TAG: "Awards & honors"

Nursing science program ranked among best in West

UC Irvine honored by NurseJournal.org.

UC Irvine’s Program in Nursing Science has been ranked in the top 5 percent of 200 four-year bachelor’s programs in the western U.S. by NurseJournal.org in its annual survey of America’s best nursing schools.

Among comparable programs, it’s 10th in quality, seventh in satisfaction and fifth in value. Overall, it’s the highest-rated nursing program in Orange County.

“These rankings reflect the hard work and investment of our program’s dedicated faculty and staff,” said interim Director Alison Holman, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar. “We are poised to launch into the next phase of our development with many new, exciting initiatives and programs on our horizon. We have a bright future ahead as we continue to focus on achieving excellence in research and teaching.”

Launched in 2007, the program provides academic and professional education in nursing and offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

View original article

CATEGORY: NewsComments Off

UC Davis Huntington’s Disease Center receives Level 1 designation

Joins UCLA, UC San Diego as one of 21 centers designated by Huntington’s Disease Society.

By Phyllis Brown, UC Davis

The UC Davis Huntington’s Disease Center, whose compassionate patient care and research expertise have made it a beacon of hope for people with Huntington’s disease throughout Northern California and beyond, has been acknowledged by the national society committed to the values that it so ably upholds  the Huntington’s Disease Society of America — as a Level 1 Huntington’s Disease Center of Excellence.

The acknowledgement recognizes the center’s service to over 300 families coping with Huntington’s disease and its plan to provide both medical and social services to a large number of underserved families coping with Huntington’s disease who are affiliated with Kaiser Permanente in Northern California.

Huntington’s disease is an inherited, degenerative brain disorder for which there is no cure and only one Food and Drug Administration-approved treatment, Xenazine (tetra benazine). The condition slowly diminishes the affected individual’s ability to walk, talk and reason. They eventually become completely dependent upon others for their care.

“The Huntington’s Disease Society of America was impressed with the scope of UC Davis’ plan to provide expert care to the large number of underserved families who use the Kaiser Permanente insurance system,” said Louise Vetter, chief executive officer of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America. “UC Davis has our continued thanks for the center’s support of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America’s mission and all that it does to provide exemplary care to families impacted by Huntington’s disease.”

The UC Davis Huntington’s Disease clinic has been designated as one of 21 Huntington’s Disease Centers of Excellence in the United States since 2001. There are three other centers of excellence in the western United States, at UCLA, UC San Diego and the University of Washington in Seattle, which is also a Level 1 center.

View original article

CATEGORY: NewsComments Off

UC leads nation in NIH biomedical research funds

UC system received $1.8B in 2014 contract and grant funding from NIH.

UC San Francisco and UC Newsroom

The University of California system received more than $1.8 billion in 2014 contract and grant funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), making it the leading recipient for high-caliber biomedical research that is driving advances in science and breakthroughs in health.

UC placed three campuses in the top 20 funding recipients and five in the top 50, according to annual NIH figures. UC San Francisco was second overall in NIH funding, and for the second year in a row its four schools — dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy — led the nation in federal biomedical research funding in their fields.

These highly competitive NIH funds enable UC scientists to advance understanding of the underlying causes of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, HIV, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, and others, and work to develop improved therapies for them.

“The projects these funds support at UCSF are driving advances in the biomedical sciences, from fundamental, curiosity-driven science to the application of those discoveries to patient care and populations, to training the next generation of scientists and health care professionals to carry those innovations forward,” said UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, M.B.B.S. “NIH funding is the lifeblood of that research and the heart of efforts by our faculty, staff, students and trainees to collectively transform health.”

The UCSF School of Medicine topped the list of NIH funding for medical schools for the third year in a row, at $480.6 million for fiscal year 2014, supporting research, graduate-student training and fellowships for postdoctoral scholars.

The UCSF schools of pharmacy, dentistry and nursing also ranked first in their fields in NIH grants for 2014: Pharmacy for the 35th consecutive year, with $31.8 million in grants; dentistry for the 23rd year, with $15.5 million; and nursing for the 10th time in the last dozen years, with $10.1 million.

