CATEGORY: Spotlight

UC awards four grants to expand health care innovations

Projects have shown potential to improve care.

The University of California has awarded four grants totaling $2.5 million to scale up proposals that have shown potential to improve health care while delivering a return on investment to UC medical centers.

The fellowships expand proposals that already are funded by the UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation (CHQI) and that have demonstrated they can provide better care and better health with lower costs.

The grants include UC Health projects to reduce emergency room visits among psychiatric patients, expand access to specialty care, develop a tobacco cessation network, and support efforts to standardize treatment for hip and knee replacements.

“We’re excited to extend our support to proven projects so that they can be replicated across UC medical centers,” said Karyn DiGiorgio, CHQI interim director. “By scaling up transformative projects like these, UC Health will see even more improvement in the quality and value of the health care we provide Californians.”

The grants, awarded to previously funded CHQI fellows and principal investigators, are part of UC Health’s efforts to improve patient care and increase value at medical centers at UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego and UC San Francisco.

The awardees include:

      • Patient-centered recovery program and emergency department community placement program: $1.2 million over two years
        Project director: William Perry, Ph.D., UC San Diego
        Campus leads: Debra Kahn, M.D., UC Davis; Nathan Kuppermann, M.D., M.P.H., UC Davis; Tina Allee, M.D., UC Irvine; Scott Rudkin, M.D., M.B.A., UC Irvine; Erick Cheung, M.D., UCLA; Lynne McCullough, M.D., UCLA; James Bourgeois, O.D., M.D., UC San Francisco; and Steven Polevoi, M.D., UC San Francisco

        Perry

        Overuse of emergency department services by psychiatric patients is a national crisis. This fellowship, building on Perry’s 2011 CHQI grant, will expand to all five UC medical centers a project that provides screening, intervention and referral services to psychiatric patients with substance use disorders, with the aim of reducing the length of their stays and their return visits to the emergency department. The project began at UC San Diego, where the Patient-Centered Recovery Program reduced the average ED length of stay of psychiatric patients by 12 percent and reduced 30-day psychiatric patient return visits to the ED by 15 percent. The ED Community Placement Program has worked at UC San Diego to further reduce ED visits by placing high-risk patients into community partner programs. The project will work with the other UC medical centers to identify and develop partnerships with community service providers, so that similar results can be achieved.

      • Scale-up eReferral and eConsult program: $709,000 over 18 months
        Project director: Nathaniel Gleason, M.D., UC San Francisco
        Campus leads: Mark Avdalovic, M.D., UC Davis; Elizabeth Rosenblum, M.D., UC San Diego

        Gleason

        Access to specialty physicians at UC medical centers commonly involves wait times of several weeks, which is anathema to patient-centered care. The eReferral and eConsult program improves coordination between primary care and specialty physicians in order to expand access and reduce avoidable in-person appointments. It aims to improve patient outcomes, save patients time, reduce out-of-pocket costs for patients and reduce the overall cost of care. Gleason received a 2013 CHQI fellowship to begin this program at UC San Francisco. The program provides primary care physicians with point-of-care decision support on referral appropriateness (eReferral) and allows them to receive timely specialist recommendations on clinical questions that do not require an in-person evaluation of the patient by the specialist (eConsult). At UCSF, eConsults now represent 8 percent of referrals to participating specialties and have reduced referral rates for standard office visits by 20 percent, improving access to specialty care and saving costs. This grant will expand the project to include UC Davis, UCLA and UC San Diego, with the option to amend the proposal to include UC Irvine and possibly UC Riverside.

      • UC Tobacco Cessation Network: $541,000 over two years
        Project director: Elisa Tong, M.D., M.A., UC Davis
        Campus leads: Linda Sarna, R.N., Ph.D., UCLA; Mark Avdalovic, M.D., UC Davis; Alpesh Amin, M.D., M.B.A., UC Irvine; Sheldon Greenfield, M.D., UC Irvine; Allison Diamant, M.D., UCLA; Timothy Fong, M.D., UCLA; Robert El-Kareh, M.D., M.S., M.P.H., UC San Diego; Tyson Ikeda, M.D., UC San Diego; Eliseo Pérez-Stable, M.D., UC San Francisco; Sujatha Sankaran, M.D., UC San Francisco; and Jyothi Marbin, M.D., Children’s Hospital Oakland

        Tong

        UC has shown its commitment to provide a healthy environment for faculty, staff, students and visitors by implementing a systemwide tobacco-free policy that began in January 2014. This project aims to further reduce tobacco use and exposure – the leading cause of preventable death – by developing a UC Tobacco Cessation Network. Building on a pilot project that Tong started at UC Davis with a 2013 CHQI fellowship, the UC-wide network will use electronic medical records to address tobacco use and exposure at every clinical encounter. There will be assistance with counseling and medication for greater success, with the Joint Commission tobacco treatment measures serving as a framework. The network will partner with the California Smokers’ Helpline, a UC San Diego-based free telephone counseling service that doubles the chances of quitting, to create a two-way electronic referral, and with the UCSF-based Smoking Cessation Leadership Center to promote systemwide training opportunities. Champions at each site will coordinate electronic medical record modifications, conduct outreach and education to inpatient and outpatient departments and nursing units for workflow integration, and collaborate as a network through information sharing and evaluation. This project is expected to demonstrate a significant return on investment and national leadership on health systems change for tobacco cessation.

