CATEGORY: In the media

In the media: Week of July 27

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UC Davis is trailblazer in three-year medical school model (audio), Capital Public Radio

A handful of UC Davis students are trailblazers in a new medical school model that has won the approval of Californian Governor Jerry Brown. Brown signed legislation that will allow doctors to practice with three years of medical school instead of four.

John Muir Health to partner with UCSF Medical Center to form new health care network, Contra Costa Times

UC San Francisco Medical Center and John Muir Health are teaming up to form a regional health care network, with the goal of providing “better health care, at lower costs,” the agencies announced Tuesday. In a joint news release, the two health care providers said they would remain independent but would equally own and operate a new company, which would serve as a funding vehicle for joint initiatives, including the health care network. The new network, or “accountable care organization (ACO),” would lower health care benefit premiums by providing “the right care at the right time and in the most appropriate setting, whether that is the primary care physician’s office, an outpatient center or a hospital,” according to the news release.

See additional coverage: San Francisco Business Times

Fatal beach lightning strike: Surfer still in critical condition, Los Angeles Times

A freak lightning strike killed one and injured more than a dozen people, including one patient that was brought to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and two that were treated at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica.

Water main break floods streets in Westwood near UCLA (video), ABC Los Angeles

A water-main pipe burst and flooded streets in Westwood and parts of the UCLA campus Tuesday afternoon. Parts of the UCLA campus, including Drake Track and Field Stadium, Pauley Pavilion, the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center, J.D. Morgan Center, Acosta Center, John Wooden Center, the North Athletic Field, intramural field and Bruin Plaza were flooded. UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said Pauley Pavilion, the Wooden Center and two parking structures sustained damage. Workers placed sandbags on the north side of Pauley Pavilion, which underwent a $133-million renovation in 2012. Parking structures 4 and 7 were closed due to flooding. No one was injured, Block said. Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center was not affected by the water-main break, as multiple water sources feed the hospital.

UC San Francisco researchers to analyze deadly Ebola virus; experimental vaccine in the works (video), CBS San Francisco

Bay Area researchers are gearing up to help analyze a deadly Ebola virus that has killed hundreds in Western Africa, while the government says an experimental vaccine is in the works. Dr. Charles Chiu, professor of laboratory medicine and infectious diseases at UC San Francisco, said Friday his lab is expecting a shipment of non-infectious samples of the current Ebola outbreak to analyze and find the genetic sequence of the strain. Chiu said the results of the UCSF analyses will lead to better ways to diagnose and treat the disease.

New lungs, new heart, new life, U-T San Diego

This story reports on a 22-year-old Escondido woman who is recovering from a rare heart-lung transplant at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Her physician, Dr. David Ross, medical director of the lung and heart-lung transplant program, is quoted. Her surgeon, Dr. Abbas Ardehali, director of the heart, lung and heart-lung transplant programs, is cited.

3 reasons you should eat more spicy food, Time

Hot peppers add a lot of flavor to our food, but they may be doing much more than just making our eyes water. New research from UC San Diego shows they might have tumor-fighting benefits, as well. Researchers at the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition have also shown that peppers might actually encourage your body to burn more calories.

3 simple lifestyle habits that may slow aging, Time

There’s more evidence for eating well, sleeping, and exercising. Stress makes our bodies age faster, but thankfully we can combat that with healthy eating and exercise, a new study says. When cells age, telomeres—tips at the end of chromosomes—shorten. Telomeres help regulate the aging of cells, and their length has been used to determine the body’s current state of health. Things like stress and lifestyle behaviors can influence their length, as compelling earlier research has shown. In the new study, UC San Francisco researchers looked at 239 post-menopausal women for a year and found that for every major life stressor they experienced during the year, there was a significant shortening in their telomere length. That’s not great news, but the researchers also discovered that the women who ate a healthy diet, exercised and slept well had less shortening of their telomeres. It could be that the women’s healthy habits actually protect them from cellular aging, even in the face of life’s stresses.

Fighting their way into medical school, Inside Higher Ed

It may take extra effort and planning, but hearing impaired medical students now have access to an array of technology including amplified stethoscopes, advanced text-to-speech technology, and amplified telephones. In 2011, a deaf medical student at UC Davis completed her surgery rotation by using a tablet to send the sounds of an operating room to an off-site transcriber. The transcriber then turned the audio into typed messages that appeared on an overhead monitor back in the operating room.

Study finds parental disconnect on kids’ obesity, San Francisco Chronicle

Despite the nation’s well-publicized childhood obesity problem, new research reveals that nearly one-third of parents are surprised when doctors tell them their child’s weight is putting his or her health at risk. Researchers at UC San Diego surveyed more than 200 parents whose primary care doctors referred their kids to an obesity clinic. Among the findings: Many parents were unconcerned about their children’s weight and perceived them to be in very good health before doctors pointed out the problem. Then, more parents were interested in improving kids’ diets than their levels of physical activity. The survey results don’t surprise Dr. June Tester, co-director of Healthy Hearts, the obesity clinic at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. The clinic sees about 300 new patients each year, and Tester said many parents are surprised to get the referrals.

UCLA pursues apps in fight against addictions, HealthData Management

Researchers at UCLA are developing web and mobile apps to aid patients struggling with addiction–and their therapists–to track progress and have quick access to help. The program is starting with gambling addiction, but will expand to support treatment of other addictions, as well as other behavioral problems such as depression, says Ardeshir Rahman, program manager of the behavioral technologies lab at the UCLA Gambling Studies Program. “We’re looking for people who want to get better,” Rahman adds. “As long as a user is proactive, we can see progress.”

Sorry, Lucy, The myth of the misused brain is 100 percent false (audio), NPR

UCLA Dr. Ariana Anderson, an assistant research statistician at the Semel Institute, is featured in this segment about the movie “Lucy,” and the fictitious claim that humans only use 10 percent of their brains.

Should you be afraid of the Ebola threat?, Vox

The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control have both said the risk that Ebola will spread beyond West Africa is extremely low. Still, fear-mongering headlines about the worst outbreak in Ebola history abound in the press. Art Reingold, the head of epidemiology at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, is interviewed about this issue.

Op-ed: Bay Area must invest in health services for older adults, San Francisco Chronicle

The problem isn’t what we do have here in the Bay Area, it’s what we lack: health care and philanthropic giants focused on the segment of our population that does routinely need medical care: older adults, writes Louise Aronson, an associate professor of geriatrics at UCSF and the author of “A History of the Present Illness.”

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of July 20

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

100 hospitals and health systems with great oncology programs, Becker’s Hospital Review

Four UC medical centers — Davis, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco — have been named to Becker’s Hospital Review’s 2014 edition of “100 Hospital and Health Systems with Great Oncology Programs” honor roll list.

Whooping cough epidemic spreads in California (audio), Capital Public Radio

Marin, Humboldt, Sonoma and Fresno counties have some of the highest rates of pertussis. Whooping cough surges every three to five years, but Dr. Dean Blumberg of the UC Davis Health System says this year is terrible.

Pregnancy doesn’t drive women doctors out of surgical training, Reuters

A new study disputes a common stereotype that women who become pregnant during surgical training often drop out of those training programs. Researchers led by Dr. Erin G. Brown of UC Davis found that neither women nor men who had children born during their school’s surgical residency program were more likely to quit than residents who did not have children during training.

Hillary Clinton puts kids in front of politics in Oakland, San Francisco Chronicle

Wednesday was a day off from politics for former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who spent the morning in Oakland with babies, small children and their parents, talking about talking. It was the local kickoff for the “Too Small to Fail” campaign, an early childhood education effort designed to let parents know that talking is teaching when it comes to the youngest children. The multimedia campaign is designed to remind people that “parents are a child’s first teachers and the family is the first school,” Clinton told a group at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute. If parents take the time to “talk, read and sing to their babies,” she said, they can boost their children’s chances in school and beyond at little or no cost. Local partners in the effort include the business-oriented Bay Area Council, Kaiser Permanente and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. Lynne and Marc Benioff of gave $3.5 million to the project to pay for research into what parts of the new program hold the most promise.

How your chilli addiction could be helping you live longer, Newsweek

While capsaicin might set our mouth on fire, it also leads blood vessels to relax, so it could help people with high blood pressure. Prolonged activation of TRPV1 on the membranes of pain and heat-sensing nerve cells also depletes substance  P, one of the body’s messenger chemicals. That is why the compound that puts the fire in jalapeños is used as an analgesic in ointments, nasal sprays and patches to relieve minor aches and pains, and the itching of psoriasis. Now a study by Andrew Dillin of the University of California, Berkeley, suggested this analgesic effect could have a yet more profound impact on humanity. This story also mentions UC Davis research.

Study finds 3 out of 4 children with mental health needs don’t get treated (audio), KPCC

A UCLA study released Thursday suggests only about a quarter of California children with mental health needs receive treatment.

Top schools may bolster poor teens health, The Associated Press

This story reports on research led by UCLA Dr. Mitchell Wong finding that students admitted to high-performing high schools were less likely to engage in very risky health behaviors and also achieved higher test scores than their counterparts who were not admitted to those schools.

California pharmacies resist push to translate drug labels, The Sacramento Bee

Kai Ming Tan, one of the many UC Davis students who staff the Paul Hom Asian Clinic in East Sacramento, often writes out directions for 63-year-old Chek Lun Wong in Chinese characters. When Wong goes to the pharmacy to pick up his prescription bottle, labeled in English, he will rely on this information to take the drug. “Patients need things written down,” said Tan. “If a medical student is presenting, (the patients) can’t keep it in their head. They need something written down so they have something if they go home and forget what I said.” Dr. Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, director of the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities, also is quoted.

