TAG: "Awards & honors"

UC president bestows awards for student leadership


UC San Diego’s Kyle Haines, members of Riverside Free Clinic honored.

Kyle Haines, UC San Diego

By Carolyn McMillan

University of California President Janet Napolitano recognized two student-led efforts that foster community, collaboration and cross-cultural understanding today (May 21) by bestowing the President’s Award for Outstanding Student Leadership.

The winners were Kyle Haines, a Ph.D. candidate at UC San Diego, for his work convening the Interdisciplinary Forum on Environmental Research; and members of the student-led Riverside Free Clinic, which provides free medical, dental and social services to a largely poor, uninsured immigrant clientele.

Haines was recognized for his leadership over the past two years in convening a multidisciplinary and cross-border forum on environmental issues. Haines brought together scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, social scientists and humanists from UC San Diego and environmental scholars from the Colegio de la Frontera del Norte in Tijuana.

In announcing his award, Napolitano said that the forum “helps prepare graduate students for engaging in productive cross-disciplinary discussion. At the same time, Kyle has played an instrumental role in the success of UC San Diego’s community development programs in Tijuana — programs that focus on soil improvement, backyard gardens and watershed consciousness.”

Student staffers of the Riverside Free Clinic

Napolitano also lauded the Riverside Free Clinic.

“For the past 11 years, the Riverside Free Clinic has provided a phenomenal public service to the Riverside community,” Napolitano said. “Every other Wednesday night, the medical students and undergraduate student volunteers who staff the clinic serve dozens of patients, many of whom are low-income, Spanish-speaking immigrants.”

Napolitano noted that the clinic has actively sought partnerships with other educational institutions to help it better serve its patients. The Western University College of Dental Medicine became a partner in the last year, allowing the clinic to offer dental services whenever it is open.

“Not only does the clinic serve the public, but it also gives the UCR students who volunteer their time an academic experience that will enhance their work as health care providers in the future.”

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UC med centers rated high-performing hospitals by U.S. News


New ratings based on care for five common conditions or procedures.

UC medical centers received several high-performing ratings in the Best Hospitals for Common Care rankings. (Photo by Elena Zhukova)

Four University of California medical centers are rated as high-performing hospitals in new rankings released today (May 20) by U.S. News & World Report.

The Best Hospitals for Common Care ratings measure the performance of hospitals in five common conditions or procedures – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive heart failure, heart bypass surgery, hip replacement and knee replacement.

UC Davis Medical Center was ranked as a high performer in four areas: COPD, heart bypass surgery, heart failure and hip replacement. UC San Francisco Medical Center ranked as a high performer in three areas: COPD, heart failure and hip replacement. UCLA Health System ranked as a high performer in two areas: heart bypass surgery and heart failure. UC Irvine Medical Center ranked as a high performer in one area: heart failure.

U.S. News created the rankings to help patients find better care for procedures and medical conditions that account for a large percentage of hospitalizations each year. The ratings are based on objective outcome measures such as deaths, infections, readmissions and operations that need to be repeated, along with patient satisfaction data. The ratings also rely on Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data for patients 65 and older, as well as survey data from the American Hospital Association and clinical registry data from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

“UC Davis is a leader in treating rare diseases and conditions,” said Ann Madden Rice, chief executive officer of UC Davis Medical Center. “I am extremely pleased that these new ratings also demonstrate our high performance in caring for those with the chronic lung, heart and orthopedic conditions that affect thousands in our region.”

The common care evaluations include more than 4,500 hospitals nationwide that were rated as high performers, average or below average. Only about 10 percent of the hospitals were rated as high performers for any condition or procedure.

Survey results are available online at http://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals.

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UC Davis Medical Center recognized for quality care for stroke patients


Receives Get With The Guidelines award.

By Karen Finney, UC Davis

UC Davis Medical Center has been recognized by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association for using evidence-based guidelines that improve care and quality of life for stroke patients.

The medical center received the 2015 Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Gold-Plus Quality Achievement Award for consistently adhering to association-backed quality measures. UC Davis also made the Target: Stroke Honor Roll for timely use of a clot-busting drug known as tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, which can reduce the effects of some strokes.

