CATEGORY: In the media

In the media: Week of March 11

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UCR medical school closing on funding milestone, The Riverside Press-Enterprise

UC Riverside officials say the university is close to achieving a funding goal they believe might allow them to open a medical school in 2013. Last July, accreditation for the school was denied, largely due to the loss of direct state funding from the state of California. Since then, officials have been working to raise the money through other means.

UC Davis Cancer Center gains elite ‘comprehensive’ status in Sacramento, The Sacramento Bee

Cancer care has reached a new level in the Sacramento region. Today UC Davis Cancer Center officials, surrounded by long-term survivors and elected leaders, will announce the Sacramento facility has joined an elite group of cancer centers across the country, becoming the first in the region designated “comprehensive” by the federal National Cancer Institute.

David Vlahov is new UCSF nursing school dean, San Francisco Chronicle

A profile of UCSF School of Nursing Dean David Vlahov.

Match Day celebration for UCI med students, The Orange County Register

One by one, students dropped a dollar bill into a 61-year-old physician’s bag and stepped up to the podium, fumbling with the letters that will dictate their next several years – and possibly their lives. One-hundred-and-two students in UC Irvine’s School of Medicine class of 2012 discovered which residency program they will attend in July, along with medical students across the country Friday. Read more about Match Day.

Robotic pharmacy delivers right meds to patients at UCSF (video), ABC 7

A combination of high-technology and robotics is now making sure patients at UCSF get the medicines they need. The new system tracks thousands of doses of medications even as nurses are administering them.

NQF, Joint Commission honor safety efforts, Modern Healthcare

A New York hospital and a Detroit hospital system were among the healthcare providers recognized recently for their patient-safety efforts by the National Quality Forum and the Joint Commission. New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City and Henry Ford Health System in Detroit were named this week as 2011 recipients of the annual John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Awards for improving patient safety and quality at the local level. Other awardees included Dr. Kenneth Shine, executive vice chancellor for health affairs at the University of Texas System, Austin; the Society of Hospital Medicine in Philadelphia; and Jerod Loeb, executive vice president of the division of healthcare quality evaluation at the Joint Commission. UC San Diego clinical professor of medicine Gregory Maynard, senior vice president of the Society of Hospital Medicine, and others throughout the UC system played a major role in the society’s award-winning work.

Is California ready for millions of newly insured?, California Healthline

Three million to four million Californians will become eligible for health insurance in 2014 thanks to the Affordable Care Act, but will the state’s health care workforce be able to handle the new demand? “Because persons who have health insurance tend to use more primary care than persons who are uninsured, there is concern that the current supply of primary care providers (physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants) may not be adequate to meet demand,” said Janet Coffman at UC-San Francisco’s Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies. UC’s PRIME medical education program also is mentioned.

40 years of change at VA Medical Center, San Diego Union-Tribune

When San Diego’s VA hospital opened March 15, 1972, it revolutionized how local veterans received care. “We have some of the best people providing care here, primarily because it’s a university-affiliated place,” said Dr. Joshua Fierer, referring to the hospital’s relationship with UC San Diego. “You have people here at this VA who are world experts in their field.” The groundbreaking for the 400,000-square-foot hospital was held May 30, 1969, on 17 acres deeded by UC San Diego to the federal government.

Million-dollar hospital bills rise sharply in Northern California, The Sacramento Bee

A million dollars can buy a mansion in one of Sacramento’s nicest neighborhoods, near its best schools and parks. Or it can buy an ever-dwindling number of weeks in the intensive care unit of a local hospital. This article highlights examples from UC Davis Medical Center and quotes Robert Pretzlaff, chief of pediatric critical care medicine, and hospital spokeswoman Carole Gan. It also quotes Adams Dudley, UCSF professor of medicine and health policy.

Program helps advance hearing testing; experts in Sacramento check ears in Redding, Redding Record Searchlight

Gracie Lee recently slept through most of what Mercy Medical Center officials consider one of the newest methods to treat hearing problems. While 5-week-old Gracie rested on her mother’s lap in the Redding hospital last week, the audiologist testing the infant was at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.

San Diego gets telemedicine for its tiniest patients, San Diego Business Journal

Oceanside-based Tri-City Medical Center is teaming with UC San Diego Medical Center to offer telemedicine services for premature babies in greater San Diego.

Buildings go up as universities’ budgets go down, California Watch/San Francisco Chronicle

California has slashed public university budgets, yet construction is booming at campuses statewide. The UC system has $8.9 billion in building projects under way at its 10 campuses and five medical centers, including about $2 billion at UCSF, which is near the top of the spending list. With less money to operate the new buildings once they’re finished, universities are straining maintenance and energy budgets. At least one new UC campus building is sitting empty because the university can’t afford to operate it. The most glaring example of what happens when universities put up buildings they can’t afford to operate is at UC Riverside, which finished a $36 million building last year for a planned medical school. But it had to push back the medical school’s opening to next year at the earliest because it doesn’t have the money to run it.

Steep climb for vets with brain injuries, The Sacramento Bee

Researchers at the Martinez campus of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have been collaborating with colleagues at UC campuses in Berkeley, Davis and San Francisco to determine how to best diagnose and treat brain injuries. David Woods, adjunct neurology professor at UC Davis, is focusing on the diagnostic area and studying a more accurate method of spotting traumatic brain injury abnormalities in brain tissue.

Pfizer agrees to new deal with QB3, San Francisco Business Times

Pfizer is reupping a three-year, $9.5 million research collaboration with the University of California’s QB3 institute, but this time it is bringing money for startup life sciences companies to the table.

Shaved heads at Sacramento pub add up for children’s cancer research, The Sacramento Bee

Henry, Simon, and Mark de Vere White are the sons of Ralph de Vere White, director of the UC Davis Cancer Center. The brothers own de Vere’s Irish Pub in downtown Sacramento, where about 250 people shaved their heads as part of the St. Baldrick’s Day fundraising event for pediatric cancer research. Also on hand was Robyn Raphael, founder of the Keaton Raphael Memorial that raises money for cancer research at UC Davis.

College students’ No. 1 routine health concern? Contraception, The Sacramento Bee

At UC Davis, student health officials regularly haul out “The Love Lab,” a roving cart filled with contraceptives. Twice a week, they place this array of free condoms, lubricants and other safe-sex products in high traffic areas around campus. After two hours, everything is usually gone. “It is one of the most popular student services on campus,” said Jason Spitzer, health educator for University of California, Davis, Student Health and Counseling Services. UC Davis has “The Love Lab.” Sacramento State has condom bowls. And Sacramento City College has Planned Parenthood on campus once a week to provide birth control prescriptions, condoms and information about reproduction, among other services. Contraception, a topic that has embroiled Congress and talk radio in heated debate the past few weeks, routinely intersects campus life here for college students.

Stress shown to have modest effect on pregnant women, San Diego Union-Tribune

The effect of stress upon a pregnant woman and her unborn child is neither well nor fully understood. When a 7.9-magnitude earthquake hit Chile in 2005, researchers saw a novel opportunity to investigate the question. A Q&A with Dr. Yvette Lacoursiere, an assistant adjunct professor of reproductive medicine in the UC San Diego School of Medicine, who talks further about stress and pregnancy.

Debate grows over colorectal cancer screenings, San Francisco Chronicle

A colonoscopy, a dreaded medical procedure for people 50 and older, is the best, one-shot way to screen and detect colon cancer for now, most health professionals agree. But an increasing number of experts are beginning to voice support for alternative methods, which they say could be used more widely to prevent colorectal cancer, which occurs in the colon or rectum. The article quotes James Allison, professor emeritus of medicine at UCSF and an adjunct investigator at the Kaiser Division of Research.

Ninad Athale: Deciding to be a family doctor, Napa Valley Register

A feature on Ninad Athale, a UC San Diego School of Medicine graduate who volunteers at one or more of the UC Davis School of Medicine’s seven student-run clinics in Sacramento. Athale, 31, joined Napa County-based Clinic Ole’s full-time staff in September, shortly after wrapping up his residency in Sacramento with the Sutter Health Family Residency Program.

New UCSD website is all about the brain (audio, video), KPBS

The myth that classical music makes you smarter is not true, according to Nick Spitzer, co-director of UC San Diego’s Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind. Also false: drinking alcohol kills brain cells, he said. While chronic drinking does damage the brain, a glass of wine with dinner actually has “salutary effects,” Spitzer said. Spitzer is editor in chief of a new website launching in May, The site will debunk myths like these and provide layers of information for anyone interested in the brain.

