CATEGORY: In the media

In the media: Week of Dec. 28

A sampling of news stories involving UC Health:

University of California system boosts surplus thanks to higher volume, rates, Modern Healthcare

The University of California medical centers, which include the state’s five public teaching hospitals, more than doubled their combined operating surplus on higher patient volume and payment rates in their fiscal 2014, according to their latest financial report.

Commentary: UC Riverside med school stresses preventive care, U-T San Diego

When people ask me why we started the UC Riverside School of Medicine last year — the first new public medical school on the West Coast in more than four decades — I talk about the need for well-trained doctors in inland Southern California. But we also wanted to demonstrate that a health care system that rewards keeping people healthy is better than one which rewards not treating people until they become terribly ill, writes G. Richard Olds, founding dean of the UC Riverside School of Medicine.

UC Davis developing way to make Ebola drug, Sacramento Bee

The National Science Foundation has awarded UC Davis a $200,000 “fast response” grant to develop a wide-scale production method for the experimental Ebola treatment ZMapp. The ZMapp treatment is a cocktail of antibodies produced and extracted from whole tobacco plants. The drug is new, and it made news recently when it was given to two American health care workers who contracted Ebola while working in West Africa. The university team was chosen for the grant because it owns patents related to the technology needed to make ZMapp on a larger scale. “We’ll be using technology we developed at UC Davis back in the late 1990s,” said Raymond Rodriguez, professor of molecular cell biology at UC Davis and co-researcher on the team.

UCSF doctor helps fight recent surge of Ebola cases in Sierra Leone, San Francisco Examiner

For many in San Francisco, Thanksgiving weekend was a time to catch up with family, gorge on turkey and spend hours plunked in front of a television watching football. But some 7,000 miles away in West Africa, the hot spot of the world’s worst Ebola outbreak was about to shift from Liberia to Sierra Leone for the first time since the epidemic began early this year. “Nobody realized it was getting really bad,” said Dr. Dan Kelly, a UC San Francisco clinician who has immersed himself in the outbreak and traveled to Sierra Leone about half a dozen times since the summer to provide health care training. “It wasn’t until … around Thanksgiving and early December that it spiraled out of control,” he said.

Ebola’s lessons, painfully learned at great cost in dollars and human lives, Washington Post

A year after it began, the Ebola epidemic in West Africa continues to be unpredictable, forcing governments and aid groups to improvise strategies as they chase a virus that is unencumbered by borders or bureaucracy. The people fighting Ebola are coming up with lists of lessons learned — not only for the current battle, which has killed more than 7,500 people and is far from over, but also for future outbreaks of deadly contagions. Ebola surveillance and research is now getting abundant funding, but Ebola isn’t necessarily the most dangerous pathogen that humanity could face in the near future. “We’re always chasing what just happened,” said Jonna Mazet, a professor of epidemiology and disease ecology at UC Davis and the director of the Predict project, a disease-surveillance program funded largely by USAID and operating in 20 countries. The project Mazet oversees has set up dozens of labs in the developing world. It has tested thousands of animals — bats, rats and monkeys among them — and identified about 800 previously unknown viruses.

UCLA uses ‘physician informaticists’ to win over medical staff, U.S. News & World Report

While other hospitals talk about the need for “physician champions” to convince medical staff to adopt technology, a major academic medical center has gone a few steps further, expanding its brand of medical informatics specialists. For nearly three years, UCLA Health System, an affiliate of UCLA, has offered the services of “UCLA physician informaticists,” a team now numbering 16.

Why eating red meat raises cancer risk, U-T San Diego

Red meat elevates the risk of cancer because it contains a chemical that’s unnatural to human biology, according to a new study by UC San Diego scientists.

If you’re toasting to health, reach for beer, not (sparkling) wine, NPR

What’s the healthiest libation for ringing in the New Year? Beer, says Charlie Bamforth, a professor of brewing sciences at the University of California, Davis. Though it’s been blamed for many a paunch, it’s more nutritious than most other alcoholic drinks, Bamforth says.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Dec. 21

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Most Influential 2014: Dr. Susan Huang, Orange County Register

Dr. Susan Huang, medical director of epidemiology and infection prevention at UC Irvine Medical Center, is profiled. In 2014, Huang published 19 research papers, and she has more coming. Her research has led to changes in medical practices. For example, her research on preventing MRSA infections in intensive care units by bathing patients daily with an antiseptic soap was adopted in 2014 by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and is now a recommended protocol and common practice in hospitals nationwide. She’s also studying more accurate methods for hospitals to publicly report infections, and because of her research, this year the state and federal governments began using billing data to validate a type of infection acquired during colon and and hysterectomy procedures.

Can AIDS be cured?, The New Yorker

UCLA and UC San Francisco are mentioned in this feature about AIDS research.

LA County probation officer’s kidney transplant save mom, stranger (video), ABC Los Angeles

This story reports on the first meeting of kidney donor Michael Valdez and recipient Danielle Jones. Valdez, a 37-year-old Los Angeles County probation officer, had wanted to donate to his mother, but was incompatible. Instead, he donated his kidney to 30-year-old Jones, a Las Vegas school teacher, as part of a kidney transplant chain in which his mother, Nora Cruz, received a kidney from a Maryland donor.

Boy, 11, with rare disease delivers 1K toys to Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA (video), CBS Los Angeles

A story on Casey Abrams, an 11-year-old boy who collected more than 1,000 toys and delivered them to the Chase Child Life program at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. Casey, who suffers from a very rare progressive and degenerative disease, has been a frequent patient at UCLA since birth. When he was 6 years old, he had to spend the holidays in the hospital, but was given toys on Christmas.

From Mongolia to Oakland, a desperate quest to save a child, San Francisco Chronicle

In the days after his 5-year-old daughter died from a rare brain disease, Gan-Erdene Ganbat’s desperate focus turned to his younger child, Nomin. Just 3 years old, she was already showing symptoms similar to her big sister’s. She was losing her speech, falling too often, walking slower than her peers. It was an unimaginable terror, foreseeing the same fate for a second child, and it sent Ganbat and his wife into a frantic search for the only treatment that promised any hope. In their native Mongolia, there was no way to get the drug: an experimental therapy available only in clinical trial. They were determined not to run out of time as they had with their older daughter. After more than a year of searching and fighting, Nomin started taking the drug in November at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. The hospital is one of only five sites in the world studying the treatment that Ganbat believes will save his daughter’s life.

Do you have a sugar belly? UCSF’s SugarScience educates the public on the truth behind added sugar, Synapse

SugarScience is a website developed by UCSF to act as an authoritative source for the scientific evidence about the effects of sugar on health and disease. It aims to educate the public and provide resources for medical professionals. It was launched in November 2014. Laura Schmidt, principal investigator of the project, is professor of health policy in the UCSF School of Medicine. She discusses the project’s launch and early success.

UC Davis Health System stays the course with a flat bottom line, Sacramento Business Journal

The UC Davis Health System reported net income of about $47 million for fiscal year 2014, according to figures released this week. That’s roughly the same as last year, after taking new pension reporting rules into account. ”We had a stable year,” said Ann Madden Rice, chief executive officer at the UC Davis Medical Center.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Dec. 14

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Op-ed: It took 40 years for California to build a new public medical school, Zocalo Public Square

When people ask me why we started the UC Riverside School of Medicine last year – the first new public medical school on the West Coast in more than four decades – I talk about the need for well-trained doctors here in inland Southern California, writes Founding Dean G. Richard Olds. But we also wanted to demonstrate that a healthcare system that rewards keeping people healthy is better than one which rewards not treating people until they become terribly ill. As we build this school, we have a focus on wellness, prevention, chronic disease management, and finding ways to deliver health care in the most cost-effective setting, which is what American health care needs. We also teach a team approach to medicine — another necessary direction for our health care system.

UC trumps Stanford in pushing entrepreneurship, QB3 head says, San Francisco Chronicle

Neuroscientist Regis Kelly has watched the Bay Area’s life-science industry blossom. As executive vice chancellor at UCSF, he oversaw the construction of its Mission Bay campus. Since 2004, he has directed the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, or QB3, a network of biologists at UCSF, UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz. A major part of QB3 is its four incubators, in which scientists turn discoveries into companies. Those startups have raised more than $500 million. This month, Kelly took on a new challenge: senior adviser on innovation and entrepreneurship to UC’s Office of the President. In addition to keeping his job at QB3, he’ll help market technologies developed at UC’s 10 campuses and three national laboratories. His work will complement UC Ventures, a new $250 million fund that will invest in those inventions. A Q&A with Kelly.

UCLA institute to help biologists, doctors mine ‘big data’, Los Angeles Times

This story reports on the announcement of the creation of UCLA’s new Institute for Quantitative and Computational Biosciences, which will mine “big data” for new disease diagnostics and treatments.

UCLA study authors urge greater awareness of older Californians falling, California Healthline

More than a half million older Californians have fallen more than once during the past year, according to new research underscoring the severity of a national public health trend with medical costs exceeding $2 billion annually. A new study from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research names falls as “the leading injury-related cause of death and of medical care use among older Californians.” The study’s author and the center’s associate director Steven Wallace urged greater awareness about the risks of falling. He also encouraged health practitioners to ask questions and make recommendations to patients to help prevent future falls.

Video of boy hearing for the first time goes viral (video), CBS Los Angeles

A special report on a 2-year-old who received a cochlear implant at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.  Video of him giggling the first time he heard his parents’ voices went viral around the world. Dr. Arineh Khachatoorians, senior audiologist at the UCLA Audiology Clinic, is interviewed.

Commentary: Registered nurses are Ebola fighters and scientists/researchers, The Huffington Post

Kimberly Baltzell, director of the UC  San Fransiciso School of Nursing Center for Global Health, co-writes this piece about the role of nurses in fighting Ebola.

Bill introduced to create statewide health care cost, quality database, California Healthline

Legislation to create a statewide health care cost and quality database was introduced this month in Sacramento. The bill, SB 26 by Sen. Ed Hernandez, is considered a step toward cost transparency meant to inform consumers about true costs of health care products and services and encourage providers to develop more cost-effective programs. The bill directs California HHS to contract with a not-for-profit organization over the next two years to create and administer the California Health Care Cost and Quality Database. The database would be created and available for public searches by Jan. 1, 2019. Another cost comparison effort is under way in California. The state Department of Insurance has an agreement with the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at UC-San Francisco to collect and analyze data for a database reflecting health care costs and quality in specific geographic regions. The database is scheduled to be online next summer. The work is funded by a $5.2 million grant under the Affordable Care Act.

New state law allows community colleges to offer four-year degrees, California Healthline

A new state law due to take effect Jan. 1, 2015, creates a pilot program under which 15 California community colleges can offer four-year degrees as long as they do not duplicate the fields of study offered by the University of California or California State Universities. Some proposed degrees are in health care fields. “As patients are being treated with more and more complexity and are being taken care of at their home, health providers need more education to do that very well,” said Joanne Spetz, assistant director for research strategy at the UC San Francisco Center for the Health Professions.

California border residents grapple with out-of-state health insurance restrictions (audio), Capital Public Radio

Capital Public Radio’s health reporter Pauline Bartolone traveled to the town of Quincy, California, where major insurers Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California aren’t covering routine out-of-state care. This is the first of a three-part series. Dylan Roby, assistant professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, is interviewed.

California study finds abortion complications very rare, Reuters

Less than one quarter of one percent of abortion procedures result in major complications, a very low rate that is comparable to minor outpatient procedures in the U.S., according to a study of more than 50,000 women. “We reviewed every emergency department visit in detail, all return visits to the original abortion provider, visits to primary care doctors, or any other health care provider and included any complications that were diagnosed or treated,” the study’s lead author told Reuters Health by email. “Our results suggest that abortion is safe,” said Ushma D. Upadhyay of the University of California, San Francisco. And the extremely low complication rate further suggests that state laws requiring abortion providers to have hospital admission privileges “will have limited benefits,” she said.

China’s e-cigarette boom lacks oversight for safety, New York Times

This year, Chinese manufacturers are expected to ship more than 300 million e-cigarettes to the United States and Europe, where they will reach the shelves of Walmart, 7-Eleven stores, gas station outlets and so-called vaping shops. The devices have become increasingly popular, particularly among young adults, and yet hundreds of e-cigarette manufacturers in China operate with little oversight. Experts say flawed or sloppy manufacturing could account for some of the heavy metals, carcinogens and other dangerous compounds, such as lead, tin and zinc, that have been detected in some e-cigarettes. Scientific studies hint at a host of problems related to poor manufacturing standards. “We’ve found on the order of 25 or 26 different elements, including metals, in the e-cigarette aerosols,” says Prue Talbot, a professor of cell biology at UC Riverside, and co-author of several of the studies. “Some of the metal particles are less than 100 nanometers in diameter, and those are a concern because they can penetrate deep into the lungs.”

UC Davis wants to save a million cats (audio), KGO Radio

The Koret Shelter Medicine Program at UC Davis has partnered with the shelter medicine program at the University of Florida to create a program to save the lives of one million cats in shelters.The program aims to put pressure on animal shelters to save the lives of cats by adopting initiatives like reforming the process for admitting cats to shelters, making cats easier to adopt by decreasing the cost and processing barriers, or returning vaccinated cats back to live on the streets.

Hajj pilgrimage ‘leads to annual spike in severe air pollution’ in Mecca, International Business Times

The annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca leads to a spike in severe air pollution, with “dangerously high levels” reached every year. Research reported at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco looked at air samples taken during the 2012 and 2013 Hajj pilgrimages. This year, over two million pilgrims made their way to Mecca for the six day event in October. As well as many choosing to drive to the holy site, many use their cars to drive to and from same places every day while there. Isobel Simpson, a UC Irvine research chemist who took part in the study, is quoted.

Your commute may be hazardous to your health, Los Angeles Magazine

Diana Winston, director of mindfulness education at UCLA’S Mindful Awareness Research Center, and Dr. Karol Watson, professor of cardiology and director of the UCLA Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Health Program, are quoted in this story on how traffic can impact one’s health.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Dec. 7

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

When cancer is not cancer, California Sunday Magazine

Hundreds of thousands of women have likely been overtreated for breast tumors as others continue to die. One doctor says it’s time to make a change — Laura Esserman, director of the Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center at the University of California, San Francisco.

Disrupting cancer (video), CBS 60 Minutes

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong is turning heads with unconventional ways of treating the deadly disease. UCLA is mentioned.

A friend gave her an antibiotic; now she’s fighting for her life (video), CNN

It started with a sore throat on Thanksgiving and an antibiotic from a friend who wanted to help. Now 19-year-old Yaasmeen Castanada is fighting for her life inside a California hospital’s burn unit, suffering from an allergic reaction that’s so severe she has large open wounds all over her body. Doctors diagnosed Castanada with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, a rare disease that can be triggered by antibiotics or other medications. Now Castanada, the mother of a 4-month-old, is in critical condition at the University of California, Irvine, burn center. Her prognosis is good, even though the disease has a high mortality rate, according to Dr. Victor Joe, the center’s director.

See additional coverage: ABC Los Angeles (video), New York Daily News, Orange County Register, UPI, USA Today

Got an earache? S.F. startup says a smartphone’s the cure, San Francisco Chronicle

CellScope, a San Francisco startup, believes that telemedicine’s next frontier is buried under earwax. The company makes a case that slides over the iPhone and transforms it into an otoscope, the device doctors use to peer into patients’ ears. The gadget comes with a lens that enables the smartphone to film quality videos of the ear canal and eardrum. Amy Sheng and her co-founder, Erik Douglas, met in 2009 in a UC Berkeley laboratory run by bioengineering and biophysics professor Daniel Fletcher. Douglas was a postdoctoral student, Sheng a part-time graduate student at the business school. Her full-time job was to manage one of his projects: an attempt to create simple, cell phone-based microscopes that could be used to remotely diagnose malaria and other diseases in developing countries. The project attracted so much outside interest that the pair spun the technology out of UC Berkeley, formed the company in 2010 and joined Rock Health, a San Francisco digital health accelerator.

