CATEGORY: In the media

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.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

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.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

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.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of May 4

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Want to live to 90? (video), CBS 60 Minutes

Dr. Claudia Kawas of UC Irvine found the research equivalent of a gold mine when she discovered that 14,000 residents of a retirement community formerly know as “Leisure World” (now Laguna Woods) had filled out detailed questionnaires about their diet, activities, vitamin intake, etc.

See additional coverage: The Fiscal Times

Stanford, UCSF target better drug development in new FDA partnership, San Francisco Business Times

Stanford University and UCSF will work together in a first-on-the-West-Coast center aimed at streamlining drug development and regulatory approval, the institutions said Monday. The center, backed by an initial $3.3 million grant from the Food and Drug Administration, will work on three central areas: boosting preclinical safety and efficacy tests, improving clinical trials and evaluation, and pulling together various data sets to speed and better focus new drug development.

Athletes chased by technology in the sport of anti-doping (audio), NPR

This segment about performance-enhancing drugs spotlights the role of the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory in its efforts to detect and stop athletic doping. Dr. Anthony Butch, lab director and a professor of pathology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, is interviewed.

Hospitals and union make deal to avoid ballot measure fight, Los Angeles Times

California hospitals have reached a deal with the state’s largest healthcare union to avoid an expensive and potentially nasty ballot measure fight this fall that would have cast a harsh spotlight on high medical costs and executive salaries.As part of Tuesday’s agreement, the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West dropped proposed ballot initiatives to limit hospital charges and cap what nonprofit hospitals pay their executives. In return, the California Hospital Assn. and a majority of the state’s 430 hospitals approved a new “code of conduct” that may make it easier for the union to organize workers. The agreement seeks to eliminate the negative campaigning and bitter attacks between these longtime adversaries. Tuesday’s agreement also calls for a $100-million fund that will be used in lobbying for increased hospital reimbursements from Medi-Cal. Nelson Lichtenstein, director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy at UC Santa Barbara, is quoted.

Did California just save 2,300 lives by expanding Obamacare? Let’s do the math, California Healthline

This story about the impact of expanding health insurance coverage cites Ken Jacobs of the UC Berkeley Labor Center and quotes Gerald Kominski, professor of health policy and management and director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

IBM partners with universities on Watson projects, The Associated Press

Watson is going to college. Students at seven of the country’s top computer science universities will get a chance to try out IBM’s famous cognitive computing system as part of new classes set for next fall. The partnership between Armonk, New York-based IBM and the universities, which was set to be announced Wednesday, will let students use the “Jeopardy!” champion to develop new cognitive computing applications for a variety of industries ranging from health care to finance. The schools currently signed up for the program include UC Berkeley.

Creating video games to improve mental health, San Francisco Chronicle

The game seems pretty simple. An alien-looking creature stands on a block of ice that’s flowing down a river. Here’s what sets the game apart: It was designed by scientists at UCSF looking for a new way to treat serious symptoms of depression. The article quotes Patricia Arean, a clinical psychologist at UCSF who is studying the potential mental health benefits of video game play in older adults. Scientists at UCSF’s new Neuroscape lab already are working with video game developers to help design games that are fun and engaging – and marketable. The lab, which opened in March at the Mission Bay campus, was created to encourage scientists to push brain discoveries into practical prevention and treatment tools for patients. The story quotes Dr. Adam Gazzaley, director of the UCSF Neuroscience Imaging Center and head of the Neuroscape lab. Joaquin Anguera, a UCSF neuroscientist who designs cognitive training games, also is quoted.

Smart seniors might have this gene variant, San Francisco Chronicle

A gene variant that scientists already knew to be associated with longer life also seems to make people smarter, and may help offset the effects of normal cognitive decline in old age, according to a team of San Francisco researchers. The findings, published Thursday in the journal Cell Reports, are encouraging news for the roughly 1 in 5 people who have the genetic trait, which is a variant of the klotho gene. ”What we’ve discovered is a cognitive enhancer,” said Dr. Dena Dubal, an assistant professor of neurology at UCSF and lead author of the study, which was done with researchers from the UCSF-affiliated Gladstone Institutes. “This may represent a new way to treat problems of cognition in the brain.”

Swapping young blood for old reverses aging, National Geographic

In what could have profound implications for understanding the process of aging, a trio of scientific papers published May 4 show that infusing elderly mice with the blood of young mice can reverse many of the mental and physical impairments of growing old. A study conducted by Saul Villeda at UC San Francisco, Tony Wyss-Coray at Stanford and their colleagues is highlighted.

Health care, and patients, go south — to Mexico, Kaiser Health News/USA Today

Xochitl Castaneda, director of the health initiative of the Americas at U.C. Berkeley’s School of Public Health, comments on why many legal immigrants from Mexico return to their home country for medical care. The story also quotes David Hayes-Bautista, director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the UCLA School of Medicine, and Steven Wallace, who is associate director the UCLA center and has studied why Mexican immigrants seek care in Mexico.

UC Davis opens clinic for kids with drug-resistant infections, Sacramento Business Journal

The UC Davis Children’s Hospital opened a clinic Tuesday for pediatric patients with antibiotic-resistant staph infections.

Baby Emlee being called ‘mom’s little lifesaver’ (video), KABC 7

Celebrating Mother’s Day will mean something extra special for a Pomona mom who has her newborn to thank for saving her life. Getting pregnant with a third child was a pleasant surprise for Karalayne and Dennis Maglinte — a little sister for their two sons. Baby Emlee was a blessing in many ways. After itchiness during pregnacy, Karalayne sought medical help. An endoscopic ultrasound revealed the unthinkable: Pancreatic cancer. Dennis and his wife felt heartbreaking uncertainty about their family’s future. Dr. Aram Demirjian and his colleagues at the UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange carefully weighed all of Karalayne’s options. Timing was crucial. They had to decide whether to remove the pancreatic tumor or wait until the baby is born.

Old path to a new destination (audio), KQED Radio

Jirayut Latthivongskorn will be the first undocumented UCSF medical student, but his path there is a familiar immigrant story.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of April 27

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

University of California’s Napolitano to Senate: More cash means more innovation, San Francisco Business Times

As European and Asian nations make technology gains, U.S. cutbacks in research and education threaten the country’s economy and the underlying work of the world’s largest public research university system, University of California President Janet Napolitano said in testimony submitted ahead of a Senate’s appropriations committee hearing Tuesday. The 10-campus 240,000-student UC system, based in Oakland, won $4.2 billion last year in research funding from federal, state and private sources, but Napolitano told the Senate committee that federal budget sequestration and stalled appropriations bills “have forced promising science to be delayed or abandoned.”

UCLA cancels $3-million research gift from Sterling Foundation, Los Angeles Times

UCLA will return $425,000 recently donated by the Donald T. Sterling Charitable Foundation for kidney research and will cancel an agreement that would have brought Sterling’s gift to $3 million over seven years, the university announced Tuesday.The university also denied Sterling’s previous boasts that his donation and pledge were supposed to lead UCLA to name a lab after him and his wife.

See additional coverage: Associated Press, Chronicle of Higher Education

More hospitals tailor cancer care to teens and young adults, The Wall Street Journal

UCLA’s Daltrey/Townshend Teen & Young Adult Cancer Program is featured in this article on hospitals providing specialized care for teen and young adults with cancer. The article highlights UCLA’s leading role with the opening of a dedicated inpatient unit and lounge at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica.  Dr. David Feinberg, president, UCLA Health System and CEO, UCLA Hospital System, is referenced in the story, and Dr. Jacqueline Casillas, medical director of the program, is quoted along with a current UCLA patient.

UCSF to provide free dental screenings in SF’s Bayview District (video), ABC 7

Many low income children in San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area have little access to good dental care. This Sunday, UCSF will offer free adult and children dental screenings in San Francisco’s Bayview District as part of the city’s Sunday Street event.

Healthcare options for undocumented immigrants, Los Angeles Times

Undocumented immigrants have limited access to health insurance, a fact the Affordable Car Act does little to change. But there are some options. The article quotes UCLA student Arlette Lozano and Laurel Lucia, policy analyst at the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education.

UCSF secession from University of California system just ‘loose talk,’ Napolitano says, San Francisco Business Times

University of California President Janet Napolitano dismissed as “loose talk” a more than two-year-old plan for UCSF to break off from the larger UC system. “UCSF is firmly part of the system and will remain so,” Napolitano said in an interview for the San Francisco Business Times’ annual “Most Influential Women” special section, which is distributed Friday.

UCSF children’s hospital doctors turn 3-year-old boy radioactive to treat deadly neuroblastoma (video), CBS San Francisco

A San Jose boy named Noah is at his home with his family in San Jose, after doctors turned him radioactive. It sounds like science fiction, but this special treatment may be the only thing saving his life. This is taking place at only one hospital in California, and it happens to be in the Bay Area: UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco.

UC San Diego autism research described as ‘game changer’ (video), NBC San Diego

Autistic stem cells are starting respond to experimental drugs in what San Diego researchers are calling a breakthrough in the disorder affecting one in 68 children. UC San Diego scientists took stem cells from children with autism and reprogrammed them into brain cells.

UCSD surgest into wearable tech market, U-T San Diego

Wrist. Eye. Ear. Foot. There isn’t a spot on the body that isn’t being sized up for wearable sensors, a turbulent and soaring market that’s seen as a fresh vein of money by UC San Diego, which already reaps nearly $1 billion a year for research. The university’s Jacobs School of Engineering is creating a Center for Wearable Sensors in hopes of getting companies such as cellular chip maker Qualcomm and defense contractor Raytheon to spend more of their research dollars in La Jolla. The engineering school is responding to consumer interest in products such as the Fitbit activity tracker, Google Glass and smartwatches that handle email and text messaging.

