CATEGORY: Spotlight

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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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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California Health Secretary Diana Dooley discusses health care reform

Covered California is “off to a very good start,” she tells UC employees.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley, accompanied (left) by Dr. John Stobo, UC senior vice president for health sciences and services, greets California Health Benefits Review Program Director Garen Corbett after her Oct. 8 talk with UC Office of the President employees.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley, accompanied (left) by Dr. John Stobo, UC senior vice president for health sciences and services, greets California Health Benefits Review Program Director Garen Corbett after her Oct. 8 talk with UC Office of the President employees.

By Alec Rosenberg

It’s a historic time for health care in America. And California is helping lead the reforms, said Diana Dooley, state secretary of Health and Human Services.

California’s health insurance exchange launched Oct. 1. The online marketplace allows individuals, families and small businesses to compare policies and buy insurance.

The exchange was created as part of the federal Affordable Care Act, and is expected to increase access to health care, along with an expansion of Medicaid coverage to millions of low-income Americans. About 48 million Americans are uninsured, including more than 7 million Californians.

The state marketplace, called Covered California, in the first week received about 1 million unique visits to its website – second highest in the nation – along with 59,000 phone calls and more than 16,000 completed applications for health insurance.

Diana Dooley

Diana Dooley

“We’re certainly off to a very good start,” Dooley told UC Office of the President employees Oct. 8 at a talk in Oakland hosted by UC Health. “As California goes, so goes the nation.”

Exchange preparations have been complicated and fast paced. For example, only a few contractors were willing to bid on the California exchange’s IT contract, partly because of the compressed timeline: 15 months for a project that typically would take five years, Dooley said.

While there have been a few glitches, “it’s up, and it’s working,” said Dooley, who chairs Covered California.

Call waiting times also have improved – dropping from as long as 40 minutes during the first day to less than four minutes by the fourth day. The goal is 30 seconds, Dooley said.

Despite the current federal government shutdown, the Affordable Care Act is helping bring about a “culture of coverage,” Dooley said. The act requires nearly every American to have health insurance by Jan. 1 or pay a fine.  Eligible low-income residents can receive free or low-cost care through Medicaid, while moderate-income individuals and families using an exchange can receive financial assistance on a sliding scale. Californians using the exchange need to sign up by Dec. 15 to meet the Jan. 1 deadline.

The Affordable Care Act is a three-legged stool, Dooley said. One leg is expanded coverage. The other two legs also are important: improving how care is delivered and financed, and moving to a model that emphasizes prevention and wellness. To succeed, California will need to move from a fee-for-service model to a system of coordinated care that includes a focus on containing costs, she said. It also involves expanding efforts to make Californians healthier.

Dooley formed a task force, Let’s Get Healthy California, whose goal is to have California be the nation’s healthiest state by 2022.

“You’ve got to have some big goals or you don’t achieve very much,” Dooley said.

Dooley also discussed the issue of investment in medical education, saying it needs to be addressed to help fill workforce shortages. She noted UC’s role in training health care professionals. UC Health has the nation’s largest health sciences instructional program, enrolling more than 14,000 students with 17 professional schools on seven campuses.

Dr. John Stobo, UC senior vice president for health sciences and services, praised Dooley as a champion for innovation, transparency and for reforming the health care delivery system.

“She is really committed to addressing the health needs of underserved populations,” Stobo said. “It resonates with UC Health’s mission as a public trust.”

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Optimism meets pessimism at The Atlantic Meets the Pacific forum

Science, health, technology thought leaders gather at UC San Diego for event.

(From left) Nicholas Spitzer of UC San Diego, Kris Framm of GlaxoSmithKline and Ralph Greenspan of UC San Diego (photo by Erik Jepsen, UC San Diego)

(From left) Nicholas Spitzer of UC San Diego, Kris Framm of GlaxoSmithKline and Ralph Greenspan of UC San Diego

If there’s one thing the science, health and technology thought leaders at last week’s The Atlantic Meets the Pacific forum can agree on, it’s this: “Things are going to break a lot more before they get better.”

That sentiment, put into words by Smart Patients CEO and former Google Chief Health Strategist Roni Zeiger, was echoed again and again at the forum by some of the greatest minds from the worlds of academic research, small and big business, clinical medicine and public policy who were interviewed by journalists from The Atlantic magazine.

The third annual forum, which was held Oct. 2 to 4, is a collaboration between The Atlantic and the University of California, San Diego, and follows in the tradition of The Atlantic’s prestigious Aspen Ideas Festival and the Washington Ideas Forum.

This year’s panelists – among them several well known and up-and-coming professors and physicians from UC San Diego – were all in agreement that the world’s aging population, the advent of ‘smart’ devices and the resulting avalanche of scientific and medical data are creating both overwhelming opportunity and overwhelming challenges for healthcare, and in particular cancer care. It’s not yet clear, however, how quickly the coming revolution will take place, or who will pay for it.

