TAG: "Innovation"

Spinal stimulation helps four paraplegic men move their legs


UCLA involved in study of breakthrough therapy.

Patient Kent Stephenson voluntarily raises his leg.

Four young men who have been paralyzed for years achieved groundbreaking progress — moving their legs — as a result of epidural electrical stimulation of the spinal cord, an international team of life scientists reports today in the medical journal Brain.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Louisville, UCLA and the Pavlov Institute of Physiology, was funded in part by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

All four participants were classified as suffering from chronic, motor complete spinal cord injuries and were unable to move their lower extremities prior to the implantation of an epidural stimulator. The stimulator delivers a continuous electrical current to the participants’ lower spinal cords, mimicking signals the brain normally transmits to initiate movement.

The research builds on an initial study, published in May 2011 in the journal The Lancet, that evaluated the effects of epidural stimulation in the first participant, Rob Summers of Portland, Ore., who recovered a number of motor functions as a result of the intervention.

Now, three years later, the key findings documented in Brain detail the impact of epidural stimulation in a total four participants, including new tests conducted on Summers. Summers was paralyzed after being struck by a vehicle, and the other three participants were paralyzed in auto or motorcycle accidents.

What is revolutionary, the scientists said, is that the second, third and fourth participants — Kent Stephenson of Mt. Pleasant, Texas; Andrew Meas of Louisville, Ky.; and Dustin Shillcox of Green River, Wyo. — were able to execute voluntary movements immediately following the implantation and activation of the stimulator.

The participants’ results and recovery time were unexpected, which led researchers to speculate that some pathways may be intact post-injury and therefore able to facilitate voluntary movements.

“Two of the four subjects were diagnosed as motor and sensory complete injured with no chance of recovery at all,” said lead author Claudia Angeli, a senior researcher with the Human Locomotor Research Center at Frazier Rehab Institute and an assistant professor at University of Louisville’s Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center (KSCIRC). “Because of epidural stimulation, they can now voluntarily move their hips, ankles and toes. This is groundbreaking for the entire field and offers a new outlook that the spinal cord, even after a severe injury, has great potential for functional recovery.”

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UC awards four grants to expand health care innovations


Projects have shown potential to improve care.

The University of California has awarded four grants totaling $2.5 million to scale up proposals that have shown potential to improve health care while delivering a return on investment to UC medical centers.

The fellowships expand proposals that already are funded by the UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation (CHQI) and that have demonstrated they can provide better care and better health with lower costs.

The grants include UC Health projects to reduce emergency room visits among psychiatric patients, expand access to specialty care, develop a tobacco cessation network, and support efforts to standardize treatment for hip and knee replacements.

“We’re excited to extend our support to proven projects so that they can be replicated across UC medical centers,” said Karyn DiGiorgio, CHQI interim director. “By scaling up transformative projects like these, UC Health will see even more improvement in the quality and value of the health care we provide Californians.”

The grants, awarded to previously funded CHQI fellows and principal investigators, are part of UC Health’s efforts to improve patient care and increase value at medical centers at UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego and UC San Francisco.

The awardees include:

      • Patient-centered recovery program and emergency department community placement program: $1.2 million over two years
        Project director: William Perry, Ph.D., UC San Diego
        Campus leads: Debra Kahn, M.D., UC Davis; Nathan Kuppermann, M.D., M.P.H., UC Davis; Tina Allee, M.D., UC Irvine; Scott Rudkin, M.D., M.B.A., UC Irvine; Erick Cheung, M.D., UCLA; Lynne McCullough, M.D., UCLA; James Bourgeois, O.D., M.D., UC San Francisco; and Steven Polevoi, M.D., UC San Francisco

        Perry

        Overuse of emergency department services by psychiatric patients is a national crisis. This fellowship, building on Perry’s 2011 CHQI grant, will expand to all five UC medical centers a project that provides screening, intervention and referral services to psychiatric patients with substance use disorders, with the aim of reducing the length of their stays and their return visits to the emergency department. The project began at UC San Diego, where the Patient-Centered Recovery Program reduced the average ED length of stay of psychiatric patients by 12 percent and reduced 30-day psychiatric patient return visits to the ED by 15 percent. The ED Community Placement Program has worked at UC San Diego to further reduce ED visits by placing high-risk patients into community partner programs. The project will work with the other UC medical centers to identify and develop partnerships with community service providers, so that similar results can be achieved.