Innovation awards: And the winners are …, The Economist

UC Berkeley chemical engineering professor Jay Keasling has been awarded The Economist’s annual innovation award for bioscience, in recognition of his development of synthetic artemisinin, a derivative of the wormwood plant, used to treat malaria.

UC Davis Medical Center helps newborns miles away, Sacramento Bee

When a baby is born, a hospital’s delivery team knows almost immediately if something is wrong – a blue face, a concerning rash, the absence of a healthy screech. For some rural facilities lacking specialized staff and equipment, the question is how to keep the newborn healthy until help from a bigger hospital arrives. At the UC Davis Center for Health and Technology, telehealth experts are determined to deliver virtual care, especially emergency neonatal care, to remote facilities across Northern California. The Pediatric Emergency Assistance to Newborns Using telehealth, or PEANUT program, started this summer and is providing a handful of rural nurseries with access to lifesaving consultations and training via web-based video. The general telehealth program, established at Sacramento’s UC Davis Medical Center in 1996, aims to provide health care over a distance, minimizing cost and travel time for patients in remote areas.

Free clinics run by med students on the rise, HealthDay News

The number of medical student-run free clinics at U.S. medical schools has doubled in the last decade, according to a new study. In 2005, there were about 110 student-run free clinics at 49 medical schools that belonged to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). This new study found just over 200 such clinics at 86 AAMC-member medical schools. More than half of all medical students are involved in such clinics, Dr. Sunny Smith, of the University of California, San Diego, and colleagues found.

With ‘die-in,’ UCSF medical students urge doctors to fight racism, KQED

The din of excited chatter grew as the crush of UC San Francisco medical students put on their white coats and distributed picket signs saying “black lives matter” Wednesday, instructing one another to tag their Tweets and Instagram photos #WhiteCoats4BlackLives. But at 10 minutes past noon, when the group laid down in unison in front of the medical school’s library on Parnassus Avenue, it was eerily silent. Many students closed their eyes. Some held hands. Passers-by stopped to watch and police officers lingered in the background. More than 100 medical students participated in the “die-in” at UCSF Medical Center, lying down as if dead just outside the doors to the hospital. They joined the wave of protests following the grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York not to indict white police officers involved in killing unarmed black men. These students were emphasizing how racism affects health care. Similar “die-ins” were held nationwide, including at other UC medical schools.

See additional coverage: Sacramento Bee, Capital Public Radio, Bustle, OCWeekly, Washington Post

Ebola’s lasting impact on the U.S. health care system, Huffington Post

One of the biggest humanitarian tragedies in 2014 has been the Ebola epidemic, which to date has infected 17,942 people and killed 6,388. The epidemic continues in West Africa, and there is no doubt it will impact the governments, economies and people of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea for years to come. But while Ebola has affected the U.S. in a much smaller way, the handful of cases that arrived here may also have an enduring impact on the U.S. health care system. Those quoted in this story include Dr. Stuart Cohen, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and director of hospital infection control at the UC Davis Health System; Dr. Susan Huang, a professor of medicine at UC Irvine Medical School and the medical director of epidemiology and infection prevention at UC Irvine Health hospital; and UCSF Associate Chief Medical Officer Dr. Adrienne Green.

UC San Diego expects to be part of California’s Ebola preparedness, response, California Healthline

UC San Diego Medical Center officials expect to be part of California’s ramped-up preparedness efforts to treat patients with Ebola. A series of initiatives launched in the past six months to improve the safety and effectiveness of care at hospitals around the state to respond to the deadly virus raging in West Africa is culminating this month. CDC announced last week that 35 hospitals nationally — including four in Northern California — have been designated as Ebola treatment centers. Several hospitals in Southern California — including the UC San Diego Medical Center — are expected to achieve CDC designation as Ebola treatment centers in the coming weeks. The designated California hospitals are the UC San Francisco Medical Center, the UC Davis Medical Center, Kaiser Oakland Medical Center and Kaiser South Sacramento Medical Center. The UC San Diego Medical Center was expected to have a site visit from CDC officials last week in order to obtain designation as an Ebola treatment center, said Chief Medical Officer Angela Scioscia.

Doctor nearly killed by Ebola shares story of survival at UCSF (video), CBS San Francisco

A few months ago, Dr. Ian Crozier was in Sierra Leone, working with the World Health Organization, in the fight against Ebola. He never dreamed the virus would nearly kill him. “I feel very, very grateful to be here, literally,” Crozier said. Crozier shared his story of survival at a roundtable at UCSF Medical Center, and in front of students and staff. His message: “There’s a great deal left to be done lest we get complacent about this epidemic.”

New director of autism center plans greater reach, Orange County Register

UC Irvine Health autism specialists are expanding their program to reach not just young children, but also teens and young adults. The shift in focus came once they realized how few resources are available for older children, adolescents and young adults, says Catherine Brock, the new executive director for the Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders of Southern California. The center also has more than doubled its staff from 12 to about 35 over the last year, broadening the range of experts and of services offered. A Q&A with Brock.

Finding help and hope on the spectrum, Orange County Register

The Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders has adopted an ambitious mission: to become the nation’s premier center for evaluation, treatment, education and research for the wide range of autism spectrum disorders. The center’s partnerships now extend to CHOC Children’s, Chapman University and UC Irvine – enhancing their services with a powerful blend of education, community engagement and groundbreaking research. Center Executive Director Catherine Brock is quoted and Dr. Robin Steinberg-Epstein is mentioned.

Preeclampsia during pregnancy raises autism risk, CBS News

As autism rates continue to rise in the U.S., researchers are searching for reasons why. Even though children don’t typically show signs of autism until a few years after birth, some of the most significant risk factors may actually be encountered in-utero. A new study finds children born to mothers who had preeclampsia during pregnancy are as much as twice as likely to develop autism spectrum disorder. Preeclampsia is a complication during pregnancy in which a mother develops high blood pressure and often kidney damage. The symptoms can come on suddenly, typically late in her second trimester or early in the third. The condition, which affects approximately 5 to 8 percent of all pregnancies, can be fatal to a mother if left untreated. The latest research indicates that the sicker a mother was with the disease, the more likely autism may occur in their child. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of California Davis MIND Institute and published in JAMA Pediatrics, involved 1,000 children age 2 and 3 years old.

We may be able to reverse signs of early Alzheimer’s disease, CNN

Dr. Dale Bredesen, the Augustus Rose Professor of Neurology and director of the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research at UCLA, is featured in this article about his preliminary study that reversed memory loss in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Robotic arms aid UCLA doctors with invasive surgeries (video), ABC Los Angeles

This story reports on a new surgical technique performed with the help of a robot to successfully access a previously unreachable area of the head and neck. This pioneering method can now be used safely and efficiently in patients to remove tumors that many times were previously thought to be inoperable, or necessitated the use of highly invasive surgical techniques in combination with chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Dr. Abie Mendelsohn, assistant professor-in-residence, Department of Head and Neck Surgery, and member of UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, is interviewed.

Schools work to improve vision health, EdSource

This story reports on a study by Dr. Anne Coleman, the Fran and Ray Stark Foundation Professor of Ophthalmology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and director of the Stein Eye Institute’s mobile eye clinic, finding that 95 percent of students who need eyeglasses still don’t have them one year after their mandatory vision screening in kindergarten. Coleman is quoted.

Port of Oakland truck pollution drops 76 percent in black carbon, San Jose Mercury News

Lung-damaging diesel air pollution at the Port of Oakland is down dramatically since a state law forced truckers to use cleaner burning engines starting in 2010, according to new data from a team of UC Berkeley researchers. And the gains in clean air likely are even greater because the law’s emission limits became more stringent at the beginning of the year, after the study had ended, researchers said. Thomas Kirchstetter, an air quality scientist at UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, and other researchers tested 2,000 trucks by dangling an air sampling device from a bridge over SeventhStreet in West Oakland, which is a route from Interstate 880 to the port. He started testing in 2009 before the 2010 law went into effect. Then he continued testing from 2010 through 2013 when trucks were required to put a diesel particle filter on their exhaust pipes.

Online tool helps pediatricians assess weight loss in newborns, The Carlisle Sentinel

Using weights obtained from more than 100,000 Northern California babies, a new study is the first to detail the weight loss patterns of exclusively breastfed newborns. The results show that some breastfed babies lose weight faster and for a longer period than was previously recognized. The investigators have captured their findings in an online tool that is the first of its kind to help pediatricians determine whether exclusively breastfed newborns have lost too much weight in the first days of life. The Newborn Weight Tool, or Newt, was developed by the study’s senior author, Dr. Ian Paul, professor of pediatrics and public health sciences at Penn State College of Medicine and pediatrician at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, and Eric Schaefer, a statistician at Penn State College of Medicine, along with researchers at UCSF and Kaiser Permanente.

Mobile health faces a bumpy road in rural California, Los Angeles Times

Older adults in California’s rural communities in 2007 were more likely to be overweight or obese than their counterparts in cities and suburbs, a 2011 analysis by researchers at the UCLA Center for Health Policy research found. Rural seniors also had relatively high rates of heart disease, diabetes and falls.

Study: Doctors paid more for multiple procedures than for multiple patients, U.S. News and World Report

Highly-paid doctors make more money ordering multiple procedures for individual patients than they earn seeing multiple patients, according to a study released Dec. 8 by the UCLA Department of Urology and the Veterans’ Health Administration. The findings, described as “very surprising” by UCLA researchers, suggest the payment reform many expected under the Affordable Care Act has yet to be realized.

How I Made It: Arlene Blum, Los Angeles Times

UC Berkeley visiting chemist and lecturer Arlene Blum is profiled for her achievements in science and mountaineering. She has fought to have the health risks of flame retardants understood and minimized, and in 1978 she led the first American climbing expedition on one of the most difficult and dangerous peaks in the Himalayas of Nepal – Annapurna 1. The interview concludes with the following: “Vision and a good team are the keys to success, whether it’s climbing a mountain or making furniture safer, Blum said. ‘You go slowly up the mountain, step by step. … There are storms and avalanches, but you keep plodding up the mountain to make it to the top.’”

Why most people won’t shop again for health insurance, The New York Times

You may have noticed when you last subscribed to a magazine that the company put you on an automatic renewal plan. Instead of sending you a letter when your subscription was about to lapse and asking you to take steps to renew, most now keep your credit card on file and keep extending your subscription unless you take steps to stop it. In general, people have a bias toward the status quo — and a bit of laziness. That’s why similar auto-renewal policies are showing up all over the place. For most businesses, it pays if the default option is that you remain their customer. Auto-renewals are also a key feature of the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplaces. “You’re more likely to stick with the choice you’ve already made if you’re not sure you’re going to benefit from switching,” said Benjamin Handel, an assistant professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, who has studied inertia in employer health plans. His research found that workers were losing as much as $2,000 a year by staying in their insurance plans.

S.F.’s quirky Exploratorium science museum goes global, San Francisco Chronicle

The Exploratorium, that quirky, hands-on science museum on the Embarcadero, is spreading its exhibits to exotic places, from Turkey to Abu Dhabi and beyond — and as close to home as the new children’s hospital soon to open in Mission Bay. Helping educators in far-off countries to duplicate the Exploratorium’s unique approach to visual games and learning was the high-priority mission of its founder, the physicist Frank Oppenheimer, when he helped start the first one in China more than 40 years ago. When the new UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, a six-story model of modernism, opens in San Francisco’s Mission Bay on Feb. 1, its halls, lobby and waiting rooms will hold 15 new Exploratorium exhibits ready to stimulate its young patients. The hospital exhibits are all specially designed to be accessible to children, whether they walk the corridors or stop by in wheelchairs.

Do’s and don’ts of your startup’s next pitch for cash, San Francisco Business Times

Startup biotech companies are hot on science, but they can run cold when it comes to pitching themselves to investors. So QB3, the three-campus University of California effort to shepherd lab breakthroughs closer to patients, brought together a dozen entrepreneurs to teach them the do’s and don’ts of pitching potential backers. Capping a seven-week workshop that included weekly pitches that zeroed in on what entrepreneurs learned the previous week, the companies will make their final presentations Dec. 9 at Byers Hall on the Mission Bay campus of UC San Francisco. After each gives a five-minute pitch, the roughly 400 people expected for the event — voting via text messages — and judges each will select a winner.

Op-ed: Biotech industry needs to be nurtured, Sacramento Bee

Todd Gillenwater, president and CEO of the California Healthcare Institute, writes thatCalifornia has been associated with risk-taking, entrepreneurship and innovation since the Gold Rush. Today, California is still an innovation engine in such varied sectors as agriculture and the Internet. But only one homegrown industry can stake a claim as a leading contributor to our state’s economy and the health of people around the world: the life sciences sector. Combining our world-class universities and research institutes, venture capital-backed startups and global biotechnology and medical device corporations, California leads the world. Our world-class universities and research institutions are the starting points for groundbreaking biomedical research, Gillenwater writes, adding that it’s critical that the Legislature supports the University of California and California State University systems, science and math education at all levels and common-sense regulatory policy.

Learning more about virtual medicine (video), Fox 40

Sonseeahray Tonsall sits down with Dr. Dean Blumberg of UC Davis Health System to find out more about virtual medicine.

How successful people squash stress, Forbes

Research from UC Berkeley, UC Davis and UC San Francisco is mentioned in this piece about stress.

UC Davis Medical Group signs big lease on Folsom Boulevard, Sacramento Business Journal

Medical Group is leasing a building at Folsom and Alhambra boulevards, with clinical and medical offices coming to the space in about a year. “It’s a consolidation where they will bring six to seven offices together under one roof,” said Mike Stassi of CBRE Sacramento, who represented the landlord in the deal at 3160 Folsom Blvd. “This gives them some efficiencies and synergies.”

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Nov. 30

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Eight years of scientist’s life for one paper, U-T San Diego

Eight years is a long time to hold a scientific career in suspense. Those eight years ended Nov. 17 for UC San Diego scientist Steven F. Dowdy, when a marathon study he led was published in Nature Biotechnology. The study outlined an intricate method of delivering an important new class of RNA-based drugs into cells. These drugs stop diseases at their genetic roots, with great precision. The study, which has 16 co-authors, proved the concept in cells and live mice. If the method works in people — which has yet to be demonstrated — these RNA drugs could be used far more widely than they are now.

22 California hospitals included in Leapfrog Group’s ‘Top Hospital’ list, California Healthline

Nearly two dozen California hospitals made the Leapfrog Group’s 2014 list of “Top Hospitals,” including UC Davis and UC San Diego medical centers.

UCLA Health radically improves patient satisfaction scores (audio), HCE Exchange

Dr. David T. Feinberg, president of UCLA Health System in Los Angeles, explains how the organization’s patient satisfaction scores rose from the 38th percentile to the 99th.

Choosing niche might be key to success for health care accelerators, California Healthline

Health care accelerators in Northern California are developing niches to avoid stepping on each other’s toes, according to the author of new research. Accelerators — technology-based approaches to traditional health system challenges — are accelerating. In 2012, there were about two dozen efforts that fit the definition. Now there are 115 in the world, 87 of them in the United States, according to the recent report, “Survival of the Fittest: Health Care Accelerators Evolve Toward Specialization.” The report — commissioned by the California HealthCare Foundation, which publishes California Healthline — identifies several Northern California accelerators taking different approaches to the entrepreneurial gauntlet. The story highlights UC’s QB3 accelerator and UCSF’s Catalyst program.

