TAG: "Awards & honors"

UC Davis Medical Center receives echocardiography accreditation


Accreditation a ‘seal of approval’ for patients.

UC Davis Medical Center has been granted a three-year term of accreditation in echocardiography in three areas by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC).

The three areas for which the IAC granted accreditation are adult stress, adult transesophageal and adult transthoracic.

Accreditation by the IAC signifies that the medical center has undergone a thorough review of its operational and technical components by a panel of experts. The IAC grants accreditation only to those facilities that are found to be providing quality patient care, in compliance with national standards through a comprehensive application process including detailed case study review.

IAC accreditation is a “seal of approval” that patients can rely on as an indication that the facility has been carefully critiqued on all aspects of its operations considered relevant by medical experts in the field of echocardiography. When scheduled for an echocardiography procedure, patients are encouraged to ask about the accreditation status of the facility where their examination will be performed, and can learn more by visiting www.intersocietal.org/echo/main/patients.htm.

IAC accreditation is widely respected within the medical community, as illustrated by the support of the national medical societies related to echocardiography, which include physicians and sonographers. Echocardiography accreditation is required in some states and regions by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and by some private insurers. However, patients should remain vigilant in making sure that their echocardiography procedures are performed within accredited facilities, because for many facilities accreditation remains a voluntary process.

Cardiovascular diseases are the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. On average, one American dies every 39 seconds of cardiovascular disease — disorders of the heart and blood vessels. The American Heart Association estimates that the direct and indirect cost for cardiovascular disease in the U.S. for 2010 was $503.2 billion.

Early detection of life threatening heart disorders and other diseases is possible through the use of echocardiography procedures performed within hospitals, outpatient centers and physicians’ offices. While these tests are helpful, there are many facets that contribute to an accurate diagnosis based on echocardiography testing. The skill of the echocardiography sonographer performing the examination, the type of equipment used, the background and knowledge of the interpreting physician and quality assurance measures are each critical to quality patient testing.

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UC children’s hospitals rank among best in U.S.


U.S. News highlights excellence in pediatric care.

The University of California’s three children’s hospitals – Davis, Los Angeles and San Francisco – all rank among the nation’s top pediatric hospitals, according to the new 2014-15 Best Children’s Hospitals survey conducted by U.S. News & World Report.

This year’s report, published today (June 10), can be viewed online at www.usnews.com/childrenshospitals. The rankings highlight U.S. News’ top 50 pediatric facilities in 10 specialties.

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital was recognized for excellence in all 10 specialties, Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA in eight and UC Davis Children’s Hospital in four. In addition, UC’s two other medical center campuses are affiliated with ranked children’s hospitals – UC Irvine is affiliated with Children’s Hospital of Orange County (ranked in seven specialties) and UC San Diego is affiliated with Rady Children’s Hospital (ranked in all 10 specialties).

The rankings for UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital include diabetes and endocrinology (10), urology (12), nephrology (18), gastroenterology and gastrointestinal surgery (21), neurology and neurosurgery (21), cardiology and heart surgery (23), cancer (25), neonatology (26), orthopedics (28), and pulmonology (45).

The rankings for Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA include nephrology (10), neonatology (13), gastroenterology and gastrointestinal surgery (15), cardiology and heart surgery (25), orthopedics (27), neurology and neurosurgery (36), cancer (38), and diabetes and endocrinology (44).

Together with Shriners Hospital for Children – Northern California, its longstanding partner in caring for children with burns, spinal cord injuries, urological issues and orthopedic disorders, UC Davis Children’s Hospital ranked No. 22 in orthopedics and No. 47 in urology. UC Davis also ranked No. 23 in nephrology and No. 28 in neonatology.

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Medical center receives Zero Hero Award for avoidance of early deliveries


UC Davis honored by Patient Safety First.

UC Davis Medical Center has received the Zero Hero Award from Patient Safety First for having no early elective baby deliveries for 15 consecutive months.

Mitchell Creinin, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, was presented with the award at a recent meeting of the Quality and Safety Committee. The department has not had an early elective delivery for 30 consecutive months.