All told, UCSF received more than $538.1 million total in grants, with an additional $8.5 million in NIH contracts, for which UCSF scientists compete to perform specific research projects for the national institutes. Johns Hopkins University was the top organization with $618.6 million in overall NIH funding.

NIH funding not only supports powerful scientific advances in research institutions nationwide, it buoys local and regional economies, as the scientists purchase materials and instruments and employ laboratory staff. Other economic engines include patents and scientific advances generated by NIH-funded research and related industries, such as biotechnology, as well as the entrepreneurs who launch companies based on research conducted on campus. These grants also play a tremendous role in helping innovative young scientists launch their research careers.

“In the past year, our graduate students and postdocs played key roles in discoveries in areas like the human microbiome, cancer immunotherapy and genome editing,” said Elizabeth Watkins, Ph.D., dean of the UCSF Graduate Division and vice chancellor of student academic affairs. “These funds are critical in supporting the early careers of those future scientific leaders, and instrumental in supporting the discoveries they make.”

By the numbers

Here is a UC campus/location breakdown of National Institutes of Health funding for 2014:

  • UC Berkeley: $122.5M
  • UC Davis: $189.3M
  • UC Irvine: $105.3M
  • UCLA: $373.1M
  • UC Merced: $4M
  • UC Riverside: $15.4M
  • UC San Diego: $398.7M
  • UCSF: $546.6M
  • UC Santa Barbara: $18M
  • UC Santa Cruz: $30.1M
  • UC Office of the President: $216,000
  • Berkeley Lab: $26M
  • Livermore Lab: $2.6M
  • Los Alamos Lab: $5.2M

UC system total: $1.8B

Related link:
UCSF schools lead nation again in NIH biomedical research funds

CATEGORY: SpotlightComments Off

UC Davis Center for Pain Medicine named Clinical Center of Excellence

Designation is highest recognition that a pain center can receive nationally.

By Charles Casey, UC Davis

The American Pain Society has selected the UC Davis Center for Pain Medicine as a 2015 Clinical Center of Excellence. The award recognizes pain-care teams that provide outstanding, exemplary care for those with chronic pain disorders, acute pain after surgery or trauma, as well as in palliative care settings for pain from cancer and other terminal conditions.

Designation as a clinical center of excellence is the highest recognition that a pain center can receive nationally. UC Davis also was recognized with the honor in 2010.

Known for taking on the most difficult cases of acute, cancer-related and chronic pain in adults and children, UC Davis pain-treatment specialists work with patients and their primary-care clinicians and referring physicians to provide for those suffering from all forms of pain. The Center for Pain Medicine emphasizes a comprehensive, patient-centered approach to care along with innovative research, clinical education and training, and patient advocacy to improve public policy.

“Being named a national center of excellence is truly an ensemble award and a great honor for our program,” said Scott Fishman, professor and chief of the UC Davis Division of Pain Medicine. “The award recognizes the impressive breadth of work UC Davis is doing to help patients cope with and overcome pain. Our pain medicine team is able to provide seamless, evidence-based care, including medical, surgical, psychiatric, psychological, social and alternative forms of pain management.”

Diverse expertise in pain management

The UC Davis team is distinguished from other programs around the country by their diverse backgrounds that bring a wide range of clinical professions and disciplines to bear on the care of patients in pain (including internal medicine, anesthesiology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, psychiatry, addiction medicine, pediatric pain, hospice and palliative care, radiology, psychology, pharmacy, physical therapy, social work, bioethics, acupuncture/oriental medicine and meditation-based stress reduction).  This diversity spills over into their research and advocacy work.

Interprofessional education

One example is the center’s collaboration with the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis — as well as the Mayday Fund, the Macy Foundation and the Milbank Foundation — to develop pain-education competencies across all health care professional schools. With its goal to increase clinicians’ basic skills in pain management, the initiative has received international recognition.

“Pain is an ideal topic to address from an interprofessional perspective,” said Heather M. Young, associate vice chancellor for nursing and dean of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. “Every health professional comes in contact with individuals and their family members coping with pain. We all need to have a basic understanding of pain so we can provide appropriate care. By working together to develop these basic skills, we gain multiple perspectives on a very complex topic.”

