance studies for the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research at the School of Public Health, is quoted in this article about a center study showing that up to two-thirds of the 7 million Californians who currently lack health insurance will become eligible when health care reform is implemented in 2014.

Report finds improved performance by hospitals, The New York Times

In the latest advance for health care accountability, the country’s leading hospital accreditation board, the Joint Commission, released a list on Tuesday of 405 medical centers that have been the most diligent in following protocols to treat conditions like heart attack and pneumonia. Almost without exception, most highly regarded hospitals in the United States, from Johns Hopkins in Baltimore to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., did not make the list. The Joint Commission list, at, omitted the Cleveland Clinic; Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston; Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.; Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center; and the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, among others. It did not include a single hospital in New York City, or the most prominent centers in Chicago and Houston.

A winning strategy to defeat prostate cancer, San Diego Union-Tribune

A Q&A about prostate cancer with Dr. J. Kellogg Parsons, a urologic oncologist at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

UC Davis Rural Prime Medical grows with Tahoe Forest Health System, Sierra Sun

The UC Davis Rural-PRIME partnership with the Tahoe Forest Health System continues to grow strong: 16 medical students have furthered their training at Tahoe Forest Hospital, and 11 more students are scheduled for the 2011 program. The partnership provides extensive hands-on training in the use of telemedicine and simulation technology.

New research on tinnitus could lead to treatment, San Francisco Chronicle

UC Berkeley scientists believe they’ve found a new avenue for treating tinnitus, an often debilitating ear and brain condition that causes people to hear a constant ringing or buzzing sound – and that in most cases is untreatable.

‘It’s time to go big,’ says OneWorld Health’s Richard Chin, San Francisco Business Times

Daunting science, technology and business questions aside, as OneWorld Health and its partners move closer to launching a semisynthetic version of a key anti-malaria drug ingredient, CEO Richard Chin is thinking a lot about history. OneWorld has teamed over the past seven years with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UC Berkeley, Emeryville’s Amyris Biotechnologies Inc. and French drug maker Sanofi, among others, to develop the “Artemisinin Project.”

Ob-gyn guidelines often based on opinion, weak data, Reuters

Solid evidence is often missing from the practice guidelines used by obstetrician-gynecologists across the U.S., a new study shows. The article quotes Sheldon Greenfield, a UC Irvine professor of medicine who chaired the Institute of Medicine guideline committee, and Andrew Auerbach, a U San Francisco professor of medicine.

Fear of antidepressants leads people to shun treatment, NPR

A UC Davis study led by professor Robert Bell and published in the Annals of Family Medicine shows that many patients hide symptoms of depression from their doctors, and the No. 1 reason for doing so is the fear of being prescribed antidepressants.

Op-ed: Cancer a more elusive enemy than terror, The Sacramento Bee

Alexander Borowsky, associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, acknowledges that the fight against cancer and defense against terrorism are not perfectly comparable. Still, he wonders in this op-ed: “Is terrorism 1,000 times more important to our country than cancer?” — referring to our expenditures of $840 million per U.S. death to fight terrorism vs. $835,000 per U.S. death to fight cancer. Borowsky, by the way, flew on United Flight 175 one day before the same flight ended in tragedy at the World Trade Center. At the time, he was en route to California and UC Davis to set up his cancer research laboratory.

Editorial: A Hall of Fame list worthy of the honor, The Sacramento Bee

Here’s another welcome improvement in the change of administrations: The first picks by Gov. Jerry Brown and first lady Ann Gust Brown for the California Hall of Fame. The Browns’ eclectic first class honors a much broader range of accomplishment. It includes Elizabeth Blackburn, a molecular biologist at UCSF, who shared the 2009 Nobel Prize for medicine for helping discover a key enzyme in cancer and aging research.

Academy unveils 2011 class of fellows,

The American Academy of Nursing will induct 142 nurse leaders as fellows during its 38th annual Meeting and Conference on Oct. 15. This is the largest class of inductees. Selection criteria include evidence of significant contributions to nursing and health care. The fellows include one from UCLA and nine from UCSF.

Final Five go to the polls in QB3 science contest, San Francisco Business Times

QB3’s version of “American Idol” is down to five finalists, and unlike the TV show, all of these contestants should be cheered, not jeered.

Tumeric component fights head and neck cancer, UCLA study finds, Los Angeles Daily News/wire services

This article reports on a UCLA study finding that curcumin, a key component in the spice turmeric, kick starts an anti-cancer mechanism in human saliva.

Researcher: Noticing animals hard-wired like sex, food, USA Today

This article reports on a study by UCLA researchers and colleagues about how the neurons in people’s amygdalas respond more favorably when they see images of animals than when they see images of people.

Op-ed: How the Bay Area can afford old age, San Francisco Chronicle

The Bay Area can’t afford to grow old. Half of all Bay Area voters age 40 or older could not afford three months of nursing home care (which in California carries a hefty average price tag of $6,500 a month), according to a new poll released by the SCAN Foundation and UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. This op-ed is co-written by Steven Wallace, the UCLA center’s associate director.

California bill aimed at breast cancer worries docs, The Associated Press

About 40 percent of women over 40 have breast tissue dense enough to mask or mimic cancers on mammograms, but many of them don’t know it. Mammogram providers in California will be required to notify those patients, and suggest that they discuss additional screenings with their doctors based on their individual risk factors, if Gov. Jerry Brown signs a bill that the Legislature passed this month. Similar laws have passed in Texas and Connecticut in the past two years but no data is available yet from either state on the effect of the legislation. The article quotes Karen Lindfors, a professor of radiology and chief of breast imaging at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. She testified against the bill before a legislative committee.

C-section not necessarily end to vaginal delivery, San Francisco Chronicle

Women who live in the Bay Area have the highest rates in the state of delivering their babies vaginally after previously having undergone a cesarean section, according to statewide data released Thursday. UCSF is mentioned.