“Accomplishing this feat is a tribute to the combined efforts of physicians and nurses who provide obstetric care at the medical center,” said Creinin.

The trophy plaque will be displayed soon in the University Birthing Suites. The award originally was presented at the Annual Patient Safety First meeting last November in San Francisco.

Patient Safety First was launched in 2010 to improve quality of care, reduce health care costs and save lives by improving patient safety and perinatal care in California. The project is a partnership among the National Health Foundation, California’s Regional Hospital Associations, Anthem Blue Cross and more than 180 hospitals across the state.

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UC Irvine medical students receive AMA leadership award


Recipients include Asghar Haider and Raja Narayan.

Two students at the UC Irvine School of Medicine are among 15 recipients of the American Medical Association Foundation’s 2014 Leadership Award.

Asghar Haider, an M.D./M.B.A. student, and Raja Narayan, an M.D./M.P.H. student, were honored by the AMA Foundation at its annual Excellence in Medicine Awards celebration on June 6 in Chicago. The national award recognizes medical students, residents/fellows and early career physicians for achievements in community service, medical education and public health.

Award recipients will receive special training to develop their skills as future leaders in community affairs and organized medicine.

“Mr. Haider and Mr. Narayan exemplify UC Irvine’s commitment to its mission of Discover.Teach.Heal,” said Ralph V. Clayman, M.D., dean of the UC Irvine School of Medicine and professor, department of urology. “Their respective exemplary work in community outreach and educational innovation provide benefits that go well beyond the borders of our university.  I am proud of their endeavors to date and look forward to their future accomplishments.”

Asghar “Abbas” Haider is a fourth-year student in the combined M.D./M.B.A. curriculum. Haider is passionate about community outreach. As an immigrant and first-generation college student, he recognizes the need for mentors for teens in his community. In 2007, Haider co-founded the Peer Advancement Community for Teens, an organization that mentors and tutors underserved students in the Los Angeles area. He is working towards a dual M.D./M.B.A. degree in order to better understand the changing healthcare landscape and to advocate for his future patients.

His aspiration is to become a leader in academic ophthalmology.

Raja Narayan will complete his final year of medical school at UC Irvine and is pursuing a master of public health degree in applied biostatistics and epidemiology.

He has been involved in deploying technology to advance medical education and patient care, which has led him to be named a Patron Fund Diplomat at TEDMED, a New England Journal of Medicine Gold Scholar and co-president of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society. As an undergraduate at Yale, Narayan was a member of the Institutional Review Board, a senior clinical team member of the student-run HAVEN free clinic, lead editor for the Yale Journal of Health Policy Law and Ethics, winner of the Yale Global Health Case Competition, and captain of the Movember initiative that raised money to support research on men’s health. Narayan plans applies to residency in general surgery.

The Excellence in Medicine Award program is presented in association with Eli Lilly & Co., Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals Inc., PhRMA, and Pfizer Inc. The Leadership Award was first bestowed in 2003.

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UC hospitals honored for environmental achievements


Practice Greenhealth recognizes UCLA, UCSF medical centers.

Both Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica, have been honored with 2014 Partner for Change awards by Practice Greenhealth, a nonprofit organization that works with the health care community to increase efficiencies and environmental stewardship while improving patient safety and care through the use of best practices and new tools and knowledge.

“The UCLA Health System has worked tirelessly to protect its patients, staff and environment through smart goal-setting and careful monitoring,” said Gary Cohen, president of Practice Greenhealth. “As a system, they are truly demonstrating leadership for the future of health care.”

The award is one of the organization’s Environmental Excellence Awards, given each year to honor outstanding environmental achievements in the health care sector. This is the fourth consecutive year that both UCLA hospitals have received the award. UCSF Medical Center / UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital received the Greenhealth Emerald Award. UCSF also received the Climate award for reporting and setting emission goals at the medical center and the Green Building award for the sustainable design of the new hospitals opening next year at Mission Bay.

