TAG: "Population health"

UCLA gets $7M to study links between substance abuse, HIV

Study will focus on minority men who have sex with men.

Pamina Gorbach, UCLA

Pamina Gorbach, UCLA

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has awarded UCLA a $7 million grant to investigate the links between substance abuse and HIV among Latino and African-American men who have sex with men.

Researchers will examine how non-injected drugs and alcohol can directly interact with the virus and other infectious diseases, to damage these men’s health. Enrollment in the study begins in January.

Called MASCULINE (MSM and Substances Cohort at UCLA Linking Infections Noting Effects), the study will be led by Pamina Gorbach, a professor of epidemiology at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health and a professor of infectious diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and Steven Shoptaw, a professor of family medicine at the Geffen School and director of the UCLA Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine.

For the study, researchers will establish and maintain an extensive repository of tissue, blood and fluid samples. This repository will be headed by Dr. Peter Anton, a professor of digestive diseases at the Geffen School. Anton, Gorbach and Shoptaw are also members of the UCLA AIDS Institute.

“Alcohol, non-injection use of cocaine and methamphetamine are linked to HIV sexual risk behaviors and transmission of infectious disease,” Gorbach said. “But little is known about how these substances can affect biology to produce health threats among those living with or at risk for HIV — especially among minority men who have sex with men.”

MASCULINE will be a companion study to the Multisite AIDS Cohort Study, the first and largest study specifically created to examine the natural history of AIDS. It will be conducted through the Fielding School’s Behavioral Epidemiology Research Group.

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Expanded role of paramedics shows promise for closing health care gaps

Feasibility study is first of its kind in California.

Paramedic with patientIn a new report, the UC Davis Institute for Population Health Improvement (IPHI) recommends that the state launch pilot programs to test a new model of community-based health care that would expand the role of paramedics under certain circumstances.

In “Community Paramedicine: A Promising Model for Integrating Emergency and Primary Care,” Kenneth W. Kizer, director of the IPHI and professor of emergency medicine in the UC Davis School of Medicine and Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, and his colleagues explore a new model of community-based care in which paramedics, after undergoing additional training, would function outside of their usual emergency response and transport roles to facilitate more appropriate use of emergency departments and to increase access to primary care for medically underserved populations.

This feasibility study is the first of its kind in California and reflects the perspectives of stakeholders from nearly 40 different organizations, including emergency medical services (EMS) associations, health-care providers, health plans and payers.

“Expanding the role of paramedics is a very promising model of community-based care that uses existing health-care workers in new and innovative ways,” said Kizer. “It is a model of care that several other states and countries have implemented to better leverage the skills of paramedics to meet specific community needs and to help ensure that emergency departments are more appropriately utilized.”

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Study links sugar to diabetes

Results provide evidence that not all calories are equal from a diabetes-risk standpoint.

Sanjay Basu, UC San Francisco

Does eating too much sugar cause diabetes?

For years, scientists have said “not exactly.” Eating too much of any food, including sugar, can cause you to gain weight; it’s the resulting obesity that predisposes people to diabetes, according to the prevailing theory.

But now the results of a large epidemiological study conducted at UC San Francisco suggest that sugar may also have a direct, independent link to diabetes.

Researchers examined data on global sugar availability and diabetes rates from 175 countries over the past decade. After accounting for obesity and a large array of other factors, the researchers found that increased sugar in a population’s food supply was linked to higher diabetes rates, independent of obesity rates. Their study was published Feb. 27 in PLOS ONE.

The study provides the first large-scale, population-based evidence for the idea that not all calories are equal from a diabetes-risk standpoint.

Robert Lustig, UC San Francisco

“It was quite a surprise,” said Sanjay Basu, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center and the study’s lead author. The research was conducted while Basu was a medical resident at UCSF and working with Robert Lustig, M.D., a pediatric endocrinologist at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and the paper’s senior author.

“We’re not diminishing the importance of obesity at all, but these data suggest that at a population level there are additional factors that contribute to diabetes risk besides obesity and total calorie intake, and that sugar appears to play a prominent role.”