Granted, those in attendance at the forum weren’t feeling especially optimistic given that the event coincided with a Congressional standoff over the nation’s Affordable Care Act, which had by then led to a government shutdown. In an interview with The Atlantic’s Washington Editor at Large Steve Clemons, alternative health advocate Deepak Chopra put the crisis in very Deepak Chopra-like terms: “The biofield of Washington, D.C., right now is certainly not coherent.”

Biofields, explained Chopra, are the magnetic fields transmitted by every cell in our bodies, and he claims they can be increasingly measured in scientific ways.

“[You can] correlate states of consciousness with states of biology using mathematical algorithms and correlate that with crime, with hospital admissions, with traffic accidents, with social unrest, with quality of leadership,” he said. “If you all hear the expression, ‘I went into this room, and it was very stressful, you could cut it with a knife, it was so tense,’ or, “I went into this holy temple or this shrine and I felt at peace’ – now we can biologically measure that.”

It’s a theory that no doubt sounds strange to researchers and clinicians used to measuring vital signs like heart rate and blood pressure, not vital signs pertaining to consciousness. But Big Data is forcing Big Medicine to change in big ways, and smart, wireless devices, combined with powerful algorithms, are now able to measure and analyze data that weren’t previously quantifiable.

Take cancer research. Several of The Atlantic Meets the Pacific sessions addressed advances in clinical treatments for cancer, as well as the elements that need to cohere for the many forms of cancer to be cured or, as Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute CEO Kristiina Vuori put it, “to work toward a solution where cancer might be seen as a chronic disease you can live with.”

An oft-repeated observation at the forum related to the way that the so-called biological ‘-omics’ – genomics, proteomics and metabiomics – are changing the way cancer drugs are developed.

“The whole field of oncology is going through a transition similar to what the Internet went through in the ’90s,” remarked Dr. Scott Lippman, director of the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center. “We’re looking now at redefining cancer, and the classic trial designs that we all grew up with don’t really apply now. This is not a vision we have that in 10 to 20 years we’ll get there. It’s happening now. If we identify certain genetic factors in a patient and correlate that with certain drug treatments, we’re seeing dramatic responses.”

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Randy Schekman wins Nobel Prize in Medicine

UC Berkeley professor is UC’s 13th Nobelist in medicine.

As photographers capture the moment -- and UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks savors it -- Nobel Prize winner Randy Schekman takes a congratulatory call from UC President Janet Napolitano. (Photo by Peg Skorpinski, UC Berkeley)

As photographers capture the moment -- and UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks savors it -- Nobel Prize winner Randy Schekman takes a congratulatory call from UC President Janet Napolitano.

Randy W. Schekman, professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, has won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his role in revealing the machinery that regulates the transport and secretion of proteins in our cells. He shares the prize with James E. Rothman of Yale University and Thomas C. Südhof of Stanford University.

Discoveries by Schekman about how yeast secrete proteins led directly to the success of the biotechnology industry, which was able to coax yeast to release useful protein drugs, such as insulin and human growth hormone. The three scientists’ research on protein transport in cells, and how cells control this trafficking to secrete hormones and enzymes, illuminated the workings of a fundamental process in cell physiology.

Randy Schekman will share the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (Photo by Peg Skorpinski, UC Berkeley)

Randy Schekman will share the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Schekman is UC Berkeley’s 22nd Nobel laureate, and the first to receive the prize in the area of physiology or medicine. A total of 60 faculty and researchers affiliated with the University of California have won 61 Nobel Prizes, including 13 in medicine.

In a statement, the 50-member Nobel Assembly lauded Rothman, Schekman and Südhof for making known “the exquisitely precise control system for the transport and delivery of cellular cargo. Disturbances in this system have deleterious effects and contribute to conditions such as neurological diseases, diabetes, and immunological disorders.”

“My first reaction was, ‘Oh, my god!’ said Schekman, 64, who was awakened at his El Cerrito home with the good news at 1:30 a.m. “That was also my second reaction.”

Schekman and Rothman separately mapped out one of the body’s critical networks, the system in all cells that shuttles hormones and enzymes out and adds to the cell surface so it can grow and divide. This system, which utilizes little membrane bubbles to ferry molecules around the cell interior, is so critical that errors in the machinery inevitably lead to death.

“Ten percent of the proteins that cells make are secreted, including growth factors and hormones, neurotransmitters by nerve cells and insulin from pancreas cells,” said Schekman, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

In what some thought was a foolish decision, Schekman decided in 1976, when he first joined the College of Letters and Science at UC Berkeley, to explore this system in yeast. In the ensuing years, he mapped out the machinery by which yeast cells sort, package and deliver proteins via membrane bubbles to the cell surface, secreting proteins important in yeast communication and mating. Yeast also use the process to deliver receptors to the surface, the cells’ main way of controlling activities such as the intake of nutrients like glucose.