The Partner for Change award recognizes those facilities that have continuously improved and expanded their programs aimed at eliminating mercury, reducing waste, lowering the toxicity of waste and recycling. At a minimum, facilities applying for the honor must have reduced regulated medical waste, must be recycling 15 percent of their total waste, must be well along the path toward mercury elimination, and must have developed other successful pollution-prevention programs in a number of areas.

“We take pride in our sustainability efforts to lessen our impact on the environment,” said Dr. David Feinberg, president of the UCLA Health System and CEO of the UCLA Hospital System. “Our UCLA Health System hospitals are committed to improving the health of our patients, staff and community as a whole through good stewardship of our precious resources.”

This year, both hospitals were also presented with the Making Medicine Mercury-Free Award, which recognizes facilities where proven policies have been put in place to eliminate one of the most hazardous chemicals and prevent it from reentering the sites. Award criteria include mercury-free management and purchasing policies and staff education.

“We can’t properly heal patients when there are pollutants and chemicals present in the health care setting,” said Paul Watkins, chief administrative officer of UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica, and chair of the UCLA Health System’s sustainability committee. “Eliminating mercury in our daily work environment protects both our patients and staff.”

The Practice Greenhealth Environmental Excellence Awards were presented June 5 in Cleveland at the CleanMed Conference and Exhibition, the premier national environmental conference for leaders in health care sustainability.

For more on Practice Greenhealth, visit www.practicegreenhealth.org.

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UCSF’s Science Education Partnership leads award-winning STEM initiative


US2020 City Competition honors San Francisco’s STEM efforts.

Chelsea Stewart, a student at Raoul Wallenberg Traditional High School in San Francisco and an intern in the UCSF Science & Health Education Partnership (SEP) program, discusses her poster presentation with SEP academic coordinator Kishore Hari in 2012.

San Francisco is one of seven winners of a national competition to encourage mentoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), with an initiative to be led by UC San Francisco’s Science & Health Education Partnership.

The US2020 City Competition challenged cities to develop innovative models for dramatically increasing the number of STEM professionals mentoring and teaching students through hands-on projects.  US2020 is specifically focused on increasing STEM opportunities and excitement for girls, underrepresented minorities and children from low-income families.  Public/private coalitions from 52 cities across the nation applied, engaging nearly 600 companies and civic organizations.

The winners, announced last week at the White House Science Fair, will share $1 million in financial, consulting and staff support over the next year to launch their plans.

“I am excited by this opportunity to increase STEM mentors who are working with our students and getting them ready for the jobs of the 21st century,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

In San Francisco, eight of the 11 occupations with the largest projected growth before 2020 are in STEM fields. Yet most students in San Francisco public schools have never met a STEM professional.

San Francisco’s US2020 award-winning program, to be called “SF US2020,” will be led by UCSF’s Science & Health Education Partnership (SEP) in collaboration with the San Francisco Mayor’s Office, San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), Salesforce and Techbridge.

“We are incredibly proud that our own SEP program is the leader of this important collaboration. With over 25 years of successful experience in supporting STEM education in San Francisco, I’m certain our SEP team will set the bar high for the other cities who share the US2020 award,” said Elizabeth Watkins, Ph.D., dean of the Graduate Division and vice chancellor for student academic affairs at UCSF.

In San Francisco, Salesforce.com Foundation is the founding sponsor of US2020. National US2020 founding partners are Cisco, Cognizant, Raytheon, SanDisk and Tata Consultancy Services, recently joined by Chevron, with additional support coming from Discovery Communications, Fidelity Investments, HP, the Carnegie Corp. of New York and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.

Initiated in 1987 by UCSF professor Bruce Alberts, SEP is recognized nationally and internationally as a model organization that supports quality science education for K-12 students through partnerships between scientists and teachers. Each year, UCSF SEP supports 300 volunteers working with San Francisco Unified School District teachers and students, contributing more than 10,000 hours. UCSF SEP also leads the Bay Area Science Festival, an annual 10-day celebration of STEM reaching 70,000 people.

