TAG: "Pharmacy"

FDA launches center of excellence in drug development, regulation

UCSF-Stanford partnership to help meet regulatory challenges in new fields of medicine.

Kathy Giacomini, UC San Francisco

The Food and Drug Administration has selected UC San Francisco as the site of a new regulatory science center on the West Coast. The center, which will be a joint effort between scientists in the UCSF School of Pharmacy and Stanford University, aims to spur innovative approaches in drug development that will support the FDA’s ability to evaluate and approve safe and effective new medications.

Launched with an initial $3.3 million FDA grant, the UCSF-Stanford Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation (UCSF-Stanford CERSI) will bring together a world-class team of scientists from the two academic institutions with partners at the FDA to conduct collaborative research, as well as a range of education and scientific exchange programs.

These programs will build on UCSF and Stanford’s strengths in quantitative sciences and focus on three priority areas: improving preclinical safety and efficacy tests; improving clinical trials and evaluation; and harnessing diverse data sets through information sciences to accelerate and improve new drug development.

“New tools, methods and approaches are under development that are necessary in a globalized regulatory environment and for translating new discoveries into innovative medical treatments,” said FDA’s acting Chief Scientist Stephen M. Ostroff, M.D. “To meet these challenges, regulatory science research and training requires multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary collaboration, not only within FDA, but with our partners in academia, like UCSF and Stanford.  The results of this partnership will ultimately benefit patients and the medical community.”

The new center comes at a time when the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries are increasingly looking to tap into informatics and data-driven computer models, known as quantitative pharmacology, to help improve drug development and identify new therapies that will be safer, more precise and have fewer side effects. Those new technologies are of equal interest to the FDA in assessing which medications are safe and effective for patients.

“The pharmaceutical and biotech industries are facing huge challenges, with the majority of drugs failing in clinical trials because they are not effective,” said Kathy Giacomini, Ph.D., a professor in the UCSF School of Pharmacy and co-chair of the UCSF Center for Quantitative Pharmacology. “These new computer-based models are enabling us to predict how the human body metabolizes a drug, the drug’s toxicity and its effectiveness in preventing and treating various human diseases, as well as how that varies across a population of diverse people. This partnership will enable us to develop new models and methods, and also move these technologies out of academia and into practice.”

The partnership, for which Giacomini is a co-principal investigator with Stanford professor Russ Altman, M.D., Ph.D., pairs UCSF’s deep experience in pharmacology and therapeutic sciences with Stanford’s extensive expertise in biomedical informatics.

“Data on drug action at all levels, from molecular to population, is exploding and requires sophisticated computational integration to fully understand it,” said Altman, who is professor of bioengineering, genetics and medicine, and director of the Biomedical Informatics Training Program at Stanford. “We are bringing together the best minds in therapeutics, genetics and computational sciences to transform how drugs are made and how we assess whether they’re safe or not.”

It also will bring West Coast representation to the CERSI network, which is now only in the Washington, D.C., area, and enable FDA to access UCSF and Stanford’s resources in quantitative sciences and pharmacology. The center will be the fourth in the CERSI network, which includes a new center announced today at Johns Hopkins University and two centers set up in 2011, at University of Maryland and Georgetown University.

“Our long-term expertise in quantitative science and pharmacology and our Pacific Rim location will both benefit the kinds of novel collaborations among academia, industry, and the FDA the CERSI enables,” said B. Joseph Guglielmo, Pharm.D., dean of the UCSF School of Pharmacy. “The end result will be better, more effective products for patients.”

The center also will tap into the expertise of UCSF scientists in the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3) and the UCSF Institute for Computational Health Sciences.

The center will include two highly collaborative units. The Education-Exchange Unit will provide courses in regulatory sciences, building on UCSF’s 6-year-old certificate program, the “American Course in Regulatory Sciences and Innovation,” with additional online courses adapted from the rich and diverse curricula at UCSF and Stanford. It also will offer exchange programs for FDA and academic scientists, as well as an FDA internship program for students and postdoctoral scholars.