Specifically, more sugar was correlated with more diabetes: For every additional 150 calories of sugar available per person per day, the prevalence of diabetes in the population rose 1 percent, even after controlling for obesity, physical activity, other types of calories and a number of economic and social variables. A 12-ounce can of soda contains about 150 calories of sugar. In contrast, an additional 150 calories of any type caused only a 0.1 percent increase in the population’s diabetes rate.

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Polling San Diegans about cell phones, driver safety

Survey is part of a program that has worked to keep Southern California highways safe.

Linda Hill, UC San Diego

Researchers at UC San Diego have launched a new survey aimed at gauging local motorists’ opinions and activities associated with cell phone usage and driving. It’s part of the Training, Research, and Education for Driving Safety (TREDS) program that has been working to keep Southern California highways – and the drivers navigating them – safe since 2005.

TREDS is led by experts from the UC San Diego School of Medicine’s Injury Epidemiology, Prevention and Research Center (IEPRC). The program includes an ongoing series of training courses for health professionals and law enforcement officers on how to identify and manage age-related impairments in older drivers.

Understanding – and hopefully curbing – distracted driving is a key TREDS initiative, notes project leader Linda Hill, M.D., M.P.H., professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. “Injuries are the leading cause of death to age 45, and they remain a major source of morbidity and mortality throughout life, with motor vehicle crashes the main cause of injury deaths,” said Hill. “Drivers talking on cell phones are responsible for 1.2 million collisions, 570,000 injuries, and 2,600 deaths each year. We’re hoping that this study will help us learn more about how and why San Diegans use cell phones and other devices while driving, as well as what factors influence their attentiveness to traffic and other road conditions.”

Hill is based in the Center for Wireless and Population Health Systems (CWPHS), a partnership of the School of Medicine and the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2).

The new Adult Cell Phone Survey, which went live Feb. 8, focuses on the driving habits of San Diego County residents, ages 30 to 64, who use a cell phone and who drive at least one day each week.

Responses to the 20-minute survey will remain anonymous and cannot be linked back to specific participants. All respondents who complete the survey can enter a lottery for a chance to win an iPad, a Kindle, or one of three $100 Amazon gift cards. The survey can be filled out at www.surveymonkey.com/s/TREDS.

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DELPHI project foretells future of personalized population health

NSF awards $2M to UC San Diego computer scientists and physicians.

Kevin Patrick, UC San Diego

Imagine a new type of health care app that does it all – it helps you understand your current health status, assists you in making changes in your life to improve your health, and takes into account the perspective of your entire life history, others in your age group — and perhaps even your neighborhood — who share similar characteristics.

That’s the vision put forward by a team of physicians and computer scientists at the University of California, San Diego, who are collaborating on a new digital resource that would take advantage of advances in databases, cyberinfrastructure and machine learning to usher in a new era of health and health care.

“Patients, providers and consumers need to be empowered by apps and services that leverage the full range of data that are essential to health promotion, disease prevention and medical care. We characterize this as personalized population health,” said Kevin Patrick, a professor of family and preventive medicine in the UC San Diego School of Medicine.  “Opening up access to personal, medical, environmental and population-level data can enable designers and developers of the ever-increasing numbers of wearable health monitoring devices, smartphone apps and Web-based health to create new products and services that are truly tailored to the individual. These can do everything from spelling out ways to improve your health by adopting appropriate behaviors to where to go on a holiday weekend when you or a loved one have run out of a life-critical medication.”

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $2 million over four years to the UC San Diego team to prototype the development of a “Data E-platform Leveraged for Patient Empowerment and Population Health Improvement” (DELPHI).

“The acronym is particularly meaningful,” noted Patrick, principal investigator on the DELPHI project and director of the Center for Wireless and Population Health Systems in the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). “If we get it right, this new platform can become a modern-day oracle – giving a glimpse into the present and the future of users based on an understanding of all health data that are known to influence both present health and risks to health over time.”