Innovative behavioral pain-care team

Pain management is well integrated within UC Davis Health System’s primary and specialty services in both its hospital and outpatient clinical settings. It is designed to address the broadest possible physical, psychological and social needs of patients. Among the center’s innovative initiatives was the establishment of a behavioral pain-care team led by a psychiatrist and internist, a psychologist and social worker, all of whom work full time within the pain center to offer individualized care as well as group-setting opportunities for cognitive behavioral therapy, resilience and lifestyle education, and general support.

“Every person’s battle with pain is unique,” added Fishman. “The best way to help patients regain control of their lives is to provide comprehensive expertise and services. Effective pain management that increases function and decreases pain requires an individualized-care approach that taps into the wide variety of resources and specialists we have here.”

Sharing pain management expertise with others

UC Davis pain specialists also consider each clinical encounter an opportunity to guide and educate the referring clinical team, including those outside of Sacramento. As an example, UC Davis is in the midst of a special training project for rural Medicaid-based health systems using the university’s renowned telehealth expertise. The program is funded through the California HealthCare Foundation and harnesses video-conferencing technologies to provide “Telementoring” educational opportunities for rural health centers. The goal is to help develop primary-care centers of excellence in remote communities that currently have minimal pain management resources.

“Pain management expertise must not reside only in large urban medical centers,” said Fishman. “We have a long tradition of providing pain education and training throughout our health system as well as sharing that expertise with other health providers and professional organizations. Advancing high quality pain management, locally, regionally and nationally has been a central mission at UC Davis. This national designation as a center of excellence not only reflects the passion of our center for safe and effective pain relief for all, but also highlights a health system that has uniquely committed to interprofessional and multidisciplinary integration to offer real hope for improving quality of life.”

About the Clinical Centers of Excellence Awards Program

The American Pain Society established its Centers of Excellence program in 2006 to showcase progressive teams of health professionals who address critical, and sometimes unmet, needs in pain management. The program also aims to identify U.S.-based, multidisciplinary teams providing distinguished, comprehensive pain care to serve as examples to other pain management programs.

View original article

CATEGORY: NewsComments Off

UC San Diego professor recognized for pioneering gene therapy research

Theodore Friedmann receives prestigious Japan Prize.

Theodore Friedmann, UC San Diego

By Scott LaFee, UC San Diego

Theodore Friedmann, M.D., professor in the Department of Pediatrics at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine was named today (Jan. 29) one of three recipients of the 2015 Japan Prize, a prestigious international award honoring laureates whose “original and outstanding achievements in science and technology have advanced the frontiers of knowledge and served the cause of peace and prosperity for mankind.”

Friedmann is being recognized for his pioneering research and contributions to the development of gene therapy, a new field of medicine which in significant ways originated at UC San Diego. The sponsoring Japan Prize Foundation describes Friedmann as “the father of gene therapy.”

Sharing the 2015 Japan Prize “in the field of medical science and medicinal science” with Friedman is Alain Fischer, M.D., Ph.D., director of immunology at the Necker Hospital in Paris, France. Fischer is credited with demonstrating the clinical efficacy of gene therapy by successfully treating children suffering from a severe genetic disorder that renders them extremely vulnerable to infections.

The third 2015 Japan Prize laureate is Yutaka Takahasi, Ph.D., professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, who is being honored in the “field of resources, energy and social infrastructure” for his contributions to river basin management and reducing water-related disasters.

Each laureate will receive a certificate of recognition and commemorative gold medal. A cash award of approximately $416,600 will also be given to each prize field. Since its inception in 1985, 83 laureates from 13 countries have received the Japan Prize in a variety of fields and disciplines. Several have subsequently become Nobel Prize laureates as well.

In 1972, Friedmann, then a visiting scientist at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences in La Jolla, and Richard Roblin, also at the Salk Institute and a postdoctoral fellow out of James Watson’s lab at Harvard University, published a foundational article in the field, a paper in the journal Science under the heading “Gene therapy for human genetic disease?”

Though posed as a question, Friedmann and Roblin firmly believed the answer was yes, citing emergent thinking, new studies and growing data that suggested “good DNA” could be used to replace defective DNA in people with inherited conditions.

“In our view,” they wrote, “gene therapy may ameliorate some human genetic diseases in the future. For this reason, we believe that research directed at the development of techniques for gene therapy should continue.”