The Collaborative Research Unit will focus on two collaborative research projects between FDA and academic scientists that involve the development and application of quantitative pharmacological methods to problems in regulatory sciences: (a) predicting drug induced weight gain, a major safety issue for many approved drugs, and (b) the development of the first comprehensive, data-driven, biomarker guided disease progression model of multiple sclerosis, which will facilitate drug evaluation and approval.

As with the others, the joint UCSF-Stanford CERSIs will be managed by FDA’s Office of Regulatory Science and Innovation, together with teams of scientists from across FDA.  Each new CERSI brings specific goals and unique strengths to enhancing FDA’s regulatory research and review.

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Pharmacy education growing rapidly, easing workforce shortages

Growth seen in California and across the nation.

Enrollment in pharmacy education programs has increased significantly, according to a new report from the University of California. (iStock photo)

>>View pharmacy education report

The landscape for pharmacy education has changed dramatically in recent years, as rapid growth in new schools and student enrollment has eased state and regional workforce shortages, according to a new report from the University of California.

An Era of Growth and Change: A Closer Look at Pharmacy Education and Practice” follows a report UC issued last May examining growth and recent trends in health professions education.

Enrollment in pharmacy education programs has increased significantly, following a nationwide pharmacist shortage that developed in the late 1990s. National trends now suggest that the supply of pharmacists is growing much faster than previously projected. Since 2005, the number of accredited U.S. pharmacy schools has increased by 48 percent, from 87 to 129, with most of the growth occurring at private institutions.

“Enrollment in pharmacy education programs has grown substantially in the past decade – faster than the previous 25 to 30 years,” said Cathryn Nation, M.D., UC associate vice president for health sciences. “This report will be an important tool for policymakers and higher education leaders, highlighting trends that will inform efforts to address the challenges posed by health care reform, an aging population and the ongoing demand for pharmacy services.”

In particular, California has been home to significant growth in pharmacy education. Since 2002, four new pharmacy schools have opened in the state, doubling the number of programs in California from four to eight over the past decade. Other institutions appear interested in opening new pharmacy schools in California within the next few years.

Highlights of the report include:

  • Demand for pharmacists in California is beginning to fall in balance with the state’s growing   supply of pharmacists.
  • Significant growth in pharmacy educational opportunities has occurred throughout California, with the majority of enrollment increases happening at private institutions.
  • California faces a shortage of well-qualified faculty to train future pharmacists.
  • Disparities in health status, changing demographics and the evolving roles of pharmacists in health care delivery will require increased diversity and cultural competence of the workforce.
  • There is a substantial mismatch between the number of residency training positions available and increasing student interest (pharmacy residency positions are post-graduate, advanced training positions that are available following completion of a Pharm.D. degree).

The report includes findings about California’s educational programs and recommendations relevant to the UC system, which operates two pharmacy schools: UC San Francisco, ranked as the nation’s top pharmacy school by U.S. News & World Report, and UC San Diego, whose pharmacy school opened in 2002.

“As we look to the future, pharmacy education must remain relevant and aligned with the needs of patients,” said B. Joseph Guglielmo, Pharm.D., dean of the UCSF School of Pharmacy. “This report provides an overview of the pharmacy landscape and a valuable resource for the UC system and our colleagues throughout the state.”

The UC system operates the nation’s largest health sciences instructional program, with 17 professional schools in seven major health professions, including pharmacy education. UC’s two pharmacy schools accounted for 182 (approximately 21 percent) of California’s 849 graduating pharmacy students in 2011.

California pharmacy schools:

Public schools/institutions
UC San Francisco
UC San Diego (first class admitted in 2002)

Private schools/institutions
University of the Pacific
University of Southern California
Western University of Health Sciences
Loma Linda University (first class admitted in 2002)
Touro University (first class admitted in 2005)
California Northstate University (first class admitted in 2008)

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

UC San Francisco
Kristen Bole
(415) 502-6397 (NEWS)

UC San Diego
Jacqueline Carr
(619) 543-6427

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

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UCSF, Walgreens open new pharmacy to explore models of patient-centered care

“Walgreens at UCSF” aims to improve medication use, reduce hospital readmissions.