Honoring San Diego’s health heroes, San Diego Union-Tribune

Heroes come in many forms. Twenty-two of them were honored Thursday at the Combined Health Agencies’ 2012 Health Hero Awards breakfast in Balboa Park. Recipients included UC San Diego’s Rohit Loomba, William Mobley, Howard Taras and David Barba.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of March 4

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Innovator tracks everything his body does (video), San Diego Union-Tribune

Larry Smarr stops a visitor and says, “Before you go, let me show you my stool sample.” The UC San Diego physicist-futurist reaches into his kitchen refrigerator, past the milk, and pulls out a small white box. He marvels over its contents. Feeling squeamish? Smarr can have that effect on people. Virtually nothing is out-of-bounds these days when he promotes the “Quantified Self,” an emerging movement in which people use biosensors and other gadgets to closely monitor their bodies in the name of wellness. At 63, Smarr thinks he’s found the future of personal health care. Time will tell. But colleagues note that he’s one of the most original thinkers in the country, with an almost eerie gift for sensing and shaping where society and technology are going.

Editorial: Med-school Rx?, The Riverside Press-Enterprise

UC Riverside’s plans for a new medical school need to rest on a more reliable foundation than the uncertain promise of state funding. The university should look at other options to fund this crucial project, instead of counting on a recurring state contribution. Waiting for money from a cash-strapped state risks indefinite postponement of the new school.

California mandates 48 specific areas of coverage, California Healthline

An analysis released yesterday by the California Health Benefits Review Program shows that a large cross-section of Californians  – about 32 million people –  will be covered by health care mandates passed by the Legislature. There are now 48 of those mandates that either require coverage or require an offer of coverage, and another five mandates that deal with more general terms and conditions of coverage. That is not the final word on the number of mandates. CHBRP was asked to evaluate three more legislative bills recently that deal with mandated coverage of tobacco cessation, prescription drugs and children’s immunizations. In addition, some of the 16 bills the agency analyzed last year are up for approval this year. They include mandates ranging from mental health coverage to oral chemotherapy treatment.

Hospitalists on the move, The Hospitalist

This item notes that Wendy Anderson, assistant professor of medicine and clinician-investigator with the UCSF Division of Hospital Medicine and Palliative Care Program, has been selected for a fellowship to improve health quality by the UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation. The center awarded 13 fellowships.

Sen. Sharon Runner goes home early after lung transplant, Los Angeles Times

State Sen. Sharon Runner (R-Lancaster) left Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center on Tuesday, 10 days after receiving a double lung transplant. Runner was diagnosed in 2008 with limited scleroderma, an autoimmune condition that damages healthy tissue, and several lung infections had kept her from attending legislative sessions since January while she waited for a transplant. Her physicians said Runner should be able to return to work in the Legislature in late spring.

To stay fiscally healthy, state’s hospitals want fewer patients, Los Angeles Times

Health care reforms will mandate more treatment in doctors’ offices and clinics. The changes take effect in 2014, but some California institutions are trying to get an early start. The article quotes Richard Scheffler, a UC Berkeley health economics professor.

Study linking abortion and mental health problems is called false, The New York Times

The Journal of Psychiatric Research, which in 2009 published a research article purporting to show a a link between abortions and long-term mental health problems, this month offered a critique of the research, saying that the authors’ analysis “does not support their assertions that abortions led to psychopathology.” In adetailed re-analysis of the (publicly available) data used in the study, Julia Steinberg of the University of California at San Francisco and Lawrence Finer of the Guttmacher Institute found what they called, in a letter to the journal’s editors, “untrue statements about the nature of the dependent variables and associated false claims about the nature of the findings.”

Study: Plateau seen in state childhood obesity rate, San Jose Mercury News

The first comprehensive assessment of a statewide campaign found that between 2003 and 2008, the rate of obesity among children in grades five, seven and nine grew by 0.33 percent. UC Davis researchers reviewed the results of Fitnessgrams and found that despite the weight gain, more students achieved perfect fitness scores.

UC Davis professor on panel to assess physician pay, Sacramento Business Journal

A UC Davis professor of internal medicine has been named to a newly formed independent commission that will assess how physicians are paid, university officials announced Tuesday.

Hydrogels heal themselves — and maybe your ulcers and stomach perforations, Scientific American/The Huffington Post

They’re called hydogels: Jell-O-like materials made of networks of long-chain molecules in water. And they’re as flexible as living tissue. But hydrogels could not recover from a cut—until now. Bioengineers at UC San Diego have made hydrogels that are self-healing in acidic conditions.


CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Feb. 26

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Governor says he won’t back UCR medical school, The Riverside Press-Enterprise

California Gov. Jerry Brown said Friday he’s not prepared to support funding the UC Riverside medical school at a time when the state still faces a $9 billion deficit. Brown asserted that position during a talk at The Press-Enterprise that ranged from his tax proposal to high-speed rail, pension reform and driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. “I’m not ruling it out, but I’m not ruling it in right now,” Brown said of funding for the medical school. “We’ve got to get our house in order before we expand.”

Op-ed: University’s far-reaching impact, The Vacaville Reporter

UC President Mark Yudof writes in an op-ed about UC’s impact in Vacaville and throughout the state, including UC’s five medical centers, which he notes offer not only world-class medical care but a crucial safety net for underserved populations.

Op-ed: California Western, UC San Diego partner to address community health needs, San Diego Daily Transcript

This op-ed highlights how California Western School of Law’s Community Law Project works with the UC San Diego School of Medicine and other partners to address community health needs in downtown San Diego.

Record kidney transplant chain has SF links, San Francisco Chronicle

After her son-in-law was diagnosed with a progressive and potentially deadly kidney disease, Yvonne Gordon desperately wanted to give him one of her kidneys, but she wasn’t a match. Good thing, too. Gordon couldn’t give her kidney to Gabriel Baty, the Albany man married to her daughter, but she could give it to a stranger, and, in return, her son-in-law would get a kidney from another stranger. In fact, Gordon and Baty were just two links of a record-breaking 60-person chain of kidney donations that ended late last year. Today, both Gordon and Baty are almost fully recovered. Both Gordon and Baty underwent surgery at UCSF.

The healing power of music (audio and video), PBS NewsHour

UCSF’s efforts to harness and understand the impact of music therapy on the brain are featured in this story. The segment highlights efforts by music therapists at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, such as Meagan Hughes, who work with children with muscular dystrophy and other neurological diseases, as well as cancer. Pediatric oncologist Robert Goldsby said music “can soothe the soul and help [young patients] get through the process of cancer therapy.” The story also included an interview with cognitive neuroscientist Julene Johnson and the UCSF Memory and Aging Center’s own artist in residence, bluegrass fiddler-dancer Heidi Clare Lambert.

SD County hospitals expand facilities, innovate, San Diego Business Journal

UC San Diego Health System, No. 3 on the list, is expecting to break ground on the Jacobs Medical Center in April. “We estimate this will bring more than 750 new hospital jobs to San Diego,” said Jacqueline Carr, director of press and media relations — clinical.

Special Reports: New California law seeks to expand telehealth services for Medicaid beneficiaries (audio), California Healthline

A new California law (AB 415) is expanding access to health care services in rural areas through the use of telehealth. In this Special Report by Deirdre Kennedy, telehealth experts discuss how the new law is working. The Special Report includes comments from April Armstrong, director of the Clinical Research Unit and Teledermatology Program at UC Davis Health System’s Department of Dermatology, and Thomas Nesbitt, director of UC Davis’ Center for Health and Technology.

Execs say health care reform inevitable, Sacramento Business Journal

Health care reform will happen in California regardless of whether the federal Affordable Care Act is upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, Sacramento-area health care leaders said Friday. Panelists included Michael Taylor, senior vice president of operations for Dignity Health’s Greater Sacramento-San Joaquin Area; Pat Brady, CEO of Sutter Roseville Medical Center; Garry Maisel, president and CEO of Western Health Advantage; Ann Madden Rice, CEO of UC Davis Medical Center; Darryl Cardoza, COO of Hill Physicians Medical Group; and Trish Rodriguez, senior vice president and hospital CEO for Kaiser Permanente in South Sacramento and Elk Grove.

Political Empire: Feinstein to Brown: ‘I was here first’, The Riverside Press-Enterprise

This political notebook column mentions that in speaking before the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce on Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein urged Gov. Jerry Brown to fund the UC Riverside Medical School with $15 million a year.

Study looks at language barriers to exchange coverage, California Healthline

Communities of color are expected to make up a large portion of the California Health Benefit Exchange population. Many potential enrollees have limited English skills, which could get in the way of obtaining coverage. That’s according to a report due to be released today as a joint project of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network and the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education.

UCI Care-a-thon, six-hour dance marathon (video), The Orange County Register

UC Irvine’s Care-a-thon fundraiser kept participants dancing for six hours and raised over $15,000 for the UC Irvine Medical Center’s neonatal intensive care unit.

Tri-City NICU to collaborate with UCSD Medical Center using video link, North County Times

Tri-City Medical Center will use video conferencing technology to collaborate with UC San Diego neonatologists to diagnose and treat difficult cases in the public hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, officials said this week.