      • Scale-up eReferral and eConsult program: $709,000 over 18 months
        Project director: Nathaniel Gleason, M.D., UC San Francisco
        Campus leads: Mark Avdalovic, M.D., UC Davis; Elizabeth Rosenblum, M.D., UC San Diego

        Gleason

        Access to specialty physicians at UC medical centers commonly involves wait times of several weeks, which is anathema to patient-centered care. The eReferral and eConsult program improves coordination between primary care and specialty physicians in order to expand access and reduce avoidable in-person appointments. It aims to improve patient outcomes, save patients time, reduce out-of-pocket costs for patients and reduce the overall cost of care. Gleason received a 2013 CHQI fellowship to begin this program at UC San Francisco. The program provides primary care physicians with point-of-care decision support on referral appropriateness (eReferral) and allows them to receive timely specialist recommendations on clinical questions that do not require an in-person evaluation of the patient by the specialist (eConsult). At UCSF, eConsults now represent 8 percent of referrals to participating specialties and have reduced referral rates for standard office visits by 20 percent, improving access to specialty care and saving costs. This grant will expand the project to include UC Davis, UCLA and UC San Diego, with the option to amend the proposal to include UC Irvine and possibly UC Riverside.

      • UC Tobacco Cessation Network: $541,000 over two years
        Project director: Elisa Tong, M.D., M.A., UC Davis
        Campus leads: Linda Sarna, R.N., Ph.D., UCLA; Mark Avdalovic, M.D., UC Davis; Alpesh Amin, M.D., M.B.A., UC Irvine; Sheldon Greenfield, M.D., UC Irvine; Allison Diamant, M.D., UCLA; Timothy Fong, M.D., UCLA; Robert El-Kareh, M.D., M.S., M.P.H., UC San Diego; Tyson Ikeda, M.D., UC San Diego; Eliseo Pérez-Stable, M.D., UC San Francisco; Sujatha Sankaran, M.D., UC San Francisco; and Jyothi Marbin, M.D., Children’s Hospital Oakland

        Tong

        UC has shown its commitment to provide a healthy environment for faculty, staff, students and visitors by implementing a systemwide tobacco-free policy that began in January 2014. This project aims to further reduce tobacco use and exposure – the leading cause of preventable death – by developing a UC Tobacco Cessation Network. Building on a pilot project that Tong started at UC Davis with a 2013 CHQI fellowship, the UC-wide network will use electronic medical records to address tobacco use and exposure at every clinical encounter. There will be assistance with counseling and medication for greater success, with the Joint Commission tobacco treatment measures serving as a framework. The network will partner with the California Smokers’ Helpline, a UC San Diego-based free telephone counseling service that doubles the chances of quitting, to create a two-way electronic referral, and with the UCSF-based Smoking Cessation Leadership Center to promote systemwide training opportunities. Champions at each site will coordinate electronic medical record modifications, conduct outreach and education to inpatient and outpatient departments and nursing units for workflow integration, and collaborate as a network through information sharing and evaluation. This project is expected to demonstrate a significant return on investment and national leadership on health systems change for tobacco cessation.

