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All UC medical centers designated as Ebola treatment centers

National designation based on selection by state officials, includes on-site CDC assessment.

All five University of California medical centers have been designated as hospitals with Ebola treatment centers, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The hospitals were selected by state health officials, in collaboration with local health authorities and hospital leadership. All of the facilities received an on-site assessment by infection control and safety teams from the CDC.

Ebola treatment centers are staffed, equipped and have been assessed to have current capabilities, training and resources to provide the complex treatment necessary to care for a person with Ebola while minimizing risk to health care workers.

As of today (Dec. 18), 44 U.S. hospitals have been designated as Ebola treatment centers, including medical centers at UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego and UC San Francisco. In California, the other hospitals identified as Ebola treatment centers are Kaiser medical centers in Los Angeles, Oakland and South Sacramento.

“We appreciate the efforts of all the people at our University of California medical centers working to ensure that we are prepared to care for patients with Ebola and to maintain the safety of our health care professionals,” said Dr. John Stobo, systemwide UC senior vice president for health sciences and services. “UC is proud to partner with the state to help address this potential health crisis. All five UC medical centers already have been identified by the state as priority hospitals to treat confirmed Ebola cases. We are very pleased that all five of our medical centers now have been designated nationally as hospitals with Ebola treatment centers.”

When the national list was first announced Dec. 2, it initially identified 35 hospitals, including UC Davis, UC San Francisco and Kaiser Oakland and Kaiser South Sacramento. The list has expanded as on-site assessments by CDC Ebola preparedness teams have continued. UC’s Southern California medical centers received CDC team visits Dec. 3-5, while UC’s Northern California medical centers received CDC team visits Nov. 19-20.

“This has been an extraordinary effort over many months, with tremendous leadership from across the UC system — including our infectious diseases teams, chief medical and nursing officers, front-line health workers at all locations, and others,” Stobo said.  “We have valued the support of our colleagues across the country and we are continuing to work closely with local public health offices to ensure that we meet or exceed national CDC standards and to enhance our readiness to meet state needs.”

The 2014 Ebola epidemic is the largest in history, affecting multiple countries in West Africa. Two imported cases, including one death, and two locally acquired cases in health care workers have been reported in the United States. To date, no confirmed cases have been identified in California.

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UC Health names chief procurement officer

Patrice Knight to start Jan. 1, will support ‘Leveraging for Scale’ initiative.

Patrice Knight

The University of California has appointed veteran supply chain executive Patrice Knight as associate vice president – chief procurement officer for UC Health. She will start Jan. 1.

Her appointment is a key position for UC Health’s efforts to better control costs and manage the overall enterprise more efficiently. As part of UC Health’s “Leveraging Scale for Value” initiative, her charge will be to develop programs and processes to achieve a target of $150 million in savings over three years at UC medical centers.

“We’re thrilled to have somebody with Patrice’s experience with procurement and supply chain to join the Leveraging Scale for Value effort,” said Dr. John Stobo, UC Health senior vice president. “She not only has the right experience but the right temperament for helping us achieve the savings in supply chain that we need.”

Knight has more than 30 years of procurement experience with IBM, including vice president-level positions in procurement, global supply, supply chain and strategic sourcing. Most recently, as vice president of procurement at IBM, she led a team of consultants and process managers that focused on year-over-year efficiency and effectiveness improvements across all businesses and delivered more than $200 million in return on investment over five years.

“I’m excited to be part of UC Health and to help accelerate the transformation of procurement and supply chain,” Knight said. “Adding program and process innovations to Leveraging Scale for Value will yield even greater savings, and support the ongoing mission of UC. I look forward to working with both the medical centers and the suppliers to enable these changes.”

UC Health launched the Leveraging Scale for Value initiative in March to reduce costs and enhance revenue at UC medical centers. Its initial focus is on supply chain, revenue cycle and clinical laboratories. The effort, developed in consultation with UC leadership, is aligned with UC President Janet Napolitano’s push to identify cost savings and operational efficiencies.

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UC Global Health Day announces video and plenary contest

Submissions due Feb. 27; deadline for abstracts/proposals extended to Jan. 30.

The UC Global Health Institute invites students and trainees to submit for the video or plenary contest for UC Global Health Day 2015. This annual conference is a showcase of the research, training and outreach in global health being undertaken across the University of California.

This event – April 18 at UCLA – 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.

