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26 UC researchers named AAAS fellows

The association is the world’s largest scientific society.

Twenty-six University of California campus and affiliated lab researchers are among this year’s new fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. They are among 401 AAAS fellows for 2014, honored for their contributions to innovation, education, and scientific leadership.

With this year’s new fellows, UC now has 842 living members of the AAAS. The association is the world’s largest scientific society. The new fellows, by campus and area of concentration, are:

UC Berkeley

  • William D. Collins (see Lawrence Berkeley Lab)
  • Cathryn Carson, History and Philosophy of Science
  • John Harte, Physics
  • Paul G. Kalas, SETI Institute, Astronomy

UC Davis

  • Andreas J. Albrecht, Astronomy
  • Xinbin Chen, Medical Sciences
  • Gino A. Cortopassi, Biological Sciences
  • Michael J. Leibowitz, Biological Sciences
  • Debbie A. Niemeier, Engineering
  • Diane E. Ullman, Agriculture, Food, and Renewable Resources

UC Irvine

  • Philip G. Collins, Physics
  • Christopher Charles William Hughes, Medical Sciences
  • Eric Mjolsness, Information, Computing, and Communication
  • Paolo Sassone-Corsi, Biological Sciences

UCLA

  • Linda Gwen Baum, Geffen School of Medicine, Medical Sciences
  • Ann M. Hirsch, Agriculture, Food, and Renewable Resources
  • Michael Stephen Levine, Neuroscience
  • Pamela Munro, Linguistics and Language Sciences
  • Dwight W. Read, Anthropology

UC San Diego

  • Steven C. Cande, Geology and Geography
  • Trey Ideker, Biological Sciences
  • Mark D. Ohman, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Biological Sciences

UC San Francisco

  • Ophir David Klein, Dentistry and Oral Health Sciences

UC Santa Barbara

  • David López-Carr, Geology and Geography

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

  • William D. Collins, UC Berkeley, Atmospheric and Hydrospheric Sciences
  • Heinz M. Frei, Chemistry

Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • Mary Y.P. Hockaday, Physics

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UC Global Health Day seeks abstracts, proposals

Submissions due Jan. 9.

The UC Global Health Institute invites submissions of abstracts for posters and proposals for breakout sessions for UC Global Health Day, April 18, 2015, at UCLA. This annual conference is a showcase of the research, training and outreach in global health being undertaken across the University of California.

This event is an opportunity for UC students, fellows, faculty, staff and visiting scholars to share their current work in global health. The day will feature plenary sessions, posters and concurrent breakout sessions covering a broad range of global health topics.

Interdisciplinary and cross-campus collaborations are strongly encouraged. All presenters will receive complimentary registration to UC Global Health Day. Students selected to present at UC Global Health Day will receive funding to offset travel and poster expenses. Read the calls for posters and breakout sessions for more information.

Submit your abstract or proposal today. Deadline for submissions is Jan. 9, 2015, at 11:59 p.m.

Details about the student video contest and the student plenary contest are forthcoming. Stay posted.

Visit the UC Global Health Institute website for more information.

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Donations needed to help dogs, cats of the homeless

Supports Mercer Clinic Holiday Pet Basket program.

Help is welcomed this holiday season to help take the chill out of life on the streets for the dogs and cats of area homeless people.

For the 19th year, staff volunteers at UC Davis’ William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital are gathering monetary donations to help fill 130 holiday-wrapped boxes with toys, treats, food and pet-care products. The holiday pet baskets will be distributed on Saturday, Dec. 13, to pet owners attending the monthly Mercer Veterinary Clinic for the homeless in Sacramento.

The Holiday Pet Basket program also is raising funds for the fourth year to provide sweaters and coats to help these pets survive the winter weather.

“The Holiday Pet Baskets are a much appreciated gift to these very special pets that deserve a happy holiday, too,” said Eileen Samitz, who coordinates the holiday basket program. “However, we also recognize the essential need for warm sweaters and coats, particularly for the smaller or older pets, which have a far harder time enduring the cold winter temperatures, especially at night.”

Checks to support the Holiday Pet Baskets and purchase of pet coats and sweaters may be made payable to the UC Regents – Mercer Holiday Pet Baskets and mailed to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Office of the Dean, P.O. Box 1167, Davis, CA 95617-1167, Attn: Mercer Holiday Pet Baskets.

Online donations also can be made at: http://bit.ly/189XBde by choosing the “Mercer Clinic Holiday Pet Baskets” option.

More information about how to help the Mercer Holiday Pet Basket program can be obtained from coordinator Eileen Samitz (evenings and weekends) at (530) 756-5165 and emsamitz@ucdavis.edu or from the Mercer Clinic website and photo gallery at www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/clubs/mercer.

About the Mercer Clinic

Since 1992, the Mercer Clinic has provided the pets of homeless individuals with basic veterinary care, access to emergency care and pet food — all free of charge. The clinic is open on the second Saturday of each month, staffed by veterinary faculty and practitioners who volunteer their time and supervise the veterinary students, who run the clinic. The students gain valuable experience as they apply their studies and work alongside veterinarians to learn veterinary responsibilities and client communication skills.

In addition to improving the lives of the pets of the homeless, the Mercer Clinic works to reduce pet overpopulation by arranging for free vaccinations as well as spay and neuter surgeries for the animals.