UCLA gets domain-specific healthcare computing grant, HealthData Management

A group led by UCLA engineering researchers that designs high-performance, customizable computer technologies to improve healthcare has received a $3 million grant from a public-private partnership between the National Science Foundation and semiconductor manufacturer Intel Corp.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of July 13

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Best Hospitals 2014-15: Overview and Honor Roll, U.S. News & World Report

U.S. News & World Report released its America’s Best Hospitals survey. UC has two of the nation’s top 10 hospitals and all five of its medical centers rank among the nation’s best hospitals. Read UC story.

See additional coverage: California Healthline, CBS News (video), CNN, Fox San Diego, NBC Los Angeles, NBC San Francisco, San Francisco Business Times, U-T San Diego

We’re genetically linked to our friends, CNN

This brings a whole new meaning to the phrase, “You’ve got a friend in me.” A new study published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science suggests friends may be more than just people you lean on when you’re not strong; they might actually help you carry on — genetically speaking. “Looking across the whole genome, we find that on average, we are genetically similar to our friends,” said James Fowler, co-author of the study and professor of medical genetics and political science at UC San Diego. “We have more DNA in common with the people we pick as friends than we do with strangers in the same population.”

Governor signs bill to let doctors graduate faster, Sacramento Business Journal

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Friday that allows students at accredited medical school programs in California to complete their education and become doctors in three years instead of four. The goal of Assembly Bill 1838 by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla from Concord is to churn quality doctors out faster with less student debt. The bill comes at a time when demand for doctors is high due to federal health reform. AB 1838 was sponsored by the University of California — which operates six medical schools in the state — and the Medical Board of California. Read UC press release.

The List: Medical groups, Sacramento Business Journal

This week’s list of medical groups stretches out to include 27 local medical groups employing two or more physicians. Groups surveyed have operations in Sacramento, El Dorado, Placer or Yolo counties. Groups are ranked by the number of physicians at local facilities. Combined, they employ 4,934 physicians in the four-county area. Of those, 1,528 are primary care physicians. Topping the list again is The Permanente Medical Group inc., which has 1,541 physicians at facilities in the area. UC Davis Medical Group ranks second with 960 physicians. The group employs an additional 539 residents and fellows.

Researchers aim for an electrical memory prothesis, Science

Last fall, Geoffrey Ling, a top biotechnology research official at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), challenged neuroscientists to do something extraordinary: Develop an implantable device that can reverse memory loss in veterans with traumatic brain injuries. Dangling up to $40 million in funding, Ling said: “Here’s the golden ring—who’s brave enough to step up and actually grab it?” Last week, DARPA announced that two academic teams have made the lunge. Both teams, at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), aim to develop electrical prostheses that will tickle brain regions critical to memory. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and device manufacturer Medtronic will also participate, aiming to build neurostimulators at least 10 times smaller than previous devices.

Study emphasizes role of exercise in controlling weight, San Francisco Chronicle

A surprising and somewhat bemusing study out of Stanford was making the blog rounds last week, after it suggested that American weight gain over the past 30 years is linked more to exercise than to the number of calories people consumed. The story quotes Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, co-director of UCSF’s Center for Vulnerable Populations at San Francisco General Hospital, and Patricia Crawford, co-director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Weight and Health.

Nancy Scheper-Hughes responds to our profile, ‘The organ detective’, Pacific Standard

UC Berkeley anthropology professor Nancy Scheper-Hughes writes a response to a profile of her — “The organ detective: A career spent uncovering a hidden global market in human flesh” — that was published in the July/August issue of Pacific Standard. She refutes the claim that she has a “deep animus toward the medical establishment” and discusses omitted details regarding a scandal at a forensic institute in Israel.

Teaching surgery, helping the underserved with Google Glass (video), KTLA 5

This story features an educational project that uses Google Glass to help bring the latest hernia surgical techniques to doctors in resource-poor countries. With UCLA doctors’ help, local surgeons in Paraguay and Brazil in late May wore Google Glass while performing adult surgeries to repair a common type of hernia. Through Google Glass, the surgeries were viewed “live” via wireless streaming in the United States to a select group of leading surgeons who could watch and oversee the procedures. Dr. David Chen, assistant clinical professor of general surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, is interviewed and surgical resident Dr. Justin Wagner demonstrates how Google Glass works.

Costs of diabetes epidemic high in Los Angeles homes, hospitals, California Healthline

As steadily increasing rates of diabetes drive health care costs higher in Los Angeles County, providers and consumer advocates say prevention is the best way to reduce financial and personal effects of a disease many believe has reached “epidemic proportions.”Using 2011 hospital patient discharge data and annual financial data from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, a May policy brief from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research found almost one-third of all hospitalized patients ages 35 and older in the state had diabetes.

The night shift, Los Angeles Magazine

Dr. Christopher S. Colwell, UCLA professor of psychiatry and director of the Laboratory of Circadian and Sleep Medicine at the Semel Institute; and Dr. Jerome Siegel, UCLA professor of psychiatry and director of the Center for Sleep Research at the Semel Institute, are featured in this story discussing Los Angelenos’ sleep habits, and the health issues that can arise from insufficient sleep. A UC Berkeley study also is mentioned.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of July 6

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Probing brain’s depth, trying to aid memory, The New York Times

The Department of Defense on Tuesday announced a $40 million investment in what has become the fastest-moving branch of neuroscience: direct brain recording. Two centers, one at the University of Pennsylvania and the other at UCLA, won contracts to develop brain implants for memory deficits. Their aim is to develop new treatments for traumatic brain injury, the signature wound of the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Its most devastating symptom is the blunting of memory and reasoning. Scientists have found in preliminary studies that they can sharpen some kinds of memory by directly recording, and stimulating, circuits deep in the brain. The article also mentions UC San Francisco research.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times

Livermore Lab to help build memory-restoring brain implant, San Francisco Chronicle

Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have been assigned to develop a tiny computer that would be implanted in the brain of humans to restore memory in the fragile network of nerve cells damaged by combat or disease, the laboratory reported Tuesday. A $2.5 million contract from DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, will finance the lab’s development of a neural implant with researchers at UCLA and Medronic, a high-tech medical device firm. Satinderpall Pannu, director of the Livermore Lab’s Center for Bioengineering, is quoted. A separate DARPA grant, announced in May, also called for Pannu’s group to work with UCSF researchers to develop a different implantable device that would retrain the brain’s neurons to cope with neurological problems like major depression and anxiety disorders.

See additional coverage: San Francisco Business Times, San Jose Mercury News, KQED

Medical school dean selected to lead UCSF, San Francisco Chronicle

UC President Janet Napolitano has selected Dr. Sam Hawgood, dean of the UCSF School of Medicine and interim chancellor, to be UCSF’s 10th chancellor, the president’s office announced Wednesday. Hawgood, 61, would replace outgoing Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, who left the university to become chief executive of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Hawgood has been serving in the interim role since April.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times, Contra Costa Times, San Francisco Business Times

New target: UCSF researchers eye common cold drug to beat back multiple sclerosis, San Francisco Business Times

A common cold treatment and seven other drugs already approved for other conditions could help restore a protective coating eroded around neurons in multiple sclerosis patients, according to researchers led by a team at the University of California, San Francisco. UCSF is spearheading a 50-patient clinical trial of the most promising drug — an over-the-counter antihistamine branded by Novartis as Tavist — that is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Patients still can enroll in the trial.

New vision app keeps baseball players’ eye on the ball (video), CBS This Morning

UC Riverside has developed a new app that helps baseball players train their brains for better vision.

The organ detective, Pacific Standard

UC Berkeley anthropology professor Nancy Scheper-Hughes is profiled for her long-term work tracking and fighting the illegal trade of human organs. She first heard about organ thieves while doing fieldwork in northeastern Brazil in 1987. Since then, she has documented the global black market for organs, and has come to understand that human organs and tissue tend to move from south to north, from poor to rich, and from brown-skinned to lighter-skinned people. Her work has raised questions about what the role of anthropologists should be in such situations, and she’s inclined to drop the traditional academic cloak in favor of joining the fights of the powerless.

With high school football concussion cases rising, limits on contact at practice likely, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

This story reports on a UCLA-hosted Practice Like Pros event to educate coaches, parents, trainers and others on football techniques that would be legal under AB 2127. Authored by Assemblyman Ken Cooley, the bill aims to prevent concussions in high school football players by reducing high-impact contact during field practice.

Program to help ‘forgotten’ teen cancer patients (video), CBS News

This story on hospitals tailoring cancer programs to better serve teen patients features the Daltrey-Townshend Teen & Young Adult Cancer Program based at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica. Dr. Noah Federman, director, UCLA Pediatric Sarcoma Program, comments in the story.

1 in 5 teens smoke hookah; half think it’s healthful, The Washington Post

A study from the UCLA School of Nursing finding that many young adults don’t think hookah smoking is harmful to their health is featured in this story.

Fungal disease ‘valley fever’ proves tricky to diagnose (audio, video), PBS NewsHour

George Thompson of the UC Davis School of Medicine discusses treatment for the fungal disease known as “valley fever.”

UC Davis biomedical academy helps move research to market, Sacramento Business Journal

In what is perhaps the most formal event to commercialize research coming out of UC Davis the Biomedical and Engineering Entrepreneurship Academy began Wednesday as a three-day boot camp of sorts for aspiring entrepreneurs. The event, which connects students, researchers and faculty with industry representatives and investors, for the first time assembled some of the university’s largest departments — the College of Engineering, School of Medicine and School of Veterinary Medicine.