UCSF’s burst of discovery (audio), KQED Forum

In the 1970s, UCSF’s medical school made a series of notable advances in biological research, including the discovery of DNA cloning and the identification of the first cancer genes. Dr. Henry Bourne chronicles what he calls this “burst of discovery” in his new book, “Paths to Innovation.”

UCSD Medical Center overbills Medicare, San Diego Union-Tribune

UC San Diego Medical Center made billing errors resulting in Medicare overpayments of $350,897 for 99 of 210 claims selected for review by federal auditors, according to a draft report made public this week.

Omega-3s may guard against brain decline, Time

Eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids — healthy fats found in abundance in oily fish such as salmon — may protect against premature aging of the brain and memory problems in late middle age, according to a study published today in the journal Neurology. “The lower the omega-3s, the poorer the performance,” says lead author Dr. Zaldy Tan, an Alzheimer’s researcher at UCLA.

To screen or not to screen, San Diego Union-Tribune

Late last year, an expert panel convened by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommended that all children be screened for high cholesterol before the age of 11.  We asked Dr. Jeffrey Schwimmer, an associate professor of clinical pediatrics at the UC San Diego School of Medicine and childhood obesity researcher, for his assessment.

Getting the right care after surgery, The Orange County Register

Columnist Jane Glenn Haas describes her shoulder replacement surgery at UC Irvine Medical Center.

California schoolchildren growing fatter, but fitter too (video), Los Angeles Times

The first comprehensive assessment of a pioneering statewide campaign to fight childhood obesity found that between 2003 and 2008, the rate of obesity among children in grades five, seven and nine grew by 0.33 percent, a slower rate than prior decades. UC Davis researchers have reviewed the results of Fitnessgrams and found that despite the weight gain, more students achieved perfect fitness scores in 2008 than 2003.

Light-controlled pain relief could banish Novocaine face syndrome, Gizmodo

UC Berkeley researchers, along with colleagues in Munich and Bordeaux, have co-authored a study that could lead to an innovative local anesthetic, which involves implanting a newly created molecule that acts like lidocaine into nerves and then manipulating it with a specific wavelength of light.

Claims over virtues of vitamin D spark debates, The Sacramento Bee

Vitamin D is at the center of a medical debate as researchers argue over its supposed benefits and possible deficiencies among the American public. Ishwarlal Jialal, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the UC Davis Health System, discussed a UC Davis study last year that found a 30% of patients with metabolic syndrome in Northern California also had vitamin D deficiency.

Scientists seek traits for bovine respiratory disease, Capital Press

Scientists from more than a half-dozen universities across the country have been examining thousands of cows to determine the genetic traits for resistance to bovine respiratory disease. The researchers – which include scientists at the University of California and Washington State University – are about halfway through their five-year study, having tested about 3,000 dairy cows. The scientists are about to begin studying beef cattle at a large feedlot in Texas, said Alison Van Eenennaam, a biotechnology specialist for the UC Cooperative Extension.

Commentary: School health clinics face obstacles — and how Arne Duncan could help, The Washington Post

Richard Rothsetin, senior fellow of the UC Berkeley law school’s Warren Institute, says the Obama administration could help close the achievement gap by promoting school-based health centers in disadvantaged neighborhoods.


CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Feb. 19

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Putting the care back into health care (audio, video), KPBS

Whether it’s transplanting an organ or saving a premature baby, doctors can do things that would have been considered miracles 100 years ago. But while medical science has evolved, the need for doctors to be caring and compassionate hasn’t changed. UC San Diego Medical School is trying to make sure aspiring doctors get that message. KPBS Health Reporter Kenny Goldberg tells us about one medical student that’s seen the light.

A push to train more primary-care doctors, Los Angeles Times

The U.S. is failing to produce enough family doctors to meet current and future needs. To address the shortage, new medical schools are opening with an emphasis on primary care and others are changing their curricula to boost the number of graduates interested in the field. The key to getting more graduates to pursue community medicine is recruiting the right students, said G. Richard Olds, dean of UC Riverside Medical School, which is waiting for accreditation and expects to focus in part on primary care. The article also mentions that Christina Thabit is among the first students in a new medical school program run by UC Davis and UC Merced that aims to increase the number of doctors in the San Joaquin Valley.

UC Davis volunteers give tiny Knights Landing its first health clinic since 2008, The Sacramento Bee

Medical students and undergraduates in white coats and blue scrubs swarmed around patients at the new Knights Landing health clinic Sunday, sometimes as many as three to one. The attention was a welcome flood after the medical drought that the tiny farming community has suffered since its only clinic closed more than three years ago. Sunday was the official opening of the free clinic, the product of several years’ planning by students and faculty at UC Davis School of Medicine and residents of Knights Landing. Housed in the office of the nonprofit Yolo Family Resource Center and staffed entirely by volunteers, the clinic gives free medical care. The new site is a satellite of Sacramento’s Clinica Tepati, one of seven free health clinics where UC Davis medical students train under supervising physicians. It is the first site run entirely by students in Rural-PRIME.

The patient of the future, MIT Technology Review

Back in 2000, when Larry Smarr left his job as head of a celebrated supercomputer center in Illinois to start a new institute at the University of California, San Diego, and the University of California, Irvine, he rarely paid attention to his bathroom scale. He regularly drank Coke, added sugar to his coffee, and enjoyed Big Mac Combo Meals with his kids at McDonald’s. Exercise consisted of an occasional hike or a ride on a stationary bike. “In Illinois they said, ‘We know what’s going to happen when you go out to California. You’re going to start eating organic food and get a blonde trainer and get a hot tub,’ ” recalls Smarr, who laughed off the predictions. “Of course, I did all three.”Smarr, who directs the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology in La Jolla, dropped from 205 to 184 pounds and is now a fit 63-year-old. But his transformation transcends his regular exercise program and carefully managed diet: he has become a poster man for the medical strategy of the future.

Father, son develop drug to fight brain diseases, San Francisco Chronicle

Joseph and Paul Muchowski are working at the Gladstone Institutes, an independent research group affiliated with UCSF. Paul Muchowski, 40, is a full-time investigator at Gladstone. His father, now retired from the Swiss drug maker Roche, splits his time between a lab at Gladstone and his current home just east of Vancouver in British Columbia.

60 lives, 30 kidneys, all linked, The New York Times

The world’s longest chain of organ donations has been completed in the U.S., with 30 patients receiving a kidney from 30 living donors. The chain included UCLA.

See additional coverage: BBC News

Nobel laureate Renato Dulbecco dies, San Diego Union-Tribune

Salk Institute virologist Renato Dulbecco, the Italian immigrant who earned a Nobel Prize for helping explain how viruses can cause cancer and who helped create the Human Genome Project, died on Sunday at his home in La Jolla. He was 97, and would have turned 98 on Wednesday. “Renato Dulbecco moved to La Jolla when Jonas Salk enticed the M.D. and scientist to help launch the Salk Institute. UC San Diego was in its infancy then, but in 1977 the Nobel laureate began serving on the UC San Diego School of Medicine faculty,” UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox said. “Renato will be missed – he was one of our region’s brilliant minds, laying groundwork in the sciences and technology fields.”

California health insurers to raise average rates 8% to 14%, Los Angeles Times

The proposed premium hikes for hundreds of thousands of California consumers with individual coverage would outpace the cost of overall medical care, which has risen just 3.6 percent in the last year. The article quotes Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

Brain Series 2: Generalized defects in cognition: Alzheimer’s disease (video), Charlie Rose Show

Bruce Miller, director of the UCSF Memory and Aging Center, participated in a roundtable discussion on Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia on the Charlie Rose Show. The episode, the fourth in Rose’s Brain Series 2, included Nobel laureate Eric Kandel of Columbia University, Marc Tessier-Lavigne, formerly of UCSF and now of Rockefeller University, and Alison Goate and David Holtzman of Washington University in St. Louis.

Q&A: Why your doctor may be wearing a mask, The Sacramento Bee

Don’t be surprised if, the next time you see your doctor, her medical advice to you sounds a little muffled. The health officers of Sacramento and Yolo counties last summer issued a new rule that health care workers who don’t receive a flu vaccine must wear a protective mask at work, all flu season long. All four major health care systems in the region – Sutter, Kaiser Permanente, Mercy and the UC Davis Medical Center – are enforcing the rule. Nationwide, 64 percent of health care workers got the shot last flu season. The rates are much higher at hospitals, such as UC Davis, that require vaccination for their employees (except individuals who opt out for medical reasons). Dr. Christian Sandrock, health officer of Yolo County and associate professor of medicine at UC Davis, explains the change.

Chinese firm, UC Davis sign genomics lab deal, The Sacramento Bee

UC Davis signed a “master agreement” Friday with a Chinese firm to establish a major genomics lab on the university’s Sacramento medical campus. The agreement further cements the relationship between the university and BGI, a world-renowned genomics firm from Shenzhen, China. The two organizations signed interim agreements last summer in China and October in Sacramento.

