CATEGORY: In the media

In the media: Week of Feb. 12

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Commentary: Medical research funding threatened, San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Afghan war vet speaks out (video), CNN

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

UC Davis Cancer Center pinpoints cancer therapies, The Sacramento Bee

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

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

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

UCSF boss blows up the boxes, San Francisco Business Times

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

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

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

UC Merced plans to grow, Merced Sun-Star

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

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

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

Speaking of sweethearts, San Diego Union-Tribune

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

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

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

Tony Gwynn having mouth surgery (video), ESPN

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

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

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

A reality check on the benefits of chocolate, KOMO News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Feb. 5

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

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

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

See additional coverage: San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

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

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

The Athena Breast Health Network (audio), KQED Forum

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

Expert: Calif. needs state trauma system, UPI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Liver tumor removal (video), The Doctors

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

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

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

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Jan. 29

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See additional coverage: The New York Times

Intellectual pursuits may help prevent Alzheimer’s, Boston Globe

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

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

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

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

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

Gaining on prostate cancer, The Wall Street Journal

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

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

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

Berkeley scientists reveal promising speech gains, San Francisco Chronicle

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

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times

Heart transplant teen thanks blood donors, The Orange County Register

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

Baby boomer brain power (video), ABC News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Jan. 22

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Stem cell study may show advance, The New York Times

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

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

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

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

See additional coverage: KQED Forum (audio)

UCSD buying Nevada cancer clinic, San Diego Union-Tribune

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can gossip be good? (audio), KQED Forum

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

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

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

Marijuana-based painkiller seeks FDA approval, Time

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

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

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

UC Davis Health buys Broadway office building, Sacramento Business Journal

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

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

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


CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Jan. 15

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UCSF seeks to ease ties with UC, San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

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

Thinking makes it go, San Francisco Magazine

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

Helping injured dogs walk again, The New York Times

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

See additional coverage: NBC Bay Area (video)

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

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

Blue Shield-UCLA dispute, LA Weekly

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

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

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

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

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

Teardrops could enable early detection of cancer, International Business Times

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

UCSF worm research challenges thinking on cells, San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See additional coverage: Merced Sun-Star



CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Jan. 8

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

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

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

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

Marijuana study a boost for supporters, San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iron builds a better brain, The Scientist

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

Endorphin study may help refine alcohol treatment, San Francisco Chronicle

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

Multi-million dollar gratitude project seeks researchers, Berkeley Patch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Jan. 1

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Dameron, UC Davis talk, The Stockton Record

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

Buff your brain, Newsweek

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

Traumatic stress linked to biological indicator, San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

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

See additional coverage: San Diego Union-Tribune

UC salary criticisms fuel student protests, The Orange County Register

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

Hand transplant receives waves in Rose Parade, The Associated Press

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

See additional coverage: CBS 2 (video)

San Diego hospital settles lawsuit on immigrants, The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paper denying HIV-AIDS link secures publication, Nature

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

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

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

Group wants pollution monitoring near CA freeways, The Associated Press

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

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

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

Drumming out fat in the new year, CNN

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

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

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

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

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

Belching yellow buses (audio), KQED Perspectives

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


CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Dec. 25

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

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

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

Computers implanted in brain could help paralyzed, San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yoga helps breast cancer survivors curb fatigue, Reuters

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

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

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

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Dec. 18

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

The Think Tank: How can California make the most of telehealth law?, California Healthline

For the second half of the 20th century, California was a leader on several fronts of health care’s evolution. California innovations and maturations in integrated delivery, managed care, stem cell research and electronic health records often set the agenda for national trends. Now California is poised to do it again with a 21st century innovation — telehealth. New state legislation (AB 415) passed this fall has the potential to move two-way audio-visual technology out of the realm of wonky oddity and into the mainstream, according to some industry experts. Expert commentary includes responses from Thomas Nesbitt of UC Davis, Catherine Dower of UC San Franciso and Molly Coye of UCLA.

30 Under 30: Science & Innovation, Forbes

Forbes’ list of 30 scientists under 30 includes postdoctoral candidate Rizia Bardhan of Berkeley Lab, graduate student Mozziyar Etemadi and QB3 fellow James Fraser of UC San Francisco,  graduate student Albert Mach of UCLA, and Ryan Tewhey of UC San Diego. Read more on UC Research.