      • Bundled payments for hip and knee replacements: $78,000 over one year
        Project director: Kevin Bozic, M.D., M.B.A., UC San Francisco
        Campus leads: Zeev Kain, M.D., UC Irvine; Ranjan Gupta, M.D., UC Irvine; Scott Ball, M.D., UC San Diego; Lisa Rhodes, UC San Diego; Mervyn Maze, M.B.Ch.B., UC San Francisco; Lorrayne Ward, UC San Francisco

        Bozic

        Bundled payment, where providers are reimbursed a set fee for an episode of care, is a health reform aimed at improving the coordination, quality and efficiency of care. This project will build on Bozic’s 2011 CHQI fellowship to establish bundled payments for hip and knee replacements at UC San Francisco. It will establish a learning collaborative with UC Irvine and UC San Diego that seeks to standardize clinical practices and administrative procedures for hip and knee replacements to both improve patient outcomes and reduce costs. This will enable UC to compete for regional and national employer-based contracts for hip and knee replacements.

Media contacts:
University of California Office of the President
(510) 987-9200

UC Davis
Dorsey Griffith
(916) 734-9118
dorsey.griffith@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu

UC San Diego
Jacqueline Carr
(619) 543-6427
jcarr@ucsd.edu

UC San Francisco
Karin Rush-Monroe
(415) 502-NEWS (6397)
karin.rush-monroe@ucsf.edu

About UC Health
University of California Health includes five academic health centers — UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego and UC San Francisco — with 10 hospitals and 17 health professional schools on seven UC campuses. For more information, visit http://health.universityofcalifornia.edu.

About the UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation
UC Health launched the Center for Health Quality and Innovation in October 2010. The center is designed to promote, support and nurture innovations at UC medical center campuses and hospitals to improve quality, access and value in the delivery of health care. For more information, visit http://health.universityofcalifornia.edu/innovation-center.

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Register to attend UC innovation center colloquium

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Using light-heated water to deliver drugs


UC San Diego researchers use near-infrared light to warm water-infused particles.

In this schematic representation, a hydrated polymeric nanoparticle is exposed to near-infrared light. The NIR heats pockets of water inside the nanoparticle, causing the polymer soften and allowing encapsulated molecules to diffuse into the surrounding environment.

Researchers from the UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, in collaboration with materials scientists, engineers and neurobiologists, have discovered a new mechanism for using light to activate drug-delivering nanoparticles and other targeted therapeutic substances inside the body.

This discovery represents a major innovation, said Adah Almutairi, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the joint UC San Diego-KACST Center of Excellence in Nanomedicine. Up to now, she said, only a handful of strategies using light-triggered release from nanoparticles have been reported.

The mechanism, described in today’s (April 1) online issue of ACS Nano, employs near-infrared (NIR) light from a low-power laser to heat pockets of water trapped within non-photo-responsive polymeric nanoparticles infused with drugs. The water pockets absorb the light energy as heat, which softens the encapsulating polymer and allows the drug to be released into the surrounding tissue. The process can be repeated multiple times, with precise control of the amount and dispersal of the drug.

“A key advantage of this mechanism is that it should be compatible with almost any polymer, even those that are commercially available,” said Mathieu Viger, a postdoctoral fellow in Almutairi’s laboratory and co-lead author of the study. “We’ve observed trapping of water within particles composed of all the biodegradable polymers we’ve so far tested.”

The method, noted Viger, could thus be easily adopted by many biological laboratories.

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Study finds participation in ACOs growing, but not fast enough


Findings suggest that those not joining ACOs have less capacity to manage the chronically ill.

Stephen Shortell, UC Berkeley

When UC Berkeley researchers conducted a national survey of physician practices on their involvement in accountable care organizations (ACOs), they discovered some good and bad news.

“The good news is that practices that have currently joined ACOs appear to have the potential to provide greater value in regard to both cost and quality of care,” says School of Public Health professor and Dean emeritus Stephen Shortell, co-author of the report published online in the journal Health Services Research.

The bad news? According to the study, about 60 percent of physician practices are not participating in ACOs, nor do they have any plans to join in the next year or more.

“Our findings also suggest that those who are not joining ACOs have far less capacity to manage patients with chronic illness,” says Shortell who was involved in developing the ACO concept.

