CATEGORY: In the media

In the media: Week of Aug. 19

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Western Health Advantage expanding?, Sacramento Business Journal

Sacramento’s home-grown HMO has filed a bid with state regulators to expand into Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties. Western Health Advantage filed a proposal with the California Department of Managed Health Care in June and has augmented the request since then. The nonprofit health plan is owned by the UC Davis Health System, Dignity Health and the NorthBay Healthcare system in Fairfield. Members can use services offered by any of the three owners.

Davis neurosurgeon at center of controversy provokes critics and defenders, The Sacramento Bee

The public is divided on their opinion of J. Paul Muizelaar, the UC Davis neurosurgeon currently under investigation for performing experimental treatment without proper permission from the university or federal government. Muizelaar stepped down last month as chairman of the neurosurgery department, pending the outcome of the investigation.

New carbon emissions rule could cost UC, CSU millions, The Orange County Register

Large campuses in the University of California and California State University systems are bracing for the implementation of new state rules that will force them to cut carbon emissions or pay as much as $28 million a year to offset their greenhouse gases. For years, businesspeople have been complaining that the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, also known as Assembly Bill 32, will decimate California’s economy and force companies to move out of state. The program, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2013, sets a gradually shrinking cap on emissions by the state’s biggest polluters while also establishing a market for carbon credits, which will be initially distributed through an auction and free handouts to many emitters. In the UC system, five campuses and one medical center emit enough greenhouse gases to qualify for the cap-and-trade program, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

One stage down, many more to come, California Healthline

Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley summed up the state of health care in California pretty succinctly at Tuesday’s health task force forum: “With the economy down in California, there are more people needing services,” Dooley said, “and less money to provide it.” That conundrum is at the heart of the creation of the Let’s Get Healthy California task force, which finished its first stage of discussions Tuesday. Dooley said the goal of the task force is to develop a 10-year blueprint for improving health care in California. The article quotes Richard Scheffler, professor of health economics and public policy at UC Berkeley.

Health for sale as retail clinics expand in California, California Healthline

Consumers without a primary care doctor are increasingly visiting walk-in retail medical clinics for simple acute and preventive care, according to a new study. Visits to retail clinics increased by fourfold nationwide from 2007 to 2009, according to a study released last week by the RAND Corporation. The retail health market appears to have “tapped into patients’ needs,” study authors said. Most care delivered by retail clinics was limited to common acute ailments – such as upper respiratory or urinary tract infections — as well as flu shots. The most common retail clinic patient was a young adult without a primary care physician. In Los Angeles, CVS Caremark’s walk-in medical clinic subsidiary, MinuteClinic, announced a new partnership with UCLA Health System last month. University physicians serve as medical directors for 11 clinics in the Los Angeles area staffed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

UCLA’s MBA program wants to give up state funds (audio), NPR Morning Edition

A proposal would make the UCLA Anderson School of Management more autonomous and financially independent of the University of California system. But critics — including some faculty — worry the move means the school will stray from its public mission. Some see Anderson as a bellwether for how other publicly funded graduate programs, like law and medical schools, might cope with future cuts.

Poll: Most California ethnic voters welcome health reform, New America Media

Health care reform — enshrined in the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) — enjoys widespread support in California among African American voters (88 percent) and about two-thirds of Korean and Latino voters support the law, according to a Field Poll voters released this week. The article quotes Gerald Kominski, professor of health policy and management and director or the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

Calif. start-up developing ‘better’ titanium implant, DrBicuspid.com

A California start-up company is working to leave its mark on dental implant technology with a new type of titanium implant that could expand the market by making it usable in patients with medical conditions that undermine their ability to support dental implants. Nasseo, founded in April by two UC San Diego graduates to develop novel surface-modification technologies to address dental and orthopedic implant failures, recently won top prize in UCSD’s Entrepreneur Challenge, where they competed against other seed-stage start-ups for a $57,000 award of cash and professional services.

Scott Lippman takes helm at UCSD Moores Cancer Center, La Jolla Light

A feature on Scott Lippman, the new director of UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

UCSD deepens tie between muscle pain, statins, San Diego Union-Tribune

A new UC San Diego study provides fresh evidence that anti-cholesterol statins can cause muscle pain and weakness in people who take them, especially those who use higher doses of such drugs.

The doctor will Skype you now, Bloomberg Businessweek

Videoconferencing is becoming more popular, and the field of telemedicine is starting to expand as more technology becomes available. “Insurers have dropped their resistance to reimbursing doctors for interacting with patients through telemedicine, which has boosted use,” says Thomas Nesbitt, UC Davis associate vice chancellor for strategic technologies and alliances.

High school football: Concussion prevention and treatment a priority, The Sacramento Bee

Concussions are still a hot-button issue in sports, particularly football, and more coaches and medical personnel are working to take care of all their athletes at every age. “You have someone like Jeff Tanji at UC Davis, the Sacramento King’s doctor, who might see Tyreke Evans on a Tuesday and a high school freshman football player on a Wednesday,” said Mike Lamb, former football player and radio personality. The UC Davis Medical Center has been trained to provide a high level of diagnosis and treatment to high school athletes.

High school daze: The perils of sacrificing sleep for late-night studying (audio), NPR

Andrew Fuligni, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA’s Semel Institute, is featured in coverage of his study showing that sacrificing sleep for extra study time, whether it’s cramming for a test or plowing through a pile of homework, is actually counterproductive and may lead to more academic problems, not less, on the following day.

As circumcision declines, health costs will go up, study projects, Los Angeles Times

This story notes that a journal editorial by Arleen Leibowitz, professor of public policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and a researcher at the UCLA AIDS Institute; and Katherine Desmond, an associate director at the UCLA Center for HIV Identification, Prevention and Treatment Services, recommends that all state Medicaid programs cover male circumcision.

Israeli research may help severely paralyzed speak, Jerusalem Post

This article reports on research led by Dr. Itzhak Fried, professor of neurosurgery, neurology and psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, with scientist from Technion, Israel’s Institute of Technology, that unravels how our brain cells encode the pronunciation of individual vowels in speech.

Meditation reduces loneliness, boosts immune system in seniors, The Huffington Post

Steve Cole, UCLA professor of medicine and psychiatry at the Semel Institute and a member of the Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology; and Dr. Michael Irwin, UCLA professor of psychiatry and the director of the Cousins Center, are featured in this article about their study showing that practicing meditation helped seniors reduce feelings of loneliness and led to a decrease in the expression of genes associated with chronic inflammation.

Brain Series 2: Depression (video), Charlie Rose

Dr. Peter Whybrow, director of the Semel Institute and physician-in-chief of UCLA’s Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital, is interviewed about the latest research on the brain and depression.

Better food seen as key in AIDS treatment, San Francisco Chronicle

Inadequate access to nutritious food is associated with increased hospitalizations and emergency room visits among HIV-positive individuals, and ensuring that patients have enough to eat may need to be a priority for the doctors and nurses who treat them, UCSF researchers say.

Prescription for obesity, San Francisco Chronicle

Jena Graves was diagnosed with lupus and given a daily prescription of prednisone, a corticosteroid that mostly kept the chronic autoimmune disorder under control. But it had unintended side effects. Over five years, Graves’ weight ballooned from around 120 to 272 pounds. What Graves didn’t know was that prednisone belongs to a class of medications known as obesogenic drugs. They are designed to treat a diverse range of ailments, such as lupus, diabetes and depression, but, in ways still not fully understood, can also increase a person’s appetite or make them more likely to retain fat, contributing to a small to severe weight gain. Whatever form they take, obesogenic drugs are an unwitting contributor to the U.S. obesity epidemic in part because they are so common, medical experts say. Graves received treatment at UCSF. A related story on Graves also mentions UCSF.

Triclosan in antibacterial soaps studied, San Francisco Chronicle

A UC Davis study released last week showed that triclosan reduces muscle strength in mice and fish, and researchers theorize it may also be a problem for humans.

 

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Aug. 12

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UC Riverside: Med school funding bill stalls, The Riverside Press-Enterprise

The latest Capitol attempt to secure state funding for UC Riverside’s school of medicine is all but dead after a key Senate committee blocked a bill to allocate $15 million from an expected legal settlement.

Is triclosan dangerous? Yes, study finds — in mice, fish, Los Angeles Times

Presumably, when people buy antibacterial soap, the idea is to kill bad germs and promote health. But over the years, scientists and public health advocates have worried that triclosan — a common chemical in antibacterial soap — may actually do more harm than good. The latest warnings come from a team of researchers who ran a series of tests that showed that triclosan hindered muscle performance in isolated cells and in animals. Writing Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, UC Davis toxicologist Isaac Pessah and colleagues reported that exposure to the chemical in doses similar to what a person or animal might encounter in everyday life, impaired isolated muscle cells’ ability to contract; decreased heart function and grip strength in mice; and slowed swimming activity in fathead minnows.

See additional coverage: CBS News, Capital Public Radio (audio)

Hospital-tied infections study cites UCD Med Center, The Sacramento Bee

In a statewide ranking, the state Department of Public Health says that California hospitals overall reported a 10 percent decrease last year of a deadly type of hospital-acquired infection that can strike critically ill patients. The so-called central line-associated blood stream infection can occur in patients who must be fitted with catheters for fluids or medication. On average, cases have dropped in the face of significant efforts in the state Legislature and the health care system to reduce the frequency. But among teaching hospitals, UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento posts a “statistically higher” number of the infections than do other large university hospitals in California, the department’s findings released last week show. UC Davis Medical Center’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allan Siefkin, said that is likely because the hospital’s reporting system is more thorough than those found in other hospitals. The article also mentions UCLA and UCSF.

Number of University of California workers earning $1 million quadruples in five years, The Sacramento Bee

Amid budget cuts and rising tuition, 22 University of California employees earned more than $1 million last year, up from six earning that much in 2007. Seventeen of the million-dollar earners were medical doctors or administrators at UC hospitals. Health care salaries nationwide have risen along with health care costs during the last several years. Doctors in the UC system are usually paid with revenue generated by their hospitals, not through student fees or taxes. Four of the million-dollar earners were coaches, including the two highest-paid public employees in the state.

Special Reports: University of California campuses gear up to implement, enforce upcoming smoking ban (audio), California Healthline

In a Special Report by Rachel Dornhelm, experts discussed the University of California’s efforts to institute a smoking ban at all 10 UC campuses. To prepare for the ban, each campus is forming working groups to develop smoke-free policies for their schools.

