TAG: "Global health"

States’ policies put health of undocumented immigrants at risk


Ohio rules create greatest health risk for undocumented residents; California the fewest.

By Gwendolyn Driscoll, UCLA

California scored the highest in a new ranking of U.S. states’ public policies and laws that support the health and well-being of undocumented immigrants.

The report, by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the UCLA Blum Center on Poverty and Health in Latin America, with support from the UC Global Health Institute, also found that Ohio had policies that were more exclusionary than those of any other state.

The report focuses on state policies as of 2014 in nine categories across five areas: public health and welfare, higher education, labor and employment, access to driver licensing and government ID card programs, and enforcement of the federal Secure Communities program — all of which influence the health of immigrants and their families.

The researchers rated each state’s policies as “inclusive” (supporting health and well-being) or “exclusive” (harming health and well-being). Scores, which ranged from +1 to -1 for each category, were then tallied for an overall rating for each state. The average total score was -2.5 points.

California scored a total of +9; liberal-leaning New York scored +1. Only six other states and Washington, D.C., had overall scores greater than 0. Other surprises: Texas, frequently in the news for its conservative policies, scored +2 overall, making it one of the five most inclusive states. And Florida, which has a large population of recent immigrants, earned a -3. In all, 41 states were in negative territory.

See the results in a sortable, state-by-state list.

States with the top five and bottom six overall scores:

Top 5
1. California +9
2. Illinois +7
3. Washington +4
4. (tie) Colorado +2
4. (tie) Texas  +2

Bottom 6
51. Ohio -7
50. (tie) Alabama -6
50. (tie) Arizona -6
50. (tie) Indiana -6
50. (tie) Mississippi -6
50. (tie) West Virginia -6

“It is frustrating that so many states have policies that ignore or exclude a group of people who work hard and contribute so much to our society,” said Steven P. Wallace, associate director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and co-author of the report. “The neglect or outright discrimination of the undocumented does not just hurt workers and their families; it hurts the communities that rely on them for the basic labor that makes our society function.”

Policies affect millions

The states’ public policies — and how each responds to flexibility in federal laws — affect the estimated 11.2 million undocumented immigrants living in the country, according to the report. The policies evaluated in the study also affect about 4 million U.S.-born children who live in “mixed-status” families, in which at least one parent is undocumented.

Laws in Arizona — including its immigration status check provision — and in other states have attracted federal court challenges and much media attention. Yet many state laws that can either promote or complicate the health of undocumented immigrants receive little attention.

Examples of beneficial or harmful policy outcomes, by program area:

Public health and welfare. Some states offer child health insurance or similar benefits regardless of immigration status, and some offer full Medicaid to pregnant undocumented women, but many do not. Most states determine eligibility for food stamps (now known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) by factoring in the family’s income and the number of all family members, regardless of their immigration status. But five states, including Arizona and Ohio, calculate eligibility for assistance using the income of all family members, but determine “family size” based only on those who are citizens or lawful permanent residents. This makes it more difficult for families with undocumented members to qualify.

Higher education. Twenty states, including California, Illinois, Florida, New York and Texas, allow undocumented students who attended secondary school in the state to pay in-state tuition for colleges and universities. Five of those, including California and Texas, also offer scholarship funding for those students. The rest require undocumented college students to pay out-of-state tuition, even if they attended K-12 in-state. Among the most exclusive is Georgia, which bars undocumented students from attending many of its public colleges and universities — even if they graduated from high schools in the state.

Labor and employment. Ten states’ workers’ compensation laws classify undocumented workers as “employees,” which qualifies them for workers’ compensation if they are injured on the job. But many states encourage public and private employers making hiring decisions to use the federal employment tool, E-verify, to check if an immigrant is authorized to work. Twenty states require state agencies, state contractors and/or private employers to use E-Verify; only two — California and Illinois — limit its use.

Access to driver’s licenses and government IDs. While some undocumented people can obtain identifications cards from their consular offices, cities such as Chicago, Oakland and San Francisco offer municipal IDs, which allow more access to public and private services. As of 2014, six states — California, Colorado, Illinois, Oregon, Utah and Washington — have laws that provide driver’s licenses to undocumented residents. But a federal law, REAL ID, puts restrictions on states that grant driver’s licenses or other IDs to the undocumented. Half of the states have passed resolutions or statute opposing the law.

Secure Communities. This enforcement program required that local police share information with federal immigration authorities, and it has contributed to the deportation of roughly 400,000 people per year, according to Pew Research. This has separated families and put stress on immigrants’ finances and health, the authors write. California, Connecticut and Colorado have adopted policies that prevent some undocumented immigrants charged with low-level, nonviolent offenses from being turned over to federal immigration authorities. Secure Communities was replaced by the Priority Enforcement Program, which does not require local law enforcement agencies to share information gathered in an arrest with the federal government.