Doctors and hospitals that participate in ACOs are rewarded and penalized based on quality of care provided and the costs their patients incur. Medicare accountable care efforts were launched in 2012 under the Affordable Care Act, and include the Medicare Shared Savings and Pioneer ACO programs. In January, the Medicare Shared Saving Accountable Care Organization Program reported that almost half of participating ACOs spent less money than expected. All together they generated $128 million in savings for the Medicare Trust Funds.

If more physicians joined, the savings would increase, but Shortell says the majority of them are not yet prepared to provide the type of service that would make them succeed as ACOs.

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Corporate-funded academic inventions spur increased innovation, analysis says


Findings based upon a study of two decades of records from the UC system.

Academic research sponsored by industry has a strong track record of leading to innovative patents and licenses, challenging assumptions that corporate support skews science toward inventions that are less accessible and less useful to others than those funded by the government or nonprofit organizations, according to a new analysis.

The findings, published today (March 19) in a commentary in the journal Nature, are based upon a study of two decades of records from the University of California system.

The authors, led by Brian Wright, UC Berkeley professor of agricultural and resource economics, analyzed 12,516 inventions and related licenses at nine UC campuses and three associated national laboratories. The inventions were disclosed between 1990 and 2005, and licensing activity was analyzed through 2010. Of the inventions, nearly 1,500 were supported at least partly by private industry. (UC Merced, the 10th UC campus, was not included because it opened in 2005.)

The analysis found that industry-funded inventions yielded patents and licenses more frequently than federally sponsored ones, with results consistent across technical fields. The researchers also found that industry-sponsored inventions were more highly cited in subsequent patent applications — known as “forward citations” — the most widely used marker of a patent’s quality and importance. Each corporate-sponsored invention generated an average of 12.8 forward citations compared with 5.6 for federally sponsored inventions.

“This runs counter to the expectation that corporate-sponsored inventions have narrow applications, and so create … few benefits for others,” the authors wrote.

Because corporations usually get first crack at negotiating licenses to the inventions they sponsor, there is an assumption that corporations would tie up innovative discoveries in a way that restricts access to a broader audience.

To illustrate those concerns, the authors referenced reactions to a 1998 deal with Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis to support biotechnology research at UC Berkeley, and to a research consortium, the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), funded by energy giant BP and led by UC Berkeley.

In both cases, critics expressed fears that corporate interests would stifle UC Berkeley’s public mission by locking up discoveries for industry profits. (The Novartis project yielded no patents, and EBI began too late to be included in the study.)

However, the intellectual property data analyzed by the authors indicate that industry has not been more likely than federally sponsored research to tie up research discoveries in exclusive licenses. Overall, corporate-funded inventions were licensed exclusively 74 percent of the time, while federally funded inventions were licensed exclusively 76 percent of the time. Notably, among the corporate-funded inventions with exclusive licenses, half seemed to go to third parties and not the sponsor.

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UC faculty drive efforts to improve CT safety


Special journal issue is part of ongoing effort to reduce CT risks.

John Boone, UC Davis

UC Davis clinicians and physicists have recommended new strategies to make computed tomography (CT) safer, including adoption of a new metric for dose measurement, ways to manage exposure protocols that differ by CT brand and specific approaches to reduce exposure during needle biopsies. The recommendations are detailed in papers published in the March issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology (JACR).

In response to concerns about the radiation dose in CT, JACR devoted the entire issue to CT safety. The federal government estimates that more than 80 million CT scans are performed in the United States each year. UC Davis specialists contributed three studies to the special issue.

CT is a powerful diagnostic technology that images organs and other internal structures. These scans can both detect life-threatening conditions and rule them out, giving clinicians precise information to develop a care plan. But there are risks. Ionizing radiation can damage cells and has been found to be a weak carcinogen. The challenge for radiologists and medical physicists is to find the optimal dosage for each CT exam.