The DELPHI platform builds on existing projects and capabilities developed on the UC San Diego campus by the School of Medicine, the UCSD division of Calit2, the Jacobs School of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE), and the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC).

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Pioneer in HIV/AIDS research works on a global scale

UCLA’s Roger Detels reflects on distinguished career.

Roger Detels, UCLA

When he was an undergraduate student at Harvard University in 1958, Roger Detels spent three months as an exchange student in Kanazawa, Japan. As one of the first few Americans in Kanazawa after the war, Detels — today a UCLA distinguished professor of epidemiology and infectious diseases — still recalls with amusement many of his experiences with his Japanese host family.

“I arrive in Kanazawa and my family takes me around the house, and they’re talking to me in Japanese, of course,” said Detels, who had studied as much Japanese as he could on the boat trip from Hawaii to Kanazawa. “And I could tell that they were apologizing for how small the rooms were.”

Wanting to say something nice, Detels said, “Ah, kirai desu.” He got no reaction. The same thing happened with each room. Finally, Detels discovered that he and the older daughter both spoke a little bit of German. “And what had happened was, I meant to say, ‘Ah, kirei desu,’ which means, ‘It’s beautiful.’ But I said, ‘kirai,’ which means, ‘I don’t like it.’ ”

He laughed heartily at the memory. “We managed to survive that one,” he said.

That first experience in Japan actually turned out to be the first of many Asian adventures for Detels, who received his B.A. from Harvard later that same year. He went on to New York University where, while working toward an M.D. that he earned in 1962, he served his elective period at the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit (NAMRU-2) in Taipei, Taiwan.

“That experience made me realize that one-on-one medicine was not very efficient; that if I really wanted to have an impact, I should get into the area of epidemiology and public health,” Detels said. “I realized that was going to have a much greater impact than seeing patients one at a time.”

While in Taipei, Detels worked with professor Thomas Grayston, who had organized a department of preventive medicine and started a residency program in epidemiology at the University of Washington. Detels completed the residency program and also earned an M.S. from the University of Washington in 1966.

After graduation, Detels was drafted into the U.S. Navy and requested to be sent back to NAMRU-2 in Taipei, where he lived for three years with his wife, Mimi, and their two sons, Martin and Edward. During his tour of duty he did research in the Philippines, Bangkok and Taiwan, field-testing the rubella vaccine and studying tropical diseases. Once his Navy service was fulfilled, Detels took a position as a medical officer for the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

Two years later, in 1970, Detels joined the UCLA faculty as an associate professor in what is now UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health. “When I got here, there was only one faculty member in epidemiology, and he promptly retired upon my arrival,” Detels said, laughing. As a young professor, Detels quickly learned how to teach courses and set about recruiting new colleagues and expanding the department, which today has approximately 40 faculty, including in-residence and adjunct appointments.

In 1981, Detels started a study of AIDS in young homosexual men in Los Angeles and, in 1983, he formed a collaborative study with centers at three other institutions: Pittsburgh, Northwestern and Johns Hopkins. This study, known as the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS), is still going strong some 30 years later.

Detels also runs the UCLA/Fogarty AIDS International Training and Research Program for health professionals from China, Southeast Asia and India, who come here to earn advanced degrees in epidemiology. “But I insist that they go back to their home countries to do the field work for their dissertations,” Detels said. “I feel that doing their dissertations in the United States is irrelevant for them. One of the requirements is that they can’t get into the program unless they agree to go back to their home countries.”

Besides currently serving as adviser to 15-20 doctoral students, teaching two graduate courses and an introductory public health course for 280 undergraduates, and delivering guest lectures, Detels is also senior editor of the recently published book, “Public Health in East and Southeast Asia: Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century” (UC Press, 2012).

On Nov. 15, Detels will deliver UCLA’s 113th Faculty Research Lecture at the invitation of the Academic Senate.

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Study promoting sale of healthy foods by catering trucks wins national award

Simple signage, unique packaging, promotional apparel increased sale of healthy entrees.