Will Basic Health Program hurt, help exchange?, California Healthline

An analysis of a proposed Basic Health Program and its impact on the Health Benefit Exchange offers a mixed bag of pros and cons for exchange leaders and legislators. The nascent Basic Health Program, if passed by the Legislature, would target a large percentage of possible exchange participants. So the question lawmakers have been wrestling with is: Would that be a good or a bad thing for the exchange, and for Californians? That’s the question tackled by the exchange itself. On Monday, it released an independent analysis by the UC-Berkeley Labor Center and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, which was commissioned by the exchange board.

See additional coverage: Capital Public Radio (audio)

California task force to examine autism services, The Sacramento Bee

With autism on the rise in California, state leaders are turning to Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, director of the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities, to co-chair a statewide task force to spur the fair distribution of services to diverse communities in California.

Gavin Herbert Eye Institute goal: Eliminate blindness, The Orange County Register

The concrete floors and steel beams are in place and the glass walls are being installed on a four-story building at the edge of UC Irvine. In a year, Orange County’s first university-based eye institute is slated to debut, opening the doors to what some say is an unprecedented convergence of local patients, the university’s researchers and doctors and the region’s eye technology industry. The goal of the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute: “Eliminate blindness by the year 2020,” said Dr. Roger Steinert, institute director.

TB is very much alive at Olive View-UCLA hospital in Sylmar, Los Angeles Times

Matthew Kennedy spent his 39th birthday at the hospital learning to walk again. Three months ago, the Venice Beach resident started having trouble moving his legs. When a chest X-ray at a Santa Monica health center revealed a shadow in his lungs, he was quickly transferred to a highly specialized tuberculosis ward 25 miles across the county at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar. Doctors think the bacterial disease attacked his nerves — unusual for TB, which typically infects the lungs. But rare is normal for the Olive View unit, one of only four such centers in the nation specialized in tuberculosis.

How a virus in snakes could offer clues to Ebola in humans (audio), NPR

Scientists have found a surprising link between deadly Ebola virus and a disease that’s been killing boa constrictors in zoos and aquariums. A team at the University of California, San Francisco, has found evidence that a previously undiscovered virus is responsible for something called inclusion body disease in boas.

Role of doula is supportive, San Diego Union-Tribune

In recent years, the popularity of doulas – women who assist and support mothers-to-be through childbirth – has markedly risen. A Q&A with Ann Fulcher, program manager of the UC San Diego Hearts & Hands Volunteer Doula Program, which provides free services to families at the UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest, who explains what doulas do and why.

Active-surveillance protocol for tumors, San Francisco Chronicle

When given a potentially life-threatening diagnosis like cancer or a brain tumor, most people immediately want to cut it out, radiate it or otherwise eradicate the invading force from their body. But for a growing number of patients and conditions, the best course of action may be doing none of that. It’s called “active surveillance” and it does involve doing something – just not the aggressive surgical or other treatment options that may be available. This approach of careful monitoring through frequent tests, scans and doctor visits has received the most attention in prostate cancer, but the protocol is increasingly being used for other nonaggressive or slow-growing tumors. UCSF’s Karla Kerlikowske and Peter Carroll are quoted. Carroll also is mentioned in a related story.

Eating walnuts daily may improve sperm quality, CBS News

Men who are attempting to make the step into fatherhood may benefit from a daily dose of walnuts. A new study from UCLA researchers and funded in part by the California Walnut Commission shows that men who ate 75 grams of walnuts – about half a cup – a day for 12 weeks were able to improve the quality of their sperm.

Meditation helps older adults battle loneliness and illness, study says (audio), KPCC

Loneliness in older people is linked to an increased risk for serious illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and depression. It’s an issue that’s long concerned health workers who deal with older patients, but a new UCLA study of 40 people, aged 55-85, suggests a solution may not be hard to come by. The eight-week study trained subjects in a simple meditation program, which focused mainly on paying attention to the present and refusing to dwell in the past. Those patients who practiced the meditation exercise showed measurable reductions in loneliness and in gene inflammation (measured by blood tests).

Got heartburn? Maybe you should rethink your drink (audio), NPR

This story features an interview with Kevin Ghassemi, clinical programs director for the UCLA Center for Esophageal Disorders, about drinks that can cause acid reflux, including alcohol.

Longtime culture of mistreating students persists at med schools, American Medical News

This post about widespread verbal and physical harassment of medical students by senior physicians and residents at U.S. medical schools cited the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA as a leader in anti-bullying programs and policies and highlighted research by Joyce Fried, assistant dean and co-director of continuing medical education.  Fried is quoted.

Clinic taps patients’ own stem cells to ease their pain, Minneapolis Star Tribune

A doctor in Sartell, Minn., has been offering stem cell therapy for common medical conditions, but many experts say such treatments have yet to be proven safe and effective, setting off another debate surrounding stem cells. According to Paul Knoepfler, stem cell researcher at UC Davis, “The problem is that the science is just not there.”

Op-ed: A healthy healthcare exchange, Los Angeles Times

California’s system, created under the Affordable Care Act, can improve value and accessibility if it makes some smart choices, according to Alain Enthoven, a professor emeritus of public and private management in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University and a senior fellow in the Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Policy. The University of California is mentioned.

Infection Files: Hot tubs and bad bugs, Pasadena Star-News

This column by Dr. Claire Panosian Dunavan, UCLA clinical professor of infectious diseases, discusses pseudomonas aeruginosa — a bacteria that can survive in chlorinated hot tubs and cause irritating skin rashes.

Inside Medicine: Why do we look afar to fight diseases?, The Sacramento Bee

Michael Wilkes, professor of medicine at UC Davis, has written an op-ed column about how important it is for the U.S. to invest time and money on health issues in other countries despite the health needs at home. Local problems can escalate into global problems, and even eliminating polio has been unsuccessful due to politics and economics.

Dr. Benson Roe dies – UCSF surgeon, San Francisco Chronicle

Dr. Benson B. Roe, a UCSF cardiac surgeon who with his colleagues conducted significant early research on artificial hearts and materials for synthetic heart valves and blood vessels, died Aug. 6 at the Villa Marin in San Rafael. He was 94.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Aug. 5

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Blue Shield, UCLA end long health insurance dispute, Los Angeles Times

Nonprofit insurer Blue Shield of California said it resolved a lengthy contract dispute with UCLA and other UC system hospitals over reimbursements for patient care. Effective Sept. 1, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital will be back in the Blue Shield network. The agreement also is mentioned in another Los Angeles Times article about Blue Shield.

Safety-net hospitals face funding cuts on two federal fronts, California Healthline

Representatives of California’s safety-net hospitals say the devil is in the details concerning the federal government’s plans to reduce funding for hospitals caring for a disproportionate share of low-income patients. The Affordable Care Act will reduce by at least half the amount of Medicaid money set aside to help safety-net hospitals provide uncompensated care for patients with no insurance and no cash. The University of California is mentioned.

Got docs?, HealthyCal

Unfortunately, there isn’t enough health care to go around right now, especially for poor people in Riverside County, an area hit hard by the housing bust and Great Recession. The county cuts a rectangular swath through Inland California, from the city of Riverside and bedroom communities on its western edge through deserts, Indian land, and the rocky moonscapes of Joshua Tree National Park, east to the Arizona border. Some argue that the best hope for a solution to the county’s health-care issues lies on the grassy expanse of the University of California, Riverside, campus, where Dr. Richard Olds is struggling to open what could be California’s first new public medical school in 40 years.

Health care: Fewer hospital-acquired infections, state says, CHCF Center for Health Reporting/Riverside Press-Enterprise

California hospitals registered a 10 percent decrease last year in a deadly kind of hospital-acquired infection that can strike critically ill patients who must be fed or medicated with catheters, according to a new report released Aug. 9 by the state Department of Public Health. UC Davis Medical Center is mentioned. For more information about UC Health’s efforts to reduce hospital-acquired infections, visit here.

See additional coverage: California Watch

Report: If you teach at a UC school, you’re probably underpaid (audio), KPCC

If you teach at the University of California, you’re probably paid less than your peers in similar positions at competing schools, according to the system’s annual report on employee compensation released Aug. 9. The systemwide report on 2011 compensation found that pay for many UC employees is “significantly below market” and that salary increases for non-union employees have been minimal or nonexistent since 2008. Athletic coaches and health sciences faculty members are at the top of the UC pay scale. Health sciences employees receive pay from medical revenue; athletic coaches are often funded through contracts such as television deals, alumni donations, and game revenues such as ticket sales.

See additional coverage: The Sacramento Bee, KQED, Fox 40

UCSF, Dignity discuss linking San Francisco hospitals, San Francisco Business Times

The University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center and Dignity Health intend to create an integrated health-care system that links the academic medical center with Dignity’s St. Mary’s and Saint Francis hospitals. The two organizations have signed a memorandum of understanding to integrate their San Francisco hospitals. Their tentative timetable is to have a firmer agreement in place by the end of 2012, according to Tricia Griffin, a spokeswoman for San Francisco-based Dignity, which has 40 hospitals in California, Arizona and Nevada.

Cancer institute’s new medical director vows to increase clinical trials, Las Vegas Review-Journal

Dr. John Sweetenham, the former director of clinical research at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic, has been named medical director at the University of California, San Diego Nevada Cancer Institute. “I think overall what we’re looking to do is add to the treatments already available in Las Vegas,” the 56-year-old native of Great Britain said Thursday at the Summerlin institute. “We want to use the UCSD link we have to increase the number of clinical trials.”

Overcrowded ER points to larger problems, San Francisco Chronicle

California hospitals in areas with large minority populations are disproportionately affected by emergency room overcrowding, making them more likely to ease the congestion by diverting ambulances to other hospitals, according to a UCSF-led study.

See additional coverage: Bay Citizen, California Watch, KQED

UCSD research funding again hits $1 billion, San Diego Union-Tribune

Two years ago, UC San Diego hit the $1 billion level in annual research funding for the first time, propelled by $160 million in federal stimulus money. The university has reached that rarefied air for a second time, this time without the stimulus bucks. UCSD prospered, in part, by landing hundreds of millions of dollars in the health sciences, one of the most competitive areas of funding. The money is being used to do everything from search for ways to treat Alzheimer’s disease to use tiny optics to improve sight in people suffering from macular degeneration.

Group hug: Which Olympic sport wins gold for touchiest?, The Wall Street Journal

Research suggests touching may be good for building team chemistry, or at the least, a symptom of a healthy team dynamic, which the U.S. women’s volleyball team demonstrated and excelled in spontaneous displays of affection to win the gold. In 2010, three researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, reviewed broadcasts of games from the 2008-09 NBA season to see how often players touched and whether touching had an impact on winning and losing.