Even high-scoring states can improve

Even the states that earned positive scores have room for improvement. The authors recommend actions all states can take to create a better environment for undocumented immigrants:

• Strengthen laws that secure undocumented immigrants’ rights in the five areas reviewed in the report.
• Buffer federal laws that restrict undocumented immigrants’ rights or access to resources.
• Focus on passing laws that are inclusive, rather than laws that explicitly exclude residents based on their legal status.
• More closely examine public policies for their ultimate impact on undocumented immigrants’ health.

“State and national lawmakers must recognize the value undocumented immigrants have in our country,” said Dr. Michael Rodriguez, co-author of the report, of the Blum Center and a faculty associate at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. “States must understand the critical role their policies play in promoting or hindering the well-being of undocumented immigrants who are an important part of the economic, political and social fabric of our nation.”

A report launch seminar with the authors, “The Healthiest (and Most Unhealthy) States to Be an Undocumented Immigrant: A Review of State Health Policies,” will be held from 12-1 p.m. today (April 16) at 10960 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1550, Los Angeles.

A special plenary session, “No Federal Immigration Reform? What States Can Do to Improve the Health of Undocumented Workers,” will be held from 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Saturday, April 18, during UC Global Health Day at UCLA, Covel Commons, 200 De Neve Drive, Los Angeles. Registration for UC Global Health Day is required for admission. Onsite: general $75, student $50.

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UC Davis to host town hall on proposed school of population, global health


Event will be April 16 in Sacramento.

By Carole Gan, UC Davis

A town hall meeting to discuss the proposed UC Davis School of Population and Global Health will be held on Thursday, April 16, from noon to 1 p.m., at the Education Building, 4610 X St., Room 1204, in Sacramento.

UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi recently assigned Kenneth Kizer the responsibility to lead an effort to create a new School of Population and Global Health at UC Davis. Kizer is the director of the Institute for Population Health Improvement at UC Davis Health System and a distinguished professor at the School of Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. Kizer also serves as a member of the Institute of Medicine’s Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice.

Katehi asked Kizer to explore the creation of the new school based on a recognition of the trans-disciplinary approaches needed to address growing health challenges resulting from changing demographics, greater global connectivity, climate and other environmental changes, new technologies and modern society itself.

The proposed school envisions aligning education and training in human and animal health sciences, agriculture, environmental and life sciences, and the social sciences to better prepare leaders, scholars and practitioners to address the many health challenges of an increasingly crowded and connected planet.

Those planning on attending should RSVP by April 9 to Kathleen MacColl at kcmaccoll@ucdavis.edu or (916) 734-7722.

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Secondhand smog


Scientists determine amount of ozone pollution drifting to California from overseas.

Ian Faloona, UC Davis

By Kat Kerlin, UC Davis

Approximately 10 percent of ozone pollution in California’s San Joaquin Valley is estimated to be coming from outside of the state’s borders, particularly from Asia, according to preliminary research presented today (March 31) by the University of California, Davis.

Secondhand smog from Asia and other international sources is finding its way into one of the nation’s most polluted air basins, the San Joaquin Valley. UC Davis atmospheric scientist Ian Faloona shared his research with air quality regulators and scientists today at a transboundary pollution conference near Yosemite National Park. The issue serves as an example of how air quality is a global — not just local — problem.

“To me, it’s an exciting new chapter of how we think of air pollution,” Faloona said. “How do we deal with this not just as an air district of a couple of counties, but as a nation and a global citizen of the planet? Traditionally, air pollution has always been considered an issue to be handled locally, ‘It’s your backyard, it’s your problem.’ But we’re going to have to treat air pollution to some extent how we treat greenhouse gases.”

[Audio clip (1 min, 3 sec) ]

Up in the air

When someone smokes a cigarette next to you, you know that secondhand smoke is harmful to your lungs, even though you aren’t the smoker. But what about when your neighbor is thousands of miles away, and the pollution they are emitting is from an industrial plant, millions of cars, or a raging wildfire?

Scientists have long known that a portion of ozone pollution was coming from overseas, but attempts to quantify just how much were hamstrung by coarse computer models that overlooked or broadly simplified California’s complex terrain.

Faloona describes California as if it were a human body: The Golden Gate bridge is the mouth, breathing in air from across the Pacific Ocean, sucking it through the throat of the Bay Area and into the lungs of the San Joaquin Valley. Previously unknown is how much air comes over the coastal mountain range and mixes from above into the bathtub of the San Joaquin Valley.