Possible treatment emerges for Gulf War Syndrome, U-T San Diego

More than 20 years after Operation Desert Storm, at least 175,000 U.S. military veterans claim a broad range of mysterious symptoms known as Gulf War Syndrome. The medical establishment has voiced skepticism toward their complaints about things such as fatigue, digestive distress and recall problems. Sure, some doctors say, a lot of civilians have those health challenges, too — especially as they age. But a UC San Diego physician has long taken a different view, and now her research is focusing on a possible treatment in the form of a simple, over-the-counter supplement. Dr. Beatrice Golomb, a professor and researcher with the university’s medical school, recently published a study that showed some success against the syndrome with a high-quality brand of coenzyme Q10.

Chocolate, memory food, The Atlantic

A contentious finding made news last week: People who eat a lot of food that contains trans fats have poorer memories than people who don’t. At Scientific Sessions 2014, a meeting of the American Heart Association in sunny Chicago, doctors announced results of a study that found the link between eating foods high in these specific fats and performing poorly on word-recall tests. It’s a loose association, but an important idea. “Trans fats were most strongly linked to worse memory in young and middle-aged men during their working and career-building years,” said lead researcher Beatrice Golomb, a professor of medicine at UC San Diego.

No Southern California hospital on federal Ebola treatment list, Los Angeles Times

Four California hospitals have been included on a federal government list of 35 facilities “designated as Ebola treatment centers.” Two — UC Davis Medical Center and Kaiser South Sacramento Medical Center — are in the Sacramento region. Two others — UC San Francisco Medical Center and Kaiser Oakland Medical Center — are in the Bay Area. None of the facilities listed Dec. 2 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are in Southern California. The curious distribution of the Ebola treatment centers in the state may have more to do with the U.S. CDC’s process of assessing readiness than any shortcomings in preparation efforts, officials suggested Dec. 2, noting that Southern California facilities would probably join the list in about a week. California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ronald Chapman said Tuesday that Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, UC San Diego Medical Center, UC Irvine Medical Center and Kaiser Los Angeles Medical Center would be inspected by CDC teams this week. Chapman said his agency “is confident the CDC visits in Southern California will result in recognition that these four hospitals can also serve as Ebola treatment centers for Californians if needed.”

Two Sacramento hospitals appear on CDC list of Ebola treatment centers, Sacramento Bee

Federal health officials on Dec. 2 named two Sacramento hospitals on its list of 35 national Ebola treatment centers that are ready to treat confirmed or suspected cases of the deadly virus. Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center and UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento are two of only four California facilities on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services list. The other two are also in Northern California: the UC San Francisco Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center. A U.S. CDC team, in collaboration with state health officials, has to conduct an on-site assessment before a hospital can be federally designated. The CDC Rapid Ebola Preparedness team is expected to assess three Southern California UC hospitals — Los Angeles, Irvine and San Diego — as well as Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, in the next week, said state health officer Dr. Ron Chapman in an email. Carol Robinson, UC Davis Medical Center’s chief patient care services officer, is mentioned.

Two Bay Area hospitals cleared by CDC to treat Ebola patients, KTVU 2

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control released a list of 35 hospitals in the country Tuesday that are now certified to accept patients stricken with the deadly Ebola virus, including Kaiser Hospital in Oakland and UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco. “As long as we have health care providers from the United States and California who are going to help in West Africa, we need to be prepared,” said Dr. Adrienne Green, a UCSF associate chief medical officer. “We feel as if it’s a really important service we can provide.” Two other Northern California hospitals, UC Davis Medical Center and Kaiser in Sacramento are also Ebola certified. There are no Southern California hospitals on the list, yet. The CDC is visiting some of the facilities there this week.

4 Northern California hospitals only ones on West Coast to be named Ebola treatment centers, San Francisco Business Times

Four Northern California hospitals, including two Kaiser Permanente medical centers and two University of California facilities, have been designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Servicesto care for Ebola patients. The four — Kaiser Oakland Medical Center, Kaiser South Sacramento Medical Center, UCSF Medical Center and UC Davis Medical Center — are the only California hospitals to make the list of 35 designated centers, compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More facilities will be added to the list as other hospitals become fully equipped to treat Ebola patients, CDC officials said. The list, issued Dec. 2, didn’t include any hospitals in Southern California or elsewhere on the West Coast. Dr. John Stobo, the University of California system’s senior vice president for health sciences and services, noted late Tuesday that three additional UC medical centers — UCLA, UC Irvine and UC San Diego — are expected to receive similar designations by the federal government as Ebola treatment centers in the near future.

See additional coverage: California Healthline, Contra Costa Times, Capital Public Radio/Associated Press, Santa Rosa Press Democrat

UCSF doctor returning from Liberia sees improvement in Ebola outbreak, but says rural areas remain vulnerable, San Francisco Examiner

The Ebola crisis appears to be improving in Liberia, but a number of ongoing challenges will likely hinder complete eradication of the deadly virus, at least in the immediate future, said a UC San Francisco doctor who recently returned from the West African nation. Doctors and nurses have been instructed to wear personal protective equipment, even when treating patients not suspected of having Ebola, and to burn the used gear, said Dr. Phuoc Le, who spent last month teaching infection-control training to health care workers in Liberia. Le is one of about 10 UCSF-affiliated health care workers to have traveled to Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa since August, said Dr. George Rutherford, who co-chairs the UCSF Ebola Task Force. The university is one of five UC medical centers designated by California health officials as those positioned to accept patients with Ebola.

See additional coverage: NBC Bay Area (video)

Is nearsightedness an epidemic?, U.S. News and World Report

For Christine Wildsoet, a professor of vision science and optometry at the University of California–Berkeley, the coffee shop hosts some of the worst offenders. There are the new moms chatting while their babies are parked in front of iPads, and the dads reading while their toddlers play games on cellphones. “I just don’t know what the implications of new technology [are] going to be” on kids’ eyesight, says Wildsoet, who studies myopia, or nearsightedness, a condition experts say is beginning earlier in life, worsening later in life and rising to epidemic levels worldwide. In the early 1970s, about 25 percent of 12- to 54-year-old Americans were myopic. By the 2000s, more than 41 percent had the condition, research finds. Wildsoet and her team have trouble finding non-myopic controls for their studies, and clinicians like Maria Liu, head of Berkeley’s Myopia Control Clinic, see children as young as 4 with severe myopia.

UCSF scientists peer more deeply into sensory processing disorder, San Francisco Chronicle

Sensory processing disorder is often seen in children with autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but new research suggests it also exists independently from those conditions, affecting between 5 and 16 percent of school-age kids. Last year, a team led by Elysa Marco at UCSF became the first to uncover evidence that the brains of boys with SPD are measurably different from neurotypical boys of the same age and IQ. Now, those researchers want to dig deeper into the world of children with the disorder. While the first study compared brain images from boys with SPD to boys who don’t have it, UCSF is now performing a similar study with scans from girls’ brains. They’re also looking deeper at the boys, watching how their neurology responds as it encounters sensory input, said Pratik Mukherjee, a professor of radiology and biomedical imaging and bioengineering at UCSF and one of the authors of last year’s study. UCSF is also exploring the genetics behind SPD to see whether children with the condition have any differences in their DNA — and whether those differences are the same ones they’ve seen in kids with autism.

UCSF study seeks to create better prosthetic limbs, San Francisco Chronicle

Monkeys were able to integrate visual information with direct brain stimulation and improve their ability to reach for and grab an object in a study that demonstrates how scientists might be able to create more natural prosthetic devices for humans. A team of UCSF scientists studied monkeys that were trained to grasp items that had been blocked from their view. The animals’ actions became faster and more efficient when they were able to follow the movement of their arms on a computer screen at the same time that their brains were stimulated with electrical signals that gave them information about the location of their arms in relation to the objects they were trying to grab.

Meet the first undocumented med-school student at UC San Francisco (video), National Journal

College advisers didn’t know what to say to Jirayut Latthivongskorn. The premed student was about to graduate from UC Berkeley and he wanted to go to medical school. But they’d never heard of a medical school admitting someone in his situation. Was it even possible?”People who were supposed to have answers were telling us that they didn’t know how to help us,” said Latthivongskorn, who was born in Thailand and moved to the San Francisco Bay area when he was 9 years old. So Latthivongskorn and two other undocumented classmates decided to do their own research. They called admissions offices, mentors, and friends around the country to see if they knew a fellow “Dreamer” who had made it into medical school. No one did. Although California’s public universities have a policy of admitting undocumented students at the undergraduate level, no such policy exists for graduate schools. It started to seem unlikely that Latthivongskorn would get into the school of his dreams: UC San Francisco, one of the top-ranked medical schools in the country. Latthivongskorn applied to the school in 2012 after graduating from UC Berkeley.

California medical leaders join to boost health insurance enrollment (audio), KPCC

This story reports on a press conference at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center announcing Covered California’s new partnership with the California Medical Association and several other health care provider associations to help educate uninsured consumers about affordable health care coverage available through the state’s health insurance marketplace.

Headed for disaster: What we know about traumatic brain injury, NBC News

Dr. David Hovda, professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and director of the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center, is featured in this story about how head injuries suffered while playing football can damage a player’s brain.

How to train your voice to be more charismatic (audio), The Wall Street Journal

This story reports on a new study that sheds light on how vocal pitch, frequency and timbre contribute to a person’s charisma.  Lead author Rosario Signorello discovered that successful politicians in various countries share key vocal qualities that strongly affect how people respond to them–independent of the meaning of the words they say or the ideas they express.  Signorello, a postdoctoral scholar in head and neck surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; Dr. Jody Kreiman, a professor of head and neck surgery; and Dr. Bruce Gerratt, a professor of head and neck surgery and the director of speech pathology and audiology at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, are quoted.

UCLA-backed m-health project aids at-risk women using fitness app, Los Angeles Times

Qiana Sago and 39 other young African American women at Faithful Central Bible Church recently participated in a UCLA-backed clinical trial that used a smartphone app to track their eating and activity and teach them healthful diet and exercise habits. She says the smartphone app that kept track of her diet and activity level helped keep her honest. “You can’t cheat. The phone showed that you did the work. It kept track every time you moved.” Many such mobile health, or “m-health,” programs are in their infancy. But researchers and advocates for underserved, hard-to-reach patient groups hope they soon will contribute to major advances in the treatment of diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions.

Academic Minute: Gary Small, UCLA — teens and screens (audio), Inside Higher Ed

Smart phones are everywhere these days.Gary Small of UCLA details the effects increased screen time is having on us, especially among teens. Small is a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences and Parlow-Solomon Professor on Aging at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine.

Curious curiosity (audio), KPCC

Neuroscientists at the University of California, Davis, are curious about curiosity.  Does it help humans learn?  The team had volunteers read trivia questions—and note which questions they were most curious about.

Young cancer patients benefit from more teen-friendly treatment centers (video), NBC Today Show

This story on teen cancer features the Daltrey/Townshend Teen & Young Adult Cancer Program based at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica. Alec Kupelian, a patient of Dr. Noah Federman, director, UCLA Pediatric Sarcoma Program, is interviewed in the story.

How girls are developing earlier in an age of ‘new puberty’ (audio), NPR

Many girls are beginning puberty at an early age, developing breasts sooner than girls of previous generations. But the physical changes don’t mean the modern girls’ emotional and intellectual development is keeping pace. Two doctors have written a book called “The New Puberty” that looks at the percentage of girls who are going through early puberty, the environmental, biological and socioeconomic factors that influence when puberty begins, and whether early puberty is linked with an increased risk of breast cancer. Julianna Deardorff is a clinical psychologist and is on the faculty of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. Louise Greenspan is a clinical pediatric endocrinologist at Kaiser Permanente and is on the faculty at UC San Francisco.

Teen brains don’t even process mothers’ criticism, scientists discover, MTV News

A team of researchers, including UC Berkeley public health professor Ronald Dahl, has found that teenagers’ brains “shut down social processing” when parents give them negative feedback. On the other hand, teenagers who received positive feedback were more likely to listen to criticism, indicating that parents may want to focus more on what teens are well.

Too many are getting unnecessary prostate treatment, UCLA study says (audio), KPCC

A UCLA study of U.S. men over 66 with slow-growing prostate cancer found that nearly half of those who are not expected to live long enough to benefit from surgery or radiation are nevertheless getting it, despite national guidelines to the contrary.

Two UC medical centers dropping Medi-Cal managed care contract, California Healthline

Health Net and two University of California medical centers agreed to sever ties on a Medi-Cal managed care contract. As of Jan. 1, that means roughly 4,300 patients will need to find new providers. According to Health Net, letters announcing the change have been mailed to patients and they should be receiving the notices now. The negated contract affects about 3,700 patients in Sacramento County and an additional 600 in San Diego County, according to Health Net officials. Phyllis Brown, senior public information officer at UC Davis, is quoted.

E-referrals close loop in smoking cessation initiative, HealthData Management

Health care providers in the UCLA Health System will soon be able to send an “eReferral” for tobacco cessation through CareConnect, the patients’ electronic health record, to the California Smokers’ Helpline. The helpline, based at UC San Diego, offers free telephone counseling and follow-up support that UCLA officials claim doubles the chances of long-term quitting. Referred patients cared for in the UCLA Health System as inpatients or outpatients will then receive a call from a helpline counselor within one to two business days. The ordering provider will, in turn, receive a CareConnect results message from the helpline about the interaction with the patient.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Nov. 23

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Randy Schekman: first, a breakthrough in cell research. Now for one in publishing, The Guardian

There is a knock at the door early on in my interview with Nobel prize-winning cell biologist Randy Schekman at his office at UC Berkeley, overlooking San Francisco Bay. The 2014 Nobel prize in physiology or medicine was announced in the early hours, California time, and one of his colleagues is calling by for a gossip. Schekman shared the 2013 prize with James Rothman of Yale University and Thomas Südhof of Stanford University for his role in working out how cells, the smallest units of life, transport and secrete proteins. Those proteins are much-needed molecules such as hormones, digestive enzymes and neurotransmitters. Schekman’s share of the prize was for discovering a set of genes required for transporting the proteins through and out of the cell in the small packages – called vesicles – in which they hitch a ride. Schekman didn’t bask in the glory. Instead, he decided to speak out about what he sees as the distorting effect elite journals have on the scientific enterprise.

For life-saving invention, Timothy Chuter earns high royalties, San Francisco Chronicle

Until the early 1990s, repairing aneurysms in the abdomen was a messy, risky procedure that involved slicing patients open. Dr. Timothy Chuter wanted a better way. To prop up weak blood vessels at risk of rupturing, the young, aspiring surgeon devised a fabric-covered metallic tube, or stent graft, that was just an inch in diameter and about a half-dozen inches long. Minimally invasive yet effective, it has become the default fix for these aneurysms and saved untold lives. What seems like a straightforward solution to a vexing problem has paid off handsomely for Chuter, now a vascular surgeon at UCSF. His unique stent graft designs are licensed to Cook Medical, a Bloomington, Ind., company that sells them to hospitals around the world. The widely used devices generated $2.3 million in royalties for Chuter in the last half of 2013 alone. That was one of the 10 largest royalty payments from pharmaceutical companies to doctors nationwide, and the largest in Northern California, according to data recently released by the federal government.