50 People to Watch in 2012, San Diego Magazine

Santiago Horgan, UC San Diego Center for the Future of Surgery: Spotted on campus: A chief of minimally invasive surgery wearing a Hermès tie. At just 43, the Argentina native was the U.S.’s first doc to take out a patient’s diseased appendix through his mouth. Why go that route? It reduces pain and scars. After Horgan appeared on a top 10 list in TIME magazine, ER did a show on the appendix removal, and named the character “Dr. Horta.” Grey’s Anatomy did a show about his similar gall bladder trick. At UCSD, he just opened the world’s largest training site for minimally invasive surgical techniques.

The 50 best Mayo Clinic doctors. Ever, MinnPost

John Stobo, senior vice president at University of California Office of the President and a Distinguished Mayo Alumnus, is named to the top 50 list for his contribution to the field of academic health centers.

Two leaders in pain treatment have long ties to drug industry, ProPublica

UC Davis pain medicine physician is mentioned in this article about pain treatment and ties with the pharmaceutical industry. Read a response from UC Davis Health System here and a response from Fishman here.

Rob Summers willing to walk again (video), ESPN

The paralyzed former Oregon State pitcher is determined to stand, walk again, with help from UCLA researchers.

Takeda acquires San Diego’s Intellikine for $190M upfront, Xconomy

Japan-based Takeda Pharmaceuticals, which has its cancer drug development operations in Cambridge, Mass., said it is acquiring San Diego-based Intellikine to get ahold of the startup’s portfolio of cancer drugs. Intellikine, founded in September 2007 with a $12.5 million venture financing, grew out of science from the lab of Kevan Shokat at the University of California, San Francisco.

Top 5 San Diego science stories of 2011, San Diego Union-Tribune

You expect scientific achievement in San Diego; it’s one of the largest research centers in the country. But 2011 was an especially fruitful year. Here’s a snap shot of five particularly newsworthy achievements and events. UC San Diego is mentioned.

Inspectors find safety concerns with drug pumps at UCI hospital, Los Angeles Times

Officials at UC Irvine Medical Center have promised to correct problems found with the operation of drug-infusion pumps after an inspection by state and federal health regulators.

Class-action lawsuit filed over UCLA Health System data breach, California Healthline/Modern Healthcare

Attorneys have filed a class-action lawsuit seeking as much as $16 million in damages over a data breach that exposed the personal information of more than 16,000 patients at the UCLA Health System.

Little boy is a big giver (video), CBS 2

This story is about an 8-year-old Moorpark boy who led his second annual toy drive to benefit the pediatric patients at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. The boy, who has a chronic condition requiring frequent hospitalizations, collected more than 400 presents and delivered them to the hospital with his family. Amy Bullock, director of the hospital’s Chase Child Life Program, is featured.

Some toys may hurt child’s hearing, UPI

Some of the most popular Christmas toys, including Road Rippers Lightning Rods and the I Am T-Pain musical microphone, may hurt hearing, U.S. researchers say. Dr. Hamid Djalilian of the University of California, Irvine, and colleagues measured the noise levels of two dozen popular toys in stores and purchased the 10 loudest. Using a soundproof booth at UC Irvine Medical Center, the researchers found all exceeded 90 decibels and several reached 100 or more — equivalent to the noise of a chainsaw, subway train or power mower.

UCSD director appointed to Medical Board, San Diego Union-Tribune

Michael Bishop, director of anesthesia for same-day surgery at the UC San Diego Medical Center, has been appointed to the Medical Board of California.

Hand transplant woman to ride Rose Parade float, The Associated Press

The West Coast’s first hand-transplant recipient will ride the Donate Life float in the Rose Parade on Jan. 2.  Emily Fennel became the UCLA Hand Transplant Program’s first patient at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in March.

An Alzheimer’s researcher reveals: The best ways to ward off dementia, O, The Oprah Magazine

There was a time when forgetting a person’s name was merely embarrassing. In the age of Alzheimer’s, it can be frightening: early evidence, potentially, of a dreaded disease. The good news, according to Gary Small, MD, is that we may be able to do more to keep ourselves healthy than we think. As the director of UCLA’s Longevity Center, Small has spent the past two decades researching the ways lifestyle choices affect memory; in his new book, The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program, he argues that it is indeed possible to stave off this form of dementia.

Rich people lack empathy, study finds, The Huffington Post

Social psychologists are making an argument that Occupy Wall Street protesters have been saying for months: Many rich people just aren’t in the habit of thinking of others. According to researchers at UC Berkeley, people who grew up in economically comfortable circumstances are less attuned to the suffering of other people.

