A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:
California follows federal lead with its own brain-mapping initiative, Los Angeles Times
It took 40 scientists, tens of millions of dollars and several decades to create a comprehensive atlas of the brain of the lowly fruit fly. So Ralph Greenspan, whose neuroscience career started with fruit fly experiments, understands that $2 million from Sacramento won’t be enough to map the human brain, which has about 85 million times as many neurons. But in a state that only recently crawled out from years of budget deficits and recession, the decision to set aside money for brain research carries symbolic weight: It’s a wager on California’s ability to turn gray matter to green matter. The new California Blueprint for Research to Advance Innovations in Neuroscience, or Cal-BRAIN, is part of the state budget signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last week. It complements President Obama’s $100-million BRAIN Initiative to decode the human brain the way a previous generation of scientists decoded the human genome. If they sound similar, there’s good reason. Greenspan, director of UC San Diego’s Center for Brain Activity Mapping and associate director of its Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind, is among a small group of scientists who had their fingerprints on both.
See additional coverage: Nature
In reviews on Yelp, San Francisco’s Moffitt Café averages four-and-a-half out of five stars. “Unbelievable variety, farm to table fresh food, wide produce selection, and great prices!” enthuses one customer. “I’m really happy with eating here, they have SO many options,” gushes another. Not bad reviews … especially for a hospital cafeteria. Moffitt Café, also known as “the Moffitteria,” is the main dining hall of UCSF Medical Center. Since undertaking a $6.5m café renovation in 2010, the nutrition and food services department at UCSF has been working to renovate the menu as well, attempting to integrate eating choices that are tasty, healthy and good for the environment. Even though a short hospital stay is unlikely to change anyone’s bad eating habits, it’s “a big educational opportunity,” says food-service project manager Jack Henderson. “We need to lead by example, because we are a teaching institution.” The medical center has become a leader in a growing movement amongst hospitals countrywide to add more fresh, organic and sustainable foods.
For elderly patients, a sharper focus, The New York Times
The idea took shape as Dr. Shawn Barnes, a psychiatry resident at the University of California, San Diego, watched some hospitalized older patients struggling with consent forms. It wasn’t because they didn’t understand the forms, or questioned the treatments they were about to undergo. “They had difficulty signing the forms because they had trouble seeing,” Dr. Barnes said. People had donated books for recuperating patients to read in the hospital, but poor eyesight often put those off-limits, too. The geriatric psychiatry unit kept a few pairs of hand-me-down reading glasses in a drawer, but not enough. “I looked into it and found out they were incredibly cheap,” Dr. Barnes said. “You can buy them online for a buck a pair.” Hence his call, in an article published in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias, for facilities that treat older adults to maintain a stockpile of cheap standard reading glasses, the kind drugstores sell.
Two new autism studies point to pesticides, traumatic experiences as possible causes, Los Angeles Daily News
Women who live too close to farms where certain pesticides are used or who experience traumatic events could be at higher risk of having children in the autism spectrum, according to a pair of separate studies by California researchers released Monday in two journals. The two studies, one published in Environmental Health Perspectives by researchers at UC Davis and the other in Pediatrics from UCLA, both continue to examine how environmental conditions and experiences can play a role in raising the risk factor for autism.
UC Davis study links autism to pesticides, The Fresno Bee
A new study released Sunday suggests pregnant women who live near agricultural fields where pesticides are sprayed are at increased risk of having a child with autism. The study by the UC Davis MIND Institute found mothers exposed to organophosphates had a two-thirds increased risk of having a child with autism.
UCI Medical Center to make own power, Orange County Business Journal
The UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange will produce 30% of its own power and save up to $10 million in just under 20 years, by an agreement with a Danbury, Conn., company. The 1.4-megawatt fuel cell plant will also produce 200 tons of cooling for its center’s campus and help it meet California cap-and-trade requirements. The medical center said it expects to save between $4 million and $10 million over 19 years, after the power plant is ready.
UCLA Operation Mend treats wounded warriors (video), ABC Los Angeles
Treating war injuries requires special medical care, and one way America’s wounded warriors are getting the treatment they need is with UCLA’s Operation Mend.
Scientists from many areas of biology are flocking to a technique that allows them to work inside cells, making changes in specific genes far faster — and for far less money — than ever before. This new genetic tool – known as CRISPR for clustered regularly interspersed short palindromic repeats. UC Berkeley’s Jennifer Doudna is interviewed.
In a last-ditch effort to relieve his symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, Brett Larsen decided to undergo deep brain stimulation. Electrodes were implanted in his brain, nestled near the striatum, an area thought to be responsible for deep, primitive emotions such as anxiety and fear. The story quotes Gerald Maguire, chair of psychiatry and neuroscience at UC Riverside medical school, and part of the team evaluating whether Larsen was a good candidate for deep brain stimulation. The story also quotes Frank Hsu, professor and chair of the department of neurosurgery at UC Irvine.
Older military veterans who have suffered a serious head injury are more likely to be diagnosed with dementia than uninjured veterans, according to a new study. The report looked at traumatic brain injury (TBI), which includes concussions, skull fractures and bleeding inside the skull. “There have been a fair number of previous studies that have looked at the relationship between TBI and risk of dementia, and some have found an association while others haven’t,” said lead author Deborah E. Barnes, from the University of California, San Francisco, and the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times
Doctors regularly counsel expectant mothers about the risks associated with smoking, drinking and poor nutrition during pregnancy. But many obstetricians are reluctant to speak with them about the potential dangers posed by toxic substances in the environment — things like heavy metals, solvents and pesticides. That is the conclusion reached by a recent survey of 2,500 obstetricians, the of which were published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE. The story quotes Naomi Stotland, a professor of obstetrics at UC San Francisco and lead author on the study, and Robert Gunier, a researcher at the Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health at UC Berkeley.
Herpes infected ‘since before we were human’, The New York Times
About two-thirds of people are infected with one of two herpes simplex viruses, oral (HSV-1) or genital (HSV-2). New research says both viruses have been infecting humans and our ancestors for longer than previously thought. HSV-1 has been infecting hominids since before they split from the chimpanzee lineage six million years ago, a new study says. HSV-2 was introduced more recently, the researchers said, making the jump from chimpanzees to human ancestors about 1.6 million years ago. “If you think of humans as Homo sapiens proper, then both viruses have been with us since before we were human,” said Joel O. Wertheim, a virologist at the University of California, San Diego, and lead author of the study.
Slowing down can increase productivity and happiness, Part 2, Psychology Today
UC Davis professors Kimberly Elsbach and Andrew Hargadon have suggested that we find ways to balance our workday activities with a mix of “mindful” (cognitively demanding) and “mindless” (cognitively facile) activities.