Selected winners of the video and plenary contest will receive complimentary event registration and funding support to offset travel expenses. All poster presenters and breakout session presenters will receive complimentary event registration and student presenters will receive funding support to offset travel expenses.

You can get involved with UC Global Health Day 2015 by submitting for one of the following:

The submission deadline for video and plenary contest is Feb. 27.

The submission deadline for abstracts/proposals has been extended to Jan. 30.

Visit the UC Global Health Institute website for more information.

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8 top trends in health and science in 2015

From hacking the brain to diagnosing diseases through DNA.

With advances in technology and better understanding of people, the health sciences are constantly pushing toward more effective treatments and cures. The question is, where will we see the next breakthroughs?

Experts across UC San Francisco were asked to identify what’s ahead in key areas from basic science to digital health, from aging research to cancer treatments, from approaches in the lab to access at the hospital.

Here are some of the hottest areas in health and science to look out for in 2015:

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Related link:
2014: The year in review at UCSF

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Big data in biosciences, health care is focus of new UCLA research center

Institute for Quantitative and Computational Biosciences will advance biomedical sciences.

Alexander Hoffmann and his colleagues will collaborate with mathematicians to make sense of a tsunami of biological data. (Photo by Reed Hutchinson, UCLA)

By Stuart Wolpert, UCLA

A new research institute at UCLA may eventually provide doctors with tools to more accurately tailor medicines for individual patients, which could both improve quality of care and minimize the side effects associated with today’s medicine.

The Institute for Quantitative and Computational Biosciences will employ multidisciplinary research to study how molecules and genes interact. Its goal: unlocking the biological basis of health and disease by tapping the power of big data and computational modeling.

“UCLA’s Institute for Quantitative and Computational Biosciences will have a major, positive impact on human health,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. “It will engage exceptional faculty from the life sciences and physical sciences, and our David Geffen School of Medicine and Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science to ensure that UCLA is at the forefront of research that will help usher in a new era of personalized health care, and to transform research and education in the biosciences.”

The institute is led by Alexander Hoffmann, professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics in the UCLA College, whose research aims to understand how our genes interact to ensure health or produce disease — and the roles played by such factors as food, environmental stresses, infectious agents and pharmaceuticals. Among the diseases for which Hoffmann’s research may lead to significant progress are cancer and immune disorders, because they are caused by errors in cellular decision-making.

Hoffmann says that biology’s million-dollar question is how genes and environment interact to ensure health or cause disease, he said. As UCLA researchers work to answer that question, they will collaborate with UCLA mathematicians who will create mathematical models that help them make sense of a tsunami of biological data.

“Biology is entering a new phase,” Hoffmann said. “So far, biology has been much less math-based than the other sciences. Since the sequencing of the human genome in the early 2000s, there has been an irreversible change in the way biology and biomedical research are being done. At UCLA, we will lead research in that direction and connect basic and applied sciences in an unprecedentedly productive collaboration.”

Victoria Sork, dean of the UCLA Division of Life Sciences, said the institute’s approach represents the “new life sciences” and predicts that the new center will accelerate discovery and translational application in many areas, including medicine, the environment, energy, and food production and food safety.

“Technological breakthroughs are enabling scientists to analyze not only one gene at a time, but how hundreds or thousands of genes work together,” Sork said. “Combined with big data, new knowledge of critical gene networks will lead us to a better understanding of what makes humans healthy.”

The road to “precision medicine”

Dr. A. Eugene Washington, vice chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences and dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, said the new era of personalized medicine will offer higher-quality health care — and possibly lower-cost care — because genetic information will give health providers better knowledge about individual patients.

“We are likely to see significant change in health care in the coming years as genetic data for individuals become more widely available,” Washington said.

In fact, big data already has begun to transform health care. In the past, doctors treating people with a certain disease might have relied solely on their own or their colleagues’ experience treating others with the same disease. Now, instead of relying on a small number of case studies, physicians can turn to mountains of data to guide their approach.

“We haven’t yet begun to fully tap into the knowledge we have about how we have treated millions of patients,” said Dr. Steven Dubinett, director of the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and UCLA’s senior associate dean for translational research and associate vice chancellor for research.

“Now, with the rise of big data, we have the capability to utilize a network of brains in a highly sophisticated manner so that all our experience at UCLA, in the University of California system and the many other hospitals with which we share data can be brought to bear on patient treatment in a way that was not possible before.”

The result may be not only personalized health care, but “precision medicine”—the ability for doctors to accurately predict positive health outcomes for patients, Dubinett said.