See additional coverage: Time

UCSF study challenges thinking on anorexia, San Francisco Chronicle

The standard approach to feeding patients hospitalized with anorexia nervosa – starting with a low number of calories and increasing them very gradually – is being challenged by new research from UCSF.

A look into the future of genetic medicine, San Diego Union-Tribune

The ability to manipulate the human genome – the collection of 30,000 or so genes that uniquely combine and interact to produce each human being – is indisputably compelling. Among other things, it promises a future when genetic diseases ranging from cystic fibrosis to schizophrenia might not just be cured, but prevented altogether. We asked two scientists at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine to assess recent developments: Bing Ren, a professor of cellular and molecular medicine who specializes in epigenetics, the study of how genes are changed by mechanisms beyond DNA, and colleague Kun Zhang, an assistant professor of bioengineering who focuses on stem cell research.

Commentary: Improving participant recruitment in clinical and translational research, Academic Medicine

In this commentary, top recruitment experts at UCSF urge academic medical researchers to embrace new methods for recruiting participants into clinical trials.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Dec.11

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

University of California, clerks’ union agree to two-tier pensions, The Sacramento Bee

The Coalition of University Employees – Teamsters Local 2010 and the University of California have agreed to a new labor contract that trades raises for a new pension plan tier and higher employee contribution costs for current employees and future hires.

Blue Shield coverage of care at UCLA medical centers may end, Los Angeles Times

A dispute between Blue Shield of California and the University of California’s health system over reimbursement rates could force thousands of patients at UCLA’s medical centers to seek treatment elsewhere if the disagreement is not resolved by Dec. 31.

See additional coverage: San Francisco Business Times, Kaiser Health News, California Healthline

Graduate students press for ‘humanitarian licensing’ vow in U. of California patent policy, The Chronicle of Higher Education

A graduate-student group that pushes universities to make health-related inventions affordable to poor people in developing countries is calling on thousands of researchers in the University of California system not to sign the system’s new patent agreement until university leaders commit to a comprehensive “global-access licensing” policy.

High school students try hand at surgery, The Orange County Register

A program at UC Irvine Medical Center aims to generate interest in medical careers.

Thinking Simply (video), BioCentury This Week

Former Genentech executive Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann, now the chancellor of UCSF, says conventional notions of secrecy and collaboration must be challenged to reduce the time, cost and uncertainty of drug development.

Chimp research is sharply curbed after critical report to NIH, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Using chimpanzees in medical studies involving AIDS, malaria, much of neuroscience, and several other areas is unnecessary, a major scientific report said on Thursday. After hearing these conclusions, Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, announced that “effective immediately, the NIH will not issue new awards for chimpanzee research.” Chimps have proven to be poor models for some diseases, such as AIDS, said a report co-author, Warner C. Greene, a professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco.

See additional coverage: McClatchy Newspapers

Flu shot mandate ups vaccination rate of hospital workers, MedPage Today

Implementing mandatory flu shot policies for healthcare workers more than doubled coverage rates, researchers found. Rates jumped from about 40% to more than 90% after influenza vaccination was made mandatory at UC Irvine, Susan Huang, M.D., M.P.H., of the institution, and colleagues reported in the January issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

Report: Fixing health law ‘glitch’ would expand subsidies to tens of thousands, The Hill

Fixing a glitch in President Obama’s healthcare reform law would allow an extra 144,000 Californians to benefit from the law’s promise of affordable coverage, according to a new report from the University of California at Berkeley and UCLA. The proposed fix would have similar effects on states across the nation.

UC Davis puts ‘humanity’ in medical school curriculum (audio), Capital Public Radio

Experts say better doctor-patient communication can improve patient compliance and reduce malpractice suits. One program at UC Davis medical school is working to make doctors better communicators.

At hospital, two signals on eating and health, The Bay Citizen/New York Times

This story reports on a study by researchers from UCLA and the RAND Corp. showing that less than 10 percent of meals at California children’s hospitals can be considered “healthy.”


CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Dec. 4

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Stanford, UCSF to test ultrasound for cancer pain, San Francisco Chronicle

Scientists at Stanford and UCSF are recruiting patients for two clinical trials to test the use of ultrasound waves, as an alternative to traditional radiation therapy, to ease pain in people whose cancer has spread to their bones.