People with depression may not reveal symptoms to their doctor, HealthDay News

For a nation that seems ready to pop a pill for any ill, a new study suggests that the opposite seems true for some people with symptoms of depression, whose concerns about the side effects of antidepressants were the top reason they wouldn’t disclose warning signs to their doctors. Co-author Dr. Richard L. Kravitz, a professor of internal medicine at UC Davis, is quoted.

Chemo impacts female fertility more than thought, San Francisco Chronicle

The risk of infertility from cancer treatment may be much higher than doctors and patients realize, and almost all women diagnosed in their 20s and 30s who want children someday should be given the option of freezing their eggs or embryos, Bay Area fertility experts say. At the least, they should be told that their ability to have kids may be limited. A recent UCSF study found that chemotherapy had a greater impact on fertility than previously suspected, said Dr. Mitchell Rosen, an assistant professor in obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive services.

Grueling life of workers behinds scene at racetrack, California Watch/San Francisco Chronicle

Like many other grooms at the Golden Gate Fields racetrack in the East Bay, Miguel Rodriguez lives in the shadows of the stables. Along with his wife, Olivia, he sleeps in a bunk bed in a drafty tack room redolent of straw and manure, just around the corner from the horses he skillfully and devotedly tends. The lives of workers on “the backside” of the track – Latinos from Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador and Peru – are anonymous and grueling. To help the workers, the track is engaged in a new culturally based pilot project to help ease depression, social isolation and substance abuse. The approach has been spearheaded by Belinda Hernandez Arriaga, a social worker who specializes in Latino mental health issues and who works for UC Berkeley’s health services.

Study produces positive steps in HIV/FIV fight, and genetically modified ‘glowing’ cats,

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have had research published showcasing ‘glowing’ cats, part of a larger study targeting on fighting diseases such as AIDS via transgenic manipulation. The not-for-profit medical practice & research group, which has footprints in Minnesota, Arizona and Florida, made the announcement yesterday in a statement to coincide the publication of the findings by their team. That research team’s findings, authored by Eric M. Poeschla, M.D., who earned his fellowship in infectious diseases at UC San Diego, were announced in the Sept. 11 issue of Nature Methods.




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In the media: Week of Sept. 4

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Heart failure program has reduced readmissions by 30 percent, The Bay Citizen/The New York Times

Since July, Mochun Li has been hospitalized at the UCSF Medical Center three times. On some nights, Li had struggled so hard to breathe that she had not been able to sleep. Li suffers from heart failure; her heart cannot pump enough blood to her organs and tissues. Shortness of breath, fatigue and fluid retention are common in patients with the condition. So are frequent hospital stays. Now Li, 89, is at home and breathing more easily, thanks in part to the heart failure program at UCSF. The program is an effort to reduce repeat hospitalizations by giving patients plenty of information and support to help them after they are discharged. Since the program began three years ago, the hospital’s readmission rate has dropped by 30 percent.

S.F. experiment in improving patient health care, San Francisco Chronicle

Researchers long ago established that certain medical procedures are performed at dramatically different rates from place to place, and that these disparities affect the quality and cost of health care. Now, health insurers, hospitals and government agencies from the Bay Area to Washington, D.C., are getting more aggressive about tackling variation in medical care. The issue will surface in San Francisco with a collaboration that started this summer among Blue Shield of California and some local hospitals and physicians, aimed at better coordination of patient care for about 26,000 public employees. Participating hospitals include UCSF, two Catholic Healthcare West facilities and California Pacific Medical Center.

Hospitals new No. 1 industry in S.F., report shows, San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco hospitals inject $15.3 billion a year into the economy, account for nearly 99,000 jobs or about 18 percent of the city’s workforce, making the industry one of the healthiest in the city’s economy, according to a report released today. San Francisco is home to nine hospital organizations, many of which have multiple campuses in the city. Among them are Kaiser, California Pacific Medical Center, Laguna Honda Hospital, San Francisco General Hospital and UCSF Medical Center.

Hospital easy sell for Salesforce’s Benioff, wife, San Francisco Chronicle

A mere nine months ago at the Masonic Auditorium, the $100 million man and woman, Marc Benioff , founder and his wife, philanthropist Lynne Benioff , raised $3 million at a concert starring Neil Young with retired Gen. Colin Powell in support of UCSF’s new Benioff Children’s Hospital at Mission Bay. Just last week at Davies Symphony Hall, the duo raised $5 million more during “The Concert,” starring Alanis Morissette and comedian Jay Leno, for completion of this $600 million, state-of-the-art facility, scheduled to open in 2014, which will offer a 289-bed hospital complex for children, women and cancer patients.

Mike Cassidy: UC Berkeley’s John Matsui helps propel science scholars, San Jose Mercury News

John Matsui is a big fan of the laudable programs that encourage low-income high school kids to go to college and pursue degrees in STEM, meaning science, technology, engineering and math. That makes sense. Matsui is a biology professor at UC Berkeley. Science is his thing. The more the merrier. But such programs, which I’ve written about recently, aren’t the whole answer, he says. In fact, they might not be the answer at all if the students encouraged by them find themselves immediately overwhelmed by college and unable to stick with it. Matsui called me, in fact, to tell me about an initiative he helped start 19 years ago to keep kids in college. It’s a program that Silicon Valley business leaders concerned about their future workforce might want to pay attention to.

UCSF Medical Center catches up with EHR deployment, California Healthline

UC San Francisco Medical Center might be a late bloomer, but it’s making up for lost time. The hospital’s first go at an electronic health record system in 2005 started the ball rolling toward a comprehensive system but stopped short of developing an ambulatory component. In 2010, UCSF moved away from its custom-built General Electric EHR, which kept information only on patients who were admitted to the hospital, to a new vendor — Epic Systems — to link providers and patient records among its more than 100 clinics, emergency department and hospital.