“The credit for this recognition truly goes to our expert team of emergency, neurology, vascular and rehabilitation specialists who are dedicated to the highest possible standards in stroke care for our patients,” said J. Douglas Kirk, chief medical officer at UC Davis Medical Center.

The medical center also meets guidelines of the Joint Commission as a Primary Stroke Center, a symbol of quality and high performance standards in stroke care.

“We are pleased to recognize UC Davis for their commitment to stroke care,” said Deepak L. Bhatt, national chair of the Get With The Guidelines steering committee and executive director of Interventional Cardiovascular Programs at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Studies have shown that hospitals that consistently follow Get With The Guidelines quality improvement measures can reduce length-of-stay and 30-day readmission rates, and reduce disparities in care.”

A stroke occurs when one of the blood vessels that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot (ischemic stroke) or bursts (hemorrhagic stroke), causing parts of the brain to die. A third type of cerebrovascular event — known as a transient ischemic attack, or TIA — is caused by a temporary blood clot and is often called a “warning stroke.” Each year, nearly 800,000 Americans suffer strokes, which are leading causes of death and serious, long-term disability in adults.

More information about the medical center and its Stroke Program is at medicalcenter.ucdavis.edu.

More information about Get With The Guidelines is at heart.org/quality.

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UC Davis professor elected vice president of American Telemedicine Association


Peter Yellowlees is internationally respected leader in use of telemedicine.

Peter Yellowlees, UC Davis

By Phyllis Brown, UC Davis

Peter Yellowlees, professor in the UC Davis Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, has been elected vice president of the American Telemedicine Association, which promotes the use of advanced remote telecommunications for health care and consultation.

Yellowlees is an internationally respected leader in the use of long-distance telecommunications for health care delivery, particularly for psychiatric care, but also for medical care and consultation in other disciplines, including synchronous or real-time treatment and asynchronous, or “store-and-forward,” diagnosis and care.

“It is a great honor to be elected to this senior leadership role in the American Telemedicine Association,” Yellowlees said. “The ATA is the most influential telemedicine organization in the world with its recent conference attracting over 7,000 attendees from many different health disciplines and the health care industry.

“I look forward to helping influence national and international health policies and directions in our rapidly changing and increasingly electronic health environment,” he said.

The American Telemedicine Association is a multidisciplinary professional organization whose membership is actively engaged in the promotion of telehealth, including electronic doctor-patient interactions of all types, online health education, remote monitoring, electronic health records integration and other technological health innovations.  Its stated goal is to improve quality, equity and affordability of health-care worldwide through the use of telehealth technologies. Yellowlees has served on its board for the past five years; he will be president-elect in 2016.

“In addition to being a federally funded researcher in telemedicine, Dr. Yellowlees has supported several junior faculty in their obtaining external funding in the field of telemedicine research,” said Robert Hales, chair, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. “In brief, he’s an outstanding investigator and mentor to young faculty.”

Established in 1993, the ATA membership includes individuals, health care institutions, private businesses and health-advocacy organizations interested in promoting the deployment of telemedicine worldwide.

Yellowlees completed his medical training in London, afterward working for 20 years in Australia and eventually becoming chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Queensland and founding director of the Center for Online Health. He joined the UC Davis faculty in 2004. He has given more than 200 presentations on telemedicine in over 20 countries.

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15 UC scholars elected to National Academy of Sciences


New members from six UC campuses.

Fifteen scholars from the University of California have been newly elected to the National Academy of Sciences. They are among 84 new members named to the prestigious organization.

They bring UC’s total number of members to 584.

Established by congressional order and signed into existence by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, the academy acts as an official science and technology adviser to the federal government. Election to the academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded to a U.S. scientist.