Colic may be migraine precursor, UCSF team says, San Francisco Chronicle

Colic, it turns out, may be closely connected to migraines, say researchers at UCSF. A study released this week found that moms who suffer migraines are 2 1/2 times more likely to have colicky infants than those who don’t.

S.F. elementary schools falling short on exercise, San Francisco Chronicle

Many of San Francisco’s public elementary schools aren’t scheduling as much time as they should for student exercise, according to a new UCSF study to be announced today.

Skin cancer drug hopes raised by study, BBC News

This article reports on a UCLA study finding that a newly approved drug for metastatic melanoma nearly doubles the median survival time for patients with a common genetic mutation. UCLA Dr. Antoni Ribas, professor of hematology–oncology and a Jonsson Cancer Center researcher, was co-principal investigator.

Brain ‘hyperconnectivity’ linked to depression, USA Today

People with depression appear to have hyperactive brain activity, says a UCLA study published online Tuesday that offers new insights into the brain dysfunction that causes depression.

UCD researchers close to developing vaccine for salmonella (video), CBS 5

Researchers at UC Davis are getting close to a vaccine to prevent a food borne illness that can sometimes kill.  Scientists at the UC Davis Center for Comparative Medicine are developing a vaccine against salmonella, the increasingly antibiotic-resistant bacteria that kills hundreds of thousands of people worldwide each year.

Tammerlin Drummond: UC Berkeley institute studies science of gratitude, The Oakland Tribune

The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley has just launched an intriguing $5.9 million project to advance the scientific study of gratitude. In the first phase, the institute is awarding $3 million in grants for research into the science and practice of gratitude. It’s a collaboration with UC Davis and funded in part by the John Templeton Foundation. Fellows will be selected in July.

Editorial: The dynamo who leads UC Merced, Merced Sun-Star

This editorial, which praises UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland, references the UC Merced San Joaquin Valley PRIME medical education program.

Op-ed: A contraception game-changer, Los Angeles Times

Malcolm Potts, an obstetrician and reproductive scientist and a professor at UC Berkeley, writes that in the battle over contraception, it’s time for the Roman Catholic Church to acknowledge the pill’s benefits. He calls for the U.S. to allow over-the-counter sales of the pill.



CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Feb. 12

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Commentary: Medical research funding threatened, San Francisco Chronicle

Claire Pomeroy, UC Davis vice chancellor for human health sciences and medical school dean, writes that legislative paralysis within Congress threatens the work of UC Davis and other research centers across the country.

Commentary: Medical research is key to our nation’s health, San Diego Union-Tribune

David Brenner, UC San Diego vice chancellor for health sciences and medical school dean, and Bess Marcus, UC San Diego professor and chair of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, write about the importance of National Institutes of Health funding.

Editorial: UCLA Medical Center loses its Blue Shield, Los Angeles Times

An editorial on the contract dispute between Blue Shield and UCLA/UC Health. UC health officials say they’ve gotten the message; that’s why they created the Center for Health Quality and Innovation in October 2010 to find ways to deliver more effective healthcare services and to control costs. The university system and Blue Shield also have agreed on a new approach at UC San Francisco Medical Center that shares the financial risk of providing care for certain policyholders, holding cost increases at or below the rate of inflation. The question is how to bring that focus on efficiency and value to UCLA and the rest of the UC system. Here’s hoping the two sides find an answer soon.

UCLA School of Public Health gets $50-million gift, Los Angeles Times

Jonathan Fielding works 70-hour weeks in a relatively obscure and overwhelming job: He is Los Angeles County’s top public health doctor. Friends and colleagues have long praised his professional contributions to the field. But to their surprise, Fielding and his wife are now making another huge contribution: $50 million to the UCLA School of Public Health.

UCLA program brings Latino doctors to underserved areas (audio), KPCC

As California’s Latino population grows, so too does the need for doctors who speak fluent Spanish and who understand the Latino culture. Yet proportionately, few Latinos graduate from medical schools in California, and that’s created a void that threatens care to Spanish-speaking populations. But UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine has a solution in its novel International Medical Graduate’s (IMG) program.

Afghan war vet speaks out (video), CNN

This segment reports on Joey Paulk, a soldier who was treated by UCLA’s Operation Mend, which offers free reconstructive surgery to military personnel who are disfigured during service. Paulk and Dr. Timothy Miller, professor of plastic surgery and surgical director of Operation Mend, are interviewed.

UC Davis Cancer Center pinpoints cancer therapies, The Sacramento Bee

Oncologist David Gandara is providing specialized treatment at UC Davis Cancer Center, which is at the forefront of what many consider the future of cancer care, with treatment designed specifically for each patient. It is the lead institution in a pioneering program that works with genetically designed mice to test drugs individually for each patient.

At UCSF, chancellor isn’t worried about industry ties, The Wall Street Journal

Many universities are wringing their hands over the increasing coziness of medical schools and their corporate partners. Susan Desmond-Hellmann, chancellor at the University of California, San Francisco, has no such qualms. As head of the only UC campus dedicated exclusively to graduate programs in health and biomedical sciences, Desmond-Hellmann has advocated getting closer with the industry in order to spark new ideas, fund research, access high-tech equipment and speed medical advances to patients.

UCSF boss blows up the boxes, San Francisco Business Times

When UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann started her Twitter account last month, she had two goals: do her own micro-blogging and never tweet about eating a tuna fish sandwich for lunch.

Retiring UCSF pharmacy dean leaves legacy of innovation, San Francisco Business Times

A feature on the retiring UCSF pharmacy dean, Mary Anne Koda-Kimble.

UC Merced plans to grow, Merced Sun-Star

Well past the need to boost enrollment, the campus faces expansion challenges. The article mentions that UC Merced will admit five or six more students in its San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education for this fall. The pioneers of PRIME — five students from Modesto, Fresno, Fowler, Salinas and Bakersfield — started the program last fall. The increase in enrollment for the PRIME will be made possible with a grant by United Health, Leland said. Officials will be able to increase enrollment for the next five years.

Keyota Cole, mother, risks life to have baby while battling heart disease (video), The Huffington Post

This piece reports on how UCLA Health System cardiac specialists guided a mother with a congenital heart defect through a high-risk birth and performed lifesaving open-heart surgery on her newborn.

Speaking of sweethearts, San Diego Union-Tribune

As you munch your way through yesterday’s goodies (it was Valentine’s Day, in case you somehow didn’t notice), keep in mind that dark chocolate is not just for sweethearts. It’s also pretty sweet for good hearts. In recent years, a number of studies have found that moderate consumption of dark chocolate can confer measurable cardiovascular benefits. More specifically, researchers at UC San Diego Health System report that a daily dose of dark chocolate appears to help protect the heart during a heart attack. We asked Dr. Francisco Villarreal, a physician-researcher in the division of cardiology at UC San Diego, to explain.

Lance Armstrong campaigns for California cigarette tax measure, Los Angeles Times

Proposition 29, if passed, would increase taxes on a pack of cigarettes by $1, and the money would be distributed for the benefit of cancer research and anti-smoking programs by a panel that would include the chancellors of UC campuses at Berkeley, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz.

Tony Gwynn having mouth surgery (video), ESPN

Tony Gwynn, the Hall of Fame outfielder who 18 months ago blamed smokeless tobacco for a malignant growth inside his right cheek, was in his 13th h During the operation, which is being performed at the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California San Diego, doctors will conduct further biopsies of Gywnn’s parotid gland, Alicia Gwynn said. She said if the cancer is localized, Gwynn should be able to return as San Diego State’s baseball coach in about a month.our of surgery Tuesday evening to remove a new cancerous tumor in the same spot.

Oxytocin makes the romantic heart tick, San Diego Union-Tribune

In recent years, much research has focused upon how oxytocin affects matters of the heart. Dr. Kai MacDonald, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, is looking at how oxytocin might apply to the heartsick. A Q&A with MacDonald.

A reality check on the benefits of chocolate, KOMO News

For weeks now, I’ve been hearing news stories about the wonders of chocolate. Now that Valentine’s Day is over, it’s time for a little reality check. The UC Berkeley Wellness Letter examined the research. Yes, there are studies that show chocolate is good for you. But as Dr. John Swartzberg explains, those are only “observational” studies.

Is adding fiber to food really good for your health? (audio), NPR Morning Edition

I’m standing in the cereal aisle with three items in my basket: a box of sugary kids’ cereal, some yogurt and a bottle of apple juice. According to their labels, all three of these foods are good sources of fiber, which, if you think about it, may say as much about us (the shoppers) as it does about the food we buy. “We’re looking for elements within things,” says John Swartzberg, a professor of public health at University of California, Berkeley. “Almost a mystical kind of thinking.”