      • Bundled payments for hip and knee replacements: $78,000 over one year
        Project director: Kevin Bozic, M.D., M.B.A., UC San Francisco
        Campus leads: Zeev Kain, M.D., UC Irvine; Ranjan Gupta, M.D., UC Irvine; Scott Ball, M.D., UC San Diego; Lisa Rhodes, UC San Diego; Mervyn Maze, M.B.Ch.B., UC San Francisco; Lorrayne Ward, UC San Francisco

        Bozic

        Bundled payment, where providers are reimbursed a set fee for an episode of care, is a health reform aimed at improving the coordination, quality and efficiency of care. This project will build on Bozic’s 2011 CHQI fellowship to establish bundled payments for hip and knee replacements at UC San Francisco. It will establish a learning collaborative with UC Irvine and UC San Diego that seeks to standardize clinical practices and administrative procedures for hip and knee replacements to both improve patient outcomes and reduce costs. This will enable UC to compete for regional and national employer-based contracts for hip and knee replacements.

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

UC Davis
Dorsey Griffith
(916) 734-9118
dorsey.griffith@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu

UC San Diego
Jacqueline Carr
(619) 543-6427
jcarr@ucsd.edu

UC San Francisco
Karin Rush-Monroe
(415) 502-NEWS (6397)
karin.rush-monroe@ucsf.edu

About UC Health
University of California Health includes five academic health centers — UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego and UC San Francisco — with 10 hospitals and 17 health professional schools on seven UC campuses. For more information, visit http://health.universityofcalifornia.edu.

About the UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation
UC Health launched the Center for Health Quality and Innovation in October 2010. The center is designed to promote, support and nurture innovations at UC medical center campuses and hospitals to improve quality, access and value in the delivery of health care. For more information, visit http://health.universityofcalifornia.edu/innovation-center.

Related link:
Register to attend UC innovation center colloquium

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Good Bruin Samaritans

UCLA students bring much-needed medical aid to Mexican community.

In a community less than 150 miles south of UCLA, Enrique Juarez Gonzalez, his wife, Mercedes, and their children live without running water or electricity. Their sanitation system is sub-standard, and access to health care was almost nonexistent.

There are many families just like them in Tijuana’s Colonia Margarita Moran, families that are struggling to survive in an area where poverty is rampant and opportunities are slim.

Thanks to life-changing efforts by UCLA undergraduates, a small community medical clinic is the family’s only source of medical care. It was there late last year that they received an invaluable gift that lifted a huge weight off the family’s shoulders — a wheelchair for their 14-year-old son, who had to be carried everywhere because he has cerebral palsy.

“Watching Mercedes wheel Emmanuel out of the clinic with such relief, and realizing the impact the chair will have on their family, illustrates the reason we operate our clinic,” said UCLA senior Becky Barber, who along with fellow neuroscience student Lyolya Hovhannisyan founded the UCLA chapter of Flying Samaritans in 2013. The nationwide group brings together volunteers and health care providers to deliver basic medical services, including clinical evaluations, medication and health education classes.

“On a micro-level, knowing we can improve the quality of life for people in this community makes our work here worthwhile,” said Barber. She and Hovhannisyan, both seniors and aspiring doctors, received a $10,000 scholarship from the Donald A. Strauss Foundation in 2013 to support their efforts.

Volunteer student and patient Enrique Juarez Gonzalez

Barber learned about the need in Colonia Margarita Moran after hearing about the work of Dr. Maria Sarabia, a Mexican-trained doctor and Huntington Park resident who, for roughly three years, had been providing religious education and the best medical service in the Tijuana colonia. After speaking with Hovhannisyan about Dr. Sarabia’s efforts and considering what they could do to help, they founded UCLA Flying Samaritans and its small medical clinic in Colonia Margarita Moran.

In May 2013, the group began the first of nearly a dozen visits to the clinic and saw 26 patients. Now they see more than double that number each month, with the group’s outreach efforts making more residents aware of the clinic’s services. The clinic opens the third Saturday of the month with volunteer doctors and often more than a dozen UCLA students.