UC Berkeley creates first online degree program, San Francisco Business Times

UC Berkeley has created its first online degree program — a master’s degree in public health. Earning a degree will cost about $52,000 to $59,000. Students, starting in spring 2012, will be able to earn an M.P.H. degree in two and a half years by doing 85 percent of their coursework online and going to three sessions on campus that total 15 days. Courses in the program will be offered all year round — spring, summer and fall terms. Cal’s School of Public Health created the program to help fill a nationwide shortage of 250,000 trained public health professionals.

Several Calif. facilities named to list of top hospitals nationwide, California Healthline

The Leapfrog Group has named several hospitals in California to its 2011 list of top U.S. hospitals. The list includes UC San Diego Health System.

See additional coverage: City News Service

Federal government sues UCSD Medical Center over job bias, Los Angeles Times

The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit alleging that the UC San Diego Medical Center has discriminated against new employees who are not citizens by requiring them to present more documentation than is required of citizens. “All workers who are authorized to work in the U.S. have the right to work without encountering discrimination because of their immigration status or national origin,” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general in the civil rights division. A UCSD Medical Center spokeswoman said that the medical center has been working with Department of Justice representatives since January to insure that its employment verification system complies with federal law.

State fines Scripps Memorial for surgery error, San Diego Union-Tribune

Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla was among 14 California hospitals issued administrative penalties Thursday for errors that caused or could cause serious injury or death to patients, state health officials said. This is the sixth penalty Scripps Memorial has received since the California Department of Public Health began issuing them in 2007 — more than any other hospital in the county. Statewide, UC San Francisco Medical Center is the only other hospital to get six penalties, exceeded only by Southwest Healthcare System in Riverside County, which has been hit with seven since 2007, state records show.

See additional coverage: California Healthline, SF Weekly, The Bay Citizen

CPMC spends far less on poor, S.F. report says, San Francisco Chronicle

California Pacific Medical Center, including its St. Luke’s campus, is San Francisco’s most profitable hospital, yet it spends proportionately far less on care for poor residents than other private nonprofit hospitals in the city, according to a new report. California Pacific Medical Center and St. Luke’s averaged an annual net income of nearly $149 million between 2006 and 2010, almost 12 times the combined annual profit of the other private, nonprofit hospitals required to report to the city the amount of charitable care they provide to indigent and low-income residents. But the report released Thursday by UC Hastings College of the Law found the hospital, which is affiliated with the Sutter Health network, spends considerably less than other hospitals on charity care when compared with the amount of money received per patient.

UCLA study on health food at children’s hospitals, San Francisco Chronicle

They took away the deep fryer at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, and it’s just a matter of time before the sodas are gone too. At UCSF, the dedicated non-dieter can still buy a cheeseburger and french fries at the main cafeteria, but might be hard-pressed to find a Snickers. In the cafeteria at Children’s Hospital Oakland, apples have replaced candy bars at the checkout counter, where impulse buyers do their last-minute grabs. Many hospital cafeterias have undergone major overhauls in the past decade or so, replacing grease- and salt-laden hot lunches with salad bars and grilled vegetarian plates. But they’re still setting a pretty lousy example for the patients, visitors and employees who eat there, at least according to one study out of UCLA published last week.

See additional coverage: The Sacramento Bee (UC Davis Medical Center cafeteria gets top rating for healthy food)

Pot, narcotics OK to treat pain, UCSF study finds, San Francisco Chronicle

Inhaled marijuana appears to be a safe and effective treatment for chronic pain when used in addition to narcotics like morphine and oxycodone, according to a small UCSF study that is the first to look at the combined effects of the two classes of drugs in humans.

Maintain muscle tissue with regular exercise, San Diego Union-Tribune

A Q&A with Simon Schenk, an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery and a core director at the National Skeletal Muscle Research Center at the University of California, San Diego.

Many U.S. men with low-risk prostate cancer should delay or forgo treatment, panel says, The Washington Post

This article is about a National Institutes of Health panel’s recommendation for men with low-risk prostate cancer to wait and see if their disease progresses before treating it . Dr. Patricia Ganz, director of cancer prevention and control research at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and panel member, is quoted.

What phantom limbs and mirrors teach us about the brain, BBC

In a lab in Southern California, scientists are curing the previously incurable with little more than a mirror, and changing our understanding of the brain in the process. In mid-November the team at the University of California, San Diego, announced the results of a small pilot study which suggests that a simple mind trick involving mirrors can help ease the pain of osteoarthritis, a condition that affects one in 10 people.