The move to big data also is dramatically changing the skill sets required for life sciences and biomedical researchers: Increasingly, backgrounds in mathematics, computer science and physics will be highly sought after. Already, UCLA is planning new programs through which computational scientists will train clinicians so they can understand how to work with large sets of data and apply the insights they gain to treating patients.

In addition, UCLA has established a doctoral program in bioinformatics, and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, in which UCLA is one of four partner institutions, is at the forefront of utilizing big data in clinical care — including developing new pharmaceuticals and bringing important new discoveries into the community.

Much of the data UCLA faculty will work with will come from the University of California Research eXchange, which manages an extremely large repository of clinical data — more than 12 million patient records. Dubinett said UCReX is in the process of adding millions of additional records through partnerships with other Los Angeles medical institutions and, eventually, other academic medical centers in California and throughout the U.S. (Patients’ identities are not released to researchers.)

Dubinett said UCLA will be a national leader in this revolution in personalized health care, in part because UCLA’s medical center is part of its main campus — something that is not the case at many other research universities. That close proximity makes it easier for doctors to collaborate with experts in biomedical informatics and other fields, and has been a lure for many of the exceptional scientists joining the effort.

To strengthen the new institute, UCLA has hired nine faculty members since July 2011 and has plans to hire additional faculty in the next several years. One of the new hires was Leonid Kruglyak, who came to UCLA from Princeton University in 2013. Kruglyak uses big data in his genetics research and, according to Sork, is a “brilliant superstar of the highest stature.”

Among the other outstanding faculty members UCLA has hired, Sork said, are two at the cutting edge of computational biology: Matteo Pellegrini, professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology, and Xinshu (Grace) Xiao, an associate professor of integrative biology and physiology. Both are in the UCLA College.

From individual genes to entire ecologies

Pellegrini, co-director of the institute, said the move to big data also will enable scientists to significantly broaden the scope of their research.

“We’re going from a paradigm where scientists studied individual genes to one in which they will study organisms and even entire ecologies — sequencing the genomes of communities of organisms and understanding how they interact,” Pellegrini said. “Technology is making science very exciting, presenting enormous opportunities to revolutionize our understanding of biology at the genome-wide level and to apply these techniques to answer all kinds of questions.”

Hoffmann said that in the past, one of the major challenges in biology research was generating data. “Now, the challenge is how to make sense of a tsunami of scientific data, to discover the critical patterns and to tell the signal from the noise,” he said. “The opportunities to develop accurate predictions are unprecedented.”

“These examples are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Hoffmann. “The power of combining big data computational tools with computational modeling based on hard basic science is leading a revolution in the bio- and health sciences that provides unimagined opportunities to humanity.”

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Million Cat Challenge aims to rescue shelter cats

UC Davis, University of Florida help launch effort to save lives of cats in animal shelters.

One million homeless and abandoned cats may get a new lease on life over the next five years thanks to the efforts of the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at the University of California, Davis; the Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida; and hundreds of animal shelters throughout North America.

Together, they have launched the Million Cat Challenge in an effort to dramatically reduce the loss of life among cats in animal shelters. They hope to challenge both municipal animal control facilities and private shelters of all sizes, drawing on the experience of numerous related animal-welfare organizations.

The United States alone is home to more than 13,600 animal shelters, which annually receive about 7.6 million companion animals, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Approximately 3.4 million of those animals are cats, and 1.3 million of the cats are euthanized each year.

The newly launched challenge is designed to dramatically decrease those numbers by helping animal shelters implement one or more of five key initiatives, which offer every shelter, in every community, practical choices to reduce euthanasia and increase live outcomes for shelter cats.

“Participating shelters can focus on one, some or all of the initiatives, depending on what’s right for their organization and community,” said Kate Hurley, a professor in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and director of UC Davis’ Koret Shelter Medicine program.

“We welcome the help and participation of everyone who wants to find new approaches to saving cats’ lives,” Hurley said.

The five initiatives for the Million Cat Challenge are:

  • Finding alternatives that will keep cats in homes or the community rather than in shelters;
  • Managing admission to correspond with a shelter’s ability to provide safe, humane care;
  • Matching the number of cats in a shelter at any given time with that shelter’s capacity to assure the animals’ welfare;
  • Removing barriers to adoption such as cost, processing and location; and
  • Returning to the field — rather than euthanizing — healthy, un-owned cats, once they have been sterilized and vaccinated.

More details on the five initiatives and the Million Cat Challenge.