Special Reports: Molly Coye of UCLA discusses innovative ways to improve the value of health care services (video), California Healthline

In a conversation with California Healthline, Molly Coye — chief innovation officer of UCLA — discussed the health system’s efforts to improve the value of the health services it delivers.

4 Bay Area hospitals fined for serious medical errors, The Bay Citizen

Four Bay Area hospitals are facing fines of $50,000 each from the California Department of Public Health for errors that, in some cases, put patients’ lives in danger. Alameda Hospital in Alameda, Kaiser Foundation Hospital & Rehabilitation Center in Vallejo, Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch and UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco were among 12 hospitals against which the state assessed fines totaling $650,000 on Wednesday.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times

UC system’s medical staff leads in $200k earners, The Orange County Register

The number of University of California employees earning more than $200,000 annually grew by 10 percent last year, even as the system continued to increase tuition, implement furloughs and cut state spending, according to new figures from the UC Office of the President. But UC officials again said most of the top-paid employees didn’t receive their pay directly from the cash-strapped system’s general fund, or from tuition-based revenue. Most of these top earners instead drew salaries from income-generating medical centers or through grants and other sources, officials said. Also see related story: UC coaches’ pay outsrips Nobel laureates’.

Guest essay: Can scientists win the war against cancer?, San Diego Union-Tribune

A guest essay by Thomas J. Kipps, interim director at the Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego. Kipps says there are reasons to believe that, over the long term, scientists will be able to conquer cancer.

Sidelined: Sports concussions (video), KQED QUEST

Studying the damage caused by a concussion at its source, inside the brain, is no easy feat. As Dr. Geoffrey Manley, Chief of Neurosurgery at San Francisco General Hospital told me, “What we’re dealing with is one of the most complicated injuries in the most complicated organ in the body. The brain has millions of cells that use many, many neurotransmitters to be able to talk to different regions of the brain, so it’s very complicated.” It’s also an injury that afflicts two million people in the U.S. each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Today, new brain imaging tools are revealing how concussions, which result from a blow to the head that causes the brain to move inside the skull cavity, are more serious than previously thought, producing actual damage to the brain’s intricate network of wires that connect key regions of mental activity.

U.S. researchers identify two autism strains in major breakthrough, Fox News

For the first time, researchers have identified two biologically different strains of autism. The UC Davis MIND Institute began the Autism Phenome Project in 2006 and has been studying the brain growth, environmental exposure and genetic make-up of 350 children. Lead researcher David Amaral, a UC Davis professor of psychiatry, predicts there will be more subtypes identified in the future, helping families determine the proper range of treatments.

Manic depression: Young and bipolar, Time

This feature on manic depression quotes Michael Gitlin, head of the mood-disorders clinic at UCLA, and John Kelsoe, psychiatric geneticist at UC San Diego.

UC Merced, UCSF researchers to study effectiveness of anti-smoking programs, Merced Sun-Star

Researchers with the University of California, San Francisco, and UC Merced will examine the effectiveness of state and local antismoking programs across the U.S. in an effort to make sure health authorities are able to use their increasingly limited resources to support and defend the most effective approaches.

18 things a cat nap can fix, Reader’s Digest

Studies show that not only will you feel better almost immediately, says Sara Mednick, Ph.D., a sleep medicine researcher at the University of California at San Diego and author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life, but a daily nap of between 20 and 90 minutes before 4:00 P.M. will also increase your mental performance, reduce your chances of gaining weight, and make you feel a whole lot more like having sex after dinner than you probably do now. What’s more, it won’t affect your nighttime sleep.

UCSD’s Goldstein: Too little spent on Alzheimer’s research, San Diego Union-Tribune

Lawrence Goldstein, director of the UC San Diego Stem Cell Program, was asked to provide a bit of perspective on the amount of money being spent to find treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.

Kaiser eyes Scripps Ranch land for hospital, San Diego Union-Tribune

Kaiser Permanente San Diego has tentatively agreed to buy Alliant International University’s 60-acre campus in Scripps Ranch with plans to build a new hospital to accommodate its growing membership in the decades ahead. Kaiser now operates a 392-bed hospital on 18.7 acres at 4647 Zion Ave. in Grantville. Opening a second one would mean adding a 20th acute-care hospital to the already ultracompetitive health care market in the San Diego region, where Scripps Health, Sharp Healthcare and UCSD are all working on major expansions of existing facilities.

Hold on to your heart, chocolate may be good for your ticker, Ventura County Star

Carl Keen, a UC Davis researcher who has studied the benefits of the cocoa plant, says that some of the compounds in cocoa beans may act as antioxidants to protect blood vessels and improve blood flow. However, he says, the benefits of chocolate depend on “the composition of the cocoa and chocolate.” Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a UCLA cardiovascular professor and spokesman for the heart association, is also quoted.

Breast-feeding makes new mothers mama bears,

Everyone knows not to get between a bear and her cubs, but if mama bears used bottles maybe they’d be a little more mellow. A study published in the September issue of Psychological Science found that nursing mothers are roughly twice as aggressive as bottle-feeding moms and women without children when confronted by a threat. Jennifer Hahn-Holbrook, a postdoctoral fellow at UCLA’s Department of Health Psychology, is quoted.

Medical schools teaching little about gay health (video), The Associated Press/ABC News

Future doctors aren’t learning much about the unique health needs of gays and lesbians, a survey of medical school deans suggests. On average, the schools devoted five hours in the entire curriculum to teaching content related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients, according to the survey results appearing in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association. A third of the schools had none during the years students work with patients. Lead author Dr. Juno Obedin-Maliver of UCSF is quoted.

Panel votes to move UCD Med Center into City Council District 6, The Sacramento Bee

Despite the opposition of influential pastors, neighborhood groups and dozens of residents, the Sacramento City Council stood its ground Tuesday night and voted to move the UC Davis Medical Center campus out of the City Council district representing Oak Park.