Mercer Clinic takes place at Loaves & Fishes, 1321 West C St., Sacramento. The clinic has received the American Veterinary Medical Association Humane Award and the Sacramento SPCA “Humane-itarian” award for its work with this special population of animal companions.

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Tips for keeping the ‘happy’ in holidays

UC Irvine’s Jody Rawles says key to reducing seasonal stress is setting realistic expectations.

By Shari Roan, UC Irvine

Roast the turkey. Bake the pies. Decorate the house. Buy the gifts. The list goes on.

Sometimes the demands of the holiday season can overshadow the enjoyment. A survey by the American Psychological Association found that more than 8 in 10 Americans anticipate excessive stress during the upcoming holidays.

How can you enjoy the season amid the anxiety? It helps to remember that the days between Thanksgiving and Jan. 1 are not typically life-altering, says Dr. Jody M. Rawles, associate professor and interim chair of psychiatry & human behavior at UC Irvine.

“June is usually considered by the psychiatric community to be a more stressful month than December,” he explains. “June usually carries more monumental changes – people get married or move or graduate and have to find jobs. The holidays are just days. They shouldn’t be as disruptive as people think.”

Adults tend to become overwhelmed, frustrated or sad during the holiday period because of heightened expectations.

“Our culture and the media set a high bar,” Rawles says. “We’re supposed to be this ideal cross between Norman Rockwell and Martha Stewart. We have to have this incredible meal for family and friends, and everyone is supposed to have a wonderful time. But life is complicated.”

In reality, family members don’t always get along. The turkey is dry. The kids have the flu.

“Not every husband orders a Lexus for his wife and has it shipped in two days with a big bow on it,” Rawles notes. (Does anyone actually do that?)

Set realistic expectations for the holidays, he suggests. If money is an issue, establish a budget and stick to it. Enlist your spouse and kids in holiday decisions so that everyone is on the same page.

Some people may need to do extra planning to avoid holiday pitfalls. High stress levels can trigger bad health habits, such as eating or drinking too much. Strategize in advance how to deal with such temptations, Rawles advises.

Individuals who are recently separated, divorced or widowed might have to be proactive to ensure that they aren’t alone or lonely. Adults with mood issues, particularly seasonal affective disorder, should consider tactics to ward off sadness or depression – adhering to an exercise regimen, for example, or seeing a mental health professional on a regular basis.

“As a society, we do value holidays,” Rawles says. “But we may have to take preventive measures to make sure they don’t become depressing days.”

Tips for holiday stress-busting

  • Don’t worry about your weight. Studies show that most people gain less than a pound during the holiday season. Try using a small plate to sample holiday buffet dishes. Don’t skip meals or allow yourself to become overly hungry before a party or big meal. Take a walk after a dinner or celebration. Hit the gym extra hard in January.
  • Pace yourself when drinking. Have “drink spacers,” or nonalcoholic beverages, between cocktails. Enlist a designated driver.
  • Talk to kids about realistic expectations for gifts and holiday activities.
  • Take small steps to deal with the demands of the holidays instead of trying to do everything at once. Shop online.
  • Spend a few hours doing volunteer work, or buy a gift for a toy drive. Helping others who are less fortunate helps put things in perspective.
  • Take time for yourself, such as a daily walk or a soak in the tub.
  • Get plenty of rest and make sure kids get plenty of rest.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no. Set limits.

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Regents approve long-term stability plan for tuition, financial aid

Plan would allow UC to enroll more California students.

The University of California Board of Regents approved today (Nov. 20) a five-year plan for low, predictable tuition that, together with modest state funds, would allow UC to enroll more California students, maintain the university’s strong financial aid program and invest in educational quality.

The plan authorizes UC to increase tuition by up to 5 percent per year through 2019-20, an amount that could be reduced or eliminated entirely if the state provides sufficient revenue. The full board approved the plan on a 14-7 vote. At Wednesday’s (Nov. 19) meeting, the Regents Long-Range Financial Plan Committee approved the plan on a 7-2 vote, with Gov. Jerry Brown and student regent Sadia Saifuddin voting against it.

“No one wants to see the price of a UC education increase, but I believe the plan is fair and necessary if UC is to remain a world-class, public-serving university,” said Bruce Varner, regents chair, at Wednesday’s meeting, where the plan was discussed at length.

UC President Janet Napolitano noted that state support for UC students remains near the lowest it has been in more than 30 years. The university receives about $460 million less today than it did before the recession.

“Despite the level of public disinvestment, its research and academic reputation have been largely sustained,” Napolitano said. “Entire swaths of the California economy — from biotechnology to the wine industry — have sprung from UC research. UC graduates lead the creativity and innovation activities upon which California prides itself.

“With this plan we can invest in faculty. This means we can increase course selection, speed time to graduation, and better support graduate education as well as undergraduate education. But we cannot continue to do these things without additional revenue.”

She said the long-term plan also would help students, families and the university by helping to end the annual “feast or famine” budget cycle in which tuition rises and falls — sometimes dramatically — in relation to state funding.

“This plan brings clarity to the tuition and financial aid process for our students and their families,” Napolitano said.

Napolitano noted that UC has one of the strongest financial aid programs of any university in the country: Fifty-five percent of California undergraduates have all systemwide tuition and fees covered.