Most of the ailments the volunteer doctors see are preventable, said Hovhannisyan. They include hypertension, diabetes, sexually transmitted infections and waterborne illnesses, all of which can be sharply reduced through education and outreach programming, she said.

Other factors, including little to no access to fresh fruits and vegetables, clean water or warm dry places to live, make health prevention efforts more challenging. Barber said that ongoing community assessments and speaking with locals will help them better serve the people living there.

“This is a big part of our current efforts to identify the resources available to the community and give us a better understanding of the factors that are leading to a decreased quality of life,” said Hovhannisyan. “Our clinic will target the issues we find to be most clearly decreasing quality of life and implement projects to directly address these problems.”

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Pharmacy education growing rapidly, easing workforce shortages

Growth seen in California and across the nation.

Enrollment in pharmacy education programs has increased significantly, according to a new report from the University of California. (iStock photo)

>>View pharmacy education report

The landscape for pharmacy education has changed dramatically in recent years, as rapid growth in new schools and student enrollment has eased state and regional workforce shortages, according to a new report from the University of California.

An Era of Growth and Change: A Closer Look at Pharmacy Education and Practice” follows a report UC issued last May examining growth and recent trends in health professions education.

Enrollment in pharmacy education programs has increased significantly, following a nationwide pharmacist shortage that developed in the late 1990s. National trends now suggest that the supply of pharmacists is growing much faster than previously projected. Since 2005, the number of accredited U.S. pharmacy schools has increased by 48 percent, from 87 to 129, with most of the growth occurring at private institutions.

“Enrollment in pharmacy education programs has grown substantially in the past decade – faster than the previous 25 to 30 years,” said Cathryn Nation, M.D., UC associate vice president for health sciences. “This report will be an important tool for policymakers and higher education leaders, highlighting trends that will inform efforts to address the challenges posed by health care reform, an aging population and the ongoing demand for pharmacy services.”

In particular, California has been home to significant growth in pharmacy education. Since 2002, four new pharmacy schools have opened in the state, doubling the number of programs in California from four to eight over the past decade. Other institutions appear interested in opening new pharmacy schools in California within the next few years.

Highlights of the report include:

  • Demand for pharmacists in California is beginning to fall in balance with the state’s growing   supply of pharmacists.
  • Significant growth in pharmacy educational opportunities has occurred throughout California, with the majority of enrollment increases happening at private institutions.
  • California faces a shortage of well-qualified faculty to train future pharmacists.
  • Disparities in health status, changing demographics and the evolving roles of pharmacists in health care delivery will require increased diversity and cultural competence of the workforce.
  • There is a substantial mismatch between the number of residency training positions available and increasing student interest (pharmacy residency positions are post-graduate, advanced training positions that are available following completion of a Pharm.D. degree).

The report includes findings about California’s educational programs and recommendations relevant to the UC system, which operates two pharmacy schools: UC San Francisco, ranked as the nation’s top pharmacy school by U.S. News & World Report, and UC San Diego, whose pharmacy school opened in 2002.

“As we look to the future, pharmacy education must remain relevant and aligned with the needs of patients,” said B. Joseph Guglielmo, Pharm.D., dean of the UCSF School of Pharmacy. “This report provides an overview of the pharmacy landscape and a valuable resource for the UC system and our colleagues throughout the state.”

The UC system operates the nation’s largest health sciences instructional program, with 17 professional schools in seven major health professions, including pharmacy education. UC’s two pharmacy schools accounted for 182 (approximately 21 percent) of California’s 849 graduating pharmacy students in 2011.

California pharmacy schools:

Public schools/institutions
UC San Francisco
UC San Diego (first class admitted in 2002)

Private schools/institutions
University of the Pacific
University of Southern California
Western University of Health Sciences
Loma Linda University (first class admitted in 2002)
Touro University (first class admitted in 2005)
California Northstate University (first class admitted in 2008)

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

UC San Francisco
Kristen Bole
(415) 502-6397 (NEWS)
kristen.bole@ucsf.edu

UC San Diego
Jacqueline Carr
(619) 543-6427
jcarr@ucsd.edu

About UC Health
University of California Health includes five academic health centers with 10 hospitals and 17 health professional schools in seven fields on seven UC campuses – UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Riverside, UC San Diego and UC San Francisco. For more information, visit http://health.universityofcalifornia.edu.

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A night at the UCSF Homeless Clinic

First-year medical student describes volunteer experience.

At the UCSF Homeless Clinic, students work with preceptors to provide medical care for some of the men and women who need it most in San Francisco.

By Jeffrey Chen

The first time I go to the St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Francisco, I leave my white coat at home.