Sports drinks: the myths busted, Fox News

Coconut water has been growing in popularity, but many nutritionists question its health benefits. Liz Applegate, sport-nutrition director at UC Davis, told Mother Jones, “Even though the belief is that when you exercise you need a lot of potassium, sodium is more important. When you sweat, you lose a lot more sodium than potassium.”

San Rafael dog gets arthritis relief from stem cell treatment, Marin Independent Journal

Emma, a snow-white German shepherd, has been plagued with arthritis for two years, but a new procedure using her own stem cells has helped alleviate her pain. Researchers at universities have been engaged in controlled clinical trials involving stem cells and animals, and according to Sean Owens, UC Davis associate professor, “The results vary, but for the most part they are pretty good.”

Op-ed: Raising successful children, The New York Times

Decades of parenting studies, many of them by UC Berkeley clinical and developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind, have found that the optimal parent is one who is involved, responsive and sets high expectations, but ultimately respects her child’s autonomy.

Warren Winkelstein Jr., 90, medical sleuth, The New York Times

Dr. Warren Winkelstein Jr., a physician and researcher whose groundbreaking studies connected unprotected sex between men to AIDS, smoking to cervical cancer and air pollution to chronic lung disease, died July 22 at his home in Point Richmond, Calif. He was 90.  The cause was complications from an infection, according to the University of California, Berkeley, where he was an emeritus professor of epidemiology and a former dean at its School of Public Health.

See additional coverage: San Francisco Chronicle

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of July 29

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Doctor shortage likely to worsen with health law, The New York Times

In the Inland Empire, an economically depressed region in Southern California, President Obama’s health care law is expected to extend insurance coverage to more than 300,000 people by 2014. But coverage will not necessarily translate into care: Local health experts doubt there will be enough doctors to meet the area’s needs. There are not enough now. The article quotes G. Richard Olds, the dean of the new medical school at the University of California, Riverside, founded in part to address the region’s doctor shortage.

In-store clinics look to be a remedy for health care law influx, Los Angeles Times

More consumers may be getting checkups and other care at stores and pharmacies as the Affordable Care Act extends health insurance to 30 million people. The article mentions that in a sign of the grudging respect these walk-in clinics are getting from the medical establishment, UCLA Health System last week agreed to partner with CVS on 11 clinics in Los Angeles County. UCLA physicians will serve as off-site medical directors for the clinics, and the two organizations will share electronic medical records. The article quotes David Feinberg, president of the UCLA Health System, and Catherine Dower, a health care researcher at UC San Francisco.

Sacramento medical jobs to boom as health care law takes effect, The Sacramento Bee

From hospitals to home health services, Sacramento’s medical industry has become an economic powerhouse. It surged when practically every other sector of the economy stalled, and now employs more people here than state government. And it’s poised for an even greater expansion. President Barack Obama’s overhaul of national health care, having survived a challenge in the U.S. Supreme Court, is expected to usher in a fresh demand for health care workers. The article quotes Joanne Spetz, a health care economist at UC San Francisco.

CIRM awards $151 million in stem cell grants to 8 projects statewide (audio), KPCC

Dr. Antoni Ribas, a professor of hematology/oncology and a researcher with the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA, is interviewed about a $20 million grant he received to fund his melanoma research. UC Davis received the largest share of stem cell research grants from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine . And the agency awarded UC Irvine and the biotech firm StemCells Inc. of Newark $20 million for their joint study into treatments for cervical spinal injuries. Read UC Health story.

SF VA brain research technology advances, San Francisco Chronicle

A room in the basement of the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center is undergoing renovations for a new, $8 million magnetic resonance imaging machine, which will join an arsenal of some of the most powerful research scanners in the world. The machine, known as a 7T – “T” standing for tesla, a unit of magnetic field – will offer researchers a more in-depth look than the VA center’s current MRIs provide into the details of the brain and the roles biological markers play in developing dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and other cognitive problems. The San Francisco VA’s Center for Imaging of Neurodegenerative Diseases is the only center in the VA system devoted exclusively to MRI imaging of the brain. Its driving force is Dr. Michael Weiner, director of the center and professor of radiology, psychiatry and neurology at UCSF.

Doctor uses imaging to learn about PTSD, San Francisco Chronicle

Improvements in imaging technologies have allowed doctors to peer into the brain to begin to get a picture of the causes behind such disorders as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Psychiatrists like Thomas Neylan, director of the PTSD program at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center and a professor of psychiatry at UCSF, hope it’s just a matter of time before such technologies also provide a glimpse into the biological underpinnings behind such conditions as sleep disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder. A Q&A with Neylan.

UC reaching out to depressed students online, Los Angeles Times

The University of California is hoping to prevent suicides through a confidential online effort to get troubled students to seek help in person.

See additional coverage: Sacramento Bee

Lemonade fuels UCSD cancer research, San Diego Union-Tribune

A special kind of street fair unfolded at a North Park intersection on Saturday morning as Keith and Amy Miller hosted their seventh annual lemonade stand to raise money for cancer research. Neighbors and strangers idled on nearby street corners, overpaying for drinks to support cancer patients such as 17-year-old Stephan Thomas and the larger cause. Results of the family’s persistence are taking shape across town at UC San Diego, where researchers Paolo Abada and David Traver are developing tools to better understand and treat cancers.

UCSD Alzheimer’s study yields new findings, San Diego 6

When Alzheimer’s disease hits people in their 60s and 70s, it is more aggressive than when it strikes older seniors, according to a study by the UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Women’s brains may age prematurely, possibly because of stress, The Washington Post

Even though women live longer than men, their brains seem to age faster. The reason? Possibly a more stressful life. As people age, some genes become more active while others become less so. In the brain, these changes can be observed through the transcriptome, a set of RNA molecules that indicate the activity of genes within a population of cells. When Mehmet Somel, a computational biologist at the University of California at Berkeley, and his colleagues compared the transcriptome of 55 brains, they found that the pattern of gene activation and deactivation that occurs with aging appeared to progress faster in women.

UC Irvine makes way on state-of-the-art vision care center, OC Metro

UC Irvine last week celebrated the first major step in the completion of a state-of-the-art vision care facility, which, when complete, will house Orange County’s only academic eye center. The 70,000-square-foot Gavin Herbert Eye Institute is expected to open its doors next summer.

Improved vision after cataract surgery lowers risk of broken hips, study finds, The New York Times

This article reports on a study by Dr. Anne Coleman, UCLA’s Fran and Ray Stark Foundation Professor of Ophthalmology at the David Geffen School of Medicine and director of the Center for Eye Epidemiology at the Jules Stein Eye Institute.  Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, her research found that elderly people who get cataract surgery for poor vision suffer significantly less falls and hip fractures than seniors who don’t undergo the procedure.

Surgery helps doctor with 10-year eye twitch (video), KABC 7

Millions of people get a twitch in their eye from lack of sleep or too much caffeine. Now, imagine it happening non-stop for more than 10 years. That’s just what happened to one man, whose facial spasms kept progressively getting worse over time. Then a local neurosurgeon reached out to offer help for this lifelong problem. Dr. Vic Oyas’ Oyas says it began to twitch on the left side of his face down to his chin, neck and shoulder. It’s a rare condition called hemi-facial spasms. Oyas, a pediatrician, says the non-stop twitching makes his young patients uncomfortable. UCLA neurosurgeon Dr. Neil Martin helped Oyas with his challenging problem.

Why lack of sleep may weaken vaccine effectiveness, Time

Skimping out on sleep won’t just put you in a cranky mood. It may also reduce the effectiveness of vaccines, a new study from researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, suggests.

See additional coverage: California Watch

Metta World Peace’s mental health advocacy helps his own growth, Los Angeles Times

Dr. Thomas Strouse, professor of psychiatry at the UCLA Semel Institute and medical director of the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital (NPH), is quoted in this article about a visit to the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital by Los Angeles Laker player Metta World Peace.

Healthy people should skip EKG screening, say new U.S. Preventive Services Task Force guidelines, CBS News

Medical experts have announced that an electrocardiogram (EKG) will not predict the likelihood of a heart attack or heart problem in healthy people and should not be offered by doctors. “It’s important to realize first off that this is a recommendation for people without symptoms,” said Dr. Joy Melnikow, director of family and community medicine for the UC Davis Center for Healthcare Policy and Research.

Autism task force goes to work, Capital Public Radio

A new California task force is working to get autism treatment to more children who need it. Dr. Sergio Aguilar Gaxiola of the UC Davis Medical Center is a task force co-chair.  He says treatment is not getting to many kids in poor, uneducated, and minority families, ”Once the symptoms have manifested, more complications happen and then, if this happens after a long period of time, the solutions tend to be much harder.”

Can you be overweight and healthy?, Psychology Today

This month, researchers at UC Davis found that people who are overweight or obese had similar or even lower death rates than people of normal weight. Those who were severely obese had a higher risk only if they had diabetes or hypertension as well, while those who were underweight had nearly twice the death rate than those of normal weight. The study is the latest in a growing body of research that suggests it is possible to be overweight and healthy at the same time.

Dan Morain: Gun lobby blocks violence studies, The Sacramento Bee

National Rifle Association has been involved in preventing federal agencies’ ability to fund basic research into gun violence, lobbying to restrict grants for studies, write columnist Dan Morain. “This is a deliberate effort to keep evidence from being collected,” said Dr. Garen Wintemute, UC Davis professor and one of the few researchers in the nation focusing on guns and gun violence.

Inside Medicine: A growing language barrier in medicine, The Sacramento Bee

Michael Wilkes, professor of medicine at UC Davis, questions whether the new rule requiring the use of officially trained translators in hospitals over family or other workers is more helpful than beneficial due to availability. While the interpreter would prevent mixed messages or missed translations, with patients arriving every day speaking multiple languages, it is not possible to fund translation services for everyone.

Infection Files: Reflecting on 100 Infection Files columns, Los Angeles Daily News

A column by Dr. Claire Panosian Dunavan, UCLA clinical professor of medicine, division of infectious diseases, reflecting on her first 100 “Infection Files” columns.

UC Berkeley plans memorial for pioneering HIV researcher, KQED

UC Berkeley is planning a campus memorial service next month for Warren Winklestein, a pioneering AIDS researcher who died on Sunday.


CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of July 22

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Letters: Yes to UC Riverside’s medical school, Los Angeles Times

Re: “A medical school? Not now,” Editorial, July 19. The Times fails to recognize the severe physician shortage in inland Southern California that UC Riverside’s new medical school will address, writes UC Riverside Chancellor Timothy White.