The plan preserves that robust aid model. It also will allow UC to enroll 5,000 more California students, a critical component given that applications are “running at a record pace,” as they have been for the last decade, Napolitano said.

Brown proposed that he and Napolitano instead form a select committee to investigate a variety of ideas for reducing UC’s long-term costs, including creation of a three-year undergraduate degree, greatly expanding the use of online courses, and the development of campus specific specializations.

Napolitano and other regents welcomed the committee idea, but said UC could not wait to take decisive action on the university’s budget.

Regent Sherry Lansing thanked the governor and said she looked forward to deeper talks with the state.

She noted that Brown recently had vetoed a bill that would have boosted UC’s state funding by $50 million, and that the state also does not contribute to UC’s employer portion of pension costs, even though it does pay those for both the California State University and the California Community College system.

“Our pension funds are treated differently than CSU, and if they weren’t we would not be talking about a tuition increase,” Lansing said. “The solutions are there: Give us a tuition buyout or better than that, cover the pension obligation.”

Regent Bonnie Reiss echoed the sentiment. She said that California’s recent funding priorities have included funds for high-speed rail, water storage and a rainy day fund.

“All are important. But I say to our elected leaders, isn’t investing in public higher education an equally important priority?”

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UCLA researcher pioneers cure for ‘Bubble Baby’ disease

Game-changing stem cell treatment to be tested for sickle cell disease next.

Christian and Alysia Padilla-Vaccaro and their twins, Annabella (left) and Evangelina. With a newly restored immune system, Evangelina lives a normal and healthy life.

By Peter Bracke, UCLA

UCLA stem cell researchers have pioneered a stem cell gene therapy cure for children born with a life-threatening condition called adenosine deaminase–deficient severe combined immunodeficiency, or ADA-deficient SCID. Often called Bubble Baby disease, the condition can be fatal within the first year of life if left untreated.

The groundbreaking treatment was developed by Dr. Donald Kohn, a renowned stem cell researcher and member of the UCLA Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research.

Kohn’s breakthrough was developed over three decades of research aimed at creating a gene therapy that safely restores the immune systems of children with ADA-deficient SCID using the patients’ own cells with no side effects.

To date, 18 children with SCID have been cured of the disease after receiving the therapy in clinical trials at UCLA and the National Institutes of Health.

“All of the children with SCID that I have treated in these stem cell clinical trials would have died in a year or less without this gene therapy,” said Kohn, a professor of pediatrics and of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics in the UCLA College. “Instead they are all thriving with fully functioning immune systems.”

Children born with SCID are kept in controlled, isolated environments because without an immune system, ordinary illness and infection could be lethal.

“Other current options for treating ADA-deficient SCID are not always optimal or feasible for many children,” Kohn said. “We can now, for the first time, offer these children and their families a cure, and the chance to live a full, healthy life.”

Defeating ADA-deficient SCID

Children born with SCID, an inherited immunodeficiency, are generally diagnosed when they are about six months old. The disease causes their cells to not create ADA, an enzyme that is critical for producing the healthy white blood cells needed for a normal, fully functioning immune system. About 15 percent of all SCID patients are ADA-deficient.

Currently, there are only two treatment options for children with the disease. They can be injected twice a week with ADA — a lifelong process that is very expensive and often doesn’t return the immune system to optimal levels. Or they can undergo bone marrow transplants from siblings, but bone marrow matches are very rare and can result in the patient’s body rejecting the transplanted cells, which then turn against the child.

Since 2009 and over the course of two multiyear clinical trials, Kohn and his team tested two therapy regimens on 18 children with ADA-deficient SCID. The children’s blood stem cells were removed from their bone marrow and genetically modified to correct the defect.

All 18 patients were cured.

Using a virus delivery system that he developed in his lab in the 1990s, Kohn inserted the corrected gene that produces the missing enzyme into the blood, forming stem cells in the bone marrow. The genetically corrected blood-forming stem cells then produced T cells capable of fighting infection.

Kohn and his colleagues tested, modified and perfected viral delivery as the best method to put the healthy ADA genes back into the bone marrow cells of the patients. With the newly transplanted cells now able to produce the needed enzyme, the research team harnessed the powerful self-renewal potential of stem cells to repopulate the blood stream and the children developed their own new, fully functioning immune systems.

“We were very happy that over the course of several clinical trials and after making refinements and improvements to the treatment protocol, we are now able to provide a cure for babies with this devastating disease using the child’s own cells,” Kohn said.

The researchers’ next step is to seek FDA approval for the gene therapy, with the hope that all children with ADA-deficient SCID will be able to benefit from the treatment. Their cutting-edge research also lays the groundwork for the gene therapy to be tested for treatment of sickle cell disease; clinical trials are set to begin in 2015.

”We’ve been working for the last five years to take the success we’ve had with this stem cell gene therapy for SCID to sickle cell,” Kohn said. “We now have the potential to take the gene that blocks sickling and get it into enough of a patient’s stem cells to block the disease.”

UCLA Dr. Donald Kohn and Evangelina Padilla-Vaccaro

One child’s story

Only weeks after giving birth to fraternal twins in 2012, Alysia Padilla-Vaccaro quickly felt something was wrong with one of her daughters, Evangelina, now 2 years old.