The Society provides shelter for over 400 transient men and women each night. It’s also the location of the UCSF Homeless Clinic, which is where I’m headed tonight, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt. Many of the men and women who come to the clinic have had negative experiences with healthcare providers in the past. A white coat may be the last thing they want to see.

People come to this shelter in the South of Market neighborhood to find reprieve from the vicious cycles of homelessness, violence and substance abuse that they encounter on the streets. Here, they are able to get help, whether it’s to find permanent housing, employment, education, or simply a warm bed to stay for the night and food to sustain them through the day.

And since 1992, on every Tuesday and Thursday night, these men and women have been able to get free medical care right at the shelter.

Jeffrey Chen, a first-year medical student at UC San Francisco

Since its founding 22 years ago, the UCSF Homeless Clinic has drawn medical students and local community physicians to volunteer their time caring for the patients most in need in San Francisco. Since then, the clinic has expanded to include nursing, pharmacy, premedical and even law students.

The clinic draws student volunteers from UCSF schools of medicine, nursing and pharmacy, as well as premedical students from the University of San Francisco and law students from the UC Hastings College of the Law.

Each group has their role: pharmacy students, for example, will help patients go over their medication lists and help them figure out how to stick to their regimens, while premedical students will help coordinate referrals to San Francisco General Hospital, the Tom Waddell Clinic or other local health centers that focus on care for indigent populations.

Because some patients have needs that are hard for the biweekly general clinic to address, students now also hold a dermatology clinic one Tuesday a month and a women’s clinic 1-2 Sundays a month.

As we walk in the doors of the shelter, our stethoscopes set off the metal detectors, loudly declaring our arrival. Before we cross the room to set up shop, a few residents approach us, asking if they can be seen. One man needs help with his diarrhea, which has been keeping him up at night; another with his swollen, painful toe.

Matt Bald, a second-year student and veteran volunteer assures them that we’ll be back to check on them as soon as we’re set up. I will be shadowing Matt throughout this night.

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UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital Oakland complete affiliation

Top Bay Area pediatric institutions form partnership to advance children’s health.

Volunteer Alyson Van Hardenberg, left, colors in the playroom at the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital with Chirag Jana, whose sibling is a patient.

Volunteer Alyson Van Hardenberg, left, colors in the playroom at the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital with Chirag Jana, whose sibling is a patient.

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland (Children’s Oakland) have affiliated, building on the hospitals’ mutual commitment to provide outstanding care to children in local communities, and advance medical discovery and treatment for the world. The affiliation, effective Jan. 1, 2014, brings together two leading Bay Area children’s hospitals, strengthening their abilities to meet marketplace expectations, including the Affordable Care Act. The affiliation has the potential to provide better health care value to consumers through higher quality care, lower costs and more coordinated access to services at hospital locations on both sides of San Francisco Bay, as well as medical facilities throughout Northern California.

“This partnership between two world-class children’s hospitals promises to elevate the health of all children, especially our most vulnerable patients,” said Mark Laret, CEO of UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. “Both institutions have a longstanding commitment to public service, and by working together we are better able to deliver on that commitment.”

The affiliation allows children and their families to have access to what is now the largest network of children’s medical providers in Northern California, including a coordinated network of high-quality pediatric care from the Oregon border to San Luis Obispo, and as far east as Reno.

In addition to the two main hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland, patients can access more than 800 pediatricians and pediatric specialists delivering specialized care daily at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and Children’s Oakland, as well as hundreds of community-based pediatricians affiliated with the two hospitals who provide pediatric diagnostic services and specialty care. The two hospitals jointly offer more than 65 different pediatric medical specialties and subspecialties including transplant, sickle cell, orthopedics, neurology, cardiology, thalassemia, pediatric rehab, and asthma and diabetes care.

“The synergies created by these two respected institutions coming together allows children and families to benefit from greater depth and breadth of pediatric expertise as well as innovation that is possible by working together,” said Bert Lubin, M.D., CEO of Children’s Oakland.

“The affiliation of these two well-regarded children’s hospitals is good news for children and their families,” said Diana S. Dooley, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency. “Together, they will serve children throughout Northern California who need the state-of-the-art care they can provide.”

Dooley also previously served as president and chief executive officer of the California Children’s Hospital Association, which advocates for children’s health on behalf of the eight, nonprofit regional children’s hospitals in California.

While Children’s Oakland will remain separately licensed and retain its own board of directors and separate medical staff, the hospitals will collaborate and share best practices for the delivery of the highest quality pediatric care.

Individually, the two hospitals are highly regarded nationally as well as internationally, each having made significant advancements in developing new treatments and achieving better health outcomes for children. Together, they are positioned to become the most comprehensive providers of pediatric care and strengthen their national leadership in pediatric education and research, and advocacy. Combined, the hospitals will be among the top ten largest children’s health care providers in the country when the new UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital opens in February 2015.