Golden eagle set free in hopes of solving rare mite mystery, San Francisco Chronicle

On a hot, poppy-covered hilltop near San Ramon, Griffy the golden eagle bid farewell to her human saviors and – with a few quick, thunderous flaps – started a new life: as a flying medical researcher. The majestic 12.5-pound raptor was released in Las Trampas Regional Wilderness on Friday morning after spending nine months at UC Davis, where she was recovering from a near-fatal mite infestation that has mystified scientists. She is among three mite-infested golden eagles reported in the past year to the state Fish and Wildlife Department, the first ever such cases in California. All three birds suffered from severe feather loss and crusty skin caused by a rare mite last recorded in the 1970s in Europe on small songbirds called palm swifts.

What lies behind ‘The ADHD Explosion’ (audio), KQED Forum

More than 10 percent of school-aged children in the U.S. — 6.4 million kids — have been medically diagnosed with ADHD. That’s more than a 40 percent increase from a decade ago. UC Berkeley professors Stephen Hinshaw and Richard Scheffler wonder whether diagnosis can be traced to our country’s push for academic achievement and school accountability. At the same time, they say kids from families with little access or trust in the health care system are often under-diagnosed with ADHD, and missing out on helpful treatment. Hinshaw and Scheffler discuss their new book, “The ADHD Explosion.”

Learning more about pediatric pulmonary hypertension, San Francisco Chronicle

Nearly four years after the double-lung transplant that saved her life, Ally Jenkins is a self-proclaimed fitness junkie. You might say she’s making up for lost time. Growing up in Discovery Bay, Jenkins, 19, was an active kid, but she always fell behind her classmates, whether it was running a mile in gym or keeping up with her cheerleading squad. It took a stroke five years ago for doctors at UCSF to finally realize something was wrong – Jenkins had pediatric pulmonary hypertension, a rare condition that was killing her. UCSF is now part of the pediatric pulmonary hypertension network, which links several centers around the United States and Canada that specialize in treatment and research of the disease.

Knitting has proven therapeutic value, San Francisco Chronicle

Patients in hospitals and rehab centers are turning to needles for relaxation and mental health – knitting needles, that is. Kitting is included in some smoking-cessation programs and rehabilitation clinics, and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco offers a knitting class for young patients and parents.

Study: Many Korean-American women in Calif. forgo mammograms, California Healthline/Payers & Providers

Nearly half of Korean-American women in California do not obtain regular mammograms, possibly because of the high rate of uninsured individuals in that population, according to a new study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

Treating Alzheimer’s: Where East meets West, California Health Report

Dr. Dale Bredesen, professor of neurology and director of the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research, is featured in this article regarding his theory that Alzheimer’s disease is caused by a combination of complex chronic imbalances in the brain and that treating the disease requires a broad, integrative approach.

Op-ed: Doctors in the death chamber: Despite ethical rules, many doctors approve, The New York Times

Neil Farber, a professor of clinical medicine at UC San Diego, writes that his colleagues and he have found that despite their oaths to do no harm, many physicians believe executions are a shared social responsibility.

Op-ed: Is treating a sick child always the best course?, Los Angeles Times

Sarah Maufe, a resident physician in pediatrics at UCLA, writes that with very sick children, sometimes comfort should trump treatment.

Kaiser, other Sacramento-area hospitals get top safety ratings, The Sacramento Bee

Nineteen Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Northern California – including Kaiser hospitals in Sacramento, South Sacramento and Roseville – have received the top safety score of “A” from the Leapfrog Group, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit run by employers and other large purchasers of health benefits. Other area hospitals receiving “A” grades included the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, Mercy San Juan Medical Center in Carmichael, Methodist Hospital of Sacramento, Sutter General Hospital in Sacramento, Sutter Memorial Hospital of Sacramento, Sutter Roseville Medical Center, Mercy Hospital of Folsom and Marshall Medical Center in Placerville.

See additional coverage: Forbes

Children’s Oakland residents unhappy about contract stalemate: “No change” since UCSF took over, San Francisco Business Times

Some 90 resident physicians at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland are upset about a year-long stalemate in contract talks — and the doctors in training say they’ve seen little or no change since the former Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland affiliated with UCSF early this year.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of April 20

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

$100 million to S.F. hospitals for premature birth research, San Francisco Chronicle

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals is receiving $100 million to fund research into premature birth over the next 10 years from a pair of prominent tech donors: Marc and Lynne Benioff and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The money will go toward studying the biological causes of preterm birth and, perhaps to an even larger degree, improving access to treatments that can prevent or delay early delivery. The financing, announced Thursday, is the third hefty donation from the Benioffs, who have given two $100 million checks – including one announced earlier this month – to UCSF. The Gates Foundation and the Benioffs are each donating $50 million in the effort to deal with the problem of preterm birth on both a national and global scale.

See additional coverage: San Francisco Business Times

Senator: Hospitals reducing treatment errors, but problems remain, Los Angeles Times

Calling hospital errors “heartbreaking,” U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) on Friday released a report detailing how some California hospitals are reducing medical mistakes that can cause infections, incorrect administration of drugs, falls and other complications. Many medical centers are preventing errors, she said, but others still need to demonstrate they are serious about addressing the problem. According to some researchers, Boxer said, between 210,000 and 440,000 Americans die as a result of medical errors each year — making medical errors the third leading cause of death in the nation, behind heart disease and cancer. “My hope is this report will drive improvements,” Boxer told reporters during a morning press conference at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. During a tour, UCLA nurses showed Boxer a computer system that helps them track medications.  In a nearby ICU room, doctors demonstrated a machine that emits pulses of ultraviolet light to help kill bacteria that cause life-threatening, hospital-acquired infections.

See additional coverage: KPCC (audio), Los Angeles Daily News

10 Breakthrough Technologies: Genome editing, MIT Technology Review

Last November, female monkey twins Mingming and Lingling were born om Kunming, China, on the sprawling research campus of Kunming Biomedical International and its affiliated Yunnan Key Laboratory of Primate Biomedical Research. The macaques had been conceived via in vitro fertilization. Then scientists used a new method of DNA engineering known as CRISPR to modify the fertilized eggs by editing three different genes, and they were implanted into a surrogate macaque mother. The twins’ healthy birth marked the first time that CRISPR has been used to make targeted genetic modifications in primates — potentially heralding a new era of biomedicine in which complex diseases can be modeled and studied in monkeys. CRISPR, which was developed by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, Harvard, MIT, and elsewhere over the last several years, is already transforming how scientists think about genetic engineering, because it allows them to make changes to the genome precisely and relatively easily.

Health care apps offer patients an active role, The New York Times

If you have young children, you’ve most likely endured caring for an ear infection or two. Or perhaps you’ve experienced a mysterious rash. Those situations generally mean a trip to the doctor’s office and time away from your job, if you work outside the home.But what if you could snap a photo of your rash, or your child’s ear canal, and send it to your doctor? That’s the idea behind a new breed of apps and devices that increasingly put medical tools in the hands of consumers. CellScope Oto, for instance, combines an app with an attachment that lets you turn your iPhone into an otoscope — the tool physicians often use to examine the inside of your ear. Erik Douglas, co-founder and chief executive of CellScope, said ear infections were a top reason for visits to pediatricians, so the Oto device might help eliminate unnecessary trips. Douglas has a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco.

Rebuilding limbs with ingenuity and a 3-D printer, Los Angeles Times

UC Santa Barbara graduate Mick Ebeling, a film producer with no engineering background, finds himself the unlikely leader of a team dedicated to tackling the physical limitations that arise from conditions such as blindness and paralysis. The group, which calls itself Not Impossible, helps people overcome physical limitations through technology, including making protheses with 3-D printers. Matthew Garibaldi, director of orthotics and prosthetics at UC San Francisco, is quoted.

UCSF neurologist’s mad cow discovery improves understanding of degenerative brain diseases (audio), KQED Forum

In 1997, UCSF neurologist Stanley Prusiner won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of infectious proteins called “prions” that cause mad cow disease. That revelation has led to an increased understanding of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS. Stanley Prusiner talks about the future of brain disease research and his new book, “Madness and Memory: The Discovery of Prions — A New Biological Principle of Disease.”

UCSF seeks to bridge gap between tech and health, San Francisco Business Times

UCSF wants to get a little more like Silicon Valley. Noting a recent deal with Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Sam Hawgood, the interim chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco, said the graduate-level, health care-centric university is increasingly reaching out to high-tech companies and entrepreneurs.

Meet the doctor who gave $1 million of his own money to keep his gun research going, ProPublica

Garen Wintemute, a professor of emergency medicine who runs the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis, is profiled.

UC Davis medical encourages Asians to get hep B test (audio), Capital Public Radio

About half of Sacramento’s Asian community are immunized against hepatitis B, compared to only 20% six years ago, according to the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Moon Chen is a hemotologist and oncologist at UC Davis. He says the hepatitis B virus is a major cause of liver cancer. UC Davis runs public service announcements in Hmong, Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese encouraging people to request a hep B test. Doctors of Asian patients in the UC Davis Health System are also reminded to order hepatitis screenings for their patients. 

UC Berkeley public health building’s fate awaits state funds, San Francisco Business Times

Plans for a new building to house UC Berkeley’s public health department won “conditional approval” last month from the UC Board of Regents, according to new dean Stefano Bertozzi, M.D, who took office last September. Pointing in the direction of a nearby parking lot from his corner office in University Hall on Oxford Street, Bertozzi said, “We hope a new building will be sprouting there soon.”