UC Davis researchers have spent the past three years trying to measure that contribution from a mountaintop air quality monitoring station near California’s Point Sur. They’ve also gathered it from a plane equipped with scientific instruments that measure air pollutant levels — a flying air monitoring station of sorts. The combined data has allowed them to analyze the “signature” of the sources and quantify how much of the valley’s ozone pollution is locally produced, and how much is drifting across from international sources.

Every little bit counts

The research comes as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed tightening ozone limits from 75 parts per billion to between 65 ppb and 70 ppb, later this year. (A final rule is due Oct. 1.) In the San Joaquin Valley, which includes the cities of Fresno, Stockton and Bakersfield, asthma rates are roughly twice that of the rest of the state. Such a change by the EPA is expected to push much of the valley further out of compliance.

Air districts are financially penalized and considered out of compliance for going over federal ozone pollution thresholds, known as National Ambient Air Quality Standards. As they continue to work to improve local air quality, regulators have an increasing stake in being able to account for how much pollution is within their local control and how much is not.

“In addressing the tremendous public health challenge we face in reducing ozone, it is critical to accurately identify the sources of ozone pollution so that solutions can be appropriately targeted,” said Seyed Sadredin, executive director of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. “The scientific information being discussed at the transboundary ozone conference will be invaluable to many regions throughout the nation.”

Share the air

Faloona notes that the majority of the air pollution in California is coming from local sources, which requires further work. His research is not about pointing fingers but about having a clearer picture of where pollution comes from — and how a global community can help reduce it.

“One of the reasons I was so drawn to atmospheric science is because we’re intimately sharing this substance that’s totally vital to us,” Faloona said. “Air is something that we have to share. To me, it’s always been an obvious connector of people. We’re becoming more cognizant of how connected we are and how all of our decisions have to be made on a global scale from here on in.”

[Audio clip (27 sec) ]

The research was funded by the San Joaquin Valley Air Quality Control District.

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UC Global Health Institute hosts policy briefing


Institute prepares for UC Global Health Day, second policy briefing, April 18 at UCLA.

Policy briefing presenters and UC Global Health Institute leadership (from left): Christopher Paige, Haile Debas, Joel Diringer, Marc Schenker, Yissel Barajas, Gil Ojeda and Thomas Coates.

The UC Global Health Institute hosted its first policy briefing March 17 with a focus on the health status of California’s largely immigrant, agricultural workforce.

The institute also is gearing up for UC Global Health Day, April 18 at UCLA, which will include a second policy briefing with a focus on undocumented workers and their families.

Farmworkers are a vulnerable population facing disparities in health and access to care, among many others. More than 80 people attended this policy briefing at UC Center Sacramento, which highlighted strategies on how to improve the health of this population. (View the briefing, courtesy of The California Channel.)

Speakers included Gil Ojeda, director of the California Program on Access to Care at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health; Tom Coates, director of UCLA’s Center for World Health and co-director of the UC Global Health Institute; and UC Davis public health sciences professor Marc Schenker, co-director of the Center of Expertise on Migration and Health within the UC Global Health Institute.

Schenker was lead author on the corresponding white paper. The paper included 11 policy recommendations to expand health insurance/access, improve public health infrastructure, increase the number of health workers and occupational safety employees, establish fairness across industry, improve living conditions, and promote agricultural safety and health education.

A panel including representatives from a nonprofit, social services organization; a farmworker advisory group; and a major California berry grower provided responses to the presentation.

The event launched the first of two policy papers from the UC Global Health Institute this year – with the second paper to focus on state-level policy and legislative changes to benefit undocumented workers and their families.

The second policy paper will be the topic of a special plenary session during UC Global Health Day, April 18 at UCLA. A diverse panel will engage in a dynamic discussion of a forthcoming white paper on this timely issue. The brief is sponsored by the UC Global Health Institute, with support from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

Presented by the UC Global Health Institute, UC Global Health Day is an annual conference that showcases the research, training and outreach in global health being undertaken across the University of California.

It’s a chance for UC students, fellows, faculty, staff and visiting scholars to share their current work in global health. The day will feature plenary sessions, posters and concurrent breakout sessions covering a broad range of global health topics. The keynote speaker will be Patrick Soon-Shiong, founder and CEO of NantHealth, chairman of the Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation, and chairman and CEO of the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute of Molecular Medicine. Registration costs $75 for general admission and $50 for students. To register online by April 14, visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/uc-global-health-day-2015-tickets-15838746116.

For questions, email ucghi@globalhealth.ucsf.edu.