UC Davis gets $53 million in stem cell funds to study Huntington’s, other diseases, The Sacramento Bee

The University of California, Davis, scored a major coup in stem cell funding with a $53 million award Thursday for research into Huntington’s disease, limb ischemia and osteoporosis. UCLA also received a $20 million grant for research into melanoma and UC Irvine shared a $20 million grant for research into spinal cord injury — read UC Health story.

See additional coverage: San Francisco Chronicle

2 UC Davis neurosurgeons accused of experimental surgery are banned from human research, The Sacramento Bee

A prominent UC Davis neurosurgeon, J. Paul Muizelaar, has been banned from performing medical research on humans after he and assistant professor Rudolph J. Schrot were accused of experimenting on dying brain cancer patients without university permission. UC Davis officials emphasized that they moved swiftly last year after learning about the doctors’ unusual work, including an internal investigation and self-reporting to the FDA. With sidebars: Other cases, Banned UCD doctor is one of UC’s highest paid employees and several letters to the editor. A follow-up article says the UC Davis chancellor has ordered a review of the doctors’ actions and an editorial calls for Muizelaar to step down as chair. Another follow-up article notes that Muizelaar has “temporarily relinquished” his position as chair.

See additional coverage: ABC News, KQED, Nature News, Science 2.0, The Associated Press, The Huffington Post

Sec’y Clinton lauds headway in battle against AIDS, The Associated Press

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says it’s possible to virtually eliminate HIV-infected births and the U.S. is donating $80 million in new funding to help poor countries reach that goal.Treating HIV-infected women so that they protect their babies is a key part of the Obama administration’s goal of an AIDS-free generation. Clinton told the International AIDS Conference Monday that the new money will help get those life-saving drugs to women who now slip through the cracks. The article quotes Dr. Diane Havlir of the University of California, San Francisco, a co-chair of the International AIDS Conference.

See additional coverage: The Toronto Globe and Mail

6 new faces in UC Merced medical program, Merced Sun-Star

UC Merced on Monday announced a group of six students who have been admitted to its San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education, also know as PRIME. All students have a connection to the San Joaquin Valley, according to a news release. The students include Fabian Alberto, who was raised in Soledad; Karina Martinez Juarez, raised in Empire; Filmon Solomon Mehanzel of Tracy; Kristine Camille Leyba Ongaigui of Fresno; Maricela Rangel-Garcia, who was raised in Fresno; and Katy Lynn Ruch of Fresno.

UCI Medical Center (video), PBS SoCal

UC Irvine Medical Center has been ranked among the nation’s best hospitals. Lisa Gibbs, medical director of the UC Irvine SeniorHealth Center, discusses UC Irvine’s geriatrics program.

UCLA launches new, comprehensive Alzheimer’s and dementia care program (audio), KPCC

A feature on UCLA’s new Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program.

UCLA doctors to oversee 11 CVS in-store clinics, Los Angeles Times

Pharmacy giant CVS Caremark Corp. and UCLA Health System are teaming up to treat patients in 11 in-store clinics in Los Angeles County as one remedy to a growing shortage of primary care physicians. Under this arrangement, UCLA physicians will serve as medical directors overseeing 11 CVS MinuteClinics and the two entities will share electronic medical records.

UC system plans to sell property for development, Sacramento Business Journal

The University of California is moving ahead with plans to subdivide seven acres in Fair Oaks into 17 parcels, which will be sold to developers to help fund scholarships for medical students at UC Davis.

Undead: The rabies virus remains a medical mystery, Wired

Nine months ago at the UC Davis Medical Center, eight-year-old Precious Reynolds survived a confirmed bout of rabies, a disease that was considered to be fatal in 100 percent of cases for most of human history. Today, after millennia of futility, hospitals have a new treatment to try, the same one employed by doctors at UC Davis: a deep, drug-induced coma that has shown limited success.

UC Berkeley study: Blind mice sensitive to light after chemical injection, San Jose Mercury News

Three blind mice: See how they run. That’s what scientists have been doing at UC-Berkeley, and they’ve made a startling discovery that raises hopes for a treatment someday to restore vision in people.

Olympic doctors say flight poses disease risk to Team USA, Bloomberg

A fist bump may be American athletes’ greeting of choice as they try to avoid illnesses that might wreck their Olympic dreams.Airplane illnesses and the rigors of long-haul travel are bigger concerns for Team USA’s medical team than any sporting injuries Michael Phelps and Tyson Gay may suffer on the way to London for the 2012 summer games. Cindy Chang, chief medical officer for the 529-member U.S. contingent, told athletes to take aisle seats so they can take regular walks and carry out stretching routines in the galley so their muscles don’t seize up aboard the jets carrying them across the Atlantic. Team USA won’t snub an extended hand of friendship, said Chang, who also works as head physician for the UC Berkeley teams, suggesting athletes may break with conventional handshakes.

UCLA lab keeping Olympics clean (video), Fox Sports

An interview with Anthony Butch, professor of pathology and director of the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory, in a story about how the lab’s testing helps keep the Olympic competition clean.  Butch and the lab were also featured in a Fox Sports story about the drug-testing process from the athlete’s perspective.

Surgeon general is asked for a report on sodas, Los Angeles Times

More than 100 health organizations and municipal public health departments, along with more than two dozen scientists, have asked the U.S. surgeon general to issue a report on sugar-sweetened soft drinks – akin to the landmark 1964 report on tobacco. They include the UC Berkeley School of Public Health; Robert Lustig, a  UCSF professor of clinical pediatrics; and Frederick Zimmerman, chair of the UCLA Department of Health Services.

Does palliative care belong in the ER?, Reuters

Hospital administrators tend to agree that it’s a good idea to have emergency departments offer palliative care, which is focused on providing comfort and respecting patients’ wishes rather than centering only on prolonging the patient’s life, according to a new study. The article quotes Alexander Smith, a geriatrics and palliative care researcher at the University of California, San Francisco.

UC Davis Health System fills new fundraising post, The Sacramento Bee

The UC Davis Health System has filled a newly created leadership position to help boost the system’s fundraising efforts, officials announced Monday. Chong Porter is the system’s first associate vice chancellor for Health Sciences Development and Alumni Relations.

Living without a stomach (video), Univision

A two-part report about a personalized treatment approach to a Hispanic family’s rare form of gastric cancer.  Dr. David Chen, general surgeon at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica and assistant clinical professor, is featured.

Physician robot to begin making rounds, Computerworld

This story reports on a remote-presence robot that allows doctors to visit hospitalized patients’ bedsides from a computer in their office or home.  Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center helped test the latest version of the robot.

Young neuroscientists’ popular zombie study frightens their advisers most of all, The Chronicle of Higher Education

UC Berkeley alumni Bradley Voytek and Timothy Verstynen, neuroscientists who have become noted experts on the zombie brain, are cautious about satisfying public interest in their topic while trying to avoid staking their professional reputations on it.


CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of July 15

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UC Riverside makes rare second attempt to add medical school, Los Angeles Times

UC Riverside didn’t give up after being denied accreditation for a medical school, and officials hope that new funding will mean students can enroll next year. Those quoted include G. Richard Olds, a tropical-disease expert who is the founding dean of the UC Riverside medical school; student Regina Inchizu; and John Stobo, the UC system’s senior vice president for health sciences and services. A follow-up editorial says now is not the time for a new UC medical school.

California faces headwinds in easing doctor shortage, CHCF Center for Health Reporting/Ventura County Star

The Supreme Court’s validation of President Obama’s landmark health law sets off a scramble across California to find enough primary care doctors and other professionals to serve an estimated 3 million newly insured patients by 2014. The article mentions the UC Riverside School of Medicine and the PRIME program at UC Merced with ties to UC Davis and UCSF-Fresno and cites a UCLA study.  G. Richard Olds, founding dean of the UC Riverside School of Medicine, is quoted.

UCLA Medical Center earns high marks in U.S. News rankings, Los Angeles Times

Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center nabbed top honors among California hospitals in the latest U.S. News & World Report annual rankings. The Los Angeles medical center ranked No. 5 nationally in the publisher’s annual honor roll of best hospitals. Only one other hospital in the state, UC San Francisco Medical Center, made the national honor roll of 17 hospitals. It ranked No. 13. All five UC medical centers were ranked by U.S. News — read UC Health story.

See additional coverage: San Diego Union-Tribune, The Orange County Register, California Healthline, U.S. News & World Report

UC to hike professional degree fees, San Francisco Chronicle

Over the objections of student protesters, the University of California regents hiked fees by up to 35 percent for dozens of professional degree programs – from nursing to business – even as the board agreed to freeze this year’s undergraduate tuition if voters approve a tax measure on the November ballot.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee

California university asks for its own board, Nature News

UC San Francisco released a series of proposals aimed at fixing finances at the biomedical powerhouse.

UCLA Mobile Clinic Project benefits both sides of the clipboards, Los Angeles Times

UCLA mobile clinic fosters students’ skills and compassion as they care for needy patients.

California health care exchange prepares for 2014 launch, The Sacramento Bee

Peter V. Lee wants to make buying health insurance “as easy as buying a book on Amazon.” He heads the nascent California Health Benefit Exchange, the cornerstone of the state’s effort to put in place the federal health care overhaul. Lee envisions that 15 months from now, uninsured California residents will log onto any computer to shop for health care the same way they purchase novels. All told, the exchange expects to connect about 2 million Californians with health insurers by 2019. Starting in 2014, it will be California’s vehicle to deliver subsidized care to people who earn income up to four times the federal poverty level, currently $92,200 for a family of four. The largest share will be people who lack insurance now, though hundreds of thousands who purchase health care on the open market or receive it through work will also use the exchange, according to a simulation conducted by the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

Safety-net hospitals stand to lose funding under reform law, California Healthline/Reuters

New payment procedures under the Affordable Care Act that will grant bonus payments to facilities that score higher on certain performance measures, such as patient satisfaction surveys, could have negative effects for safety-net hospitals, according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Reuters reports. In an editorial accompanying the study, Katherine Neuhausen of UCLA and Mitchell Katz of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services agreed that funding cuts are not the most effective strategy.

Task force starts with population health, California Healthline

The state’s recently formed “Let’s Get Healthy California” task force convened Tuesday for the first of four scheduled webinars. The meetings are part of the task force’s plan to eventually organize the unruly health care system in California by creating a priority list and action plan for what needs to be done, according to Diana Dooley, Secretary of Health and Human Services. The article quotes Ken Kizer, director of the Institute for Population Health Improvement at UC Davis and the moderator of Tuesday’s webinar.