We tell kids to ‘go to sleep!’ We need to teach them why, The New York Times

A blog calling on parents to explain to their children why sleep is so important to their health offers up an analogy of UC Berkeley psychology professor Matthew Walker, director of Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory. He has likened the function of sleep to emptying an email inbox so that it can receive new messages.

Can raising the state’s minimum wage improve public health? (audio), California Healthline

Experts discuss research efforts to gauge public health effects of public policy decisions — such as the recent effort to increase the minimum wage, which some researchers say could mean long-range health improvements for lower-income Californians. The report includes comments from Rajiv Bhatia, visiting scholar at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, and Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of June 29

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

University of California launches effort to reduce world hunger, Los Angeles Times

The University of California system is launching an effort to expand research and outreach to help reduce world hunger, improve nutrition and aid farmers coping with climate change, officials announced Tuesday. UC President Janet Napolitano said the system’s 10 campuses, its large agricultural programs and the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab that UC manages will participate in the new University of California Global Food Initiative. Napolitano unveiled the program Tuesday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, where students grow and cook organic food as part of the Edible Schoolyard project. She was joined by Alice Waters, founder of the Edible Schoolyard project and owner of the famed Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley. Later in the day, Napolitano presented details to a Sacramento meeting of the state Board of Food and Agriculture and visited a student-run garden at UCLA’s Sunset Canyon Recreation Center.

See additional coverage: Associated Press, CBS Los Angeles, KCRA 3 (video), KEYT 3 (video), KQED, KSBW 8 (video), Politico, Sacramento Bee, San Jose Mercury News

UCSD names dean of Skaggs School of Pharmacy, San Diego Daily Transcript

James H. McKerrow will become the second dean of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of California, San Diego, the school announced Monday. He will start July 1.

NIH creates 6-university network to tackle mystery diseases, KPCC

The government is expanding its “mystery disease” program, funding a network at six universities to help diagnose patients’ super-rare diseases. The National Institutes of Health has evaluated hundreds of these cold-case patients in its campus research hospital as part of a pilot program since 2008. Demand is so great, there’s a waiting list. So on Tuesday, the agency announced the NIH Undiagnosed Diseases Network, a four-year, $43 million initiative to bring more doctor-detectives on board. The goal is to at least put a name to more patients’ puzzling symptoms, and then eventually find treatments. The centers include: Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Duke University, Stanford University, UCLA, Vanderbilt University and the Harvard University teaching hospitals Brigham and Women’s, Massachusetts General and Boston Children’s.

I won’t shake your hand, Doc, San Francisco Chronicle

The handshake is a universal social custom, far more common even than saying hello. But when doctors, nurses, medical residents and hospital staff greet patients (and each other) with handshakes, they may be spreading disease. For years, doctors and nurses have understood that hands transmit disease. That’s why hospitals and doctor’s offices around the world have developed strict hand-washing policies (and, more recently, hand-gel sanitizer policies). Don’t get us wrong; these programs are extremely important, and need to be expanded. The problem is that doctors and nurses follow these policies less than half the time (and patients and visitors don’t do much better). As our research group at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA suggested in a recent (and controversial) article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, banning the handshake in hospitals and doctor’s offices would probably decrease the spread of disease, writes  Mark S. Sklansky, chief of pediatric cardiology and a professor of clinical pediatrics at UCLA.

Aging: Too much telomerase can be as bad as too little, Scientific American

This piece about the roles of telomeres and telomerase in cellular aging highlights the work of Nobel laureate Elizabeth Blackburn of UC San Francisco.

What should women do about the new pelvic exam recommendation?, KPCC

This story reports on a recommendation that annual pelvic exams are not necessary. Those quoted include George Sawaya and Vanessa Jacoby, both OB/GYNs at UCSF, and Daniel Kahn, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UCLA, and Erica Oberman, an assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UCLA.

Op-ed: We shouldn’t treat kidneys as commodities, Los Angeles Times

Gabriel Danovitch, medical director of the UCLA Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program, co-wrote this opinion piece opposing the idea of paying donors for kidneys, arguing that it won’t increase the supply of kidneys while increasing the potential risks to both donor and recipient.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of June 22

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

Rehabilitating hospital food: aiming for health, sustainable and savory, The Guardian

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.

See additional coverage: Time, KQED (audio)

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.

A CRISPR way to fix faulty genes (audio), NPR

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.

Deep brain stimulation offers hope for OCD patient, CNN

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.

Study links traumatic brain injury to increased dementia risk, Reuters

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

Few doctors warn expectant mothers about environmental hazards, NPR

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.

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In the media: Week of June 15

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Next-gen sequencing IDs rare infection, saves boy’s life, San Francisco Chronicle

When the sample of cerebral spinal fluid arrived in Dr. Charles Chiu’s UCSF lab on a Friday morning in August 2013, he knew time was already short. The sample came from a 14-year-old Wisconsin boy with dangerous swelling in his brain. His doctors, not sure that he’d survive the weekend, sent the sample with the thin hope that Chiu’s team might figure out what was making him sick, and solve a months-long mystery. In just two days, using experimental genomic sequencing technology, Chiu had an answer: leptospira. It’s a rare bacterial infectionthat fortunately for the boy was very treatable. By Sunday afternoon, doctors were pumping Joshua Osborn with high doses of penicillin. Within days, he was out of a coma, no longer suffering constant seizures. In a month, he was back home and almost fully recovered. To solve the mystery, Chiu’s team used a diagnostic tool known as “next-generation sequencing,” which allows scientists to very quickly read and analyze the genetic makeup of an organism.

UCLA’s Operation Mend brings back smile to Iraq war vet (video), ABC News

A feature on UCLA’s Operation Mend, which since 2007 has helped wounded soldiers with advanced facial and hand surgery, as well as comprehensive medical and mental-health support for the wounded and their families at no cost. The program is a collaborative effort between Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC), the V.A. Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System and UCLA Health System. Veterans have access to the nation’s top plastic and reconstructive surgeons. They currently have served 107.

UCSD plans county’s first cancer hospital, U-T San Diego

The county’s first cancer hospital is hiding behind the growing blue-green facade of UC San Diego’s Jacobs Medical Center. When the 10-story, $839 million facility opens in 2016, the Pauline and Stanley Foster Hospital for Cancer Care will occupy floors four through six. While it will not be a standalone structure like City of Hope in the Los Angeles area or the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, the three-floor, 108-bed specialty hospital will nonetheless represent a shift in treatment options for local residents.

Calif. agency, UCSF to create health care pricing, quality database, California Healthline/Payers & Providers

On Wednesday, the California Department of Insurance announced an agreement with UC San Francisco to create a price and quality database that will provide consumers with information about common health care services. The health care prices and quality transparency project is funded by a $5.2 million grant from HHS. It was awarded to DOI as part of an initiative under the Affordable Care Act.

A faster way to find the origin of malaria, The New York Times

By using a DNA “bar code” of 23 short snips from the genes of parasites that cause malaria, scientists can now often quickly determine where they originated, British researchers report. The information could be useful in fighting local outbreaks, which may be caused by parasites from other parts of the world. And it should be possible to make a test kit that will get that information from a spot of dried blood in two hours — far less time than is needed to sequence a whole genome. Dr. Michelle Hsiang, a malaria researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, said that in central China, for example, there had been separate outbreaks among overseas laborers and others who had returned from Africa and Southeast Asia, and doctors feared those would seed local outbreaks.  Knowing a strain’s origins can indicate who should be tested first and can alert doctors to a possible drug-resistant strain; that problem is now widespread only in Southeast Asia.

Rain mouse, The Economist

What causes autism is a mystery. One theory is that a phenomenon called the cellular-danger response lies at the root of it. The CDR makes cells put their ordinary activities on hold and instead switch on their defence systems, in reaction to high levels in the bloodstream of chemicals called purines. These are important and widespread substances: ATP, a molecule that shuttles energy around cells, is a purine; so are half the “genetic letters” in DNA. Cells under viral attack tend to shed them. Too many of them in the blood can thus be a signal of viral infection. In that case activating the CDR makes perfect sense. But studies have shown that people with autism often seem to have chronic CDR. The purine signal has somehow got stuck in the “on” position. Why this happens is obscure. But it has occurred to Robert Naviaux of UC San Diego that once the signal is stuck in this way, chronic CDR might, by subverting the function of crucial brain cells, be the immediate cause of the symptoms of autism.

High-tech approach helps young athletes recover, San Francisco Chronicle

At the Sports Medicine Center for Young Athletes in Walnut Creek, 16-year-old Lauren Wong was surrounded by cameras and sensors as she hopped from one foot to the other. Each impact told Lauren’s physical therapist whether she was using the same amount of force with each leg. Doing so would indicate that the performance of her right leg was catching up to her left. Speed of information is one advantage of the motion lab, completed late last year inside UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland’s Walnut Creek Sports Medicine Center. The high-tech lab helps doctors and therapists put data behind their decisions toward treating and preventing injuries among young athletes, ages 8 to 18.

Doctor’s orders: More outdoor time for kids, KQED

On a recent summer day, local Bay Area families streamed off the bus, eager to explore the park and participate in the Crab Cove Visitor Center programs. It may not seem like your typical pharmacy, but these families are following doctor’s orders by participating in a new partnership between UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland (CHO) and the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD): Park Prescriptions. The goal is to reduce chronic obesity and promote physical activity among children.