“The higher the dose, the better the images,” said John Boone, vice chair of research in the Department of Radiology. “But you also want the lowest possible doses. So you need to find that balance between acceptable image quality and acceptable dosage.”

In the paper “Dose is Not Always What it Seems…,” Anthony Seibert, professor of radiology, and colleagues discuss the need to improve dose calculations. They point to an actual case, in which a pediatric patient, who had scans before and after surgery, appeared to receive an overdose on the second CT. Further investigation showed that the problem was a misleading metric – the volume CT dose index (CTDIvol), a standard measure of radiation output in CT. Manufacturers use phantoms along with instruments that measure radiation to assess CTDIvol. However, different companies use phantoms of different sizes. In addition, many dose estimates are based on adult sizes, making pediatric estimates more difficult.

“In this case, the difference was the way the manufacturers handled the metrics,” said Seibert. “A large phantom tends to underestimate dose, while a small phantom tends to overestimate it. When we compensated for the different-sized phantoms, it turned out the patient received almost the same dose in both scans.”

To help prevent future problems, the team recommended a new metric, size-specific dose estimate (SSDE), which provides a better way to measure patient doses and can also help compare scanners from different companies. It also addresses the dire need to more accurately estimate dose from CT across a range of patient sizes, from newborn to NFL linebacker.

“I think SSDE is one step closer to a dose metric that will be more accurate in depicting the actual risk to patients,” said Seibert.

This is not the only area where differences between scanners can obscure dosage. In another paper, “Methods for CT Automatic Exposure…,” Boone, Seibert and colleagues addressed the challenges of optimizing different machines.

Physicists and radiologists must set up automatic exposure protocols, which vary doses based on tissue thickness. However, since manufacturers use different methods to control doses, transferring these settings between machines can be difficult and time-consuming.

“It takes a lot of effort to optimize any given scanner,” said Boone. “Going through the procedures for every possible exam could take two years.”

To ease the way, the UC Davis team developed equations to translate settings among three machines, two made by GE and one by Siemens. The proposed approach provides a more efficient way to manage CT protocols between different CT scanners.

A third paper, “Radiation Dose Optimization for CT-Guided Interventional Procedures…,” outlines how practitioners can lower radiation doses while performing interventional procedures under CT guidance. CT is often used to guide these procedures, ensuring the needle is precisely located.

Ramit Lamba, director of CT, outlines a number of methods to reduce radiation doses for both patients and doctors performing the procedures. He recommends using ultrasound, instead of CT, to guide some biopsies. He also recommends reducing scan lengths, lowering the tube current using dose-efficient scanning modes and limiting the number of guidance scans.

The special JACR issue is one piece of an ongoing effort to reduce CT risks. As part of the University of California Dose Optimization and Standardization Endeavor (UC DOSE), all five UC medical centers are collaborating to improve CT protocols and education.

“We’re trying to educate radiologists and medical physicists because the practice of CT is not consistent,” said Boone. “If someone is using higher doses to get results they could obtain with less radiation, we need to help them find the safer alternative.”

Other researchers included Rebecca Smith-Bindman of UC San Francisco; Sarah E. McKenney, formerly of UC Davis; and Sandra L Wootton-Gorges of UC Davis.

UC DOSE is funded through a pilot grant from the University of California Office of the President.

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How an entrepreneurial engineering education nurtured a biotech startup


UC San Diego alum Michael Benchimol is working to make chemotherapy more effective.

Michael Benchimol

Identify a real-world problem. Engineer a solution. And, if the solution works, figure out how it can be commercially viable. That’s what Michael Benchimol said he learned over seven years of working in the laboratory of Sadik Esener, a professor in the departments of nanoengineering and electrical and computer engineering at the University of California, San Diego. In Benchimol’s (Ph.D., electrical engineering, ’12) case, it specifically means building a company to advance a targeted drug delivery platform that could make chemotherapy more effective and less toxic to the healthy tissue in the body.