Patient satisfaction is costly but maybe not so healthy (video), Los Angeles Times

Four family medicine doctors at UC Davis have found that a satisfied patient is not necessarily a healthier patient. Following 51,946 Americans between 2000 and 2007, the findings showed that those who were most satisfied with their healthcare were on more medication, made more doctor’s office visits and more likely to have stayed in the hospital despite overall better physical and mental health. And the highly satisfied were still more likely to die in a few years after taking the survey than those who were least satisfied.

Cash payments help cut HIV infection rate in young women, study finds, The Guardian

A team of researchers from the World Bank, UC San Diego and George Washington University in the U.S. carried out a randomised controlled trial in Malawi to find out whether monthly payments to schoolgirls and their families would help change the girls’ behaviour and safeguard their health. UC Berkeley adjunct public health professor Nancy Padian co-authored a commentary in the Lancet about research that found cash payments can help young women avoid HIV infection.

Using mobile phones & social networks to fight noncommunicable diseases, Internet Evolution

With a pharmacy-based program for low- to middle-income pregnant women suffering diabetes in Mexico, a team of business students from UC Berkeley and the Universidad Ramon Llull in Barcelona won a global competition for innovative ways of managing the toll of noncommunicable diseases.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Feb. 5

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Medical center commits to giving Oakland father a kidney transplant, Contra Costa Times

UC San Francisco Medical Center said Thursday that it is committed to providing an illegal immigrant from Oakland the kidney transplant he needs to live. The announcement followed the nationwide response to a story in this newspaper last week about the man’s plight.

See additional coverage: San Francisco Chronicle

Study: Uninsured face similar debt as Medi-Cal beneficiaries, California Healthline

More Californians are borrowing money to pay for health care services — and two-thirds of them have medical insurance, according to a new study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

UCSF study: Boosting cigarette tax could bolster California economy by $2 billion, San Francisco Business Times

A June 5 ballot initiative designed to boost the tax on cigarettes by $1 a pack could create 12,000 new permanent jobs right away and add nearly $2 billion in economic activity in the Golden State annually, according to a new study by UC San Francisco.

The Athena Breast Health Network (audio), KQED Forum

The Athena Breast Health Network is launching a series of face-to-face forums where patients, breast cancer experts and community members can exchange direct experience and research in breast health care. The first forum will examine breast cancer risk assessment and prevention – and the results will be fed back into the UC-based Athena Network of 150,000 women to improve survival and reduce suffering from breast cancer. Guests include UCLA’s Arash Naeim and UCSF’s Laura Esserman.

Expert: Calif. needs state trauma system, UPI

The chief of trauma for the University of California, San Diego, Health System says the state needs a statewide trauma system. Dr. Raul Coimbra said during a statewide trauma and resuscitation conference in San Diego that cutting-edge technology and the latest trends in trauma care could be incorporated into a statewide system.

Nurses flex their political muscle in Sacramento and across California, The Sacramento Bee

This article about nursing quotes Ken Jacobs, chairman of the UC Berkeley Labor Center, and Joanne Spetz, a professor at the Center for the Health Professions at UCSF.

Study finds jolt to the brain boosts memory, Los Angeles Times

This story reports on a UCLA study that was the first to improve human memory by electrically stimulating a key area in the brain as it learns to navigate a new environment.

My Turn: Patti Davis on the chains that break, the links that form in Alzheimer’s, Los Angeles Times

An op-ed by Patti Davis, daughter of former President Ronald Reagan, highlighting a new support group she founded for patients and families at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

Kaweah Delta District Hospital to get UC residency program, Visalia Times-Delta

Tulare County’s first graduate medical program is a sure thing now that Kaweah Delta Healthcare Center has been given initial three-year accreditation for one of its five proposed programs, the family residency medicine program. The district has been working for more than two years to get a program started in affiliation with UC Irvine.

Liver tumor removal (video), The Doctors

Transplant surgeon at UC San Diego Dr. Alan Hemming performed ex-vivo liver resection surgery, an extensive procedure that involves removing the liver from the body, on Clerisa, who had a tumor on her liver. While she is still recovering, Clerisa joins the show by phone from her hospital bed in San Diego to share an update, and Hemming explains how the risky procedure is performed.

Op-ed: New beach water rules: Enough to make you sick, Los Angeles Times

Mark Gold, associate director of UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, write about beach water rules.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Jan. 29

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

For soldier disfigured in war, a way to return to the world (video), The New York Times

A page one feature on a program at UCLA Medical Center called Operation Mend that provides cosmetic surgery for severely burned veterans at no cost.

UCSD finalizes Nevada cancer center purchase, San Diego Union-Tribune

Sale of the bankrupt Nevada Cancer Institute to UC San Diego was finalized Tuesday, university officials announced. The $18 million purchase creates a first for the University of California. UC San Diego is alone among the system’s five academic medical centers in buying clinical property outside California. But the deal does not represent a trend, “not as far as purchasing out-of-state real estate,” said Dr. John D. Stobo, senior vice president for health sciences for the University of California. “This is a one-off.”

UCSF scientists declare war on sugar in food, San Francisco Chronicle

Like alcohol and tobacco, sugar is a toxic, addictive substance that should be highly regulated with taxes, laws on where and to whom it can be advertised, and even age-restricted sales, says a team of UCSF scientists.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times, Time, ABC News

UCD stem cell research battles Huntington’s disease, The Sacramento Bee

A team of researchers at UC Davis has pioneered a technique to use stem cells to smother the genetic problem that causes Huntington’s disease. The findings, due in the journal Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, could pave the way for a treatment that stops the disease’s devastating progression.

Dr. Richard Olney dies: expert on, victim of ALS, San Francisco Chronicle

In 1939, when Lou Gehrig had to say farewell to baseball at Yankee Stadium because of a mysterious neurological disease, he called it nothing more than “a bad break.” On Friday, Dr. Richard K. Olney and his family shared some pizza for lunch at home in Marin. Then he had to say farewell. Another case of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Another “bad break.” Dr. Olney, 64, founder of a UCSF clinic devoted to the study of Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, died later that day of the same disease that afflicted his patients.

See additional coverage: The New York Times

Intellectual pursuits may help prevent Alzheimer’s, Boston Globe

Reading, playing a variety of games, and engaging in other intellectual pursuits on a daily basis over the course of a lifetime could help prevent the formation of amyloid plaques that gunk up the brain and are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. But we may need to get our brains engaged early in life – years or decades before we start to forget things – to reap the most benefits. “It was fascinating to see that no one who engaged in high levels of cognitive activity had high levels of these plaques,’’ said study leader Susan Landau, a research scientist at the University of California-Berkeley’s Neuroscience Institute.

UC Merced students tap telehealth tools to treat diabetes, California Healthline

Business students at UC Merced are launching an ambitious telehealth project to help underserved women in the Central Valley manage their gestational diabetes without having to make multiple doctor visits. Through the project, patients will be able to send results of their blood sugar tests electronically to their health care providers.

Would ‘mission-focused medicine’ make an impact in the Valley?, Vida en el Valle

Could San Joaquín Valley health clinics and hospitals lure more doctors to the region if they focused more on “mission-based medicine?” I suspect that pipeline programs like the high school Doctors Academy, medical school programs — like the new UC Merced San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education — that train doctors to address the region’s unique medical needs, and the proposed medical school at UC Merced, will more effectively fill the critical doctor and specialist shortage in the region, over the long term.

Gaining on prostate cancer, The Wall Street Journal

This article reports on two new drugs anticipating FDA approval. One compound, MDV3100, was developed at UCLA by Dr. Charles Sawyers, now at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, and Michael Jung, a researcher at UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center.

Genentech drug to fight common skin cancer gets OK, San Francisco Chronicle

Federal regulators Monday approved the first drug for people with advanced forms of basal cell carcinoma, the most common kind of skin cancer, as well as the most common cancer in general in the United States. The drug, made by South San Francisco’s Genentech, a subsidiary of the Swiss drug giant Roche, is designed for patients whose basal cell cancer has spread either locally or to other parts of the body. More than 100 patients worldwide were involved in the trial, which was conducted at about 40 centers around the world including UCSF Medical Center and Stanford University Medical Center.

Berkeley scientists reveal promising speech gains, San Francisco Chronicle

In experiments whose results may one day provide synthetic speech to people who have lost the ability to speak, UC Berkeley scientists have taught computers to read and reproduce the electrical signals in the brain produced by the sound of the human voice.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times

Heart transplant teen thanks blood donors, The Orange County Register

Donovan Ho, 17, felt his heart beat a little faster as he stood at a microphone in front of a room full of strangers, wearing black skinny jeans and an untucked shirt and tie. Two years ago, Donovan was lying in a UCLA hospital bed waiting for a heart to become available for transplant. What sustained him were a series of smaller donations – in all, 72 units of blood, plasma and platelets – that he received during his four-month stay. Usually, the process is anonymous. Donors give and have no idea who receives. Recipients, if they are conscious, see nothing but a bag of blood dripping from an IV pole. But Friday, Donovan and his family, who live in Orange, were given the opportunity to meet and thank 11 of his donors.