“I was told that it was the stress, or the fear of being a new mom, but I just knew something wasn’t right,” said Padilla-Vaccaro, a resident of Corona, California. “Then I was informed that Evangelina had absolutely no immune system, that anything that could make her sick, would kill her. It was literally the worst time of my life.”

Alysia and her husband, Christian, brought Evangelina to UCLA. Soon after she underwent Kohn’s stem cell gene therapy, Evangelina’s new immune system developed without side effects. Her T cell count began to rise and her ability to fight off illness and infection grew stronger. Then Kohn told Alysia and Christian the good news: For the first time, they could hug and kiss their daughter and take Evangelina outside to meet the world.

“To finally kiss your child on the lips, to hold her, it’s impossible to describe what a gift that is,” Padilla-Vaccaro said. “I gave birth to my daughter, but Dr. Kohn gave my baby life.”

The research was supported by grants from the FDA, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, including the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; and the National Center for Advancing Translational Science.

Additional funding was provided by UCLA, including the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research, the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Children’s Discovery and Innovation Institute, the department of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, and the department of pediatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine.

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Building the future of health care

More than 1,000 donors give $131M in support of UC San Diego Jacobs Medical Center.

By Judy Piercey and Jade Griffin, UC San Diego

Committed to fostering the future of health care in San Diego, more than 1,000 donors have contributed $131 million to UC San Diego’s Jacobs Medical Center. Included in the total are gifts that matched a donation of $25 million, meeting the Challenge goal of the initiative.

Today (Nov. 20), the campus announced that the Challenge donation, originally anonymous, was made by Joan and Irwin Jacobs. They provided a $75 million lead gift for the new facility in 2010; with the Challenge gift, that brings their contributions to the Jacobs Medical Center to a total of $100 million. Continued private support will help fund the completion of the new medical center, which is the largest hospital project currently underway in Southern California.

Under construction and projected to open in 2016, Jacobs Medical Center is a $839 million, 10-story facility on the university’s La Jolla campus, which will include three new clinical care units in one location: The A. Vassiliadis Family Hospital for Advanced Surgery, The Pauline and Stanley Foster Hospital for Cancer Care and the Hospital for Women and Infants.

“We are deeply grateful to Joan and Irwin Jacobs for their generosity, including the recent $25 million match challenge,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “We also thank Carol Vassiliadis and Pauline Foster, who made leadership gifts, as well as all of the other donors who participated in meeting this challenge. These visionaries support UC San Diego’s commitment and vision to create a healthier world through new science, new medicine and new cures.”

“Jacobs Medical Center is part of a multibillion dollar university investment in the future of health care for the region,” said Dr. David A. Brenner, vice chancellor for Health Sciences and dean of the UC San Diego School of Medicine. “I want to thank all of the donors who have helped make this extraordinary medical center a reality.”

Irwin and Joan Jacobs

“When we came here in 1966, the medical school was just starting,” said Irwin Jacobs, co-founder, former chairman and CEO of Qualcomm Inc. and UC San Diego founding faculty member, who served as a professor in electrical and computer engineering from 1966 to 1972. “There was no hospital, just a school. So it’s very exciting to make Jacobs Medical Center possible. More and more, we’re learning how to bring results from basic research in biology and engineering to medicine, and to the clinic. I think this medical center is going to show how effective that can be. The innovations will spread out from San Diego, and go all around the world.”

The 509,500-square-foot facility will house 245 patient beds and be connected on multiple floors with the existing John M. and Sally B. Thornton Hospital on UC San Diego’s La Jolla campus, in the heart of the area’s nexus of biomedical research centers. Jacobs Medical Center has been designed with the patient in mind. From spacious private rooms to soothing color schemes and artwork, to next-generation medical equipment, the vision and needs of patients, doctors and nurses, all aspects of the Jacobs Medical Center have been fully integrated. Each floor will combine all the necessary healing elements while achieving optimal safety and efficient delivery of care.

“Soon we will have the largest, most technologically advanced hospital in the region, dedicated to offering specialized care for every kind of patient, in every phase of life,” said Paul Viviano, CEO of UC San Diego Health System.

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UCSF Mission Bay hospital complex to open Feb. 1

Three new hospitals for women, children and cancer patients.

UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay will open Feb. 1, 2015. (Photo by Mark Citret)

After more than 10 years of planning and construction, UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay will open Feb. 1, 2015 on UC San Francisco’s world-renowned biomedical research campus. UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay comprises UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco, UCSF Betty Irene Moore Women’s Hospital and UCSF Bakar Cancer Hospital. The new facilities include a 289-bed hospital complex, with children’s emergency and outpatient services that will integrate research and medical advancements with patient-focused, compassionate care.​

UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay will welcome its first patients the morning of Feb. 1, when teams of health care professionals and ambulances begin moving some inpatients from the UCSF Parnassus campus and Mount Zion campus into the new facilities.

The new medical center, strategically located on UCSF’s 60.2-acre Mission Bay research campus, will enhance UCSF’s ecosystem of innovation by putting physicians in close proximity to researchers and near biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies in Mission Bay and beyond. The new cancer hospital, for example, will sit near the UCSF Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building, where every day leading scientists are seeking causes and cures for cancer.

UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay also will feature the only operating hospital helipad in San Francisco to transport critically ill babies, children and pregnant women to the medical center from outlying hospitals.

“UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay profoundly advances our ability to fulfill our mission as a public hospital, providing high-quality health care that meets the future needs of the entire Bay Area,” said Mark R. Laret, CEO, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals. “By embedding clinical care within our research enterprise at Mission Bay, UCSF physicians and scientists in the forefront of cancer medicine, and women’s and children’s health will be able to more readily translate discoveries into next-generation therapies and cures.”

Each of the new hospitals’ designs reflects significant input from patients and families, as well as clinicians.

“UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay sets a national benchmark for patient- and family-centered health care by offering an unparalleled healing environment that supports and connects patients and their families during hospital stays,” said Cindy Lima, executive director, UCSF Mission Bay Hospitals Project. “These new hospitals expand our capacity to provide the most advanced treatments in buildings that reflect input from the people who will use them.”

The hospitals feature state-of-the art technology, including the world’s largest hospital fleet of autonomous robotic couriers which will deliver linens, meals and medications. Interactive media walls in each private room will enable patients to communicate with their families and clinicians, and an imaging suite specially designed to eliminate anxiety during an MRI offers children the chance to virtually experience a San Francisco trolley ride, or to play with a cast of animated critters as they boat around the San Francisco Bay.

Distinctive features of UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay include 4.3 acres of green space and 1.2 acres of rooftop gardens, soothing art- and light-filled interiors and a public plaza created in partnership with the City of San Francisco. In addition, UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay is on target to be one of the first LEED Gold-certified hospital in California.

The Integrated Center for Design and Construction brought together more than 200 architects, engineers and contractors working side by side in a command center on the construction site. Construction of the hospitals began in December 2010.

“The healing power of UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay extends beyond the hospitals’ walls, as clinicians and researchers work side by side to accelerate medical breakthroughs and transform the delivery of health care in this country,” said Sam Hawgood, M.B.B.S., chancellor of UC San Francisco. “It’s important to note that the hospital complex was built only through the generous philanthropic support of the Bay Area community, who share our vision of advancing health care across the world. We are greatly appreciative of their unwavering commitment to our mission over the past decade. ”

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco, one of the nation’s leading children’s hospitals, provides treatment for virtually all pediatric conditions, as well as for critically ill newborns. The Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco was one of the first of its kind in the world. The hospital is the only California state-designated children’s medical center in San Francisco and is affiliated with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.

The new 183-bed facility at Mission Bay creates an environment where children and their families find quality care at the forefront of scientific discovery. Private rooms in the intensive care nursery support the youngest patients, while the fully accredited classroom and teachers enable school-age patients to continue their education while focusing on their health. The hospital offers accommodations for families of pediatric patients and nearby lodging for those requiring longer stays.

UCSF Bakar Cancer Hospital

UCSF ranks consistently among the top cancer care centers in the nation, according to the “America’s Best Hospitals” survey from U.S. News & World Report. UCSF Bakar Cancer Hospital sets the standard in personalized care, delivering advanced cancer therapies tailored to individual patient needs. The hospital increases UCSF’s inpatient and outpatient capacity to meet growing demand, in a state-of-the-art facility. The new hospital will absorb many of the cancer surgery beds currently located at UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion, offering cancer surgeries in specialties ranging from urology and orthopedics, to head and neck and gynecologic oncology. Specialists also serve the individual needs of cancer patients from the children’s and women’s hospitals. In the future, Mission Bay could house as many as 250 or more surgery beds, with a full complement of outpatient cancer care services.

UCSF Betty Irene Moore Women’s Hospital

As the region’s first dedicated women’s hospital, UCSF Betty Irene Moore Women’s Hospital will embody the philosophy of the UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health. The new hospital will deliver care that addresses health needs across a woman’s lifetime, including cancer treatment, specialty surgery, a 36-bed birth center, nine deluxe labor and delivery rooms, and select outpatient services. Customizing care to each patient, the hospital will provide the best available diagnostic tests and treatments in a caring, women- and family-focused environment that incorporates the latest technology. Spacious rooms allow loved ones to spend the day or night comfortably.

Each labor and delivery room is designed to be respectful to patients and families during the life-altering event of childbirth. Combining sophisticated technical capabilities with carefully considered design choices, each room emits a sense of calm for the birthing experience. At the same time, it is a highly functional space for clinicians to provide quality care.

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UC translational medicine leaders chart course

UC BRAID holds annual retreat in San Diego.

UC BRAID program leaders (from left): Jennifer Grandis (UC San Francisco), Lars Berglund (UC Davis), Deborah Grady (UC San Francisco), Steven Dubinett (UCLA), Gary Firestein (UC San Diego) and Dan Cooper (UC Irvine). (Photo by Courtney McFall, UC San Francisco)

By Patti Wieser, UC San Diego

With plans to “think boldly” about the next phase of integrating resources and talent, representatives of the University of California Biomedical Research Acceleration, Integration, and Development (UC BRAID) program staked out future directions during the annual retreat Nov. 7 at UC San Diego. Plans on the horizon include integrating informatics across the UC enterprise, expanding UC Research Exchange (UC ReX – a federated multisite clinical data repository), developing industry partnerships, and expanding the systemwide network for clinical and translational research.

The meeting, which focused on innovation, collaboration and acceleration, drew more than 80 translational medicine researchers, administrative leaders, staff and faculty representing eight UC campuses. The participants also discussed major achievements and potential new areas of focus.