CIRM puts up $5.6M to recruit stem cell researcher to UC Berkeley, San Francisco Business Times

UC Berkeley’s attempt to woo stem cell researcher Zhigang He from Children’s Hospital Boston got a $5.6 million boost from California’s stem cell research funding agency.

Poisoning cancer cells with sugar, Digital Journal

A new two-part therapy combining a modified sugar molecule with two cancer killing drugs causes many types of cancer cells to “commit suicide” by apoptosis, a type of programmed cell death, researchers at UC San Diego and Kyushu University wrote.

A growing number of registered nurses in California, U.S., Los Angeles Times

If the trend continues, say researchers at the Rand Corp., there may be enough nurses by 2030 to meet the projected needs of aging baby boomers and the expansion of the health care system. The article quotes UCSF professor Joanne Spetz and nurse Michelle Panlilio, who has a master’s degree from UCLA, and includes a photo of UCLA nurses.

New California nursing graduates find it hard to get hired, The Sacramento Bee

California has spent at least $95 million in federal, state and private funds in the past decade to double the number of nursing graduates by expanding college programs and grants. As recently as three years ago, hospitals were offering moving expenses, housing allowances and signing bonuses to recent graduates of nursing schools. But today, some new grads are happy to be offered an unpaid internship. That’s because fewer nurses are retiring during the recession, and hospitals are saving money by turning to veteran or temporary nurses who don’t need expensive training. The article quotes Timothy Bates, a program analyst at the Center for the Health Professions at UC San Francisco and mentions UC Davis Medical Center.





CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Nov. 27

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

New hope of a cure for HIV, The New York Times

Medical researchers are again in pursuit of a goal they had all but abandoned: curing AIDS. Until recently, the possibility seemed little more than wishful thinking. But the experiences of two patients now suggest to many scientists that it may be achievable. One man, the so-called Berlin patient, Timothy Brown, apparently has cleared his HIV infection, albeit by arduous bone marrow transplants. Brown now lives in San Francisco and is a patient at UCSF. The article quotes UCSF’s Steven Deeks and Jay Levy and mentions research at UCLA.

See additional coverage: Time, The Washington Post, Pasadena Star-News, NBC San Diego, ABC 7 (video)

Oz at the CareNow Clinic (video), The Dr. Oz Show

Nearly 4,000 people lined up for the chance to receive free medical care at the largest free health clinic this year. Dr. Oz shares the stories of people he met and treated, including a breast cancer patient being treated by UCLA physicians. View the next part here.

UC and Stanford rank high in earnings from business spinoffs, San Jose Mercury News

Stanford University and the University of California continue to be fertile breeding grounds for breakthrough technologies, generating many millions of dollars in annual income for two schools that have played a central role in building Silicon Valley. Despite continuing difficult economic conditions, in 2010, Stanford collected $65.5 million from the commercialization of its inventions, up slightly from $65 million in 2009, according to a new survey from the nonprofit Association of University Technology Managers. The 10 campuses in the University of California system also did well, earning a total of $104.5 million in licensing income — up slightly from last year’s earnings of $103.1 million. The article mentions that UC’s technology transfer program generates about half of its licensing revenues last year from five patents. Among them: a Hepatitis B vaccine, a treatment for intercranial aneurysms and a bovine growth hormone.

Stem cell science gets new home in La Jolla, San Diego Union-Tribune

The quest to figure out the nature of stem cells and how to use them to treat disease will greatly expand Tuesday with the opening of the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, a $127 million center in La Jolla that will draw scientists from five major research institutions. The 150,000-square-foot complex will be the largest of its kind in California, housing 335 people, including such eminent scientists as Salk Institute geneticist Fred Gage and biologist Martin Friedlander of The Scripps Research Institute and scientists from the UC San Diego, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute and the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology.

The economics of stem cell research (audio), KPCC

Stem cell research is expensive. But advocates say it will one day yield cures that could save Americans billions in long-term healthcare costs. California is now a world leader in stem cell research. Backers of the science believe this field will not only save lives but possibly save the state’s economy as well. UCSF/Gladstone researcher Bruce Conklin is interviewed.