Though Friedmann said initial response to the paper was “not overwhelming,” it’s now commonly cited as a major milestone in the scientific beginnings of gene therapy research, though Friedmann said it was the Asilomar conference three years later (scientists set safety standards for recombinant DNA technology) where interest really “exploded.”

The idea of gene therapy, which quickly captured the public imagination, was fueled by its appealingly straightforward approach and what Friedmann has described as “obvious correctness”: Disarm a potentially pathogenic virus to make it benign. Stuff these viral particles with normal DNA. Then inject them into patients carrying abnormal genes, where they will deliver their therapeutic cargoes inside the defective target cells. In theory, the good DNA replaces or corrects the abnormal function of the defective genes, rendering previously impaired cells whole, normal and healthy. End of disease.

It’s not quite that simple, of course, something Friedmann and Roblin had cautioned in their 1972 paper. Despite progress in the understanding of cellular functions, the roles of DNA and a series of experimental and clinical advances, the history of gene therapy has been marked by distinct highs and lows.

In 1968, Friedmann, working at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, with the late Jay Seegmiller (a founding faculty member of the School of Medicine) and others, showed that by adding foreign DNA to cultured cells from patients with Lesch-Nyhan syndrome, they could correct genetic defects that caused the rare but devastating neurological disorder. The condition was first described by William Nyhan, M.D., a UC San Diego professor of pediatrics, and medical student Michael Lesch in 1964.

The feat was a powerful proof-of-concept, but subsequent efforts to advance the work to human clinical trials stalled. “We began to realize that it would be very complicated to take this idea and make it work in people,” Friedmann said, who joined the School of Medicine faculty in 1969.

In 1990, a 4-year-old girl with a congenital disease called adenoside deaminase (ADA) deficiency, which severely affects immunity and the ability to fight infections, became the first patient treated by gene therapy. White blood cells were taken from her, the normal ADA gene was inserted into them using an engineered and disabled virus and the cells re-injected. Despite initial claims of success, Friedmann said the experiment was eventually deemed a failure. The girl’s condition was not cured, and the research was found wanting.

A report commissioned by National Institutes of Health Director Harold Varmus, M.D., was highly critical of the entire gene therapy field and the ADA effort in particular, chiding investigators for creating a “mistaken and widespread perception of success.” Friedmann says he took the Varmus report “personally. I felt awful. It almost made me feel like I had been deceiving myself and my colleagues for more than two decades about the promise of gene therapy.” But he also knew there were “many more good people doing gene therapy research than rogues” and continued diligently and conscientiously to pursue his own research.

Nonetheless, media attention and hype about gene therapy continued to be rampant, fueled in part by over-enthusiastic opinions by some scientists. Things crashed in 1999 when an 18-year-old patient named Jesse Gelsinger, who suffered from a genetic disease of the liver, died during a clinical trial at the University of Pennsylvania. Gelsinger’s death was the first directly attributed to gene therapy. Subsequent investigations revealed numerous problems in the experimental design.

Friedmann said he has long realized that eventual success of gene therapy could not stop with a good idea and with good laboratory results but would require truly careful, rigorous and imaginative clinical studies. “That’s happened – and the field has moved greatly in the past decade.” Friedmann’s efforts have focused on development of improved virus gene transfer tools. He is pursuing studies on the application of current genetic knowledge and stem cells models to try to understand the basis for Lesch-Nyhan and identify more accessible treatment targets for gene-based and other forms of therapy. He continues to be a staunch advocate for rigorous gene therapy science elsewhere.

“Technology has gotten better. New kinds of viruses, such as the lentiviruses (a more efficient and safer gene delivery vector) were created. Disease models expanded. The science got more rigorous. I think the Japan Prize Foundation’s decision to honor Dr. Fischer and myself is even greater recognition of the field itself, how far it has come and how much promise it holds.”

In recent years, researchers in Europe and elsewhere have reported successfully treating children with SCID, a dramatic genetic disorder characterized by the lack of an immune response. These patients are extremely vulnerable to infectious diseases; previously, children with the condition had to live in highly sterile environments to avoid exposure to life-threatening infections or to undergo bone marrow transplantation. Friedmann noted that clinical trials for other conditions, such as forms of blindness, degenerative brain diseases, hemophilia and some metabolic diseases, are also proving effective and evolving rapidly into important treatments.