The other winning cities are Allentown, Pa.; Chicago.; Indianapolis; Philadelphia; Research Triangle Park, N.C.; amd Wichita, Kan.

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Peter Walter receives Shaw Prize


UCSF professor wins Asia’s top scientific honor.

Peter Walter, UC San Francisco

A UC San Francisco professor of biochemistry and biophysics has received Asia’s highest scientific honor, the 2014 Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine, for his groundbreaking discovery of a system that makes “life and death decisions” for the cell.

Peter Walter, Ph.D., who is also an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, shares the prize with Kazutoshi Mori, Ph.D., a professor of biophysics at Kyoto University in Japan. They were jointly named winners of the award today (May 27) in an announcement by the Shaw Prize Foundation, in Hong Kong.

The award acknowledges the scientists’ discovery of the so-called “unfolded protein response” of the cell’s endoplasmic reticulum, and its role in ensuring that proteins are properly constructed, especially when the cell’s quality control system is overwhelmed.

Because of their work, scientists now understand that when these basic systems malfunction, serious diseases can result, including cancer, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as the more arcane eye disease retinitis pigmentosa.

“Peter Walter has received widespread acclaim for his discoveries of how the cell ensures that its fundamental building blocks are properly constructed and the role protein malformations play in disease,” said UCSF interim Chancellor Sam Hawgood, M.B.B.S. “His discovery with professor Mori has altered the field of biochemistry and is a perfect example of the importance of basic research today, its impact on health and importance for society.”

Walter, 59, joins four previous Shaw laureates from UCSF: Herbert Boyer (2004), Yuet-Wai Kan (2004), Shinya Yamanaka (2008) and David Julius (2010).

The Shaw Prize, launched in November 2002 and first awarded in 2004, consists of three annual prizes, which are presented to scientists in the fields of astronomy, life science and medicine, and mathematical sciences. Each prize carries a monetary award of $1 million.

The 2014 Shaw laureates will receive their awards in Hong Kong at the 11th annual ceremony on Wednesday, Sept. 24.

Established through the support and guidance of Hong Kong entrepreneur Run Run Shaw, the Shaw Prize is an international award managed and administered by The Shaw Prize Foundation, in Hong Kong. Shaw also founded The Shaw Foundation Hong Kong and The Sir Run Run Shaw Charitable Trust, both dedicated to the promotion of education, scientific and technological research, medical and welfare services, and culture and the arts.

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UCLA dentistry student honored as advocate for oral health


Adrien Hamedi-Sangsari has pushed for more government funding for the profession.

Adrien Hamedi-Sangsari, UCLA

Adrien Hamedi-Sangsari always knew he wanted to become a dentist. The third-year UCLA School of Dentistry student grew up listening to and admiring several of his cousins who are dentists as they explained what dentistry was like and how it could be a fulfilling career path.

These family influences combined with an internship in 2013 at the American Dental Association’s offices in Washington, D.C., guided him to want to become more than a dentist but also an advocate who fights for issues that affect the profession.

“I want to make dentists and dental students understand that this is our profession and only we can change it and protect it,” said Hamedi-Sangsari, who graduated from UC Irvine in 2011 with a degree in biology. “We can’t just sit around and hope for the best. We need to have a voice to make an impact.”

This past March, Hamedi-Sangsari’s passion for the dental field was recognized by the American Association for Dental Research when he was selected as the first recipient of the association’s Student Advocate of the Year Award. This award was created to recognize a dental student for his or her outstanding contributions in advocacy for oral health research.

Hamedia-Sangsari’s interest in dental advocacy began while he was a student intern at the American Dental Association (ADA). His primary duties were to assist the ADA’s grassroots efforts: this entailed reaching out to dentists as potential new members and accompanying lobbyists to Capitol Hill to support candidates who were proponents for the profession.

During his internship, Hamedi-Sangsari learned more about the political issues that dentists and dental students face, which include staggering student debt after dental school, pro bono dental care, professional licensure and water fluoridation.