“We are extremely excited about our progress as we continue to create an environment that decreases barriers to biomedical research and creates new tools to facilitate research,” said Gary S. Firestein, M.D., UC BRAID chair, director of UC San Diego Clinical and Translational Research Institute (CTRI) and dean and associate vice chancellor of translational medicine at UC San Diego. “UC BRAID serves as a model for collaborative consortia.”

Established in 2010, UC BRAID, in collaboration with the University of California Office of the President (UCOP), is a joint effort of the five UC biomedical campuses to catalyze, accelerate and reduce the barriers for biomedical, clinical and translational research across the UC system. The UC BRAID consortium — UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego and UC San Francisco — pools data, resources and expertise to reach this goal. UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz and UCOP also participated in this year’s UC BRAID meeting.

Lars Berglund, incoming chair of UC BRAID, welcomed the retreat participants. “BRAID is not a goal. It is a means for reaching our goals,” said Berglund, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Clinical and Translational Science Center and senior associate dean of research at UC Davis. The retreat provided a snapshot of “who we are” and energized the participants to continue fulfilling BRAID’s mission. “Enhancing collaboration between the UC system partners will advance the translational research initiative by disintegrating barriers that have evolved,” he said.

Rachael Sak, R.N., M.P.H., director of UC BRAID, discussed the evolvement of UC BRAID during her presentation about leveraging a UC network. “We have a shared vision: to integrate resources and talent across UC to accelerate research that improves health. We are leveraging these, developing Institutional Review Board (IRB) and contracting metrics, and shaping into a collaborative network,” she said. Sak, noting how far the organization has progressed since it was established, cited the following two major successes of UC BRAID during this past year:

Cross-UC clinical trial recruitment: Building upon its accomplishments in cohort discovery and IRB reliance, UC BRAID is developing more advanced cross-campus participant recruitment strategies and services.

National leadership in NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) projects: UC BRAID is at the core of two recent initiatives, Accrual to Clinical Trials and IRB Reliance, supported by NCATS to enable a national network that can conduct large, multicenter clinical trials.

William Tucker, interim vice president of research and graduate studies and executive director of Innovation Alliances and Services with UCOP, presented a talk, “Leveraging UC’s research enterprise for value: President Napolitano’s initiatives that involve research.” Tucker said these initiatives include stimulating research and discovery in areas of strategic importance that benefits California and the world, and improves human lives, the environment and the economy. He lauded BRAID for doing a “great job” of organizing itself and leveraging the system and common practices. Tucker’s takeaway message was: “Think boldly.”

Other presenters were Mike Palazzolo, director of UC BRAID Center for Accelerated Innovation; Doug Bell, chair of UC ReX; Mike Caliguiri, project director for IRB metrics; Eric Mah, project director for IRB reliance; and Dan Dohan, project director for EngageUC. Breakout sessions at the retreat focused on biobanking and biorepositories, child health, contracting, regulatory, drug and device discovery and development, and UC ReX.

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UCSF sugar science initiative launched

Researchers highlight strong links between sugar and chronic disease.

By Kristen Bole, UC San Francisco

Researchers at UC San Francisco have launched SugarScience, a groundbreaking research and education initiative designed to highlight the most authoritative scientific findings on added sugar and its impact on health.

The national initiative is launching in partnership with outreach programs in health departments across the country, including the National Association of City and County Health Organizations and cities nationwide.

Developed by a team of UCSF health scientists in collaboration with scientists at UC Davis and Emory University School of Medicine, the initiative reflects an exhaustive review of more than 8,000 scientific papers that have been published to date on the health effects of added sugar.

The research shows strong evidence of links between the overconsumption of added sugar and chronic diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and liver disease. It also reveals evidence linking sugar to Alzheimer’s disease and cancer, although the team assessed that more research is needed before those links can be considered conclusive.

Laura Schmidt, UC San Francisco

“The average American consumes nearly three times the recommended amount of added sugar every day, which is taking a tremendous toll on our nation’s health,” said Laura Schmidt, Ph.D., a UCSF professor in the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies and the lead investigator on the project. “This is the definitive science that establishes the causative link between sugar and chronic disease across the population.”

The initiative aims to bring scientific research out of medical journals and into the public domain by showcasing key findings that can help individuals and communities make informed decisions about their health. For example, SugarScience.org cites research showing that drinking just one can of soda per day can increase a person’s risk of dying from heart disease by nearly one-third, and can raise the risk of getting Type 2 diabetes by one-quarter.

More than 27 million Americans have been diagnosed with heart disease, which is the nation’s leading cause of death. Another 25.8 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes, caused by the body’s resistance to the hormone insulin coupled with the inability to produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. Of greatest concern is the rising number of children suffering from these chronic diseases.

Kristen Bibbins-Domingo, UC San Francisco

“Twenty years ago, Type 2 diabetes was unheard of among children, but now, more than 13,000 children are diagnosed with it each year,” said Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, M.D., Ph.D., a UCSF professor of medicine, epidemiology and biostatistics, and director of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center. “Diabetes is a devastating disease and we know that it is directly related to the added sugar we consume in food and beverages.”

Another rising concern is the impact of added sugar on Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), which affects 31 percent of adults and 13 percent of children, and can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure.