He added that the basic concept gene therapy – genetic correction – is now being expanded to include even more definitive methods to correct the abnormal spelling of mutated, disease-causing genes – an approach called “genome editing.”

“We’re well past the stage of having to prove the concept of gene therapy and have finally overcome our history of perhaps promising too much too soon. We’re at the point where we can truly begin to deliver real treatments to real people.”

View original article

CATEGORY: NewsComments Off

UCSF professor wins Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Sciences

Peter Walter honored for making major contributions to science as an immigrant.

Peter Walter, UC San Francisco

By Pete Farley, UC San Francisco

Peter Walter, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and biophysics, has received the 2015 Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Sciences, which recognizes major contributions to science made by immigrants to America.

Walter, professor of biochemistry and biophysics, was born in West Berlin, Germany, during the Cold War era. He joined the UCSF faculty in 1983. A Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator since 1997, Walter was honored for two main achievements. In the 1980s, while working in the Rockefeller University laboratory of Günter Blobel, Ph.D., Walter discovered a molecular apparatus in cells called the signal recognition particle, which facilitates the transport of newly minted proteins across a cellular compartment called the endoplasmic reticulum by homing in on address tags on the proteins.

Since establishing his own lab at UCSF, Walter has done groundbreaking work on a cellular quality-control system known as the unfolded protein response, or UPR. Found in organisms ranging from yeast to humans, the UPR is crucial to life, and disruptions in its workings are believed to play a role in neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, diabetes and other illnesses.

Last year, Walter was the recipient of both the Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine and the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award.

View original article


CATEGORY: NewsComments Off

UCSF professor wins NAS award for scientific discovery

Jonathan Weissman honored for helping develop a technique called ribosome profiling.

The National Academy of Sciences has bestowed UC San Francisco’s Jonathan Weissman, Ph.D., its the inaugural NAS Award for Scientific Discovery – presented in the field of chemistry, biochemistry or biophysics.

“I was thrilled and deeply honored when received word of the award,” said Weissman, a professor in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. “I think the award reflects the growing appreciation of the critical role of translational control and the ability of the ribosome profiling approach to monitor translation with unprecedented precision.”

In 2009, Weissman and colleagues at UCSF developed a technique called “ribosome profiling.” This method allows researchers to sequence chunks of messenger RNA (mRNA) that ribosomes are decoding, giving a snapshot of the genes being translated within a cell.

First applied to yeast, ribosome profiling has been since been extended to many other organisms, including humans. It has been used to identify new proteins and peptides, investigate the process of translation, measure gene expression in cells and determine rates of protein synthesis. In addition, Weissman and his team have employed ribosome profiling to make important insights into the critical role that protein synthesis plays in cell growth and differentiation.

The NAS Award for Scientific Discovery is awarded every two years to recognize an accomplishment or discovery in basic research within the past five years. The fields of science for each presentation will rotate from among chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics, astronomy, physics, and materials science. Endowed in 2014 through a gift from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA) in honor of John P. Schaefer. This award is presented with a medal, $50,000 cash prize, and $50,000 to support the recipient’s research.

View original article

CATEGORY: NewsComments Off

UC Davis burn center receives Beacon Award for Excellence

Caregivers recognized for improving patient outcomes, meeting high standards.

Members of the Burn Unit at UC Davis Medical Center

By David Ong, UC Davis

The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) recently conferred a bronze-level Beacon Award for Excellence on the Firefighters Burn Institute Regional Burn Center at UC Davis Medical Center.

The Beacon Award for Excellence — a significant milestone on the path to exceptional patient care and healthy work environments — recognizes unit caregivers who successfully improve patient outcomes and align practices with AACN’s six Healthy Work Environment Standards. Units that earn this three-year, three-level award with a gold, silver or bronze designation meet national criteria consistent with Magnet Recognition, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the National Quality Healthcare Award.

AACN President Vicki Good praised the commitment of the caregivers at the Firefighters Burn Institute Regional Burn Center for working together to meet and exceed the high standards set forth by the Beacon Award for Excellence.