New members, by campus, include:

UC Berkeley

  • Martin Head-Gordon, Kenneth S. Pitzer Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, department of chemistry
  • Jitendra Malik, Arthur J. Chick Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, department of electrical engineering and computer sciences
  • Daniel M. Neumark, chair and Joel Hildebrand Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, department of chemistry
  • Eva Nogales, investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; and professor of biochemistry and molecular biology
  • Jeremy Thorner, professor, division of biochemistry and molecular biology

UC Davis

  • Alan Hastings, distinguished professor, department of environmental science and policy

UC Irvine

  • Shaul Mukamel, distinguished professor of chemistry, department of chemistry

UCLA

  • James C. Liao, Ralph M. Parsons Foundation Professor and chair, chemical and biomolecular engineering department
  • Glen M. MacDonald, UC Presidential Chair and distinguished professor, departments of geography and of ecology and evolutionary biology, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability
  • Jeffery F. Miller, M. Philip Davis Chair in Microbiology and Immunology and chair, department of microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics

UC San Diego

  • Harvey J. Karten, professor of neurosciences and psychiatry
  • Julian I. Schroeder, full professor and Novartis Chair in Plant Sciences, division of biological sciences
  • Jeffrey P. Severinghaus, professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
  • Lisa Tauxe, distinguished professor of geophysics, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

UC Santa Barbara

  • Joseph Incandela, professor, department of physics

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UC Davis ranked best in world for agriculture, veterinary sciences


First time subject area of veterinary sciences included in QS World University Rankings.

The University of California, Davis, ranks No. 1 in the world for teaching and research in agriculture and forestry as well as veterinary sciences, according to data released today (April 28) by QS World University Rankings. This is the third consecutive year that UC Davis has been ranked first in agriculture and forestry by QS.

The organization ranked UC Davis in 27 of the 36 subjects covered. This was the first time the subject area of veterinary sciences was included in QS rankings. UC Davis is the only University of California campus this year that was ranked first in any of the disciplines ranked by QS.

UC Davis among top 50 universities in many subjects

The organization ranked UC Davis among the top 50 universities in various subjects, including environmental sciences (15), biological sciences (29), earth and marine sciences (41), history (42), and statistics and operational research (50).

QS rankings are based on reputational surveys and research citations. The full report is available online.

“These rankings reconfirm that our faculty and researchers are respected the world over and that their work is making an impact throughout the globe,” said UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi. “This is a proud day for UC Davis and for all our faculty, staff, students and alumni.”

College of Ag and Environmental Sciences founded in 1905

The UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences was founded in 1905 as the University of California’s University Farm. Today, it has more than 6,200 undergraduate students in 27 majors and more than 1,000 graduate students in 45 graduate groups and programs. Its programs have characteristically received top-tier rankings from the Chronicle of Higher Education, U.S. News & World Report and ISI Essential Science Indicators.

More than 3,000 acres of UC Davis’ 5,000-acre campus are devoted to agricultural research.

UC Davis also is home to the World Food Center, established in 2013 to increase the economic benefits from research across campus; influence national and international policy; and convene teams of scientists and innovators from industry, academia, government and nongovernmental organizations to tackle food-related challenges in California and around the world.

“UC Davis researchers are at the forefront of addressing regional and global issues related to food, the environment, health, and families,” said Helene Dillard, dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis. “At the same time, our students graduate to become leaders in science, education, business and decision-making, from the community to the international level.”

Vet Med runs teaching hospital, clinics throughout California

The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine annually cares for more than 48,000 animal patients and is educating more than 500 veterinary students plus residents and grad students. The school runs a veterinary medical teaching hospital at UC Davis and satellite clinics in San Diego and the San Joaquin Valley community of Tulare.

Veterinary faculty members work to solve society’s most pressing health issues by collaborating with colleagues from human medicine and other disciplines. An example of its “one health” approach is a recent $100 million grant to the veterinary school to coordinate surveillance for disease-causing microbes, discovering new viruses and strengthening global health capacity in more than 20 countries.

“The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine has a rich history of educating leaders in veterinary medicine, public health, biomedical sciences and specialty disciplines,” said Dean Michael Lairmore. “Our recognition by the QS World Rankings demonstrates our global impact in advancing the health of animals, people and the environment. While leading veterinary medicine, we use a One Health approach, bringing together multiple disciplines to translate basic and applied knowledge to address societal needs. I am very proud of our people and programs that have worked hard to earn this new recognition for our school and UC Davis.”