About the UC Global Health Institute
The UC Global Health Institute advances the mission of the 10-campus University of California system to improve the lives of people in California and around the world. By stimulating education, research and partnerships, the institute leverages the diverse intellectual resources across the university to train the next generation of global health leaders and accelerate the discovery and implementation of transformative global health solutions.

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The path to eradicating Ebola


New technology helps UCSF volunteers continue to fight Ebola.

By Kathleen Masterson, UC San Francisco

The worst Ebola outbreak in history is not yet over.

While Ebola no longer dominating headlines and nightly newscasts, global health care workers remain in West Africa fighting the deadly virus and helping communities still reeling from the outbreak. More than 9,700 people have died of the disease since the epidemic emerged in December 2013, according to the World Health Organization.

For many on the frontlines, there’s also a bigger opportunity: leveraging the global outcry to improve health system infrastructure and disease surveillance in countries still trying to recover from decades of civil war.

Ebola response volunteers joined leading researchers at a Feb. 26 UC San Francisco town hall meeting to discuss the current state of the outbreak – and the path forward. The UCSF community also took the time to recognize the courageous work by volunteers who worked on the ground in West Africa, as well as those who ensured we were prepared for potential cases at UCSF Medical Center.

“It’s certainly fitting that Time magazine named Ebola responders as the persons of the year,” said Chancellor Sam Hawgood, M.B.B.S. “They certainly should be hailed as heroes, no question about that. So today I’d like to take a moment to recognize and show appreciation for more than 100 local and global UCSF responders to Ebola.”

Testing new Ebola diagnostic tools

Despite the containment of Ebola in some countries, volunteer responders are still needed in West Africa.

Sierra Leone and Guinea continue to face new Ebola cases and ongoing struggles with the virus, while the Ebola outbreak in Liberia appears to be contained, said George Rutherford, M.D., who serves as the director of the Global Health Sciences Prevention and Public Health Group and co-chair of the Chancellor’s Ebola Task Force.

“As of Feb. 18, 23,350 cases had been reported worldwide,” said Rutherford. “Currently Sierra Leone has substantially more cases than other countries.”

To that end, researchers and clinicians are testing and implementing a new rapid Ebola diagnostic field tool in Sierra Leone.

It’s a simple dipstick that tests a tiny prick of blood from a patient’s finger, giving results within minutes. The tool can be transported to remote clinics across the country, and requires no complex machinery other than refrigeration.

“It’s a game-changer,” said Dan Kelly, M.D. ”It will change the way we approach screening and triage with patients, and not just at Ebola treatment units but through all clinics, as well as potentially at schools and other facilities.”

Initial data suggest this dipstick tool is effective in screening for Ebola.

Kelly and responders investigated the point-of-care diagnostic tool in the field and plan to release this final level of validation testing before clinical use. Then, he will begin to evaluate the clinical outcomes, looking to answer such questions as: Does the result from the rapid diagnostic predict survival? Can its clinical use improve mortality rates?

Kelly has been working with Sierra Leonean medical staff to improve health infrastructure since he co-founded the Wellbody Alliance in 2006 with Mohamed Bailor Barrie, M.B.Ch.B., a Sierra Leonean doctor who is now a global health fellow at Harvard University.

Kelly, who is curently on leave to boost response efforts in Sierra Leone, is one of a dozen UCSF trainees and faculty members to respond to the outbreak in West Africa.

“Given the altruism of our faculty and staff, we have made a conscious decision to facilitate their involvement in providing care to patients in West Africa.” said Rutherford. “UCSF, in contrast to other North American academic medical centers, has been remarkably foresighted about the Ebola outbreak.”

Better diagnostics beyond Ebola

UCSF researchers are also working on diagnostic tools that could detect not only Ebola, but other causes of acute hemorrhagic fever that up until recently were more common than Ebola.

“We need tools in the field to not only diagnose Ebola, but also distinguish it from Lassa, malaria, typhoid and dengue,” said Charles Chiu, M.D., Ph.D., an infectious disease specialist who is working on validating the data from early prototypes of a comprehensive diagnostic test for hemorrhagic fever. Malaria is endemic in West Africa, and Lassa fever causes more than 300,000 cases in West Africa each year.

“These infections can all cause a similar clinical illness, and Ebola hemorrhagic fever actually presents more like flu in the early stages, so it’s critical to have a test that could be rapidly implemented once a person rolls into the clinic.”

Accurately identifying a person’s illness could curb the spread of an epidemic like Ebola, and help get the patient more quickly get the treatment he or she needs.

Beyond individual diagnosis, a test that can simultaneously test for eight different hemorrhagic fever diseases will be an invaluable tool for local, regional and global health surveillance, said Chiu.