Wikipedia pops up in bibliographies, and even in college curricula, Los Angeles Times

Once the bane of teachers, Wikipedia and entry-writing exercises are becoming more common on college campuses as academia and the online site drop mutual suspicions and seek to cooperate. In at least 150 courses at colleges in the U.S. and Canada, including UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco’s medical school, Boston College and Carnegie Mellon University, students were assigned to create or expand Wikipedia entries this year. Wikipedia “has essentially become too large to ignore,” said Berkeley’s Kevin Gorman, a former student who is the nation’s first “Wikipedian in Residence” at an undergraduate institution. Gorman also works with UC San Francisco’s medical school, where professor Amin Azzam runs a month-long elective class for students to improve Wikipedia’s medical information. In the first such class at an American medical school, students have started or revised pages about hepatitis, dementia and alcohol withdrawal syndrome, among others, Azzam said.

Booming e-cigarette market largely unregulated, studies say, The Washington Post

The electronic cigarette market is booming both online and in brick-and-mortar retail outlets in ways hardly imaginable half a decade ago, and the growth continues to be largely unregulated, according to a series of studies published Monday in the journal Tobacco Control. “It’s exploding,” said Shu-Hong Zhu, a professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California at San Diego, who co-authored one of nine studies funded by the National Cancer Institute. “There’s no sign of slowing down.”

See additional coverage: USA Today

Paddleboarders stand up to cancer at ‘Survivor Beach’, U-T San Diego

Cancer survivors and their families celebrated their stamina at a paddleboard festival Sunday on Mission Bay that sought to aid and inspire patients. The 8th annual Survivor Beach was held to benefit the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, one of 41 comprehensive cancer centers in the United States and the only one in the San Diego region.

Dean Ornish talks about cheeseburgers and yoga, and what they mean for heart health, The Washington Post

For years it was thought that bed rest was the best medicine for heart attacks. Then, in the 1950s, the idea of getting patients to move around — at least a little — after an attack became the norm. The 1970s featured highly monitored exercise programs. By the 1990s, the idea became more radical: Patients suffering from coronary artery disease could reverse the condition through diet, exercise and lifestyle changes, without the aid of drugs. Dean Ornish led the 1990 study that found that a plant-based diet, mild exercise, stress reduction and social support could reduce coronary artery blockages. The study pointed toward a rethinking of the treatment of heart disease through what was called a “diet breakthrough.” Over the years, the evidence has mounted linking these lifestyle factors to improved heart health. Today, Ornish continues to do research at the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito  and is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco.

Well-child visits need improvement, say UCLA pediatricians, Los Angeles Examiner

With the goal of delivering preventive pediatric care to low-income families, UCLA researchers conducted a study to determine more efficient methods for delivering preventive care. The findings were published online June 16 in the journal Pediatrics.

4 habits for a healthy gut, CNN

A story about the positive health effects of probiotics and “friendly” bacteria in the gut quotes Edmond Huang, a UC Berkeley postdoctoral fellow in nutritional sciences and toxicology.

Chronic stress can hurt your memory, CNN

A discussion of research showing the effects of stress on memory mentions a UC Berkeley study finding that chronic stress can create long-term changes in the brain, increasing the development of white matter (which helps transmit messages across the brain), while decreasing the number of neurons (which aide information processing).

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of June 8

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Doctors Academy addresses lack of diversity among providers in Central Valley, California Healthline

A feature on UCSF Fresno’s Doctors Academy, a rigorous health education program aimed at under-represented students. It started at Sunnyside High School in 1999, then Caruthers and Selma high schools in 2007. This year, 81 students graduated from the three schools. Founder Katherine Flores is quoted, as are alumni Stephanie Huerta, Tia Vang and Nathan Singh.

New consortium promotes efficiency in working toward clinical trials, California Healthline

A new California consortium — the Partnership to Accelerate Clinical Trials, or PACT — hopes to break down the many barriers that academic research institutions face in their quest to develop clinical trials for new drugs. The new collaborative is the brainchild of Clay Johnston, former associate vice chancellor for research at the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at UC San Francisco. Johnston is now dean of the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas-Austin. PACT is comprised of 11 California health systems and medical research institutions, including five UC campuses, Stanford University, Children’s Hospital Oakland, Dignity Health and Sutter Health. A 2010 working agreement among five UC medical campuses — UC Biomedical Research Acceleration, Integration and Development — created a foundation for PACT. It identifies policy changes and areas for collaboration to accelerate biomedical research across the UC system.

UC Berkeley researchers build exoskeleton for paraplegics allowing them to walk again (video), CBS San Francisco

Researchers at UC Berkeley are working to build an affordable robotic exoskeleton to allow paraplegics to walk again. The team of mechanical engineers hope to seize on the interest generated by the ceremonial ‘first kick’ Thursday at the 2014 World Cup in Sau Paulo, Brazil, where a 29-year-old paralyzed man performed the kickoff at the opening ceremonies.

Inside the new UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital (video), CBS San Francisco

A tour inside UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital at Mission Bay, which is opening next year.

Resident physicians at Children’s Oakland rally over contract stalemate, KQED

Resident physicians at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland say their salaries aren’t keeping up with the cost of living in the Bay Area. Theirs is one of the latest health care union battles to heat up in California between workers and hospital administration, and is drawing a new generation of members to union organizing. “A lot of people think being a doctor is super glamorous and you make tons of money and everyone loves you,” said Alana Arnold, a second-year resident. “But in fact, residency is difficult. We’re here to learn and train. And we have to protect ourselves just like any other workforce.” She and other pediatric medicine residents in Oakland have joined with SEIU’s Committee of Interns and Residents to fight for higher compensation, and a special fund for patients to cover bus tokens and other costs to help them get to appointments and maintain care.

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland to open pediatric clinic in San Ramon’s Bishop Ranch, San Francisco Business Times

The UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland has extended its reach as far east as Bishop Ranch, the enormous office park in San Ramon. Children’s Hospital and Research Center Oakland recently affliated with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco. The Oakland hospital plans to open a 5,000 square foot pediatric clinic later this summer. The clinic, which will offer a variety of types of medical care for children, including surgery, orthopedics, cardiology, endocrinology and other specialities, will be part of the new UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland brand.

A remedy for the looming geriatrician shortage, The Wall Street Journal

As the population of older Americans surges, so does the demand for physicians skilled in treating elderly patients. The problem is, the supply of geriatric specialists isn’t keeping up. Not only do few medical residents choose the extra year of training required to become a geriatrician, those going into other specialties typically get little exposure to the special health needs of the elderly during the course of their training. To compensate for that gap, four academic medical centers that are leaders in geriatric care — the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine, and UCLA School of Medicine — formed a consortium in 2004 to provide geriatric training to physicians who teach in medical schools and residency programs.

Scientists search for the best sleepers, The Wall Street Journal

In a lab at the University of California, San Francisco, a husband-and-wife team is working to unravel the secrets of sleep, gene by gene. Louis Ptáček is studying why some people are genetically wired to be morning larks — an estimated 3% of the population who go to bed unusually early and rise early—while others are night owls. His wife, Ying-Hui Fu, is researching another phenomenon: why some people require unusually short amounts of sleep, a group that is estimated to be less than 1% of the population. These hardy few, called short-sleepers, can biologically get by with less than six hours of sleep a night and feel fully refreshed.

Study traces Mexican ancestry to decode health problems, San Francisco Chronicle

An extensive study decoding the genes of modern Mexicans has revealed their genetic links to the pre-Columbian world of their forebears who lived in Mexico hundreds to thousands of years ago. Wherever they may live now – in Mexico or beyond – their genes trace back to their earliest homelands and may play a key role in understanding their lives in terms of health and illness today, the study reveals. Because so many diseases can be traced at least in part to genetic aspects, the new study led by researchers at Stanford University and UCSF could prove important to the diagnosis and medical care of everyone with even a hint of ancient Mexico in their family tree, the scientists say. Esteban Gonzalez Burchard, a UCSF physician who cares for children with asthma at clinics there and is one of the leading researchers, is quoted.

Obesity-related disease trigger found, says UCSD team, U-T San Diego

Obesity-related diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome are triggered by a lack of oxygen in adipose cells, according to a study led by UC San Diego researchers.

UCSD awarded nearly $100 million in grants in April, San Diego Daily Transcript

April marked a monthly jump in grant money awarded to UC San Diego for its various initiatives. A university report detailing monthly grant activity shows that grants awarded to UCSD in April totaled more than $99.4 million, the closest the university has come to at least $100 million in a single month since it was given more than $164 million in December 2013. Among the largest grants awarded to UCSD in April were $2.71 million from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute for the Department of Medicine’s program project on the role of innate immunity in atherosclerosis.

The secret ingredient in young blood: oxytocin?, National Geographic

A team of UC Berkeley researchers led by associate bioengineering professor Irina Conboy has found that oxytocin, a feel-good hormone produced in the brain, can help rejuvenate muscles, and is a promising target for anti-aging treatments.

Long telomeres may mean higher cancer risk, UCSF team says, San Francisco Chronicle

A team of UCSF researchers has produced some of the strongest evidence that having long telomeres, while certainly protective in many ways, may leave people vulnerable to certain types of cancer.

For cancer specialists, disease can make them better doctors, San Francisco Chronicle

Dr. Pamela Munster’s colleagues viewed the mammogram results and then played out a scene she knows well: the furrowed brow, the intense look of concern, followed by the composed, reassuring face for the patient’s benefit. They weren’t looking at her patient’s mammogram. These were Munster’s results. They were acting the same way she did when she was about to deliver bad news to her cancer patients. “I’ve done this all,” said Munster, a breast cancer specialist who now runs UCSF’s early-phase clinical trials program. “They were looking at it intently, and it started to sink in that it might be bad.” About 14.5 million people living in the United States have been told, in so many words, “You have cancer.” Some of those people are oncologists and other specialists in cancer. So when they learn that they have the disease they specialize in, the reaction can be transformative, doctors agree. It can change the way they look at disease, affect the way they interact with patients and raise the credibility they have with them.