“As pediatricians, we had evidence of the connection between sugar and diabetes, heart disease, and liver disease for years, but we haven’t had this level of definitive scientific evidence to back up our concerns,” said Robert Lustig, M.D., M.S.L., a pediatric endocrinologist at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco and a member of the SugarScience team. “Our goal is to make that science digestible to the American public, and take the first step toward a national conversation based on the real scientific evidence.”

Robert Lustig, UC San Francisco

While there are no federal recommended daily values for added sugar, the American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 6 tsp. (25 g) for women and 9 tsp. (38 g) for men. Guidelines for children depend on caloric intake, but range between 3-6 tsp (12-25 g) per day. Americans currently consume 19.5 tsp. of added sugar, on average, every day.

Added sugar is defined as any caloric sweetener that is added in food preparation, at the table, in the kitchen or in a processing plant. It can be difficult for people to know how much sugar they are consuming, since roughly 74 percent of processed foods contain added sugar, which is listed under at least 60 different names on food labels.

The 12-member SugarScience team will continue to monitor scientific research about added sugar and will track findings at SugarScience.org. The initiative harnesses the power of UCSF’s extensive health sciences enterprise, which ranges from basic laboratory research to clinical, population and policy sciences, with an emphasis on translating science into public benefit. All four of UCSF’s graduate schools – dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy – lead their fields in research funding from the National Institutes of Health, reflecting the caliber of their research. It also is aligned with the UC Global Food Initiative, which seeks to harness UC resources to address global food needs.

SugarScience is made possible by an independent grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. It is supported by the Clinical and Translational Science Institute and the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at UCSF.

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David Gere and the fight to end AIDS

As we commemorate World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, is the end in sight?

Michel Sidibé, executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, actress Charlize Theron and professor David Gere, head of the UCLA Art and Global Health Center, gathered at Glorya Kaufman Hall for an announcement of a UNAIDS plan to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. (Photo courtesy of UNAIDS/AFP News Agency)

By Mary Daily and Cynthia Lee, UCLA

Through the UCLA Art and Global Health Center he created, visionary director and professor David Gere of the Department of World Arts and Cultures has used art and a network of artists to communicate his message about ending the AIDS epidemic around the world. On Tuesday, Nov. 18, before World AIDS Day 2014 (Dec. 1), Michel Sidibé, the executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), came to Glorya Kaufman Hall to announce a plan to accomplish just that by 2030. South African and American actress Charlize Theron, the founder of an Africa outreach project and a designated UN Messenger of Peace, also talked about the progress that’s being made in Africa. More than 100 people, from UCLA students to longtime researchers associated with the UCLA AIDS Institute, were at the event hosted by Gere and sponsored by the center. The new UNAIDS report, “Fast-Track: ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030,” maintains that nearly 28 million new HIV infections and 21 million AIDS-related deaths would be averted if the 2030 plan succeeds. 

UCLA Newsroom editor Cynthia Lee talked to Gere about the UNAIDS effort while UCLA Magazine editor Mary Daily spoke with him earlier about how he became an AIDS activist through art for a Q&A that ran in the magazine

How would you characterize the UNAIDS plan to end the epidemic? Is it a realistic goal?
I would characterize the 2030 goal as “aspirational,” based on exciting data indicating that early treatment to reduce viral load substantially lowers infection rates. At the announcement, UNAIDS director Michel Sidibé  took out a strip of red paper as a visual aid to explain that global efforts have already managed to bend down the rising arc of the AIDS infection, but that now we need to “break” it so that it doesn’t spring back — a graphic and telling image.

Will the UCLA Art and Global Health Center play a role in bringing this goal to fruition?
Absolutely. The whole purpose of the Art and Global Health Center is to get creative people — artists — sitting at the table with medical and public health professionals. My argument is that artists can do three very important things: communicate life-saving information memorably, influence policymakers to do the right thing and reduce the stigma of HIV so that people will get themselves tested and treated. Early treatment is the key to the UNAIDS strategy.

Why did UNAIDS decide to make this announcement at UCLA?
The significance of that choice was not lost on me. UCLA doctors identified the first cases of a rare immunodeficiency, later called HIV or AIDS, in 1981. Now, in 2014, it’s up to us to commit to watching over the last cases of AIDS.

Let’s look at how your intervention in the AIDS epidemic began. I understand it wasn’t until you got to San Francisco at the height of the epidemic that you began to see art as a way to address a grievance or save lives.

When I arrived in 1985, it seemed that all the new art and performance in the U.S. was a response to the AIDS crisis. Joe Goode’s dances were about his dead friends. Ross Bleckner’s paintings looked like his search for a parallel spirit world. But it wasn’t just the new art. I would go see “Giselle” at the San Francisco Ballet, in which the main character, who had died from heartbreak, comes back as a haunting. I realized that everybody in the audience was thinking that this ballet, made more than 100 years ago, was about us and the hauntings we felt from the loss of our friends. That was when I knew that art could do more than be pretty.

Why was dance particularly well-suited to address HIV and AIDS?
A: In the mid-1980s, there were a lot of gay men in dance and a lot of gay men affected by HIV, though it’s certainly not a gay disease. The HIV retrovirus has no idea of your sexuality, your profession or who you are. But those in the dance world were deeply affected, and it was their chosen profession to use bodies to make their point. The body is where ideas, feelings and activism implode. The AIDS crisis brought out the latent potential in dance.