“I like to build things. That’s the engineering side of me,” said Benchimol, who also earned a master’s in electrical engineering at UC San Diego in 2008. “Creating a company was just a different form of creating something from nothing. I always had that interest and I saw that there was an opportunity here.”

The opportunity is a method of delivering chemotherapy drugs directly to cancerous tumors in the body, a longtime goal of next-generation cancer therapy research due to the toxic effects the drugs can have on the rest of the body. The field is enjoying a research heyday in part thanks to advances specifically in the area of nanotechnology. Benchimol says nanotechnology is enabling cancer researchers to leverage the best properties of cancer drugs and biocompatible materials, in a single therapy that can circulate undetected by the body’s immune system.

His company, Sonrgy, recently entered an exclusive licensing agreement with UC San Diego to further develop the company’s technology, which resulted from his Ph.D. and postdoctoral research at the Jacobs School of Engineering and UCSD Moores Cancer Center, where Esener, also directs the NanoTumor Center. Benchimol’s solution is unique in that it doesn’t rely on “tumor receptors” that the nanoparticle can seek out and “stick to” before releasing the drug. Rather, the Sonrgy platform, called SonRx, uses nanocarriers smaller than human cells that carry chemotherapy drugs through the body where they can be released at the tumor site by a doctor deploying ultrasound. The technology is in the preclinical stage.

“The SonRx technology addresses longstanding challenges related to stability and controlled release in nano-scale drug delivery,” said Michael Benchimol, who is Sonrgy’s chief technology officer, in a company statement about the licensing agreement.

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Register to attend UC innovation center colloquium


May 2 event will be in Oakland.

>>Register
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>>CME details

University of California Health colleagues are encouraged to register for the UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation’s third spring colloquium, “Overcoming Obstacles to Spread,” May 2 at the Oakland Marriott City Center, 1001 Broadway, Oakland.

Carl Dvorak, president of electronic health records vendor Epic Systems Corp., will give the keynote speech, “How Technology is Facilitating the Transformation of Health Care Delivery.” State Sen. Ed Hernandez will discuss health care innovation. UC San Francisco  School of Medicine Dean Sam Hawgood, who will become interim chancellor of UCSF on April 1, will discuss UC Health and the future of health care. Also, there will be poster presentations, remarks by UC Health and innovation center leaders, and panel discussions with innovation center fellows and with the UC Cardiac Surgery Consortium.

Anyone at UC’s medical centers and health professional schools who is working to improve health care delivery, population health and efficiency of care at UC Health is encouraged to attend. Space is limited. This activity has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ continuing medical education, jointly sponsored by the UC Davis Health System Office of Continuing Medical Education and UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation. The registration fee is $125 with CME and $75 without CME.

Accreditation
This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and Policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the UC Davis Health System and the UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation. The UC Davis Health System is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Credit designation
Physician credit:
The UC Davis Health System designates this live activity for a maximum of 5.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

AMA PRA Category 1 credit acceptable for multidisciplinary team members
Nurse:
For the purpose of recertification, the American Nurses Credentialing Center accepts AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ issued by organizations accredited by the ACCME. For the purpose of relicensure, the California Board of Registered Nursing accepts AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ (report 5.25 hours of credit and fill in “CME Category 1” for the provider number).

Physician assistant: The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) states that AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ are acceptable for continuing medical education requirements for recertification.

For more information about registration, visit this site.

About the UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation
The UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation, launched in 2010, is charged with identifying best practices, convening key stakeholders to facilitate the exchange of knowledge, and funding innovative projects that demonstrate improved value in the health care delivery system. The center is governed by a board composed of the six UC medical school deans, five UC medical center CEOs and chaired by the UC Health Sciences and Services senior vice president. For more information, visit http://health.universityofcalifornia.edu/innovation-center or email chqi.info@ucop.edu.

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Google Glass app provides instant diagnostic test results


UCLA researchers create app that could enhance tracking of dangerous diseases.