Gun violence at U.S. schools continues to grow sharply, Los Angeles Times

A fatal shooting in Oregon on Tuesday was the 31st firearms attack at a U.S. school since the start of the year, marking a sharp acceleration in the rash of violence that has occurred on campuses across the nation.The incidents range from the 20 people shot near UC Santa Barbara less than three weeks ago to gunfire that resulted in no injuries at all. The frequency of attacks has picked up since the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., where 20 first-graders and six adults were gunned down. In the 18 months since that tragedy, 41 deaths have occurred in 62 documented incidents at U.S. schools. In the 18 months before that attack, there were 17 deaths in 17 incidents. Garen Wintemute, director of the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program, is quoted.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of June 1

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

How a UCLA program is training foreign, immigrant doctors to work in the U.S., Los Angeles Daily News

Thousands of doctors born and trained in foreign countries who come to the United States hope to continue practicing medicine here. But instead of practicing medicine, many end up in low-paying jobs hoping to save enough money to take exams, compete for residencies and eventually, if they make it, become a doctor in the U.S. Some never achieve their dreams. The issue was troubling to doctors Michelle Bholat and Patrick Dowling from UCLA’s Department of Family Medicine. So in 2007, Bholat and Dowling developed the UCLA International Medical Graduate Program. The goal is to help bilingual, bicultural physicians from Latin American countries complete exams and residency in family medicine for free. In exchange, the doctors then practice in underserved communities. In California, 35 percent of the state’s 13 million Latinos reside in areas that not only need physicians, but need ones that understand them.

California health secretary on ‘disruptive innovation’ of the ACA, KQED

During the New York Times Health for Tomorrow conference at UC San Francisco Mission Bay Conference Center, Diana Dooley — secretary of California’s Department of Health and Human Services and chair of the Covered California board — discussed the challenges and successes of implementing health reform in the state.

In a first, test of DNA finds root of illness, The New York Times

Joshua Osborn, 14, lay in a coma at American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison, Wis. For weeks his brain had been swelling with fluid, and a battery of tests had failed to reveal the cause. The doctors told his parents, Clark and Julie, that they wanted to run one more test with an experimental new technology. Scientists would search Joshua’s cerebrospinal fluid for pieces of DNA. Some of them might belong to the pathogen causing his encephalitis. The Osborns agreed, although they were skeptical that the test would succeed where so many others had failed. But in the first procedure of its kind, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, managed to pinpoint the cause of Joshua’s problem — within 48 hours. He had been infected with an obscure species of bacteria. Once identified, it was eradicated within days. UCSF’s Michael Wilson, Joseph DeRisi and Charles Chiu are quoted, as is Livermore Lab’s Tom Slezak.

See additional coverage: NPR (audio)

Safety-net hospitals face $1.5 billion shortfall by 2019, UCLA study says, California Healthline

A UCLA study released yesterday made a dire prediction for the state’s public hospital system: The safety-net facilities will likely face a shortfall of between $1.38 billion to $1.54 billion by 2019, when federal funding cuts go into effect. The cuts will hit the poorest Californians hardest, according to the study. “Hospitals that can least afford a cut are the most at-risk,” said Dylan Roby, director of the Health Economics and Evaluation Research Program at UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research.

Three-year California medical school pilot program set to begin (audio), Capital Public Radio

A bill in the California legislature would allow students in a UC Davis School of Medicine accelerated pilot program to obtain licenses in less than four years. The program was set up to address a growing problem in California. “We have far more patients than we have doctors,” says Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla. She says her bill AB 1838 would ensure that students who complete medical school in the accelerated program would have the opportunity to start practicing.

Scale of medical decisions shifts to offer varied balances of power, Los Angeles Times

Dr. Clarence Braddock, vice dean of education at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, is featured in this story about how the authority for making medical decisions has increasingly shifted from being the physician’s sole responsibility to that of a partnership with well-informed patients.

Children’s Hospital Oakland pediatric trauma center verified at top level, The Hayward Daily Review

The trauma center at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland has been verified as Level 1 by the American College of Surgeons.

ValleyCare Health System explores merger with Stanford Hospital, San Francisco Business Times

ValleyCare Health System, which operates two hospitals and other sites in Pleasanton and Livermore, is exploring a merger with Stanford Hospital & Clinics, the two parties said Thursday afternoon.ValleyCare has had financial difficulties recently, and former CEO Marcy Feit left the organization abruptly in early February. Officials at both organizations say ValleyCare and Stanford have signed a non-binding letter of intent to affiliate. Such a move could bolster ValleyCare, which could use the support of a larger, wealthier system, and Stanford Hospital, which has been engaged in a vigorous competition with academic medical center rival UCSF Medical Center in recent years to grab more doctors, patients and philanthropic support throughout the Bay Area. Some are calling that rivalry the “clash of the titans.”

Leviathan gets bigger: UCSF plans 2.4 million-square-foot growth spurt by 2035, San Francisco Business Times

UC San Francisco, already a giant economic force in San Francisco, plans to add a mammoth 2.4 million square feet of space by 2035 — a 26 percent increase over the total space that UCSF is now using or building. The new space would give UCSF, part of the University of California system, a total of 11.58 million square feet in San Francisco, including owned and leased buildings. It now has 8 million square feet in use, and an additional 1.14 million square feet under construction at its burgeoning Mission Bay campus. Much of the proposed growth would occur in Mission Bay, but UCSF also plans to tear down and replace its Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute on the Parnassus campus with a new 308,000-square-foot hospital complex to meet state seismic requirements.

UCSF program pushes innovation in medical devices, San Francisco Chronicle

At UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, as in all hospitals, patients who lie in bed for hours sometimes develop painful skin sores. To prevent these wounds, nurses must check and move patients every few hours. But Dr. Hanmin Lee wonders if a device would do a better job of predicting and alerting staff to nascent bedsores. “That’s an area ripe for disruption,” said the hospital’s surgeon in chief, stealing one of Silicon Valley’s favorite lines. On Wednesday, UCSF will open the Rosenman Institute, a program intended to give Lee and other faculty members the resources to turn their ideas for medical devices into real products. As a renowned scientific-research university and medical center, UCSF has long teamed with pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs and diagnostics. But even as the institution has ramped up its commercial partnerships, it has not paid as much attention to medical devices, an industry that has spawned life-saving inventions such as pacemakers, artificial joints, replacement heart valves and surgical robots.

See additional coverage: Xconomy

Artificial intelligence raises new hope for cancer patients, Re/code

A growing number of companies and researchers are applying smart algorithms and massive amounts of data to sift through gigantic stacks of medical research or the biology of the body itself for clues that could save the lives of cancer patients. The techniques in question cross the fuzzy boundaries of AI, machine learning, computational medicine, quantitative pharmacology and plain old big data (and any practitioner will happily argue at length about which is what and why their approach is superior). But institutions as big as IBM, Merck, Memorial Sloan Kettering, UC Berkeley and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are eager to explore the potential — and in most cases are investing millions to do so. The article quotes David Patterson, a professor of computer science at UC Berkeley developing machine learning tools for cancer research, and Michael Keiser, an instructor at the UC San Francisco School of Medicine and founder of SeaChange Pharmaceuticals.

Matthew Ouimet’s one-year anniversary of liver and kidney transplant at UCSF, San Jose Mercury News

Kelly and Kristi Ouimet’s son Matthew Ouimet, 3, still struggles with a few issues such as brittle bones from doing dialysis and not being able to eat much solid food yet, but is doing well as he comes up on the one-year anniversary of his transplant. Matthew suffered from primary hyperoxaluria Type 1 and received a liver and kidney transplant at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital on June 4-5, 2013. His sister Molly, 11, has a less serious form of the disease.

UCSC student honored for designing cancer drug, Santa Cruz Sentinel

A new treatment for skin cancer is just one possible outcome of the 15 undergraduate research projects highlighted at the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Awards ceremony Friday. Senior Beau Norgeot used computer analysis to create a drug designed to make cells more receptive to chemotherapy. The bioengineering major received the day’s top honor, the Steck Family Award. When melanoma, a type of skin cancer, spreads, only 20 percent of patients survive, said Glenn Millhauser, UCSC chemistry and biochemistry professor and Norgeot’s adviser. What’s novel about Norgeot’s seven-month project, said Millhauser, is the collaboration it represents. For the first time, Norgeot brought together David Bernick, UCSC biomolecular engineering professor, with Millhauser, to link their work on computer algorithms and chemistry.

Sacramento-area colleges reach out on mental health, The Sacramento Bee

Sacramento State and UC Davis over the past three years have boosted the mental health services offered to students. For example, they have added counselors and implemented programs that encourage students with mental health issues to seek help.Last week, thousands of UC Davis students, alumni, faculty and staff gathered in the evening twilight, burning candles in tribute to the six fellow University of California students slain by an emotionally disturbed young man on May 23. Elliot Rodger’s shooting rampage in Isla Vista that Friday night took the lives of six UC Santa Barbara students and left 13 others injured. The massacre, like others before it, has fueled discussion about what families, schools and society at large can do to identify and address mental health issues among young adults.