“These dedicated health care professionals join other members of the exceptional community of nurses who set the standard for optimal patient care,” Good said. “The Beacon Award for Excellence recognizes caregivers in stellar units whose consistent and systematic approach to evidence-based care optimizes patient outcomes. Units that receive this national recognition serve as role models to others on their journey to excellent patient and family care.”

The bronze-level Beacon Award for Excellence earned by the Firefighters Burn Institute Regional Burn Center signifies success in developing, deploying and integrating unit-based performance criteria for optimal outcomes.

The Burn Center earned a bronze award by meeting the following evidence-based Beacon Award for Excellence criteria:

  • Leadership Structures and Systems
  • Appropriate Staffing and Staff Engagement
  • Effective Communication, Knowledge Management, Learning and Development
  • Evidence-Based Practice and Processes
  • Outcome Measurement

Other Beacon Award designations include silver and gold. Recipients who earn a silver-level award demonstrate continuous learning and effective systems to achieve optimal patient care; gold-level awardees demonstrate excellent and sustained unit performance and patient outcomes.

The Burn Center’s Beacon Award for Excellence recipients will be published in AACN Bold Voices, the monthly award-winning member magazine distributed to more than 100,000 acute and critical care nurses nationwide. AACN also honors awardees at the National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition, the world’s largest educational conference and trade show for nurses who care for acutely and critically ill patients and their families.

View original article

CATEGORY: NewsComments Off

UC San Diego professor recognized by pharmacology society

Pieter Dorrestein will receive the John Jacob Abel Award in Pharmacology.

Pieter Dorrestein, UC San Diego

By Heather Buschman, UC San Diego

Pieter Dorrestein, Ph.D., has been selected to receive the 2015 John Jacob Abel Award in Pharmacology by the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET). Dorrestein is a professor of pharmacology, chemistry and biochemistry in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at UC San Diego. The John Jacob Abel Award, ASPET’s oldest and most prestigious award, is given to young investigators to stimulate fundamental research in pharmacology and experimental therapeutics. Past recipients include several Nobel laureates. As part of the award, Dorrestein will deliver a special ASPET lecture at the annual Experimental Biology meeting in March.

“This recognition is a great credit to Pieter, the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and UC San Diego,” said Palmer Taylor, Ph.D., Sandra & Monroe Trout Endowed Chair in Pharmacology and dean emeritus of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy. “John Jacob Abel was a consummate pharmacologist and biochemist in the early 20th century — a time when constituent isolation and the biological assay reigned supreme. He would have been amazed to see how mass spectrometry and analytical technologies, as developed and applied by Pieter and his many collaborators, now dominate contemporary scientific endeavors.”

Dorrestein serves as director of the newly launched Collaborative Mass Spectrometry Innovation Center and co-director of the Institute for Metabolomic Medicine at UC San Diego. Dorrestein’s research team applies high resolution and laser imaging mass spectrometry expertise to help answer a broad range of medical and ecological research questions.

In one project, Dorrestein and colleagues are building 3-D molecular maps of people and their microbial communities. In another, the team is developing a crowdsourced infrastructure to allow researchers all over the world to help annotate all of the molecules they are detecting with mass spectrometry and to connect these molecules back to their genetic signatures. With these tools, researchers will be able to answer questions about drug metabolism and interactions with microbes, in both healthy and patient populations, and drive early drug discovery and development.

Dorrestein credits his success to his many fruitful collaborations with colleagues all across the UC San Diego campus, including the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Medicine, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Jacobs School of Engineering, and the San Diego Supercomputer Center.

“There’s also a great historical connection here — John Jacob Abel took natural substances and used them for therapeutic purposes,” Dorrestein said. “Now, 100 years later, this is what we continue to do as we work to connect genetic information to real-life molecular events, with the potential to influence the development of new therapeutics.”

John Jacob Abel founded ASPET and The Journal of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics in 1908. He also founded the American Society for Biological Chemistry and co-founded the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Abel is known for many scientific advances, including the isolation and crystallization of insulin, the identification of epinephrine as a hormone and the understanding of the action of pituitary hormones and various toxins, prior to their complete structural identification.