Geneticist Cynthia Kenyon is heading to Google, San Francisco Chronicle

Google’s mysterious health venture dedicated to extending human life has quietly lured a prominent scientist away from UCSF, The Chronicle has learned. The university confirmed that Cynthia Kenyon, a biochemistry and biophysics professor acclaimed for her discoveries about the genetics of aging, left UCSF this month to join Calico, Google’s nascent biotechnology company. She had served as a part-time adviser to Calico since November.

Study: Codeine prescribed for kids despite risks, ABC 7

A new study out of UCSF is suggesting that the potent painkiller codeine is being prescribed for too many children, despite warnings that the drug can cause an accidental overdose.

Blood-pressure drug prevents epilepsy after brain injury, BGU research finds, Jerusalem Post

A commonly used prescription drug for high blood pressure has been found to prevent epileptic attacks after concussion. The findings are according to a new study on rats by researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the University of California at Berkeley and Charité-University Medicine in Germany.

Anxiety from a false-positive mammogram is real but temporary, study says, Los Angeles Times

A recent study by a team of researchers including scientists from UC Davis looked into the emotional consequences of false positive results from mammograms.

People taking statins eat more calories than a decade ago, study says, Los Angeles Times

This article reports on a study co-authored by UCLA Dr. Martin Shapiro, chief of the division of general internal medicine and health services research, finding that people who take statins now are consuming more fat and calories, and weigh more, than statin users did 10 years prior — suggesting that people who take the cholesterol-lowering drug have a false sense of security about what they can eat.

UC OKs paying surgeon $10 million in whistleblower-retaliation case, Los Angeles Times

University of California regents agreed to pay $10 million to the former chairman of UCLA’s orthopedic surgery department, who had alleged that the well-known medical school allowed doctors to take industry payments that may have compromised patient care. The settlement reached Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court came just before closing arguments were due to begin in a whistleblower-retaliation case brought by Dr. Robert Pedowitz, 54, a surgeon who was recruited to UCLA in 2009 to run the orthopedic surgery department. UCLA denied the allegations and said they found no wrongdoing by faculty and no evidence that patient care was jeopardized. Multiple investigations by university officials and independent investigators concluded that conduct by faculty members was lawful and patient care was not compromised.

More scrutiny for UCLA’s School of Medicine, Los Angeles Times

In the wake of a $10-million payout to a whistleblower, UCLA’s School of Medicine is drawing more scrutiny over its financial ties to industry and the possibility that they compromised patient care. A new study in this month’s Journal of the American Medical Assn. raised a red flag generally about university officials such as Eugene Washington, the dean of UCLA’s medical school who also serves on the board of healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson. In a statement Friday, UCLA said Washington’s work as a J&J director did not compromise the “integrity of operations” at UCLA, and that his outside activities complied with university policies.

Chin Long Chiang, biostatistics pioneer at UC Berkeley dies, San Francisco Chronicle

Services will be held in May for Chin Long Chiang, a UC Berkeley professor emeritus and one of the world’s leading biostatisticians, whose innovative use of statistics helped transform the health care field. Professor Chiang was 99 and had pancreatic cancer when he died at his home in Berkeley on April 1, less than six months after his wife of 68 years, Fu Chen “Jane” Chiang, died of pneumonia.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of April 13

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

The cure to doctor shortage? Another med school, The Riverside Press-Enterprise

Plans were announced Monday for a new medical school in San Bernardino County to be funded by $40 million from a non-profit foundation headed by the owner of a nationwide hospital chain. The California University of Science and Medicine — Cal Med — would admit the first 50 students in 2016, said founder Dr. Dev GnanaDev, chief of surgery and former medical director at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton. Cal Med would be the second new medical school to open in the Inland region recently. When UC Riverside’s long-awaited School of Medicine opened in August 2013, it was the first new public medical school in California in 40 years. UCR medical school Dean G. Richard Olds is quoted.

UC Davis public health school back on front burner, Sacramento Business Journal

Only weeks after taking charge, the new medical chief at UC Davis is spearheading a plan to create a school of public health in Sacramento. Along with other campus leaders, Dr. Julie Freischlag — vice chancellor and dean of the medical school at UC Davis — hopes to revive an idea that began almost a decade ago. The graduate school would study the health needs of the Central Valley and develop a new pipeline of badly needed public-health professionals.

Feds: Sacramento man tried to open door on Southwest flight (video), KCRA 3

A Sacramento man tried to open an exit door on a Southwest Airlines flight, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing Sunday, according to federal officials. Passengers said a man who wanted to jump out of the plane was trying to open an exit door. Hearing the commotion, a group of male passengers immediately headed toward the back of the plane. One of those men, Dr. Scott Porter, chief resident of orthopaedic surgery at UC Davis Medical Center, initially thought it was a medical emergency, but later realized it was more of a threat. He helped subdue the suspect.

See additional coverage: Los Angeles Times

Op-ed: The killers underfoot, The New York Times

Matthew Lewin, a doctor of emergency medicine and the director of the Center for Exploration and Travel Health at the California Academy of Sciences, writes about the need to address venomous snakebites. He has been testing a nasal spray that could help address the issue. Last April, in collaboration with researchers at UC San Francisco, and under the strict supervision of anesthesiologists and an emergency medicine doctor, he tested the nasal spray on himself.

Is Obamacare a success? We might not know for a while (audio), NPR

After months of focusing on how many people have or haven’t signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, we now have a rough total (7.5 million), and everyone’s keen to get to the bigger questions: How well is the law working? How many of those who signed up have paid their premiums and are actually getting coverage? How many were uninsured before they signed up? And just how big has the drop been in the number of uninsured people? Unfortunately, the answers to some of these questions simply aren’t knowable — or, at least, not knowable yet. Ken Jacobs, who heads the Center for Labor Research and Education at UC Berkeley, is interviewed . The labor center just published a of who’s signing up for coverage in California. The research predicts that fully half the people who enroll in a plan through the California health exchange won’t keep it for a full year.

Has confusion hampered the success of ACA subsidies?, California Healthline

Money to help pay for health insurance, no strings attached — sounds like a good deal, right? That’s exactly how proponents of the Affordable Care Act are touting the law’s federal subsidies and encouraging low-income consumers to sign up for health insurance. At the same time, opponents of the law and its provisions rail against the assistance. The idea of basing the health care system “on private insurance” and paying for it “with a combination of subsidies for low-income purchasers” is a Republican idea, according to Robert Reich, a professor at UC Berkeley and former U.S. Secretary of Labor under the Clinton administration. The article also quotes Dylan Roby, director of UCLA’s Health Economics and Evaluation Research Program, who mentions on CalSIM — a joint project between the UC Berkeley Labor Center and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

Sichuan pepper’s buzz may reveal secrets of the nervous system (audio), NPR

The Sichuan peppercorn is known to give some Chinese dishes a pleasant tingling feeling. What’s not so pleasant is that pins-and-needles feeling we get when our foot falls asleep — or when people who suffer from paresthesia experience constant tingling in their limbs. Diana Bautista, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley, wondered: Could these sensations be connected?

Early data in e-cigarette study may raise safety concerns, The New York Times

This article covers a little-known study on the potential of nicotine-laced vapor generated by an electronic cigarette to promote the development of cancer in certain types of human cells much in the same way that tobacco smoke does. Dr. Steven Dubinett, member of UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, is quoted.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of April 6

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Benioffs donate another $100 million to children’s hospitals, San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco power couple Marc and Lynne Benioff have doubled down on their already sizable support of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, writing a second $100 million check to further fund new facilities as well as world-class doctors and researchers. The donation, to be announced Tuesday, will be split between UCSF and Children’s Hospital Oakland, which formed an alliance in January to jointly conduct research and offer comprehensive medical care. With the money comes a new name for the East Bay hospital: UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.

See additional coverage: San Francisco Chronicle editorial, San Francisco Business Times

Paraplegics show gains in study of spinal-cord stimulation, The Wall Street Journal

A new study gives the greatest indication yet that people paralyzed by spinal-cord injuries can regain voluntary movement in their legs and feet even years after their initial injuries, researchers said. A combination of electrical stimulation and intensive physical therapy helped three men with paraplegia wiggle their toes and ankles, flex their legs and stand independently for moments at a time, according to a paper published online Tuesday in the medical journal Brain. To the researchers’ surprise, the treatment worked in two patients with the most complete type of paraplegia, who were previously unable to move or feel their lower bodies. The finding suggests that the brain is still capable of sending signals to the spinal cord in cases where doctors assume all connection has been lost, the researchers said. The study was conducted by researchers from UCLA and the University of Louisville in Kentucky, who implanted spinal-cord stimulators made by Medtronic Inc. into the backs of three patients who had been paralyzed by spinal-cord injuries.

See additional coverage: NBC News (video), Los Angeles Times

Brain health registry aims to build test subject pool, San Francisco Chronicle

UCSF officials hope to solve one of the biggest hurdles to clinical research for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other brain diseases: finding people willing to be subjects in trials in a relatively short time. With the Brain Health Registry, an online project to be announced Tuesday, researchers hope to recruit as many as 100,000 people over the next three years to serve as a ready-made pool of participants for studies in a wide range of neurological diseases as well as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other brain-related ailments.

See additional coverage: San Jose Mercury News

Drug shows promise battling breast cancer, The Boston Globe

A new type of drug can help prevent advanced breast cancer from worsening, potentially providing an important new treatment option for women, researchers say. In a clinical trial, the drug cut in half the risk that cancer would worsen, or progress, researchers said here Sunday. The median time before the disease progressed or the woman died was 20.2 months for those who received the drug, compared with 10.2 months for the control group. “The magnitude of benefit we are seeing is not something commonly seen in cancer medicine studies,” said Dr. Richard S. Finn, a principal investigator in the study. Finn, an oncologist at UCLA, called the results “quite groundbreaking.”