UC San Francisco and Walgreens (NYSE: WAG) (Nasdaq: WAG) have opened a unique Walgreens store on the UCSF campus that aims to improve medication safety, decrease health care costs and help patients use medicines more effectively by offering pharmacist-based patient care and expanded health and wellness services to the community.  A joint effort among Walgreens, the UCSF School of Pharmacy and UCSF Medical Center, “Walgreens at UCSF” also will explore new models for improving overall patient care.

“Walgreens at UCSF is an ideal environment for our pharmacists to work with UCSF Medical Center and School of Pharmacy faculty to further innovate in health care while providing greater access to services for the surrounding community,” said Joel Wright, Walgreens divisional vice president, specialty solutions group. “At Walgreens, we are very pleased to share and develop best practices with UCSF pharmacists and pharmacy students, which further our commitment to help people get, stay and live well.” Walgreens at UCSF, located across the street from UCSF Medical Center, is one of Walgreens “Well Experience” stores, which offer expanded health services and are designed to foster increased patient-pharmacist interaction. With an expanded pharmacy including multiple areas for private consultations, Walgreens and UCSF pharmacists and UCSF pharmacy students are more accessible to community members and patients.

Core clinical health services include medication counseling by a pharmacist as the standard of care and comprehensive medication reviews for customers who receive prescriptions. Pharmacists will work with patients to create and update accurate, portable medication lists to take to their appointments with medical providers. This approach can help decrease drug-drug interactions and encourage patient medication adherence.

“Modern medicine has transformed many diseases from urgent, life-threatening conditions into chronic illnesses that can be managed with the right medications, but that means more and more patients are juggling multiple prescriptions, with complex instructions,” said Joseph Guglielmo, Pharm.D., a leader in the field of clinical pharmacy and dean of the UCSF School of Pharmacy. “And, in many instances, this complicated medication list is inaccurate and incomplete. This collaboration aims to transform the practice of community pharmacies to enable pharmacists to do what they’re trained to do, which is helping patients manage their health with the right medications and understand how to take them correctly.”

The collaboration builds upon Walgreens’ leadership in pioneering new approaches to pharmacy care, as well as UCSF’s long history of collaboration in teaching, research and patient care between the School of Pharmacy and UCSF Medical Center, which together piloted the first hospital-based clinical pharmacy program in the nation, in the 1960s.

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New movement focuses on paradox of cigarette sales in pharmacies

UCSF scientists, major pharmacy launch national move to halt tobacco sales in drugstores.

Steven Schroeder, UC San Francisco

Pharmacies, focused on the health and well-being of their customers, have long been saddled with a paradox: they sell cigarettes and other tobacco products, even though tobacco use is the nation’s leading cause of preventable death.

If retailers, particularly pharmacies, were to discontinue selling cigarettes, fewer smokers and fewer deaths by smoking would occur, according to a new opinion article co-written by a UC San Francisco scientist. That’s also the premise behind a new decision by CVS Caremark, the nation’s largest pharmacy health care company, to end cigarette and tobacco sales in its stores this year.

In a Viewpoint article published online today (Feb. 5) in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the authors say that selling tobacco products is “clearly antithetical” to the role of pharmacies, especially as pharmacies expand their role as an integral part of the nation’s health care system.

The JAMA Viewpoint is written by Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., M.P.H., executive vice president and chief medical officer of CVS Caremark; and Steven A. Schroeder, M.D., a UCSF professor and director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center.

Casting a harsh light on tobacco sales in drugstores, the authors say that selling tobacco products contradicts a commitment to health care.

The goal of the authors: eliminate tobacco sales in America’s drugstores.

“Nowhere else in health care are tobacco products available in the same setting where diseases are being diagnosed and treated,” they write.

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Biases in animal studies may differ from those in clinical trials

UCSF analysis examines studies of statins.

Lisa Bero, UC San Francisco

Lisa Bero, UC San Francisco

A new analysis of animal studies on cholesterol-lowering statins by UC San Francisco researchers found that non-industry studies had results that favored the drugs even more than studies funded by industry.