Desiree Backman, UC Davis

Desiree Backman, chief prevention officer with the Institute for Population Health Improvement at UC Davis Health System, received a 2012 Best Great Educational Material (GEM) award for a study that showed signs, labeling and promotional apparel can increase the sale of healthful entrees offered at catering trucks serving workers in low-income communities. She received the award at the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior’s annual conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this summer.

The award recognizes authors who produced the best educational materials published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, the society’s peer-reviewed journal for disseminating original research, emerging issues and practices relevant to nutrition education and behavior worldwide.

Backman conducted the research while working on the Network for a Healthy California project, a collaboration with colleagues at the California Department of Public Health and the Sacramento-based Public Health Institute. Backman and her co-authors were recognized for their innovative study, “Catering Trucks in California Promote Healthful Eating in Low-Wage Worksites,” which was published in the journal’s July/August 2011 supplement.

For the study, the researchers engaged eight catering truck vendors in San Diego to include two healthful entrees as part of their “grab and go” lunch offerings. The items were a turkey, avocado and sprouts sandwich with sliced fresh fruit on the side, and a chicken wrap with sliced fresh fruit on the side. The entrée containers had a clear plastic top with an English- and Spanish-language sticker that stated “Eat Fruits & Vegetables and Be Active!” The same messaging also was posted on a colorful 11-by-17-inch sign in the truck and on employees’ T-shirts, hats and aprons.

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UC Davis institute launches California Health eQuality

Program will promote health care quality through exchange of health information.

UC Davis Health System has established the California Health eQuality (CHeQ) program, leaders at the Institute for Population Health Improvement announced today (Sept. 25). CHeQ seeks to improve health care quality and the coordination of care by using health information exchange (HIE) technology to facilitate the rapid flow of information among physician offices, hospitals and other health care providers.

Through a 16-month, $17.5 million interagency agreement with the California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS), CHeQ will develop and implement HIE programs according to the state’s Cooperative Grant Agreement with the federal Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. From March 2010 to August 2012, CHHS had utilized Cal eConnect, a nonprofit corporation, as California’s state-designated governance entity.

CHeQ’s programs intend to promote health care quality and the coordination of care by expanding underserved communities’ capacities to exchange health information or access to Direct, a simple, standards-based way for senders to push secure encrypted health information directly to trusted recipients over the Internet. CHeQ also will improve sharing of immunization, laboratory and care information and provide tools to assist providers in identifying private, secure, standardized and trusted systems.

Kenneth W. Kizer, director of the Institute for Population Health Improvement, will lead CHeQ. Kizer has a long history of public- and private-sector experience in health information technology, health care quality improvement and population health. He has served as chair, president and chief executive officer of Medsphere Systems Corp., the nation’s leading commercial provider of open-source health care information technology.

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Epidemiologist receives Goldsmith Award

UC Berkeley’s Brenda Eskenazi honored for innovative work in environmental epidemiology.

Brenda Eskenazi, UC Berkeley

On Wednesday (Aug. 29), UC Berkeley School of Public Health professor Brenda Eskenazi received the John Goldsmith Award for Outstanding Contributions to Environmental Epidemiology from the International Society of Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE), a society of more than 1,000 scientists worldwide. The premiere award of the ISEE honors environmental epidemiologists who serve as models of excellence in research, unwavering promotion of environmental health, and integrity.

Eskenzi, Jennifer and Brian Maxwell Professor of Maternal and Child Health and Epidemiology, received the award in part for her contributions to the field of environmental epidemiology through her work founding and directing the Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health. She has conducted numerous studies worldwide on environmental exposures to children.

Since 1999, she has directed a longitudinal birth cohort study examining chemicals and other factors in the environment and children’s health as part of the CHAMACOS project. Among other findings, the landmark study has linked flame retardants to lower birth weights, associated PBDE exposure to reduced fertility and altered thyroid function in women, and linked mothers’ exposure to organophosphate pesticides during pregnancy to shorter gestation and lower IQs in children.

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Children of U.S.-born Latinas more likely to get retina cancer

UCLA researchers say mothers born in Mexico have healthier pregnancy behaviors, which may account for the reduced risk.