UC students push for affordable medicine, San Diego Reader

Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, an organization largely comprised of medical students across the country, is pushing University of California faculty to refrain from signing a new patent agreement until the system takes steps to ensure that medicines developed in its research facilities will be made affordable to those in developing nations. In the recently decided Stanford v. Roche case, the Supreme Court awarded the rights to a Stanford professor’s research to Roche, a private pharmaceutical company. In response, the University of California sent a letter on November 15 asking faculty to sign a patent agreement with stricter controls over UC’s rights to its own research.

UC regents approve pay hikes for 12 staffers, Los Angeles Times

Even as they dealt with student protests over economic inequities and rising tuition costs, the University of California regents this week approved salary raises of between 6.4% and 23% for 12 highly ranked administrators and attorneys, most of whom now earn more than $200,000 a year. The action has renewed debate about the university’s efforts to retain what it describes as important talent while it seeks more state funding and considers further fee increases. Coming as Occupy protests disrupted the regents meeting, the raises struck some critics of UC as inappropriate and likely to anger taxpayers and legislators. Those mentioned include the COO of the UC Davis Health System, four campus vice chancellors and six campus chief counsels. Read a related opinion piece here.

Must hospital cafeteria food be healthful?, The Wall Street Journal

California children’s hospitals aren’t dishing up particularly healthful fare, a new study shows. Researchers from UCLA and the Rand Corp. report in the journal Academic Pediatrics that of the 16  food venues serving 14 hospitals studied in July 2010, 81% offered unhealthful “impulse items” — think freezers stocked with ice-cream treats — near the cash register. Only 31% offered nutrition information at the point of purchase, while just 25% sold whole-wheat bread.

UCD Med Center logs 70% jump in income, The Sacramento Bee

UC Davis Medical Center posted a 70 per- cent jump in income in 2011, even as patient visits and hospital stays fell slightly, according to financial statements released this week.

Sale would preserve Nevada Cancer Institute’s mission, board chairman says, Las Vegas Sun

The Nevada Cancer Institute, whose joint mission of research and outpatient treatment was jeopardized by financial stresses, was breathed new life Friday in a deal that turns it over to the University of California, San Diego.

The birth of biotech, San Francisco Business Times

A reception for the launch of a book about Genentech ’s early days attracted a technology and finance Who’s Who of the time — guys who ended up with their names on the door like David Morganthaler (Morganthaler Ventures) and Tom Perkins (Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers). There were also Roberto Crea and Herb Heyneker, among Genentech’s first scientists. But there were notable absences, too: founders Herb Boyer, the former UCSF scientist whose work laid the platform, and the late Bob Swanson, the out-of-work VC who saw its potential. Boyer was suffering from a severe sinus infection. Swanson’s memory was well served by his widow, Judy Swanson.

A scientist’s life: 10 things UCSD’s Todd Coleman has done, San Diego Union-Tribune

Meet Todd Coleman, an associate professor of bioengineering at the University of California San Diego. Coleman, 34, develops “epidermal electronics,” thin, wireless, wearable sensors that researchers believe will soon be used for everything from monitoring a person’s heartbeat to studying brain activity.

Actors help arm medical students for real life (video), CBS Early Show

This segment spotlights the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA’s standardized patient program, which hires professional actors to portray difficult patient cases designed to teach medical students interpersonal and communication skills in a less pressurized setting than the clinic.  Medical students Molly Diaz and Cathryn Haeffele are interviewed.

Mental health needs high, treatment low, California Healthline

About two million Californians are under stress and need some kind of mental health care – and are not getting the help they need, according to a UCLA study.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times, KQED, UPI

Operation Mend (video), KTLA 5

An interview with UCLA’s first Operation Mend patient who described the program’s effect on him. UCLA Dr. Timothy Miller, one of the program’s lead surgeons, also is interviewed. Operation Mend is a partnership between UCLA, Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio and the Los Angeles Greater V.A. Medical Center.

Medical breakthroughs you need to know about: Heart transplant (video), The Doctors

A segment on an experimental organ-care system that delivers donor hearts in a warm, beating state.  Dr. Abbas Ardehali, principal investigator of the multicenter study and director of the UCLA Heart Transplant Program, is interviewed.  The segment also features the story of a 41-year-old UCLA heart transplant recipient who participated in the trial.

The Infection Files: Dirty cookstoves pose risk for childhood pneumonia and death, Los Angeles Daily News

This column by Dr. Claire Panosian Dunavan, UCLA clinical professor of medicine, division of infectious diseases, explores how the use of wood, coal and animal dung for indoor cooking and heating in poorer countries can contribute to pneumonia.  A UC Berkeley study is mentioned.

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