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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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Tech tool will support smokers’ efforts to quit

Great American Smokeout is Nov. 20.

UCLA is marking the Great American Smokeout on Nov. 20 by introducing a new technology tool to help smokers who are seen in the UCLA Health System quit for good.

Health care providers in the UCLA Health System will soon be able to send an “eReferral” for tobacco cessation through CareConnect, the patients’ electronic health record, to the California Smokers’ Helpline.

The helpline, based at UC San Diego, offers free telephone counseling and follow-up support that doubles the chances of long-term quitting. Referred patients cared for in the UCLA Health System as inpatients or  outpatients will then receive a call from a helpline counselor within one to two business days. The ordering provider will, in turn, receive a CareConnect results message from the helpline about the interaction with the patient.

The eReferral is just one more tool for health professionals to support a patient’s desire to join the unhooked generation. The helpline’s 1-800-NO-BUTTS number has been around for over 20 years, but eReferral ensures that the helpline will connect with a referred patient and that the ordering provider will be  kept informed.

“I am thrilled that patients suffering from nicotine addiction will get the help that they need to support their quit efforts,” said Linda Sarna, acting dean for the UCLA School of Nursing and one of the UCLA champions of the tobacco-free campus movement. “This eReferral is part of the UC Quits project led by Dr. Elisa Tong from UC Davis, and is supported by the UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation. This ambitious project involves all five of the health science campuses to ensure that every smoker receives support at every encounter. This systemwide collaboration is a historic change in how health care providers can ensure that smokers can get help to quit smoking by using the electronic health care record.”

Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S. Yet about 42 million Americans still smoke cigarettes — a bit under one in every five adults — and too few get the help they need to quit. In California, more than 3 million people still smoke cigarettes.

The UC Quits champions at the UCLA campus are Drs. Timothy Fong, Alison Diamont and Estebes Hernandez and nurses Cait Walsh, Elizabeth Bailey and Sarna. On Nov. 20, UCLA’s Tobacco-Free Task Force will host a table in Bruin Plaza from 10 a.m. to 2 p,m. Bruins can learn more about resources to help them, their friends or family members quit.

Learn more about UC Quits at www.ucquits.com, the California Smokers’ Helpline at www.nobutts.org, and UCLA’s Smoke and Tobacco-Free Policy at healthy.ucla.edu/pod/breathe_well.

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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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Joint Commission names UC Irvine, UCLA med centers ‘Top Performers’

Program recognizes hospitals for improving performance on key quality measures.

Medical centers at UC Irvine and UCLA have been recognized as “Top Performer” hospitals by The Joint Commission, the leading accreditor of health care organizations in the United States.

UC Irvine and UCLA were recognized as part of The Joint Commission’s 2014 annual report “America’s Hospitals: Improving Quality and Safety” for attaining and sustaining excellence in accountability measures performance in treatment for heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia and in surgical care.

They are among 1,224 hospitals in the United States, including 97 in California, to achieve the 2013 Top Performer distinction.

The Top Performer program recognizes hospitals for improving performance on evidence-based interventions that increase the chances of healthy outcomes for patients with certain conditions, including heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, surgical care, children’s asthma, stroke, venous thromboembolism and perinatal care, as well as for inpatient psychiatric services and immunizations.

“UC Irvine Health is proud to be named a Top Performer by The Joint Commission. Our community expects UC Irvine Health to provide healthcare at the highest levels of quality and patient safety,” said Terry A. Belmont, CEO of UC Irvine Medical Center. “The goal of every member of our team, from hospital leadership, to faculty physicians, nurses, therapists and support staff is to improve patients’ experience and outcomes.”

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6 translational science trends that will improve your health

Trends highlighted in podcasts range from team science to big data for health.

By Deborah Grady, UC San Francisco

Translational science, also known as bench-to-bedside research, aims to translate biomedical discoveries into useful applications and treatments, such as a drug, device, diagnostic or behavioral intervention, that impact health and health outcomes.

At UC San Francisco, my colleagues and I at the UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) are collaborating and innovating in ways that are transforming health care as we know it.

We’re also looking ahead at the trends and influences that are reshaping – and more importantly, accelerating – translational science, all with a focus on improving health. We partnered with Carry The One Radio to produce podcasts on each of the trends.

Learn more about the podcasts or listen to the full playlist here.

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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 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.

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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UC medical centers ID’d as priority hospitals to treat confirmed Ebola cases

UC committed to addressing public’s health needs, ensuring safety of its health care workers.