Resources available to shelters, organizations and individuals participating in the challenge include a private online forum that provides support from their peers and shelter veterinarians, and a website with articles, forms, case studies, webinars and more. “We expect some of the most valuable information each shelter will get will come from the other participating shelters,” said Julie Levy, the Maddie’s Professor of Shelter Medicine at the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “This effort is based on collaboration and the sharing of resources.

More information about the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at UC Davis, and the Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program.

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Hazy road to Mecca

Severe air pollution spikes during yearly pilgrmiage, UC Irvine and others find.

UC Irvine and other researchers are testing air pollution in the Middle East, including in Mecca during the annual hajj, at burning landfills and elsewhere. Dangerously high levels of smog forming contaminants are being released, the scientists have found. (Photo by Dr. Azhar Siddique)

Dangerously high levels of air pollutants are being released in Mecca during the hajj, the annual holy pilgrimage in which millions of Muslims on foot and in vehicles converge on the Saudi Arabian city, according to findings reported today (Dec. 15) at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

“Hajj is like nothing else on the planet. You have 3 to 4 million people – a whole good-sized city – coming into an already existing city,” said Isobel Simpson, a UC Irvine research chemist in the Nobel Prize-winning Rowland-Blake atmospheric chemistry laboratory. “The problem is that this intensifies the pollution that already exists. We measured among the highest concentrations our group has ever measured in urban areas – and we’ve studied 75 cities around the world in the past two decades.”

Scientists from UCI, King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia, the University of Karachi in Pakistan, the New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center and the University at Albany in New York captured and analyzed air samples during the 2012 and 2013 hajjes on roadsides; near massive, air-conditioned tents; and in narrow tunnels that funnel people to the Grand Mosque, the world’s largest, in the heart of Mecca.

The worst spot was inside the Al-Masjid Al-Haram tunnel, where pilgrims on foot, hotel workers and security personnel are exposed to fumes from idling vehicles, often for hours. The highest carbon monoxide level – 57,000 parts per billion – was recorded in this tunnel during October 2012. That’s more than 300 times regional background levels.

Heart attacks are a major concern linked to such exposure: The risk of heart failure hospitalization or death rises sharply as the amount of carbon monoxide in the air escalates, the researchers note in a paper published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Headaches, dizziness and nausea also have been associated with inhaling carbon monoxide.

“There’s carbon monoxide that increases the risk of heart failure. There’s benzene that causes narcosis and leukemia,” Simpson said. “But the other way to look at it is that people are not just breathing in benzene or CO, they’re breathing in hundreds of components of smog and soot.”

The scientists detected a stew of unhealthy chemicals, many connected to serious illnesses by the World Health Organization and others.

“Air pollution is the cause of 1 in 8 deaths and has now become the single biggest environmental health risk globally,” said Haider Khwaja of the University at Albany. “There were 4.3 million deaths in 2012 due to indoor air pollution and 3.7 million deaths because of outdoor air pollution, according to WHO. And more than 90 percent of those deaths and lost life years occur in developing countries.”

Khwaja experienced sooty air pollution firsthand as a child in Karachi, Pakistan, and saw his elderly father return from the hajj with a wracking cough that took weeks to clear. He and fellow researchers braved the tunnels and roads to take air samples and install continuous monitors in Mecca.

“Suffocating,” he said of the air quality.

In addition to the high smog-forming measurements, the team in follow-up work found alarming levels of black carbon and fine particulates that sink deep into lungs. Once the hajj was over, concentrations of all contaminants fell but were still comparable to those in other large cities with poor air quality. Just as unhealthy “bad air” days once plagued Greater Los Angeles, research is now showing degraded air in the oil-rich, sunny Arabian Peninsula and elsewhere in the Middle East. Because the number of pilgrims and permanent residents is increasing, the scientists recommend reducing emissions by targeting fossil fuel sources.

Besides vehicle exhaust, other likely culprits include gasoline high in benzene, a lack of vapor locks around gas station fuel nozzles, and older cars with disintegrating brake liners and other parts. Coolants used for air-conditioned tents sleeping up to 40 people also contribute to greenhouse gas buildup. And the dearth of regulations exacerbates these problems.

The researchers said that Saudi officials are aware of the issues and taking steps to address them, such as working to reduce benzene in area gasoline supplies. Directing Mecca pedestrians and vehicles to separate tunnels would be optimal. In addition, clearing the region’s air with time-tested technologies used elsewhere in the world could sharply reduce pollution and save lives.