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Related link:
Special grand rounds address Children’s Hospital affiliation inquiries

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UCSF to host 2014 TEDMED

Campus selected as first of seven global venues for popular speaker series.

UC San Francisco Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann delivered a TEDMED talk last year in Washington, D.C. The speaker series is expanding this year to a second location and has chosen UCSF to host. (Photo courtesy of TEDMED)

UC San Francisco Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann delivered a TEDMED talk last year in Washington, D.C. The speaker series is expanding this year to a second location and has chosen UCSF to host. (Photo courtesy of TEDMED)

In a nod to UC San Francisco’s role as a health sciences innovator, TEDMED has chosen UCSF as its “natural” first global partner, with plans for an initial event to take place simultaneously in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., on Sept. 10-12.

This will be the first step in an international rollout of the annual gathering, with the goal of holding simultaneous events across seven locations in the future, including China, Japan, the Middle East and Western Europe. Each of those permanent sites, which TEDMED will begin announcing next year, will be hosted by a city and leading medical research institution, and will be digitally linked to the other sites.

“There has never been a greater need for an inclusive worldwide gathering that showcases, supports and sparks innovative thinking and imaginative new approaches to health and medicine,” TEDMED curator Jay Walker said in announcing the expansion and UCSF’s role as a permanent institutional partner for the event. “Soon the whole world will come together for one week every year at TEDMED, where all will be invited to experience and share the best of what humankind can achieve in service of health and medicine.”

The partnership, in which Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, M.D., M.P.H., played a key role, will bring to San Francisco a world-renowned event that convenes 1,500 leaders and innovators each year from all sectors of society to explore the promise of technology and innovation in health and medicine.

“We at UCSF are excited to partner with TEDMED in its launch of a worldwide initiative that will inspire new thinking and collaborations to impact health and medicine worldwide,” said Desmond-Hellmann, whose stewardship of the OME Precision Medicine Summit in May 2013 helped cement UCSF’s role as a convener of the most innovative thought leaders in modern health and science.

As such, it was a natural conference for UCSF and fitting location for TEDMED. In today’s (Jan. 15) announcement, TEDMED cited UCSF’s role as a premier research institution and academic medical center, as well as its location in San Francisco – a city known for innovation and as the gateway to Silicon Valley – as its reasons for selecting the campus to launch the global initiative.

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Why UC is participating in Covered California

UC is helping to increase access to affordable health care.

By Alec Rosenberg

University of California medical centers and physicians are playing an important part in helping increase access to health care through the federal Affordable Care Act.

The law is expected to expand health insurance coverage to millions of Americans by extending Medicaid coverage and creating health exchanges that will offer affordable health insurance options. California’s exchange, called Covered California, is aimed at those who don’t have insurance through their employer or another government program.

Californians who purchase a health benefit plan through Covered California and are looking to access UC’s five medical centers and 5,000 physicians for in-network health care can do so by selecting Anthem Blue Cross as their health care provider. UC Health has a systemwide agreement with Anthem to participate as a Tier 1 provider in the exchange that includes medical centers at UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego and UC San Francisco.

Other insurers on the Covered California exchange also offer access to UC medical centers and physicians, such as Western Health Advantage with UC Davis and Health Net with UCLA and UC San Diego. Through Covered California, individuals may be eligible to receive financial assistance to make health care more affordable. However, if an enrollee already has access to affordable health insurance through another source, such as an employer or government program, the enrollee may not qualify for financial assistance through Covered California. So far, more than 400,000 people have enrolled in health insurance plans through Covered California.

As a public trust, UC has a responsibility to help Covered California be successful and to provide Californians access to affordable health care, said Dr. John Stobo, UC senior vice president for health sciences and services.

At a November summit attended by UC regents, chancellors, medical center CEOs and medical school deans, Stobo explained that UC is participating in Covered California because of its public trust role, even though its medical centers will receive lower reimbursements.

UC Health is a vital part of California’s safety net, providing half of the transplants and one quarter of extensive burn care in the state, as well as providing $444 million in charity care in the past year.

“We understand that we have a responsibility to address issues that affect society,” Stobo said.

As part of those efforts, UC not only is a participant in Covered California but also is doing outreach to inform the public about the exchange and health care reform.

For example, UC Davis has promoted its Covered California involvement at community venues, special events and its own facilities, staffing and passing out fliers at more than 70 events such as farmers markets and community health and safety fairs.

UC San Diego is hosting educational events for the public to learn about the Affordable Care Act and has distributed more than 3,000 fliers about its participation to patient areas, libraries, community centers and at events including the Chargers Blood Drive.

UC San Francisco hosted a town hall about Covered California that included state elected officials and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic leader.