Donate your body to science, receive a free memorial (video), KABC 7

UCLA’s Donated Body Program is featured in this segment about options available for people who wish to reduce funeral costs by donating their bodies to medical research.  Program director Dean Fisher is quoted.

Job growth expected from stem cell grants, Sacramento Business Journal

Almost $80 million in grants for stem cell research and related technologies has flowed to the Sacramento region since voters approved a ballot measure in 2004 to jump start the industry with $3 billion in state bond financing. So far $1.4 billion has been awarded statewide by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine — and more is coming. Up to $240 million in new disease-specific grants will be announced July 26. Researchers at UC Davis, which already has received the lion’s share of local CIRM stem-cell funding, hope to nab an additional $54 million.

FDA approves Truvada as HIV preventive, San Francisco Chronicle

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved the marketing of the first drug shown to curb the transmission of the HIV virus, a development heralded by AIDS advocates and physicians as a turning point in the battle against the decades-long epidemic. Truvada, made by Gilead Sciences in Foster City, was approved in 2004 to treat people already infected with HIV, but studies have shown the drug is also effective at reducing the risk of contracting the virus. The article quotes Robert Grant, a UCSF professor and a researcher with the Gladstone Institute for Virology and Immunology who led one of the two studies on which the FDA approval was based.

Cancer Support Community’s new service, San Francisco Chronicle

Open to Options, inspired by a similar program at UCSF, uses counselors to show patients how to express their concerns to their doctors and helps them formulate a list of questions that will be given to their doctors in advance of medical appointments.

Noose hung in UCSF warehouse (video), ABC 7

The ABC7 News I-Team has learned that UCSF Medical Center is dealing with a racially charged incident — a noose hung in an office out in the open. It happened July 10, deep inside the UCSF Medical Center building on Parnassus Avenue in the inventory warehouse for facilities management.

EPA hears public views of changes to soot standard, The Sacramento Bee

Several dozen people attended the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Sacramento Hearing on national air quality standards Thursday. Tony Wexler, director of the Air Quality Research Center at UC Davis, believes the financial cost of clean air is justified. “It’s cheaper to have stricter regulations, because health costs are much higher,” he said. “Industry groups only see the costs in front of them.”

New sheriff in town (audio), KPCC The Loh Down on Science

This piece reports on a new mouthwash developed by Wenyuan Shi, professor of oral biology at the UCLA School of Dentistry, that was shown in a study to effectively kill the bacteria responsible for causing tooth decay and cavities.

Tablets increase UCLA neurosurgery residents’ study time, FierceHealthIT

Students in a UCLA neurosurgery residency training program given tablets and access to a digital library of resources studied more outside the hospital, according to an article published in Neurosurgery. Last academic year, Harvard and Yale made iPads part of their medical school curriculum. Yale handed out 520 iPads to all of its medical students, while Harvard created a set of apps just for medical students. They joined medical schools including Stanford, Brown, the University of California Irvine and the University of Minnesota in adding a technology component.

Questioning surgery for early prostate cancer, The New York Times

A new study shows that prostate cancer surgery, which often leaves men impotent or incontinent, does not appear to save the lives of men with early-stage disease, who account for most cases, and many of these men would do just as well to choose no treatment at all. Leonard Marks, a professor of urology at UCLA, is quoted.

UCSD health clinic gets new landlord at Hillcrest, San Diego Business Journal

Coast Income Properties Inc. of San Diego has purchased a Hillcrest medical office building known as Lewis Medical for $9.7 million. The building is fully leased by UC San Diego Health System, which will continue to operate a primary care clinic there, according to a statement from brokerage firm Colliers International.

Expert paints bleak air pollution picture to children’s asthma group, Long Beach Press-Telegram

John Froines, professor emeritus of environmental health sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, is featured in this article about a talk he gave concerning increasing levels of air pollution in California.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of July 8

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Program trains docs to treat underserved groups, HealthyCal.org

The San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education (PRIME) might not be that well known by residents yet, but it could improve health care for those who live in the eight-county area for years to come. The program is training doctors, most of whom are from the San Joaquin Valley, who want to treat underserved populations in the area. Currently, the San Joaquin Valley has too few doctors, including both primary care physicians and specialists. The SJ PRIME is a collaboration between the University of California at Merced, the UC Davis School of Medicine and UCSF Fresno’s Medical Education Program. It is the sixth and latest addition to PRIMEs in place at UC medical schools.

The Measured Man, The Atlantic

Larry Smarr, an astrophysicist turned computer scientist, has a new project: charting his every bodily function in minute detail. What he’s discovering may be the future of health care. Smarr directs a world-class research center on two University of California campuses, San Diego and Irvine, called the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, or “Calit2.”

Cal doctor to lead London Olympic U.S. medical team (video), CBS San Francisco

At the UC Berkeley Tang Urgent Care Center, Dr. Cindy Chang takes care of the sick and injured. But soon, the Cal physician will be taking care of the health and well-being of a very elite group of athletes: the 525 Americans who will be competing in the upcoming London Olympics. Chang is the chief medical officer for Team USA. She’s the first woman, as well as the first Asian-American, to hold the position.

See additional coverage: Berkeleyside

Biomedical campus seeks freer rein, Nature News

It might seem that the University of California, San Francisco, has it all: dozens of scenic sites and a $1.5-billion state-of-the-art hospital under construction along the bay. A leading biomedical research center, the university won $533 million in funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health in 2011, more than any other institution except Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. But facing an uncertain health-care market, flat federal funding and a flagging state budget, UCSF is pursuing one thing it does not yet have: autonomy. University Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann is scheduled to discuss relaxing ties with the greater UC system at a meeting of the UC Regents at UCSF’s Mission Bay site on July 18.

San Francisco surgeon seeks partial recount of anti-tobacco Prop. 29, Los Angeles Times

Dr. John Maa, a member of the American Heart Association, files a request for a partial recount of the June 5 tobacco tax ballot initiative, which lost by less than 1 percentage point. Maa is a professor at UC San Francisco.

Truvada pill urged for AIDS prevention after promising studies, Los Angeles Times

As the U.S. Food and Drug Administrationweighs approval of a radical new method of AIDS prevention — a prescription pill taken once a day — advocates say the results of experimental trials in sub-Saharan Africa argue strongly for the drug’s adoption in the United States. The article quotes Robert M. Grant of UC San Francisco’s Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology, who worked on one of the new studies.

Harnessing gene codes as sleuths of food ills, The New York Times

A new public database aims to catalog the genetic codes of 100,000 types of bacteria found in food, vastly increasing the amount of data that scientists can use to trace the causes of food-borne illness. The free database, being set up at the University of California, Davis, will enable scientists to pinpoint not only what food carries the bacteria responsible for a given outbreak — raw tuna in sushi, for example — but also what country it came from. And while responses to such outbreaks have typically taken weeks, the new database is expected to reduce that to days.

Lacy Westbrook has brain surgery, ESPN Los Angeles

UCLA incoming freshman offensive lineman Lacy Westbrook underwent surgery to repair a brain aneurysm and was in stable condition Thursday evening, according to a spokesperson at UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange. The 6-foot-4, 300-pound Westbrook was admitted to the hospital after he collapsed while jogging earlier this week. He is expected to make a full recovery, the hospital spokesperson said.

Special Reports: California hospitals take issue with Leapfrog Group’s recent report card on patient safety (audio), California Healthline

In this special report, experts discuss a recent Leapfrog Group report card that gave more than 40% of California hospitals a grade of C or lower for patient safety. Some hospital officials criticized the way Leapfrog Group calculated the hospital patient safety scores, saying the data used were more than two years old. However, Leapfrog Group officials say the report card accurately reflects hospital performance and should encourage facilities to step up their patient safety efforts. UCLA is mentioned. The transcript of this report is available as a PDF.

University of California students reflect on proposed smoking bans, The Sacramento Bee

It’s hard to find people smoking on the UC Davis campus these days. On a recent visit during summer recess, nobody was smoking in the quads or social areas. According to a recent survey, more than 90 percent of students at UC Davis are nonsmokers. When asked their reaction to UC President Mark Yudof’s quest to make all UC campuses smoke-free by the end of 2013, the students shrugged.

California pot research backs therapeutic claims, The Sacramento Bee

UC medical researchers slipped an ingredient in chili peppers beneath the skin of marijuana smokers to see if pot could relieve acute pain. It could – at certain doses.

UCLA medical researchers study copper to help fight hospital staph infections (audio), KPCC

UCLA researchers are going to war against a common, sometimes-deadly hospital bacterial infection. Their weapon of choice? Copper.

What food issues mean to health care, California Healthline

A new policy brief from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research found that 3.8 million Californians in 2009 had times during the year when they could not afford food.

Patients avoid disagreeing with doctor, may ignore advice, Reuters

This article reports on a study led by Dominick Frosch, associate adjunct professor of general internal medicine and health services research, showing that only one in seven patients will speak up if they disagree with a treatment plan from their doctors. Frosch is quoted.

UCSF RunSafe clinic boosts older runner, San Francisco Chronicle

Bruce Coury, 63, was a recreational jogger for most of his adult life, running about 10 miles a week just to stay healthy. Then he ran a 5K race and realized he was pretty fast for his age. When he ratcheted up his training he got to experience the joys – and the pitfalls, mostly in the form of aches and pains and minor injuries – of competitive running. Earlier this year, Coury and his wife, both residents of Nevada City, went to the UCSF RunSafe clinic, where sports medicine experts analyzed their running form and gave them tips for treating and preventing injuries. Coury’s 5K personal best time is 23:55. He’s signed up for his first 10K race in August. Dr. Anthony Luke, medical director of the San Francisco Marathon who heads the RunSafe clinic, is quoted in another San Francisco Chronicle story about extreme distance running.

New study: People prefer choices that come first, San Francisco Chronicle

In the complex process of making decisions, new UC Berkeley research shows one option trumps all: the first one. This health research roundup also mentions that a protein in humans has been found to weaken the effectiveness of a common lung-cancer drug, according to a team of UCSF researchers who say the discovery could lead to new, more powerful medicines.

A new look at the living habits of bacteria could help beat antibiotic resistance, Popular Science

In an effort to outfox antibiotic resistance, a team of researchers based out of UC Berkeley — and including none other than Nobel laureate Steven Chu — want to build a wrecking ball that tears down bacterial cities. It’s not quite there yet, but in a paper released today the research group announced that via a new imaging technique it has for the first time revealed the structure of these biofilms — and where they are vulnerable to attack.