“This is a major public health problem, and the positive news is that some of the answers are very much within reach, like putting rubber seals on nozzles at gas stations to reduce leaks,” Simpson said. “It’s a simple, doable solution.”

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54 UC students awarded Global Food Initiative fellowships

$2,500 fellowships, selected by UC campuses, will fund student-generated research.

The University of California announced today (Dec. 9) that 54 UC students have been awarded UC Global Food Initiative fellowships, funding projects that will address issues ranging from community gardens and food pantries to urban agriculture and food waste.

All 10 UC campuses plus UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are participating in the UC President’s Global Food Initiative Student Fellowship Program. The $2,500 fellowships to undergraduate and graduate students, selected by the campuses, will fund student-generated research, related projects or internships that focus on food issues. Also, plans are being developed for student fellows to convene in spring 2015.

“I want to congratulate the inaugural class of Global Food Initiative student fellows,” UC President Janet Napolitano said. “These are outstanding students who are passionate about this important global topic and will be able to make valuable contributions to this initiative through these fellowships. I’m looking forward to seeing the results of their projects.”

Napolitano, together with UC’s 10 chancellors, launched the Global Food Initiative in July in an effort to help put UC’s campuses, the state and the world on a pathway to sustainably and nutritiously feed themselves. The fellowships will support the work of the initiative’s early action teams and the initiative’s overall efforts to address food security, health and sustainability.

Fellowship projects will examine urban agriculture, sustainable campus landscapes, agricultural waste streams and biological pest control, among other topics. Some projects will enhance experiential learning, such as constructing new vegetable gardens. Others will support food pantries. Yet other projects will document research through films and social media.

The bulk of the fellowship funding comes from the UC President’s Initiative Fund, with several campuses augmenting the funding to support additional student fellowships.

In addition to the initial 54 student fellowships, further fellowships will be supported at UC Davis by a private donation from Craig McNamara, president and owner of walnut-producing Sierra Orchards, and his wife, Julie; and at UC Berkeley by donations from Joy Sterling, CEO of Iron Horse Vineyards, and Chez Panisse owner Alice Waters and the Edible Schoolyard Project. UC continues to reach out to the community for financial support of the fellowship program.

The initial student fellows and their projects include:

UC Berkeley

  • Kate Kaplan, experiential learning
  • Miranda Everitt, leveraging research for policy change
  • Vanessa Taylor, food pantries and food security

UC Davis

  • Ryan Dowdy, food system sustainability: converting food waste into electricity
  • Sophie Sapp Moore, food security for the Papaye Peasant Movement in Haiti
  • Jessica West, pest management of the spotted wing drosophila

UC Irvine

  • Victoria Lowerson Bredow, inclusive food systems: immigrants, indigeneity and innovation
  • Alexander Fung, food pantry initiative
  • Sally Geislar, local food access and advocacy: cultivating town and gown synergies
  • Crystal Hickerson, grow your own food campaign
  • Ankita Raturi, modeling the environmental impact of agricultural systems

UCLA

  • Sheela Bhongir, Kayee Liu, Vanessa Moreno and Robert Penna, “A Recipe for Change”: a short documentary film about the effects of food marketing in early childhood obesity
  • Sanna Alas, Phoebe Lai and Claudia Varney, “Down to Earth: Stories of Urban Gardeners in Los Angeles,” an ethnographic documentary film about Los Angeles County residents who grow food in community gardens
  • Hayley Ashbaugh, Lucie Dzongang, Adrienne Greer, Logan Hitchcock and Lindsey Jagoe, evaluation of impact and sustainability of farmer hubs selling to large institutions
  • Ian Davies, Kaylie Edgar, Steven Eggert and Ashley Lopez, curricula/food literacy garden project — constructing two new vegetable gardens

UC Merced

  • Hoaithi Dang, hydroponic farming
  • Erendira Estrada, evaluating the effects of a mobile grocery in addressing the lack of access to fresh foods in rural communities
  • Rebecca Quinte, sustainable agriculture in Central Valley food crops
  • Megan Schill, prions and food safety
  • Emily Wilson, endophytes and sustainable agriculture
  • Andrew Zumkehr, farmland mapping project

UC Riverside

  • Dietlinde Heilmayr, community gardens
  • Darrin Lin, California Agriculture and Food Enterprise website development
  • Daniel Lopez, on-campus food pantry