See additional coverage: New York Times

Catching up with Dr. Laura Esserman, breast cancer expert, San Francisco Chronicle

A Q&A with Dr. Laura Esserman – the breast cancer researcher, surgeon and visionary who runs the breast cancer center at UCSF. Esserman recently received the Journal of Women’s Health Award for outstanding achievement. Esserman is three years into a large-scale research program called Athena, focused on expediting and improving treatment by better understanding risk factors and outcomes.

Grateful patient donates $6.5M to Shiley Eye Center, U-T San Diego

A $6.5 million donation from an unnamed patient will help the Shiley Eye Center at UC San Diego strengthen its focus on stem cells, which hold the promise of repairing damage done by diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration. Dr. Robert Weinreb, the center’s director and a widely-published glaucoma researcher, said he’s conducting a worldwide search for stem cell scientists to come to Shiley, which last year ranked fourth in National Institutes of Health funding among ophthalmology research centers nationwide.

Part of early exchange success due to insuring the already insured, California Healthline

No one knows yet exactly how many of the 1.2 million people enrolled so far in Covered California were previously uninsured — but one person has a pretty good guess. Ken Jacobs, chair of the Labor Center at UC Berkeley, projects about 39% of enrollees were previously uninsured. That means it’s likely that 61% of Covered California enrollees already had health insurance.

After the big deadline, a push to sign up individuals who are still eligible (audio), California Healthline

Experts, including Ken Jacobs, chair of the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, discuss the state’s renewed enrollment efforts following the March 31 open enrollment deadline for the exchange.

UCI cancer center’s new director pushes for fast treatments, The Orange County Register

The future of cancer treatment is targeting specific disease cells with drugs, says Dr. Richard Van Etten, director of the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at UC Irvine Medical Center.

Second measles case confirmed at UC Berkeley, Oakland Tribune

UC Berkeley opened an emergency measles clinic Saturday, a day after a second student was diagnosed with the disease. According to a notice posted on the University Health Services website, the unidentified student attended classes on campus over the past week while infected. Campus officials worked with the city’s Public Health Department to notify anyone who may have been exposed to the disease. The student is currently in isolation. This is the second reported case of measles at the university. The first case was reported in February when a student, recently back from a trip to Asia, contracted the disease yet still attended classes on campus.

The 30 Top Thinkers Under 30: The ‘brilliant’ researcher who wants to put an end to dementia, Pacific Standard

Molly Fox, a postdoctoral research fellow at UC Irvine, is featured. Her most recent work examines serotonin’s role in depression. She’s also looking into the connection between progesterone and Alzheimer’s, as well as how prenatal stress affects fetuses. In short, she likes to study babies and old people.

Idea of new attention disorder spurs research, and debate, The New York Times

With more than six million American children having received a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, concern has been rising that the condition is being significantly misdiagnosed and overtreated with prescription medications. Yet now some powerful figures in mental health are claiming to have identified a new disorder that could vastly expand the ranks of young people treated for attention problems. Called sluggish cognitive tempo, the condition is said to be characterized by lethargy, daydreaming and slow mental processing. By some researchers’ estimates, it is present in perhaps two million children. Experts pushing for more research into sluggish cognitive tempo say it is gaining momentum toward recognition as a legitimate disorder — and, as such, a candidate for pharmacological treatment. The article quotes Keith McBurnett, a professor of psychiatry at UC San Francisco, and Steve S. Lee, an associate professor of psychology at UCLA.

Hearst Foundations gives $1.3 million to state nonprofits, San Francisco Chronicle

The Hearst Foundations have awarded $1.3 million in grants to eight California nonprofit organizations, including four Bay Area groups that support health and social service programs. The largest award, $500,000, went to the California Missions Foundation in Santa Barbara as a matching-funds grant for mission preservation and restoration projects. UCSF got the next largest award, $250,000, for construction of the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital at Mission Bay.

Fort Irwin, UCLA Health Services partner to battle brain injuries, Desert Dispatch

Fort Irwin and the UCLA Health System have formed a partnership to help wounded warriors suffering from traumatic brain injuries. Shannon O’Kelley, chief operating officer of the UCLA Health System; Dr. David Hovda, director of the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center, and retired Army Gen. Peter Chiarelli, executive advisor for the Ronald A. Katz Center for Collaborative Military Medicine, are all noted in this article.

Local health organizations helping children fight obesity (video), NBC Southern California

This story reports on the UCLA Fit for Healthy Weight program’s new use of telehealth to make it easier on patients to meet with the program’s medical specialists.  The patients, who are based at the Venice Family Clinic, meet via telehealth with the Fit program’s pediatrician, nutritionist and psychologist who are based in Westwood.   Dr. Wendy Slusser, medical director of the Fit for Healthy Weight program at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, is interviewed and Dena Herman, adjunct assistant professor in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and a registered dietitian/nutritionist serving in the FIT clinic, are featured.

Dream comes true for musician with disease (video), KABC

Brad Carter, a musician who played guitar in the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center operating room during a brain surgery that was tweeted live across the world, is profiled.  The segment captures his dream to record his first album after Dr. Nader Pouratian, assistant professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, implanted a device that controlled his essential tremor condition, which made his hands shake during movement.

UCLA seeks clearance for pharmaceutical marijuana testing, Los Angeles Daily News

A British company developing a pharmaceutical version of a cannabis extract used to treat epilepsy could test its product at UCLA as part of the Food and Drug Administration approval process. United Kingdom-based GW Pharmaceuticals received the go-ahead to continue with clinical trials for their product Epidiolex in February and UCLA wants to be on the list of test sites, according to Dr. Raman Sankar, chief of pediatric neurology at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA.

Fisher: Teens show off scars in cutting’s panedemic of pain, The Orange County Register

Many teens who cut, burn or repeatedly injure themselves are often trying to relieve stress or emotional pain, according to UC Irvine Health psychiatrist Atur Turakhia.

UC Davis research finds ag health issues undercounted, Sacramento Business Journal

More than three-fourths of all injuries and illnesses experienced by U.S. agriculture workers and farmers aren’t reported, according to research led by a UC Davis public health sciences professor. In the April issue of Annals of Epidemiology, a study led by professor J. Paul Leigh suggested federal agencies don’t report 77.6 percent of such incidents, making it unlikely safety and health risks for those in agriculture will be addressed or corrected accurately.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of March 30

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

100 Great Hospitals in America, Becker’s Hospital Review

Three UC medical centers made Becker’s Hospital Review’s list of 100 Great Hospitals in America: Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest and UC San Francisco Medical Center.

See additional coverage: Fox 5City News Service

UC medical center workers overwhelmingly ratify contract, Sacramento Business Journal

Patient care workers at University of California medical and student health centers — including about 2,900 at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento — have ratified a new four-year contract. The contract covers 13,000 workers statewide who are represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Workers voted for ratification last week by a near-unanimous margin of more than 99 percent. Read UC press release.

Desmond-Hellmann steps down as UCSF chancellor today (video), KQED

March 31 marks the end of UC San Francisco Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann’s five-year tenure. In December, it was announced that she would step down from her current position to become CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. UCSF is currently conducting a national search for a new chancellor to lead the university. In the meantime, Napolitano has appointed UCSF School of Medicine Dean Sam Hawgood as interim chancellor.

1M cancellations, 1.2M enrollments: How many Californians really signed up?, California Healthline

One-point-two million enrollments — and counting. Obamacare’s first open enrollment period is over, and if raw volumes are a proxy for state-by-state success, the Golden State wins in a landslide. Covered California had planned for fewer than 700,000 sign-ups, and the Congressional Budget Office forecast was just shy of 800,000. The state blew past both targets more than a month ago. The article quotes Dylan Roby, who directs UCLA’s Health Economics and Evaluation Research Program, which developed the CalSIM predictive model that regulators used to set expectations.

Many more Californians may qualify for Obamacare after deadline, Los Angeles Times

Even with 1.2 million people enrolled by Monday’s deadline, California’s health exchange isn’t done adding to the Obamacare rolls — and it won’t be for quite some time. In the months to come, it’s estimated that several hundred thousand more Californians could qualify for a special enrollment period as college students graduate, families move and workers change jobs. As new enrollees join during special enrollment, other exchange customers will leave for a variety of reasons, such as getting coverage through work. Close to half of Covered California customers eligible for premium subsidies could leave within a year, according to a report published Wednesday by the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education.

Why some don’t pay their Covered California premium: It’s not what you think, KQED

A new analysis finds that many people who signed up for a Covered California plan are likely to drop the coverage for a good reason: they found insurance elsewhere. Researchers at the UC Berkeley Labor Center released estimates Wednesday showing that about 20 percent of Covered California enrollees are expected to leave the program because they found a job that offers health insurance. Another 20 percent will see their incomes fall and become eligible for Medi-Cal, the state’s insurance program for people who are low income. In addition to the 40 percent of enrollees who move to Medi-Cal or job-based insurance, between 2 and 8 percent of those who sign up for Covered California are estimated to become uninsured, the analysis noted.

Can a transplant drug help eliminate lingering HIV infections?, Los Angeles Times

Researchers studying the effects of immune suppressant drugs on  transplant patients with HIV have made a surprising discovery: A drug intended to hobble the body’s defense system may actually help destroy dormant reservoirs of the virus that causes AIDS. In a paper published this week in the American Journal of Transplantation, authors found that when a small group of transplant patients received the drug sirolimus, they experienced a two- to threefold drop in HIV levels, whereas patients who received other immunosuppressants did not. “We were pleasantly surprised,” said study coauthor Dr. Steven Deeks, an HIV expert and professor of medicine at UC San Francisco. “It’s difficult with any drug to affect the [HIV] reservoir.”