“Student debt reduction is especially important to dental students right now,” Hamedi-Sangsari said, “since the cost of training a dental student raises the bar higher than for the average graduate student.”

Addressing the growing problem of student loan debt is a major issue for the American Student Dental Association, which Adrien is also a member of. Many recent dental school graduates are shying away from pursuing postgraduate training or a career in dental education due to the debt burden, which could adversely impact the number of specialists, teachers and researchers.

“Student loans are at the top of the agenda for ASDA,” said Hamedi-Sangsari. Two out of the three bills being discussed by ASDA are about the burden of student loans. “There isn’t a perfect formula yet for how to reduce our debt burden, but at least it’s being talked about.”

In addition, Hamedi-Sangsari believes that government funding should be increased for pro bono dental care. He also feels that dental licensure needs to be a standardized nationwide exam, versus state-by-state and that the exam should eliminate live patients due to the number of variables involved. Hamedi-Sangsari also supports changing how dental students are evaluated from one day of assessment to reviewing a student’s entire case portfolio, because it’s a better gauge of ability.

Water fluoridation is another hot topic on Hamedi-Sangsari’s radar. He believes that water fluoridation should be mandatory in every major city, and that education is a major reason why dental cavities are still a problem for pediatric patients.

“I volunteer at a pediatric dentistry clinic in the Los Angeles area and I hear from young mothers, all the time, how they won’t let their child drink tap water,” said Hamedi-Sangsari. “People don’t realize that city’s tap water is beneficial to our oral health.”

Hamedi-Sangsari said that if dentists and dental students don’t advocate for these issues that affect their future and the patients they treat, who else would?

Hamedia-Sangsari heard about the award from a faculty mentor and thought he had a good chance to be selected for the honor. He has been president of the UCLA Student Research Group and last year, before even officially becoming president of the group, Hamedi-Sangsari encouraged UCLA students to write and email letters to and call politicians about the issues dentists and dental students face. He also participated in the 2013 American Association of Dental Research/American Dental Education Association Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill. He spent the majority of his time advocating for Congress to maintain funding for the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research and funding for primary care training in general dentistry, pediatric and public health dentistry.

In August, Hamedi-Sangsari took the initiative and met with members of the California congressional delegation, including Henry Waxman, Karen Bass and Brad Sherman. During these meetings he discussed the groundbreaking research at UCLA and the importance of increasing funding for biomedical research.

“With recent budget constraints, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research have cut funding to advance dental research,” Hamedi-Sangsari said. “Every day there are new projects being shot down, due to funding, that could revolutionize the dental profession. As long as there are things to discover in dentistry, research needs to be at the forefront of the discussion.”

As he moves into his fourth year of dental school, Hamedi-Sangsari is starting to plan for life after UCLA. He said that he is leaning toward pursuing advanced training in orthodontics, and would like to work with adolescents in Southern California. Also, as a native of the San Fernando Valley, he would like to remain close to home. And of course, he plans to continue to advocate for the dental profession.

“There is so much more to dentistry than the private office,” Hamedi-Sangsari said. “I have come to understand that during my dental school experience, the future of the profession is in our hands and I refuse to sit around and watch it get restructured without our support.”

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Pre-med student makes an impact


Axana Rodriguez-Torres of UC Davis honored for her student leadership.

Axana Rodriguez-Torres, who volunteers through the UC Davis Health System, plans to pursue degrees in public health and medicine.

Axana Rodriguez-Torres felt frustration and pain when her medical studies in Colombia were not recognized in the United States, where she and her family had been granted political asylum.

But now, as the UC Davis senior is recognized with the University of California President’s Outstanding Student Leadership Award, she shares a new understanding:

“As I’m pursuing my dreams, I’m helping others to pursue theirs,” said the 31-year-old. “This is why I needed to be here and discover another purpose in my life.”

UC President Janet Napolitano presented awards to Rodriguez-Torres of Elk Grove and a UCLA student wellness campaign at a meeting of the UC Board of Regents in Sacramento May 14.