Though there are no confirmed or suspect cases of Ebola Virus Disease (Ebola) in California, today (Oct. 24) the University of California Office of the President informed the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) that all five UC medical centers are positioned to provide in-patient care for Californians who have confirmed cases of Ebola if necessary.

CDPH continues working with health officials to prepare for potential cases of Ebola in California and the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) is providing updated, specific guidelines on the protective equipment, training and other measures that must be in place to protect workers’ health and safety.

“All of the UC medical centers specialize in complex care and operate as or staff level one trauma centers. We appreciate their leadership role in willingness to treat Ebola patients,” said Dr. Ron Chapman, director of CDPH and state health officer. “The administration will support these hospitals in meeting this public health need in California. At the same time all hospitals and medical providers need to redouble preparedness efforts to ensure that they can effectively assess Ebola risk in their patients, while ensuring workplace safety.”

“As part of a public university, UC’s medical centers are far along in their preparation activities and are willing to care for confirmed Ebola patients,” said Dr. John Stobo, UC senior vice president for health sciences and services. “Stepping up to a public health crisis is what these medical centers do, and in the past weeks we have been actively readying ourselves for any health eventuality related to Ebola. We are committed to addressing the health needs of this population and the public at large, as well as ensuring the safety of our health care workers. It is our intent that only health care workers who are members of a core designated group or who volunteer to do so will provide care to confirmed Ebola patients.”

The UC medical centers identified today include the Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco facilities. These hospitals will closely coordinate with CDPH and local health officers as they consider taking on such patients. Today’s announcement means that the UC medical centers are positioned to accept patients in California with confirmed cases of Ebola. They are not identified as treatment centers for patients being transported into the United States by the U.S. State Department. Four hospitals in other parts of the country are already established as treatment centers for these repatriated U.S. citizens.

CDPH has been reviewing Ebola preparedness, screening and treatment guidance from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and will ensure that the UC medical centers have the most up-to-date information on how to treat and care for Ebola patients, should confirmed Ebola cases appear in California.

The UC medical centers, like all health care facilities in California, are required to comply with standards set by Cal/OSHA to ensure that appropriate protective equipment, training and other measures are in place to protect worker health and safety while caring for Ebola patients. Cal/OSHA is developing updated guidance and compliance requirements specifically identifying what measures are adequate — and inadequate — to comply with California’s workplace health and safety legal requirement, based on CDC’s recent strengthening of clinical guidance for Ebola treatment. Cal/OSHA will also provide on-site consultation for these medical centers to help them meet the established occupational health and safety standards.

CDPH has also committed to helping the five identified medical centers obtain the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), should the hospitals have sourcing challenges. CDC recently updated the PPE guidance, aligning them with California’s stronger standards. State officials will also work with these medical centers to ensure that medical waste generated from the treatment of an Ebola patient will be properly handled and disposed.

All hospitals throughout the state are expected to screen, identify and isolate any patients with Ebola risk. Screening questions include:  “Has the patient recently been in one of the three countries with Ebola outbreaks: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea?”; and “Has the patient been in direct contact with someone known to have Ebola or someone exposed to Ebola?” If further testing of the patient is recommended, the hospital will contact the local health department, which will provide a more detailed epidemiological assessment. If necessary, the local health officer will then coordinate with CDPH and CDC to pursue testing at CDC-approved laboratories. During that time, the patient should remain in isolation until the test results are available. If test results are positive, CDPH will work with the hospital, local health officers and the CDC to transfer the patient as needed.

CDPH remains in contact with hospitals and health care professionals throughout the state to monitor and strengthen medical preparedness and Cal/OSHA will be working with hospitals to provide compliance assistance on required workplace safety standards. Other hospitals will likely be identified as additional priority hospitals for Ebola treatment.

Since the Ebola outbreak began in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, CDPH has worked with state, federal and local health officials to prepare for potential cases of Ebola in California. In August, CDPH launched an informational website compiling information about the outbreak and preparing California health care providers with guidance and protocols from the CDC. CDPH has developed an interim case report form for reporting suspected cases of Ebola to CDPH and has distributed CDC guidance on specimen collection, transport, testing and submission for patients suspected of having Ebola. Last week, CDPH posted interim guidelines for Ebola medical waste management and recommended that all health care facility environmental services personnel and infection control staff work together to develop facility-specific protocols for safe handling of Ebola related medical waste. CDPH has provided these and other documents to health care providers and partners via the California Health Alert Network (CAHAN).