UC Irvine hosted its annual Super Saturday Health Fair, where participants could get health insurance and Affordable Care Act questions answered by Covered California as well as receive a free flu shot, a diabetes screening and a blood pressure checkup.

As part of a team of more than 200 health professionals, UCLA staffed the Care Harbor free health care clinic with trained navigators who helped patients sign up for health coverage.

Additional outreach and education is being done through grants awarded by Covered California, with UC receiving two of these grants, each for $1 million. One is for the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and its Health Initiative of the Americas, which works with 13 subcontractors to reach out to Latinos in both rural and urban areas, particularly part-time, seasonal and contract employees as well as post-secondary students and young invincibles. The other is for the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities, which is partnering with El Concilio, the Council for the Spanish Speaking, to educate nearly 133,000 primarily Spanish-speaking Central Valley residents about Covered California.

The UC Student Health Insurance Plan launched a health care reform education campaign to inform students that they have new choices in their insurance coverage and to promote understanding of the value of UC-sponsored student health plans.

Californians began enrolling in health plans through Covered California on Oct. 1 and can continue to enroll through March 31, 2014.

For more information, visit:

For more information about Covered California, visit www.coveredca.com or call (800) 300-1506.

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UCSF chancellor to step down in March

Susan Desmond-Hellmann will become CEO of the Gates Foundation.

UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann will be stepping down in March to become CEO of the Gates Foundation.

UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann will be stepping down in March to become CEO of the Gates Foundation.

By Carolyn McMillan

University of California President Janet Napolitano announced today (Dec. 17) that UC San Francisco Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann will step down in March to become chief executive officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Napolitano, in a statement to the UC community, said she had accepted Desmond-Hellmann’s decision to leave with “a confluence of emotions.”

“I am grateful to Chancellor Desmond-Hellmann for her many accomplishments as the leader of one of California’s most vital institutions,” Napolitano said.

She noted that Desmond-Hellmann had successfully guided UCSF through one of the state’s worst fiscal crises; led development of the Benioff Children’s Hospital; and helped UCSF draw more research funding from the National Institutes of Health than any other public institution in the country.

“Chancellor Desmond-Hellmann will leave UCSF a better, more vibrant institution than when she arrived in 2009,” Napolitano said. “This is the true measurement of leadership.”

Napolitano will convene a search committee in early January to begin the selection process for the next UCSF chancellor.

“I am determined to do all in my power as president to ensure that UCSF keeps climbing upward on its trajectory of greatness,” Napolitano said. “In the end, the mission is what must remain paramount, whoever its steward might be.”

She will ask the UC Board of Regents to approve UCSF School of Medicine Dean Sam Hawgood as interim chancellor while the search is under way.

“I am confident that Sam will continue in the excellent tradition of leadership set by Sue,” Napolitano said.

Chancellor Desmond-Hellmann, in a letter to the UCSF community, said the decision to leave was difficult, but that she was drawn by the opportunity to address the tough challenges of extreme poverty and poor health in developing countries. The Gates Foundation works with partner organizations around the world to fund innovative ideas aimed at improving health and eradicating hunger and poverty. In the United States it looks for ways to improve public education.

Desmond-Hellmann said her work at the Gates Foundation will be informed by her experiences at UCSF, which has a long public service tradition and aims to advance health worldwide, she said.

“My hope is that my leadership can contribute to creating a more equitable world,” Desmond-Hellmann said.

A Gates Foundation press release said Desmond-Hellmann brought the organizational and leadership skills they were looking for, as well as deep scientific knowledge and technical expertise.

“Sue’s background in public health policy, research and development, and higher education, make her an exceptional fit for this role. She impressed us as an innovator and an outstanding leader and manager,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the foundation.

Desmond-Hellmann will begin at the Gates Foundation in May. She will continue at UCSF through March and has offered to assist in the search for her replacement. She will also maintain her faculty appointment at UCSF, Napolitano said.

“As a colleague and friend, I am excited for Sue’s prospects in a new, challenging role at the helm of a philanthropic institution of international influence,” Napolitano said. “The foundation’s decision to bring Sue aboard is in keeping with UC’s tradition of producing leaders for high profile, public-oriented institutions.”

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Carolyn McMillan is the manager of content strategy in UC’s Office of the President.

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Clearing the air on electronic cigarettes

Long-term effects not known.

SmokeIf you haven’t seen someone puffing on an electronic cigarette yet, you probably will soon. Sales of the devices are soaring. And the debate about the safety of e-cigarettes is heating up, too.

Manufacturers of the battery-powered devices say their products carry far fewer health risks than regular cigarettes and can help smokers quit.

But critics say e-cigarettes are dangerous to the user and to people exposed to secondhand vapor.