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In the media: Week of Aug. 29

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Study tests if a warm heart makes a better transplant (video), Los Angeles Times

This article reports on a clinical study at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center testing an experimental organ-preservation system that allows donor hearts to function in a near-physiologic, beating state outside the body during transport to a recipient. Dr. Abbas Ardehali, professor of cardiothoracic surgery and surgical director of UCLA’s heart and lung transplantation program, is quoted.

UC Davis Health gets stem cell research planning grants, Sacramento Business Journal

The state stem cell agency has approved research planning grants for five UC Davis Health System teams working to develop clinical trials to treat illnesses such as Huntington’s disease, vascular disease, osteoporosis, HIV/AIDS and airway disease in children.

UCSF Fresno receives $155K to train doctors, The Fresno Business Journal

The University of California, San Francisco’s Fresno Medicine Residency Program received nearly $155,000 from the state Office of Statewide Health and Planning to train physicians to practice in underserved areas. The funds will be used to support new and existing initiatives that address areas of need that are seriously lacking in Fresno County. Residents work in a range of settings, including Community Regional Medical Center and Selma Community Hospital.

Heidi Britt: What has UC Merced done for us?, Merced Sun-Star

In this column on what has UC Merced done for the local community, the UC Merced San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education is mentioned.

UCSC chancellor says ‘thanks’ for well wishers: Numbness in foot led to brain surgery, Santa Cruz Sentinel

UC Santa Cruz Chancellor George Blumenthal issued a statement Thursday, thanking well-wishers for the many calls and emails he has received after undergoing emergency brain surgery Monday. Doctors at UC San Francisco Medical Center removed a small abnormal artery in the 65-year-old chancellor’s brain. Blumenthal is expected to recover in three weeks’ time, which is when classes resume on the campus he’s overseen for the past five years.

291 Hospital and Health System Leaders to Know, Becker’s Hospital Review

This piece featured Dr. David Feinberg, president of the UCLA Health System and UCLA associate vice chancellor for health sciences, in its list of  “291 Hospital and Health System Leaders to Know.” The list recognizes prominent hospital and health system leaders who effectively guide their organizations through change and innovation. Leaders were selected based on several factors, including nominations, input from industry experts and editorial team research.

UCLA doctor may not have followed proper credentialing procedures, Los Angeles Times

Gail Anderson Jr., chief medical officer at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, is being investigated by L.A. County. He was placed on administrative leave and escorted from his office.

A remnant from algae in malaria parasite may prove its weakness (audio), NPR Morning Edition

Scientists may have found a critical weakness in Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria. Researchers say the discovery provides a promising target for new malaria therapies. The weakness is related to a structure inside malaria cells called an apicoplast. About a decade ago, molecular biologist Joseph DeRisi of UC San Francisco became interested in an organelle inside the malaria parasites’ cells known as an apicoplast.

MRSA: Protect your kid from a superbug, CNN

Patrick Romano, a UC Davis professor of pediatrics and lead author of a new study on MRSA, says that “everyone is at risk,” of contracting the serious bacterial disease, which during the past decades has spread from high-risk patients to the general population.

Cancer patients face shortage of chemotherapy drugs (audio), KPBS

A diagnosis of cancer is scary enough. Now imagine finding out that a key drug you need to treat the cancer isn’t available. That’s happening in San Diego and around the nation because of critical shortages of chemotherapy drugs. Charles Daniels, chief pharmacist for UC San Diego Health System, is interviewed.

Can digital textbooks truly replace the print kind?, Time

There are a few pilot schools already making the transition over to digital books. Cornell and Brown are among the Ivies to have jumped onboard. And one medical program at the University of California, Irvine, gave their entire class iPads with which to download textbooks just last year.

State scientists ignored in pesticide’s approval, California Watch

California’s former top pesticide regulatory official dismissed safety guidelines suggested by her own staff scientists on the grounds that they were “excessive” and too onerous for the pesticide manufacturer, recently released internal documents show. In response, the scientists lodged a formal protest, calling the official’s actions “not scientifically credible,” according to the documents released by court order last week. The documents amount to a “smoking gun,” says Paul Blanc, a professor of occupational and environmental medicine at UC San Francisco. Last year, Blanc helped advise the staff scientists on their evaluation of the pesticide, methyl iodide.

Portable microscope detects bacteria using holograms, BBC

A cheap holographic microscope capable of detecting E. coli and other bacteria has been deployed by researchers in the U.S. Details of the microscope – created at UCLA – were published in the journal Biomedical Optics Express.

Father seeks cure after rare disease hits home, The Wall Street Journal

This article reports on a donation to UCLA researchers to study a neurological disease called Rasmussen encephalitis.  The $111,000 grant was made to Dr. Gary Mathern, professor of pediatric neurosurgery and director of the UCLA Pediatric Epilepsy Program, Carol Kruse, professor of neurosurgery, and Dr. Harry Vinters, professor of neuropathology.

Radical brain surgery frees baby held captive by seizures, Idaho Statesman

This article features the stories of children who have undergone a hemispherectomy surgery at UCLA to treat uncontrollable seizures. Surgeon Dr. Gary Mathern, professor of pediatric neurosurgery and director of the UCLA Pediatric Epilepsy Program at Mattel Children’s Hospital, is quoted.

Don’t mess with breastfeeding women, Miller-McCune

Newly published research suggests lactation increases aggression. According to a team led by UCLA health psychologist Jennifer Hahn-Holbrook, lactating women display higher levels of aggression than both non-mothers and their bottle-feeding counterparts.

Flame retardants tied to lower birth weights, HealthDay News

A flame retardant that was phased out of use but is still present in older furnishings is linked to lower birth weights in newborns of women exposed to it during pregnancy, a new study suggests. Evaluating levels of PBDEs — or polybrominated diphenyl ethers — in blood samples of 286 pregnant women, researchers from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health found that every 10-fold increase was tied to a 4.1-ounce drop in the birth weight of their babies.