Being happy with sugar, The Atlantic

Popular media are full of dramatic claims that sugar is toxic. And there’s intense disagreement about recommendations to replace table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup with “natural” sweeteners like agave nectar or fruit juice. What to make of it all? UCSF’s Robert Lustig and UC Davis’ Kimber Stanhope are highlighted in this piece.

108 hospitals, health systems that are great places to work, Becker’s Hospital Review

Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center was part of a select group of hospitals and health systems that were named in this edition of 150 Great Places to Work in Healthcare.

Bursts of light create memories, then take them away (audio), NPR

You can’t just open up a living brain and see the memories inside. So Roberto Malinow, a brain scientist at the University of California, San Diego, has spent years trying to find other ways to understand how memories are made and lost. The research — right now being done in rats – should lead to a better understanding of human memory problems ranging from Alzheimer’s to post-traumatic stress disorder.

See additional coverage: IB Times

Can food stamps help improve diets, fight obesity and save money?, Los Angeles Times

Prohibiting the use of federal food stamps to purchase sugar-sweetened beverages and subsidizing the purchase of fruits and vegetables with the coupons would improve nutrition, foster weight loss and drive down rates of Type 2 diabetes among the program’s 47.6 million recipients, according to a new study by a group of medical and health economics researchers from Stanford University and UC San Francisco.

Health providers slowly embrace drug Truvada to prevent HIV, San Francisco Chronicle

When Adam Zeboski started using the HIV drug Truvada in November 2012, he was HIV-free himself, but in a relationship with a man who had been infected. He was taking one Truvada pill a day for prevention, or PrEP – the breezy term for pre-exposure prophylaxis. Multiple international studies had shown that daily use of Truvada could nearly eliminate the risk of contracting HIV. But PrEP wasn’t something most of Zeboski’s friends talked about, and even fewer admitted taking. But that may be about to change. Last month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the first recommendations for who should consider the drug, focusing on groups of people at highest risk of contracting HIV. The recommendations would apply to roughly half a million people in the United States – a radical jump from the 2,000 or so currently taking PrEP. The article quotes Robert Grant, a UCSF professor and chief medical officer of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation who led the international clinical trials demonstrating that Truvada worked for prevention.

How an increase in minimum wage can improve health, KQED

Paul Leigh is a professor of economics at UC Davis Medical School. He and research partner DaeHwan Kim crunched numbersfrom a multistate health study that lasted from 1999-2007. In some of the states, the minimum wage went up during that time.In one case, they looked at the effect of the wage increase on rates of high blood pressure. “We found a higher minimum wage was associated with fewer cases of hypertension, especially at lower income levels,” Leigh said. The researchers used the same data set to look at weight. “We found low-wage workers had higher rates of obesity, and when wages went up there was a reduction in prevalence of obesity,” Leigh said.

Google Glass enters the operating room, The New York Times

Pierre Theodore, a cardiothoracic surgeon at the University of California, San Francisco, calls wearable computers “a game changer.” “In surgery, Google Glass is incredibly illuminating,” said Theodore, who uses Glass to float X-rays and CT scans in his field of view at the operating table. “It helps you pinpoint what you’re looking for, so you don’t have to shift your attention away from the operation to look at a monitor somewhere else.”

FDA calculates cost of lost enjoyment if e-cigarette rules prevent smoking, The New York Times

As U.S. health regulators consider what rules to impose on electronic cigarettes, in their tally of costs and benefits they have placed a value on the lost pleasure consumers may suffer if they used the products less or not at all. The article quotes Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine and a tobacco control expert at the University of California, San Francisco, who favors tough regulation of e-cigarettes and cigars.

RWJF awards Calit2 project $1.9M to explore data sharing, MobiHealthNews

The Health Data Exploration project, developed at UC San Diego and UC Irvine, received a $1.9 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Funds from the grant will be used to build out the Health Data Exploration’s network of  researchers, scientists, companies that want to experiment with and analyze personal health data.

UCSD hospital took pains on helipad redo: Job done in a day, Times of San Diego

How long does it take to remodel a helicopter landing zone atop a hospital? When UCSD Hillcrest Trauma Center hired Pacific Building Group for its helipad renovation, the officials expected a two-week closure of the landing zone. Actual down time? Eight hours.

Depression, lack of education, physical inactivity, hypertension increase memory problems, UPI

Depression, lack of education, physical inactivity and high blood pressure all increase the likelihood of memory complaints in adults ages 18 to 99.However, senior author, Dr. Gary Small, director of the UCLA Longevity Center, said depression was the strongest single risk factor for memory complaints in all of the adults.

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In the media: Week of May 25

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UC president highlights research to retrain brains of mentally ill, San Jose Mercury News

Six days after six UC Santa Barbara students were killed by a troubled 20-year-old man, UC President Janet Napolitano said the university will lead research to develop an implantable device that will retrain the brains of the mentally ill. Napolitano said a team of scientists and physicians at UC San Francisco this week received a $26 million federal grant to create a device that will retrain the brain as it recovers from certain illnesses related to mental health disorders. “Having spent part of this week down at UC Santa Barbara that pursuing mental health (problems) seems more pressing than ever,” Napolitano said Thursday in remarks to an audience attending a New York Times sponsored “Health For Tomorrow” conference at UCSF Mission Bay campus. The UCSF group will lead a team that will involve more than a dozen scientists, engineers and physicians from UC Berkeley, Cornell University and New York University, and also include work with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

University of California President Janet Napolitano (audio), KQED Forum

It’s been eight months since Janet Napolitano took over as president of the University of California system, following her stint as U.S. secretary of Homeland Security. She addresses the recent killing rampage near UC Santa Barbara, and also to discuss issues including student debt, campus diversity and the differences between working in Washington, D.C., and in the UC system. Her participation in the New York Times Health for Tomorrow conference is mentioned.

What price technology? At NYT health confab, it’s a loaded question, Xconomy

The role of data and technological innovation in health care was front and center at a conference of top health experts from academia, industry and government, convened by the New York Times at the University of California, San Francisco yesterday. Voices of both optimism and caution were plentiful, but the discussion of technology was consistently grounded, no matter the speaker’s view, in the cost of health care.

UCSF team wins $26 million grant to build brain implant, San Francisco Chronicle

A team led by UCSF neuroscientists has won federal funding to build an implantable brain device that would record and analyze live electrical signals, then alter them to retrain the brain to recover from mental illnesses like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. The funding, announced Monday night, comes from a U.S. Department of Defense agency that is focused on improving understanding of brain disorders and developing new engineering-based treatments. The UCSF team – which includes scientists from UC Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Cornell and New York universities – will receive up to $26 million for the project. The funding is part of $100 million set aside by President Obama for his national Brain Initiative announced in April 2013. The article quotes Dr. Edward Chang, a neurosurgeon who is leading the UCSF team;  Dr. Vikaas Sohal, a UCSF psychiatrist who’s part of the brain device team; and Jose Carmena, co-director of the Center for Neural Engineering and Prostheses at UC Berkeley and UCSF.

See additional coverage: NPR (audio), CBS News, San Francisco Business Times

UCSF, Nebraska win $10 million ‘innovation’ grant to personalize dementia care, San Francisco Business Times

UC San Francisco and the University of Nebraska Medical Center have nabbed a nearly $10 million federal grant to help personalize and better coordinate dementia care. The $9.99 million grant, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was part of a $110 million Health Innovation Awards distribution to 12 recipients announced May 22 that included UCSF and UNMC.

Supporting concussion research, The Wall Street Journal

Steven Tisch, co-owner of the New York Giants, on Thursday pledged $10 million to support a pediatric neurology program at UCLA for the research into and treatment of concussions in young athletes. The donation was announced during a White House summit on youth and sports concussions. Mr. Tisch’s gift, which he decided on in the last few days, will go to the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of Californa, Los Angeles, and its two-year-old BrainSPORT Program. The program will be renamed for Mr. Tisch.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post

The next frontier of medicine, Slate

Following your gut takes on a whole new meaning as scientists like UC San Francisco’s Michael Fischbach find relationships between the brain and gut bacteria.

Samsung smart watch will monitor vital signs, San Francisco Chronicle

Samsung Electronics took its biggest step yet into the rapidly growing field of wearable devices Wednesday, promising to someday allow customers to record and analyze their health in real time. At a presentation in San Francisco, the South Korean electronics giant unveiled a prototype for a smart watch that can track users’ key vital signs around the clock. The company also introduced a cloud software platform that will allow researchers to upload and study the massive amount of data generated by wearers of devices. Seeking an edge on the competition, Samsung teamed up in February with clinical research powerhouse UCSF to start the UCSF-Samsung Digital Health Innovation Lab. At the university’s Mission Bay campus, scientists and engineers from both groups have been testing digital health products intended for the market. Dr. Michael Blum, associate vice chancellor for informatics at UCSF, is quoted.

See additional coverage: The Atlantic

Stanley Prusiner: ‘A Nobel Prize doesn’t wipe the scepticism away’, The Guardian

A feature on Nobel Prize-winning neurologist Stanley Prusiner of UC San Francisco.

UCSC freshman presents football experiment at White House, Santa Cruz Sentinel

Two years ago, Maria Hanes dropped her cell phone, setting off a chain of events that eventually took her to the White House. Then a football team manager for her Edwards Air Force Base high school, Hanes said when she saw her phone’s rubber case prevented it from cracking, she hatched an idea. Hanes, now a UC Santa Cruz freshman, developed a football helmet sleeve designed to help prevent concussions. Hanes, 19, was one of 61 people to present projects at the White House Science Fair on Tuesday. She had the opportunity to share her findings with President Obama in the Blue Room.