How to stop the next Ebola: Call in the veterinarians, National Journal

How do you find the next Ebola, the next rabies, the next West Nile before it comes to infect humans? You actively look for it in the wild. That’s what the University of California (Davis) is doing by deploying teams of veterinarians into zoonotic hot spots around the world—in Africa, Asia, Central America, and South America—to detect outbreaks in animal populations before they get out of control. Through their Predict initiative, funded through USAID, they also empower local governments by giving them the tools to detect and diagnose strains without having to ship samples abroad. ”We’re looking for viruses in viral families that have had a lot of zoonotic diseases, especially ones that have high pandemic potential—viruses like influenza, viruses like MERS, flaviviruses [e.g., encephalitis],” Christine Kreuder Johnson, a UC Davis veterinarian and epidemiologist, says.

See additional coverage: Sacramento Business Journal

Bay Area nurses, hospitals clash over Ebola training, Contra Costa Times

Fear has sparked a vigorous debate over how much preparation and training is enough for health care workers to deal with the Ebola virus, after two Texas nurses contracted the disease from an infected patient. Bay Area hospitals are pursuing various approaches, with some focusing on training select staff members while others train more broadly. Some are opting for hands-on instruction while others resort to online training modules. The lack of a clear plan prompted thousands of nurses around the Bay Area to take to the streets last week to demand that their hospitals step up their efforts. Hospital administrators responded by saying the action had more to do with labor negotiations than Ebola training, adding that they are doing all they can to protect those on the front lines of the virus. Dr. Adrienne Green, associate chief medical officer at UCSF Medical Center, and Maureen Dugan, a nurse of UCSF’s medical-surgical abdominal surgery unit, are quoted.

Elk Grove’s state rep lead Ebola hearing, Elk Grove Citizen

State medical officials said at a state Assembly committee hearing that they are prepared to respond if a case of Ebola is diagnosed in California. The hearing was chaired by Assembly Member Dr. Richard Pan, whose district includes Elk Grove. Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health, said Nov. 18 that the state and federal governments are tracking the travel of people leaving the African countries of Guinea, Liberia, Mali, and Sierra Leone where Ebola is prevalent. Chapman said all five University of California hospitals including the Davis facility have identified themselves as able to treat Ebola patients.

Drugging Our Kids: The Rx alliance that drugs our kids, San Jose Mercury News

An investigation by this newspaper has found that drugmakers, anxious to expand the market for some of their most profitable products, spent more than $14 million from 2010 to 2013 to woo the California doctors who treat this captive and fragile audience of patients at taxpayers’ expense. Drugmakers distribute their cash to all manner of doctors, but the investigation found that they paid the state’s foster care prescribers on average more than double what they gave to the typical California physician. UCLA and UCSF are mentioned. UCLA social welfare professor David Cohen, who has studied medication use in the foster care system and drug company influence; Jerome Hoffman, a emergency medicine specialist at UCLA and critic of the pharmaceutical industry’s influence; and Dr. Raman Sankar, the chief of pediatric neurology at UCLA; and UCLA student Olivia Hernandez, are quoted.

Google offers high-tech spoon that stays steady in shaky hands, Los Angeles Times

For a company best known for its search engine, Google is making big investments in the medical field: A contact lens to help diabetics monitor their glucose levels; magnetic nano particles to detect signs of cancer and impending heart attacks. And now, spoons. Its latest medical venture is the Liftware spoon, which could make life easier for the millions of people who live with Parkinson’s disease or with essential tremor, a nervous system disorder that causes rhythmic shaking. Developed by health technology company Lift Labs, which Google acquired in September for an undisclosed sum, the spoon comes embedded with an electronic device that uses hundreds of algorithms to sense how a hand is shaking. Lift Labs founder Anupam Pathak, who has B.S. and M.S. degrees from UC Berkeley, and UC San Francisco Medical Center neurologist Dr. Jill Ostrem, who specializes in movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor and helped advise the inventors as they developed Liftware, are quoted.

See additional coverage: Associated Press

TV review: ‘Sleepless’ documentary is a real eye-opener, San Francisco Chronicle

It’s too bad Adam Mansbach already used “Go the F— to Sleep” as a book title, because it is the resounding message of the new documentary “Sleepless in America,” airing Sunday on the National Geographic Channel. The two-hour film is a collaborative effort by the Public Good Projects, the National Institutes of Health and NatGeo to bring public attention to what can only be called a national epidemic of modern American life: lack of sleep. Dr. Matthew P. Walker of UC Berkeley, who has studied the effects of sleeplessness on brain function, and  Dr. Thomas Neylan of UC San Francisco, are mentioned.

KQED panel on health metrics says social behavior applications are the future, KQED

A cardiologist who helped develop an electrocardiogram-reading gadget told a crowd at the San Jose Tech Museum last week that wearables, while great, still fall short. Mainly, they still haven’t solved the critical health problem of inciting motivation. Dr. Jeffrey Olgin, chief of cardiology at UC San Francisco, said doctors have faced the same problem for a long time. “Many people already don’t take the medicine that can help them,” he said. In a KQED-sponsored forum, Olgin and a pair of wearable experts talked about the rise and implications of big data from wearables.

Life-science startups find new life in used equipment, San Francisco Chronicle

Highly precise, specialized lab equipment is crucial for sequencing DNA or sorting cells. But when the tools are pricey and the budget is thin, entrepreneurs have creative ways of finding what they need, from scouring eBay and Craigslist to swooping up the possessions of failed startups. For dozens of seed- and early-stage companies in the Bay Area, one solution is to share space and equipment at UC’s California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, or QB3, a network of life-science incubators in San Francisco, Berkeley and Palo Alto, the latest addition.

Kaiser-Target partnership another step in ‘retailization’ of health care, California Healthline

Marking a significant step in what might be called the “retailization” of health care delivery, Kaiser Permanente is partnering with Target to open medical clinics in the retail stores in Southern California. Three Kaiser clinics opened last week in Target stores in Fontana, San Diego and Vista. Another is scheduled to open next week in West Fullerton. Chain retailers — CVS, Walmart, Target and others — have operated clinics in their stores for years, but the Kaiser-Target partnership is a notable new chapter: Kaiser’s size and previously insular reputation suggest a new, perhaps far-reaching change in health care delivery, relying heavily on telehealth technology. The partnership is new and small, but Kaiser officials hope the model will grow in the eight states and District of Columbia where Kaiser does business. Dylan Roby, director of UCLA’s Health Economics and Evaluation Research Program, is quoted.

4 incredibly easy ways to practice everyday gratitude, The Huffington Post

With Thanksgiving here, now is the time when many of us pause to reflect on all that we have and give thanks. But research shows there are major benefits to practicing gratitude — which Robert Emmons, a professor in UC Davis’ psychology department and author of Gratitude Works, defines as an “awareness of how we are supported and sustained by others, and a desire to give back the good that we have received” — throughout the year. It boosts well-being, improves sleep and may even help improve immune system function.

Op-ed: Thanksgiving and gratitude: The science of happier holidays, The Wall Street Journal

Jason Marsh and psychology professor Dacher Keltner, co-directors of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, write about the practice of gratitude as an antidote to the materialism of the holiday shopping season. Noting that research is finding that materialistic people “experience fewer positive emotions, are less satisfied with life and suffer higher levels of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse,” they observe that “new studies are documenting how to deliberately cultivate gratitude in ways that counter materialism and its negative effects.” They also cite a study funded by the Greater Good Science Center, which found that people report more gratitude for experiential purchases than they do for material goods, indicating “that spending money isn’t necessarily antithetical to gratitude and happiness. What matters is how you spend it — and that you take a moment to give thanks for what you have.” UC Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons is mentioned.

Editorial: The positive power of counting our blessings, Sacramento Bee

Corny as it may sound, all sorts of social benefits arise from the consistent counting of blessings; just ask Robert A. Emmons, the University of California, Davis, psychology professor whose work on thankfulness has spawned a burgeoning field of gratitude studies.

Yvonne Abraham: Hearty doses of gratitude, The Boston Globe

This column on gratitude highlights the “guru of gratitude,” Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at UC Davis. Emmons, whose latest book is called “Gratitude Works!,” cites studies showing thankfulness helps people sleep better, partly because grateful people are less likely to think negative, sleep-impairing thoughts.

Health Matters: Avoiding food poisoning at Thanksgiving (video), Fox 40

Thanksgiving is a celebration of family and food. But it’s also a likely time of year where there is an increase in adults and children ending up in the emergency rooms due to food poisoning. Dr. Doug Gross of UC Davis Health System explains what causes food poisoning and how you can avoid it.

New research into Alzheimer’s disease (audio), Capital Public Radio

Associate Director of the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Center Dr. John Olichney talks about the latest research into the disease.

Inventures: Davis biotech firm pushing possibilities of stem cell technology (video), ABC 10

It all started when Charles Lee, a stem cell biologist at UC Davis, made an accidental discovery at home. “He discovered a scaffold made of sugar in his kitchen,” Jim Keefer said. A scaffold is a structure that allows for cell culture. Lee continued to tweak it at his UC Davis lab. With help from the university, he formed Molecular Matrix in 2011.

Study shows need for payment reform, according to California physicians group, California Healthline

The costs per patient for hospital-owned physician groups are higher than in groups owned by physicians themselves, according to a new UC Berkeley study.

Children’s lunch program aims to bring better food, health to schools (audio), California Healthline

Experts discuss a new school-lunch program designed to keep children healthier by producing better meals made on site with fresh, local ingredients. The California Thursdays pilot program serves lunch in 1,700 schools in 15 districts — that’s nearly one million schoolchildren in California. The report includes comments from UC Davis student volunteer Katie O’Malley.

Constipated? Try pressing your perineum, The Washington Post

This story reports on research led by Dr. Ryan Abbott, visiting assistant professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine and health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, finding that perineal self-acupressure, a simple technique involving the application of external pressure to the perineum, is an effective treatment for constipation.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Nov. 16

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

After UC regents OK tuition plan, eyes turn to Gov. Jerry Brown, state funding, Los Angeles Times

The votes were cast and the protesters’ chanting died down. Now months of political wrangling and budget negotiations are ahead before UC students know for sure how much next year’s tuition will be. Under the plan for a tuition increase, approved by the UC regents on Thursday by a 14-7 vote, students could pay as much as 28% more over five years, depending on state funding. Gov. Jerry Brown and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, both regents, voted against the measure and their next steps on state funding for the 10-campus university will be key. The regents took other steps that officials said will boost revenue and save millions of dollars, but which may upset critics of high pay. Patrice Knight, an IBM executive, was hired as chief procurement officer for UC hospitals and health divisions. Regis Kelly, a bioscience institute administrator at UC San Francisco, will be working three-quarters-time as a special advisor to Napolitano on getting UC inventions into the marketplace faster while keeping his current job one-quarter-time. Read UC coverage.

UC raises tuition amid students’ cries of opposition, San Francisco Chronicle

The regents of the University of California approved a plan to raise tuition by up to 28 percent over five years on Thursday as furious students in the audience shouted “Shame on you!” and “We’re still going to fight it!” The students briefly shut down the meeting as the regents concluded the 14-to-7 vote to raise tuition and fees by up to 5 percent a year beginning next fall. The Board of Regents, meeting at UCSF’s Mission Bay campus, adopted price increases for undergraduates and for UC’s 59 graduate professional degree programs — including 20 percent higher fees for nursing at San Francisco, Davis, Irvine and Los Angeles campuses — with no comment.

Innovation, entrepreneurship evangelist Reg Kelly to spread gospel throughout UC system, San Francisco Business Times

Regis Kelly preaches about better ways to translate the University of California’s lab research into drugs and tools that can help Californians live healthier longer. Now his congregation is getting bigger. Kelly — the director of the three-campus California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, or QB3 — on Dec. 1 will join the UC Office of the President as senior advisor on innovation and entrepreneurship. His initial focus will be to help each of the UC system’s 10 campuses identify ways to more efficiently morph research into products, but he also will work closely in helping UC officials develop a venture fund of up to $250 million. Kelly, a biochemist by training and a former vice chancellor at UC San Francisco, over the past decade has built QB3 into a hub of biomedical entrepreneurship. Working with scientists at UCSF, UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz, QB3 has set up a network of incubators, including a new partnership with StartX near Stanford University, and created a portfolio of programs to help researchers move science into the commercial realm.

Tech isn’t biggest S.F. industry; health care is, San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco’s health care industry generated more than $28 billion in economic activity this year — outpacing even the city’s much-hyped tech sector, according to a report released Tuesday by a hospital trade association. The Hospital Council of Northern California attributes the growth — up $11 billion since 2012 — to bigger and newer hospitals and more biomedical firms. One of the reasons for the growth in economic activity is due to several hospitals and medical facilities being expanded or built, with about $5 billion invested in the projects in the next five years, the report said. Those properties include California Pacific Medical Center, UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay, San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, a Kaiser Permanente medical building in Mission Bay and the Chinese Hospital.

130 nonprofit hospital and health system CEOs to know, Becker’s Hospital Review

UCSF Medical Center CEO Mark Laret made Becker’s list of 130 nonprofit hospital and health system CEOs to know.

UCSD Health hits record fundraising goal, U-T San Diego

UC San Diego Health System has hit the largest fundraising goal in its 48-year history. Paul Viviano, the system’s chief executive, said Wednesday that fundraising efforts to build the Jacobs Medical Center in La Jolla have reached the $131 million target set when ground-breaking took place in 2012 for the 10-story facility. Achieving the goal comes with a massive assist from local philanthropists Joan and Irwin Jacobs, who initially pledged $75 million toward the campaign. Today, the university will announce that the couple also gave an additional $25 million matching grant last year for the facility. The balance of the $839 million, glass-and-steel structure’s cost will be covered by loans and savings. The structure is designed to be separated into three sub-hospitals — one for women and children’s services, another for cancer and a third for advanced surgery. The entire medical center is meant to support clinical trials and other medical research conducted at UC San Diego.

Corona: Hospital partners with UC Irvine, The Riverside Press-Enterprise

UC Irvine doctors will advise physicians at Corona Regional Medical Center under a new partnership that hospital officials said will enhance their medical care. “This affiliation is a logical extension,” said Terry A. Belmont, CEO of UCI Health, which operates the clinical, medical education and research areas of the university.

UCLA researchers announce gene therapy cure for 18 ‘Bubble Baby’ patients, ABC Good Morning America

Researchers at UCLA announced that they had cured 18 children who were born with the so-called Bubble Baby disease, a genetic disorder that leaves the young sufferers without a working immune system, putting them at risk of death from infections, even the common cold. A team led by Dr. Donald Kohn, a stem cell researcher at the university’s Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research in Los Angeles, developed the breakthrough that cured 18 children who had adenosine deaminase (ADA)-deficient severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID).

UC Davis institute gets $100 million to fight pandemics, Sacramento Bee

One of the largest grants ever given to UC Davis – $100 million – will fund international research to increase the detection of and response to viruses including Ebola, the university announced Nov 21. The grant comes from the U.S. Agency for International Development and its Emerging Pandemic Threat Program. The money will be distributed through the university’s One Health Institute, a global consortiumconducting a five-year effort in more than 20 countries, the bulk of them in Africa. The award will fund the second phase of the institute’s program, which includes researching how viruses such as Ebola and HIV transfer from animals to humans.

See additional coverage: KGO (audio)

Jesse Jackson joins UCI panel on Ebola and civil rights, Orange County Register

Don’t reject the infected, reject the infection. That was the message civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson delivered during a panel discussion titled “The Constitutional Implications of Ebola,” hosted by the UC Irvine School of Law on Nov. 19. Joining Jackson in the forum were Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Irvine School of Law, Andrew Noymer, associate professor at UCI’s Department of Public Health, Dr. George W. Woods from the International Academy of Law and Mental Health and Michele Goodwin, professor of law at UCI. At the heart of the discussion was how the ongoing Ebola crisis is affecting civil rights and personal liberties in the United States.