“Once these surveillance measures are in place, they will help prevent this outbreak from spreading, because if we can curtail it early on, we can limit the disease to very few people,” said Chiu.

Creating lasting change in global response

Better disease surveillance is indeed a key part of building a stronger health care infrastructure – not just in West Africa, but for our a global community.

The flurry of international attention and the horror of the disease did serve to highlight how woefully unprepared some African countries and global health organizations are to manage an outbreak like this, said Eric Goosby, M.D., the director for Global Health Delivery and Diplomacy in UCSF Global Health Sciences.

“Up until now, strengthening the health system hasn’t been a high priority because it’s not sexy, but now I think it’s at the front of the discussion, and I hope we can keep it there.”

Goosby – former global AIDS coordinator for the Obama administration who recently was appointed the United Nations Special Envoy on Tuberculosis – has been closely involved in ongoing reforms at the World Health Organization, which he said has involved unusually frank discussions of its current efforts and how they can be realistically enhanced. Local and international officials are trying to understand what happened, what didn’t happen, who was in charge and how to put disease reporting mechanisms in place. It’s all led to difficult conversations among the highest levels at WHO and the UN, he said.

“I believe [these discussions] have generated a substantive move to understand the specifics, and to use our findings as opportunity to pivot into real solutions that will be laid in place over next few years,” said Goosby.

“I don’t believe it’s there by any means yet, but I’ve never seen the movement that has occurred before,” he said. “I’m quite optimistic.”

Helping on the homefront

Here are some ways the UCSF community rallied to help in the Ebola response, even without leaving the country.

  • As Ebola cases started being reported in the U.S., more than 100 UCSF Medical Center staff volunteered and went through training to serve in an Ebola Isolation Unit constructed at Mount Zion to handle potential cases. “It was heartwarming, how quick and easy it was to recruit for this position,” said Adrienne Green, M.D., associate chief medical officer at UCSF Medical Center.
  • UCSF created a “vacation bank” where employees could donate vacation time, so Ebola volunteers traveling to West Africa needn’t take unpaid leave. More than 2,000 hours have been donated. In one infectious diseases division, within an hour after an e-mail went out asking people to pitch in, two months’ worth of shifts had been filled.

To learn more about UCSF efforts, watch a replay of the Ebola town hall meeting here.

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Registration opens for UC Global Health Day


Feb. 27 is submission deadline for student video and student plenary contests.

Early-bird registration is now open for UC Global Health Day, April 18 at UCLA.

Presented by the UC Global Health Institute, UC Global Health Day is an annual conference that showcases the research, training and outreach in global health being undertaken across the University of California.

This event is an opportunity for UC students, fellows, faculty, staff and visiting scholars to share their current work in global health. The day will feature plenary sessions, posters and concurrent breakout sessions covering a broad range of global health topics.

For those who register before March 20, registration costs $50 for general admission and $25 for students. For those who register between March 21 and April 14, registration costs $75 for general admission and $50 for students. To register, visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/uc-global-health-day-2015-tickets-15838746116.

UC Global Health Day also will feature a student video contest and student plenary contest. The submission deadline for those contests is at 11:59 p.m. today (Feb. 27).

Read more at the UC Global Health Institute website

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Recommendations for improving farmworker health to be unveiled

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Recommendations for improving farmworker health to be unveiled


Briefing will be held March 17 at UC Center Sacramento.

>>Register for briefing

By Pat Bailey, UC Davis

An update on the status of health among agricultural workers and their families, as well as policy recommendations for making related health care advances, will be presented from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, at UC Center Sacramento.

“A variety of social, economic and political factors have converged to create a uniquely opportune moment to take action and improve the health of farmworkers and their families,” said Marc Schenker, distinguished professor of public health sciences and medicine at UC Davis and co-director of the Center of Expertise on Migration and Health of the UC Global Health Institute (UCGHI).

Policy recommendations will involve health care funding and insurance, occupational safety, labor law enforcement, and improving farmworker living conditions.

In addition to Schenker, speakers at the briefing will include Gil Ojeda, director of the California Program on Access to Care at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, and Tom Coates, director of UCLA’s Center for World Health and co-director of the UC Global Health Institute. A panel including representatives from a nonprofit social services organization, a farmworker advisory group and a major California berry grower will provide responses to the presentation.

The presentation is free and open to the public, however attendees are asked to register at http://tinyurl.com/pjlgge7. The UC Center Sacramento is located at 1130 K St., Sacramento.

The event is sponsored by the UC Global Health Institute, with support from the California Program on Access to Care, Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety, Migration and Health Research Center, and Health Initiative of the Americas.