Opting out of vaccinations (audio), Capital Public Radio Insight

Dean Blumberg, chief of the division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases in the Department of Pediatrics at UC Davis, joins a discussion on vaccinations. The segment comes the same day as National Public Radio presents the first of Capitol Public Radio’s two-part series on a Nevada City elementary school that has California’s highest opt-out rate for required vaccinations, that is, the highest rate of parents who do not want their children vaccinated.

How man’s best friend is helping cutting-edge medicine, USA Weekend

Peter Dickinson, a veterinary specialist and professor of neurology and neurosurgery at UC Davis’ Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, says that results of medication and treatment in dogs can be translated into treatments for humans, providing a more realistic and closer response than rodents. A new treatment for an aggressive brain cancer in dogs has been so successful that a human clinical trial is about to begin for people who have the same cancer.

The timing and tempo of puberty affect behavior, Los Angeles Times

A study by researchers at  Pennsylvania State, Duke University and UC Davis has found that behavior and mood problems in adolescents can be predicted by how early or late puberty starts and how fast or slowly it progresses.

Op-ed: Inside medicine: New work limit should reduce doctor fatigue, The Sacramento Bee

Dr. Michael Wilkes, a professor of medicine at UC Davis, writes about the new work limits on medical residents.

Farm subsidies stand accused, Chicago Tribune

Julian Alston, professor of agricultural economics at UC Davis, says he gets annoyed at the suggestion that farm subsidies contribute to obesity (the thinking goes that subsidies encourage farmers to grow more, thus driving supplies up and prices down, allowing people to buy more and eat more). “It’s irrelevant,” Alston is quoted as saying, adding that the elimination of farm subsidies would have a negligible effect on obesity rates.

LifeLens: A smartphone app that can detect malaria, The Next Web

UC Davis doctoral student Wilson To is described as “the brainchild” scientist behind Lifelens, “a promising new smartphone application that lets a user snap a photo of a blood sample to determine if it’s affected with malaria.”

El Camino Hospital hires new CEO, Los Altos Town Crier

The El Camino Hospital Board of Directors Aug. 25 unanimously appointed former UC San Francisco Medical Center executive Tomi Ryba the hospital’s new president and CEO.



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In the media: Week of Aug. 21

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Mitchel Berger, UCSF brain surgeon, tops in nation, San Francisco Chronicle

A profile of Mitchel Berger, who chairs UCSF’s neurosurgery department.

Owner bequeaths $7.6 million to UC Davis vet school in cat’s name, The Sacramento Bee

A decade ago, Maxine Adler brought her cat Du Bee to the UC Davis veterinary hospital for treatment of his cancer. The cat later died, but his very large legacy lives on. Adler was killed by a hit-and-run driver two years ago as she crossed a street near her home in Florida. But before she died, she bequeathed more than $7.6 million in her pet’s memory to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Now that Adler’s estate is fully settled, Du Bee’s name is being used to lure top scientists and graces a prestigious endowed fund for cancer research.

Kern Medical Center seeks to close Latino doctor gap, Bakersfield Californian

This article profiles two Hispanic doctors at Kern Medical Center trained through UCLA’s International Medical Graduates Program that assists doctors in securing a medical residency in the United States after they’ve completed their medical education in Latin America.  The program’s goal is to have them work in underserved communities.  Dr. Patrick Dowling, chairman of the UCLA Department of Family Medicine, is quoted.

Desert Healthcare District mulls request from UC Riverside medical school, The Palm Springs Desert Sun

When Dr. David Duffner was a resident in east Texas, he said his work in that region kept him there for 15 years. Years later he now serves as the Department of Surgery chairman at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs and knows what it takes to attract and keep good doctors. “Physicians stay close to where they do their residency, like I did,” Duffner told Desert Healthcare District board members Tuesday. The board is considering whether to OK a $12 million grant request from the University of California, Riverside, Medical School, which seeks to open a medical school that will benefit the Coachella Valley.

Hospitals, patients reap rewards from nurse-led research, Hospital Impact

UCLA School of Nursing Dean Courtney Lyder writes that the last decade has seen an increased emphasis on bringing more research-based care practices into U.S. hospitals. Much is at stake, as hospitals strive to control costs, improve quality of care and patient outcomes, and enhance their reputations and leadership status through rankings and recognition, such as the National Committee for Quality Assurance and Magnet Hospital designations. Lyder describes steps UCLA has taken to improve patient outcomes.

Operation Mend gives disfigured soldier his face back (video), Fox 5 San Diego

This piece reports on UCLA’s Operation Mend program and highlights the story of one of the patients who has undergone several facial reconstructive surgeries.  Operation Mend provides reconstructive surgery and other medical services to military members wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Dr. Timothy Miller, professor of plastic surgery and executive director of Operation Mend, is interviewed.

UCSD Burn Center (video), FDNN TV

Fire Department Network News features the UC San Diego Regional Burn Center.

Are professors picking the public’s pockets?, Miller-McCune

This story on off-campus earnings of research university academics highlights activities by UC San Diego neurosurgeon William Taylor and UCLA physician Jeffrey Wang.

Critical drugs in short supply, San Francisco Chronicle

Record shortages of prescription drugs in the United States are forcing pharmacists and doctors to scramble to find medications for their patients, suitable alternatives or to delay potentially lifesaving treatments. Medical professionals, including those at Bay Area hospitals and infusion centers, say they’ve been able to blunt some of the impact by turning to alternative drugs or reserving supplies of vital medications for patients who need them most. They caution, though, that the problem is reaching a crisis point and it’s only a matter of time before those strategies will no longer work. UCSF is mentioned.

Hookah use up sharply in California, Los Angeles Times

Hookah use is establishing roots in the strongly anti-tobacco state of California, says a new study, with usage rates increasing more than 40% over a few years. Researchers from UC San Diego and San Diego State University examined data from the California Tobacco Survey.