Meanwhile, scientists are struggling to do the kind of research that could help clear the air on key health questions.

“Because it can take many years for the detrimental effects of inhaled substances to develop, the long-term effects of e-cigarette use or secondhand vapor exposure are not known,” says Dr. Matthew Brenner, professor in the UC Irvine Division of Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care Medicine. “The rise in use of these devices is associated with many unanswered scientific questions regarding risks that will require long-term studies.”

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34 from UC elected fellows of AAAS

Fellows include several in health sciences.

UC Irvine's Leslie Thompson is one of 34 new University of California-affiliated fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

UC Irvine's Leslie Thompson is one of 34 new University of California-affiliated fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

This year’s class of 388 new fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science includes 34 affiliated with the University of California.

AAAS fellows are honored by their peers for scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. New fellows affiliated with UC for 2014 are:

UC Berkeley

  • Kevin Edward Healy, engineering

UC Davis

  • Donald M. Bers, medical sciences
  • John P. Capitanio, psychology
  • Stephen P. Cramer, chemistry (also Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)
  • Steven C. Currall, societal impacts of science and engineering
  • Katayoon (Katie) Dehesh, biological sciences
  • Fu-Tong Liu, medical sciences
  • Kevin C. Kent Lloyd, medical sciences
  • Julin N. Maloof, biological sciences
  • Frederick J. Meyers, medical sciences
  • James N. Seiber, agriculture, food and renewable resources

UC Irvine

  • Leslie Michels Thompson, neuroscience
  • Qing Nie, mathematics

UCLA

  • John A. Agnew, geology and geography
  • Gordon L. Fain, neuroscience
  • Oliver Hankinson, biological sciences

UC San Diego

  • Ronald S. Burton, biological sciences
  • Seth M. Cohen, chemistry
  • Jean-Bernard Minster, geology and geography
  • Bing Ren, biological sciences
  • Shankar Subramaniam, engineering
  • Mark H. Thiemens, atmosperic and hydrospheric sciences

UC San Francisco

  • Allan Balmain, biological sciences
  • Troy Edward Daniels, dentistry and oral health sciences

UC Santa Barbara

  • Glenn H. Fredrickson, engineering
  • Glenn E. Lucas, engineering
  • Scott T. Grafton, neuroscience
  • Craig Montell, neuroscience
  • William W. Murdoch, biological sciences

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

  • Stephen P. Cramer, chemistry (also UC Davis)
  • Norman Marvin Edelstein, chemistry
  • Glen Lambertson, physics

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

  • Kenton J. Moody, chemistry

Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • Steven D. Conradson, chemistry
  • Bryan F. Henson, chemistry

AAAS members who have made scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications and who have been continuous members for the four years preceding their nomination are eligible for election as AAAS fellows.

Three current AAAS members who were previously elected AAAS fellows may nominate new AAAS fellows, though only one of the three sponsors may share the nominee’s affiliated institution and each AAAS fellow may sponsor no more than two nominees each year.

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Sequestration takes toll on research, education

UC leadership: Federal spending cuts put science at risk.

By Carolyn McMillan

>>UC leaders’ letter to Congress
>>Sequestration fact sheet

As Congress and the Obama administration try to reach agreement on a spending plan for 2014, University of California leaders are urging that the repeal of sequestration be a top budget priority.

In a letter to California’s congressional delegation signed by President Janet Napolitano and chancellors from all 10 campuses, UC leaders describe the economic and human toll from the indiscriminate federal spending cuts known as sequestration.

“Promising science is being delayed or terminated. Labs are being forced to lay off highly trained staff,” they write. “Perhaps most troubling, young researchers are questioning whether to pursue research careers because vital fellowships are threatened and it is taking increasingly longer for them to obtain their first independent research grants.”

Clock ticking on federal budget deal

Sequestration, a mechanism for across-the-board federal budget cuts, took effect in March and mandates $1.2 trillion in spending reductions over the next nine years. Federal agencies have cut $85 billion since March and the next round of cuts, totaling $109 billion, will be enacted in January unless Congress acts to repeal or modify the law.

With the clock ticking, UC leaders and a broad coalition of universities, economists, scientists and others are urging Congress to recognize that much of the nation’s economic growth stems from federal investment in education and scientific research.

“Sequestration threatens our nation’s educational, research and economic competitiveness at a time when many countries, including China, Singapore and Korea, are making significant investments,” the letter to Congress says.

Federally funded scientific research created the foundation for a whole range of U.S. businesses and industries — everything from vaccines, lasers and MRIs to the Internet — accounting for more than half of U.S. economic growth since World War II, according to economic analyses.