The analysis of 63 animal studies of statins, led by Lisa Bero, Ph.D., UCSF professor clinical pharmacy, was published online Jan. 21 in the scientific journal PLoS Biology.

In previous studies, Bero determined that drug-company-sponsored clinical trials were associated with publication of outcomes that favor the sponsor. Bero’s work has been cited as part of policy reform efforts that have led many journal publishers, agencies and institutions to require researchers to disclose funding sources and possible conflicts of interest when presenting their research.

The impetus for the current study, Bero said, was to explore whether or not industry-funded animal studies also would be likely to yield more positive outcomes for the companies’ drug candidates.

But in their analysis the researchers found the opposite: Results of animal studies that had industry sponsorship were less likely to measure a benefit for statins in slowing or preventing arterial disease. Of the studies that disclosed funding, 9 of 19 industry-sponsored studies had results that favored statins, in comparison to 18 out of 28 studies that favored statins among studies not funded by industry.

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Brave new world

UCSF pharmacy school one of nation’s first to offer students genetic testing for drug response.

Brave new world illustrationWhen Julia Choi’s grandmother suffered her third stroke, a doctor in the emergency room gave her blood thinner medication to prevent another stroke. Not long after, Choi’s grandmother experienced gastrointestinal bleeding – a common side effect of blood thinners. She later passed away. Choi never found out if the bleeding was indeed caused by the drug or by something else.

The memories of her grandmother’s struggle came flooding back to Choi last spring when she took a course in genetics and drug response as a first-year pharmacy student at UC San Francisco. Not only did she learn that some people carry variants in their genes that cause adverse reactions to clopidogrel, the drug her grandmother had been given, but Choi also had the opportunity to have her own genes tested for such mutations.

The UCSF School of Pharmacy is one of the first pharmacy schools in the nation to offer its students genetic testing for drug response. It’s just one way UCSF is educating students about precision medicine – an emerging approach that collects and integrates vast amounts of data and new technologies to develop individualized treatments. As the health care providers of the future, today’s students will be diagnosing and treating patients based on a barrage of information not just about the person in front of them, but also about millions of other patients around the world.

UCSF pharmacy student Julia Choi received genetic testing in one of her courses, an experience that she says was intensely personal – and important training for her future as a pharmacist.

UCSF pharmacy student Julia Choi received genetic testing in one of her courses, an experience that she says was intensely personal – and important training for her future as a pharmacist.

Genetic codes; environmental and nutritional data; reports from patients’ electronic health care monitors; and input from epidemiologists, informaticians and scientists studying the molecular underpinnings of disease – all these factors must be considered in the world of precision medicine. The upside is that “we will be able to find the right treatment for our patients, without going through all the trial and error we do today,” says Catherine Lucey, M.D., a resident alumna and the vice dean for education at UCSF School of Medicine.

“What’s so great about being at UCSF is that we’re fortunate enough to have people who strive to practice tomorrow’s medicine today,” she continues. The university has been educating its students regarding precision medicine for years by teaching them about genetics, population-based clinical research, and the nature and importance of working in multidisciplinary teams.

As Choi learned firsthand in the School of Pharmacy’s Genetics and Pharmacogenetics course, a single gene can influence drug response – knowledge that is shaping more precise approaches to therapeutics.

She was one of 22 out of 122 students in her class to opt in for the genetic testing, which evaluated the CYP2C19 enzyme. People who have variants of this enzyme can over- or under-metabolize clopidogrel (also known by the brand name Plavix), which means they are 3.6 times more likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke, or even death. These outcomes can be easily avoided, however, by first testing a patient for the genetic mutations and then prescribing a higher or lower dose of the drug or another drug entirely.

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UCSF Magazine

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UCSF names vice provost for academic affairs

Clinician-educator-researcher Brian Alldredge to start in new position Nov. 1.

Brian Alldredge, UC San Francisco

Brian Alldredge, UC San Francisco

Brian Alldredge, Pharm.D., associate dean for the UCSF School of Pharmacy for the past 12 years and a member of the faculty for 28 years, has been named vice provost for academic affairs, effective Nov. 1.