Baby boomer brain power (video), ABC News

Dr. Gary Small, UCLA’s Parlow–Solomon Professor on Aging, professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute and director of the UCLA Longevity Center, is interviewed about brain function during middle age and how to keep our cognitive skills sharp as we get older.

Some call healthy L.A. school lunches inedible (video), CBS News

New federal guidelines aimed at making school lunches more nutritious were announced this past week. It may seem like a welcome trend, but in the Los Angeles school district, many students are calling healthier inedible. CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker reports that everything inside one L.A. school cafeteria may be nutritious, but few students have anything good to say about L.A.’s health lunch menus. UCLA nutritionist Wendy Slusser is interviewed.

No kidney transplant for dying dad who is illegal immigrant, Contra Costa Times

Without a new kidney, Jesus Navarro will die. The Oakland man has a willing donor and private insurance to pay for the transplant. But he faces what may be an insurmountable hurdle in the race to save his life: He is an illegal immigrant. Administrators at UC San Francisco Medical Center are refusing to transplant a kidney from Navarro’s wife, saying there is no guarantee he will receive adequate follow-up care, given his uncertain status. Their decision is a stark illustration of the tension between health care and immigration policies in the state and underscores the difficult role medical professionals play in trying to save the lives of undocumented residents. Though no data are available, anecdotal evidence suggests clinics sometimes perform organ transplants on illegal immigrants, especially when the patients are young. In one high-profile case, UCLA Medical Center gave an undocumented woman three liver transplants before she turned 21. See follow-up story.

Lifelens malaria app wins Microsoft ‘Imagine Cup’ grant, CNet News

UC Davis student Wilson To is part of Team Lifelens, one of four teams around the world to win a $75,000 Imagine Cup grant.


CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Jan. 22

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Stem cell study may show advance, The New York Times

A treatment for eye diseases that is derived from human embryonic stem cells might have improved the vision of two patients, bolstering the beleaguered field, researchers reported Monday. “It’s a big step forward for regenerative medicine,” said Dr. Steven D. Schwartz, a retina specialist at UCLA, who treated the two patients.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, KABC 7 (video), CNN

Editorial: Ideas on saving higher education merit more study, San Francisco Chronicle

From the University of California’s ultra-select medical school to the state’s scores of commuter colleges, hard financial times are forcing new approaches. The responses are challenging, disruptive and in need of more study, but they’re a starting point for a big question: How will California save higher education? None of the ideas will make up for billions in cuts imposed by Sacramento. But until the economy rebounds, restored state support is unlikely. That leaves higher education on its own, and its leaders are hunting for ways to pay the bills.

See additional coverage: KQED Forum (audio)

UCSD buying Nevada cancer clinic, San Diego Union-Tribune

UC San Diego is buying the bankrupt Nevada Cancer Institute in Las Vegas for $18 million, with the sale expected to become final in one to four weeks. It’s the university’s first major foray outside San Diego beyond a handful of small satellite medical offices rented near Las Vegas and in Riverside and Imperial counties. It also may be a first among University of California health systems.

Healthcare system woes clearly seen in cataract patient’s case, Los Angeles Times

A woman scheduled for surgery finds herself caught in the middle of a contract dispute between Blue Shield and UCLA.

Gene test may aid early-stage lung cancer patients, San Francisco Chronicle

In a finding that could improve the survival odds for early-stage lung cancer patients, UCSF researchers have determined a new molecular test can predict more accurately than current diagnostic methods which tumors are more likely to be aggressive and turn deadly.

Stem cell tech may aid Alzheimer’s research, ABC News

With 5.4 million of Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, a proven treatment or cure remains elusive.  And the methods scientists are using to study the disease have yet to yield much in the way of understanding, much less treatment, of the disease. But researchers at UC San Diego have developed a technology using stem cells to more accurately model what goes wrong in diseased brain cells of  Alzheimer’s sufferers.  Their findings will be published in this week’s issue of the journal Nature.

Reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s (video), ABC 7

A new study from UC Berkeley has uncovered physical evidence that people who challenge themselves intellectually could be decreasing their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and the clues are visible in their brains.

UCSD launches major study of Parkinson’s, San Diego Union-Tribune

The first and most common sign of Parkinson’s disease — the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s — is trembling of a hand, foot, arm or leg, a shaking that progressively worsens. There is no cure, but there are serious efforts under way to better understand how the disease occurs and how to remedy it. Last year, scientists at the UC San Diego School of Medicine helped launch a landmark five-year, $45 million international observational clinical study called the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative, funded in part by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, to identify biomarkers (early indicators) of the condition before disease symptoms become obvious. A Q&A with Douglas Galasko, a professor in the UCSD Department of Neurosciences and a principal investigator of the PPMI.

Bottom Line: Catholic Healthcare West becomes Dignity Health, San Francisco Chronicle

Catholic Healthcare West has changed its name to Dignity Health. The new name is just one of the changes occurring at the not-for-profit hospital chain, the fifth largest in the country, with 40 full-service hospitals in California, Arizona and Nevada, and 150 ancillary clinics. This column quotes Colin Cameron, who teaches health economics at UC Davis.

Ndola Prata: fighting for women’s reproductive health, The Lancet

“Ever since I was a little girl, I always wanted to fix things,” says Ndola Prata, scientific director of the Bixby Center for Population, Health and Sustainability at the University of California, Berkeley. Prata battles daily for more pragmatic approaches to reproductive and sexual health care. “I find myself questioning why we don’t focus on interventions that can be scaled up, thus reaching most of the women in need”, she says. Her conviction that “it’s worth fighting for what you believe in” comes from her parents, she says. Growing up in conflict-ridden Angola in the 1970s wasn’t easy. Once Portugal acceded independence in 1975, some Angolan citizens left but Prata’s parents resolutely stayed put, believing that Angola would “become a great country.”

Can gossip be good? (audio), KQED Forum

Contrary to popular belief, gossip can be beneficial and help maintain social order. That, among other revelations, is the substance of new research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and contained in a new book, “Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit.” This show talks with UC researcher Robb Willer and author Joseph Epstein about their research into the respectability of gossip.

Walnuts slow growth of prostate cancer in mice, UC Davis research shows, The Sacramento Bee

UC Davis researchers have found that mice genetically programmed to develop prostate cancer had smaller, slower growing tumors if they consumed a diet containing walnuts. A low-fat diet is frequently recommended for reducing a man’s risk of prostate cancer, but the study suggests excluding walnuts due to their fat content may not be in the patient’s best interest.

Marijuana-based painkiller seeks FDA approval, Time

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has not endorsed marijuana use by patients but is currently sponsoring a study by a UC Davis neurologist to determine how smoking marijuana addresses painful muscle spasms.

UC Davis students to staff Knight’s Landing clinic, Sacramento Business Journal

UC Davis medical students will open a new health clinic Sunday in Knight’s Landing to provide free care to underserved residents in rural Yolo County. The clinic will be open every third Sunday of the month. It will be staffed by medical students and undergraduates, along with volunteer doctors, nurses and graduate students in public health.

UC Davis Health buys Broadway office building, Sacramento Business Journal

The UC Davis Health System bought a vacant office building on Broadway recently for $7.7 million.The two-story, 68,000-square-foot office building will be renovated to provide office and support space for a variety of research programs, health system facilities director Mike Boyd said. The deal was less than half the asking price in the tough commercial real estate market — and too good to pass up. The almost 4-acre property secures a key parcel adjacent to the UC Davis Medical Center campus.

Commentary: World must wake up to the coming crisis in the Sahel, People & Planet

If forecasters could draw isobars outlining human suffering, then the high pressure zone of human pain would surely be in the failed, and failing states, along the Sahel, and across to Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan, says UC Berkeley professor Malcolm Potts.


CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Jan. 15

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UCSF seeks to ease ties with UC, San Francisco Chronicle

UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann proposed Thursday to UC Regents that a working group be formed to help UCSF explore options to secure its financial future so it can realize its vision to become the world’s pre-eminent health sciences innovator.

UCSD Medical Center revamps trauma unit, San Diego Union-Tribune

The walls are the same soft beige, the abstract artwork and bulletin boards haven’t moved. Don’t let that fool you. Important changes have come to the fifth floor of UC San Diego Medical Center. For the first time, a continuous care trauma unit has been created at the Hillcrest hospital for patients suffering potentially life-threatening injuries in car crashes, serious falls, assaults or in other ways.

Thinking makes it go, San Francisco Magazine

It’s the stuff of science fiction: a marriage of brain and computer that allows the disabled to walk, the mute to speak, and all of us to control our reality with our thoughts alone.  A Wi-Fi implant in the brain? If anyone’s going to deliver, it’s the visionary scientists at the UCSF and UC Berkeley Center for Neural Engineering and Prostheses, the Bay Area’s bold new research hub.