After attack near campus, California weighs gun bill, The New York Times

Just days after a 22-year-old killed six college students and himself near the campus of UC Santa Barbara, state lawmakers are championing legislation that would permit law enforcement officials and private individuals to seek a restraining order from a judge that would keep people with a potential propensity for violence from buying or owning a gun. Dr. Garen J. Wintemute, director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis, is quoted.

How the VA developed its culture of coverups, The Washington Post

This article about Veterans Affairs health care quotes Kenneth W. Kizer, distinguished professor and director of the UC Davis Institute for Population Health Improvement. Kizer previously served as under secretary for health in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, where he led a turnaround of its health care system.

UCLA has a mission to mend wounds of war, Los Angeles Register

A feature on UCLA’s Operation Mend, which provides returning military personnel with cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries for injuries suffered in battle or training.

From food waste to gut health, Scientific American

When we eat a food product, we don’t typically think about the byproducts of its creation, such as the hazelnut skins left behind when creating a Nutella-like spread. But researchers at the University of California, Davis think these waste streams may actually be gold mines for our gut, providing new sources of prebiotics, nutrients that feed the “good” probiotic bacteria populating our intestines.

Tattoo removal goes high-tech with laser procedures, Los Angeles Times

A story on the UCLA Dermatological Surgery and Laser Center’s new laser, which removes tattoos more quickly and efficiently than traditional lasers.  Dr. Gary Lask, director of the center and clinical professor of medical dermatology; Dr. H. Ray Jalian, clinical instructor of medicine in the division of dermatology, and a patient are quoted.

Rounds with a hospital chaplain, Reimagine

A profile of Lori Koutouratsas, palliative care chaplain at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica, in its June issue.  The article focuses on Koutouratsas’ background and highlights the ways she provides comfort and support to cancer and chronically ill patients. Koutouratsas is quoted, and the Rev. Tim Thorstenson, spiritual care manager at the medical center, is referenced.

Why do we get ‘sleep’ in our eyes?, The Huffington Post

Dr. Ivan Schwab, a professor of opthalmology at the UC Davis School of Medicine and a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, explains why we get “sleep” in our eyes.

Dr. House was right: Give patients what they need, not what they want, Forbes

What’s wrong with giving patients what they want? It turns out that patient satisfaction is tied to higher costs and, even worse, a higher death rate. A large survey covering 52,000 patients, published by a team led by Joshua Fenton at UC Davis found that the most satisfied patients not only spent about 9% more than average, but had a 26% higher death rate.

UC system struggles with professors’ outside earnings, The Orange County Register

This story investigates disclosure of outside compensation among UC medical professors.

Soda warning bill passes committee; plan to insure undocumented does not, California Healthline

The Senate Committee on Appropriations last week passed a bill that would require consumer warning labels on all sweetened beverages sold in California. Another high-profile health bill seeking to provide health care coverage for the state’s undocumented population,  SB 1005 by Sen. Ricardo Lara, was put on hold by the appropriations committee. A study released last week by University of California researchers concluded the plan would have high benefit to California and a relatively minor cost (roughly an additional 2% of the state’s current spending on Medi-Cal).

CalPERS’ ‘reference pricing’ initiative saves $5.5M over two years, California Healthline/Health Data Management

CalPERS saved more than $5 million through an initiative that set standard prices for knee and hip replacements and prompted beneficiaries to select higher-value hospitals for the procedures. For the program, CalPERS asked its PPO, Anthem Blue Cross, to research the average costs for hip and knee replacements among hospitals and develop a program that ensures sufficient coverage by those hospitals that meet a certain cost threshold. The program set a maximum of $30,000. Forty-six medical institutions – including Stanford and UC-San Francisco — initially were included in the plan.

Op-ed: California needs a gun violence restraining order, Los Angeles Times

Renée Binder, professor of psychiatry and director of the psychiatry and law program at UC San Francisco, writes an op-ed about California’s need for a gun violence restraining order.

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In the media: Week of May 18

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

L.A.-area healthcare providers to issue guidelines for end-of-life-care, Los Angeles Times

On Thursday, a coalition of Los Angeles-area healthcare providers — caring for millions of Angelenos among them — will endorse some groundbreaking guidelines designed to help patients take more control over their final months, weeks and days. The hospitals will urge their doctors and nurses to help patients specify their hopes for the end of life through advance-care planning, and understand how to seek palliative care if a patient wants it. The participants include Cedars-Sinai, HealthCare Partners Medical Group and Affiliated Physicians, Kaiser Permanente Southern California, Keck Medical Center of USC, Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, MemorialCare Health System, Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance, Providence TrinityCare Hospice and the UCLA Health System. Neil Wenger, director of the UCLA Healthcare Ethics Center and a collaborator on the guidelines, is quoted.

See additional coverage: California Healthline, KPCC (audio)

Following iPad rollout, UC Irvine medical students get Google Glass, MobiHealthNews

More evidence that, at least where doctors at the point of care are concerned, Google Glass is the new iPad: UC Irvine, one of the first medical schools to issue iPads to its students, is now equipping them with Google Glass as well. The school won’t be equipping each freshman with a $1,500 Glass device like it did with iPads. Instead, the program will have a total of 30 to 40 Glass units on hand, 10 for third and fourth-year students to use in the operating room and emergency department and the rest for first and second-year students to use in the classroom.

Tom Perkins gives UCSF $2.5 million to create professorship, San Francisco Chronicle

Billionaire venture capitalist Tom Perkins is giving UCSF $2.5 million to create a distinguished professorship dedicated to cancer research, the university said Monday. The title will go to Dr. Charles Ryan, a professor of clinical medicine and urology who directs the Genitourinary Medical Oncology program in UCSF’s Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. Perkins said he has been personally invested in the fight against cancer since his wife, Gerd, died of lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system, in 1994. Prostate cancer is particularly important, the 82-year-old said, because it afflicts millions of older men in the country.

Kawasaki disease wafts to Japan on the wind, National Geographic

The agent of Kawasaki disease, a potentially fatal illness in children, floats into Japan on seasonal winds from northeastern China, according to a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The article quotes study co-authors Jane Burns, director of the Kawasaki Disease Research Program at UC San Diego, and Daniel Cayan, a climate researcher at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

A victory lap for a heretical neurologist, The New York Times

A review of Nobel Prize-winning neurologist Stanley Prusiner’s book “Madness and Memory,” a memoir about discovering prions. Prusiner is a UC San Francisco professor of neurology and director of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases.

Blocking pain receptors may extend lifespan, boost metabolism, Fox News

By blocking a specific pain receptor in mice, researchers from The University of California, Berkeley, were able to both extend the animals’ lifespans and give them a more youthful metabolism – including an improved insulin response. The findings could spell out a new way to extend longevity, as well as point to a new drug target for developing novel diabetes and obesity treatments.

Inventors land ‘Big Bang’ prizes at UC Davis, The Sacramento Bee

From a ventilator device to prevent infection in chronically ill hospital patients to tools for helping African farmers, this year’s winners of the BigBang! competition at UC Davis were all over the map. Altogether, the competing teams of aspiring entrepreneurs were awarded $28,000 on Thursday night at the 14th annual competition, aimed at helping get ideas from academia into the real-world market. The top prize of $10,000 went to Benjamin Wang, a 2005 UCD graduate in biochemistry and molecular biology, who developed an improved ventilator device that he says can reduce the “risk of nasty infections.” Wang launched his startup company, Nevap Inc., shortly after graduating from medical school in 2011.

Woman delivers first baby while in a coma at UCSF (video), ABC 7

It was supposed to be the happiest time of her life — newlywed and newly pregnant. Then a diagnosis changed everything. Doctors discovered a brain tumor. Months later, Melissa Carleton suffered a massive seizure that left her unable to move, speak, or even open her eyes. On Thursday, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Doctors at UC San Francisco delivered West Nathanael Lande via cesarean section around 11 a.m., and the family is ecstatic. That’s because when Melissa left her home in Fresno and was admitted to the hospital about ten weeks ago for treatment, no one knew if either one would survive.

Racial diversity crucial to development of drugs, treatments, San Francisco Chronicle

This article about the importance of having diversity among enrollees in clinical trials mentions UC San Francisco and UC Davis. Moon Chen, associate director for cancer control at UC Davis’ Comprehensive Cancer Center, is quoted. Last month, UC Davis started a program that reaches out to every Asian patient diagnosed at the center with cancer to offer individual education in Asian languages including Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog and Hmong. The university is considering expanding it to other population groups.

Study sees modest costs in healthcare for immigrants here illegally, Los Angeles Times

Extending healthcare to people in the country illegally would cost the state a modest amount more but would significantly improve health while potentially saving money for taxpayers down the road, according to a study released Wednesday. The study by the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research estimates that the net increase in state spending would be equivalent to 2% of state Medi-Cal spending, or between $353 million and $369 million next year, while the net increase in spending would be up to $436 million in 2019.

See additional coverage: California Report (audio), California Healthline

Poised for growth, commercial ACOs also face considerable challenges, California Healthline

The Affordable Care Act pushes the health care industry to find new and more innovative ways to deliver quality, cost-efficient care. Accountable care organizations — designed to reward health care providers for keeping their patients healthy — seem like the logical answer to such a mission. But are accountable care organizations formed between private insurers and health care delivery systems actually being held accountable? Stephen Shortell of UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health is quoted.

