A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:
UC president encourages Fresno students in health careers, The Fresno Bee
University of California President Janet Napolitano made a rare visit to the central San Joaquin Valley on Friday to meet with UCSF Fresno Doctors Academy students who aspire to be doctors, nurses, dentists and other health professionals. Napolitano encouraged the high school students to pursue health careers — and assured them that they can afford a higher education. Read UC story.
See additional coverage: ABC 30 (video)
UC student looks to fill medical gap in Central Valley, New America Media
When Benny Escobedo moved with his family from Long Beach to Merced, located in the heart of California’s Central Valley, six years ago, their financial fortunes took a turn for the better. Now a sophomore at the University of California at Merced, Escobedo is working to give something back to his adopted home. “People generally want to get out of the Central Valley to improve their financial situation. For us it was the opposite,” said the 19-year-old biology major. Escobedo plans to go into medicine, and says he’d like to remain in Merced to help fill what he sees as a widening gap between demand for health services and what’s now available.
Flurry of bills approved as session ends, California Healthline
California’s Legislature last week approved a laundry list of legislation at the end of its session — including a number of health-related laws. A last-minute bill extends the sunset date of the California Health Benefit Review Program. AB 1578 by Assembly member Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) would extend the life of CHBRP till Jan. 1, 2016. It also would expand the role of CHBRP, which uses university researchers to analyze proposed health care legislation in California.
FDA OKs Merck drug, 1st in new cancer drug class, The Associated Press
Merck & Co. on Thursday won the first U.S. approval for a new kind of cancer drug with big advantages over chemotherapy and other older cancer treatments. The Food and Drug Administration said it has granted accelerated approval to Merck’s Keytruda, for treating melanoma that’s spread or can’t be surgically removed, in patients previously treated with another melanoma drug called Yervoy. Experts called the news “game-changing” for patients with the deadly skin cancer, which is becoming more common and kills nearly 10,000 Americans each year. Keytruda, a genetically engineered drug known chemically as pembrolizumab, is part of a hot, promising new class of antibody-based drugs. They work by taking a brake off the immune system so it can better recognize and attack cancer cells. Dr. Antoni Ribas, a researcher and professor at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center who was the lead investigator of a crucial study of Keytruda, is quoted.
With no cure, little hope, a family struggles with Huntington’s disease, The Sacramento Bee
This feature on Huntington’s disease highlights a family that is being treated at UC Davis Medical Center. The story notes that the UC Davis Huntington’s clinic has received a $19 million grant for the first FDA-approved stem-cell therapy for Huntington’s patients, hoping to restore brain health early in the disease process. The phase one clinical trial, which begins in 2015, will implant customized stem cells into the brains of people who are in the earliest stages of Huntington’s, using a therapy that’s proved effective in trials on animals. Vicki Wheelock, the neurologist who directs the Huntington’s disease clinic at UC Davis Medical Center, is quoted.
UC Davis biochemist Yuanpei Li says the nanoparticles are multitasking geniuses in the fight against cancer. They are drawn to tumor and help doctors, helping them show up better on scans. They can also be heated with a laser and can kill tumors.
Setting you straight on vaccines, Orange County Register
Shruti Gohil, associate medical director of hospital epidemiology at UC Irvine Medical Center and an assistant clinical professor of infectious diseases, answers questions to help clear up confusion about vaccines.
UC Davis to study autism in girls (audio), Capital Public Radio
There’s a reason a lot of the autism research centers on boys, they’re diagnosed with the condition more often. UC Davis researcher Christine Wu Nordahl says for every one girl diagnosed, there are four to five boys. And she says the lack of research on girls can be frustrating for parents.
Shriners Hospital in Sacramento launches new program in pediatric surgery, Sacramento Business Journal
Shriners Hospital in Sacramento has launched a new program in pediatric surgery — its first major expansion since the hospital opened in 1997. The program builds on a partnership with the UC Davis Medical Center across the street, a relationship first established when Shriners began looking for a place to build a new hospital. Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California is a flagship in the 21-hospital system and the only one that offers all four Shriners specialties in one location.
Rideout Health chooses former UC Davis chief as interim CEO, Sacramento Business Journal
Former UC Davis Medical Center CEO Bob Chason is back at the helm again — only this time, it’s as interim CEO at Rideout Health. The board at the nonprofit community-based health system headquartered in Yuba City announced the appointment Wednesday. UC Davis trauma surgeon David Wisner was appointed chief medical officer at Rideout the same day.
Not to be outdone by StartX, the accelerator loosely affiliated with Stanford University that officially opened the doors to its biotech lab last week, a group of UC Berkeley students are launching a new program to help health-tech entrepreneurship flourish on their own campus. Catalyst@Berkeley, a student-led incubator program focusing on health tech, is kicking off Sept. 4 with its first informational session aimed at recruiting applicants for its first batch of health-enthusiastic entrepreneurs. In other words, the program wants to attract undergraduate students seeking to take the plunge into health tech.
Surveys show unbalanced supply, demand in California nurse labor market, California Healthline
Prospective nurses in California are facing a classic enigma: how to find a job requiring experience if you can’t get hired to gain the experience. As a result, an excess of nursing graduates in California cannot find jobs, even though employers are declaring a shortage of recruits. According to UC-San Francisco’s “Survey of Nurse Employers in California, Fall 2013,” approximately 41% of responding hospitals reported moderate to high demand for registered nurses relative to supply. In the 2012 survey of employers, 51% said the same thing.
Gregory Hickok, a professor of cognitive science at UC Irvine, where he directs the Center for Language Science and the Auditory and Language Neuroscience Lab, writes about autism. His piece is excerpted from his book, “The Myth of Mirror Neurons: The Real Neuroscience of Communication and Cognition.”
UC Davis and the Flying Eye Hospital (audio), Capital Public Radio
On Sept. 5, a team of doctors from UC Davis including eye surgeons, anesthesiologists and a recovery room nurse will fly to Trujillo, Peru, to perform special eye care for Peruvian citizens. The team will travel via the Flying Eye Hospital, a DC10 cargo jet that transformed from within into a state-of-the-art operating room and classroom. They plan to test the vision of both adults and children in addition to perform sight restoration surgeries. UC Davis’s new dean of Health Systems will attend the trip as well in order to explore further medical partnership with a local university hospital in Trujillo.
This story about the impact of triclosan notes that a review by scientists at UC Davis concluded that when it comes to triclosan and triclocarban, a chemically related antibacterial agent, “the benefits may not be worth the risks.” The researchers wrote that triclosan and triclocarban could cause neural and cardiac ailments, though they also conceded that “the research is in its early stages.”