Student financial aid at risk

For the University of California, the impact of federal cuts goes beyond research: More than 72 percent of UC students receive some form of federal aid, and 42 percent of undergraduates are low-income Pell Grant recipients — a higher percentage than at any other private or public research university in the nation.

The Department of Education already has made some sequester-related cuts to financial aid programs for low-income students. It also has cut support for UC’s teacher training programs.

Pell Grants have been spared so far but remain vulnerable — a factor that makes it difficult for families to anticipate college costs, Napolitano and other UC leaders said.

“As students and their families make important decisions about higher education, they need to know that there is strong and sustained financial aid from year to year to help finance the costs of college,” they write in their letter.

UC’s five medical centers also are at risk, as they rely on federal Medicare and Medi-Cal reimbursements for patient care, and receive federal funding to assist with the cost of graduate medical education.

Federal research awards in decline

UC researchers already are feeling the pinch, as budgets for the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and other major sources of research funding shrink. UC received nearly $3 billion in federal research support in fiscal year 2011–12, accounting for more than 65 percent of its total research funding.

The university’s preliminary data, which do not yet reflect the final quarter of the 2012–13 fiscal year, show that federal research awards are down by $345 million, or roughly 12 percent, compared with 2011–12. That reflects the trends reported by other research institutions across the country.

Scientists and researchers at UC locations across California are reporting a range of funding-related problems from the federal cuts. Not only has it become harder to secure new grants, but previously approved funds have been reduced or eliminated, causing rollbacks to research projects that already are underway.

At UC San Francisco, for example, more than 50 researchers have reported funding difficulties.

Allan Balmain, a UCSF researcher studying the role played by genes in susceptibility to invasive cancers, said that students and postdoctoral fellows are the ones being most hurt by sequestration.

“They witness the struggles that even highly successful labs are going through just to keep research programs alive, and this is discouraging them from trying to build careers in basic research,” Balmain said. “We are in danger of losing a complete generation of young researchers due to the lack of foresight in Washington.”

Researchers report similar impacts across the university system. At UC Merced, an NIH grant related to children’s health was cut by 17 percent due to sequestration. As a result, the scope of the research has been scaled down, a postdoctoral fellow was let go and there now are fewer training and mentoring opportunities for students.

UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, meanwhile, lost $5 million after learning that a proposed center for ocean observations and modeling would not be funded, despite initial approval from an NSF Blue Ribbon panel.

The ripple effect to California’s economy

Those kinds of impacts are likely to have a ripple effect that reverberates across California.

UC is the state’s third largest employer, and its research, teaching, health care and other activities produce $46.3 billion in annual economic activity.

“UC is educating the workforce, advancing scientific breakthroughs in research, providing world-class medical training and generating economic growth through new jobs, start up companies and spinoff industries,” UC leaders said in their letter to Congress.

“It is critical that our nation maintain its investments in education, scientific research and health care to ensure California and our nation’s economic prosperity continues to grow.”

Carolyn McMillan is the manager of content strategy in UC’s Office of the President.

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Eight UC members elected to Institute of Medicine

Newest class includes representatives from four UC campuses.

UC's Institute of Medicine class of 2013

UC's Institute of Medicine class of 2013

Eight University of California members have been elected to the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine.

They join a class of 70 new members and 10 foreign associates announced today (Oct. 21). Since 1970, the IOM has elected more than 200 members affiliated with UC.

Membership in the Institute of Medicine is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of medicine and health. Chosen by current active members, candidates undergo a highly selective process and are nominated based on their professional achievements and commitment to service.

The Institute of Medicine includes a diversity of talent, as its charter requires that at least one quarter of the membership selected be from outside the health professions, in fields such as law, engineering, social sciences and the humanities.

The newly elected UC members are:

UC Davis

  • Nancy E. Lane, M.D., director, Center for Musculoskeletal Health; Endowed Professor of Medicine and Rheumatology; and director, Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH)
  • Jonna Ann Mazet, D.V.M., M.P.V.M., Ph.D., professor of epidemiology and disease ecology, and executive director, One Health Institute, School of Veterinary Medicine

UCLA

  • Jody Heymann, M.D., Ph.D., dean, Fielding School of Public Health

UC San Diego

  • Joseph G. Gleeson, M.D., investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; and professor, neurosciences and pediatrics
  • Richard D. Kolodner, Ph.D., member and professor, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research

UC San Francisco

  • Jeffrey A. Bluestone, Ph.D., executive vice chancellor and provost; A.W. and Mary Margaret Clausen Distinguished Professor, UCSF Diabetes Center
  • Molly Cooke, M.D., professor of medicine and director of education, Global Health Sciences
  • Matthew W. State, M.D., Ph.D., Oberndorf Family Distinguished Professor and chair, Department of Psychiatry; and director, Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute

Related links:

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