Obesity a sentence to early death? Not so fast, says new study, Los Angeles Times

A new study by UC Davis has found that hypertension and type 2 diabetes, while common ailments among obese patients, cause greater risk of death than extra weight on its own. At any given age, an obese person who does not have these illnesses is no more likely to die in the next six years than is a person of the same age who is of normal weight.

Anti-venom for widow spider bites being tested locally (video), KGTV

Researchers at UCSD Medical Center are testing a new anti-venom for bites from black and brown widow spiders.

Why your sunburn hurts, NBC San Diego

It’s been said that pain is just weakness leaving the body — the same is true for sunburns, a new finding from UC San Diego researchers found.

Commentary: The battle over the ACA has only just begun, NAPH Safety Net Matters

The recent Supreme Court decision relative to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) went the way that exactly zero pundits predicted, writes Aaron Byzak, UC San Diego Health System’s director of government and community affairs, in a blog post.

Viewpoints: Calling the individual mandate a tax increase distorts its effect, The Sacramento Bee

Angelo DeSantis, professor at UC Davis School of Law, has written an op-ed piece regarding the health care reform and how opponents referring to it as a tax distort the individual mandate’s effect on most Americans.

See related coverage: The Washington Post

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of July 1

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Medical school: New bill says school should get $15 million, The Riverside Press-Enterprise

Newly amended legislation calls on lawmakers to put UC Riverside’s medical school at the top of the list for any money from the settlement of a federal lawsuit against the Senior Care Action Network health plan.

High Desert faces doctor shortage, Victorville Daily Press

President Barack Obama’s health-care reform is expected to add millions of newly insured patients in California, helping them stay healthy rather than waiting for them to get rushed into an emergency room. But the state needs to find enough primary care doctors to handle the influx of patients. And the irony is that inland communities such as the High Desert — which is already facing an acute shortage of doctors — will have more residents added to Medi-Cal compared to wealthier coastal areas. The article quotes Richard Olds, founding dean of the UC Riverside School of Medicine. The school, scheduled to open in 2013 pending accreditation approval, was created to tackle the shortage of primary care doctors in the Inland Empire.

In paradox, obesity a factor in heart failure, but may limit effects, Los Angeles Times

It’s a strange paradox: Obesity is one of the main contributing factors to heart failure but, once the problem develops, obesity mitigates its effects. “Heart failure may be one of the few health conditions where extra weight may prove to be protective,” said Dr. Tamara B. Horwich, a cardiologist at UCLA’s Geffen School of Medicine. New research by Horwich and her colleagues quantifies the magnitude of the benefit from being overweight and for the first time shows that the effects are comparable for men and women.

Trauma closer to home, The Stockton Record

Trauma, defined in medical terms as serious injury caused by accident or violence, is the leading cause of death in San Joaquin County for younger residents. The delivery of trauma care in San Joaquin County has essentially remained unchanged since the late 1980s,” according to a new draft trauma plan being circulated for public review and comment. The county plan also calls for UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento to provide pediatric trauma services as well as treatment for adult major burn patients and trauma patients with acute spinal cord injury.

5 vet aid groups to benefit from new fundraising, The Associated Press

This article announced that UCLA’s Operation Mend program will be one of five military-related organizations to benefit from Veteran Support Fund, a fundraising campaign led by three families.

See additional coverage: The Orange County Register

UCSD researchers block pathway to cancer cell replication, City News Service

Inhibiting a pathway used by cells that cause pediatric leukemia might lead to treatments for the disease and other forms of cancer, according to results of a study released today by the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

Stanford studies monks’ meditation, compassion, San Francisco Chronicle

This story about the emerging field of meditative science quotes Emiliana Simon-Thomas, science director for the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and Clifford Saron, a research neuroscientist at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain.

Shift to medical home may not increase patient satisfaction, American Medical News

This article about the “medical home” concept in health care covers research by Dr. Robin Clarke, a physician in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars program at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, suggesting that an assessment tool measuring whether a community health center functions as a “medical home” does not adequately evaluate diabetes care. Clarke is quoted.

Lesbian and bisexual women wanted for UCLA study, KPCC

This story reports that the Iris Cantor-UCLA Women’s Health Center is recruiting minorities, veterans and older women for focus groups on the healthcare needs of lesbian and bisexual women.

Inside Medcine: Top docs in airline magazines … says who?, The Sacramento Bee

Michael Wilkes, professor of medicine at UC Davis, has written an op-ed piece on “Top Doctors in America” and how these declarations are misleading journalism and medical promotion. “Health care is not a competition,” he said. “We can and should expect all licensed doctors to be excellent.”


CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of June 24

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Teaching hospitals, medical students applaud Supreme Court’s health-care ruling, The Chronicle of Higher Education

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday, in a 5-4 decision that caught many observers by surprise, upheld a sweeping health-care overhaul that provides insurance coverage to 32 million more people, allows students to stay on their parents’ insurance policies until age 26, and offers a mixed bag of incentives and potential challenges to teaching hospitals. This article quotes Catherine R. Lucey, vice dean for education at the UC San Francisco School of Medicine.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Daily News, The Orange County Register

UC Davis study: Hispanics shorted on mental health care, The Fresno Bee

Hispanics in the central San Joaquin Valley and the state are not getting the mental-health services they need, a UC Davis report released Monday said.

See additional coverage: The Sacramento Bee

Greater Good Science Center: On the fine art of gratitude, Berkeleyside

Emiliana Simon-Thomas, the new science director of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, is interviewed.

U.S. paid extra $13 billion for some veterans’ care: study, Reuters

Kenneth Kizer, professor with the UC Davis Health System, is one of the authors of a study that has found the U.S. government paid billions of dollars for the medical care of some older veterans twice. “What we’re saying is that the government needs to find a way to fix these billing services,” he said.

Immigrants are crucial to innovation, study says, The New York Times

This article about major innovations by foreign-born researchers at the nation’s top research universities highlights Wenyuan Shi, professor of oral biology at the UCLA School of Dentistry, and his creation of a sugar-free lollipop that kills the bacterium that causes tooth decay.

Many migraines can be prevented with treatments, but few people use them (audio), NPR

This story interviews Dr. Charles Flippen, associate professor of neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and Dr. Andrew Charles, Luskin Chair in Migraine and Headache Studies and vice chair of neurology, for a story spotlighting treatments available for migraine.

10 things to know about University of California Irvine Medical Center, Becker’s Hospital Review

The UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange is a health care beacon in Orange County, boasting some of the most advanced diagnostic and treatment facilities in the state and country.

Koala chlamydia and Doberman OCD: the human-animal disease crossover (audio), KPCC The Madeleine Brand Show

This story reports on research by Dr. Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, director of imaging at the UCLA Cardiac Arrhythmia Center, comparing physical and mental disorders in animals and humans. Her book, “Zoobiquity,” looks at the species-spanning nature of illness. She is interviewed.

Nonprofit groups announce $30 million campaign to help veterans, MSNBC

This article covers a new support fund that will direct donations to UCLA’s Operation Mend.

UC Berkeley doctor sued over patient’s death, San Francisco Chronicle

A former UC Berkeley doctor charged with sexually assaulting patients has been named in a civil suit filed by the parents of an alumnus who say he committed suicide in Southern California because he had been molested by the physician.

Telemedicine tackles mental health treatment, InformationWeek

A new report from the California HealthCare Foundation says that technology may help break down some barriers in mental health treatment. UC Davis psychiatrist Peter Yellowlees said in the report that videoconferencing can make psychotherapy more appealing to some patients, helping to overcome any stigma associated with depression. “People are often more honest on computers than face-to-face,” he said.


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In the media: Week of June 17

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

High-profile colloquium in California features the Effective Health Care Program’s comparative effectiveness resources, AHRQ Partners in Action

On April 27, the University of California Center for Health Quality and Innovation held a colloquium of experts focused on improving health care delivery. The center invited the Effective Health Care Program representatives to present and talk one-on-one with attendees about comparative effectiveness research and how to use research findings when making treatment decisions. The colloquium included more than 200 UC executives, clinicians, and research fellows, as well as representatives from California Health Care Safety Net Institute and Kaiser Permanente.

California to lose big if Supreme Court scraps U.S. healthcare law, Los Angeles Times

If the Supreme Court scraps the Affordable Care Act in the coming days, California will lose out on as much as $15 billion annually in new federal money slated to come its way, dealing what state officials say would be a critical blow to efforts to expand coverage to the poor and uninsured. The article cites a study by UC Berkeley and UCLA and quotes Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times column, Bloomberg News

Kaiser, S.F. General, Sutter, UCSF and other NorCal health centers lauded for LGBT equality, San Francisco Business Times

California Pacific Medical Center, a host of Kaiser Permanente facilities, San Francisco General Hospital, Sutter Maternity & Surgery Center in Santa Cruz, UCSF Medical Center, UC Davis Medical Center and San Francisco’s Lyon-Martin Health Services have been honored for protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients and employees from discrimination by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit said Tuesday. The Bay Area and Northern California institutions were among 71 nationwide that had the highest levels of support for LGBT employees, according to the foundation’s annual Healthcare Equality Index. The others included UC San Diego Health System.

Hospital, UCR School of Medicine team up, Redlands Daily Facts

Arrowhead Regional Medical Center and the UC Riverside School of Medicine are joining in a program that will allow area high school and college students to shadow Arrowhead Regional doctors. The program is art of a student pipeline program designed to develop physician leaders and strengthen interest in the field of medicine.

UCSF links key dementia protein, brain traumas, San Francisco Chronicle

The mysterious proteins called prions, which build up in the human brain to cause Alzheimer’s and other dementias, are also linked to post-traumatic stress disorder in combat veterans and in the brain damage of athletes like football players who have suffered repeated concussions, UCSF researchers report.

Loneliness lethal for seniors, UCSF study says, San Francisco Chronicle

Feeling lonely always hurts, but when it comes to the elderly, it may actually contribute to failing health or an early death, UCSF researchers say.

See additional coverage: KQED Forum (audio)

Heart trouble early and often in H.I.V. patients, The New York Times

People infected with H.I.V. have more heart attacks and have them earlier in life. Even patients whose infection is well suppressed by AIDS drugs are at higher risk. The article quotes study co-authors Priscilla Hsue, a UCSF associate professor of medicine and a cardiologist at San Francisco General Hospital who treats many AIDS patients, and Zian Tseng, an electrophysiologist and UCSF associate professor of medicine. UCSF AIDS expert Steven Deeks also is quoted.