UC Davis, overall, was ranked ninth last fall among the nation’s public universities by U.S. News & World Report. The magazine ranked the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine No. 1 in the nation in its rankings on graduate programs and professional schools released in March.

The QS World University Rankings by Subject this year evaluated 3,467 universities and ranked 971 institutions. The rankings are prepared by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), a British firm that previously was the data provider for the annual Times Higher Education rankings. The firm is widely considered to be one of the most influential international university rankings providers.

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President Napolitano joins American Academy of Arts and Sciences


New class includes 22 UC scholars.

Twenty-two scholars from across the University of California — including UC President Janet Napolitano — have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ class of 2015. They are among 197 new members spanning academia, the arts, business and philanthropy.

“We are honored to elect a new class of extraordinary women and men to join our distinguished membership,” said Don Randel, chair of the academy’s board of directors. “Each new member is a leader in his or her field and has made a distinct contribution to the nation and the world. We look forward to engaging them in the intellectual life of this vibrant institution.”

This year’s new members bring UC’s total membership to 511. By campus and classification, they include:

  • UC Berkeley: Carlos J. Bustamante, interclass; John Clarke, physics; Alexei V. Filippenko, astronomy; John F. Harwig, chemistry; Enrique Iglesia, engineering sciences and technologies; and John MacFarlane, philosophy
  • UC Davis: Sharon Y. Strauss and Peter C. Wainwright, evolutionary and population biology and ecology
  • UC Irvine: Rubén G. Rumbaut, archaeology, anthropology, sociology, geography and demography
  • UCLA: Ivan T. Berend, history; Barbara Kruger, visual arts – criticism and practice; Michael Mann, archaeology, anthropology, sociology, geography and demography; and Gregory R. Schopen, religious studies
  • UC San Diego: Patricia Smith Churchland and David Kleinfeld, neurosciences, cognitive sciences and behavioral biology
  • UC San Francisco: Joseph L. DeRisi, biochemistry and molecular biology; Frank P. McCormick, biological sciences; Robert L. Nussbaum, medical sciences, clinical medicine and public health; and James A. Wells, biological sciences
  • UC Santa Barbara: David R. Morrison, mathematical and physical sciences
  • UC Santa Cruz: Gail Hershatter, history
  • Systemwide: Janet A. Napolitano, educational, scientific, cultural and philanthropic administration

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New clues to treat juvenile diabetes


Hartwell Foundation award winners include researchers from UC Davis, UC San Diego.

By Andy Fell, UC Davis

UC Davis assistant professor Mark Huising is a recipient of The Hartwell Foundation 2014 Individual Biomedical Research Award to support his early-stage research toward a cure for juvenile diabetes. Diabetes affects 10 percent of the entire United States population, including approximately a million children. Remarkably, 40 children every day receive the diagnosis of diabetes.

Huising, who works in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior at the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences, also holds an appointment in the Department of Physiology and Membrane Biology at the UC Davis School of Medicine. He joined UC Davis in November 2014 having previously worked at the Salk Institute in La Jolla. He is interested in how certain cells in the pancreas control the body’s response to sugar in diabetes. Achieving a balance between reduction of elevated blood sugar levels and the need to prevent potentially fatal low sugar levels is critical to maintaining health.

The Hartwell Foundation award will provide $300,000 in direct cost over three years to support Huising’s research looking at the biological signals and triggers affecting a small pool of cells in the pancreas that could be essential in regenerating control of blood sugar in this disease. The Individual Biomedical Research Award to Huising represents the ninth time a researcher from UC Davis has won such recognition from The Hartwell Foundation over the last seven years. The 12 Hartwell Foundation 2014 Individual Biomedical Research Award winners also include Shira Robbins, UC San Diego associate clinical professor of ophthalmology, for “Omega-3 Fatty Acids as a Therapy for the Prevention of Retinopathy of Prematurity.”