Music soothes body and spirit at children’s hospital, San Francisco Chronicle

Six months ago, Oliver Jacobson became the first full-time music therapist at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, a position entirely funded by donors. He spends his days hauling a cart of instruments through the halls of the sixth and seventh floors of 505 Parnassus Ave., where on any given day there are at least 100 sick children doing their best to heal. At any given time, he is tasked with helping about two dozen.

Folding microscope opens up other worlds, San Francisco Chronicle

This story about a folding microscope developed by Stanford’s Manu Prakash quotes Judy Sakanari, a research parasitologist at UCSF who is working with Prakash on other medical tools for developing countries. The story also quotes Luke Lee, a bioengineering professor at UC Berkeley who works on global health problems, and mentions that at UC Berkeley, bioengineering professor Daniel Fletcher has come up with a small, inexpensive microscope called CellScope that attaches to smartphone cameras to take magnified pictures of blood and phlegm slides.

Insights into causes of autism grow, U-T San Diego

Autism, one of the most shadowy disorders ever faced by doctors and parents, is finally losing its mystery. At research centers in San Diego and across the country, the tools of modern biotechnology are allowing autism’s effects on the brain to be identified with greater specificity. More effective tests can now spot the neurological condition by the time a child turns 1 — and potentially even sooner. This earlier diagnosis leads to better treatment, and that usually means better outcomes. UC San Diego research is cited.

What’s happening with stem cell research in California?, Sacramento Business Journal

Nine of the first 14 disease research teams funded by California’s stem cell agency are actively enrolling patients for clinical trials or expect to begin doing so by the end of the year. Two trials at UC Davis have already started: one to test therapies related to HIV/AIDS and the other for congestive heart failure.

UCLA hospitals serve antibiotic-free meat in fight against superbugs, Los Angeles Times

Visitors and patients at UCLA hospitals probably won’t notice what’s gone missing from the chili, hamburgers and chicken dishes they order for lunch.But by putting antibiotic-free ground beef, ground beef patties and chicken breasts on the menus at the university’s Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, hospital officials hope to strike a blow against so-called superbugs. The article quotes Dr. Daniel Uslan, director of the UCLA Antimicrobial Stewardship Program, which works to assure drugs are used properly in the university’s health system, and UCLA Health director of nutrition Patricia Oliver.

After radical brain surgery, Mission Viejo man beats the odds, The Orange County Register

This story is on a Mission Viejo man who underwent a hemispherectomy surgery at UCLA 20 years ago to treat uncontrollable seizures.  He recently received his high school diploma and hopes to work in the office of the Orange County Fire Authority.  His surgeon, Dr. Warwick Peacock, professor of surgery, and Sue Yudovin, pediatric nurse practitioner, are quoted.

Local woman facing heart/lung transplant, U-T San Diego

This story is about a 22-year-old Escondido woman who suffers from pulmonary arterial hypertension and is awaiting a heart and lung transplant at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.  Her physician, Dr. David Ross, medical director of the UCLA Lung Transplant program, is interviewed.

The hospital-dependent patient, The New York Times

This piece highlights a New England Journal of Medicine perspective piece co-authored by UCLA Dr. David Reuben, chief of the division of geriatrics, on hospital-dependent patients whose health is so fragile that they repeatedly return to hospital. Reuben is quoted.

Medical breakthroughs! How combining medicine and technology is changing everything (video), Extra

Dr. Neil Martin, chair of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, is featured in this story. He describes how UCLA researchers are blending technology with medicine to bring new hope to people with spinal-cord injuries, enable surgeons to virtually rehearse procedures and treat people with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease using brain implants.

Controversy follows UC Irvine scientist’s brain scan testimony, Voice of OC

Long one of UC Irvine’s most expensive medical investments, the PET Brain Imaging Center has given physicians an unmatched tool in the fight against diseases from cancer to dementia. The facility allows physicians to use radioactive compounds to observe brain activity in living individuals, engendering research programs and eventually developing new treatments. But in recent years, the center and a long-time clinical director, Dr. Joseph C. Wu, have earned a national reputation for dubious use of the technology for forensic diagnoses in court cases, which records show can bring in more than $20,000 per case.

UC Merced researchers to study kids, Valley fever, Merced Sun-Star

Erin Gaab, a postdoctoral scholar at UC Merced’s Health Sciences Research Institute, is taking the initiative in looking closer at the psycho-social issues faced by families with children who have been diagnosed with Valley fever. With the help of 13 undergraduate research assistants, Gaab is leading the pediatric coccidioidomycosis research project, which aims to better understand the quality of life and psychological functioning of Valley fever patients in California.

Medical profession falls short in recruiting minorities for research, study says, The Sacramento Bee

A new UC Davis study published by the American Cancer Society found that of the 10,000 clinical trials funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1997, only about 150 focused on a particular ethnic or minority population. That accounts for less than 2 percent of all clinical trials, said Julie Dang, director of the Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness, Research and Training, based at UC Davis.

State ‘deferred action’ immigrants less likely to use health care, California Healthline/Payers & Providers

Latino young adults who qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in California are less likely to use medical services than young adults born in the U.S., according to a recent study. The study was conducted by researchers from the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, and UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of March 23

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UC hospital strike averted by tentative contract agreement, Los Angeles Times

A strike planned this week by 13,000 UC hospital technical workers was averted with the announcement Sunday of a tentative four-year contract agreement. The pact between UC and the AFSCME 3299 union concludes more than a year of tense negotiations and means that UC’s five major medical centers and numerous health clinics around the state will operate as normal Monday. Up until the agreement, the union for respiratory therapists, operating room technicians and radiology workers had threatened to start a five-day strike Monday and the university had been prepared to hire replacement workers, potentially costing millions of dollars. A ratification vote has been scheduled for later this week. Read UC press release.

See additional coverage: Orange County Register, San Francisco Chronicle, Contra Costa Times, California Healthline, KPCC, Associated Press

Long winding road to approval for new drugs, San Francisco Chronicle

Under the new Partnership to Accelerate Clinical Trials, a single ethics board will serve multiple test sites that make up a clinical trial. Traditionally, each site has its own ethics committee: 15 sites, for example, have a total of 15 boards. “That’s a lot of delay, a lot of wasted time and energy, without much benefit,” said Dr. Clay Johnston, who helped start the nonprofit as director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at UCSF. The partnership, which is under the banner of the Bay Area BioEconomy Initiative, includes Stanford University, UC Davis, Children’s Hospital Oakland, Sutter Health and Dignity Health.

Brain changes suggest autism starts in the womb (audio), NPR

The symptoms of autism may not be obvious until a child is a toddler, but the disorder itself appears to begin well before birth. Brain tissue taken from children who died and also happened to have autism revealed patches of disorganization in the cortex, a thin sheet of cells that’s critical for learning and memory, in the New England Journal of Medicine. Tissue samples from children without autism didn’t have those characteristic patches. Organization of the cortex begins in the second trimester of pregnancy. “So something must have gone wrong at or before that time,” says Eric Courchesne, an author of the paper and director of the Autism Center of Excellence at UC San Diego. The new study appears to confirm from UCLA showing that people with autism tend to have genetic changes that could disturb the formation of layers in the cortex. Stanley Nelson, a psychiatrist at UCLA, also is interviewed.

See additional coverage: KPBS

Fresno research leads to speedier Valley fever test, The Fresno Bee

Doctors in the San Joaquin Valley have a new, fast way to help diagnose Valley fever using a test developed in a Fresno hospital laboratory. The Fresno test is the brainchild of Dr. Dominic T. Dizon, an associate clinical professor at the UCSF-Fresno Medical Education Program, and Marilyn Mitchell, supervisor of the microbiology laboratory at Community Regional Medical Center. The article quotes Dizon and Dr. Michael Peterson, a pulmonary specialist and head of medicine at the UCSF-Fresno Medical Education Program. UC Davis is mentioned.

Doctors say don’t give birth to baby in a tub, but midwives disagree, NPR

Hospitals are increasingly giving women the option of going through labor or giving birth in a pool of warm water. Laboring in the tub is fine, the nation’s obstetricians and pediatricians say, but there’s not enough proof that it’s safe to actually give birth in one. The doctors’ statement has raised eyebrows among nurse-midwives, who have been helping women deliver in water for decades in order to ease pain and speed delivery. The story quotes Jenna Shaw-Battista, director of the Nurse-Midwifery Education Program at UC San Francisco, and Dr. Aaron Caughey, an associate professor of maternal-fetal medicine at UC San Francisco and a member of the committee that wrote the opinion.

Interprofessional education: It’s here to stay, Medscape

This article highlights how UC San Francisco is incorporating interprofessional education. The effort has paid off, and not only students, but patients, are now reaping the benefits. JoAnne M. Saxe has seen firsthand the value of IPE in the education of prelicensure health care professional students. As a health sciences clinical professor, and co-director of the Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Master’s Specialty at the UCSF School of Nursing, she is involved in curriculum development and in teaching several courses that integrate IPE principles and content. In fact, according to Saxe, one of the greatest things about IPE is the number of different ways that it can be accomplished.

UCSF Fresno taking on 100 new residents, Fresno Business Journal

The UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program will welcome 100 new physicians to start their medical residency training this summer.