Her impact across UC

“The work of these bright students has a tremendous impact not only on their home campuses but across the UC system and out in their communities,” said Napolitano. “I’m pleased to have a chance to recognize their efforts and dedication to tackling tough issues that affect us all.”

Rodriguez-Torres, a double major in neurobiology, physiology and behavior as well as psychology, is being recognized for helping coordinate the annual UC Davis Pre-Medical and Pre-Health Professions National Conference, the largest such conference in the nation.

More than 7,500 attend the conference, and more than 80 percent of participants are high school, community college and UC students who are underrepresented in the field of medicine.

For the October 2013 conference, Rodriguez-Torres was responsible for the medical programming that brought to the conference about 50 of 700 speakers, including leaders of national organizations.

Helping with students’ struggles

Earlier, she met one of her own mentors through the conference and is committed to providing such opportunities for other students. “I’ve seen the struggles students go through. I can see I can do something about it,” said Rodriguez-Torres, who continues to serve on the conference’s organizing board as director of medical programming.

In nominating Rodriguez-Torres for the award, Adela de la Torre, vice chancellor of student affairs at UC Davis, wrote that her saga exemplifies a “tenacity of spirit that propels her social justice action.”

Rodriguez-Torres completed three years of medical school in Colombia before obtaining political asylum in the United States, where she cleaned houses, served fast food, and provided child care to help support her family and save for her education. As her English proficiency grew, she worked as an immigration consultant and a tax preparer for people with limited English.

Three associate degrees

Because her medical school credits from Colombia were not transferable, she studied at American River College — where she earned three associate degrees — before transferring to UC Davis.

Drawn to the university by the opportunity to work at the student-run Clinica Tepati in Sacramento, she has helped provide free care for the underserved, mostly Latino patients.

As a winner of a $10,000 Donald A. Strauss Public Service Scholarship, she established a prevention-focused diabetes education class that extended the clinic’s work. Her project provides monthly classes in nutrition and diabetes prevention as well as Zumba fitness classes at All Hallows Parish in Sacramento.

After graduating in June, Rodriguez-Torres plans to pursue a master’s degree in public health at UC Davis and then a medical degree on her way to becoming an internist focusing on diabetes prevention.

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Big Ideas@Berkeley launches new generations of social innovators


Winning entries demonstrate strategic blend of technology, social innovation.

Berkeley Ph.D. student Pablo Rosado, part of a team that developed ReMaterials to bring roofing systems to impoverished communities, explains the project at last week’s awards celebration.

Every year, thousands of students come to Berkeley with vague ambitions to change the world. The annual Big Ideas@Berkeley competition is inspiring some of them to do just that — by launching globally life-changing innovations even before they graduate. Last week, the program honored this year’s winning projects with an awards celebration at the Blum Center for Developing Economies.

From building Africa’s first wind- and solar-powered radio station to promoting yogurt for improved child nutrition in Nepal to creating an app to show the safest nighttime routes on the Berkeley campus, the competition’s winning entries all demonstrated a strategic blend of technology and social innovation.

“We’re teaching our students to face a challenge, take a risk and use their educations for real-world impact and social good,” said Phillip Denny, Big Ideas program manager and chief administrative officer at the Blum Center. “We’re helping them to get ideas out of their heads and to put actionable plans on paper.”

In contrast to most other business-plan competitions, Big Ideas@Berkeley is focused on social change. The yearlong program, started in 2006, offers training and mentoring for teams of undergraduate and grad students. They learn critical thinking, market analysis and presentation skills to develop real-world projects that are both feasible and scalable.

The competition is supported by several Berkeley centers and institutes, as well as key sponsors such as the Andrew and Virginia Rudd Family Foundation, the Charles Schwab Foundation and the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society, or CITRIS. This year, the program also formed a new partnership with the crowdfunding site Indiegogo to better promote and fund the projects.

“It’s a very Berkeley-esque idea,” said sponsor and judge Andrew Rudd, who earned his MBA at the Haas School of Business. “These students are doing something positive with what they’ve learned, to bring the 21st century to parts of the world that don’t share our good fortune.”