How did you end up at UCLA?
A: In 1993, World Arts and Cultures sponsored some performances by Meredith Monk, a multimedia artist and the subject of my master’s thesis. I came to give some lectures before her shows. A year or so later, the department chair Judy Mitoma invited me back as a visiting assistant professor to teach dance history. And I never left.

How did the initiative “Make Art/Stop AIDS” start?
A: While teaching at UCLA, I got my Ph.D. in dance history and theory at UC Riverside and wrote my dissertation on dance in the AIDS era. My UCLA department was supportive of my developing a course on that topic. We named it “Make Art/Stop AIDS,” and it is still bringing together students from all across campus, many different majors. It’s amazing to see them begin to think of themselves as artists and then to think about putting their creativity into world-changing activity.

When did you take your program abroad?
A: As I was turning my dissertation into a book, I thought maybe I wouldn’t work on HIV and the arts anymore because it was exhausting. But then I read a newspaper article about fears that HIV was about to explode in India. I had spent considerable time in India after college and still felt connected to it. I began to wonder whether some of the things artists were doing here might be applicable in India, where there’s a long tradition of activist art-making. So I went there on a Fulbright to find the artists intervening in the AIDS epidemic.

With a grant from UNAIDS, my friend Rajeev Varma and I assembled about 60 Indian artists in Calcutta, plus some UCLA faculty and grad students. We called the gathering “Make Art/Stop AIDS.” That was the birthing for me of a movement in which artists would marshal their creativity to try to stop the AIDS epidemic.

To commemorate World AIDS Day 2014, the UCLA Art and Global Health Center is presenting an evening of art, performance, storytelling and media on Dec. 1 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Glorya Kaufman Hall, Room 200. There will be art exhibits, a special appearance by the UCLA Sex Squad, and a presentation of photography and real-life stories from “Through Positive Eyes,” a project in which people living with HIV/AIDS share their stories to fight stigma across the globe. Tickets are $6 and can be purchased here.  

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$6.9M funds studies of health-boosting compounds in cow’s milk

UC Davis research could lead to benefits for human health and the U.S. dairy industry.

After spending more than a decade decoding breast milk’s important health-promoting constituents, a team of researchers in the Foods for Health Institute at UC Davis is now doing the same for cow’s milk, with potential benefits both for human health and the U.S. dairy industry.

Focusing on a group of naturally occurring milk compounds called “glycans,” the researchers are identifying molecules that — like those in mom’s milk — interact with beneficial bacteria in the infant gut to ease digestion, prevent inflammation and even fight cancer.

Their research, which has had a long funding history, received two more votes of confidence from the National Institutes of Health in the form of a $4.2 million grant from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and a $2.7 million grant from the National Cancer Institute.

The first grant is led by David Mills, a professor and Peter J. Shields Endowed Chair in Dairy Food Science in the Department of Food Science and Technology, and the second is led by Yu-Jui Yvonne Wan, a professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine of the UC Davis Health System.

“We’re working to better understand all of the bioactive molecules in milk, particularly those that promote growth of naturally occurring microbes in the intestine and, in general, boost human health,” said Mills, who is collaborating on both grants.

Mills and colleagues are concentrating on glycans because they selectively feed beneficial intestinal bacteria and block disease-causing microbes from gaining a foothold.

“In babies, these milk compounds interact with very specific infant-borne bacteria, called bifidobacteria, to reduce inflammation, boost immunity and restore calm to these very fragile infant intestines, especially in preemies,” Mills said.

He noted that knowledge of the mechanisms involving how these compounds function also will have tremendous applications for other life stages and health circumstances, including during chemotherapy treatments, obesity management, and dealing with irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowl disease.

Implications for the dairy industry

“Given that we are working with cow’s milk as a source of these bioactive molecules, there is the opportunity to scale up this process, especially with molecules that are derived from whey and other dairy byproducts,” Mills said.

In these two NIH-funded projects, the researchers are working with Hilmar Cheese Co., a California manufacturer of both cheese and whey proteins, to obtain specific bioactive compounds from cow’s milk in a scale large enough for animal studies. Findings from these studies will help determine if cow’s milk glycans provide the same protective functions — functions that would be helpful to a range of fragile intestines.

“As a company focused on delivering the nutrition in milk, we fully support research that will help further identify and understand the bioactive components of milk,” said Tedd Struckmeyer, vice president for engineering at Hilmar Cheese Co.

The research team is hopeful that findings from these studies of milk-based compounds can be rapidly developed into products capable of enhancing human health.

“Given that milk is already a food, development of health-promoting compounds from milk would not involve the years of testing that are required when developing new therapeutic drugs,” Mills said.

He noted that the research also will likely benefit the U.S. dairy industry, by identifying and increasing value in whey and other milk byproducts.

For an overview of related milk products research see: http://news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=10985.

Collaborating with Mills and Wan on these two projects at UC Davis are Helen Raybould of the School of Veterinary Medicine; Carlito Lebrilla of the Department of Chemistry; and Bruce German, Carolyn Slupsky and Daniela Barile of the Department of Food Science and Technology. These faculty members are also members of the new Center of Health for Advancing Microbiome and Mucosal Protection.

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