Islets, insulin and diabetes

Diabetes has been a prevalent health problem since ancient times. Two forms of the disease are known — Type 1, or “insulin-dependent” diabetes, and Type 2 diabetes, caused when the body fails to regulate the level of sugar properly, sending it either soaring high or dropping to very low levels.

In juvenile diabetes, the body’s own immune system causes damage to a specialized region in the pancreas, called the islets of Langerhans, effectively rejecting the tissue. The damage is significant because the beta cells within the islets make insulin. Normally, increasing blood sugar stimulates insulin production, which causes the body’s cells to pull sugar out of circulation. The islets also house alpha cells, which make another hormone, glucagon. When blood sugar falls, alpha cells make more glucagon, which causes the liver to break out stocks of glycogen and turn it into glucose.

New insight on insulin from immature cells

At diagnosis of diabetes, the body’s immune system has already destroyed most beta cells and any ability to produce insulin. The remaining alpha cells build up and release glucagon, which causes a serious side-effect of juvenile diabetes. The majority of scientific strategies focus on means to prevent beta cell death and promote beta cell division. However, efforts to restore lost beta cells have been largely unsuccessful.

Huising has discovered that, in laboratory mice, immature beta cells may spontaneously arise from alpha cells. He proposes to identify the biochemical signals that switch alpha cells into beta cells and determine in human tissue whether such beta cells are adequately mature and functional. Huising’s approach represents a shift in the current paradigm that after birth beta cells arise exclusively through the division of existing beta cells.

If successful, Huising will harness the intrinsic potential for beta cell regeneration that exists within pancreatic islets. This approach has the benefit of blocking a serious side effect of juvenile diabetes and represents a potential path to a cure for the disease.

Biomedical research that benefits children

“The Hartwell Foundation has a strong commitment to providing financial support to stimulate discovery in early-stage, innovative biomedical research that has potential to benefit children of the United States,” said Fred Dombrose, president of The Hartwell Foundation. “Mark Huising typifies the innovative, young investigator we seek to fund. We want to make a difference.”

Top Ten Center designation

In addition to the individual award, The Hartwell Foundation designated UC Davis as one of its Top Ten Centers for Biomedical Research for the fifth consecutive year.

In selecting each research center of excellence, The Hartwell Foundation takes into account the shared values the institution has with the foundation relating to children’s health, the presence of an associated medical school and biomedical engineering program, and the quality and scope of ongoing biomedical research.

The foundation also considers the institutional commitment to support collaboration, provide encouragement, and extend technical support to the investigator, especially as related to translational approaches and technology transfer that could promote rapid clinical application of research results.

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Berkeley’s Jennifer Doudna among Time magazine’s 100 most influential people


List of most influential in world range from President Barack Obama to rapper Kanye West.

UC Berkeley professor Jennifer Doudna, left, has been named among Time magazine's 100 most influential people

By Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley

Time magazine has named Jennifer Doudna, a professor of molecular and cell biology, to its 2015 list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

The list, now in its 12th year, recognizes the activism, innovation and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals.

Doudna is in the company of honorees such as President Barack Obama, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, author Haruki Murakami, Apple CEO Tom Cook and rapper Kanye West.

A Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at UC Berkeley, Doudna has received numerous honors and awards for her discovery of a revolutionary DNA-editing technique that has upended the world of genetics. The technique, called CRISPR-Cas9, exploits precisely targeted DNA-cutting enzymes from bacteria to snip and edit human and animal DNA, making it much easier to create animal models of disease and possibly correct human genetic disease via gene therapy.

Her colleague and co-discoverer, Emmanuelle Charpentier of the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research and Umeå University, was also named to Time‘s 100 list.

“Their technique, CRISPR-Cas9, gives scientists the power to remove or add genetic material at will,” wrote geneticist Mary-Claire King in a summary of their work. “Working with cells in a lab, geneticists have used this technology to cut out HIV, to correct sickle-cell anemia and to alter cancer cells to make them more susceptible to chemotherapy. With CRISPR-Cas9, a scientist could, in theory, alter any human gene. This is a true breakthrough, the implications of which we are just beginning to imagine.”