The competition drew proposals from 187 teams of more than 600 students from 75 different majors, five UC campuses and four other universities nationwide. Judges recognized a total of 40 projects with awards from $1,000 to $10,000 across nine categories including open data, human rights, clean and sustainable energy alternatives, social justice and information technology.

“The diversity, quality and overall execution were really extraordinary this year,” said Denny. “The winning entries were chosen based on the combination of personal passion and a commitment to improving the world.”

Advancing the lives of those in poverty

First place in the “global-poverty alleviation” category went to ElectroSan, a system that improves public health and the environment by converting human waste into income-producing by-products. The process applies electrochemical cells to recover nitrogen from human urine and to disinfect feces, bringing affordable sanitation to poverty-stricken communities.

Inspired by a visit to the urban slums of Nairobi in 2013, Ph.D. student William Tarpeh seeks to introduce waste treatment to the 4.6 billion people in the developing world who currently can’t afford adequate sanitation facilities. The project is in the technology- development phase to ensure maximum nitrogen recovery.

“Connecting technology and international development was a great part of this experience,” explained Tarpeh, who’s working toward a doctorate in environmental engineering. “Big Ideas helped me to think at both the molecular level and the business-model scale to bring this to fruition.”

Rami Ariss, a junior in chemical and biomolecular engineering, and Othmane Benkirane, a junior in energy engineering and structural engineering, won first place in the “clean and sustainable-energy alternatives” category. Their project, Solidge, is a solar-powered refrigeration system that doesn’t rely on an electricity grid. Refrigerators are the most sought-after appliance in low-income communities; by integrating energy generation, storage and use into the same appliance, Solidge enables users to store food, unsold crops or vaccines for longer periods. The project will initially launch in Benkirane’s native Morocco, but will ultimately be deployed in developing countries globally.

Benkirane credits the Big Ideas competition with changing his career focus from new technologies to pressing energy needs in developing countries. “The Solidge project taught us to really listen to the end user,” he said. “Whether they’re graduates of prestigious universities, blue-collar workers or rural farmers in eastern Morocco, all of these people have equal insights, and Solidge taught me to look for the hidden ones.”

Scaling up

“Scaling up Big Ideas” was the category for previous contest winners who are further along in implementing their projects. First place went to a team led by Charles Salmen, a recent graduate of UC San Francisco’s medical school, for a wind- and solar-powered radio station that reaches 200,000 listeners across Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. An all-Berkeley team of Pablo Rosado and Hasit Ganatra, both Ph.D. students in mechanical engineering, and Caitlin Touchberry, a master’s student in development practice, took second place for ReMaterials, which provides roofing systems for communities in poverty.

More than a billion people currently live in slums worldwide, and adequate roofing is a critical issue for public health and comfort. The team has already developed a natural, recycled material mix and manufacturing process at the prototype level, and is now working on scaling up the manufacturing process, improving the supply chain and developing a sales and marketing strategy to attract investors and key partners.

“Last year we were focused on the engineering side, developing the materials and building small-scale roofs,” explained Rosado. “Now we’re looking for a mentor in law and finance to help us get the product to market. We’re going to India this summer to do a first round with our target audience.”

Participants uniformly credited mentorship as a critical component of the Big Ideas ecosystem. Tony Stayner, an angel investor and nonprofit board member, served as a Big Ideas judge and as a mentor to the ReMaterials project. He credited the program with increasing his own body of experience and his interest in social entrepreneurship.

“If you ever get depressed about the future of the world, go spend some time with the Big Ideas students,” he said. “They’re bright, creative, big-hearted and very passionate about making the world a better place.”

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UC students receive president’s leadership awards


Coordinator of pre-med conference among those honored.

Axana Rodriguez-Torres, UC Davis

A UC Davis undergraduate student and a UCLA student program were recognized today (May 14) with the University of California President’s Award for Outstanding Student Leadership at the Board of Regents meeting in Sacramento.