Charlize Theron discusses global campaign to end AIDS at UCLA, Los Angeles Daily News

More than 28 million new HIV infections can be prevented worldwide by 2030 with more funding toward better testing methods, education for teens and positive messages that end discrimination, according to the creators of a global campaign launched Nov. 18 at UCLA.

UC Merced takes grassroots approach to reducing obesity, California Healthline

An NIH grant designed to help researchers build partnerships with community organizations could lead to a better understanding of the obesity epidemic, particularly in low-income Latino communities in Merced County. “NIH is increasingly recognizing that to address many health issues, research needs to be more closely anchored in the communities affected by the health problem,” said Jan Wallander, a professor of psychological sciences at UC-Merced who co-wrote the grant proposal. The three-year, $90,000 grant awarded to UC-Merced and the Merced County California Regional Obesity Prevention Program from NIH’s Child Health and Human Development Institute allows academics from various disciplines to engage directly with community members affected by obesity.

Healthy aging a complex goal, U-T San Diego

Living well while growing older could mean finding creative ways to stay healthy, such as using interactive video games to exercise or sprinkling raw chocolate on everything you eat to boost antioxidants. Those topics were among several dozen discussed during a two-hour public forum Nov. 16 hosted by UC San Diego’s Think Tank on Healthy Aging, a two-year project featuring 14 renowned doctors and researchers. They hope to guide the country’s response to the Baby Boomer generation reaching retirement age. “Aging is not a disease to be cured, but a process to be enhanced,” said Dr. Dilip Jeste, a UC San Diego professor coordinating the group. The creation of the think tank marks the official opening of UC San Diego’s Center for Healthy Aging, an umbrella organization for all of the university’s age-related programs. It’s part of the Stein Institute for Research on Aging.

Triclosan may cause liver cancer, U-T San Diego

Triclosan an antimicrobial agent commonly found in antibacterial soaps, causes liver fibrosis and cancer in mice in a manner that may pertain to people, according to a study led by UC San Diego scientists.

Smartphone screens correct for your vision flaws, Scientific American

Scientific American’s “World Changing Ideas 2014″ issue includes a report on a collaborative effort to develop vision-correcting smartphone and iPad screens that use algorithms to compensate for computer users’ visual impairments. Team members from UC Berkeley include electrical engineering and computer science graduate student Fu-Chung Huang and computer science, optometry and vision science professor Brian Barsky.

If you’ve already cut out sugary drinks, this should be your next goal, Huffington Post

When Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo entered medical school in 1995, only one in ten teens had the beginning signs of diabetes. Now, 19 years later, one in four teens are at high risk of developing diabetes. As an internist at UC San Francisco and a researcher on diabetes prevention, Bibbins-Domingo is alarmed at how fast diabetes rates are rising in the general population, and how young people are when they first develop the disease. The culprit? Too much sugar. And Bibbins-Domingo is part of a new initiative at UCSF called SugarScience. The project, a collaborative effort with researchers at UC Davis and Emory University School of Medicine, is a public health campaign backed by more than 8,000 scientific papers on how sugar affects our bodies and contributes to conditions like diabetes (which can cause blindness and the need for amputations), stroke, heart attacks and tooth decay, to name a few. The new site says SugarScience aims to be “the authoritative source for the science about added sugar and its impact on our health.”

UCSF to study early menopause vs. preventive cancer surgery risks, San Francisco Chronicle

For Mimi Cavalheiro, who is genetically at risk for both breast and ovarian cancers, the question of a diagnosis is not an “if” but “when.” Now she’s faced with tough decisions. The 37-year-old San Francisco resident could have her breasts removed or opt for intensive screening. She could have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed, but at the risk of plunging into premature menopause. “The idea of going through menopause 10 years early is a little stressful,” Cavalheiro said. “I don’t know how it’s going to affect me, my love life, my energy level, my weight.” Medical experts don’t fully understand all the physical ramifications either. So a new UCSF study is trying to find out. Cavalheiro is one of about 100 Bay Area women between 35 and 50 years old with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations who are participating in a clinical trial that is examining changes in cardiovascular health, bone density, sexual function, quality of life and other effects on women who go into early menopause.

UCSF study suggests secondhand marijuana smoke as bad as tobacco smoke for heart health, CBS San Francisco

Secondhand marijuana smoke may be just as bad for your heart as breathing tobacco smoke, according to preliminary research from UC San Francisco.
A Berkeley biotech startup with a powerful new way to edit DNA said Tuesday it is licensing that technology to a company that intends to use it to develop therapies for genetic diseases.

Berkeley biotech licenses gene-editing tool to new company, San Francisco Chronicle

The newly created, Cambridge-based Intellia Therapeutics is off to a promising start with $15 million in financing led by pharmaceutical giant Novartis and investment firm Atlas Venture. The company was co-created by Atlas and Caribou Biosciences of Berkeley, which is led by some of the scientists who have shaped the gene-editing technology known as Crispr-Cas9. That tool can snip and edit DNA with more precision and ease compared to other gene-editing methods, allowing scientists to repair, knock out or replace specific genes in humans, other animals and plants. It works by harnessing the natural immune system of bacteria. Interest in Crispr-Cas9 soared two years ago when a team that included UC Berkeley scientist Jennifer Doudna figured out a way to use up the system to slice up any DNA sequence of their choosing. Doudna last week was among the winners of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, a $3 million prize funded by heavyweight tech CEOs, and also co-founded both Caribou and Editas Medicine.

Medical and tech researchers see smartphones as health’s next frontier, Los Angeles Times

This story reports on the potential and the challenges facing medical experts and others who want to harness the reach and power of mobile phones to revolutionize health care. Charles Lea and Thomas Davis, UCLA grad students, discuss a UCLA study about mobile apps and their potential ability to help improve health and combat disease. Ian Holloway, assistant professor at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and lead researcher on the Healthy Selfie project, is quoted. Dr. Bruce Dobkin, director of the UCLA Neurologic Rehabilitation Program and professor of neurology, also is interviewed about his use of custom, mobile-phone-linked motion sensors to monitor the gait of stroke and hip-replacement patients. Dr. Kevin Patrick, director of UC San Diego’s Center for Wireless and Population Health Systems, also is quoted.

Many seniors do not seek medical attention after a fall, UCLA study finds, MyNewsLA

More than half a million older Californians — 12.6 percent of the state’s senior population — fall more than once a year, but nearly 60 percent of them fail to seek medical attention afterward, according to a study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

State health exchange signs up 11,000 in first four days, Orange County Register

Health plan sign-ups in the first four days of Covered California’s second season outpaced the early days of last year’s maiden enrollment period by nearly four times, the state’s Obamacare health insurance exchange said. Dylan Roby, a professor at UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research, is quoted.

Covered California patients not only ones with network woes, KQED

UCSF is mentioned in this story about access to health insurance coverage and providers.

California hospitals make hundreds of errors every year, public is unaware (video), NBC Bay Area

State law requires hospitals to report medical errors to the California Department of Public Health. The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit discovered that meaningful details about adverse events are not readily available or easily searchable for California consumers. The Investigative Unit filed a public records request  to CDPH obtain this information and have now posted it online. According to the state data obtained by the Investigative Unit, over the past four fiscal years, two Bay Area hospitals, Stanford Medical Center and UCSF, lead the state in total number of adverse events. However, the majority of the adverse events at both of these facilities were bedsores. Dr. Josh Adler, chief medical officer at UCSF, said his staff is dedicated to tracking every error that occurs in order to better prevent them in the future and improve care for patients. “I believe we are a very safe hospital and part of the reason we are safe is that we have been in the error-finding and resolving business for a long time,” Adler said.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Nov. 9

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Op-ed: California needs to reinvest in public higher education, San Francisco Chronicle

From our perspectives in the world of private research universities, we have been watching with mounting alarm the general disinvestment by states in public higher education, write the presidents of Stanford and Caltech. This is painfully true in California, and we are especially concerned about the impact on the University of California and what it bodes for our state’s future. You might think that as the presidents of Stanford and the California Institute of Technology, we might view UC campuses primarily as rivals. This is not so (except, perhaps, on the athletic fields). Our campuses and the University of California are partners in making the state of California the economic and innovation powerhouse it is today. As research universities, the University of California, Stanford and Caltech all undertake basic research and translate the discoveries into products and companies, powering an engine of innovation and economic growth. Universities act as magnets for talent, making California schools the destination of choice for many of the most creative people in the world. The inventions, medical breakthroughs and products that emerge from their research benefit communities across California and beyond.

Scientists, and universe’s odd behavior, are recognized with $3 million prizes, The New York Times

Two teams of astronomers who discovered that the universe is apparently being blown apart by a,  mysterious something called dark energy had already shared a Nobel Prize and the $1 million Shaw Prize, among other honors. Now they have won the richest science prize of all. On Sunday night they were handed the $3 million Fundamental Physics Prize, an award established by the Russian Internet investor and philanthropist Yuri Milner in a quest to make science as glitzy as rock ’n’ roll. The award to the astronomers is part of the 2015 Breakthrough Prizes, 12 in all, totaling $36 million, announced Sunday night at a black-tie gala in Mountain View, Calif., hosted by Seth MacFarlane. Winners include Saul Perlmutter (physics) and Jennifer Doudna (life sciences) of UC Berkeley and Terence Tao (mathematics) of UCLA.

See additional coverage: Guardian, Re/Code, San Jose Mercury News, US A Today

These are 3 breakthrough science ideas you’ll be talking about in 2015, The Washington Post

For anyone who has ever said that all the STEM professions need is something to make them “cool” in order to attract more young people, look no further than the Breakthrough Prize award ceremony. Imagine being able to rewrite the human genome, removing and replacing damaged genes with healthy genes, just by unlocking a common  bacterial defense mechanism. That is the essential idea behind the award-winning genome editing tool created by two researchers — Jennifer Doudna, of UC Berkeley, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Berkeley Lab; and Emmanuelle Charpentier. The Nobel Prize-winning team led by Saul Perlmutter, of UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab; Brian P. Schmid; and Adam Riess, won the Breakthrough Award in the fundamental physics field for “the most unexpected discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, rather than slowing, as long had been assumed.”

UCSF develops site to make sense out of sugar science, San Francisco Chronicle

UCSF on Monday unveiled a repository of sugar science, designed to collect the evidence against sweetened foods and disseminate that information to the public — and persuade people to boot fructose and most other refined sugars out of their diets to protect their health — and not just their waistlines. The SugarScience Initiative, at, is the result of 11 researchers, mostly from UCSF, spending a year poring over thousands of published scientific articles on sugar and its health effects. The group removed articles that didn’t hold up to certain scientific standards, including industry-funded papers.

See additional coverage: New York Times, ABC 7, California Healhtline, Harper’s Bazaar, KQED, NPR

UCI is waging an Ebola battle that might lead to cure, Orange County Register

Michelle Digman examines microscopic fluorescent green buds that protrude from the surface of a human cell like pins pushing their way through the inside of pincushion. Under Digman’s microscope in the Laboratory for Fluorescence Dynamics at UCI, this cell has been injected with VP40, the main protein that creates the Ebola virus that has killed nearly 5,000 people in West Africa since March. Under Digman’s watch, the protein replicates itself thousands of times using the cell’s own machinery. It clusters near the cell membrane, bending that ultra-thin layer and pushing it outward in buds packed with VP40. Eventually, these buds drift away to infect other cells. What Digman – once a post-doctoral fellow in the lab she now helps lead – studies mimics the actual process that Ebola takes as it spreads through the human body. And as UCI scientists examine the protein, they collect data that researchers and public health officials need to develop a cure.

U.S. is now Ebola-free, and the panic is gone as well, Los Angeles Times

A few short weeks ago, Ebola was public enemy No. 1. About 1,000 people were being monitored by health officials. Several schools in Texas and Ohio shut down because of a single patient who boarded a plane. A cruise ship was refused permission to dock in Cozumel, off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. President Obama appointed an Ebola “czar.” Polls showed a majority of Americans were concerned that Ebola would spread out of control in the U.S. On Nov. 11, a fully recovered Dr. Craig Spencer was released from Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan. The U.S. was now Ebola-free for the first time since Sept. 5 — a milestone that barely seemed to register with a once-frenzied public. ”It’s hard to say definitively why the public thinks anything, but this is a welcome return to normalcy,” said Andrew Noymer, a professor of public health at UC Irvine.

The Ebola hot zone (video), CBS 60 Minutes

Lara Logan travels to Liberia to report on Americans working on the frontline of the Ebola outbreak. At the end of a dirt road, on the grounds of an old leper colony, we arrived after a five-hour drive at the International Medical Corps’ Ebola treatment unit and were hosed down again. It’s a one-disease hospital with 50 beds and a staff of nearly 200, run by American doctor Pranav Shetty, who trained in emergency medicine at UCLA.

Nurses picket UCSD Medical Center over Ebola safety (video), City News Service/Fox San Diego

Nurses set up picket lines at UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest Wednesday morning to demand more safeguards against the Ebola virus. The local protest was planned as part of a worldwide “wave of action,” in which 100,000 registered nurses are expected to participate, according to National Nurses United. Late last month, the University of California’s five medical centers, including those in San Diego, Los Angeles and Irvine, were identified by the state Department of Public Health as priority hospitals for the treatment of Ebola cases, should any arise in the state. Dr. John Stobo, UC senior vice president for health sciences and services, is quoted in a statement.

See additional coverage: ABC San Diego (video), CBS Los Angeles (video), CBS San Diego (video), KUSI (video), San Diego 6 (video)

California nurses say they’ll strike, without talking wages, NPR

As many as 18,000 nurses in Northern California are preparing for a two-day strike that will start Tuesday. Nurses plan to leave their posts at 7 a.m. and picket outside 21 Kaiser Permanente medical centers and clinics. The placards nurses carry and the chants they repeat will say little about salaries or pensions. No economic proposals have even been put on the bargaining table yet. “This seems awfully quick to go to a strike,” says Joanne Spetz, an economics professor at the UC San Francisco School of Nursing. Nurses have demanded better protective gear and more training for caring with potential Ebola patients — calls that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention heeded by updating its federal guidelines last month. Kaiser nurses say they still want more, and have timed the second day of their strike to coincide with nurse demonstrations across the country in a “National Day of Action” over Ebola preparedness.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Daily News, Patch, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner

Survey: UC system ranked best medical research institute in 2013, California Healthline

The University of California system was the top medical research institute in the country in 2013, according to a survey by the journal Nature Biotechnology, the Rochester Business Journal reports.

Local hospitals get kudos for work on pressure ulcers, Sacramento Bee

Nurses at some Sacramento-area medical facilities are making it a priority to stop bedsores long before they get to that point. Late last month, the Collaborative Alliance for Nursing Outcomes, a national registry tracking nursing patients, recognized 60 hospitals nationwide that have made significant strides in reducing the incidence of pressure ulcers. In Sacramento, these included Kaiser Permanente Sacramento Medical Center, Mercy San Juan Medical Center and the UC Davis Health System. Holly Kirkland-Walsh, registered nurse and certified wound-care specialist for UC Davis Medical Center, is quoted.

Are Joint Commission ‘Top Performers’ enjoying grade inflation?, Modern Healthcare

As more than 1,200 U.S. hospitals celebrate their designation as a “Top Performer” from the nation’s leading hospital accreditation body, some critics say the recognition does not necessarily provide an accurate picture of quality among the nation’s health care providers. A Joint Commission report released Nov. 13 summarized how more than 3,300 hospitals fared on about four dozen performance accountability measures. But the majority are measures of processes rather than clinical outcomes (such as how many patients died or had to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of receiving care). That’s a problem, according to some consumer groups. This year’s 1,224 top performers represent nearly 37% of the hospitals accredited by the Joint Commission. That’s an 11% increase over 2013, and triple the number of qualifying hospitals that made the list four years ago. Dr. Robert Wachter, a leading quality and safety expert and associate chairman of the department of medicine at UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco, is quoted.