UC San Francisco takes Children’s under its wing, San Francisco Business Times

The University of California is taking steps to bolster Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland in coming years, starting with a near-term bond refinancing and followed up by a planned big loan in 2016 to fund capital projects at the Oakland pediatric hospital. The Regents of the University of California recently approved plans for UC San Francisco and its UCSF Health System to retire and refinance $55.5 million in existing tax-exempt debt obligations held by Children’s Oakland, which formally affiliated with UCSF in January.

Women’s hospital part of a trend toward improving women’s medical care, California Health Report

UCSF Medical Center is set to open a new woman’s hospital next year, one that is is part of a growing trend toward research and health care geared specifically to women’s needs.

California experiencing a dentist shortage, reports UCLA study, Los Angeles Examiner

Currently, many health care analysts predict a shortage of doctors in California, fueled by an influx of patients from enrollment in the Affordable Care Act. On March 26, the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research released a report that California is currently impacted by a shortage of dentists that is expected to worsen.

Suspended animation? Docs try stopping clock to save lives, NBC News

Dr. Paul Vespa, director of the neurocritical care program at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and a professor of neurosurgery and neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, is interviewed about a new clinical trial placing trauma victims in a state of suspension by inducing hypothermia to help slow down cellular activity.

Los Angeles County public health director announces retirement, plans to return to UCLA, Los Angeles Daily News

After 16 years leading the nation’s second-largest public health department, Dr. Jonathan Fielding announced Thursday he will retire as soon as his replacement is found. Fielding, 71, said in a letter to his 4,000 member staff at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health that he plans to return to teaching at UCLA to help train future public health leaders. He credited the department with helping to launch the restaurant grading system, increase emergency preparedness, and hold the largest immunization effort in the county against the H1N1 influenza strain, among other campaigns.

Selling a poison by the barrel: Liquid nicotine for e-cigarettes, The New York Times

A dangerous new form of a powerful stimulant is hitting markets nationwide, for sale by the vial, the gallon and even the barrel. The drug is nicotine, in its potent, liquid form — extracted from tobacco and tinctured with a cocktail of flavorings, colorings and assorted chemicals to feed the fast-growing electronic cigarette industry. These “e-liquids,” the key ingredients in e-cigarettes, are powerful neurotoxins. Tiny amounts, whether ingested or absorbed through the skin, can cause vomiting and seizures and even be lethal. A teaspoon of even highly diluted e-liquid can kill a small child. “It’s not a matter of if a child will be seriously poisoned or killed,” said Lee Cantrell, director of the San Diego division of the California Poison Control System and a professor of pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco. “It’s a matter of when.”

Electronic cigarettes won’t help smokers quit, study claims (video), CBS News

Using an electronic cigarette won’t make you any more likely to quit smoking actual cigarettes, according to a new study. In a new research letter published March 24 in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers at UC San Francisco surveyed the same group of about 950 smokers in November 2011 and 2012 and asked them about their smoking habits. They found those who tried e-cigarettes were no more likely to quit than those who hadn’t.

See additional coverage: KPCC (audio)

Cooking kills four million people a year, Quartz

Nasty airborne particles kill 7 million people a year prematurely, reports the World Health Organization—way more than previous estimates. What’s causing the air inside people’s homes to be so poisonous it kills around 11,000 people a day?  Stoves. “Having an open fire in your kitchen is like burning 400 cigarettes an hour,” says Kirk Smith, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, whose research suggests that household air pollution from cooking killed between 3.5 million and 4 million people prematurely in 2010.

Obamacare: California proving new health care law can work, San Jose Mercury News

As thousands of California procrastinators try to beat Monday’s midnight deadline to apply for a health care plan, they’ll be joining more than 1 million others in the Bellwether State who already have enrolled through California’s health insurance exchange. And another 2 million have been determined eligible for Medi-Cal, the state’s program for the poor. With exchange sign-ups in the state exceeding many projections for the first six months of open enrollment, health care experts say the federal law has worked in California pretty much as it was meant to — despite startup hassles such as a glitchy website and hourlong waits to talk to a human being on the phone. The article quotes Laurel Lucia, a policy analyst at UC Berkeley’s Labor Center. Lucia said the center’s modeling — done in conjunction with health policy experts at UCLA — showed it would take between three and five years before enrollment in California health plans levels off.

Obamacare: Asian-Americans sign up in droves; Latinos disproportionately stay away, San Jose Mercury News

Of the nearly 700,000 people who enrolled in a health plan as of Feb. 28 through the Covered California health insurance exchange and identified their ethnicity, 23.1 percent were Asian or Pacific Islander. Twenty-two percent were Latino. But the statistics are startling when you consider that Latinos make up 38.2 percent of California’s population and Asians just 13.7 percent. ”It’s the only thing that has been surprising to us so far — the higher Asian-American enrollment,” said Ken Jacobs, chairman of the UC Berkeley Labor Center, which worked with health policy experts at UCLA to make projections about the Obamacare rollout in California. The article also quotes David Hayes-Bautista, a professor of medicine and director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the UCLA School of Medicine, and Norm Matloff, a UC Davis computer science professor.

What do you need to know about Obamacare? (audio), KALW

Laurel Lucia, a policy analyst at UC Berkeley’s Labor Center, joins a discussion of the Affordable Care Act, a topic she has researched for more than four years.

UC Merced, UC Davis collaborate on new virtual physical therapy software, California Healthline

In the not-so-distant future, physical therapy patients could toss their hand outs with stick-figure drawings to the wind and instead do their prescribed exercises in the company of virtual physical therapists.A new system using avatars and patient-specific motions offers new promise for physical therapy. Computer scientist Marcelo Kallmann once used his expertise in computer animation, virtual reality and motion planning to develop new applications for video games. Now the associate professor at UC Merced is working on an answer to that question, one that could offer a long-term solution to an anticipated shortage of physical therapists — virtual physical therapy software. Kallmann has collaborated with Jay Han, an expert in physical medicine and rehabilitation at UC Davis.

UC Davis Med Center, Stockton hospital drop joint-venture plans, Sacramento Business Journal

The UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento and Dameron Hospital Association in Stockton announced Thursday they have dropped plans to pursue a joint venture after two years of negotiations.

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of March 16

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

UC medical centers plan to slash up to $150 million from annual budgets, San Francisco Business Times

The University of California and its five medical centers, including UCSF Medical Center and UC Davis Medical Center, are embarking on an effort to shave up to $150 million from their collective annual budgets. The UC Regents approved the so-called “Leveraging Scale for Value” project at its meeting at UCSF’s Mission Bay campus Thursday, officials said. The effort will focus on cutting costs in three main areas: supply chain, revenue cycle and clinical laboratories. It’s part of a broader plan by UC President Janet Napolitano to cut costs and become more efficient — not a UC strength in the past. “We are leveraging the UC system’s collective strength to become more efficient,”Dr. John Stobo, UC senior vice president for health sciences and services, said in the March 20 statement. Read UC press release.

See additional coverage: California Healthline, Daily Bruin

Children’s Hospital Oakland finds safe harbor under UC San Francisco, The Hayward Daily Review

Noah Smith watched as his leg was fitted for a brace to help support his left heel, which can now touch the ground after a six-hour surgery at Children’s Hospital Oakland. Before, the 11-year-old could walk only on his left toes, an effect of cerebral palsy. But then his family, who lives in the Central Valley, found Dr. Coleen Sabatini, and she was able to extend his hamstring and Achilles tendon to resolve the problem. “The service, the care they give, Dr. Sabatini, they’ve all been excellent,” said Chuck Pasquale, Noah’s grandfather. Thanks to a new affiliation between Children’s and UC San Francisco Medical Center, that quality of care should be available to youngsters for many years to come. The deal between the two hospitals, nearly two years in the making and following exploration of linking with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, promises to shore up the finances and perhaps ensure the survival of previously struggling Children’s, the Bay Area’s only pediatric Level 1 trauma center.

California faces shortage of primary care doctors (video), CBS San Francisco

Friday is “Match Day,” when graduating medical students find out where they will do their residency training. But doctors are worried that there are not enough primary care physicians to meet growing demand. UCSF medical student Elise Taylor, who is interested in practicing in primary care, and UCSF Dr. Kevin Grumbach, are interviewed.

UC patient care technical workers plan strike, Sacramento Business Journal

The University of California’s 13,000 patient care technical workers — including 2,900 at UC Davis — have approved a five-day strike from March 24 through March 28. Workers are represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, which has been in collective bargaining with the university for well over a year.

UC-corporate links produce trove of patents, study finds, San Francisco Chronicle

Corporations often attract criticism for funding university research, but a study published Thursday argues these sometimes controversial deals produce more innovations than those subsidized with taxpayer money. Research from UC Berkeley found that corporate-sponsored inventions at the University of California system over 15 years generated more patents and licenses – two benchmarks of innovation – than did those solely backed by the federal government, the traditional and largest source of funds. Businesses provided $3.2 billion, or 5 percent, of American universities’ total research budgets in 2012, a portion that has been stable since the 1970s, according to the National Science Foundation. Such partnerships are unusually common at the UC system’s 10 campuses and three associated national laboratories, which lead discoveries in medicine, engineering and other fields.

Making tech transfer work for universities, U-T San Diego

Tech transfer is about dancing robots and curing brain cancer. Google and Gatorade, sleep apnea and gene-splicing. It’s how inventions and ideas — intellectual property — move out of university labs and get translated into commercial products and startup companies. Some $2.5 billion in licensing fees flowed to U.S. universities in 2010, with nearly 600 new companies formed. A bit of tech history: In post-World War II America, inventions developed on university campuses with federal funds were centrally licensed through Washington to sluggish results. Then, in 1981, the University of California’s Richard Atkinson helped formulate the Bayh-Dole act in Congress, which gave universities the right to license their own IP, giving an incentive to smart colleges and energizing the U.S. economy to the tune of an estimated $3 trillion in Northern California, alone, and billions more in San Diego. UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla is quoted and examples from UC Berkeley and UC San Diego are cited.