Beate Ritz, UCLA

In a large epidemiologic study, researchers at UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center found that babies of U.S.-born Latinas are at higher risk for retinoblastoma — a malignant tumor of the retina which typically occurs before the age of 6 — than children of Mexico-born mothers.

The study, which focused on infants born in California, also found that children of older fathers and those born to women with sexually transmitted diseases were at greater risk for the disease, as were children from multiple-birth pregnancies, which may indicate an increased risk from in vitro fertilization. Those findings confirmed the results of several smaller studies.

The research team used data from the California Cancer Registry and examined all retinoblastoma cases reported from 1988 to 2007, said Julia Heck, first author of the study and an assistant researcher at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Using California data allowed the researchers to cull information from a large and diverse population that included many Latinas.

The study appears in the early online edition of the journal Cancer Causes and Control.

“One of the most interesting things we found in this study that hasn’t been reported is the differences among Latina mothers and the risk being lower among mothers born in Mexico,” Heck said. “We believe this is because women born in Mexico who come to the United States and have children have very healthy behaviors in the perinatal period, immediately before and after giving birth.”

The study’s senior author, Dr. Beate Ritz, a Jonsson Cancer Center researcher and a professor of epidemiology and environmental health sciences at the Fielding School, said Latinas born in the U.S. are less likely to exhibit the healthy pregnancy behaviors found in foreign-born Latinas. For example, they generally have poorer diets and are more likely to smoke and drink during pregnancy, which could contribute to the risk of retinoblastoma.

“Compared to U.S.-born Latinas, immigrant women born in rural Mexico often have even less education and lower socioeconomic status, but they retain healthier diets and perinatal habits, which may be correlated to lower risk of disease in their children,” said Ritz, who chairs the Fielding School’s epidemiology department.

The team chose to study retinoblastoma because its causes remain poorly understood. The researchers sought to examine associations between perinatal factors and cancer risk in California children. They identified 609 retinoblastoma cases, 420 that occurred in one eye, 187 that occurred in both eyes and two for which it was unknown whether one or both eyes were involved. They randomly selected more than 200,000 control children without cancer from the California birth rolls. The source of most of the risk-factor data in this study was information from birth certificates, Ritz said.

Retinoblastoma is the result of the loss or mutation of both alleles of the RB1 tumor-suppressor gene. About 40 percent of cases are considered hereditary, and most of these present as bilateral disease — that is, in both eyes.

“In conclusion, we observed risk of retinoblastoma to be related to several risk factors,” the study states. “Bilateral disease risk was higher among children of older fathers, and among children of multiple-birth pregnancies. We observed a higher risk of unilateral disease among children of U.S.-born Latina women. Further research should be done to confirm this finding and to examine the unique risks experienced in this population.”

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (R21 ES018960 and R21 ES019986).

UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center has more than 240 researchers and clinicians engaged in disease research, prevention, detection, control, treatment and education. One of the nation’s largest comprehensive cancer centers, the Jonsson Center is dedicated to promoting research and translating basic science into leading-edge clinical studies. In July 2012, the Jonsson Cancer Center was named among the top 10 cancer centers nationwide by U.S. News & World Report, a ranking it has held for 12 of the last 13 years.

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Warren Winkelstein Jr. dies at 90

UC Berkeley epidemiologist led seminal AIDS, air pollution studies.

Warren Winkelstein Jr.

Dr. Warren Winkelstein Jr., professor emeritus of epidemiology and a former dean at the University of California, Berkeley, who is credited with leading definitive studies on AIDS transmission, air pollution and other health issues, died Sunday, July 22. He was 90.

Winkelstein died at his home in Point Richmond of complications from an infection.

Winkelstein’s distinguished career spanned six decades and was marked by numerous accomplishments, such as leading the landmark San Francisco Men’s Health Study that began in the early 1980s, a time when little was known about a mysterious new disease called AIDS.