Honored were Axana Rodriguez-Torres, a Davis student and Colombian immigrant majoring in psychology, and neurobiology, physiology and behavior; and the Student Wellness Commission’s “7,000 in Solidarity” campaign, led by UCLA student Savannah Badalich, who serves as UCLA’s undergraduate student wellness commissioner.

“The work of these bright students has a tremendous impact not only on their home campuses but across the UC system and out in their communities,” said President Janet Napolitano. “I’m pleased to have a chance to recognize their efforts and dedication to tackling tough issues that affect us all.”

Rodriguez-Torres is being recognized for coordinating the UC Davis Pre-Medical and Pre-Health Professional National Conference, the largest such conference in the nation. Her outreach efforts resulted in an annual conference attendance of 7,500 people, and more than 80 percent of participants were high school, community college and UC students who are underrepresented in the field of medicine.

Rodriguez-Torres also developed a prevention-focused Spanish-language diabetes education program now being offered at free clinics, churches and community centers across Sacramento, and secured a $10,000 foundation grant to make the program available online.

Rodriguez-Torres completed three years of medical school in Colombia before obtaining political asylum in the United States, where she cleaned houses, served fast food and provided childcare while she learned English. As her English proficiency grew, she worked as an immigration consultant and a tax preparer for those with limited English. Because her medical school credits from Colombia were not transferable, she enrolled at American River Community College before transferring to UC Davis. Her next goal is an M.D.-Ph.D. program.

Savannah Badalich, UCLA

The “7,000 in Solidarity Campaign,” a UCLA student effort launched last year by undergraduate Savannah Badalich, is being recognized for creating a campus culture where sexual assault is not tolerated. The campaign educates students and administrators about consensual sex, effective bystander intervention, institutional accountability and access to support for survivors of sexual assault.

The group has partnered with other students and organizations, and used art exhibits, training sessions and signed pledge cards to gather support from students and the community. In a testament to the power of their efforts, other colleges and universities across the country have adopted the campaign.

The University of California President’s Award for Outstanding Student Leadership was established in 2010 and recognizes undergraduate, graduate and professional students, as well as campus-based student organizations, for outstanding efforts in promoting and supporting multicampus initiatives. The award honors collaborative efforts that further the University of California’s mission of teaching, research and public service.

Nominations for this year’s awards were solicited from the chancellors at all 10 UC campuses and from the UC Student Association. A selection committee of staff from the UC Office of the President reviewed and scored each of the nominations, and President Napolitano selected the winners. Individual award recipients receive a $2,000 grant while the reward for an organization is $2,500.

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UCSF urologist wins coveted Barringer Medal


Peter Carroll honored for his work.

Peter Carroll, UC San Francisco

The American Association of Genitourinary Surgeons awarded its 2014 Barringer Medal to Peter R. Carroll, M.D., M.P.H., chair of the UCSF Department of Urology, during the April annual meeting. This award recognizes a younger member of the organization who is achieving “distinguished accomplishments” and is meant to encourage and stimulate his or her continued work.

Marshall Stoller, M.D., professor and vice chair of the UCSF Department of Urology, presented the Barringer Medal to Carroll.

“Peter’s tireless effort in promoting active surveillance as a viable and safe option of treatment for men with low-risk prostate cancer is commendable,” Stoller said.

Created in 1954, the award honors Benjamin S. Barringer, the first chief of urology at Memorial Hospital in New York City. Barringer was an early innovator of brachytherapy in 1915 where he placed radium needles for treatment of prostate cancer. UCSF urologist Frank Hinman Jr., M.D., is the first and only other UCSF faculty member to have won the Barringer Medal, when he was honored in 1984.

Carroll is currently co-investigator or principal investigator on numerous research studies including a grant of almost $10 million from the Department of Defense called the “Transformative Impact Award.” Carroll’s past awards include the 2010 Eugene Fuller Triennial Prostate Award from the American Urological Assocation (AUA), and the SUO Medal from the Society of Urologic Oncology (SUO). He is also the Ken and Donna Derr Chevron Distinguished Professor in the Department of Urology; and associate dean and director of clinical services and strategic planning in the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

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