UC Davis Medical Center launches cord blood collection system, Sacramento Business Journal

New mothers at UC Davis Medical Center can now donate the umbilical cord blood of their babies to California’s first comprehensive public system of collecting cord blood for transplantation and medical research. UC Davis administers the program, which is funded by a temporary $2 fee on birth certificate copies that’s expected to generate $2 million annually through 2017. By then, the program may be self-supporting, or may need authorization to continue the fee.

UCSD to house Salk’s papers, U-T San Diego

The family of famed polio vaccine developer Jonas Salk has donated almost 900 boxes of the virologist’s papers to UC San Diego, where they will be preserved by the school’s Mandeville Special Collections department in Geisel Library. Salks’ three sons — Peter, Darrell and Jonathan –recently gave the papers to the campus, which also was named the official repository for Salks’ holdings. All of the material will be kept a Geisel, which is about a 10 minute walk from the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences on North Torrey Pines Road in La Jolla. UC San Diego already houses the papers of such well-known figure as children’s author Theodor Seuss Geisel, and three Nobel laureates, Francis Crick, Harold Urey and Maria Goeppert Mayer, and Leo Szilard, the physicist who is widely regarded as the father of the atomic bomb.

A prescription for team work: Conejo doctors band together against UCLA incursion, Pacific Coast Business Times

About 100 doctors in East Ventura County are fighting for their independence by working together. They’re members of Choice Health Associates, a loose affiliation of physicians in private practice who have teamed up to better compete with big out-of-town providers. The biggest of those competitors in the Conejo Valley is UCLA Health System, which has opened offices in Westlake Village and Thousand Oaks over the past two years.

Doctors hunting rare polio-like illness getting tripped up, San Francisco Chronicle

Stanford University and UCSF neurologists leading the investigation into a rare polio-like paralysis that’s affected at least two dozen children in California are still hunting for the source of the illness, and they’re finding themselves hampered by delays in reporting cases and questions about how to even describe the disease.

New health law is sending many back to school, The New York Times

Professional development classes constantly need to adapt to new realities, and that is especially true now in health care management, with the Affordable Care Act changing the rules for patients, managers, doctors and other health workers.Key provisions of the law, including the requirement that most people obtain health insurance and the creation of online insurance marketplaces where individuals can buy insurance, are leading to new policies and practices down the line. Confusion has inevitably ensued. But that could mean career opportunities for professionals with the best and most current understanding of the law and the way it is being put into practice. UCLA modified its certificate program in health care management, begun in 2005, in part to address the Affordable Care Act passed four years ago. Dylan Roby, an assistant professor of health policy and management in the university’s School of Public Health, is quoted.

Thousands of young California immigrants eligible for coverage — though often they don’t know it, Kaiser Health News/Los Angeles Daily News

California  is one of just a few states that is funding coverage for many young immigrants in the deferred action program.  Up to 125,000 low-income immigrants  statewide could qualify under the state’s Medi-Cal program for the poor, according to a report by University of California researchers. Many in this group are expected to remain uninsured, however, because they are not aware of their eligibility, have trouble enrolling or are worried about the impact on other relatives here illegally. Claire Brindis, director of the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at UC San Francisco and one of the authors of the report about the immigrant youth, is quoted. Los Angeles County-run Harbor-UCLA Medical Center is mentioned.

Thirdhand smoke poses health danger, especially to children, scientists say, The Sacramento Bee

A new study funded by the University of California’s Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program found that smoke residue on carpeting and furniture, known as thirdhand smoke, could damage DNA and increase the risk of cancer. The researchers said the smoke — which can last for several months in households and cars — poses a particular risk to children who are more likely to touch surfaces and put items in their mouth. The article quotes Bo Hang of Berkeley Lab and Kent Pinkerton and Mike Schivo of UC Davis.

Chronic condition most often caused by tobacco exposure, U-T San Diego

Dr. Xavier Soler, associate director of the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program and the Clinical Trials Center & Airway Research Center at UC San Diego School of Medicine, is featured in this story about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a group of conditions caused almost exclusively by tobacco exposure in which limited or reduced airflow is the universal trait.

The doctor will see you onscreen, The New Yorker

UC Davis Health System is featured in this story about telemedicine. Thomas Nesbitt, the associate vice chancellor for technology at UC Davis Health System, is quoted.

Warning signs: How pesticides harm the young brain, The Nation

A pathbreaking UC Berkley study led by Brenda Eskenazi has detected developmental problems in children born to mothers who toiled in pesticide- treated fields.

What the world’s second most famous brain can teach public speakers, Forbes

In 1953, an epileptic had brain surgery to attempt to relieve the seizures he was experiencing that were making his life a nightmare.  A neurosurgeon, William Beecher Scoville, removed a piece of Henry Molaison’s brain about the size of an apple, and cured him of his seizures. Unfortunately, the operation also robbed H.M. (as he came to be called) of his memory.  He lived the rest of his life in the moment, but not in the wonderful sense the Zen masters mean.  Rather, as he saw the same nurses and doctors day after day, he greeted them as if for the first time, each time.  His brain thus became the world’s second most famous (after Einstein’s) because of what it told us about how memories are formed.  H.M. and his brain were studied right up to 2008, when he died, and his brain was frozen and sliced for further research after his death. Now researchers at UC San Diego have analyzed H.M’s brain in detail in ways that were not available in the past.

The future of brain implants, The Wall Street Journal

This story on brain implants mentions research by neurosurgeon Itzhak Fried and his colleagues at UCLA. It also notes that engineers like Michel Maharbiz and Jose Carmena and their colleagues at UC Berkeley are developing a wireless brain interface that they call “neural dust,” where thousands of biologically neutral microsensors would convert electrical signals into ultrasound that could be read outside the brain.

See additional coverage: Washington Post

UCSF team develops early-warning system for preterm labor, San Francisco Chronicle

A team of UCSF obstetricians and bioengineers is building a wireless device that can be inserted into a pregnant woman’s vagina and monitor her cervix and, when necessary, send an alert that the woman may be going into premature labor. The device, which will be similar in size and shape to a diaphragm used for birth control, would be the first early-warning system for preterm labor, which is the main cause of death among newborns worldwide.

Contest teaches students how to cook, eat well, San Francisco Chronicle

The first Teens Cook With Heart Bay Bridge Challenge, sponsored by the American Heart Association, was designed to highlight how easy it is to cook and eat well. “This is the most important kind of education,” said Dr. Robert Lustig, a UCSF pediatric endocrinologist and one of the day’s judges. “This is education they can use.”

Study: EHR data accurately predicts sepsis, Health Data Management

Researchers from UC Davis have shown that electronic health records can be used effectively to predict the onset of sepsis, a leading cause of death and hospitalization in the United States.

Active MRI shows how joints work (video), Voice of America

Researchers at UC Davis now say they have developed a new method that enables them to see moving images of body joints.

‘Trackers’ willing to share health data, U-T San Diego

People who use wearable devices and smartphone apps to track their health and fitness are generally willing to share their data with researchers, says a new UC San Diego survey that takes a narrow look at “self-trackers.” But respondents say their privacy would have to be assured. The survey was conducted by the school’s California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), which is involved in the development of both apps and wearable devices.

Computers stolen from UCSF contained 9,000 pateints’ data, Bay City News Service

The University of California at San Francisco is notifying more than 9,000 people that their personal data has been compromised after desktop computers were stolen from a clinic. The computers were stolen on or around Jan. 11 from the UCSF Family Medicine Center at Lakeshore, at 1569 Sloat Blvd., according to university officials.

UC Davis to help Kentucky collie shot in the jaw, The Sacramento Bee

UC Davis veterinarians hope to partially reconstruct the jaw of a Kentucky collie that was shot in the muzzle. 

CATEGORY: In the media, NewsComments Off

In the media: Week of March 9

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Accelerated medical school proposal could yield more physicians, less debt, California Healthline

Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla said her bill to accelerate the medical school process from four years to three could have a significant impact for the state. AB 1838 would help young physicians by lightening the weight of their school loans and help California by having physicians start their practices a year early, Bonilla said. UC Davis would kick off the new accelerated program, Bonilla said. It plans to enroll its first class of four accelerated students in the summer of 2014. That choice of school has an added benefit, Bonilla said, in that the accelerated students would be on the rural primary care path — a particular need in California communities, she said. The bill was developed with the help of both the University of California and the Medical Board of California. “The University of California believes this change in law is straightforward and will benefit the state by reducing unnecessary and outdated barriers to practice in the state,” according to Cathryn Nation, the associate vice president of health sciences and services for the UC system.

See additional coverage: Sacramento Business Journal

University of California grants $2.5 million for health care improvement projects, San Francisco Business Times

The University of California gave $2.5 million total to four projects at its campuses — two of them at UC San Francisco — to improve health care and lower its cost. Grant recipients include UCSF’s Nathaniel Gleason for a project to improve communications between primary care doctors and specialists and Kevin Bozic to set up bundled payments for hip and knee replacements, as well as UC Davis’ Elisa Tong to develop a UC Tobacco Cessation Network and UC San Diego’s William Perry to cut down on overuse of emergency rooms by psychiatric patients by screening them better and giving them referalls. Read UC release.

See additional coverage: California Healthline, City News Service/KPBS

Calif. schools receive top rankings for medical health specialties, California Healthline

Several California graduate schools have received top rankings for health-related areas of study in a list released by U.S. News & World Report. Several UC schools are mentioned. Read UC coverage.