UCLA student’s blog chronicles journey before, after double mastectomy, Daily Bruin

Rachel Stone, a graduate student at the UCLA School of Nursing, successfully underwent a prophylactic mastectomy in August and will undergo the second phase of the surgery in December. In May, she created Funky Genes, a blog that documents her experiences before and after she received the mastectomy. Stone said she hopes her blog will encourage women to get tested for the mutation and support women who are going through the same procedure.

Bus bench ad executive’s estate gives $50 million to UCLA medical school, Los Angeles Times

This story reports that the estate of bus bench advertising executive Norman Switzer and his wife Irma gave $50 million to the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. UCLA Chancellor Gene Block is quoted.

Spray-on DNA bar codes could be new weapon against food-borne illnesses, San Francisco Chronicle

To prevent and contain outbreaks of food-borne illness, which sicken 1 in 6 Americans annually, a Bay Area startup is developing bar codes that go directly on fruits and vegetables. But you may overlook them: they’re DNA-size. Using technology invented at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, DNATrek is creating liquids that each contain a unique DNA sequence. The odorless, colorless and tasteless solution peppers the surface of produce, or blends into other oils and liquids, with a genetic bar code that can be identified by a special machine. The technology could solve the enormous challenge of tracing an outbreak’s source — the places where food items are grown, packed and shipped. When people start feeling the symptoms of salmonella or E. coli, many clues about the contaminated product’s origins, such as the shipment boxes, already have disappeared.

Miscommunication a leading cause of medical errors, study finds (audio), KQED

According to the Journal of Patient Safety, medical errors may be the third biggest cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease and cancer. A new study conducted by UCSF and eight other institutions finds that improving verbal and written communication between health providers reduced patient injury by medical error by 30 percent. This show discusses the new study and proposals to improve communication in the health care system. Guests include Dr. Daniel West, professor of pediatrics, vice-chair for education and residency program director at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco and a co-author of the IPASS study.

Using sweat to monitor your health, U-T San Diego

Wrap your mind around this: Human sweat might provide the energy needed to power tiny body sensors that hawkishly monitor your health. It’s one of many ideas that will get a deep look Nov. 12 and 13 in La Jolla, when hundreds of the nation’s top engineers and scientists explore how sensors can be used in an ever-more connected world, especially in health care and medicine. The Trillion Sensors Summit was organized, in part, by Al Pisano, dean of UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering. He gave U-T San Diego a preview of what to expect during the two-day forum, which will include executives from San Diego-based chip maker Qualcomm.

Startup seeks $100,000 to make ‘smart’ earplugs, U-T San Diego

Three current and former UC San Diego students — all of them named Daniel — will go on Kickstarter Nov. 12 to try to raise $100,000 to begin manufacturing Hush, a “smart” earplug that lets in some sounds while blocking others. Hush is primarily designed for people who want to shut out noise so they can sleep, but hear selected sounds, such as an alarm clock. The earplugs connect wirelessly to smartphones, which send alarms and alerts to Hush. Users also will be choose which noise-maskers they want to hear.

Promising epilepsy Rx from UC Davis, California Healthline

A new treatment announced this week may offer some hope for severe “super-refractory” epileptic patients who are unable to stop their seizures by other means, according to a report from researchers at UC Davis. The first clinical use of the experimental new medication showed promising results in the first few patients to receive it, according to Michael Rogawski, co-author of the report and a professor at UC Davis Department of Neurology.

Dealing with California’s looming doctor shortage (video), Fox 40

UC Davis School of Medicine Associate Dean for Admissions and Outreach Dr. Mark Henderson explains how the university is addressing a growing gap between new doctors beginning practice and the accelerating  rate of retirement.

IOM panel urges more EHR collection of social, behavioral data, Modern Healthcare

Physicians should collect more information about patients’ behavior and social environment in their electronic health records, according to an Institute of Medicine panel. Panel co-chair Nancy Adler, director of the Center for Health and Community at UC San Francisco, is mentioned.

UCSF report says program to diminish tobacco use in California is fading, California Healthline

Experts discuss the funding conundrum of the California tobacco control program — because it has helped lower the number of smokers in the state, it gets about half the cigarette-tax funding it used to get. A new report from UC-San Francisco researchers said efforts to raise additional money have failed, in part because of increased willingness among state legislators to accept tobacco industry campaign donations. Experts include Stanton Glantz, director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education and co-author of the report.

$1M lawsuit filed vs. world-renowned former UCD vet (video), KCRA 3

Jack Snyder was a doctor of veterinary medicine at UC Davis who retired earlier this year — but the University of California Board of Regents is now suing the former professor, saying he made more than $1 million in outside income.The university claims that money should have gone to UC Davis, and that Snyder went to great lengths to hide it. Snyder worked for the school’s Center for Equine Health. He is known around the world as a prominent equine surgeon. The regents, however, say he spent most of his time away from school, getting paid millions as a consultant for clinics all over the globe.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Nov. 2

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UC Davis Medical Center nurses suit up for treating Ebola patients, The Sacramento Bee

Nurses at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento will be protected head-to-toe and are prepared to handle the Ebola virus if it shows up at their doors, they said at a media briefing Nov. 6. Nicole Mahr, clinical resource nurse and infection preventionist, and Carol Robinson, the medical center’s chief patient care services officer, are quoted. Mahr is part of the 15-member Infection Prevention Group, which meets two times a day – once in the morning and once at night – to discuss how the donning and doffing protocol is going over in training. They address questions raised by nurses about how to make the garb more practical and make adjustments accordingly.

See additional coverage: KBFK

Scientists step up work to find and contain ‘the Ebolas of the future’, Dallas Morning News

Headlines about alarming new viruses have been hard to escape. In just the past few months, Dallas has confronted its first cases of Ebola, of the mosquito-borne virus chikungunya and of the respiratory disease enterovirus D68. Many other threats, such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and new strains of the flu, lurk a plane ride away. In response, scientists are stepping up efforts to prevent the next pandemic. Teams of researchers have fanned out across the globe, trapping bats in China, rats in Vietnam and monkeys in West Africa in an effort to identify dangerous viruses before they cross into humans. Others are working in labs, screening hundreds of thousands of compounds to disarm the pathogens. “Instead of chasing the last epidemic, which is how we practiced historically, we want to be proactive, to get ahead of the curve,” said Dr. Jonna Mazet, a veterinary epidemiologist at UC Davis and director of PREDICT, a government-funded network of scientists who hunt viruses in disease hotspots around the world.

Robots versus Ebola (video), CBS News

As Ebola continues to ravage parts of West Africa, scientists and engineers at four U.S. universities and research centers are meeting Friday to discuss ways technology can be used to battle the ongoing health crisis. With the encouragement of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, engineers in Massachusetts, Texas, Washington, D.C., and at UC Berkeley will conduct research on how telemedicine technology could help in the fight against Ebola. Ken Goldberg, professor of engineering at UC Berkeley, is mentioned.

UCSF doctor heads to Liberia, compares battle to ‘social justice’ (video), NBC Bay Area

A doctor at the University of California at San Francisco is leaving his safe post and family to spend a month in Liberia helping Ebola patients on a journey he feels is a matter of “social justice.” “It’s basically a fight for social justice,” Dr. Phouc Le said just before his plane took off from the San Francisco International Airport en route to Monrovia.

UC to consider raising tuition each year for five years, San Francisco Chronicle

University of California regents will consider raising student tuition for the first time in three years at this month’s meeting. But instead of the sky-high hikes that have led to angry student protests, the idea is for steady increases of up to 5 percent a year for five years starting next fall. Fees would also rise for out-of-state students and for certain professional degrees: nursing, teacher education, journalism and public policy, depending on which campus the program is offered. “Tuition should be as low as possible and as predictable as possible,” UC President Janet Napolitano and regents Chairman Bruce Varner wrote in an opinion piece for the Sacramento Bee. Read UC coverage.

UCI researchers lead study for drug to treat mild to moderate Alzheimer’s, Orange County Register

UC Irvine psychiatrist Dr. Steven G. Potkin tells the Orange County Register he is hopeful that clinical trials of an experimental drug prove effective in protecting against the loss of the brain tissue and neurons due to Alzheimer’s disease. The experimental compound, known as T817-MA, helps protect functioning neurons, says Potkin, lead investigator at UC Irvine for a national research trial called the Noble Study. He is seeking about 20 volunteers who are already being treated with the Alzheimer’s drugs donepezil or Aricept.

A cure for Lou Gehrig’s disease is sought in tiny cells, big data, Orange County Register

Before diving too deeply into this story on Lou Gehrig’s disease research, you should know about a technique that manipulates an adult’s blood or skin cell into behaving like an embryonic stem cell. Once reverted into that primitive state, this new cell can be directed to become any other type of cell in the human body. Funded by an $8 million federal grant awarded last month, UC Irvine researchers are leading a team of six institutions studying Lou Gehrig’s disease using stem cells generated through this reprogramming method. Along with UCI and Cedars-Sinai, participants include researchers from Johns Hopkins University, UC San Francisco, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease.

Lung cancer screenings help veterans breathe easier, Orange County Register

UC Irvine Health is offering eligible veterans free low-dose computed tomography lung cancer screening. This story follows veteran Sal Yniguez during his exam with Dr. Mohsen Davoudi, chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine at UC Irvine.

California hospital explores genetics-aided cancer treatment, Reuters

A major California university hospital is exploring ways to gather and use genetic information gathered from cancer patients, hoping to break new ground in a fledgling field of genomic medicine. UC San Francisco said in an interview it is working on a new project with Silicon Valley start-up Syapse. Using Syapse’s technology, it wants to build a store of genetic data about various metastatic cancer cases with patients’ consent, theoretically sharpening treatment or even coming up with new therapies. It plans to announce its initiative on Nov. 6.

UC pathfinder leads startups to success, San Francisco Business Times

University of California star innovator Reg Kelly has spent his career bringing science from lab bench to the patient bedside.

Health insurance recruiting project showing results at California colleges, California Healthline

Young, invincible, not particularly wealthy college students are prime candidates for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Many qualify for government subsidies or Medicaid, and most are healthy, representing a vitally important portion of the insurance pool. Without them, the clientele covered by state and federal exchanges would be older, less healthy and more expensive. A recruiting project at the California State University system has shown promising results and could be used as a model for other university systems, according to organizers. Walter Zelman, director of the CSU Health Insurance Education Project and chair of CSU-Los Angeles’ Department of Public Health, is quoted. Unlike the UC system that requires students to show health insurance coverage before starting classes at one of the 10 UC campuses, the CSU system does not require coverage. Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and professor of health policy and management, also is quoted.

New grant forms partnership between UC Merced and nonprofits to fight obesity, Merced Sun-Star

UC Merced and the Merced County Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program have formed a new partnership that aims to further efforts in reducing obesity, especially within the county’s Latino families. A $90,000 three-year grant, awarded to UC Merced from the Child Health and Human Development Institute of the National Institutes of Health, will allow researchers to go out and engage with community members who are affected by obesity. According to Jan Wallander, a professor of psychological sciences at UC Merced, an opportunity like this will give researchers a better understanding of the challenges faced by lower-income communities.

International baby trial hopes to find Achilles’ heel in HIV, Los Angeles Times

This story reports on a new global clinical trial announced by the National Institutes of Health in which newborns infected with the virus that causes AIDS will be given medication within two days of birth and stay on it for two years.  After that, they will stay off the medication as long as the virus remains undetectable and will be monitored through at least age 5.  Dr. Yvonne Bryson, a co-chair of the trial, professor and chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA and a member of the UCLA AIDS Institute, is interviewed.

New study finds asthma more harmful than previously thought, Examiner

A new UCLA study has found that asthma may be more harmful to one’s health than previously thought.

New genetic test diagnoses rare childhood diseases (video), Voice of America News

This story reports on the UCLA Clinical Genomics Center’s exome-sequencing test, which rapidly scans the entire protein-coding region of the genome to pinpoint a single mutation causing ultra-rare diseases that are hard to diagnose. The story profiled Calvin Lapidus, 3, the center’s first patient, who was diagnosed as an infant with a rare disease affecting only 500 known children in the world. Dr. Stan Nelson, professor of human genetics, pathology and psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, is interviewed.

Collateral damage: How a cancer diagnosis hurts employment and finances, Forbes

Two new studies examine work-related and financial setbacks experienced by cancer survivors. Both were presented at the recent Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium in Boston. While preliminary, the findings add to the growing perception that collateral damage – side effects of a cancer diagnosis, in terms of jobs and lifestyle – are significant. Details of these papers await further analysis. “Screening and support for these issues may be an important part of cancer care not only during active treatment, but across the entire survivorship trajectory,” said Robin Whitney, a registered nurse, lymphoma survivor and Ph.D. candidate at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis who presented one of the studies.

Children’s right to education: Where does the world stand?, The Huffington Post

Dr. Jody Heymann, dean of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, writes an opinion piece that discusses the most widely UN-ratified human rights treaty in history, and whether or not the Convention on the Rights of the Child is making the impact needed in the countries who signed on.

Op-ed: UC outsourcing is bad for workers and campuses’ bottom line, Sacramento Bee

Kathryn Lybarger, president of AFSCME Local 3299, which represents more than 22,000 workers at UC campuses, medical centers, research laboratories and other facilities, writes about staffing at UC medical centers.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Oct. 26

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

How to make the biggest impact with your breast cancer donations, Money

If you want to give in support of Breast Cancer Awareness month, don’t get “pinkwashed.” Instead, consider donating to one of these five worthy organizations. This list of organizations includes the California Breast Cancer Research Program. Run out of the University of California, this program is the largest state-funded breast cancer research effort in the nation. While it accepts donations, it also has a stable revenue stream from California’s tobacco tax.

A look inside San Diego’s Ebola isolation unit (video), KPBS

If anyone in San Diego were to be diagnosed with Ebola, they’d go to the UC San Diego Medical Center. Last week, the California public health department identified five hospitals in the state that were prepared to treat an Ebola patient, and this site in Hillcrest was the only one listed in San Diego. Dr. Jay Doucet, medical director for emergency preparedness, said volunteer nurses have received new in-person training on safely caring for one or two Ebola patients. “We’ve got a little over 50 people trained,” Doucet said. “We’d like to have all of our volunteers, close to 100, trained. But we could take (an Ebola patient) now if we had to.”

Practice paramount for UCSD Ebola unit (video), U-T San Diego

Wearing blue protective gowns over white biohazard suits and hoods with powered respirators, a doctor and nurse worked to take the blood sugar level of a dummy patient lying on a hospital bed at UC San Diego Medical Center Friday afternoon. The pair are among 50 selected to train for the hospital’s Ebola Response Taskforce, a new unit created to care for any patient who contracts the deadly disease in the region. UC San Diego is one of five university medical centers statewide designated for Ebola duty and just finished converting a former catheterization lab into a two-bed isolation unit separated from the rest of the hospital.

