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.
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
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