UC’s patient care technical workers to vote to authorize strike, Bay City News

Patient care technical workers at University of California health care facilities will vote on whether to authorize a strike this week, union officials said today. Around 13,000 patient care technical workers will vote on Wednesday and Thursday, according to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299. University spokeswoman Dianne Klein said the UC has agreed to the union’s demands in areas including pensions, benefits and paid time off, but the two sides continue to disagree over wages.

UCSF, Salesforce in talks for S.F. Mission Bay site, San Francisco Chronicle

UCSF has entered “advanced discussions” with Salesforce.com to purchase part of the company’s sizable property in Mission Bay, the school says. The two sides could reach a deal within four months, which would allow the university to add parking and research and administration buildings to its burgeoning campus.

See additional coverage: San Francisco Business Times

First-ever blood test identifies impending Alzheimer’s disease, Los Angeles Times

For the first time, a test that detects 10 types of lipids, or fats, circulating in a person’s blood has been shown to predict accurately whether he or she will develop the memory loss and mental decline of Alzheimer’s disease over the next two to three years. A screening test based on the findings could be available in as little as two years, said the researchers who identified the blood biomarkers. The researchers — from the University of Rochester, Georgetown University and UC Irvine — did not start with a list of possible biomarkers, but recruited 525 subjects at least 70 years old. The team scoured their blood for possibilities while waiting to see which subjects would develop dementia symptoms.

See additional coverage: Orange County Register, U-T San Diego

Arsenic-free water — aided by Bay Area team’s technology, San Francisco Chronicle

Arsenic silently kills tens of millions of people through their drinking water, whether in developing countries like Bangladesh and India or even the Central Valley. Years of unintentional exposure to the odorless and tasteless chemical can cause cancer, skin lesions and severe damage to key organs. “Imagine yourself drinking a glass of clean, fresh water from the tap,” said Susan Amrose, a lecturer in UC Berkeley’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “A glass full of arsenic would look exactly the same as that.” Amrose and a team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are developing a patented technology that uses electricity to remove arsenic from water, making it safe to consume. Citing the invention’s efficiency and affordability, Luminous Water Technologies in India has deployed the technology to villages in India and Bangladesh.

Beating malaria’s fatal bite, The Orange County Register

Along the rural Thailand side of the Moei River that borders Myanmar, health care workers routinely test for malaria by walking from hut to hut, collecting blood samples.During one collection last spring, UC Irvine biomedical engineering professor William Tang and four of his undergraduate students tagged along. Tang’s research lab is working to create a low-cost, rapid way to diagnose malaria, a life-threatening disease transmitted to humans by the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito, which carries the malaria-causing parasite in its blood. Tang wants to diagnose malaria using saliva instead of blood, which is obtained with a finger prick.

Robot is good for both patient and doctor, U-T San Diego

Police officers and interventional cardiologists have something heavy in common: Both don metal to protect them from the hazards of their professions. But while cops will wear bulletproof vests as long as crooks carry guns, new technology now in use at UC San Diego’s Thornton Hospital in La Jolla takes docs out of the line of fire. A $500,000 robot allows cardiologists to shed the heavy leaded aprons, jackets and thyroid shields that many studies show cause back problems and offer incomplete protection from X-rays used to guide the catheters that restore blood flow in blocked arteries.

Time to learn about your microbiome, U-T San Diego

You know about your genome. But what about your microbiome? They are separate but related things that are increasingly being mentioned by such renowned scientists as J. Craig Venter, a La Jolla geneticist, and Larry Smarr, a UC San Diego computer scientist.  A Q&A with Smarr.

Random start ovarian stimulation gives cancer patients hope, San Francisco Chronicle

When Bree Dusbiber was diagnosed with breast cancer in October, one of her first thoughts was to wonder if the illness or the treatment might hurt her ability to have children someday. But then the full force of the unexpected health crisis hit her, and she focused on surgeries and treatment strategies. When she finally met with a fertility doctor at UCSF, he gently suggested that she consider freezing some eggs – and soon. Dr. Mitchell Rosen, director of the UCSF Fertility Preservation Center, is interviewed.

UCSF neuroscientists peer into the brain, San Francisco Chronicle

“The brain is the master clock, the super-organ that controls everything,” said Mickey Hart, drummer, rock ‘n’ roller, ethnomusicologist and neuroscience research collaborator. We were in the UCSF Mission Bay complex, and Hart was greeting guests at the launch of Adam Gazzaley’s Neuroscape Lab. He was wearing a close-fitting cap studded with sensors that could read his brain waves, a heart-shaped pendant that blinked lights in time with his heartbeats, and in case you didn’t notice all that, a bright orange shirt. But even if he’d been wearing a sports jacket and tie, as most gents were at this “introduction to the lab”/fundraising opportunity, the musician’s enthusiasm in contributing to science was obvious. “My grandmother had Alzheimer’s,” he told the crowd. “And I played the drum for her. And then she said my name. … I knew that the master clock laid down the groove.”

UCSF researchers studying recent spate of polio-like illnesses in California, California Health Report

In the last year and a half, doctors in California have seen about twenty cases of what may be a new disease. Patients, usually children, quickly and permanently lose muscle function in an arm or leg, sometimes, but not always after having respiratory symptoms. According to a recent update by UCSF, although the newly identified illness shares some features with polio—which killed and disabled tens of thousands of people in the U.S. before a vaccine was developed in the 1950s –the new condition is not the same disease as polio. UCSF researchers who will report on the disease at the American Academy of Neurology meeting next month say the cause of the disease is still unknown, but a strong possibility is that it is caused by a virus known as enterovirus-68, which was detected in two of five cases that the UCSF researchers will report on.

Celebs stepped out for show benefiting UCSF Children’s Hospital, CBS San Francisco

San Francisco got a generous dose of Hollywood-style glitz and glamour Monday night when several celebrities and internationally-known entertainers performed at a special event that raised funds for programs that help sick children throughout California.The benefit, that took place at Davies Symphony Hall, titled “A Starry Evening of Music, Comedy and Surprises,” included appearances from celebrities such as actress Annette Bening, singers Josh Groban & Amber Riley and comedienne Kathy Griffin. Money raised at the Vaudeville-style show benefits UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and The Painted Turtle, a camp for children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses that was co-founded by the late Paul Newman a decade ago.

UC Davis MIND Institute wins national recognition, Sacramento Business Journal

The UC Davis MIND Institute has achieved coveted designation as an Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center, an elite group of only 15 neurodevelopmental centers nationwide. It comes with a grant of $6.5 million over five years. Matching funds from the institute and university bring the total to $10.5 million.

Microbes in space (audio), Capital Public Radio

Microbes collected from the floor of SleepTrain Arena in Sacramento and the Cal Aggie stadium at UC Davis are headed to space later this week. The microbes are being sent to the International Space Station, and their growth rates in microgravity will be monitored and compared to counterparts kept in a lab at UC Davis.

See additional coverage: Sacramento Bee

Regularly sleeping too long may indicate a health problem, The Washington Post

Alon Y. Avidan, a neurologist who directs the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center, is quoted in this story about “long sleepers.”

The ’60s are gone, but psychedelic research trip continues (audio), NPR

Dr. Charles Grob, UCLA professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute, is interviewed about clinical research on medical and psychiatric uses for LSD and other psychedelic drugs, and the difficulty scientists have in securing funding for this type of research.

Casinos, sites of excess, might actually help families slim down (audio), NPR

Dr. Neil Halfon, professor of pediatrics, public health and public policy and director of the UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities, is interviewed about the impact of research showing that Native American communities with casinos tend to have higher household incomes and lower rates of childhood obesity.

Emotions vented online are contagious, study finds, The Wall Street Journal

In the digital swirl of Facebook status updates, emotions expressed online can be contagious, according to a new study encompassing more than 100 million people in the U.S. and a billion messages they posted. Moreover, upbeat messages were far more likely than negative ones to affect the mood of others online, researchers at the University of California, San Diego, Yale University and Facebook Inc. reported Wednesday in one of the largest public studies of the social network to date. The article quotes UC San Diego political scientist James Fowler, who was lead author on the research published online in the journal PLOS ONE.

Covered California closing in on one million, California Healthline

Covered California officials announced yesterday that almost one million Californians have signed up for health insurance through the new exchange, far exceeding estimates. “We are at more than 920,000 Californians who have picked a plan through the health benefit exchange,” Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee said. “That has more than exceeded our base estimate.” The original “enhanced scenario” estimate by UC-Berkeley researchers — if everything went optimally well during the first six-month enrollment period — was 560,000 signups. Exchange officials Thursday said 923,832 people have enrolled as of March 9.

Hearing looks at high cost of medicine, California Healthline

“This is a time of great hope for many of us in health policy,” said Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) at last week’s Senate Committee on Health hearing, “Making Health Care Affordable: Exploring California’s Efforts.” “To date, more than 2.3 million Californians have been added to Medi-Cal or the exchange,” Hernandez said. “These successes should be celebrated, but they do come at a great cost.” That cost is borne by taxpayers, employers and individuals, and that cost is too high, Hernandez said. “The next debate in the state and in the country has to be: Why are medical bills so high?” The article quotes Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

Kaiser embraces telemedicine to improve access to dermatology (audio, video), KPBS

UC San Diego Dr. Casey Carlos is interviewed in this story about teledermatology.

Injured who lived near closed trauma centers more likely to die, Kaiser Health News

Injured patients who had to travel an average 13 minutes longer to reach a hospital trauma center because a facility nearer to home had closed were more likely to die of their injuries in the hospital, according to a new California study. The article quotes Renee Y. Hsia, lead author of the study and an associate professor of emergency medicine at University of California, San Francisco.

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