See additional coverage: ABC San Diego (video), CBS 8 (video), NBC San Diego

Ebola’s evolving threat studied in UCSF lab, San Jose Mercury News

Tiny vials of inactivated Ebola virus from Africa are coming into a San Francisco lab, carrying secrets that might reveal the killer’s past — and fateful future. So far, 30 samples have been genetically deciphered at UC San Francisco by Dr. Charles Chiu and his team, who are searching for any pattern of change that forebodes a worsening of an epidemic that has claimed at least 4,400 lives in its most recent outbreak in Africa. They have found no evidence of genetic changes — mutations — that could make the virus airborne or more deadly, said Chiu. Nor are there signs that it is weakening, which would make it less lethal but more burdensome. If Ebola killed more slowly, or just profoundly sickened people, victims would live longer and infect more people, and the disease would spread more widely. But it is critical to monitor its speedy evolution, he said.

Bay Area doctors join Ebola fight despite quarantine risks, San Francisco Chronicle

Doctors and other care providers from almost all major Bay Area health institutions are on the ground, or about to be, in West Africa to battle the Ebola epidemic at its source. But many potential volunteers may be held back by uncertainty over the long quarantine they may face upon their return, along with hurdles to traveling there in the first place, said doctors who are already in or on their way to West Africa. Those quoted include UCSF Dr. Phuoc Le leaves San Francisco next week for Liberia, where he’ll help shore up infection-control efforts and make sure patients get to new treatment centers in the Ebola-stricken West African nation. Also quoted are Dr. George Rutherford, director of the Institute for Global Health at UCSF who is heading the university’s Ebola task force; Dr. Dan Kelly, a UCSF infectious disease specialist who is in Sierra Leone now; and Sriram Shamasunder, an assistant clinical professor of medicine at UCSF who will follow Le to the clinic in Liberia later this year.

‘Scared’ but willing: Doctor heading to Africa to fight Ebola (video), NBC Nightly News

UCSF Dr. Phuoc Le is featured in this story about American doctors going abroad to treat Ebola patients. Some health care workers at UCSF are offering their vacation time to those going abroad to battle the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

State orders quarantine for workers who had contact with Ebola, Los Angeles Times

California’s top health officer has ordered a 21-day home quarantine for all returning medical workers or travelers who have had contact with a confirmed case of Ebola in West Africa, and invoked the possibility of imprisonment and fines if the restrictions are disobeyed. The order, issued Wednesday by California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ron Chapman, is the latest in a series of measures issued by state governments in response to widespread — and some say unwarranted — public fear. Epidemiologist Ralph Frerichs, a professor emeritus at the UCLA School of Public Health, is quoted.

See additional coverage: KPCC (audio)

UCI attempts to calm Ebola fears, even as two Orange County residents monitored for virus, Orange County Register

At UC Irvine, a panel of experts addressed a crowd of more than 700, discussing the science, politics, economics and, above all, the fear surrounding the Ebola virus. That was Monday night. The morning after, Orange County health officials said they are monitoring the health of two county residents who traveled recently to West Africa. The news marks the first time health workers in Orange County have looked for Ebola. Those quoted include Andrew Noymer, associate professor of UCI’s Public Health Program; Brandon Brown, assistant professor at UCI and director of the Global Health Initiative; UC Irvine hospital spokesman John Murray; and Joy Valdellon, a registered nurse at UCI Medical Center.

UCI Ebola meeting: Epidemic in U.S. is highly unlikely (video), CBS Los Angeles

Doctors from across California convened at UC Irvine on Monday night to discuss their plan to fight the spread of Ebola should the virus arrive in California. Doctors discussed their plan of attack at UCI’s medical center, one of five medical facilities prepared to treat patients, and spoke to an audience of concerned residents about the possibility of an outbreak in the United States. The expert panel also reassured audience members by claiming that the probability of an outbreak is slim to none. Those quoted include UCSF professor of epidemiology George Rutherfordand UCI professor of infectious diseases Michael Buchmeier.

See additional coverage: KTLA 5 (video)

Ebola concerns continue (video), Fox Los Angeles

One night after a public forum is held to talk about Ebola at UC Irvine another is held at UCLA. It comes at the same time Riverside County officials say they’re monitoring two county residents. They’re not sick. They haven’t displayed symptoms. They are believed to be “low risk,” but they just returned from West Africa. That’s what they monitoring. In Westwood, Ebola was the subject of a public forum where health officials and others talked about the virus and the concerns some have about it. Dr. Zachary Rubin with UCLA told the audience that “over the last couple of weeks there’s been a huge amount of fear and anxiety not only in the general public, but also among health care workers. He talked about the protocols in place at UCLA Medical Center and the precautions that would be taken if a patient were to talk in the door. And, he talked about how transmission is through bodily fluids.

UCR med school dean on Ebola (audio), KVCR

G. Richard Olds, head of UC Riverside School of Medicine, also happens to be a tropical disease specialist. Dean Olds talks about dealing with Ebola on a global scale and precautions we should take locally.

U.S. cases prove Ebola is ‘not a death sentence’, Los Angeles Times

When Amber Vinson walked out of Emory University Hospital in Atlanta on Tuesday, she became the sixth person in the country to be successfully treated for a disease that kills 70% of its victims in Africa, but has so far killed only one in the United States.Long thought to be a death sentence, Ebola has proved vulnerable to a mix of standard and invasive medical techniques, readily available in the U.S. but often beyond the reach of the impoverished nations at the heart of the outbreak. Breathing tubes, large-bore intravenous lines, blood dialysis, electrolyte monitoring and around-the-clock attention are largely responsible for the survival of patients under advanced Western care, experts say. ”It’s not a death sentence,” said Michael Buchmeier, a virologist at UC Irvine. “It’s a beatable disease.” The challenge for healthcare workers is to keep a patient alive long enough for the immune system to vanquish the virus and return to normal, according to Dr. George Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology and preventive medicine at UC San Francisco.

Union: California hospitals not ready for Ebola, Associated Press

Five California hospitals that say they are ready to treat the Ebola virus lack proper training and equipment, a nurses union said Tuesday. The contention was part of an effort by the California Nurses Association to call attention to what it said was inadequate preparation at University of California hospitals in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Davis and Irvine. On Friday, the hospital system told the California Department of Public Health the facilities were ready for patients. About half of the 80 workers at UC San Diego Medical Center who volunteered to treat Ebola patients have completed intensive training, hospital spokeswoman Jacqueline Carr said. Anyone who cares for an Ebola patient would have gear with no exposed skin, she added. The hospitals welcome suggestions from nurses, doctors and other staff members on how to be more prepared, said Dr. John Stobo, the University of California system’s senior vice president for health sciences and services.

See additional coverage: ABC Los Angeles (video), CBS Los Angeles (video), CBS San Francisco (audio, video), City News Service, CW 6 San Diego (video), Fox 5, KABC, KPBS, KPCC, KUSI (video), NBC Southern California (video), NBC San Diego (video)San Diego 6 (video)San Francisco Examiner

UCSF adding isolation room, staff for possible Ebola cases, San Francisco Examiner

UC San Francisco is preparing a second Ebola-specific isolation room and seeking additional volunteers to treat potential patients following the designation Friday of UC medical centers as the state’s priority hospitals to treat Ebola cases. The second isolation room designed for a patient with the deadly disease is being constructed at UCSF’s Mount Zion facility, where one isolation room was already set up that can handle the extra precautions needed with an Ebola patient, said Dr. Josh Adler, chief medical officer at UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. There have been no suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola in San Francisco, but hospitals in the city and throughout the U.S. have been preparing for that scenario. In addition to San Francisco, the California Department of Public Health on Friday identified UC medical centers in Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles and San Diego as those positioned to accept patients with Ebola.

UC Davis designated for Ebola treatment (video), Fox 40

“The document is 20 some pages long and growing,” said Chief Nursing Officer Carol Robinson as she describes UC Davis Medical Center’s plan to keep its staff safe. Her facility is one of five designated by the state as treatment centers for any confirmed Ebola patients in California.

California hospitals prepare for possible Ebola cases (audio), Capital Public Radio

California state officials say University of California medical centers are positioned to treat Ebola patients should cases appear here.  But they say all hospitals are expected to be able to screen, identify and isolate potential Ebola patients.

Should returning workers be quarantined? (video), CNN

UCSF Dr. Phuoc Le, who is getting ready to treat Ebola patients in West Africa, discusses whether returning Ebola workers should be quarantined. Read more.

Fearing Ebola? Doctors say get a flu shot, Associated Press

Fever? Headache? Muscle aches? Forget about Ebola – chances are astronomically higher that you have the flu or some other common bug. Dr. Kristi Koenig, director of public health preparedness at UC Irvine, is quoted.

Ebola, an (un)ethical crisis, PRIM&R’s Amp&rsand

Brandon Brown, assistant professor and director of the Global Health Research, Education and Translation (GHREAT) Initiative at UC Irvine, will be chairing a panel on ethics and Ebola at the Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research’s Advancing Ethical Research Conference, Dec. 5-7, in Baltimore.

Op-ed: Rigid quarantines may harm, not help, the fight against Ebola, San Francisco Chronicle

The biggest challenge of the Ebola epidemic is staffing, not stuff or systems. As the epidemic grows, we will need more health care workers, and Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea cannot meet the Ebola-related needs — much less that region’s broader health systems’ staffing needs — without international support, writes Dr. Dan Kelly, an infectious disease specialist affiliated with UCSF who maintains the Wellbody Alliance clinic in Sierra Leone.

Op-ed: Ebola isn’t a crisis in U.S.; hysteria is, San Francisco Chronicle

Robert Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley and senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, writes about Ebola.

New UC Riverside med school reaches out to minorities, San Bernardino Sun

Three African American surgeons will share their success stories in a program designed to increase minority representation at the UC Riverside School of Medicine. The event, “Imagine a Career in Medicine — Opening Doors: Contemporary African American Surgeons,” is a collaboration between the UCR School of Medicine and the San Bernardino-based Black Voice Foundation. For physicians to “change behaviors it is a huge advantage for them to look like the patient they are treating” and come from a similar community environment, said Dr. G. Richard Olds, founding dean of the medical school, which is in its second year. The UCR medical school is the first new public medical school in California in more than four decades. Olds stresses that despite its name, the UCR School of Medical school belongs to San Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial counties. The school targets incoming students from those three counties, he said, because they are likely to stay in the area after graduation.

Can video games fend off mental decline?, The New York Times

“You just crashed a little bit,” Adam Gazzaley said. It was true: I’d slammed my rocket-powered surfboard into an icy riverbank. This was at Gazzaley’s San Francisco lab, in a nook cluttered with multicolored skullcaps and wires that hooked up to an E.E.G. machine. The video game I was playing wasn’t the sort typically pitched at kids or even middle-aged, Gen X gamers. Indeed, its intended users include people over 60 — because the game might just help fend off the mental decline that accompanies aging. Gazzaley is a UCSF neuroscientist who directs the Neuroscience Imaging Center.

100 physician leaders of hospital and health systems, Becker’s Hospital Review

This list of 100 physician leaders of hospitals and health systems for 2014, based on leaders’ health care experience, accolades and commitment to quality care, includes  Dr. David Feinberg, president of UCLA Health System and CEO of the UCLA Hospital System. 

Therapy treats lung cancer based on patients’ genetic markers, San Francisco Chronicle

A new type of clinical trial for lung cancer patients getting under way at hospitals in the Bay Area and around the country may change the way drugs are tested in the future. That’s a pretty bold expectation, but researchers say the study — called the Lung Cancer Master Protocol, or Lung-MAP — will do just that. It’s the first study to recruit large numbers of patients, profile their tumors for genetic markers, and then direct those patients to the experimental therapy that is most likely to help them. In standard trials, one drug is tested at a time and researchers have little advance knowledge about which patients are likely to benefit or why. The new trial involves testing five different drugs at the same time. Every patient will receive a test drug based on the genomic profile of his or her tumor. The approach is expected to save time, and possibly money, and offer patients a better chance of survival. “It’s not an overstatement to say the world is watching us,” said Dr. David Gandara, director of the UC Davis Thoracic Oncology Program and a lead researcher in the Lung-MAP trial.

UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations finds innovative ways to treat most common health problems (video), California Health Report

UC San Francisco’s Center for Vulnerable Populations puts many of the most common health conditions in the crosshairs, and uses research and outreach to improve the health of society’s most vulnerable-sometimes in unexpected ways.

Doctors learn to push back, gently, against anti-vaccination movement, Los Angeles Times

This story reports on a recent lecture at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA given to local pediatricians on how to discuss vaccinations with parents who feel they are dangerous to their children’s health.  The lecture’s organizer, Dr. E. Richard Stiehm, an emeritus professor of pediatric allergy and immunology at UCLA, and Dr. Lisa Stern, an attending staff pediatrician at UCLA, are quoted.

‘Wandering eye’ may raise risk of falls for older adults, Reuters

This story reports on a study led by Dr. Stacy Pineles, an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Stein Eye Institute at UCLA, finding that strabismus, or a “wandering eye,” can increase the risk of falls in older adults. Pineles is quoted.

Sorry, your gut bacteria are not the answer to all your health problems, Mother Jones

We’re told that tweaks to the microbiome can cure everything from allergies to Ebola. Not exactly, say experts. Jonathan Eisen, a professor and biologist who studies the ecology of microbes at UC Davis, is quoted.

Berkeley’s autonomous surgical robotic system, MedGadget

While so-called surgical robots have been around for a few years now, they are really not robots at all, but rather remotely controlled machines that faithfully execute the commands of their masters. For robots to be real robots, they have to be autonomous and able to do tasks without much operator input. True surgical robots can help bring forth a future in which tele-surgery is possible and where physicians don’t have to deal with routine tasks such as suturing and debridement. Researchers at UC Berkeley have been working on getting a da Vinci surgical system to be smart enough to do some basic tasks on its own.

6 surprising reasons why gratitude is great for your health, Real Simple

“There is a magnetic appeal to gratitude,” says Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at UC Davis and a pioneer of gratitude research. Christine Carter, a sociologist at the Greater Good Science Center, at UC Berkeley, also is mentioned in this article.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Oct. 19

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UCLA, 4 other UC hospitals ready to treat California Ebola patients, Los Angeles Times

Officials announced Friday that all five University of California medical centers are positioned to provide care for Californians with confirmed Ebola — should any such cases arise. As of the announcement, there were no confirmed or suspected patients with Ebola in the state, the University of California Office of the President and the California Department of Public Health emphasized, in a press release announcing the hospitals’ readiness. But the UC facilities — in Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco — all said they would be ready to leap into action if that changed.

See additional coverage: San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Sacramento Bee, Sacramento Business Journal, San Francisco Business Times, U-T San Diego, KCRA 3, KQED, KTVU 2, Los Angeles Daily News, MyNewsLA/City News Service, San Diego 6/City News Service

Congressional hearing on Ebola was ‘shameful,’ Janet Napolitano says, The World Post

UC President Janet Napolitano lambasted Congress for politicizing concerns about the Ebola virus, and drew parallels to the response to 2009′s H1N1 flu pandemic, which she oversaw as Homeland Security Secretary.

Bay Area’s Vaxart seeks to test experimental Ebola vaccine, San Francisco Chronicle

A South San Francisco company is reviving an experimental Ebola vaccine that it previously shelved, joining other companies and health agencies in the rush to contain the deadly disease in West Africa. The potential vaccine from Vaxart and promising treatments and tools from scientists in the Bay Area and beyond form a growing response to an international public health emergency that has escalated since March. More than 4,800 people have died in the biggest outbreak of Ebola, which has no approved treatments or vaccines. The article quotes Charles Chiu, an associate professor of laboratory medicine and infectious diseases at UCSF, who is examining Ebola patients’ blood samples for biomarkers that can help diagnose patients before they show the telltale symptoms of fever, diarrhea and weakness. Also mentioned is Dan Kelly of UCSF, who has trained health workers to treat patients in Sierra Leone.