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Airport screening for viruses can be improved, says UCLA-led study


Current airport screening misses at least half of infected travelers, researchers find.

By Jennifer Mitchell, UCLA

In the past decade, the H1N1 virus and Ebola are just two of the diseases whose spread was spurred by international airline travel. Screening passengers at airports, therefore, could be one key method for slowing the global spread of infectious diseases.

And although a team lead by UCLA researchers has found that airport screening misses at least half of infected travelers, the scientists say that rate could be improved. Their research was published in eLife, a highly regarded open-access online science journal.

The life scientists used a mathematical model to analyze screening for six viruses: the SARS coronavirus, the Ebola virus, the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, the Marburg virus, Influenza H1N1 and Influenza H7N9.

“We found that for diseases with a long incubation period, such as Marburg and Ebola, taking passengers’ temperature to test for fever is particularly ineffective at the start of an epidemic but does pick up more cases as the epidemic stabilizes,” said Katelyn Gostic, a lead author of the study and a UCLA doctoral student in the laboratory of Professor James Lloyd-Smith. “With diseases such as swine flu, which take a shorter time to incubate, fever screening is the most effective method throughout an epidemic.”

Depending on the circumstances, airport workers conduct screenings before passengers board their flights, when they land at their destinations, or both. The researchers write that although fever screening on arrival has been criticized for being ineffective, it can catch cases that are missed before passengers’ flights depart. Screeners often use infrared non-contact thermometers to help identify sick passengers, but previous studies have shown that the devices identify fevers no more than 70 percent of the time, so the “double-check” of arriving passengers can help catch people who were missed before their departures.

Currently, traveler questionnaires are one of the tools screeners use — asking passengers, for example, whether they have been in contact with an infected individual (in the case of Ebola) or have handled live poultry (for viruses like avian influenza). The researchers write that screeners could more effectively identify sick passengers if those who create those questionnaires understand the risk factors for each disease, which would help them to better tailor the surveys.

The researchers found that no more than 25 percent of passengers answered honestly about whether they had been exposed to influenza during the 2009 pandemic, and that some may have hidden their symptoms by taking medication.

“Anyone who reports honestly puts himself or herself at risk of delay or detainment; this is a terrible incentive for truthful reporting,” Gostic said. “A high number of people use over-the-counter drugs like acetaminophen that conceal fevers and can make their symptoms undetectable, which is likely an overlooked problem.”

Lloyd-Smith, a UCLA associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and senior author of the research, said current screening programs can reduce the rate of importing infections, but nowhere close to zero.

“Even under the best-case scenarios we considered, arrival screening missed at least half of infected travelers for all pathogens,” he said. “Traveler screening by these methods is inherently leaky.”

The researchers identified ways to make current screening as effective as possible and highlighted how it can be improved.

“An important gap is that we have little direct data on the efficacy of departure screening,” Lloyd-Smith said. “This is needed to weigh the benefits of different screening policies and areas for investment. For example, in the current Ebola outbreak, how many potential travelers were turned away before boarding airplanes to depart West Africa? Of these, how many were actually Ebola cases? There is broad agreement that departure screening is probably more efficient than arrival screening, but we don’t actually have any examples where we know how well it worked in practice.”

In the paper, the researchers recommend cost-effectiveness studies that allow policy makers to assess the social and economic impact of screening policies at departure and arrival, but note that these studies will require more extensive data on the efficacy of current screening practices. They also recommend studies to quantify how many travelers are using fever-suppressing drugs, and evaluating the possible use of incentives to encourage honest reporting.

Adam Kucharski from the London School of Tropical Hygiene and Medicine was the study’s other co-author. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Medical Research Council in the U.K.

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Doctorate program will study substance abuse, its consequences


Collaboration between UC San Diego, SDSU among first in nation.

By Scott LaFee, UC San Diego

A new Joint Doctoral Program (JDP) in Interdisciplinary Research on Substance Use has been launched by the Division of Global Public Health in the UC San Diego School of Medicine and San Diego State University’s School of Social Work. The program will emphasize research devoted to studying the use and misuse of alcohol and drugs – and related social and health consequences.

“This program is the first of its kind,” said JDP co-director Steffanie Strathdee, Ph.D., professor and head of the UC San Diego Global Health Initiative. “Given that substance use has a growing health and societal impact in the U.S. and globally, this program could not come at a better time.”

The JDP will focus on research designed to identify and assess substance use risk and create intervention programs for preventing or ameliorating high‐risk behaviors related to substance use. It will include training to craft and evaluate disease prevention and health promotion recommendations and help guide public health policies.