Only 2 in 5 L.A. health clinics are ready for Obamacare patients, Los Angeles Times

Just 2 in 5 Los Angeles community health clinics are ready for the impacts of Obamacare, a new study found. A May brief from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research examined approximately 40 clinics in the Los Angeles area to determine how prepared they were for an expected increase in new patients because of the Affordable Care Act, the national health care law that went into full effect this year.

Study: Doctors should not shake patients’ hands (video), Fox New York

Shaking hands is part of our culture. But a new report appearing in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, says doctors should stop shaking their patients’ hands because of the risk of spreading germs. Dr. Mark Sklansky at UCLA co-authored the report. He says doctors shaking patients’ hands may be just as dangerous as smoking in public.

History and context of an embattled department, The New York Times

The uproar over medical care for military veterans involves one of the nation’s biggest health care systems, a far-flung operation that treats 6.5 million people a year at 151 hospitals and 820 outpatient clinics, with more than 18,000 doctors and an annual budget of more than $57 billion. Dr. Kenneth W. Kizer, a professor at the UC Davis School of Medicine who was under secretary of veterans affairs from 1994 to 1999, is quoted.

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In the media: Week of May 11

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

As memories fade: UC Davis researchers grapple for Alzheimer’s cure, The Sacramento Bee

What can stop the devastation of Alzheimer’s? Without better answers from researchers, the degenerative brain disease – already the nation’s sixth leading cause of death – will be diagnosed in as many as 16 million aging baby boomers by 2050. Unchecked, it could rob millions of their memories and lives, their past and future, even as it threatens to overwhelm the health care system. Against the setting of this looming public health crisis, scientists devote themselves to diagnosis and research along the third-floor hallways of the Lawrence J. Ellison Ambulatory Care Center on the leafy UC Davis Medical Center campus. They are unlikely warriors on the front lines: the neurologists and neuropsychologists, the project scientists and brain-imaging whiz kids and dedicated clinic staff who are fascinated by the science of the aging brain but frustrated by how little public recognition there seems to be that a crisis is at hand.

Why being rich might make you a jerk, Slate

A UC Berkeley study finds that people who are rich — or just consider themselves so — are more likely to cut people off in traffic, blow past pedestrians and even take candy from children.

Can happiness become the world’s most popular course?, Forbes

Since the Greater Good Science Center’s MOOC (massive open online course) “The Science of Happiness” was announced, nearly 40,000 registrations have been recorded. UC Berkeley psychology professor Dacher Keltner expects that 100,000 could be reached by the time the course begins in September. Each week, students will be offered “a new research-tested practice that fosters social and emotional well-being–and the course will help them track their progress along the way.”

Pilot program at Oakland hospital cuts HIV/AIDS readmissions almost in half, California Healthline

University of California researchers yesterday released initial results of a pilot project to launch a patient-centered medical home model of care for HIV/AIDS patients at a hospital and four community clinics in Alameda County. The early results were pretty striking, according to George Lemp, director of the California HIV/AIDS Research Program for the UC system. “It’s very encouraging,” Lemp said. “If we can reduce hospital readmission rates, we might be able to bring down some of the cost of medical care and improve outcomes.”

50 Most Influential Physician Executives and Leaders, Modern Healthcare

This list of the 50 most influential physician executives and leaders includes Robert Wachter, professor and associate chairman of the UC San Francisco Department of Medicine, and David Feinberg, president of the UCLA Health System and CEO of the UCLA Hospital System. The list also includes former UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, who is now CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Google Glass handed out to all medical students at UC Irvine, CNet

Becoming the first medical school to fully incorporate Google Glass into its curriculum, the UC Irvine School of Medicine thinks the device will help students with anatomy, clinical skills and hospital rotations.

See additional coverage: KPCC

UCSF e-cigarette study stamps out public health benefits, San Francisco Chronicle

If all traditional cigarette smokers switched to electronic cigarettes, lives would be saved and overall public health would improve, scientists and doctors say. But UCSF researchers, in a paper published Monday, say a growing body of research shows that people who take up e-cigarettes aren’t necessarily giving up conventional cigarettes, and on top of that, the devices are being heavily marketed to young people, creating a potential new market for the nicotine and tobacco industry.

The weird link between e-cigarettes and mental health disorders, Time

A new study has found that people suffering from depression, anxiety and other mental disorders are more than twice as likely to spark up an e-cigarette and three times as likely to “vape” regularly than those without a history of mental issues. Researchers at UC San Diego drew their findings from an extensive survey of American smoking habits.

Near fatal accident helped man graduate from UCSF medical school (video), NBC Bay Area

He was almost killed at 19 in a freak accident at a tire factory–but Andres Anaya describes the event now as the best thing that’s ever happened to him. “I was literally being crushed to death, suffocated to death. My legs went numb,” said Anaya, describing how hydraulic doors on a machine malfunctioned. “If it wasn’t for that accident, I wouldn’t be here right now.” Now 40 years old, Anaya is referring to his graduation from UCSF’s School of Medicine. Friday afternoon, he and dozens of his classmates gathered at Davies Symphony Hall near San Francisco City Hall for their commencement.

Almost one-third of hospital patients in California have diabetes, study says, California Healhtline

UC researchers Thursday are releasing a study revealing the high cost of diabetes to California’s health care system. The joint study from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the not-for-profit California Center for Public Health Advocacy, based in Davis, has some compelling findings.

Hazardous flame retardants ubiquitous in preschools, San Francisco Chronicle

Flame retardants are ubiquitous at preschools and day care centers, potentially exposing children to chemicals that are hazardous to their health, UC Berkeley researchers wrote in a study published Thursday.

Exercising the mind to treat attention deficits, The New York Times

An article about the growing body of research suggesting that mindfulness exercises could help children and adults cope with attention deficit disorders quotes UCLA behavioral geneticist Susan Smalley, UC Irvine psychologist James Swanson, UC San Francisco neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley and UC Berkeley psychology professor Stephen Hinshaw.

Steve Lopez: Sterlings serve up an opportunity to explore dementia, Los Angeles Times

Dr. Claudia Kawas of the UC Irvine Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders said it’s not always clear to people that they are passing into the early stages of dementia.

Farmworkers getting their Zumba on, The Salinas Californian

The future of farmworker health and fitness is being test-driven in Monterey County at Reiter Berry Farms, and the future is spelled Z-U-M-B-A. The beat-blasting, pulse-pounding fitness dance is part of a $3 million collaborative study evaluating worksite-based health programs to lower the risk of obesity and diabetes among immigrant Latino farmworkers. The study was announced Monday and is under the leadership of UC Davis. In addition to the Reiter Affiliated Cos., the study is partnering with the Health Initiative of the Americas at UC Berkeley.

Not all schools provide good drinking water, study says, Los Angeles Times

Access to free drinking water at school has improved, but California schools are not doing all they can, despite state and federal laws on the issue and evidence of the health benefits of drinking water, researchers said Thursday. One in four schools studied did not meet the legal requirements, they said. “Schools have made great strides in reducing availability of sugar-sweetened beverages, yet ensuring excellence in drinking water access in schools is still an area of significant need,” according to the researchers from UC San Francisco, the California Food Policy Advocates and ChangeLab Solutions in Oakland.

Acoustic-4-A-Cure review: Players’ stature barely fit in room, San Francisco Chronicle

When the lineup was announced for Sammy Hagar’s inaugural Acoustic-4-A-Cure benefit concert – Metallica’s James Hetfield, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, Train’s Patrick Monahan, Heart’s Nancy Wilson and local guitar god Joe Satriani – it was hard to imagine how they were going to fit all that ego into one room. Even if that room happened to be the Fillmore. But from the moment the doors opened at the venue on Thursday for the sold-out show, proceeds from which will support cancer research at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, more than anything else it felt like a great big party among friends.

High-profile ballot measure hopes to curb health insurance rate hikes (audio), California Healthline

Experts, including Dylan Roby, director of health economics at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, and R. Adams Dudley, professor of health policy of UC San Francisco, discuss an expensive and controversial November ballot measure that would give enforcement power to the state Insurance Commissioner to regulate health insurance rate hikes.

3-D printers help grow new jaws for dogs at UC Davis (video), CBS Sacramento

Previously, the doctors had to wait until they cut into the dog to form the titanium plate. But with UC Davis’ new 3-D printing facility, they can now print an exact replica of the dog’s skull ahead of time, allowing doctors to plan and cut down on anesthesia time in the operating room.

A non-diet diet: The case for eating whatever you want, New York Magazine

As evidence builds that conventional weight-loss methods simply don’t work in the long term, some nutritionists and psychologists are encouraging a kind of non-diet diet, in which you eat what you want when you want it. It’s called intuitive eating, or sometimes, mindful eating, and those who practice and preach this nutritional philosophy say your body instinctively knows what it needs. Your job is to shut up and learn to listen to it. Linda Bacon, a nutrition professor and researcher at City College of San Francisco and UC Davis, is quoted.

Some people are wired to want more sex, brain study shows, Time

Dr. Nicole Prause, a research scientist in the department of psychiatry in the UCLA Semel Institute, is featured in this story regarding her research that, for the first time, directly linked brain responses to real-world sexual behaviors. Specifically, how strongly the brain responded to viewing sexual images was related to the number of sex partners a person had in the last year.

Childbirth au naturel — new program matches midwives, doctors to reduce C-sections, San Jose Mercury News

This article about matching midwives and doctors mentions a program at UC San Francisco.

Op-ed: Health care coverage for undocumented immigrants, The Sacramento Bee

California could be a leader in providing health care coverage for undocumented immigrants, according to the authors of this op-ed, who include Steven Wallace, chair of the Department of Community Health Sciences at the UCLA School of Public Health.

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