Alldredge is a clinician-educator-researcher with research and clinical interests in epilepsy, seizure emergencies, pharmacogenomics and pharmacy education. He holds a joint appointment as a professor of clinical pharmacy in the School of Pharmacy and a clinical professor in the Department of Neurology in the School of Medicine.

In his new role, Alldredge will report directly to Jeffrey Bluestone, Ph.D., executive vice chancellor and provost (EVCP). He will be part of the EVCP leadership team, overseeing all aspects of faculty and academic affairs, including the Chancellor’s Council on Faculty Life, faculty development and advancement programs and initiatives, and supporting the EVCP and chancellor in all their strategic and operational goals related to faculty and academics.

“The role of vice provost, academic affairs, is critical to the well-being and productivity of faculty, and I am pleased that Brian will be taking this on,” Bluestone said. “Brian brings both highly relevant professional experience and a deep personal passion for the issues that arise in faculty affairs.”

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New health professionals need consistent pain management education

Basic skills in pain management sought across education programs for clinicians.

Scott Fishman, UC Davis

More Americans are coping with chronic pain than ever before. Yet clinicians’ understanding of pain and their pain management skills vary widely because no such educational framework exists. Following an Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendation, two UC Davis researchers led a team of experts to develop expectations for consistent, comprehensive pain management education for new health professionals, including nurses, physicians, pharmacists and physical therapists.

In an article scheduled for publication in the July issue of Pain Medicine, “Core Competencies for Pain Management: Results of an Interprofessional Consensus Summit” (available for free, public download at www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/paineducation/Happenings/PainMedicineArticle2013.pdf), UC Davis experts Scott Fishman and Heather M. Young, along with a team of international experts representing various health professions, identify the desired skills and knowledge new health professionals must possess to best care for people with pain. These educational outcomes, known as core competencies, serve as a foundation for the development of comprehensive pain management curricula for early learners in the health professions.

Heather Young, UC Davis

“The current state of educational content for pain management in schools of medicine and nursing, as well as other health professions, is often inadequate,” Fishman said. “The creation, distribution, and ultimately, the adoption of these basic expectations for pain management education is a critical step toward the preparation of more health care professionals who understand and have basic skills to safely and effectively address pain.”

The 2011 IOM report revealed the need for improved pain education for health professionals due to increasing numbers of Americans coping with chronic pain, as well as skyrocketing costs associated with chronic pain. According to the IOM, an estimated 100 million American adults — more than the total affected by heart diseases, cancer and diabetes combined — suffer from chronic pain. Pain costs the nation up to $600 billion annually in medical treatment and lost productivity.

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UCSF names chair of the Department of Clinical Pharmacy

Lisa Kroon to lead the department.

Lisa Kroon, UC San Francisco

Lisa Kroon, Pharm.D., has been named the new chair of the Department of Clinical Pharmacy within the UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, effective July 1.

Kroon has served as interim chair of the department since July 2012, when the previous chair, B. Joseph Guglielmo, Pharm.D., became interim dean and later dean of the School of Pharmacy.

“The leadership of both the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and the UCSF Medical Center’s Department of Pharmaceutical Services unanimously supported Lisa’s selection,” Guglielmo said. “We are fortunate to have such an accomplished, even-keeled department chair.”

The UCSF School of Pharmacy has the nation’s top-ranked Doctor of Pharmacy degree program, according to U.S. News & World Report, and tops the list for research funding from the National Institutes of Health.

Kroon said the purpose of her department’s work in research, education, and patient care “is to advance the safe and effective use of therapeutics to improve health.”

“The Affordable Care Act has opened a lot of eyes to what quality care can be, how it can be provided, and by whom,” she said. “We’re building the evidence for new ways for pharmacists to improve patient health – and even to lower costs – and to prepare students for what is truly a new day in pharmacy practice.”

The UCSF Medical Center is a close collaborator. Kroon adds, “It’s a potent combination with the potential to improve medication use, safety and effectiveness in patient care settings – inside and outside the hospital – in bold new ways we can’t even imagine today.”