UC San Diego

  • Jancy Benavides, urban agriculture on brownfields
  • Hayden Galante, sustainable campus landscapes
  • Jane Kang, improving food and water security through urban ecology and participatory design
  • Danielle Ramirez, urban agriculture and civic engagement

UC San Francisco

  • Jacob Benjamin Mirsky, exploring patient perspectives on food insecurity to optimize the San Francisco General Hospital Therapeutic Food Pantry
  • Jonathan Schor, reinterpreting nutritional facts: a tool to inform consumer choices in the short term and food policy in the long term

UC Santa Barbara

  • Kathryn Parkinson and Emilie Wood, post-consumer food waste reduction
  • Rachel Rouse, food security and accessibility

UC Santa Cruz

  • Alyssa Billys, experiential learning and agroecological production
  • Joanna Ory, food equity and California Higher Education Food Summit engagement support
  • Crystal Owings, California Higher Education Food Summit planning support and planning to establish the Swipes program at UC Santa Cruz

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Jacqueline Chang, UC Berkeley, hunger survey of UC students
  • Kevi Mace-Hill, UC Berkeley, graduate student preparedness for Cooperative Extension
  • Samantha Smith, UC Davis, scientist interviews

Berkeley Lab

  • Kripa Akila Jagannathan, UC Berkeley, alignment of climate model outputs to farmers’ information needs
  • Michelle Stitzer, UC Davis, genomic annotations of maize
  • Gus Tolley, UC Davis, effects of prolonged drought on hydrologic conditions

Media contact:
University of California Office of the President
(510) 987-9200

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UC names special advisor on innovation, entrepreneurship

Regis Kelly also will continue to direct operations at QB3.

Regis Kelly

The University of California has announced that Regis Kelly began his tenure on Dec. 1 as special advisor on innovation and entrepreneurship to UC President Janet Napolitano.

As special advisor to Napolitano, Kelly will promote and support innovation and entrepreneurship across the UC system, working closely with leaders at the university’s campuses, medical centers and national laboratories. Kelly also will develop external partnerships that drive long-term revenue for the university and maximize the public benefit of UC innovations.

Kelly’s work also will complement UC Ventures, a recently announced $250 million fund that will invest in technologies emerging from the university’s 10 campuses and three national laboratories. UC Ventures uses no state or tuition funds.

“Working throughout the UC system to recognize and nurture innovation is an exciting and ambitious endeavor,” Kelly said. “Entrepreneurship can serve the public interest in many ways. I’m committed to identifying more opportunities to convert UC discoveries into services or products that can benefit California and the world, while creating value and jobs along the way.”

“I am thrilled that Regis is now part of our systemwide efforts to better capture the economic value UC students and faculty create through their pioneering research,” said Napolitano. “The University of California is the best public research university in the world. Now, we aim to maximize the public impact brought about by innovation and entrepreneurship fostered in our classrooms and laboratories.”

Kelly, a professor emeritus of biochemistry and biophysics and a former executive vice chancellor at UC San Francisco, has served since 2004 as director of QB3, one of the four Gov. Gray Davis Institutes for Science and Innovation created by the University of California. He will continue to direct operations at QB3 while taking on his new position.

Kelly oversaw the 2006 launch of the first technology incubator at UC and the subsequent proliferation of incubator spaces including QB3@953, a San Francisco operation now supporting 45 early-stage life science companies. He also is a general partner in QB3’s venture fund, Mission Bay Capital, for which he receives no compensation.

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Lost memories might be able to be restored

UCLA research reveals that memories may not be stored in synapses, as previously thought.

UCLA's David Glanzman with a marine snail. (Photo by Christelle Nahas, UCLA)

By Stuart Wolpert, UCLA

New UCLA research indicates that lost memories can be restored. The findings offer some hope for patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

For decades, most neuroscientists have believed that memories are stored at the synapses — the connections between brain cells, or neurons — which are destroyed by Alzheimer’s disease. The new study provides evidence contradicting the idea that long-term memory is stored at synapses.

“Long-term memory is not stored at the synapse,” said David Glanzman, a senior author of the study, and a UCLA professor of integrative biology and physiology and of neurobiology. “That’s a radical idea, but that’s where the evidence leads. The nervous system appears to be able to regenerate lost synaptic connections. If you can restore the synaptic connections, the memory will come back. It won’t be easy, but I believe it’s possible.”

The findings were published recently in eLife, a highly regarded open-access online science journal.

