December 12, 2014.
A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:
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.
Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong is turning heads with unconventional ways of treating the deadly disease. UCLA is mentioned.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sonseeahray Tonsall sits down with Dr. Dean Blumberg of UC Davis Health System to find out more about virtual medicine.
Research from UC Berkeley, UC Davis and UC San Francisco is mentioned in this piece about stress.
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.”