“That study was the first to provide us information about how HIV was transmitted, the length of the virus’s incubation period, and what behaviors put people at greater risk,” said S. Leonard Syme, UC Berkeley professor emeritus of epidemiology, who first met Winkelstein in 1960. “There were only four AIDS research grants awarded at that time, and Winkelstein’s was the only one that started with a population of healthy people, rather than people who already had AIDS, and observed them over time. It was amazing work, and that research became the definitive study of how AIDS was spread.”

To this day, the San Francisco Men’s Health Study stands as one of the largest and best described cohorts of people at risk for HIV/AIDS, Syme said.

Winkelstein was born on July 1, 1922, in Syracuse, N.Y. He was in the inaugural class of students at the Putney School in Vermont, a progressive preparatory high school that emphasizes experiential education. He served in the Army in World War II before continuing his education at the University of North Carolina, where he received his bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1943. He went on to earn his medical degree from Syracuse University in 1947, and his master’s degree in public health from Columbia University in 1950.

After graduation, Winkelstein served a year with the U.S. Public Health Service, where he was assigned to work on a Special Technical and Economic Mission to North Vietnam. This work was a forerunner to the creation of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

In 1951, Winkelstein joined the Erie County Health Department in Buffalo, New York, as a district health officer. Two years later, he became director of the department’s Division of Communicable Disease Control, a position he held until 1956. During his tenure there, he headed one of the largest trials ever conducted of the Salk polio vaccine.

Winkelstein also established the Epidemiology Research Program at the State University of New York, Buffalo, and while there he led one of the first studies to successfully isolate air pollution as the cause of health problems in low-income neighborhoods. That work helped influence the development of U.S. air quality standards.

“I was an executive secretary at the NIH (National Institutes of Health) at that time, and we had never seen a grant proposal like his before,” Syme recalled. “He proposed a way to study the health effects of air pollution that could separate out the confounding variables associated with poverty. That had never been done before. He kept picking topics that no one else had looked at, and his research has really changed our lives.”

In 1968, Syme, by then a faculty member at UC Berkeley, helped recruit Winkelstein to a growing division of epidemiology at the School of Public Health. Winkelstein joined as a professor of epidemiology and served as the school’s dean from 1972 to 1981. He was considered a valued and trusted colleague and thoughtful mentor to scores of graduate students in public health. 

“Warren Winkelstein was one of America’s greatest epidemiologists,” said Dr. Arthur Reingold, UC Berkeley professor of epidemiology and associate dean for research at the School of Public Health. “He was world-renowned for his pioneering studies in the history of epidemiology, and for his superb teaching skills. He was an important mentor to dozens of epidemiologists, and beloved by several generations of students. He will be sorely missed.”

Among other achievements credited to Winkelstein is the first case-control study of risk factors of coronary heart disease in women, and his pioneering research on the link between tobacco smoke and cervical cancer.

Winkelstein remained active after his retirement in 1991. He continued to teach graduate courses on ethics in epidemiology and the history of the field. He also wrote biographical sketches of prominent figures in the field of epidemiology, including John Snow; Edward Jenner; his mentor, Abraham Lilienfeld; and Janet Elizabeth Lane-Claypon, who conducted a classic study of breast cancer epidemiology in the 1920s.

Winkelstein was preceded in death in 2004 by his third wife, Veva Winkelstein. He is survived by his three children, Rebecca Yamin of Philadelphia.; Joshua Winkelstein of Holt, Mich.; and Shoshana Winkelstein of Oakland; as well as by three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A campus memorial service will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 10, at the Great Hall of The Faculty Club. Click here for a map.

Gifts may be made in Winkelstein’s memory to The Warren Winkelstein Epidemiology Graduate Student Support FundChecks should be made payable to the UC Berkeley Foundation and sent to the School of Public Health, 417H University Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-7360. The name of the fund should be noted on the check.

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UC Davis partners with state on cancer registry

Will run key resource for population-based data on cancer.

Kenneth W. Kizer, UC Davis

The UC Davis Health System announced today (June 26) that it will partner with the California Department of Public Health to run the day-to-day operations of the California Cancer Registry, one of the world’s leading resources for population-based data on cancer.