See additional coverage: California Watch

UCSF: Films subsidized by state promote smoking, San Francisco Chronicle

California taxpayers subsidize major motion pictures that depict smoking, which promotes the unhealthy habit and undermines efforts to keep young people from lighting up, according to UCSF researchers.

See additional coverage: ABC News

After one Marine dies, his kidney saves another, Los Angeles Times

The fast-paced kidney transplant underscores the deep bond among service members and their families, according to friends and relatives. Staff at UC San Diego Medical Center said they were surprised by the extra effort one family put in to help a stranger. “I’ve been doing this for 20 years and have never seen anything like it,” said David Lewino, a transplant coordinator. “That whole sense of Marine family — you hear about it, but when you see it firsthand, you really believe it.”

A wave of donations, San Diego Union-Tribune

They are central to San Diego’s personality: surfing, the sun, the slap of waves along our long coastline. Eighteen years ago, some clever surfers figured out how to harness the beach culture to create a uniquely San Diego fundraiser for the UCSD Moores Cancer Center in La Jolla. On Sunday, the Luau and Longboard Invitational raised $420,000, putting the 18-year total for the event at $5.4 million.

UCSD launches liver fixit clinic in Las Vegas, San Diego Reader

If you’re in the liver repair and replacement business, set up shop in one of America’s “drunkest cities.” In the case of La Jolla’s UCSD, that just happens to be Las Vegas.

Dengue fever under attack through smart mosquito control, AFP

Scientists Wednesday reported promising results from tests on a new way of assailing dengue fever by stealthily weakening populations of mosquitoes carrying the virus which causes the deadly disease. “The results show we can completely transform local (mosquito) populations in a few months,” said Michael Turelli, a biologist at UC Davis. “It’s natural selection on steroids.”

See additional coverage: NPR Morning Edition (audio)

Op-ed: Chocolate milk? Not in the schools, Los Angeles Times

Frederick J. Zimmerman is a professor of public health with a focus on children’s health, at the UCLA School of Public Health. Beth Warshawsky Ricanati is a family physician. Zimmerman and Ricanati both have children in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. They write that the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District should vote to eliminate sugared milk from its lunchtime offerings.

Health inspectors investigate at UCI Medical Center, The Orange County Register

State health inspectors visited UC Irvine Medical Center last week to investigate an “adverse event,” officials said. Ken August, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Health, on Monday said the hospital self-reported the event. Details of what happened will not be made public until a report is prepared and the hospital has the opportunity to respond.

Plan severing UC Davis Medical Center from District 5 angers many, The Sacramento Bee

In what some described as a compromise, the Sacramento City Council decided Tuesday night on a plan to keep the tiny residential neighborhood of Med Center and the Sacramento Charter High School campus in the council district both have shared with nearby Oak Park for 40 years.

The Academic Minute: Toxic exposure (audio), Inside Higher Ed

In this Academic Minute, UC Riverside’s Carl Cranor reveals how easily the unborn are exposed to environmental toxins and discusses the medical consequences such exposure brings as children grow into adults. Cranor is a professor of psychology and member of the Environmental Toxicology Graduate Program faculty at UC Riverside.


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In the media: Week of Aug. 14

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Children with autistic sibling face greater risk, study finds, Los Angeles Times

If parents have a child with some form of autism, there is a 19% chance that their next child will have autism too, according to a new report. Experts said the study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, is the most comprehensive of its kind and should be used to counsel families. “Parents are concerned — could this happen again?” said study leader Sally Ozonoff, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute in Sacramento.

See additional coverage: Associated Press, CBS The Early Show (video), CBS Radio (audio), NPR All Things Considered (audio), Time

Clinic to serve uninsured residents in South Merced in the works, Merced Sun-Star

A student-run clinic to serve uninsured residents in South Merced is in the works — and it could open in a year or sooner. The idea emerged in March when UC Merced premedical student Isidro Ramirez began to volunteer part of his time on a mobile clinic with an area doctor, Salvador Sandoval. “From there, we saw the need,” said Ramirez, a native of Dos Palos who’s interning at Golden Valley Health Center in Merced. Ramirez, Maricela Rangel-Garcia and Fabian Alberto are part of the core group that’s charged with working out the details for the clinic, which they expect to open in the fall of 2012 or earlier. The proposed clinic would follow a similar model to Clinica Tepati at UC Davis, where undergraduate students, medical students, physicians and supporters work together to run the clinic. Read a related editorial.

Science festival to show off Bay Area innovation, San Francisco Chronicle

For anyone unaware of the Bay Area’s fame as a world center of scientific research and technological advances, a weeklong series of events this fall is calculated to dispel the ignorance. Inspired by scientists at UCSF, a coalition of universities, museums, observatories, hospitals and high-tech industries has organized the first-ever Bay Area Science Festival to show off the region’s achievements and inspire children to find wonder in the hows and whys of pursuing a scientist’s life.

UCSD grabs near-record $960 million for research, San Diego Union-Tribune

UC San Diego nearly matched last year’s record $1 billion in research funding, even though the federal government has stopped showering American universities with stimulus money to help the country climb out of recession. New figures show that UCSD pulled in $960 million during fiscal 2011, which ended on June 30. That’s second only to the $1 billion the campus raised the year before. More than half of the new grants went to broad areas of health and medicine, from studies of post traumatic stress syndrome in combat veterans to efforts to find ways to use human embryonic stem cells to treat a number of diseases.

Awak to give dialysis patients freedom, The Wall Street Journal

The millions of dialysis patients around the world may soon gain greater freedom and cost savings through a portable, wearable artificial kidney device developed by Singapore outfit Awak Technologies Pte. Ltd. The product—currently undergoing animal and lab tests in Singapore and preparing for clinical trials in the U.S. and Germany—performs peritoneal dialysis using a small amount of liquid and has been named a finalist in the Asian Innovation Awards. The theory behind Awak came from Drs. David Lee and Marin Roberts at UCLA.