King discovered the BRCA1 breast cancer gene while a professor at UC Berkeley in the 1990s, before moving to the University of Washington, Seattle.

Time editor Nancy Gibbs several years ago explained that “The Time 100 is a list of the world’s most influential men and women, not its most powerful, though those are not mutually exclusive terms …. While power is certain, influence is subtle…. As much as this exercise chronicles the achievements of the past year, we also focus on figures whose influence is likely to grow, so we can look around the corner to see what is coming.”

The full list and related tributes to the Time 100 appear in the April 27 issue of the magazine, available online today (April 16) and at newsstands and for tablets on Friday, April 17.

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UC Berkeley team takes top honors in Emory Global Health Case Competition


First-time entrants win prestigious international student competition.

The UC Berkeley team at the 2015 Emory Global Health Case Competition: Asha Choudhury, Chris Andersen, Jee Yun Kim, Richa Gujarati and Rosheen Birdie

By Linda Anderberg, UC Berkeley

When five UC Berkeley students assembled to enter the 2015 Emory Global Health Case Competition — the first time a Berkeley team had entered — they weren’t expecting to win. Nonetheless, they took the top prize at the prestigious international competition, which aims to promote awareness of and develop innovative solutions for 21st century global health issues. Twenty-four multidisciplinary teams from universities around the world competed in the challenge on Saturday, March 28, at the Rollins School of Public Health in Atlanta.

“The fact that they placed first among over two dozen elite universities in the United States and abroad is a testament to the innovative culture at Berkeley,” says Phuoc Le, assistant professor in the Interdisciplinary M.P.H. Program at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, who served as a the team’s faculty adviser.

Rosheen Birdie, an undergraduate student majoring in public health and molecular and cell biology, was team captain and initially reached out to staff and faculty to find out how she would go about forming a team. She was put in touch with Hildy Fong, executive director of the UC Berkeley Center for Global Public Health, who connected her with Chris Andersen, a UC Berkeley School of Public Health student in the MS program in epidemiology who was also interested in the Emory competition. Birdie and Andersen then recruited more team members, using what Andersen describes as “a snowball approach.” Eventually, Asha Choudhury, a student in the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program; Jee Yun (Ashley) Kim, a molecular and cell biology undergrad; and Richa Gujarati, an M.B.A. student at the Haas School of Business, all joined the team.

“Our team represented more academic disciplines than some of our competitors, which I think gave us an advantage,” says Andersen. “This translated into ‘constructive friction’ between team members during our discussions on the case. Ultimately our differing perspectives produced a better product than any one of us could have come up with alone.”

The team prepared by reviewing cases from previous Emory competitions and going over proposed solutions. Le advised them on case format and presentation details. They also worked on fundraising for the five-person trip to Atlanta.

“Addressing global health challenges in the ‘real world’ requires collaboration, commitment, drive, and intelligence. This Berkeley team embodied all these traits from the moment they decided to participate, and they were tenacious and determined in preparing for the competition every step of the way — even when facing various logistical setbacks,” says Fong. “If this winning Berkeley team is a glimpse of the upcoming cadre of global health professionals, then our future is in good hands.”

The team received their global health case one week before the competition, finding out that they would be developing a strategy to reduce gun violence in Honduras. “I thought it seemed like a difficult problem to solve in a week,” Andersen recalls.

“The case subject was definitely surprising, but in a good way,” says Kim. “It challenged us to address gun violence as a multi-faceted public health issue and target its root causes. It was a great learning experience.”

Choudhury was impressed with the case because it was open to many different approaches. Birdie agrees. “It was a case with a lot of clues as to strategies you could take, but there wasn’t one obviously correct solution,” she says. “I’d recommend that future teams read it closely when they are preparing for the competition.”