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Study IDs protein essential for normal heart function

Protein being studied to fight cancer; may cause toxicity in cardiac cells.

Asa Gustafsson, UC San Diego

A study by researchers at Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Department of Pharmacology at UC San Diego, shows that a protein called MCL-1, which promotes cell survival, is essential for normal heart function.

Their study, published in the June 15 online issue of the journal Genes & Development, found that deletion of the gene encoding MCL-1 in adult mouse hearts led to rapid heart failure within two weeks, and death within a month.

MCL-1 (myeloid cell leukemia-1) is an anti-apoptotic protein, meaning that it prevents or delays the death of a cell. It is also a member of the BCL-2 family of proteins that regulate mitochondria – the cell’s power producers – and cell death. Aberrant expression of anti-apoptotic BCL-2 family members is one of the defining features of cancer cells, and is strongly associated with resistance to current therapies. Thus, these proteins are currently major targets in the development of new therapies for patients with cancer.

But, while MCL-1 is up regulated in a number of human cancers, contributing to the overgrowth of cancer cells, it is found at high levels in normal heart tissue. Additionally, the researchers found that autophagy – a process which deals with mitochondrial maintenance and is normally induced by myocardial stress – was impaired in mice with MCL-1 deficient hearts.

In summary, the study demonstrated that the loss of MCL-1 led to rapid dysfunction of mitochondria, impaired autophagy and heart failure, even in the absence of cardiac stress.

“Cardiac injury, such as a heart attack, causes levels of MCL-1 to drop in the heart, and this process may increase cardiac cell death,” said Åsa B. Gustafsson, Ph.D., an associate professor at UCSD Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. “Therefore, preserving normal levels of this protein in cardiac tissue could reduce damage after a heart attack and prevent progression to heart failure.”

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Health professions education growing in new directions, UC report finds

Enrollment has increased significantly in medicine, nursing, pharmacy and public health.

Click image to download report

>>Download report

The University of California has issued a report that highlights some of the recent trends associated with the rapid growth in health professional schools and enrollment.

Enrollment in U.S. health professional schools has increased significantly in medicine, nursing, pharmacy and public health, according to the report, “A New Era of Growth: A Closer Look at Recent Trends in Health Professions Education.” For example, there has been unprecedented growth in total U.S. pharmacy student enrollment through expansion of existing programs and the establishment of new schools. Since 2005 alone, the number of accredited pharmacy schools has risen 48 percent (87 to 129).

The total enrollment and number of new U.S. medical schools also has increased. More striking, however, has been the rapid growth in the number of for-profit international medical schools located in the Caribbean and seeking to attract U.S. students. Growth has been more moderate in dentistry, optometry and veterinary medicine.

The report describes some of the changes in health professions education since 2007, when UC issued “A Compelling Case for Growth,” an in-depth review of health workforce needs as part of a systemwide planning effort that helped pave the way for enrollment growth at all five of UC’s longstanding medical schools, establishment of a new nursing school at UC Davis, and the recent accreditation and establishment of UC’s sixth school of medicine at UC Riverside.

The new report reviews the seven fields in which UC has health professional schools. The report also identifies trends and provides information by profession about the number of schools and enrollment in California and nationally. Information regarding current tuition levels by institution also is included.

“As the nation’s largest health sciences instructional program, UC has an important role to play in informing the public about the state of health professions education,” said Dr. Cathryn Nation, UC associate vice president for health sciences. “The ‘New Era of Growth’ report provides a valuable snapshot of trends that deserve our attention and further discussion.”