In September, CDPH convened more than 1,100 health care and public health workers to urge them to assess their Ebola readiness and conduct drills in their facilities. Last week, CDPH officials held a teleconference with health care providers to discuss the latest news and guidance about handling suspected Ebola cases. CDPH is providing weekly updates to local health officials, first responders and health care providers as the Ebola outbreak continues in West Africa. CDPH launched a telephone hotline call center to respond to public inquiries related to Ebola. Earlier this week, Governor Brown joined officials from the California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS), CDPH, Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and Cal/OSHA to meet with California hospital leaders, nurses, emergency responders, local health directors and medical providers.

CDPH is also available to provide consultation about suspect Ebola cases to local health departments and health care providers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. CDPH joins with a team of state departments and agencies including CHHS, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) and DIR, to address all aspects of preparedness for a potential Ebola case in California.

For more information about how the state is preparing for potential cases of Ebola, please read CDPH’s Ebola Virus Disease FAQs and visit the CDPH Ebola Virus Information Page and the Cal/OSHA Ebola Virus Information site.

Media contacts:
Anita Gore, California Department of Public Health
(916) 440-7259

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

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In the media: Week of Nov. 16

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

After UC regents OK tuition plan, eyes turn to Gov. Jerry Brown, state funding, Los Angeles Times

The votes were cast and the protesters’ chanting died down. Now months of political wrangling and budget negotiations are ahead before UC students know for sure how much next year’s tuition will be. Under the plan for a tuition increase, approved by the UC regents on Thursday by a 14-7 vote, students could pay as much as 28% more over five years, depending on state funding. Gov. Jerry Brown and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, both regents, voted against the measure and their next steps on state funding for the 10-campus university will be key. The regents took other steps that officials said will boost revenue and save millions of dollars, but which may upset critics of high pay. Patrice Knight, an IBM executive, was hired as chief procurement officer for UC hospitals and health divisions. Regis Kelly, a bioscience institute administrator at UC San Francisco, will be working three-quarters-time as a special advisor to Napolitano on getting UC inventions into the marketplace faster while keeping his current job one-quarter-time. Read UC coverage.

UC raises tuition amid students’ cries of opposition, San Francisco Chronicle

The regents of the University of California approved a plan to raise tuition by up to 28 percent over five years on Thursday as furious students in the audience shouted “Shame on you!” and “We’re still going to fight it!” The students briefly shut down the meeting as the regents concluded the 14-to-7 vote to raise tuition and fees by up to 5 percent a year beginning next fall. The Board of Regents, meeting at UCSF’s Mission Bay campus, adopted price increases for undergraduates and for UC’s 59 graduate professional degree programs — including 20 percent higher fees for nursing at San Francisco, Davis, Irvine and Los Angeles campuses — with no comment.

Innovation, entrepreneurship evangelist Reg Kelly to spread gospel throughout UC system, San Francisco Business Times

Regis Kelly preaches about better ways to translate the University of California’s lab research into drugs and tools that can help Californians live healthier longer. Now his congregation is getting bigger. Kelly — the director of the three-campus California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, or QB3 — on Dec. 1 will join the UC Office of the President as senior advisor on innovation and entrepreneurship. His initial focus will be to help each of the UC system’s 10 campuses identify ways to more efficiently morph research into products, but he also will work closely in helping UC officials develop a venture fund of up to $250 million. Kelly, a biochemist by training and a former vice chancellor at UC San Francisco, over the past decade has built QB3 into a hub of biomedical entrepreneurship. Working with scientists at UCSF, UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz, QB3 has set up a network of incubators, including a new partnership with StartX near Stanford University, and created a portfolio of programs to help researchers move science into the commercial realm.

Tech isn’t biggest S.F. industry; health care is, San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco’s health care industry generated more than $28 billion in economic activity this year — outpacing even the city’s much-hyped tech sector, according to a report released Tuesday by a hospital trade association. The Hospital Council of Northern California attributes the growth — up $11 billion since 2012 — to bigger and newer hospitals and more biomedical firms. One of the reasons for the growth in economic activity is due to several hospitals and medical facilities being expanded or built, with about $5 billion invested in the projects in the next five years, the report said. Those properties include California Pacific Medical Center, UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay, San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, a Kaiser Permanente medical building in Mission Bay and the Chinese Hospital.