A UCLA researcher demonstrates the Google Glass technology

A team of researchers from UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science has developed a Google Glass application and a server platform that allow users of the wearable, glasses-like computer to perform instant, wireless diagnostic testing for a variety of diseases and health conditions.

With the new UCLA technology, Google Glass wearers can use the device’s hands-free camera to capture pictures of rapid diagnostic tests (RTDs), small strips on which blood or fluid samples are placed and which change color to indicate the presence of HIV, malaria, prostate cancer or  other conditions. Without relying on any additional devices, users can upload these images to a UCLA-designed server platform and receive accurate analyses — far more detailed than with the human eye — in as little as eight seconds.

The new technology could enhance the tracking of dangerous diseases and improve public health monitoring and rapid responses in disaster-relief areas or quarantine zones where conventional medical tools are not available or feasible, the researchers said.

“This breakthrough technology takes advantage of gains in both immunochromatographic rapid diagnostic tests and wearable computers,” said principal investigator Aydogan Ozcan, the Chancellor’s Professor of Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering at UCLA and associate director of UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute. “This smart app allows for real-time tracking of health conditions and could be quite valuable in epidemiology, mobile health and telemedicine.”

The research is published online in the peer-reviewed journal ACS Nano.

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Samsung, UCSF partner to accelerate new innovations in digital health


They will work to validate promising new sensors and analytics for digital health solutions.

Michael Blum, UC San Francisco

Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and UC San Francisco, one of the world’s premier health sciences universities, have announced a partnership to accelerate validation and commercialization of promising new sensors, algorithms and digital health technologies for preventive health solutions. The two organizations will jointly establish the UCSF-Samsung Digital Health Innovation Lab, a new space located in UCSF’s Mission Bay campus in San Francisco, where some of the world’s leading researchers and technologists will be able to develop and run trials to validate exciting new mobile health technologies. The joint innovation lab will be a first-of-its-kind test bed where entrepreneurs and innovators will be able to validate their technologies and accelerate the adoption of new preventive health solutions.

“Harnessing new preventative health technologies to help people live healthier lives is the next great opportunity of our generation,” said Young Sohn, president and chief strategy officer of Samsung Electronics. “We invite the world’s innovators and entrepreneurs to join us to validate their new sensors, analytics and preventive health solutions in a world-class setting. Samsung’s global Digital Health Innovation Lab initiative is aimed at enabling great new ideas to be tested, validated and commercialized more quickly, thereby making lives better for millions of people around the world.”

The mobile health field is rapidly evolving. Advances in technologies such as wearable computing, health sensors, and cloud-based analytics promise to help people take control of their own health and to improve the quality of life for millions of people. However, without systematic, rigorous validation of these technologies, mobile health has struggled to achieve its potential and gain widespread adoption by consumers and health care professionals. Samsung and UCSF aim to address this challenge by leveraging UCSF’s deep expertise in medicine and digital health and Samsung’s leadership in electronics and mobile technologies, to rapidly develop new, effective technologies.

“There are many new sensors and devices coming onto the market for consumers, but without medical validation, most of these will have limited impacts on health. Meanwhile, many practitioners also have creative ideas for new devices, but they lack the technological knowledge to fully develop them,” said Michael Blum, M.D., UCSF’s associate vice chancellor for Informatics. “This partnership will bring together these two very different worlds of expertise with the resources needed to accelerate new and disruptive technologies that will truly change lives.”

The UCSF Mission Bay campus is an ideal location for the UCSF-Samsung Digital Health Innovation Lab and will lead to further collaborations with the broader health care ecosystem. The expansive new bioscience campus is a vibrant ecosystem of innovation and biotech hub, with more than 50 bioscience startups, nine established pharmaceutical and biotech companies and 10 venture capital firms.