Trends identified in the report include:

  • Rapid growth in educational programs and total enrollment. Since 2007, the number of U.S. schools in the seven health professions surveyed has grown by 48 percent (865 to 1,283). As a result, enrollment has increased by 34 percent (252,484 to 339,107), with the majority of this growth taking place primarily in medicine, nursing, pharmacy and public health.
  • Development of new programs and business models. For-profit schools and programs have proliferated, both in the U.S. and the Caribbean, where 22 of the 61 medical schools admitted their first classes in the past decade. Non-research institutions have added new schools of pharmacy and dentistry. Accelerated and alternate-entry programs have grown, particularly in nursing. Professional doctorates have increased, as have programs that deliver education online, with growth in online public health programs.
  • Rising student costs and indebtedness. Between 2005 and 2010, UC medical schools experienced a nearly 50 percent increase, on average, in the four-year cost of attendance. Not surprisingly, student debt also is rising. Viewed over a longer period, the increase is even more dramatic. The total cost of attendance has increased for all UC professional degree programs, posing new challenges for students interested in pursuing careers in public service. For example, the average educational debt of veterinary medicine graduates (excluding undergraduate loans) at UC Davis nearly quadrupled from $29,770 in 1993 to $118,772 in 2011.

Recent growth at UC

Across the UC system, relatively modest, planned enrollment growth in medical student enrollment has occurred over the past decade. This has occurred through new UC Programs in Medical Education (PRIME) that focus on the needs of medically underserved communities. Through this special initiative, UC boosted total medical student enrollment by approximately 350 students across the UC system. However, most of this growth, and most that is occurring in nursing, has been unfunded by the state. Major multiyear budget cuts and a lack of state funding also contributed to a delay in the opening of UC Riverside’s new school of medicine, which will welcome its first class of 50 students in fall 2013.

Looking toward the future

Notwithstanding the growth in enrollment and establishment of new schools across the U.S., workforce shortages persist in many health professions, including medicine, public health and others — needs that will increase dramatically as provisions of health care reform take effect. The balance is currently shifting for some professions. In pharmacy, for instance, the profession has experienced such rapid growth in recent years that some estimates suggest a total national supply of pharmacists that may outpace future demand. Amid these many changes, it will be important to monitor the impact that the new schools and programs make, with particular attention to issues of quality, cost and student success, according to the report.

“As the higher education community plans for the future, the importance of maintaining educational quality, improving access and affordability for students, and improving access and health outcomes for patients are among the central goals that must remain in focus,” the report states.

About UC Health
University of California Health includes five academic health centers with 10 hospitals and 18 health professional schools and programs on seven UC campuses — UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Riverside, UC San Diego and UC San Francisco. For more information, visit http://health.universityofcalifornia.edu.

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New center targets ocean contaminants and human health

Scripps scientists lead two projects to track potentially toxic chemicals in marine life, impacts on human health.

(From left) Paul Jensen, Brad Moore, Eric Allen, Lihini Aluwihare of Scripps and Eunha Hoh of San Diego State University.

Capitalizing on UC San Diego’s unique ability to address environmental threats to public health, a new center based at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego will target emerging contaminants found naturally in common seafood dishes as well as man-made chemicals that accumulate in human breast milk.

With $6 million in joint funding from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, the new Scripps Center for Oceans and Human Health will track natural chemicals known as halogenated organic compounds, or HOCs. Human-manufactured varieties include polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, chemicals that until recently were manufactured and broadly used in commercial products as flame retardants in the textile and electronics sectors.

Less is known about the natural versions of HOCs that accumulate in marine mammals such as seals and dolphins and have been identified in top predators that humans consume such as tuna and swordfish. While PBDEs are well known for their toxicity and have been linked to a variety of human diseases, including cancer and thyroid ailments, the origin and transmission of their natural counterparts are poorly understood.

The Scripps Center for Oceans and Human Health will investigate the biology and chemistry behind these natural contaminants in the Southern California Bight, from Point Conception in Santa Barbara south to Ensenada, Mexico.

“The new Center for Oceans and Human Health is uniting leading experts in oceanography and medicine, two areas that make UC San Diego one of the best and most unique universities in the world, to address an emerging threat to public health and safety,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “UC San Diego is proud to be leading this effort in collaboration with other prominent institutions around the San Diego region.”

“The Scripps Center for Oceans and Human Health is focused on addressing to what extent nature contributes to the production and transmission of these toxins in the marine environment,” said Bradley Moore, director of the new center and a professor of oceanography and pharmaceutical sciences at Scripps and the UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. “Southern California waters will be the focus of our study, in part because our state has the highest reported incidence of polybrominated chemicals in human breast milk in the world.”

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