A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:
Regents approve UC tuition hike, Los Angeles Times
The University of California regents on Thursday raised tuition 9.6% for the fall, a controversial second increase that students decried as too large and too late for a school year that is just weeks away. Still, the regents granted a very large pay increase to Mark Laret, chief executive officer of UC San Francisco’s medical center, to counter an out-of-state recruitment offer.
See additional coverage: The Sacramento Bee, San Francisco Chronicle
UC allots $3.4M in grants for patient care, Sacramento Business Journal
The University of California’s new Center for Health Quality and Innovation has awarded nine grants totaling $3.4 million to UC faculty and staff to improve patient care throughout California. Read UC press release.
See additional coverage: California Healthline
Training doctors as a shortage looms, San Diego Union-Tribune
Experts say the country faces a looming shortage as baby boomer doctors age, with nearly a third of physicians expected to retire in the next decade. Federal health-care reforms will hasten the shortage as millions of people get health insurance and regular medical care for the first time. At the same time, too few are being trained as doctors. While medical schools are slowly expanding, residency training programs face limited expansion because their revenue comes in large part from Medicare, which capped much of its funding at 1996 levels. The shortage is expected to be acute for doctors in primary care. All of that served as a backdrop in San Diego this summer, as 127 students graduated from the UCSD School of Medicine as doctors last month and scattered to join residency programs across the country. Meanwhile, dozens of newly minted M.D.s started residency programs at UCSD Medical Center and other San Diego hospitals.
The Think Tank: How can California solve family physician shortage?, California Healthline
With a shortage of primary care physicians, lack of resources to educate new ones and low Medi-Cal reimbursement rates discouraging physicians from treating low-income patients, California’s health care system is facing a scarcity of physicians on the eve of a major expansion. California has nine medical schools, with a 10th and 11th in the planning stages. A proposed medical school at UC Riverside is caught in a predicament: The school did not receive preliminary accreditation partly because the national accreditation panel had concerns the school would not get state funding. Another medical school — still early in the planning stages — is proposed at UC Merced. Think Tank contributors include Catherine Dower of UC San Francisco and G. Richard Olds, dean of the UC Riverside School of Medicine.
Medical program at UC Merced right on track, Merced Sun-Star
Even though the opening for UC Riverside’s Medical School was pushed back a year, UC Merced’s medical program is on schedule. The UC Merced San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education (PRIME) will start this fall, and its first cohort of students will be on campus and throughout the community next week. The plan was to select six students. They will be introduced Monday through Wednesday to the community and the media in Merced and Fresno, said Fred Meyers, executive associate dean of UC Davis School of Medicine and executive director of Medical Education and Academic Planning for UC Merced.
Charles R. Drew University removed from academic probation, Los Angeles Times
Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science was removed from academic probation by its accrediting agency this week, the latest indication the South Los Angeles medical school is recovering from recent financial woes. University leaders cite improvements made during the last year, including a new governing board, new strategic plan for growth and $10 million in funding from the University of California.
When fatty feasts are driven by automatic pilot, The New York Times
“Bet you can’t eat just one” (as the old potato-chip commercials had it) is, of course, a bet most of us end up losing. But why? Is it simple lack of willpower that makes fatty snacks irresistible, or are deeper biological forces at work? Some intriguing new research suggests the latter. Scientists in California and Italy reported last week that in rats given fatty foods, the body immediately began to release natural marijuanalike chemicals in the gut that kept them craving more. UC Irvine study author Daniele Piomelli is quoted.
Risks: Perhaps July’s reputation is justified, The New York Times
Until recently there was little proof that medical errors spike in the summer when new medical trainees start working at teaching hospitals — a phenomenon known as the “July effect.” But a new review has found evidence that death rates do increase in July, and that many patients stay in the hospital longer than in other months. The paper, published Tuesday in Annals of Internal Medicine, is believed to be the first systematic review of the data from previous studies. The article quotes UC San Francisco’s John Q. Young, the paper’s lead author.
New for aspiring doctors, the people skills test, The New York Times
Doctors save lives, but they can sometimes be insufferable know-it-alls who bully nurses and do not listen to patients. Medical schools have traditionally done little to screen out such flawed applicants or to train them to behave better, but that is changing. At least eight medical schools in the United States — including those at Stanford, UCLA and the University of Cincinnati — and 13 in Canada are using the multiple mini interview, or M.M.I.
Telome Health of Menlo Park tests age of DNA, San Francisco Chronicle
A feature on Telome Health Inc., founded by Cal Harley and UCSF Nobel laureate Elizabeth Blackburn, along with CEO Dan Hunt, UCSF social psychologist Elissa Epel and UCSF biologist Jue Lin. The Menlo Park company provides telomere analyses for $199, making it the first to offer affordable, accessible telomere testing for the public. Telomeres, which Blackburn discovered, are the tiny protective caps on the ends of DNA.