View original article

CATEGORY: NewsComments Off

UCSF neuroscientist wins Russ Prize, bioengineering’s highest honor

Michael Merzenich lauded for contributions to cochlear implants for the deaf.

Michael Merzenich, UC San Francisco

By Pete Farley, UC San Francisco

Ohio University and the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) announced today (Jan. 7) that UC San Francisco neuroscientist Michael M. Merzenich, Ph.D., is a winner of the 2015 Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize, the bioengineering profession’s highest honor. Merzenich shares the prize with four other scientists for their fundamental contributions to the development of cochlear implants, electrical devices that enable the deaf to hear.

The cochlear implant is the most-used neural prosthesis developed to date; more than 320,000 hearing-impaired people have received implants in one or both ears.

“This year’s Russ Prize recipients personify how engineering transforms the health and happiness of people across the globe,” said NAE President C.D. Mote Jr. “The creators of the cochlear implant have improved remarkably the lives of people everywhere who are hearing impaired.”

Cochlear implants are electronic devices that allow people with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss to hear sounds. In such implants, an externally worn audio processor detects sounds and encodes them into electrical signals that are transmitted to small, surgically implanted components that directly simulate the auditory nerve. The auditory nerve sends the signals to the brain, where they are interpreted as sounds.

Merzenich, professor emeritus of otolaryngology at UCSF, established some of the neurophysiological underpinnings of present cochlear implant designs beginning in the early 1970s. In collaboration with two UCSF colleagues, the late Robin P. Michelson, M.D., and Robert A. Schindler, M.D., professor emeritus of otolaryngology, Merzenich later conducted one of the first clinical trials of multichannel cochlear implants. These trials paved the way for the eventual commercialization of UCSF-designed devices in the late 1980s by Advanced Bionics, still one of the world’s leading manufacturers of cochlear implants.

Merzenich shares the Russ Prize with Blake S. Wilson, adjunct professor of biomedical engineering, electrical and computer engineering, and surgery at Duke University and co-director of the Duke Hearing Center; Graeme M. Clark, Ph.D., Foundation Professor of Otolaryngology at the University of Melbourne, Australia; Erwin Hochmair, DTech, professor emeritus in the Institute for Ion Physics and Applied Physics at the University of Innsbruck, Austria; and Ingeborg Hochmair-Desoyer, Ph.D., professor of biomedical engineering at the Technical University of Vienna, Austria.

“I am very, very pleased that the cochlear implant has been recognized as a significant advancement that contributes positively to the quality of life of those with hearing impairment,” said Dennis Irwin, Ph.D., dean of Ohio University’s Russ College of Engineering and Technology. “I have had the privilege of knowing and working with several individuals with profound hearing loss throughout my early life and later career, and I witnessed the difficulty several of them faced in athletic pursuits, education and their careers.”

Created by Ohio University alumnus Fritz Russ, a 1942 electrical engineering graduate, and his wife, Dolores, the Russ Prize, which carries a $500,000 award, recognizes a bioengineering achievement that has significantly improved the human condition. Awarded biennially by the NAE, the prize recognizes bioengineering achievements worldwide that are in widespread use and have improved the human condition. Previous recipients include the inventors of the implantable heart pacemaker, kidney dialysis, the automated DNA sequencer and the technology enabling LASIK and PRK eye surgeries.

View original article

CATEGORY: NewsComments Off

UCSF faculty member to receive Abelson Prize

Bruce Alberts honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Bruce Alberts, UC San Francisco

Distinguished UC San Francisco research scientist and faculty member Bruce Alberts, Ph.D., has been chosen by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to receive the 2014 Philip Hauge Abelson Prize.

Alberts — president emeritus of the National Academy of Sciences and a former editor-in-chief of the journal Sciencewas honored by AAAS for advancing science in society through his “exemplary leadership and creativity in science and technology for the national welfare,” for “inspiring young people to pursue distinguished careers in the sciences,” and for “opening new frontiers in education and public policy.”