Doctor shortage (audio), Valley Public Radio

California’s Central Valley faces a shortage of primary care doctors and specialists. Many physicians prefer to work in urban areas where the pay is better, rather than rural clinics for the poor. But a program through UC Davis and UC Merced is trying to change that, encouraging Valley medical students to practice here at home. Valley Public Radio’s Shellie Branco brings us a special report, and host Juanita Stevenson talks with guests Steve Barrow of the California State Rural Health Association, and Dr. Dominic Divon, a primary care physician and UCSF Fresno Director of Ambulatory Medicine discuss this issue.

Poll: Californians worried about affordability, California Healthcare

A large number of Californians are concerned they will not be able to afford long-term health care, according to a poll by UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research and the SCAN Foundation.

MRSA is on the rise among children: Could antibiotics be to blame?, Time

A report by Patrick Romano, professor of medicine and pediatrics at UC Davis, finds that severe skin infections now rank as the seventh most common reason for childhood hospitalization, and the increase is attributed to the rise of antibiotic-resistant staph infections such as MRSA.

One word can save your life: No!, Newsweek

Dr. Rita Redberg, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and editor of the prestigious Archives of Internal Medicine, has no intention of having a screening mammogram even though her 50th birthday has come and gone. That’s the age at which women are advised to get one. But, says Redberg, they detect too many false positives (suspicious spots that turn out, upon biopsy, to be nothing) and tumors that might regress on their own, and there is little if any evidence that they save lives.

New melanoma drugs have deep Bay Area roots, San Francisco Business Times

Zelboraf isn’t the only new melanoma drug with a Bay Area connection. Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Yervoy, approved by the Food and Drug in March, largely owes its development to research done by Dr. James Allison and colleagues in the mid-1990s at the University of California, Berkeley. Allison, now head of the immunology program at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, discovered the role of a protein that blocks the immune system from responding to cancer. Yervoy turns off that brake, enabling a patient’s own immune system to attack the skin cancer.

Should your employees take naps?, Inc.

Small businesses increasingly encourage daytime rest to boost productivity and fight fatigue. Sleep experts are applauding. In 2010, researchers at UC Berkeley confirmed that napping can improve the brain’s ability to retain information, noting that a middle-of-the-day reprieve “not only rights the wrong of prolonged wakefulness but, at a neurocognitive level, it moves you beyond where you were before.”

Fat ‘disrupts sugar sensors causing type 2 diabetes’, BBC News

UC Santa Barbara and Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute researchers say they have identified how a high-fat diet can trigger type 2 diabetes, in experiments on mice and human tissue.

Blood clots after surgery are often linked to use of a catheter, Los Angeles Times

Blood clots can form easily after surgery. That’s why doctors are advised to use medications to prevent them. A new study, however, has found that use of a catheter remains a risk factor for developing blood clots. A blood clot forming in a deep vein occurs in about 40% of surgery patients with a 1% death rate — unless protective measures are taken. Using anti-clotting medications reduces the risk of blood clots dramatically, but some surgeons have been reluctant to use them because they increase the risk of bleeding. In a new study from researchers at UC Irvine, 2,189 surgeries were analyzed.

US debates an end to medical research on chimps, New Scientist

Ajit Varki at the University of California, San Diego, who has extensively reviewed the biomedical differences between humans and chimpanzees, concludes that chimpanzees and humans handle diseases differently despite their nearly identical genes and proteins. Nevertheless, Varki argues that this is actually a reason to continue ethically studying chimpanzees: if we can figure out why diseases manifest themselves differently in chimps and people despite such high genetic similarity, we can better understand how to treat those diseases.

At U. of California Press, a new director bucks traditional scholarly advice, The Chronicle of Higher Education

This feature on the new director of UC Press, Alison Mudditt, mentions that the UC system has been investing in global public health and that she says it’s a natural area for the press to build up.

The Healthy Skeptic: The ABCs of restaurant grades, Los Angeles Times

Dr. Jonathan Fielding, professor of health services at the UCLA School of Public Health, is featured in this article finding that the number of Los Angeles County residents hospitalized with food-borne illnesses fell in the year after a restaurant grading system was introduced.

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In the media: Week of Aug. 7

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UCSD cardiovascular center gets clearance to open, San Diego Union-Tribune

The $227 million UCSD Sulpizio Family Cardiovascular Center, whose planned opening this spring was snagged by regulatory problems, will accept its first outpatients this Monday. Nearly 100 new employees have been hired to work at the new heart center, including nurses, telephone operators, technicians, security and a nutritionist, UCSD said.

Pfizer, UCSD collaborating on early drug discovery, San Diego Union-Tribune

A new drug research collaboration between pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and UC San Diego could deliver up to $50 million to local scientists over the next five years, speed the delivery of promising therapies to patients and help refill the fast-depleting pipeline of the world’s largest drugmaker. The partnership, which was announced Monday, aims to speed the movement of experimental drugs from the basic science laboratory into mid-stage human trials, through a space known in the industry as the “valley of death.”

Banned chemical levels high in pregnant women, San Francisco Chronicle

Pregnant women participating in a pilot study at San Francisco General Hospital had the highest levels of banned chemicals used in flame retardants in their bodies compared with other expectant mothers in other studies conducted worldwide. UCSF researchers say the results, published online Wednesday in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, are probably attributed to California’s flammability standards, which led to the introduction of many new chemicals to meet the standards. The article also cites a UC Berkeley study on a similar subject.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times, The Bay Citizen

Tijuana clinic trains new generation of border doctors (video), KPBS

There’s a new clinic in Tijuana that offers free care to anyone who walks in the door. Medical students from both sides of the border staff it. A medical student at UCSD came up with the idea.

Former conjoined twins celebrate 10th birthday, Los Angeles Times

This story is about the 10th birthday of formerly conjoined twins Maria de Jesus and Maria Teresa Quiej-Alvarez, who were separated during a 23-hour surgery at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA in 2002.