Statin drugs cause fatigue in some people, The New York Times

Many observational reports have suggested that statin drugs cause fatigue in some people, and now a randomized trial has found further evidence for the effect. The lead author, Dr. Beatrice Golomb, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, said that the side effect was not rare.

UCSD finds possible way to treat Huntington’s disease, San Diego Union-Tribune

In a possibly significant advance, UC San Diego researchers have found a way to turn off the mutated gene that causes Huntington’s disease, an inherited and degenerative brain disorder for which there is no cure.

Two big hospital projects make major progress, San Francisco Business Times

Two of San Francisco’s three giant hospital construction projects, the new UCSF Medical Center campus at Mission Bay and the new inpatient structure at San Francisco General Hospital & Trauma Center, are making tangible progress.

UCSF joins trend offering published research free, San Francisco Chronicle

UCSF has joined the growing ranks of academic institutions that are offering most, if not all, of their research free to the public, by requiring that all published scientific studies be added by their authors to a university repository accessible to everyone.

Social media in health care create risks, benefits, San Francisco Chronicle

UCSF and UCLA are mentioned in this story about social media and health care.

‘Zoobiquity’: What animals can teach us about our health (video), Fox News

This article reports on research by Dr. Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, director of imaging at the UCLA Cardiac Arrhythmia Center, comparing physical and mental disorders in animals and humans and her book “Zoobiquity,” which looks at the species-spanning nature of illness. Natterson-Horowitz is quoted.

UCLA recognizes need for nursing research, Nurse.com

This story focuses on the UCLA School of Nursing Young Scholars program, which encourages UCLA nursing students to concentrate their studies on research and gerontology.  Professor Jan Mentes and Young Scholar Maria Yefimova are quoted.

Manic nation: Dr. Peter Whybrow says we’re addicted to stress, Pacific Standard

Dr. Peter Whybrow, director of the Semel Institute, the Judson Braun Professor and executive chair of the Department of Psychiatry at UCLA, is featured in this Q&A about people’s stress and their addiction to technology.

Lack of sleep can lead to more than just fatigue, San Francisco Chronicle

Are you yawning as you read this? A lack of a good night’s sleep may make you not just cranky, but also prone to anxiety and unhealthy eating, according to two studies from UC Berkeley researchers.

Gratitude movement leader to speak in S.F., San Francisco Chronicle

Are we in the middle of a gratitude movement? Evidence suggests so. Publishers can’t seem to print enough books with the words “gratitude” or “gratefulness” in the title. Scientists rake in millions of dollars in grants to study how feelings of gratitude might improve physical health and psychological well-being. And this weekend, hundreds are expected to attend a Pathways to Gratefulness conference at the Palace of Fine Arts to talk about cultivating gratefulness in their lives. UC Berkeley and UC Davis gratitude efforts are mentioned.

University of Calif. faces mounting pension costs, The Associated Press

The cost of pensions and retiree health benefits are soaring at the University of California, increasing pressure to raise tuition and cut academic programs at one of the nation’s leading public college systems. The 10-campus system is confronting mounting bills for employee retirement benefits even as it grapples with unprecedented cuts in state funding that have led to sharp tuition hikes, staff reductions and angry student protests. The UC system, including medical centers and national laboratories, is scrambling to shore up its pension fund as it prepares for a wave of retirements and tackles a roughly $10 billion unfunded liability.

Faculty urge UC Davis to apologize to disciplined professor, The Sacramento Bee

Professors at UC Davis are calling for the reprimand of the School of Medicine’s top leadership and legal counsel who allegedly threatened to strip Professor Michael Wilkes of his title and resources for publicly criticizing a university-sponsored event. This issue was also the subject of an editorial in The Bee.

A master of the microbiome and his quest to re-publish his father’s papers, Forbes

Forbes writer Matthew Herper points readers to “the wonderful TedMed Talk” by UC Davis professor Jonathan Eisen on The Human Microbiome Project.

I Care: Brain injury victim helps patients and caregivers, The Sacramento Bee

Cathy Liu listened to the stories and struggles of traumatic brain injury patients at a UC Davis Medical Center seminar – a program that she has helped create. Five years ago Liu, a first-year internal medicine resident at UC Davis, got hit by a car while jogging and suffered a traumatic brain injury.

UCSD doctors refute studies condoning drinking during pregnancy, San Diego Union-Tribune

Just say “no” is the conclusion of some local physicians when it comes to drinking while pregnant. UC San Diego School of Medicine experts disagree with a series of new studies from Denmark that suggest consumption of up to eight alcoholic drinks a week or occasional binge drinking during pregnancy is generally safe for the developing baby.

UCSF: Old prisoners need better medical care, San Francisco Business Times

As the U.S. prison population has soared, the number of old prisoners has ballooned, and they need much better medical treatment than they’re getting now, according to a UCSF study.

Calif. physicians’ EHR systems fall short of meaningful use criteria, Modern Physician/California Healthline

Although most California physicians use electronic health record systems, only 30% of them use EHR systems that have the ability to meet the requirements of the meaningful use program, according to a report by UC-San Francisco researchers, Modern Physician reports.

Op-ed: Gender testing for athletes remains a tough call, The New York Times

An essay by Dr. Eric Vilain, professor of human genetics, pediatrics and urology and director of the UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics, about the challenges of gender testing in competitive athletics.


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In the media: Week of June 10

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UC Davis School of Nursing receives accreditation, The Sacramento Bee

Just in time for graduation, the UC Davis School of Nursing received its sought-after accreditation from the independent Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

UC Davis graduating its first class of nurses, The Sacramento Bee

Five years ago, philanthropist Betty Irene Moore donated $100 million to UC Davis, creating a new graduate School of Nursing. Thanks to her contribution, 25 nurses are part of a small elite cadre of students graduating Thursday with UC Davis’ first masters of science in nursing education and health care leadership.

UC Riverside medical school dean is changing the rules, The Riverside Press-Enterprise

If the UC Riverside School of Medicine opens in fall 2013, it won’t look like other medical schools. It will not have its own medical center — students will be farmed out to local hospitals — and the school’s dean, G. Richard Olds, says the way doctors will be trained is a 180-degree shift from the current medical school model.

Oakland, UCSF children’s hospitals may merge, San Francisco Chronicle

Children’s Hospital Oakland, which has had its share of financial and other troubles in recent years, may soon be joining forces with UCSF’s Benioff Children’s Hospital. In a letter to the medical staff of the 190-bed Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland last week, CEO Bertram Lubin said talks, initiated by UCSF, “have progressed with great enthusiasm and respect on both sides.”

See additional coverage: San Francisco Business Times

Radiation concerns rise with patients’ exposure, The New York Times

Even in health care systems in which doctors do not bill for each test they administer, the use of diagnostic imaging like CT and PET scans has soared, as has patients’ radiation exposure, a new study has found. The study, published online on Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association, says that while advanced medical imaging has undoubted benefits, allowing problems to be diagnosed earlier and more accurately, its value needs to be weighed against potential harms, which include a small cancer risk from the radiation. The article quotes Dr. Rebecca Smith-Bindman, the study’s lead author and a radiologist and epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Time, ABC World News (video)

UC Davis Medical Center prepares for reform: 3 patient safety, quality initiatives, Becker’s Hospital Review

UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento participates in the Delivery System Reform Incentive Program, a five-year pay-for-performance initiative in which California public hospital systems aim to meet benchmarks related to healthcare access, quality and safety outcomes. The program is part of the Section 1115 Medicaid Waiver in California, an initiative that began in November 2010 to help the state’s public hospital systems prepare for and implement health reform in 2014. Allan D. Siefkin, CMO of UC Davis Medical Center, describes three of the 14 projects the hospital is implementing under DSRIP.

RunSafe database to speed SF Marathon medical care, San Francisco Chronicle

During the San Francisco Marathon next month, Sharon Wong-Lew will pound up and down the city’s verdant hills and steep streets. The 26.2-mile course’s inclines can intimidate even the fastest runners. What most frightens Wong-Lew, however, is a slipped disk in her lower back. The race will be her first since she was diagnosed in February, and if it acts up, the pain could incapacitate her. But if something does happen, medical aid could be at her side quickly. Under a program announced Wednesday, a UCSF-led team of physicians will use this year’s marathon to try a new way of swiftly and efficiently helping runners like Wong-Lew if they are injured. Before the July 29 race, runners will have the option of posting their medical information – like a history of seizures or a list of allergies – to an online database accessible only to the race’s emergency medical crew.

Sleep deprivation drives up anxiety, study shows, The Huffington Post

Not getting enough shuteye can amplify the brain’s anticipatory reactions, upping overall anxiety levels, according to new research. And the effect is particularly pronounced among people who are nervous to begin with. “What this study highlights is the importance of sleep for healthy emotional functioning,” said Andrea Goldstein, who did the research at the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times

Alzheimer’s gene found to affect women over men, San Francisco Chronicle

A gene that’s been known for two decades as the largest inheritable risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease mostly affects the brains of women, not men, according to a team of researchers from Stanford and UCSF.

Specialty hospital units for elderly could cut costs, San Francisco Chronicle

Hospital units specifically tailored to care for elderly patients could cut national health care costs by up to $6 billion annually, according to a new UCSF study.

UC Davis administrators are rebuked over treatment of critic of campus health event, The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Academic Senate of the University of California at Davis has rebuked several administrators for threatening legal action and various administrative punishments against a medical professor who criticized the campus health system’s promotion of a controversial cancer-screening test.

See additional coverage: Sacramento Business Journal

As adult cancer cases drop, rates go up among children, California Watch

New cases of cancer among adults in California are declining, but rates of childhood cancers are increasing, according to a new study by a statewide health organization. The report, by the California HealthCare Foundation, also shows that cancer survival rates are improving for kids and adults. The article quotes UC Berkeley epidemiologist Catherine Metayer and UC Davis pediatric oncologist Jonathan Ducore.

Cancer sufferer gets her degree at UC Davis, The Sacramento Bee

Sweltering in the afternoon heat, Kourtney Lampedecchio stood waiting with hundreds of her fellow graduates in a big outdoor tent on the UC Davis campus Thursday. She didn’t ask for special accommodations, though a growing tumor in her neck made her back and arms ache, and she had undergone radiation therapy just hours before donning her cap and gown. Lampedecchio, 31, received her master of fine arts degree in theater design on Thursday, four years after she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer that spread through her body, broke her spine and laced her brain with more than a dozen tumors. She hopes to break into movie and TV set design and has already been making connections in the industry and arranging to transfer her medical care from UC Davis to UCLA.