Jesse Jackson joins UCI panel on Ebola and civil rights, Orange County Register

Don’t reject the infected, reject the infection. That was the message civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson delivered during a panel discussion titled “The Constitutional Implications of Ebola,” hosted by the UC Irvine School of Law on Nov. 19. Joining Jackson in the forum were Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Irvine School of Law, Andrew Noymer, associate professor at UCI’s Department of Public Health, Dr. George W. Woods from the International Academy of Law and Mental Health and Michele Goodwin, professor of law at UCI. At the heart of the discussion was how the ongoing Ebola crisis is affecting civil rights and personal liberties in the United States.

UC Merced takes grassroots approach to reducing obesity, California Healthline

An NIH grant designed to help researchers build partnerships with community organizations could lead to a better understanding of the obesity epidemic, particularly in low-income Latino communities in Merced County. “NIH is increasingly recognizing that to address many health issues, research needs to be more closely anchored in the communities affected by the health problem,” said Jan Wallander, a professor of psychological sciences at UC-Merced who co-wrote the grant proposal. The three-year, $90,000 grant awarded to UC-Merced and the Merced County California Regional Obesity Prevention Program from NIH’s Child Health and Human Development Institute allows academics from various disciplines to engage directly with community members affected by obesity.

Healthy aging a complex goal, U-T San Diego

Living well while growing older could mean finding creative ways to stay healthy, such as using interactive video games to exercise or sprinkling raw chocolate on everything you eat to boost antioxidants. Those topics were among several dozen discussed during a two-hour public forum Nov. 16 hosted by UC San Diego’s Think Tank on Healthy Aging, a two-year project featuring 14 renowned doctors and researchers. They hope to guide the country’s response to the Baby Boomer generation reaching retirement age. “Aging is not a disease to be cured, but a process to be enhanced,” said Dr. Dilip Jeste, a UC San Diego professor coordinating the group. The creation of the think tank marks the official opening of UC San Diego’s Center for Healthy Aging, an umbrella organization for all of the university’s age-related programs. It’s part of the Stein Institute for Research on Aging.

Triclosan may cause liver cancer, U-T San Diego

Triclosan an antimicrobial agent commonly found in antibacterial soaps, causes liver fibrosis and cancer in mice in a manner that may pertain to people, according to a study led by UC San Diego scientists.

If you’ve already cut out sugary drinks, this should be your next goal, Huffington Post

When Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo entered medical school in 1995, only one in ten teens had the beginning signs of diabetes. Now, 19 years later, one in four teens are at high risk of developing diabetes. As an internist at UC San Francisco and a researcher on diabetes prevention, Bibbins-Domingo is alarmed at how fast diabetes rates are rising in the general population, and how young people are when they first develop the disease. The culprit? Too much sugar. And Bibbins-Domingo is part of a new initiative at UCSF called SugarScience. The project, a collaborative effort with researchers at UC Davis and Emory University School of Medicine, is a public health campaign backed by more than 8,000 scientific papers on how sugar affects our bodies and contributes to conditions like diabetes (which can cause blindness and the need for amputations), stroke, heart attacks and tooth decay, to name a few. The new site says SugarScience aims to be “the authoritative source for the science about added sugar and its impact on our health.”

UCSF to study early menopause vs. preventive cancer surgery risks, San Francisco Chronicle

For Mimi Cavalheiro, who is genetically at risk for both breast and ovarian cancers, the question of a diagnosis is not an “if” but “when.” Now she’s faced with tough decisions. The 37-year-old San Francisco resident could have her breasts removed or opt for intensive screening. She could have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed, but at the risk of plunging into premature menopause. “The idea of going through menopause 10 years early is a little stressful,” Cavalheiro said. “I don’t know how it’s going to affect me, my love life, my energy level, my weight.” Medical experts don’t fully understand all the physical ramifications either. So a new UCSF study is trying to find out. Cavalheiro is one of about 100 Bay Area women between 35 and 50 years old with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations who are participating in a clinical trial that is examining changes in cardiovascular health, bone density, sexual function, quality of life and other effects on women who go into early menopause.

UCSF study suggests secondhand marijuana smoke as bad as tobacco smoke for heart health, CBS San Francisco

Secondhand marijuana smoke may be just as bad for your heart as breathing tobacco smoke, according to preliminary research from UC San Francisco.
A Berkeley biotech startup with a powerful new way to edit DNA said Tuesday it is licensing that technology to a company that intends to use it to develop therapies for genetic diseases.