New dean named for UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, The Sacramento Bee

Michael Lairmore, a veterinarian, cancer researcher and administrator at Ohio State University, has been named the new dean of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Lairmore will preside over the veterinary medical teaching hospital, the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System and the Veterinary Medicine Extension Program.

More children hospitalized with skin infections, The New York Times

Severe skin infections that resist antibiotics have become one of the most common reasons children are hospitalized, new data show. Dr. Patrick S. Romano, professor of medicine and pediatrics at the UC Davis School of Medicine, is quoted.

Sleep apnea may raise dementia risk, study finds, San Francisco Chronicle

Sleep apnea, a fairly common, treatable disorder that causes people to stop breathing momentarily while they sleep, may lead to cognitive impairment and even dementia, according to a new study of elderly women. Women in the study with sleep apnea or other sleep disorders that affected their breathing were much more likely than those with normal sleep habits to develop cognition problems within five years, said researchers at UCSF and California Pacific Medical Center, who published the results in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Wednesday.

Alzheimer’s: No easy answers for aging’s ‘defining’ illness, The Sacramento Bee

A new UC San Francisco study – using a sophisticated mathematical model to analyze many years’ worth of observational data about the influence of lifestyle on Alzheimer’s – suggests that about half the world’s known cases of the disease could be attributable to seven modifiable risk factors. Charles DeCarli, director of the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center, is quoted.

Catching obesity from friends may not be so easy, The New York Times

Does obesity spread like a virus through networks of friends and friends of friends? Do smoking, loneliness, happiness, depression and illegal drug use also proliferate through social networks? Over the past few years, a series of highly publicized studies by two researchers have concluded that these behaviors can be literally contagious — passed from person to person. But now those surprising conclusions have drawn heated criticism from other scientists who claim that the studies’ methodology was flawed and the original data completely inadequate to estimate the role that contagion might play in the spread of these behaviors. The researchers who published the original studies — Dr. Nicholas Christakis, a social scientist at Harvard, and James Fowler, a social scientist at UC San Diego — say they are well aware of the limitations of their analyses but maintain that their conclusions are robust.

First step toward ‘making a difference’, Costa Mesa Daily Pilot

UC Irvine’s School of Medicine welcomes its newest batch of students with a White Coat Ceremony.

Summer with stem cells — four students earn the challenge, The Sacramento Bee

Rex Reyes traveled four hours daily this summer between a lab at the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures in Sacramento and his home in Vallejo. The commute by train and bus was well worth it for the experience of participating in stem cell research, the incoming Vallejo High School senior said. Reyes was one of four area teens interning this summer at the institute as part of a pilot program sponsored by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

10 mistakes accountable care organizations still make, InformationWeek

When the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced its proposed regulations for accountable care organizations (ACOs) last spring, CMS administrator Donald Berwick said “information management–making sure patients and all health care providers have the right information at the point of care–will be a core competency of ACOs.” In a new article about ACOs in the Journal of the American Medical Association, two other health policy experts reaffirm the importance of health IT, including electronic health records (EHRs), in building these organizations. At the same time, they point out that the technology is not yet up to the task. In the paper, Stephen Shortell, dean of the school of public health at UC Berkeley, and Sara Singer, of Harvard’s school of public health, offer a list of 10 mistakes that ACOs may make.

Nurses aim to take more effective role in health care, Sacramento Business Journal

The UC Davis Health System campus hosted a town-hall meeting of nurse leaders and supporters last week. Heather Young, dean of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis states that the university has been spending the year working to double its number of nurses with doctoral degrees who can work on the research and academic side of the profession, expanding the influence of nurses in the health care system.

Want to boost your workout? Eat chocolate (audio), KPBS

This story discusses research by UC San Diego professor of medicine Francisco Villarreal on the effects of chocolate on physical activity. Villarreal is interviewed.

Risks: Heart risks may hasten mental decline, The New York Times

Cardiovascular risk factors in middle age are associated with brain deterioration and a decline in mental function later in life, a new report has found. In a study published online last week in Neurology, scientists at the University of California, Davis, examined 1,352 men and women, ages 45 to 63, and recorded the group’s rates of hypertension, diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol, obesity and other risks.

‘Environment’ poses a knotty challenge in autism, The New York Times

In this article about the genetic and environmental causes of autism, Irva Hertz-Picciotto, professor of epidemiology at UC Davis, says that to many scientists studying autism, environment means “everything that’s not the inherited DNA.” She also says that “every case is probably a result of the confluence of many factors.”

Iraq veteran gets much-needed kidney transplant (video), NBC

Sgt. Jacob Chadwick is recovering in a California hospital after getting the kidney transplant his family and friends had hoped he would receive.  On Sunday, Jacob received the transplant he has waited for at University of California San Diego Medical Center.

Frequent tests help track progression of glaucoma, study finds, HealthDay News

This article reports on research by Dr. Kouros Nouri-Mahdavi, assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Jules Stein Eye Institute, finding that screening glaucoma patients twice a year results in earlier detection of disease progression than annual testing.

Why laughing at yourself may be good for you: First-ever study, Time

In these gloomy, uncertain times, the ability to have a good laugh — especially at your own expense — may be essential for survival. But are people really capable of having a sense of humor about themselves? In the first-ever study of its kind, Ursula Beermann of the University of California, Berkeley, and Willibald Ruch of the University of Zurich studied 70 psychology students to gauge their ability to laugh at themselves. The findings support what has long been believed: that being able to laugh at oneself is not only a distinct trait, but is also linked with having an upbeat personality and good mood and may be the foundation for a good sense of humor.

Room for Debate: How to close the race gap in H.I.V.?, The New York Times

How could public health officials close the race gap in H.I.V. infection rates? Op-ed contributors to this piece include Chandra Ford, an assistant professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at UCLA, and Vickie Mays, a professor of psychology and health services at UCLA.



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