After a week of preparation, the team traveled to Atlanta, where they had an intense day to finalize their strategy and presentation — working from noon on Friday to 2:30 a.m. on Saturday. The next morning, they made their last edits at 7:35 a.m., turned in their flash drive, and waited to make their 15-minute presentation followed by a 10-minute question-and-answer session with a distinguished panel of judges, including Rafael Flores-Ayala, team lead of the International Micronutrient Malnutrition Prevention and Control Program at the CDC and Asha Varghese, director of the Global Health Portfolio at the GE Foundation.

The Berkeley team’s strategy was titled “Breaking the Cycle of Violence” and involved a three-pronged approach that included the promotion of public safety, job production and economic development, and community building. The team segmented the drivers of violence into macro (lack of opportunity, poor education, U.S. demand for cocaine), meso (drug flow, corruption, culture of violence), and micro (access to firearms, conflict over territory) levels. They also categorized their strategies using these levels — for example, a cash transfer to incentivize education was at the macro level, while trading guns anonymously for cash was at the micro level.

“One of the most challenging aspects was getting all the relevant points into a 15-minute presentation,” says Birdie, “and ensuring that our solution was realistic, sustainable and scalable.”

After finishing in first place in their six-team round one, the UC Berkeley team continued on to the four-team finals, where they gave their presentation to all eight case competition judges and in front of many of the students from other universities. For winning the competition, they received a $6,000 award.

“One of the most rewarding aspects of the competition was learning how to work as a multidisciplinary team,” says Kim. “It was amazing to progress from each one of us having different ideas to forming one cohesive solution.”

Second place went to the team from the University of Kentucky, also first-time participants. The University of Miami team won third place, and Northwestern University earned Honorable Mention. Fourteen waitlisted teams competed in a video competition using the same case as the on-campus participants — with the University of Minnesota taking top honors.

Visit the Emory Global Health Institute website for more information about its global health case competitions.

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$2.5M Dignity Health gift to UC Davis nursing school creates endowed deanship


The school’s founding dean, Heather Young, is inaugural holder.

Heather Young, UC Davis

By Jennette Carrick, UC Davis

The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis announced today (April 3) it received a $2.5 million gift from Dignity Health to create the first endowed deanship at UC Davis. The inaugural holder of the Dignity Health Dean’s Chair in Nursing Leadership is nationally recognized expert in gerontological nursing and rural health care, and founding dean of the School of Nursing, Heather M. Young.

“This is an important moment for UC Davis because it affirms our commitment to teaching and research excellence and our leadership in the future of health care,” said UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi. “We are grateful to Dignity Health for their visionary partnership that has allowed us to realize this moment. We are equally proud that Heather Young, who is such a well-regarded, accomplished and passionate health care leader and a UC Davis alumna, is the first holder of this important endowed position.”

Since its founding in 2009, the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis has brought forth an unprecedented opportunity to not just improve, but redesign health care. The dean is the visionary leader responsible for developing and enhancing the quality of the school’s faculty and programs.

This endowed deanship provides funds, for use at the dean’s discretion, that support teaching, research or outreach. Ultimately, the endowment provides the dean the opportunity to realize her vision and advance the mission of the School of Nursing. Because endowed gifts are invested so that their earnings can be spent, they provide valuable income, year after year, creating a lasting impact. The Dignity Health Dean’s Chair in Nursing Leadership makes it possible for the school to attract and retain future deans of the highest caliber, who are nationally or internationally renowned, and enables them to innovatively lead a transformation in health care that will last for generations to come.

“As the founding dean tasked with the incredible opportunity to create a school that transforms health care through nursing education, leadership and research, I am filled with appreciation that the Dignity Health team recognizes the importance of investment in our mission. I am also humbled that I am the first named to this deanship,” Young said. “This endowment affirms the value of creating nurse leaders to make a lasting impact on health care.”

Dignity Health President and CEO Lloyd H. Dean said the San Francisco-based health system, which is the largest hospital provider in California, made the financial commitment to UC Davis because of the School of Nursing’s academic focus to develop nurse leaders of the future through high-caliber programs, which will allow health care leaders to leverage the nursing profession to better address the critical needs of health care systems.