UCSF Mission Bay Med Center finally tops $400M fundraising mark, San Francisco Business Times

Fundraising efforts for the new UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay hit the $400 million milestone.

UC Merced health director eyes health center improvements, Merced Sun-Star

UC Merced senior Mony Chim has noticed a difference at the student health services center since its new medical director came on board. Chim said Dr. Brandon Boggs is approachable and a good people-person. “I’m glad he’s there,” the 23-year-old said. “He’s been really helpful.”

Study estimates high enrollment for exchange, California Healthline

As many as 2.1 million Californians will get subsidized health insurance coverage through the state’s new Health Benefit Exchange by 2019, according to a study released yesterday by the UC-Berkeley Labor Center and UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. Another 1.1 million from the unsubsidized individual health insurance market are expected to join the exchange as well, said UCLA researcher Dylan Roby. That would bring the estimated total to about 3.2 million.

A quarter of L.A. homeless have hepatitis C; nearly half don’t know it, Los Angeles Times

This article reports on research by Dr. Lillian Gelberg, professor of family medicine and public health, suggesting that more than 1 in 4 homeless people in downtown Los Angeles have hepatitis C; nearly half are unaware of it.

‘Zoobiquity’: Animal, human health links (video), ABC Nightline

This segment reports on research by Dr. Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, director of imaging at the UCLA Cardiac Arrhythmia Center, comparing physical and mental disorders in animals and humans and her book “Zoobiquity,” which looks at the species-spanning nature of illness.

Migraine headaches cost employers billions in lost productivity (video), KABC 7

Dr. Andrew Charles, director of UCLA’s Headache Research and Treatment Program and a professor of neurology who holds UCLA’s Luskin Chair in Migraine and Headache Studies, is interviewed about what happens in the brain during migraines and steps individuals can take to prevent them.

UCLA enters valley with plans for multiple offices, San Fernando Valley Business Journal

This article reports on the UCLA Health System’s plans to expand in the San Fernando and Conejo valleys by building several buildings for primary care and medical specialties, including imaging. Ann Sullivan, project director for the Department of Medicine, is quoted.

Pollution research sues UCLA to get his job back, Los Angeles Times

A controversial researcher on air pollution and second-hand cigarette smoke is suing UCLA to get his position back, claiming that his firing was an illegal effort to quash academic dissent and protect politically correct views. James Enstrom, a non-tenured researcher in the UCLA School of Public Health, has been involved in a series of administrative appeals in trying to keep the position he held for about 35 years. Now, with those UC avenues exhausted, he filed a lawsuit Wednesday in federal court in Los Angeles against the university and its administrators.

New documentary ‘Autism: Emerging from the Maze’ on KVIE, Sacramento Press

A new documentary produced by KVIE Public Television will examine the daily journeys of local families as they seek to understand autism. Experts from the UC Davis MIND Institute offer their insights into the growing research, including researcher David Amaral, director Leonard Abbeduto, and professors Sally Ozonoff and Sally Rogers.

How to prevent toddler drownings, The Sacramento Bee

Christy Adams, trauma prevention coordinator at the UC Davis Health System, says the weight of a toddler’s head makes the child susceptible to toppling over in water.

UC San Diego study links cholesterol-lowering statins to fatigue (audio), KPBS

A new study from UC San Diego has found that drugs used to lower cholesterol may make it harder to exercise, which is supposed to help lower cholesterol. This catch 22 involves fatigue, lower energy levels and popular statin drugs.

See additional coverage: San Diego Union-Tribune

Health care task force starts up, California Healthline

This is not your usual task force, according to Diana Dooley, secretary of the state Health and Human Services department. This one, she said, is less interested in the ideal and more focused on producing real-world results. The idea is to figure out which programs across the state improve health care and keep costs down and then encourage and support them. Dooley was in Los Angeles yesterday to co-chair the first meeting of the health care task force created last month by Gov. Jerry Brown. Dooley said the first gathering could not have gone much better. The task force and its advisory panel include 10 health policy experts from the UC system.

Op-ed: Mental illness and lessons from Kelly Thomas’ last cry for help, Los Angeles Times

An op-ed by Dr. Neal Halfon, professor of pediatrics, health services and public policy and director of the UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities, about the need to improve public services for the mentally ill and to train parents to recognize signs of mental illness in their children.


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In the media: Week of June 3

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UCSF advances fight against cystic fibrosis, San Francisco Chronicle

At UCSF, aggressive treatment for cystic fibrosis has produced striking results over the past decade. The medical center was once below the national average when it came to patient reports on lung function and other tests for cystic fibrosis. Now, in most categories, UCSF is just as strong as the top 10 cystic fibrosis centers in the country, said Dr. Dennis Nielson, director of the Pediatric Cystic Fibrosis Center at UCSF.

41% of California hospitals graded C or lower on patient safety, Los Angeles Times

More than 40% of California hospitals received a grade of C or lower on patient safety in a new national report card aimed at prodding hospitals to do more to end thousands of preventable injuries and deaths. The Leapfrog Group, an employer-backed nonprofit group focused on healthcare quality, said it issued these first-ever scores Wednesday so consumers and employers can be aware of poorly performing hospitals before using them. The ratings are available online at http://www.hospitalsafetyscore.org. UCLA is mentioned.

See additional coverage: Kaiser Health News

Far from cities, children lack specialized care, HealthyCal.org

This is the first installment of two-part story on special needs children in rural California. For the second part of the story, an in-depth look at the lives of rural families with special needs children, click here. UC Davis is mentioned in both stories.

In El Salvador, tooth decay epidemic blamed on junk food, lack of information (video), PBS NewsHour

From El Salvador, graduates of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism — producer Roberto Daza and correspondent Carl Nasman — report on an epidemic of tooth decay across the countryside, blamed largely on junk food, soda and a lack of education about dental care. UC Berkeley professor Karen Sokal-Gutierrez, a pediatrician, is interviewed.

Herbert Pardes: University hospitals: Cost-efficient leaders in care and research, The Atlantic

This piece by the executive vice chairman of New York-Presbyterian Hospital about patient care costs and health care quality at academic medical centers references Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

UC Davis student wins coverage fight for ‘investigational’ cancer, The Sacramento Bee

On the day her doctor phoned to tell her she had cancer, Isabel Call scribbled notes through her tears, stunned by news of a monstrous illness that suddenly was threatening her life. Before long, the soft-spoken UC Davis graduate student would convert her notes into action.

Intimidation tactics?, Inside Higher Ed

This story reports on a committee of academic freedom investigation about allegations of intimidation and harassment against UC Davis professor of internal medicine Michael Wilkes.

S.F. VA Medical Center moving to Mission Bay, San Francisco Chronicle

Mission Bay will soon be welcoming a new tenant to its life science hub: the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The VA center is opening a 42,000-square-foot research center in Mission Bay once construction is complete in the late summer or early fall. Approximately 130 staff members will be relocated there from its campus on Clement Street in the Richmond District. With $83 million in expenditures last year, the center has the largest research program in the VA system. Last year, 37,000 patients passed through its doors, out of the 179,000 veterans the center serves in Northern California. Much of its work is focused on HIV/AIDS, dermatology and bone disease, areas in which it works in cooperation with UC San Francisco, which has a major center across the road from the new center in Mission Bay.

Amputees become athletes with prosthetic advances, San Francisco Chronicle

At UCSF this fall, physical therapists plan to hold the first clinic of what they hope will become an annual event intended to help amputees become athletes. The workshop will teach students to sprint, kick a soccer ball, shoot hoops, play flag football and climb rocks on a wall, among other activities.

See additional coverage: ABC 7 (video)

Type of stem cell may contribute to heart disease, San Francisco Chronicle

UC Berkeley scientists have discovered a type of stem cell that appears to lie dormant in blood vessel walls for decades before waking up and causing the arterial hardening and clogging that are associated with deadly strokes and heart attacks.

See additional coverage: NPR Science Friday (audio)

Pentagon push gives face transplants a major lift, Wired

This article reports on UCLA Health System’s launch of the West Coast’s first face-transplantation program.  Dr. Kodi Azari, chief of reconstructive transplantation and associate professor of surgery, is interviewed.

Sheryl Crow’s brain tumor: FAQ, WebMD

Dr. Marvin Bergsneider, professor of neurosurgery and director of the benign skull-based and pituitary tumor program and adult hydrocephalus program, is interviewed for a Q&A about Sheryl Crow’s diagnosis with benign meningioma, a cancer of the tissue lining the brain.

Scrutiny of health care training programs increasing, California Healthline

As California gears up to increase an understaffed health care workforce, private schools training health care workers of the future are coming under more scrutiny on several fronts. For example, the Center for the Health Professions at UC San Francisco is launching a research project examining health care training programs in California with special attention to private, for-profit programs.

UCSD graduates 123 doctors, City News Service

The UC San Diego School of Medicine graduated 123 doctors Sunday, eight of whom will also receive Ph.D.s and six who will also get master’s in clinical research, according to the university.

Pomeroy named to PRIDE Industries board, The Sacramento Bee

Claire Pomeroy, CEO of the UC Davis Health System and dean of UCD’s School of Medicine, has been named to the board of PRIDE Industries in Roseville.

UC Davis to lead effort to unite state medical records, Sacramento Business Journal

The UC Davis Health System is poised to take over the state’s troubled health information program after officials asked Dr. Ken Kizer of the Institute for Population Improvement to lead an effort to electronically link hospitals, doctors and emergency rooms statewide by 2014.

Geo-medicine new frontier in medical informatics, InformationWeek

Geo-medicine is a new field combining geographic information system (GIS) software with clinical databases to provide insights that might improve individual and population health. Estella Geraghty, assistant professor of clinical internal medicine at UC Davis, said that she sees growing interest in GIS healthcare and attributes this to the rise of mobile phone apps.

20 personalized medicine thought leaders to follow on Twitter, MedCity News

Dawei Lin, bioinformatics core director at the UC Davis Genome Center, has been listed as one of the tweeters to follow for the latest updates in personalized medicine.

New research from UCLA could explain the massive personality change of Phineas Gage (audio), KPCC The Madeline Brand Show

This show interviews Jack Van Horn, a UCLA assistant professor of neurology and a member of the laboratory of Neuro Imaging, on his research examining brain injuries suffered by Phineas Gage.  In 1848, Gage survived an accident in which a 43-inch iron rod was blasted through his left cheek and out of the top of his head.


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