María Luisa Zúñiga, Ph.D., JDP co-director and associate professor in SDSU’s School of Social Work, said “SDSU and UC San Diego have a long history of jointly offering cutting edge, high-demand programs. This new doctoral program is designed to train the next generation of researchers to lead interdisciplinary research efforts that will meaningfully address substance use issues of national and global impact. Our graduates will be highly sought after in fields including medicine, social work and public health, as well as research firms and governmental health departments.”

The new JDP is the 14th such program offered by UC San Diego and SDSU. Others include highly acclaimed programs in public health and clinical psychology.

Funding from SDSU Division of Academic Affairs and College of Health and Human Services will cover tuition fees and a teaching associate stipend for four students per year for up to four years. Students will spend the first year of study at SDSU, the second at UC San Diego and subsequent years working with faculty from both campuses.

For more information on the joint doctoral program in Interdisciplinary Substance Use Studies, visit socialwork.sdsu.edu/degrees-programs/graduate-programs/phd-substance-use-studies/phd-overview.

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Genomics initiative launch draws enthusiastic industry, academic partners


UC Berkeley-UCSF partnership will apply new gene-editing techniques to improve health.

By Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley

Several hundred guests crowded the lobby of the Li Ka Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences Wednesday night (Feb. 4) as the campus celebrated the launch of the Innovative Genomics Initiative (IGI), a partnership between UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco researchers and the biopharmaceutical industry to perfect new gene-editing techniques and apply them to drug development and global health in general.

Among the attendees were a representative from the Li Ka Shing Foundation, which was an early lead supporter of IGI, as well as representatives from two pharmaceutical companies – AstraZeneca and Agilent – that have signed agreements to partner with IGI to use the CRISPR/Cas9 technology to better understand diseases and speed the development of new drugs to treat them.

“The science is cool, but the kind of collaborative structure we have is cool as well,” said Lorenz Mayr, vice president for reagents and assay development at AstraZeneca.

IGI, located in the Li Ka Shing Center for Genomic Engineering, was formed after Berkeley biochemist Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues discovered precision “DNA scissors,” a complex of RNA and protein called CRISPR/Cas9, that can snip DNA at very specific targets in a the genome, allowing scientists to cut out or edit defective genes, or add new genes. Doudna, a professor of molecular and cellular biology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, hopes that IGI will make the Bay Area, with its wealth of scientific and clinical research and its business, technology and investment innovation, a global hub for development and application of the groundbreaking technology.

“The Bay Area offers a unique combination of world-leading academic research facilities and clinical institutions with a vibrant and innovative biotech sector,” said Doudna, who cofounded IGI with Jonathan Weissman, a UCSF professor of cellular and molecular pharmacology and HHMI investigator. “There is no better place in the world to spark innovation and discovery in the field of genomics.”

The technology is already being explored by IGI collaborator Jennifer Puck, medical director of the UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s Pediatric Clinical Research Center, as a possible way to treat severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), often called the “Bubble Boy” disease. Puck’s work has focused on the genetic cause of SCID and the development of gene-targeted therapies for SCID.

Other scientists around the globe are applying CRISPR/Cas9 to understand and explore new treatments for diabetes, HIV/AIDS, blood cancers and rare genetic diseases like Huntington’s.

“Professor Jennifer Doudna’s groundbreaking scientific work and her launch of the Innovative Genomics Initiative are emblematic of all that we strive for in our research endeavors at Berkeley,” UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said in a statement. “With its enormous potential to dramatically improve the health and well-being of people around the world, the IGI is another wonderful example of how this university’s research enterprise contributes to the greater good.”

AstraZeneca, IGI’s first partner, plans to use CRISPR/Cas9 to identify and validate gene targets relevant to cancer; cardiovascular, metabolic, respiratory, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases; and regenerative medicine to understand their precise roles in these conditions.

“We are excited to pair the IGI’s premier expertise in CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing and regulation with AstraZeneca’s deep experience in therapeutics,” said Jacob Corn, IGI’s scientific director. “I’m confident that, in working side-by-side with scientists at AstraZeneca, our collaboration will positively impact drug discovery and development to hasten treatments to patients.”

For more on IGI’s new partnerships, link to IGI’s website and AstraZeneca’s press release.

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1,000th solar suitcase is beacon in developing world


This innovation out of UC Berkeley has saved lives in places where light, power unreliable.

In 2008, an idea for bringing solar-powered light and electricity to energy-starved sub-Saharan Africa was burning brightly in Laura Stachel’s mind.