In the 1980s and ’90s, these findings enabled the biotechnology industry to exploit the secretion system in yeast to create and release pharmaceutical products and industrial enzymes. Today, diabetics worldwide use insulin produced and discharged by yeast, and most of the hepatitis B vaccine used around the world is secreted by yeast. Both systems were developed by Chiron Corp. of Emeryville, now part of Novartis International AG, during the 20 years Schekman consulted for the company.

Various diseases, including some forms of diabetes and a form of hemophilia, involve a hitch in the secretion system of cells, and Schekman is now investigating a possible link to Alzheimer’s disease.

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UC consortium designated as Center for Accelerated Innovation

$12M grant to translate discoveries into products that help heart, lung health.

UCLA researcherA consortium of the five University of California medical campuses at Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco has been awarded a $12 million grant and designated as one of three Centers for Accelerated Innovations by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). The designation, among the first of its kind from NHLBI, recognizes the University of California’s potential to translate its leading-edge discoveries into innovative products that benefit patients.

The University of California Center for Accelerated Innovation (UC CAI) will leverage the expertise and resources of the system’s five medical center campuses and use industrial product-development practices to incubate technologies with high commercial potential. The five campuses accounted for 7 percent of NHLBI’s fiscal year 2012 grant funding, providing a rich research base to support a diverse pipeline of diagnostics, devices, therapeutics and tools for heart, lung and blood diseases.

The UC CAI, whose administration will be based at UCLA, has four goals:
• Engage University of California heart, lung and blood disease innovators in entrepreneurism through a comprehensive education, training and mentorship program.
• Solicit and select technologies with high commercial potential that align with NHLBI’s mission and address unmet medical needs or significant scientific opportunity.
• Incubate our most promising technologies in accordance with industry requirements to facilitate their transition to commercial products that improve patient care and enhance health.
• Create a high-performing sustainable infrastructure that will serve as a model to academic research centers.

The UC Biomedical Research Acceleration, Integration and Development (UC BRAID), which links the five medical campuses to facilitate contracting, data sharing, regulatory oversight and other activities, will oversee UC CAI.

“The launch of this program is a remarkable example of inter-institutional collaboration,” said Dr. Gary Firestein, director of UC San Diego’s Clinical and Translational Research Institute and chair of UC BRAID. “The leaders of engineering, business and medical schools across the five campuses developed a shared vision and worked with UC BRAID to create an extraordinary proposal. The new resources will dramatically accelerate the development of novel diagnostics, therapies and devices discovered at the University of California.”

The new center will be closely integrated with the translational research institutes and centers on each campus funded by Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA). The CTSA-funded centers and institutes will provide full access to research resources on each campus, including clinical research facilities and labs, access to research cores, biostatistical support, bioinformatics, pilot funding, regulatory consultations and research education and training.

UCLA and several community partners in June 2011 received a five-year CTSA award of $81.3 million to establish the Clinical and Translational Science Institute on the Westwood campus.

The UC CAI also will have access to local biomedical industry organizations, healthcare agencies, clinical networks, public health departments, nonprofit research institutes, venture capitalists, investors and manufacturers of medical devices, diagnostic equipment and pharmaceuticals, which have developed close interactions with CTSA-funded institutes and centers.

“This is an excellent example of what we can accomplish through our CTSAs by collaborating across University of California campuses and disciplines for effective translation of our discoveries to products that will help our patients,” said Dr. Steven Dubinett, director of the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

In addition to the considerable support from the CTSAs, each campus will bring its own unique expertise and resources.

Innovators can access resources across all five campuses, including UCLA’s tissue array and translational pathology cores, San Diego’s biomarker and cardiovascular physiology core, San Francisco’s small molecule discovery center and airway clinical research center, Irvine’s mechanical testing, microscopy and cell and tissue cores specifically for cardiovascular technology and Davis’ animal research center.

A skills development program will provide training and education in entrepreneurism and coordinated access to expert mentors. This educational training will help bridge the gap for scientists who lack an understanding of the commercialization potential of their discoveries.

“By aligning our efforts, researchers will have broad access to an even broader array of research cores and education programs,” said Dr. Lars Berglund, director of the UC Davis Clinical and Translational Science Center. “This collaboration will offer robust internship programs, expanded partnerships with outside private and public organizations and new curricular offerings to enrich and complement our already innovative approaches, while not detracting from or prolonging the existing training time.”

Faculty with experience in heart, lung and blood diseases will be available to innovators for consultations. Project managers with experience in industry and academia will ensure technologies developed by the center meet timelines and benchmarks.

“We have worked strategically with our collaborators to ensure a nimble, efficient, and transparent project management effort,” said Dr. Dan Cooper, director of the UC Irvine Institute for Clinical and Translational Science. “We have embedded mechanisms to ensure that specific goals for each project are established and timelines clear. We will work across BRAID to identify delays and obstacles and deal with them as rapidly as possible.”

“Each of the UCs is a powerhouse, but together they are unstoppable,” said Dr. Clay Johnston, director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at UCSF. “There is so much more we can do in collaboration and UC BRAID is helping us realize that.”

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