Berkeley biotech licenses gene-editing tool to new company, San Francisco Chronicle

The newly created, Cambridge-based Intellia Therapeutics is off to a promising start with $15 million in financing led by pharmaceutical giant Novartis and investment firm Atlas Venture. The company was co-created by Atlas and Caribou Biosciences of Berkeley, which is led by some of the scientists who have shaped the gene-editing technology known as Crispr-Cas9. That tool can snip and edit DNA with more precision and ease compared to other gene-editing methods, allowing scientists to repair, knock out or replace specific genes in humans, other animals and plants. It works by harnessing the natural immune system of bacteria. Interest in Crispr-Cas9 soared two years ago when a team that included UC Berkeley scientist Jennifer Doudna figured out a way to use up the system to slice up any DNA sequence of their choosing. Doudna last week was among the winners of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, a $3 million prize funded by heavyweight tech CEOs, and also co-founded both Caribou and Editas Medicine.

Many seniors do not seek medical attention after a fall, UCLA study finds, MyNewsLA

More than half a million older Californians — 12.6 percent of the state’s senior population — fall more than once a year, but nearly 60 percent of them fail to seek medical attention afterward, according to a study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

State health exchange signs up 11,000 in first four days, Orange County Register

Health plan sign-ups in the first four days of Covered California’s second season outpaced the early days of last year’s maiden enrollment period by nearly four times, the state’s Obamacare health insurance exchange said. Dylan Roby, a professor at UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research, is quoted.

California hospitals make hundreds of errors every year, public is unaware (video), NBC Bay Area

State law requires hospitals to report medical errors to the California Department of Public Health. The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit discovered that meaningful details about adverse events are not readily available or easily searchable for California consumers. The Investigative Unit filed a public records request  to CDPH obtain this information and have now posted it online. According to the state data obtained by the Investigative Unit, over the past four fiscal years, two Bay Area hospitals, Stanford Medical Center and UCSF, lead the state in total number of adverse events. However, the majority of the adverse events at both of these facilities were bedsores. Dr. Josh Adler, chief medical officer at UCSF, said his staff is dedicated to tracking every error that occurs in order to better prevent them in the future and improve care for patients. “I believe we are a very safe hospital and part of the reason we are safe is that we have been in the error-finding and resolving business for a long time,” Adler said.

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Breakthrough in managing yellow fever disease

UC Riverside-led research could lead to antiviral therapeutics, better diagnostics.

Ilhem Messaoudi (right) is an associate professor of biomedical sciences in the UC Riverside School of Medicine. (Photo by L. Duka)

By Iqbal Pittalwala, UC Riverside

Yellow fever is a disease that can result in symptoms ranging from fever to severe liver damage. Found in South America and sub-Saharan Africa, each year the disease results in 200,000 new cases and kills 30,000 people.  About 900 million people are at risk of contracting the disease.

Now a research team led by a biomedical scientist at UC Riverside has determined that the yellow fever virus, a hemorrhagic fever virus, replicates primarily in the liver. Therefore, other organ failures that often follow in people with the disease are due to secondary effects.

When the virus targets the liver, it replicates rapidly causing significant damage to liver cells. In the process, inflammatory cytokines – proteins secreted by cells especially of the immune system – are made in massive amounts, which soon gain access to the blood stream.  These cytokines are most likely responsible for the damage to distant organs, the research team’s findings suggest.

The research team also identified a clinical parameter that could greatly help in managing yellow fever cases.

“Yellow fever causes severe loss of lymphocytes,” said Ilhem Messaoudi, an associate professor of biomedical sciences in the UC Riverside School of Medicine, who led the research project. “This process, called lymphopenia, occurs before any measurable changes in liver enzymes can be detected – that is, about a day or so before we see changes in the liver. It could provide an earlier clinical outcome measure of subsequent disease severity, giving doctors a good prognostic tool for offering more aggressive supportive care for these patients.”

Study results appear today (Nov. 20) in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

The research, performed on rhesus macaques (currently, the best model for studying human yellow fever infection) at Oregon National Primate Research Center, is the first study on yellow fever in non-human primates in more than 20 years.

“Yellow fever is truly a neglected tropical disease,” Messaoudi said. “Even though it continues to cause fatality, it remains understudied. While it is true there is a highly effective vaccine, it remains extremely challenging to get comprehensive vaccine coverage in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.  Moreover, the vaccine works well if you are between one and 55 years old.  It is not safe for babies or the elderly, who could develop yellow fever from the vaccine.”

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