Stachel, an obstetrician turned public health graduate student at UC Berkeley, was appalled at conditions she saw at a maternity ward in a hospital in northern Nigeria. Frequent power outages meant emergency patient care was delayed, disrupted, or just impossible.

Stachel and her husband, solar energy educator Hal Aronson, devised the solar suitcase — delivering power and light from a most reliable source, the sun. The Blum Center for Developing Economies, at UC Berkeley, helped bring We Care Solar to life. Now, the nonprofit has shipped its 1,000th solar suitcase to provide electricity to health clinics trying to recover from the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone.

Read more on the Blum Center’s site

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UC San Diego, Perdana partner to advance medical education, research


Collaboration with Malaysian university will bring opportunities for both institutions.

UC San Diego and Perdana University in Malaysia have announced a medical education partnership.

By Jackie Carr, UC San Diego

Officials of UC San Diego and Perdana University in Malaysia have announced a plan to collaborate on further development of the Perdana University Graduate School of Medicine (PUGSOM). UC San Diego was chosen from among the top schools of medicine in the United States to lead this initiative.

“UC San Diego has a long history of excellence in education, research and medicine,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “Our School of Medicine is ranked among the nation’s top graduate programs, and UC San Diego Health System has been ranked number one in San Diego for four consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report. We are excited to share our expertise and knowledge in the power of academic medicine, and collaborate with Perdana University in joint research efforts.”

“Perdana University is delighted to work together with UC San Diego. This collaboration will bring tremendous opportunities to both institutions. This venture will drive Perdana University towards its goal of achieving international distinction as well as bring it recognition as an elite and successful academic institution,” said YABhg Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, chancellor of Perdana University.

The collaboration is designed to help Perdana University (PU) capitalize on the breadth and depth of UC San Diego’s experience in stimulating and helping to sustain San Diego’s status as a major research, health care and biotechnology hub.

“The 10-year joint collaboration will focus on enhancing and implementing a forward-thinking medical curriculum, a model for comprehensive patient care and a platform for innovative world-class research in Malaysia and Southeast Asia,” said David A. Brenner, M.D., vice chancellor for health sciences and dean of the UC San Diego School of Medicine. “Opportunities for clinical research from a global health perspective will exist in many areas, including cardiovascular, neuroscience, tropical diseases, diabetes, cancer and trauma care.”

“This collaboration will help PU to achieve its vision of becoming a top-tier academic medical center serving the 21st century health care needs of Malaysia and the broader region,” said Tan Sri Datuk Dr. Mohan Swami, chairman of the Board of Governors of Perdana University. “It will also accelerate the growth of a vibrant biomedical research, biotechnology and pharmaceutical infrastructure, helping to elevate Malaysia as a global center for translational medicine.”

“This is an exciting and important collaboration that will benefit both universities through shared knowledge and expertise, and especially through joint research,” said Mounir Soliman, M.D., M.B.A., assistant vice chancellor and executive director of UC San Diego Health Sciences International. “Joint research will help improve health in Malaysia and empower Perdana University Graduate School of Medicine to train the future health care workforce. Perdana University is the first medical school in Malaysia to offer graduate entry medical education similar to the United States model.”

Professor Dato’ Sothi Rachagan, vice chancellor, and Ph.D. barrister of law of Perdana University also stated that UC San Diego Health Sciences will assist in creating and refining the organizational infrastructure and facilities necessary for the continued growth of the graduate medical school program, including faculty recruitment, academic program development, student enrollment and the advancement of research and clinical needs.

“We envision a collaboration that will facilitate two-way transfer of knowledge, operational expertise and accrued health care experience to the benefit of both institutions. We are committed to working closely with PU to listen, learn, then plan, and finally bring these plans to fruition,” said Soliman who will lead the planning and implementation of this venture.

The collaboration between UC San Diego and PUGSOM will include exchange of faculty, students and staff. Faculty members from UC San Diego will travel to PUGSOM as visiting faculty to facilitate collaborative educational and research programs. PUGSOM faculty members may travel to UC San Diego to gain valuable skills and knowledge.

“In addition to Perdana University Graduate School of Medicine’s strong education focus, there will be future opportunities for collaboration in biomedical research, including bioengineering and technology, as well as for planned new academic teaching facilities, which include a 600-bed hospital,” said Tan Sri Datuk Dr. Mohan Swami.

Perdana University Graduate School of Medicine was established in 2011 with the vision of contributing to the global community through the pursuit of excellence in education, research and service. PUGSOM is intended to promote intellectual discovery, generate and spread state-of-the art knowledge and be a center of excellence in medical education based on a graduate entry level approach. Perdana University was established as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative with the support of the Economic Planning Unit in the Prime Minister’s Department.

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