“As an organization that was founded by sisters who came to San Francisco and provided nursing care, Dignity Health takes tremendous pride in the nurses who are changing lives in our hospitals every day,” Dignity Health’s Lloyd Dean explained. “The U.S. health care system is at a crossroads and we have a responsibility to support the next generation of nurses and ensure that more exceptional caregivers are entering the profession.”

Dean formally announced the gift Thursday night at a small gathering of Dignity leaders and School of Nursing professors, students, alumni and supporters at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco.

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UC Davis neuroscientist recognized for color vision, aging contributions


John Werner to receive Verriest Medal from International Colour Vision Society.

John Werner, UC Davis

By Carole Gan, UC Davis

John S. Werner, a UC Davis neuroscientist and international authority on visual perception, has been selected to receive the 2015 Verriest Medal from the International Colour Vision Society for his contributions to understanding the structural and functional basis of color vision, how and why vision changes across the life span, and factors that contribute to loss of vision associated with disease. He will receive the award at the society’s biennial symposium in Sendai, Japan, in July.

Understanding, monitoring visual mechanisms

A distinguished professor at the UC Davis Eye Center and director of the Vision Science and Advanced Retinal Imaging Laboratory, Werner uses several different approaches to investigate both normal aging and age-
related diseases leading to blindness. These include psychophysical methods to show how perception of color adapts to changes in the degree of illumination throughout the day; electrophysiological methods to detect and quantify the response of cells at the back of the eye when stimulated by light; and custom instruments unique to his laboratory for ultra-high resolution. Imaging of the human retina at the cellular level, revolutionizing the field of vision science and the noninvasive diagnosis and monitoring of eye diseases.

One class of instrument uses adaptive optics to correct temporally varying, higher-order aberrations of the eye. Another class of instrument uses interferometry to detect faint reflections from cells that would otherwise make them invisible in the living eye.

Phase-variance optical coherence tomography, for example, is a noninvasive imaging technique that generates 3-D volumetric images of the retina, its microvasculature and other retinal layers without the need for fluorescent dyes. This discovery, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has the potential to evaluate therapies and understand the underlying mechanisms of diseases of the retina and optic nerve, such as age-related macular degeneration progression, the latter of which is a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older in the U.S. for which there is no cure. This movie shows the region of the retina, called the optic nerve, where fibers leave the eye and send their signals to different regions of the brain.

Innovating to advance vision science

Werner has made important contributions to understanding the development and aging of color mechanisms, as well as the processes of aging in perception, particularly as they relate to plasticity and potential clinical applications. He has demonstrated the function of the different classes of color receptor and their connections to the first visual area of the brain in infants as young as four weeks of age. Reductions in the response of these receptor types changes slowly from early adulthood and continues throughout life. His work showed that when the lens of the eye is removed in cataract surgery, the light reaching the back of the eye changes dramatically, leading to color vision changes that are slowly compensated in the brain to restore normal perception.

Throughout his career, Werner has maintained an active interest in opponent color mechanisms, color in art and color illusions. Some examples have appeared in popular venues such as Scientific American and a series of lectures held at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences and Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art.

Career history

Werner received his doctoral degree in psychology from Brown University and conducted postdoctoral research at the Institute for Perception TNO in Soesterberg, The Netherlands. He was a member of the psychology faculty at the University of Colorado, Boulder, before joining UC Davis in 2000, where he holds appointments in the Center for Neuroscience, College of Biological Sciences and School of Medicine. He has co-edited several books that bring together discoveries from anatomy, physiology and psychophysics to illuminate fundamental mechanisms underlying human perception. These include “Visual Perception: The Neurophysiological Foundations,” “Color Vision: Perspectives from Different Disciplines,” “The Visual Neurosciences”  and “The New Visual Neurosciences.”

For his many contributions to the field of visual perception Werner has received many honors and awards. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Psychological Association, American Psychological Society, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the Gerontological Society of America and the Optical Society of America. He received the Pisart Vision Award from Lighthouse International and he presented the University of Colorado, Boulder, distinguished research lecture and the Optical Society of America Robert M. Boynton lecture. He has received a research prize from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Bonn and was an elected scholar at Caius College, University of Cambridge.

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