New research center aims to develop second generation of surgical robots, The New York Times

With funding from the National Science Foundation and two private donors, scientists at UC Berkeley will establish a research center intended to help develop medical robots that can perform low-level and repetitive surgical tasks, freeing doctors to concentrate on the most challenging and complex aspects of the operations they perform. Ken Goldberg, a professor of engineering at the university and a founder of the new Center for Automation and Learning for Medical Robotics, is quoted. The center’s other founders are Pieter Abbeel, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and Sachin Patil, a postdoctoral researcher. In May, in collaboration with surgeons at UC Davis and the Center for Robotic Surgery in Singapore, the researchers presented a paper detailing what they described as the first example of a robot automating surgical tasks involving soft tissue. Dr. W. Douglas Boyd, a professor of surgery at the UCDavis Health System, is quoted. Read a related Q&A with Goldberg.

Study: Sugary sodas linked to accelerated aging, The Washington Post

You knew that drinking sugary sodas could lead to obesity, diabetes and heart attacks — but, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, it may also speed up your body’s aging process. As you age, caps on the end your chromosomes called telomeres shrink. In the past several years, researchers at the University of California at San Francisco, have analyzed stored DNA from more than 5,300 healthy Americans in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from some 14 years ago. And they discovered that those who drank more pop tended to have shorter telomeres.

Medical costs up to 20% higher at hospital-owned physician groups, study finds, Los Angeles Times

Raising fresh questions about healthcare consolidation, a new study shows hospital ownership of physician groups in California led to 10% to 20% higher costs overall for patient care. The UC Berkeley research, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., illustrates the financial risks for employers, consumers and taxpayers as hospital systems nationwide acquire more physician practices.

Whole-gene scan analyzes mystery illnesses in kids, NBC News

This story reports on a UCLA study finding that a new genetic test helps doctors identify a diagnosis in 40 percent of children with mystery genetic diseases—a quantum leap over the field’s 5 percent success rate 20 years ago.

Did a son’s autism drive a woman to murder?, Newsweek

This story about autism and a mother’s struggles with her son, who had severe autism, highlights the work of UC Davis’ Judy van de Water, Irva Hertz-Picciotto and Sally Rogers and UC San Francisco’s Robert Hendren. The Koegel Autism Center at UC Santa Barbara also is mentioned.

Study: Half of California’s children are Latino, 94% of whom are U.S. citizens, California Healthline

A study released Tuesday on Latino children’s health in California found that 94% of Latino children in the state were born in the U.S., which may have policy implications in the next legislative session when the issue of health coverage for the undocumented will be debated. Claire Brindis, director of the Institute for Health Policy Studies at the UC-San Francisco School of Medicine, is quoted.

Berkeley team to transform MRI, ABC 7

At a busy imaging lab at UC Berkeley, researchers are preparing for a journey to unmapped corners of the human brain. To get there, the team led by neuroscience professor David Feinberg is pushing the boundaries of magnetic resonance imaging, also known as MRI. Instead of imaging the entire brain, they’re focusing on the surface, where the neural pathways are clustered.

Genetic variant linked to lower breast cancer rates in Latinas, KQED

Researchers have long known that Latina women have lower rates of breast cancer compared to African-American and white women. They have mainly pointed to lifestyle and environmental factors to explain why –- Latinas tend to have more children, breast feed longer, and drink less alcohol, all factors that are associated with lower disease rates. Now, an international study led by scientists at UC San Francisco shows that a genetic variant unique to Latina women with indigenous ancestry plays a significant role, too.

UCLA Health System fined by federal officials over banned doctor, Los Angeles Times

Federal officials fined UCLA Health System $470,000 for allowing an anesthesiologist who was banned from Medicare and other federal programs to treat patients and bill the government for their care.The university attributed the problem to human error and software problems. “Once the errors were unearthed, UCLA took prompt action, reported the matter to the Department of Health and Human Services and conducted a thorough audit to confirm that no other members of the UCLA medical staff are or were on the exclusion list,” the university said.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of Oct. 12

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Hospitals rethinking precautions in wake of nurse’s Ebola infection, San Francisco Chronicle

At the urging of federal health officials, U.S. hospitals, including some in the Bay Area, are rethinking the protocols they have in place even while assuring the public they are prepared to deal with an Ebola patient. News that a 26-year-old nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital had contracted Ebola after treating a patient has unsettled hospital administrators and health care workers because it seemingly contradicts assurances from federal health officials that U.S. hospitals are well equipped to treat and contain the disease, which has killed more than 4,000 people, primarily in West Africa. “Unnerving” is how Dr. Josh Adler, chief medical officer of UCSF Medical Center, described the transmission of the disease to the nurse, “who presumably was doing her best to protect herself and yet was still infected.” “It tells us this is a fairly contagious virus and really requires every bit of infection control and training that we can muster,” Adler said. Read UC coverage.

Ebola safeguards are being taken, Southland health officials say, Los Angeles Times

Amid news of the first Ebola death in the U.S. — that of Thomas Eric Duncan, who died in a Dallas hospital that initially misdiagnosed him and sent him away — local officials say they are working to get medical providers ready, should an Ebola case emerge in Southern California. So far, there have been no confirmed or suspected Ebola cases in Los Angeles County, and officials say they do not expect a major outbreak. Infection control experts at UCLA medical centers in Westwood and Santa Monica have provided emergency departments with Ebola kits containing recommended protective gear such as suits, masks, gloves and booties. UCLA has an Ebola response team that will take the lead should a case arise and designated areas that are equipped to handle waste disposal, said infectious disease specialist Dr. Daniel Uslan, who is part of the effort. The hospital is also drilling medical workers on procedures.

UCLA Medical Center preparing for Ebola (video), ABC 7

Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center is taking steps to prepare in the event that an Ebola patient is admitted. Dr. Zachary Rubin, head of the medical center’s Infection Prevention, says personnel are equipped what they call an “Ebola kit.” Every step in using the kit must be followed exactly to the letter, but Rubin says it can be tricky if a member of the staff has never done it before.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Daily News; CBS Los Angeles: Oct. 17 (video), Oct. 13 (video); Fox Los Angeles (video); NBC Los Angeles: Oct. 17 (video), Oct. 14 (video)

Ebola scare prompts two Sacramento hospitals to ramp up preparedness, The Sacramento Bee

UC Davis Medical Center’s chief medical officer briefed the public on the hospital’s preparedness Thursday, after an Ebola scare earlier in the week tested the response of its emergency department workers and revealed some areas in need of improvement. “This is a very fluid process,” Dr. J. Douglas Kirk said of the Sacramento hospital’s protocols for treating infectious diseases such as the notorious Ebola virus. “We’ve stepped up education and training for our staff and set new guidelines for front-line staff.”

See additional coverage: Fox 40 (video)KCRA 3 (video)KFBK

California health officials seek to assure public amid Ebola scare, The Sacramento Bee

California’s top health officials tried to assure an increasingly nervous public on Wednesday that they are ramping up readiness to fight the deadly Ebola virus, including seeking screening at all of the state’s international airports. UC Davis Health System spokeswoman Karen Finney is quoted.

Editorial: Hospitals need to give facts, not spin on Ebola, The Sacramento Bee

Even as the messy facts from Dallas were emerging, hospital systems here were stonewalling this week when asked for their strategies on Ebola. Only after Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, explicitly demanded their plans for informing the public did a couple of local hospital chiefs step up and start sharing information. And the news, unsurprisingly, was that preparedness is evolving. Or, as the chief medical officer at UC Davis Medical Center termed it after a false Ebola alarm there, “a good learning experience.” Learning is good. Even the CDC has done some. At Kaiser, a video on proper use of protective equipment has been issued, and training sessions for hospital workers were ramped up this week. We hope hospital systems will continue to learn – and keep us posted. Good information will be so reassuring if, as in Dallas, the emergency isn’t a drill someday.

Bay Area scientists work on test to find Ebola virus early (video), CBS San Francisco

It will take a monumental effort to stop the Ebola outbreak in its tracks, but scientists in the Bay Area are working on a new way to detect the virus before it can spread. Imagine, at any port of entry into the U.S., being able to quickly identify travelers infected with Ebola before they show any symptoms. “This is actually an area that we’re currently working on in my laboratory,” said Dr. Charles Chiu, an expert in infectious diseases at UCSF. His team is currently analyzing samples from Ebola patients. “The goal is eventually to use this information, if we can, to establish and make available a rapid diagnostic test for diagnoses of the Ebola virus,” Chiu said.

Ebola nurse in Dallas: Why one Texas hospital couldn’t contain Ebola, International Business Times

The United States has the most expensive health care system in the world, its gleaming hospitals outfitted with the latest technologies and equipment, and yet health care professionals couldn’t prevent a Texas nurse treating an Ebola patient from contracting the disease last week. The spread of Ebola at the Dallas hospital has raised questions about the U.S. health care system’s ability to contain the contagious virus and protect medical workers amid a growing outbreak poised to soon claim 4,500 lives worldwide. Art Reingold, head of epidemiology at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, is quoted.

Op-ed: Nurses shouldn’t be guinea pigs, Slate

John Villasenor, professor of public policy in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and a professor of electrical engineering in the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, as well as a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, recommends more rigorous training protocols to protect those charged with treating people who are sick. He suggests using big data to help protect health workers from Ebola exposure.

California investments could reap 5-to-1 return, HealthData Management

A University of California center that fosters health care innovation at UC’s five medical centers is proving to be a boon to both patient health and the bottom line. Grants made by UC’s Center for Health Quality and Innovation to fund projects that improve patient care and satisfaction at UC hospitals are paying off with positive results, including fewer blood clots and better post-surgical care at UC hospitals.

See additional coverage: California Healthline

Study: Tobacco use toll drops in California, but smoking still more deadly than AIDS, San Francisco Examiner

Smoking is more fatal and its associated health care costs are likely much more expensive in California than AIDS, Alzheimer’s or diabetes, according to a study published today by UC San Francisco researchers. However, the toll of smoking in the state actually decreased between 1999 and 2009 after rising the previous decade, from 1989 to 1999, said Wendy Max, the study’s principal investigator and a professor of health economics at the UCSF School of Nursing and director of the UCSF Institute for Health and Aging. The study is the third in a series of reports published every 10 years on costs attributed to smoking in California. It was conducted over three years at the Institute for Health and Aging thanks to a grant from the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program of the University of California’s Office of the President.

In hopes of fixing faulty genes, one scientist starts with the basics (audio), NPR

Whether they admit it or not, many (if not most) scientists secretly hope to get a call in October informing them they’ve won a Nobel Prize. But I’ve talked to a lot of Nobel laureates, and they are unanimous on one point: None of them pursued a research topic with the intention of winning the prize. That’s certainly true for Jennifer Doudna. She hasn’t won a Nobel Prize yet, but many are whispering that she’s in line to win one for her work on something called CRISPR/Cas9 — a tool for editing genes. The idea came when she and her colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, were in essence trying to figure out how bacteria fight the flu. The goal was really more of a basic science question, Doudna says.

East Bay woman sparks debate on aid in dying, San Francisco Chronicle

Brittany Maynard doesn’t want to die. But more than anything, she doesn’t want to die a horrendous death — like the kind that comes with the type of brain cancer she was diagnosed with nine months ago. So if all goes as planned in the coming weeks, Maynardwill dissolve a deadly dose of prescribed medicine into a cup of water and drink it. Within minutes, she will slip into a coma-like state. And an hour or two later, the 29-year-old newlywed will be dead. The East Bay resident moved to Oregon to take advantage of that state’s Death with Dignity law, and a video in which she talks poignantly about her fate has gone viral — with nearly 6 million views in a mere five days — making the onetime teacher one of the most compelling spokespersons for advocates of assisted dying. Maynard is a UC Berkeley graduate.

Soda may age you as much as smoking, study says, Time

Nobody would mistake sugary soda for a health food, but a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health just found that a daily soda habit can age your immune cells almost two years. Senior study author Elissa Epel, professor of psychiatry at UC San Francisco, wanted to look at the mechanisms behind soda’s storied link to conditions like diabetes, heart attack, obesity, and even higher rates of death. She studied telomeres, the caps at the end of chromosomes in every cell in our body, from white blood cells. Shorter telomeres have been linked to health detriments like shorter lifespans and more stress, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, the study notes.

See additional coverage: CBS San Francisco (video), The Guardian

UCLA plans behavioral health center, California Healthline

A ceremony Oct. 14 at UCLA officially unveiled plans for a research center devoted to behavioral health, a $7.5 million investment that mirrors a sister effort at UC Davis in Sacramento. Together, they are called the Centers for Excellence in Behavioral Health, funded by $15 million over three years from the Mental Health Services Act, created in 2004 when California voters passed Proposition 63. “The idea is to take what we do here at the UC [system] and … translate the science into policy and bring it to evidence-based practice in the community,” said Peter Whybrow, director of UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, where the behavioral health center will be.

New UCLA telehealth program part of national trend, California Healthline

A new consumer service launched by UCLA is part of a growing national trend of using telehealth technology to let patients and physicians connect using mobile phones, tablets and computers. LiveHealthOnline, launched last month by UCLA Health System, is one of about 200 telemedicine networks in the U.S., according to the American Telemedicine Association. Like many remote physician services, the goal is to provide convenience to busy patients with minor ailments who don’t have time to get into a doctor’s office. “For population health, it gives us the ability to expand our reach but in a convenient way,” said Peter Kung, director of strategic technologies for the UCLA Health System. “People don’t have to drive in Los Angeles traffic for a cold and cough and we can uphold quality.”

Study backs use of stem cells in retinas, The New York Times

Since they were first isolated 16 years ago, human embryonic stem cells have been thought to have the potential to replace the body’s worn-out tissues and treat a wide variety of diseases. The progress has been slow. But now researchers are reporting an encouraging step. A therapy for eye diseases that was derived from stem cells appeared to be safe and might have improved the vision of some patients, according to a new study. The results, published on Tuesday evening by the journal The Lancet, represent the most extensive human data yet on any treatment derived from such embryonic stem cells. The 18 patients in the study were followed for a median of 22 months, two of them for more than three years.  Dr. Steven D. Schwartz, a retina specialist at UCLA and the lead author of the paper, is quoted.

UCLA study shows why one of the biggest Obamacare fears may not come to pass, California Healthline

Something like 10 million Americans — give or take a few million — have gained health coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act. And here’s one way to put that in perspective: In just six months between late 2013 and early 2014, the nation’s persistently high uninsured rate fell by a staggering 25%. So does this mean that the nation’s already busy emergency departments are about to bust at the seams, as some Obamacare critics suggest? That states still nixing the Medicaid expansion are right to worry it would overcrowd their hospitals? Not necessarily, says UCLA’s Gerald Kominski. Kominski, director of UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research, and colleagues looked at what happened when hundreds of thousands of Californians signed up for a proto-version of Obamacare: the Low Income Health Plan, better known as the LIHP. And UCLA’s new study — released on Wednesday — tracks nearly 200,000 enrollees in the LIHP between 2011 and 2013.

See additional coverage: NPR

Dance medicine workshop at Davis conference engages younger crowds, The Sacramento Bee

Dozens cycled in and out of a UC Davis classroom this weekend to hear the story of Isha Loyd, a seven-year cast member of the Sacramento Ballet who was forced to leave the stage earlier this year because of a ganglion cyst in her right foot. Raising the next crop of physicians was the main focus of the 12th annual UC Davis Pre-medical and Pre-health Professions National Conference held Saturday and Sunday for high school, college and post-graduate students interested in the medical field.

Email hacking source of UC Davis breach, Clinical Innovation+Technology

The University of California Davis Health System has notified 1,326 patients that their protected health information was compromised when a physician’s email account was hacked.

See additional coverage: Healthcare IT News

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