Helping injured dogs walk again, The New York Times

Dogs with spinal cord injuries may soon benefit from an experimental drug being tested by researchers at UC San Francisco and Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences — work that they hope will one day help people with similar injuries.

See additional coverage: NBC Bay Area (video)

Jobs top Lee’s plan for visits to China, Washington, San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is taking his show on the road. Fresh off being sworn to a full term, Lee is wasting little time trying to drum up outside support for his job-creation agenda, including trips to Washington, D.C., and China – his first official visit abroad as mayor. (Lee and wife Anita visited his in-laws in Hong Kong over the holidays on a personal trip.) UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, former president for product development at Genentech, is expected to accompany the mayor on the trip, Lee said.

Blue Shield-UCLA dispute, LA Weekly

This item about a contract dispute between UC and Blue Shield mentions that UC just signed a contract agreement with Anthem Blue Cross.

UC Berkeley gossip study finds it’s a good thing, San Francisco Chronicle

If you don’t have something nice to say … well, go ahead and say it anyway. You may actually be doing something good for your health as well as humanity. UC Berkeley psychologists have found that gossiping – specifically spreading information about a person who has behaved badly – can play a critical role in maintaining social order, preventing exploitation and lowering stress.

UC Riverside: Regents hear pleas, The Riverside Press-Enterprise

Concerns about funding for UC Riverside and support for the university’s still unopened medical school dominated the public comment session as the University of California Regents opened a two-day meeting at the campus Wednesday morning.

Teardrops could enable early detection of cancer, International Business Times

Teardrops need not be futile anymore; they could, in fact, aid in detecting chronic diseases such as cancer. In a breakthrough study, UC Irvine scientists have established the existence of a disease-fighting protein in human teardrops. Using a novel technique, scientists have managed to isolate and study proteins in human tears that could go a long way in early detection of cancers and other chronic diseases.

UCSF worm research challenges thinking on cells, San Francisco Chronicle

Consider the lowly planarian, a tiny flatworm that wriggles in puddles and ponds and has long intrigued laboratory scientists who can chop one worm into many pieces and watch each piece quickly grow into a whole new worm. Chop off a planarian’s head, and the head will regenerate an entire new wriggling body, complete with its tail; chop off a tail, and the tail will grow a new head and body. Now planarians are posing a fresh mystery for scientists at UCSF who have discovered that every cell in every planarian’s body lacks a key structure that all other animals in the world – from bugs to humans – possess in order to divide and multiply, indeed to stay alive.

Mission Bay redevelopment shows what could be lost, San Francisco Chronicle

A visit to San Francisco’s Mission Bay shows what could be lost in California when redevelopment ceases to exist. People of all ages stroll the trail along Mission Creek. Construction crews are at work on 644 housing units and a $1.5 billion hospital. plans to break ground this year on a campus for 9,000 employees next to a new bayfront park. Mission Bay included the audacious stroke of giving UCSF Mission Bay free land for a campus – the hook to lure other developers to the former rail yard – but there also are parks threaded throughout and a requirement that more than 1,800 of the 6,000 apartments and condominiums be reserved for lower-income residents.

Ending nightmares caused by PTSD (audio), NPR Morning Edition

Scientists wanted to find out the reason why people with PTSD can’t sleep and dream normally. One theory comes from Matthew Walker, a psychology researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. His particular interest lies in rapid eye movement, or REM. It’s the time during sleep when a lot of dreaming occurs.

Editorial: A smoke-free UC goes too far, Los Angeles Times

The University of California system’s plan for campuses to be smoke- and tobacco-free within two years has noble intent but goes too far, according to this editorial.

See additional coverage: Merced Sun-Star



CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Jan. 8

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UC system to ban smoking, chewing tobacco, Contra Costa Times

The University of California will ban smoking and chewing tobacco on all 10 campuses within two years, President Mark Yudof told campus chancellors this week.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, CBS 13 (video)

Marijuana study a boost for supporters, San Francisco Chronicle

A new UCSF study on the effects of marijuana smoke should relieve one of the primary concerns about its medical use. The study of 5,115 men and women over two decades concluded that marijuana smokers did not suffer the level of lung damage experienced by tobacco smokers.

See additional coverage :The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Time, NPR, KQED, CBS 5 (video)

Cancer treatment: Are personalized molecular profiles in our future? (video), PBS NewsHour

This report on the war on cancer includes this story that features cancer research at UC Davis. Additional coverage mentions efforts to treat pediatric cancer at UC Davis and by the Who’s Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, including the Daltrey/Townshend Teen & Young Adult Cancer Program at UCLA. A slideshow features comments by UC Davis’ Ralph deVere White and UCSF’s Elizabeth Blackburn.

Letters: Context missing from UCI salary report, The Orange County Register

Cathy Lawhon, Media Relations Director, UC Irvine: Scott Martindale’s report on the University of California and UC Irvine salaries [“Top-heavy UC may leave middle class shut out,” Jan. 8] demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding about the funding structure and role of the UC system on so many fronts, it’s difficult to know where to begin. But allow me to try: He cites students’ concerns that rising tuition is paying for a “sprawling bureaucracy of hospitals.” In truth, no student fees support UC Irvine Medical Center, which plays a crucial part in the academic function for UCI’s medical students and the research function for its physicians/faculty.  Another Orange County Register story addressed a bill that seeks to limit pay hikes for CSU, UC executives.

Review of NIH grants in 2011 shows top five recipients same as last year’s, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

Johns Hopkins University was the leading recipient of NIH grants and UC San Francisco was second.

UCSF, Sanofi launch $3.1M pilot diabetes drug project, San Francisco Business Times

UCSF and drug maker Sanofi will work together in a $3.1 million pilot project to identify drug targets both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It is the third to come out of a master agreement in January 2011 between the French company and UCSF.

Iron builds a better brain, The Scientist

This article reports on a study led by Paul S. Thompson, professor-in-residence of neurology and a member of the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, showing that even in healthy young adults, slight deficiencies in the body’s iron levels can result in changes in brain structure. Thompson and Dr. George Bartzokis, professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA and a member of the UCLA Brain Research Institute, are quoted.

Endorphin study may help refine alcohol treatment, San Francisco Chronicle

It’s no big secret that alcohol makes most people feel pretty good, but scientists at UCSF and UC Berkeley have for the first time found evidence that liquor triggers the release of pleasure-inducing endorphins in the brain – and that heavy drinkers are especially influenced by those endorphins.

Multi-million dollar gratitude project seeks researchers, Berkeley Patch

Offering a “thank you” to a friend or family member may be more powerful than you think. Scientists claim being grateful can chase away the blues, bring more joy into your life and even help lower high blood pressure. That’s why UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Center is undertaking a five-year project to measure the effect being grateful has on adults and children. The center is offering research grants and awards to those who will study the subject.

UC Davis study examines keys to lower patient death rates, The Sacramento Bee

Three key components of primary health care lead to lower rates of death in adult patients, according to new research released by the UC Davis Medical Center.

Open source surgery, a robot called Raven takes flight, MedGadget

A multidisciplinary team of engineers from the University of Washington and the University of California, Santa Cruz have developed a surgical robot, called Raven 2, for use as an open source surgical robotics research platform. Seven units of the Raven 2 will be made available to researchers at Harvard , Johns Hopkins, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, Los Angeles, while the remaining two systems will remain at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the University of Washington.

Frequent eating tied to less weight gain in girls: study, Reuters

Girls who ate frequent meals and snacks put on less weight and gained less on their waistlines over a decade than those who only ate a couple of times a day, according to a UC Berkeley study.

My word: Time to treat child poverty as a public health disaster, Oakland Tribune

Jill Duerr Berrick, Zellerbach Family Foundation Professor of Social Welfare at UC Berkeley, writes that research conducted over the past 30 years provides convincing evidence that children raised in poverty are likely to experience a range of significant health and developmental hazards.



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In the media: Week of Jan. 1

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Dameron, UC Davis talk, The Stockton Record

Dameron Hospital is in the midst of confidential negotiations to affiliate with UC Davis Medical Center, consistently ranked among the nation’s best hospitals.

Buff your brain, Newsweek

In a 2010 study, psychology professor Matthew Walker and colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, found that a nap may not merely restore brain power but also raise it.

Traumatic stress linked to biological indicator, San Francisco Chronicle

Researchers are getting closer to being able to predict who might be more vulnerable to stress even before they experience trauma. A study of Bay Area and New York police academy recruits by researchers at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, UCSF and New York University is considered one of the first and largest studies to look at biological stress indicators before and after traumatic events.

California makes progress in reporting health infections, CHCF Center for Health Reporting/The Sacramento Bee

California health regulators on Friday released infection rates for hundreds of hospitals statewide in what it called a major push to inform residents about the infections that can sicken patients during hospital stays. They vowed to make the state a national leader in disclosing those reports, saying that the publicity can prompt reforms and potentially save hundreds of California lives annually. UC Davis is mentioned.