Glanzman’s research team studies a type of marine snail called Aplysia to understand the animal’s learning and memory. The Aplysia displays a defensive response to protect its gill from potential harm, and the researchers are especially interested in its withdrawal reflex and the sensory and motor neurons that produce it.

They enhanced the snail’s withdrawal reflex by giving it several mild electrical shocks on its tail. The enhancement lasts for days after a series of electrical shocks, which indicates the snail’s long-term memory. Glanzman explained that the shock causes the hormone serotonin to be released in the snail’s central nervous system.

Long-term memory is a function of the growth of new synaptic connections caused by the serotonin, said Glanzman, a member of UCLA’s Brain Research Institute. As long-term memories are formed, the brain creates new proteins that are involved in making new synapses. If that process is disrupted — for example by a concussion or other injury — the proteins may not be synthesized and long-term memories cannot form.  (This is why people cannot remember what happened moments before a concussion.)

“If you train an animal on a task, inhibit its ability to produce proteins immediately after training, and then test it 24 hours later, the animal doesn’t remember the training,” Glanzman said.  “However, if you train an animal, wait 24 hours, and then inject a protein synthesis inhibitor in its brain, the animal shows perfectly good memory 24 hours later.  In other words, once memories are formed, if you temporarily disrupt protein synthesis, it doesn’t affect long-term memory. That’s true in the Aplysia and in human’s brains.”  (This explains why people’s older memories typically survive following a concussion.)

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In the media: Week of Dec. 14

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

Op-ed: It took 40 years for California to build a new public medical school, Zocalo Public Square

When people ask me why we started the UC Riverside School of Medicine last year – the first new public medical school on the West Coast in more than four decades – I talk about the need for well-trained doctors here in inland Southern California, writes Founding Dean G. Richard Olds. But we also wanted to demonstrate that a healthcare system that rewards keeping people healthy is better than one which rewards not treating people until they become terribly ill. As we build this school, we have a focus on wellness, prevention, chronic disease management, and finding ways to deliver health care in the most cost-effective setting, which is what American health care needs. We also teach a team approach to medicine — another necessary direction for our health care system.

UC trumps Stanford in pushing entrepreneurship, QB3 head says, San Francisco Chronicle

Neuroscientist Regis Kelly has watched the Bay Area’s life-science industry blossom. As executive vice chancellor at UCSF, he oversaw the construction of its Mission Bay campus. Since 2004, he has directed the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, or QB3, a network of biologists at UCSF, UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz. A major part of QB3 is its four incubators, in which scientists turn discoveries into companies. Those startups have raised more than $500 million. This month, Kelly took on a new challenge: senior adviser on innovation and entrepreneurship to UC’s Office of the President. In addition to keeping his job at QB3, he’ll help market technologies developed at UC’s 10 campuses and three national laboratories. His work will complement UC Ventures, a new $250 million fund that will invest in those inventions. A Q&A with Kelly.

UCLA institute to help biologists, doctors mine ‘big data’, Los Angeles Times

This story reports on the announcement of the creation of UCLA’s new Institute for Quantitative and Computational Biosciences, which will mine “big data” for new disease diagnostics and treatments.

UCLA study authors urge greater awareness of older Californians falling, California Healthline

More than a half million older Californians have fallen more than once during the past year, according to new research underscoring the severity of a national public health trend with medical costs exceeding $2 billion annually. A new study from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research names falls as “the leading injury-related cause of death and of medical care use among older Californians.” The study’s author and the center’s associate director Steven Wallace urged greater awareness about the risks of falling. He also encouraged health practitioners to ask questions and make recommendations to patients to help prevent future falls.

Bill introduced to create statewide health care cost, quality database, California Healthline

Legislation to create a statewide health care cost and quality database was introduced this month in Sacramento. The bill, SB 26 by Sen. Ed Hernandez, is considered a step toward cost transparency meant to inform consumers about true costs of health care products and services and encourage providers to develop more cost-effective programs. The bill directs California HHS to contract with a not-for-profit organization over the next two years to create and administer the California Health Care Cost and Quality Database. The database would be created and available for public searches by Jan. 1, 2019. Another cost comparison effort is under way in California. The state Department of Insurance has an agreement with the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at UC-San Francisco to collect and analyze data for a database reflecting health care costs and quality in specific geographic regions. The database is scheduled to be online next summer. The work is funded by a $5.2 million grant under the Affordable Care Act.