At UCSF where he has worked since 1976, Alberts serves as Chancellor’s Leadership Chair in Biochemistry and Biophysics for Science and Education. One of the first three U.S. Science Envoys (2009-11), Alberts was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Barack Obama in 2014. He is one of the original authors of the preeminent textbook, “The Molecular Biology of the Cell.” He served two six-year terms as president of the National Academy of Sciences (1993-2005), and for nine years (2000-09), he also chaired the InterAcademy Council, an organization dedicated to providing scientific advice globally, governed by the presidents of 15 national academies of sciences.

The Abelson Prize was inspired by the late Philip Hauge Abelson, long-time senior advisor to AAAS and editor of Science. Abelson, who served as president of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, died Aug. 1, 2004, following more than 60 years of service to science and society. The award is given annually to either a public servant, in recognition of sustained exceptional contributions to advancing science, or to a scientist whose career has been distinguished both for scientific achievement, and for other notable services to the scientific community. Established in 1985 by the AAAS Board of Directors, the award consists of a commemorative medallion and an honorarium of $5,000.

“There are few other scientists with comparable scientific credentials who have contributed more to the exploration, mapping, promotion of, and advocacy for the importance of science education at both the pre-college and postsecondary levels in the United States than Dr. Alberts,” said Jay B. Labov, senior advisor for education and communication of the National Academies, in a nomination letter.

Citing  numerous accomplishments, including the establishment of the Center for Education within the National Research Council (NRC), and the National Academies’ Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Graduate Fellowship Program, Labov added that Alberts’ “has woven public service deeply, seamlessly, and inextricably into his work and throughout his work and life.” As an example, Labov noted that Alberts’ oversaw the preparation of the NRC’s influential National Science Education Standards for Grades K-12. He also set up the National Academies Teacher Advisory Council, which brings together master teachers in science, mathematics, and technology to help improve U.S. science education.

Alberts received his bachelor’s degree and then his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Harvard University in 1960 and 1965, respectively. He worked as a National Science Foundation (NSF) postdoctoral fellow in biophysics in 1965-66, before joining the faculty at Princeton University, where he became the Damon Pfeiffer Professor in Life Sciences in 1973. Three years later, he moved to UCSF, initially as a professor and vice chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics. From March 2008 until July 2013, Alberts was editor-in-chief of Science, published by AAAS, where he helped to launch science-education initiatives such as Science in the Classroom, a collection of freely available learning exercises and annotated Science research articles. He is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and awards, including the Vannevar Bush Award for public service in science and technology, bestowed by the NSF’s National Science Board. He has served on the advisory boards of more than 25 nonprofit organizations.

The Abelson Prize will be bestowed upon Alberts during the 181st AAAS Annual Meeting in San Jose, Feb. 12-16. A ceremony and reception will be held in Room 220C of the San Jose Convention Center on Feb. 13 at 6:15 p.m.

For more information on AAAS awards, see www.aaas.org/aboutaaas/awards.

View original article

Related links:

CATEGORY: NewsComments Off

UC Davis professor receives Lifetime Contribution to Dermatology award

Haines Ely honored at Cosmetic Surgery Forum.

Haines Ely, UC Davis

Haines Ely, UC Davis clinical professor of dermatology, received the “Lifetime Contribution to Dermatology” award earlier this month at the 2014 Cosmetic Surgery Forum in Las Vegas.

The forum was held Dec. 2-5, and was presented in association with Practical Dermatology Magazine.

Ely, who also is chair and chief executive officer of Valeant Pharmaceuticals, has been teaching residents in the UC Davis Department of Dermatology since 1975, and performs teledermatology consultations. He does the same duties at the Veterans Administration Hospital at Mather Air Force Base.

Ely is particularly interested in dermatologic therapy and has lectured on the most recent advances in therapy all over the U.S., as well as in Europe and Australia. At the 1996 annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, he proposed using the sap of the Euphorbia peplus plant as a skin cancer remedy. It is now on the market and commercially available.

View original article

CATEGORY: NewsComments Off

Fresno Bee: UCSF Fresno pediatric residency program

Click video for closed captions, larger view

Connect with UC

UC for California   Follow UC News on Twitter   Follow UC on Facebook   Subscribe to UC Health RSS feed

Facebook leads to lifesaving surgery at UC San Diego

Click video for closed captions, larger view


We welcome your ideas and feedback. To subscribe or send comments or suggestions, please email alec.rosenberg@ucop.edu.