Gates invests more money in innovative medicine, The Associated Press
Using microwaves to kill malaria parasites and developing a way to give fetuses immunity to HIV are among the dozen ideas the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation thinks are worth more research dollars, after giving more than 500 scientists seed money to take an initial look at some far-out concepts. A dozen scientists or teams of researchers will each get an additional $1 million over five years to take their ideas to the next level and see if they have the potential to save lives, the foundation announced Wednesday. Those funded feature two UCSF researchers, including Mike McCune, who is quoted in the article.
QB3 spotlights University of California science, ‘American Idol’-style, San Francisco Business Times
They aren’t exactly Simon Cowell or Randy Jackson, but a team of biotech pioneers is helping QB3 raise its scientific profile with an “American Idol”-like approach.
Big NIH grants show Bay Area still at center of HIV fight, San Francisco Business Times
The Bay Area continues to innovate at the center of the fight against HIV, winning a couple of major National Institutes of Health grants aimed at HIV reservoirs. Dr. Steven Deeks and Dr. Mike McCune of UC San Francisco will work with Rafick-Pierre Sekaly of the Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute of Florida to define the nature and location of reservoirs — cells where HIV may be undetectable for years — and how those reservoirs are created and maintained. What’s more, researchers will develop and test targeted treatments that eliminate HIV reservoirs without broadly activating the immune system, which could activate the virus. The project, which includes Merck Research Labs and teams from UC Davis and other sites, could receive more than $20 million, including $4.2 million in the first year.
Drug makers refill parched pipelines, The Wall Street Journal
The pharmaceutical industry, after years of research flops that led some to write its obituary, shows signs it is coming back to life. Hopes of spurring immune-system attacks on cancer had frustrated researchers. But in the 1990s, a scientist then at UC Berkeley, made a discovery: A certain molecule was serving as a kind of traffic cop, telling the immune system’s attack cells when they should launch an assault and when they should hold off. The scientist, James Allison, couldn’t interest big pharmaceutical companies in exploring this. At that time, they saw themselves as competing against academic scientists. Only small biotechs were interested. Eventually, Dr. Allison joined with one called Medarex Inc. in Princeton, N.J., to see if they could release the molecular brakes on the immune system and let it attack a tumor. Their work caught the attention of Bristol-Myers. In 2004, Bristol-Myers formed a partnership with Medarex.
Clue to what makes Lyme bacteria tick, The Wall Street Journal
A UC Davis research study shows that the Lyme bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, migrates to the lymph nodes where it triggers an immune response that is strong, but not strong enough to clear the infection. By letting the organism evade an effective immune response, it can cause repeat infections. Lyme disease is a growing public health concern.
Few surveyed small and midsize physician practices use electronic health record system functions that are seen as essential components of the patient-centered medical home model of care, according to a Health Affairs study, InformationWeek reports. Steven Shortell — a co-author of the study, and dean of the School of Public Health and professor of health policy and management at UC Berkeley — said that small practices may have fewer resources than larger groups, so it could take them longer to use the full range of EHR functions.
An affliction of the cornea gets a closer look (audio), NPR Morning Edition
Kaley Jones didn’t know what hit her. She was just 17, sitting in her history class, when she realized she suddenly couldn’t read what was written on the white board. Nor could she make out the faces of her classmates. Jones’ doctor referred her to a specialist, Anthony J. Aldave, a corneal transplant surgeon at UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute. Just seven months after her initial diagnosis, Jones received a cornea transplant, and eventually got one in the other eye, too. The improvement in her vision was immediate.
Technology might give elders independence, HealthyCal
When the UC Davis Medical Center opens its Telehealth Resource Center next summer, the four-story, $36 million building will be used to train “the next generation of clinicians how to use home telehealth technologies (which) expand the reach of healthcare and can help address important needs in a rapidly increasing population,” said Thomas Nesbitt, associate vice chancellor for Strategic Technologies and Alliances at UC Davis.
Sweet revenge, chefs pour on the sugar, The Wall Street Journal
Peter Havel, professor and researcher on the metabolic effects of dietary sugars at UC Davis, says that a diet high in fructose has been shown to raise lipids and reduce insulin sensitivity. These negative effects do not occur with glucose.
Fewer Californians than ever call themselves smokers, San Diego Union-Tribune
State health officials hailed a new study Wednesday showing fewer Californians than ever say they smoke. The article quotes UCSD cancer researcher Dr. John Pierce, a nationally recognized leader in tobacco smoking and cessation studies who led a UCSD study published last year in the Journal of Pediatrics that found teenagers who had a favorite cigarette ad were 50 percent more likely to start smoking.
California state fair to continue live farm-animal birth exhibit, The Sacramento Bee
Joan Dean Rowe, a UC Davis veterinarian, will be supervising the care of farm animals at the California State Fair this year. Rowe says that officials are committed to giving the animals the best possible care and ensuring their safety at these events.