New state law allows community colleges to offer four-year degrees, California Healthline

A new state law due to take effect Jan. 1, 2015, creates a pilot program under which 15 California community colleges can offer four-year degrees as long as they do not duplicate the fields of study offered by the University of California or California State Universities. Some proposed degrees are in health care fields. “As patients are being treated with more and more complexity and are being taken care of at their home, health providers need more education to do that very well,” said Joanne Spetz, assistant director for research strategy at the UC San Francisco Center for the Health Professions.

California border residents grapple with out-of-state health insurance restrictions (audio), Capital Public Radio

Capital Public Radio’s health reporter Pauline Bartolone traveled to the town of Quincy, California, where major insurers Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California aren’t covering routine out-of-state care. This is the first of a three-part series. Dylan Roby, assistant professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, is interviewed.

California study finds abortion complications very rare, Reuters

Less than one quarter of one percent of abortion procedures result in major complications, a very low rate that is comparable to minor outpatient procedures in the U.S., according to a study of more than 50,000 women. “We reviewed every emergency department visit in detail, all return visits to the original abortion provider, visits to primary care doctors, or any other health care provider and included any complications that were diagnosed or treated,” the study’s lead author told Reuters Health by email. “Our results suggest that abortion is safe,” said Ushma D. Upadhyay of the University of California, San Francisco. And the extremely low complication rate further suggests that state laws requiring abortion providers to have hospital admission privileges “will have limited benefits,” she said.

China’s e-cigarette boom lacks oversight for safety, New York Times

This year, Chinese manufacturers are expected to ship more than 300 million e-cigarettes to the United States and Europe, where they will reach the shelves of Walmart, 7-Eleven stores, gas station outlets and so-called vaping shops. The devices have become increasingly popular, particularly among young adults, and yet hundreds of e-cigarette manufacturers in China operate with little oversight. Experts say flawed or sloppy manufacturing could account for some of the heavy metals, carcinogens and other dangerous compounds, such as lead, tin and zinc, that have been detected in some e-cigarettes. Scientific studies hint at a host of problems related to poor manufacturing standards. “We’ve found on the order of 25 or 26 different elements, including metals, in the e-cigarette aerosols,” says Prue Talbot, a professor of cell biology at UC Riverside, and co-author of several of the studies. “Some of the metal particles are less than 100 nanometers in diameter, and those are a concern because they can penetrate deep into the lungs.”

UC Davis wants to save a million cats (audio), KGO Radio

The Koret Shelter Medicine Program at UC Davis has partnered with the shelter medicine program at the University of Florida to create a program to save the lives of one million cats in shelters.The program aims to put pressure on animal shelters to save the lives of cats by adopting initiatives like reforming the process for admitting cats to shelters, making cats easier to adopt by decreasing the cost and processing barriers, or returning vaccinated cats back to live on the streets.

Hajj pilgrimage ‘leads to annual spike in severe air pollution’ in Mecca, International Business Times

The annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca leads to a spike in severe air pollution, with “dangerously high levels” reached every year. Research reported at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco looked at air samples taken during the 2012 and 2013 Hajj pilgrimages. This year, over two million pilgrims made their way to Mecca for the six day event in October. As well as many choosing to drive to the holy site, many use their cars to drive to and from same places every day while there. Isobel Simpson, a UC Irvine research chemist who took part in the study, is quoted.

Your commute may be hazardous to your health, Los Angeles Magazine

Diana Winston, director of mindfulness education at UCLA’S Mindful Awareness Research Center, and Dr. Karol Watson, professor of cardiology and director of the UCLA Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Health Program, are quoted in this story on how traffic can impact one’s health.

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UC Davis professor receives Lifetime Contribution to Dermatology award

Haines Ely honored at Cosmetic Surgery Forum.

Haines Ely, UC Davis

Haines Ely, UC Davis clinical professor of dermatology, received the “Lifetime Contribution to Dermatology” award earlier this month at the 2014 Cosmetic Surgery Forum in Las Vegas.

The forum was held Dec. 2-5, and was presented in association with Practical Dermatology Magazine.

Ely, who also is chair and chief executive officer of Valeant Pharmaceuticals, has been teaching residents in the UC Davis Department of Dermatology since 1975, and performs teledermatology consultations. He does the same duties at the Veterans Administration Hospital at Mather Air Force Base.

Ely is particularly interested in dermatologic therapy and has lectured on the most recent advances in therapy all over the U.S., as well as in Europe and Australia. At the 1996 annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, he proposed using the sap of the Euphorbia peplus plant as a skin cancer remedy. It is now on the market and commercially available.

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