Kenneth W. Kizer, director of the Institute for Population Health Improvement (IPHI) at UC Davis Health System will lead the partnership. As a past director (from 1984 to 1991) of the former California Department of Health Services, he led efforts to obtain the legislation authorizing statewide cancer reporting in 1986 and then oversaw the implementation of the statewide California Cancer Registry.

California’s statewide population-based cancer surveillance system is a data gold mine containing information on more than 4 million cancer cases diagnosed since 1988 including patient demographics, cancer type, extent of disease at diagnosis, treatment and survival information. The database is a powerful tool that enables researchers and health care professionals to assess geographic, ethnic, racial and other risk factors for cancer. Data about trends, disparities in cancer occurrence and treatment, and other information derived from the registry, help shape policy, refine guidelines on patient care, and reveal where early detection, education or other cancer-related programs should be directed. The CCR also has been a critical tool in analyzing cancer “clusters” and the relationship of these unusual occurrences of cancer to environmental factors.

The CCR is a highly collaborative effort among the California Department of Public Health and its Cancer Surveillance and Research Branch (CSRB), the state’s eight regional cancer registries, health-care providers and cancer researchers throughout the state and nationally. Until now, the registry has been operated by the Public Health Institute since 1986.

“They created and maintain a great resource for cancer research for Californians,” said Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health and state health officer. “CDPH is looking forward to continuing this great public health resource and is excited to partner with UC Davis IPHI.”

Through the new partnership with UC Davis, IPHI will take the lead in collecting, analyzing, interpreting and disseminating information on cancer incidence and mortality for the state. Working with the state public health department and cancer surveillance branch, IPHI and UC Davis Health System staff will monitor the incidence and mortality of specific cancers over time and analyze differential cancer risks, cancer by geographic region, age, race/ethnicity, sex and other social characteristics of the population. They also will gather cancer data through the registry and work with researchers on special projects related to the etiology, treatment, risk factors and prevention of specific cancers.

“The California Cancer Registry provides an unparalleled opportunity to understand the relationship of cancer to genetic, environmental, lifestyle and other factors, and to use that knowledge to advance cancer care and inform public policy,” said Kizer. “Nesting the Registry at UC Davis provides an unrivaled opportunity to leverage the expertise of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, departments of information technology and public health aciences, and many other departments and programs throughout the university to translate the registry data into actionable intelligence to lessen the devastating effects of cancer.”

UC Davis plans to enhance the registry’s information management technologies to facilitate rapid collection of accurate cancer-case data and expand easy access to users located throughout the state. In addition, as researchers further develop genetic and molecular medicine and other new technologies to better diagnose and treat cancer, those advancements will inform operation of the registry.

“As a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, we are committed to further developing the California Cancer Registry to improve health and transform health care,” said Ralph de Vere White, director of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Our Population Sciences and Health Disparities Program conducts comprehensive research on cancer prevention, initiation, progression and survival. Our emphasis is on reducing disparities in the incidence of particular cancers, as well as improving cancer outcomes in all populations.”

UC Davis Health System has a long history of partnering with the state to improve lives and the delivery of health care. UC Davis clinical informatics specialists developed and currently operate the California’s Electronic Death Registration System, the largest and most successfully adopted death registration system in the United States.

UC Davis Health System is improving lives and transforming health care by providing excellent patient care, conducting groundbreaking research, fostering innovative, interprofessional education, and creating dynamic, productive partnerships with the community. The academic health system includes one of the country’s best medical schools, a 631-bed acute care teaching hospital, a 1,000-member physician’s practice group and the new Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. It is home to a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, an international neurodevelopmental institute, a stem cell institute and a comprehensive children’s hospital. Other nationally prominent centers focus on advancing telemedicine, improving vascular care, eliminating health disparities and translating research findings into new treatments for patients. Together, they make UC Davis a hub of innovation that is transforming health for all. For more information, visit healthsystem.ucdavis.edu.

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