See additional coverage: San Diego Union-Tribune

UC salary criticisms fuel student protests, The Orange County Register

Students and some faculty members say the UC system is being run as a private bureaucracy, with executive compensation levels to match.

Hand transplant receives waves in Rose Parade, The Associated Press

Emily Fennell, the West Coast’s first hand-transplant recipient, participated in the 2012 Rose Parade.  She underwent surgery at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and rode on a float emphasizing the importance of organ and tissue donation.

See additional coverage: CBS 2 (video)

San Diego hospital settles lawsuit on immigrants, The Associated Press

The U.S. Justice Department says it has settled a complaint with a major San Diego hospital over how it screens immigrant employees and job applicants. The department said Wednesday that UC San Diego Medical Center has agreed to adopt new procedures to verify the immigration status of its workers and pay a $115,000 civil penalty.

UCI faulted for drug errors by Medicare, The Orange County Register

UC Irvine Medical Center failed to program drug pumps to stop a medication error, which “could have contributed” to the death of a kidney transplant patient, according to a federal inspection report released Thursday.

Death of prominent O.C. surgeon still a mystery, Los Angeles Times

The director of a UC Irvine medical facility died of drowning after blunt-force trauma to her head, but the circumstances of her death remain unknown, according to a county coroner’s report. Dr. Marianne Cinat, 45, was found dead in the pool of her Rossmoor home in June. Cinat was a prominent Orange County surgeon and served as medical director for the UCI Regional Burn Center in Orange until her death.

O.C.’s first 2012 baby a healthy girl, The Orange County Register

Orange County’s first baby born in in 2012 was delivered at 1:52 a.m. New Year’s Day at UC Irvine Medical Center.

It’s not mind-reading, but scientists exploring how brains perceive the world (video), PBS NewsHour

UC Berkeley alum Jake Schoneker reports on cutting-edge research led by UC Berkeley neuroscience professor Jack Gallant that reconstructs brain activity.

Paper denying HIV-AIDS link secures publication, Nature

A controversial research paper that argued “there is as yet no proof that HIV causes AIDS” and met with a storm of protest when it was published in 2009, leading to its withdrawal, has been republished in a revised form, this time in the peer-reviewed literature. The reworked version of the paper, led by Peter Duesberg of the University of California, Berkeley, who is well known for denying the link between HIV and AIDS, was published in the Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology (IJAE) last month.

UC Berkeley study: Empathy as an antidote for job burnout, Contra Costa Times

Roy Brasil was doing a favor when he agreed to hear a pitch about testing a burnout prevention strategy on his staff of juvenile probation officers. ” ‘It’s a Ph.D. candidate out of Berkeley again,’ ” Brasil said he thought at the time. But it didn’t take long for San Mateo County’s deputy chief probation officer to realize that Eve Ekman, a social welfare researcher at UC Berkeley, was offering something unique and valuable. She proposed a pilot project to cultivate empathy between the staff and the young inmates, as well as among the officers.

Group wants pollution monitoring near CA freeways, The Associated Press

A 2010 study by researchers from the University of Southern California and University of California, Berkeley, found that Los Angeles residents living near freeways were more likely to develop hardening of the arteries that can lead to heart disease and stroke than those who live farther away.

Last-chance surgery pays off for Aussie pup, San Francisco Chronicle

As breeders of Australian shepherds, Kevin Blackwell and his wife, Faith Shimamoto, have a special love for the spirited pups and take responsibility for their dogs’ welfare even after they are placed in their “forever” homes. Recently, their dedication was put to the test when Kevin and Faith learned that one of their “Aussies,” Mick, was diagnosed with a dire medical condition – one that presented a financial and emotional toll that the dog’s new family wasn’t equipped to handle. Their vet recommended they contact UC Davis to see if Mick might be a candidate for a new advanced surgery.

Drumming out fat in the new year, CNN

This article about a new fitness program combining aerobic exercise with drumming cites research on the benefits of group drumming by Ping Ho, founding director of UCLArts and Healing, a partnership between the UCLA Collaborative Centers for Integrative Medicine and a nonprofit group. Ho is quoted.

Sexual satisfaction highest in oldest, youngest women, study says, Los Angeles Times

A woman’s sexual satisfaction does not require high levels of sexual desire–and in fact, does not require sexual activity at all, according to a new UC San Diego study that finds rates of sexual satisfaction highest among the youngest and oldest women it surveyed.

Op-ed: Keep walking to stay mentally sharp, The Huffington Post

This op-ed is written by Dr. Gary Small, Parlow–Solomon Professor on Aging, director of the UCLA Longevity Center and co-author of the new book, “The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program: Keep Your Brain Healthy for the Rest of Your Life.”

Belching yellow buses (audio), KQED Perspectives

Lizzie Velten, an M.P.H. student in the Nutrition Program at UC Berkeley, is featured. She addresses the pollution caused by school buses.


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In the media: Week of Dec. 25

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Determined to thrive, a little boy battles a brain disorder, Los Angeles Times

Dylan is nearly 2. Because of radical surgery at UCLA more than a year ago, he talks, goes to preschool and inspires his family with hope.

Computers implanted in brain could help paralyzed, San Francisco Chronicle

In the coming decades, scientists say, the field of neural prosthetics – of inventing and building devices that harness brain activity for computerized movement – is going to revolutionize how people who have suffered major brain damage interact with their world. “Medicine has not taken neural prosthetics very seriously until recently,” said Dr. Edward Chang, a UCSF neurosurgeon and co-director of the Center for Neural Engineering and Prostheses at UC Berkeley and UCSF. “But it’s become clear in the last five to 10 years that there are some practical applications.” Jose Carmena, a neuro-engineer at UC Berkeley and Chang’s co-director, puts his thoughts more succinctly: “There’s going to be an explosion in neural prosthetics.”

UC Davis’ impact on area estimated at $5.3 billion, The Sacramento Bee

The economic impact of the University of California, Davis, campus on the Sacramento and Northern California region totaled $5.3 billion in 2009-2010, according to an independent report. The center’s study is a companion to its December 2010 report on the UC Davis Health System.

Coroner: UCI burn doctor drowned after head trauma, The Orange County Register

The prominent Orange County burn-injury surgeon found in her backyard pool in June drowned because of blunt-force trauma to her head, according to autopsy and forensic reports obtained under California Public Records Act. Marianne E. Cinat, medical director of UC Irvine Regional Burn Center in Orange, had swelling and scrapes on her forehead, a small cut on her nose, internal bleeding in her front scalp and a small cut on the back of her head. Her respiratory system showed evidence of fresh-water drowning.

UC Davis Health partners with Sinaloa, Mexico, Sacramento Business Journal

The UC Davis Health System has signed an agreement to partner with the state of Sinaloa, Mexico, to improve the health and well-being of its residents.

Treating ‘Fragile X syndrome’ autism symptoms (video), KABC 7

Randi Hagerman, professor and medical director of the UC Davis MIND Institute, discusses her treatment of a child with Fragile X syndrome, and the possibility that the same treatment also could help children with autism.

Scientists address anosmia, loss of sense of smell, San Francisco Chronicle

Research by neuroscientists at UC Berkeley provides hope of new therapies for those who have lost their sense of smell, whether due to aging, trauma or a viral infection.

Greater Good Science Center’s key to happy holidays, San Francisco Chronicle

It turns out you don’t have to be miserable during the holidays. That’s now scientifically proven by studies, say UC Berkeley scientists who do those studies.

Yoga helps breast cancer survivors curb fatigue, Reuters

After three months of twice-weekly yoga classes, a group of breast cancer survivors in California reported significantly diminished fatigue and increased “vigor.” A control group of women who took classes in post-cancer health issues, but didn’t do yoga, had no changes in their fatigue or depression levels. Some studies have shown that stress-reduction techniques or exercise classes can help reduce fatigue among cancer patients and survivors in general. But none of them has specifically targeted cancer survivors experiencing fatigue to see if a potential therapy reverses the problem, according to Julienne Bower, an associate professor in the psychology department of UCLA, and her colleagues.

Perspective: Copyright and open access at the bedside, The New England Journal of Medicine

Enforcing copyright law could potentially interfere with patient care, stifle innovation and discourage research, but using open source licensing instead can prevent the problem, according to a physician – who practices both at the University of California, San Francisco and the San Francisco VA Medical Center – and a legal scholar at the UC Hastings College of Law. “For a long time, doctors have been able to ignore copyright, but that is changing in a dramatic way,” said John Newman, M.D., Ph.D., of UCSF and SFVAMC. “The exercise of copyright is creating a threat to basic medical care,” said Robin Feldman, J.D., professor of law and director of the Law and Bioscience Project at UC Hastings.

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