The Digital Health Innovation Lab is part of Samsung’s efforts to partner with leading global health care institutions to validate next-generation preventative health technologies. It also reflects a strategic goal of the UCSF Office of Innovation, Technology and Alliances to forge innovative industry partnerships that advance its work at the forefront of health and medicine. Additional information will be available at on the Center for Digital Health and Innovation‘s website.

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Science maverick finds his match


UC San Diego alumnus J. Craig Venter returns to alma mater to open $37M research facility.

J. Craig Venter (left) examines the creation of life with synthetic genomics as he talks about his latest book in a recent forum at UC San Diego.

It only takes a few minutes of chatting with J. Craig Venter to understand what first attracted him to return to his alma mater to open a research facility here. Venter’s approach to the scientific endeavor clearly matches that of the campus that first gave him his start. Both are mavericks known for bringing out-of-the-box thinkers together from across a wide spectrum of disciplines in search of the next blockbuster scientific breakthrough.

“Universities have to evolve from their stovepipe approaches of the past to having totally multidisciplinary approaches to these complex issues in science,” said Venter. “We see the interactions here in San Diego being unique in the world and very much fitting with the philosophy of my own institute. So, I think they enhance each other.”

Venter’s scientific approach has clearly paid off over the course of his storied career. Awarded the 2008 National Medal of Science by President Barack Obama, Venter and his team sequenced the first full genome of a free-living organism, the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae, in 1995. He made worldwide headlines again in 2000 when his team tied a rival team in a furious race to be the first to sequence the human genome. Venter and his team then went on to publish the details on the construction of the first self-replicating synthetic bacterial cell in 2010. Those watershed accomplishments combined with his brash approach to scientific investigation have made him one of the powerhouses of science — and one of UC San Diego’s most well known alumni.

“Dr. Venter is a visionary leader who is always working to push the frontiers of genomics science,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “We are pleased that our stellar alumnus has established the J. Craig Venter Institute so close to the heart of our campus, contributing to the biotech hub that encompasses UC San Diego. We look forward to our continued collaborations, as our faculty, students and researchers work to advance science and benefit our society.”

The new $37 million research facility at UC San Diego will be part of the J. Craig Venter Institute that Venter established in Rockville, Md., in 2006. The 45,000-square-foot sleek building overlooking the Pacific was designed to exceed requirements for LEED Platinum certification and to be carbon neutral. It will serve as home to about 125 scientists and staff. The institute’s researchers will focus on everything from continued sequencing and analysis of the human genome, to new research in synthetic biology and construction of a minimal genome, to continued sampling of the world’s oceans, rivers and soils to catalogue and sequence the vast unseen life living in these environments.

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Register now to attend UC innovation center colloquium


Event will be May 2 in Oakland.

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Registration has opened for the University of California Center for Health Quality and Innovation’s third spring colloquium, May 2 at the Oakland Marriott City Center, 1001 Broadway, Oakland (map).

The colloquium will address how UC Health is taking a systemwide approach to address the challenges of health care reform and transform health care delivery.

Carl Dvorak, president of electronic health records vendor Epic Systems Corp., will give the keynote speech, “How Technology is Facilitating the Transformation of Health Care Delivery.” Additional talks by innovation center fellows are planned. (View agenda.)

Anyone at UC’s medical centers and health professional schools who is working to improve health care delivery, population health and efficiency of care at UC Health is encouraged to attend. Space is limited. This activity has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ continuing medical education, jointly sponsored by the UC Davis Health System Office of Continuing Medical Education and UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation. The registration fee is $125 with CME and $75 without CME.

For more information about registration, visit this site.

About the UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation
The UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation, launched in 2010, is charged with identifying best practices, convening key stakeholders to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and funding innovative projects that demonstrate improved value in the health care delivery system. The center is governed by a board composed of the six UC medical school deans, five UC medical center CEOs and chaired by the UC Health Sciences and Services senior vice president. For more information, visit http://health.universityofcalifornia.edu/innovation-center or email chqi.info@ucop.edu.

Related link:
Innovation center names interim director

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