TAG: "Students"

54 UC students awarded Global Food Initiative fellowships


$2,500 fellowships, selected by UC campuses, will fund student-generated research.

The University of California announced today (Dec. 9) that 54 UC students have been awarded UC Global Food Initiative fellowships, funding projects that will address issues ranging from community gardens and food pantries to urban agriculture and food waste.

All 10 UC campuses plus UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are participating in the UC President’s Global Food Initiative Student Fellowship Program. The $2,500 fellowships to undergraduate and graduate students, selected by the campuses, will fund student-generated research, related projects or internships that focus on food issues. Also, plans are being developed for student fellows to convene in spring 2015.

“I want to congratulate the inaugural class of Global Food Initiative student fellows,” UC President Janet Napolitano said. “These are outstanding students who are passionate about this important global topic and will be able to make valuable contributions to this initiative through these fellowships. I’m looking forward to seeing the results of their projects.”

Napolitano, together with UC’s 10 chancellors, launched the Global Food Initiative in July in an effort to help put UC’s campuses, the state and the world on a pathway to sustainably and nutritiously feed themselves. The fellowships will support the work of the initiative’s early action teams and the initiative’s overall efforts to address food security, health and sustainability.

Fellowship projects will examine urban agriculture, sustainable campus landscapes, agricultural waste streams and biological pest control, among other topics. Some projects will enhance experiential learning, such as constructing new vegetable gardens. Others will support food pantries. Yet other projects will document research through films and social media.

The bulk of the fellowship funding comes from the UC President’s Initiative Fund, with several campuses augmenting the funding to support additional student fellowships.

In addition to the initial 54 student fellowships, further fellowships will be supported at UC Davis by a private donation from Craig McNamara, president and owner of walnut-producing Sierra Orchards, and his wife, Julie; and at UC Berkeley by donations from Joy Sterling, CEO of Iron Horse Vineyards, and Chez Panisse owner Alice Waters and the Edible Schoolyard Project. UC continues to reach out to the community for financial support of the fellowship program.

The initial student fellows and their projects include:

UC Berkeley

  • Kate Kaplan, experiential learning
  • Miranda Everitt, leveraging research for policy change
  • Vanessa Taylor, food pantries and food security

UC Davis

  • Ryan Dowdy, food system sustainability: converting food waste into electricity
  • Sophie Sapp Moore, food security for the Papaye Peasant Movement in Haiti
  • Jessica West, pest management of the spotted wing drosophila

UC Irvine

  • Victoria Lowerson Bredow, inclusive food systems: immigrants, indigeneity and innovation
  • Alexander Fung, food pantry initiative
  • Sally Geislar, local food access and advocacy: cultivating town and gown synergies
  • Crystal Hickerson, grow your own food campaign
  • Ankita Raturi, modeling the environmental impact of agricultural systems

UCLA

  • Sheela Bhongir, Kayee Liu, Vanessa Moreno and Robert Penna, “A Recipe for Change”: a short documentary film about the effects of food marketing in early childhood obesity
  • Sanna Alas, Phoebe Lai and Claudia Varney, “Down to Earth: Stories of Urban Gardeners in Los Angeles,” an ethnographic documentary film about Los Angeles County residents who grow food in community gardens
  • Hayley Ashbaugh, Lucie Dzongang, Adrienne Greer, Logan Hitchcock and Lindsey Jagoe, evaluation of impact and sustainability of farmer hubs selling to large institutions
  • Ian Davies, Kaylie Edgar, Steven Eggert and Ashley Lopez, curricula/food literacy garden project — constructing two new vegetable gardens

UC Merced

  • Hoaithi Dang, hydroponic farming
  • Erendira Estrada, evaluating the effects of a mobile grocery in addressing the lack of access to fresh foods in rural communities
  • Rebecca Quinte, sustainable agriculture in Central Valley food crops
  • Megan Schill, prions and food safety
  • Emily Wilson, endophytes and sustainable agriculture
  • Andrew Zumkehr, farmland mapping project

UC Riverside

  • Dietlinde Heilmayr, community gardens
  • Darrin Lin, California Agriculture and Food Enterprise website development
  • Daniel Lopez, on-campus food pantry

UC San Diego

  • Jancy Benavides, urban agriculture on brownfields
  • Hayden Galante, sustainable campus landscapes
  • Jane Kang, improving food and water security through urban ecology and participatory design
  • Danielle Ramirez, urban agriculture and civic engagement

UC San Francisco

  • Jacob Benjamin Mirsky, exploring patient perspectives on food insecurity to optimize the San Francisco General Hospital Therapeutic Food Pantry
  • Jonathan Schor, reinterpreting nutritional facts: a tool to inform consumer choices in the short term and food policy in the long term

UC Santa Barbara

  • Kathryn Parkinson and Emilie Wood, post-consumer food waste reduction
  • Rachel Rouse, food security and accessibility

UC Santa Cruz

  • Alyssa Billys, experiential learning and agroecological production
  • Joanna Ory, food equity and California Higher Education Food Summit engagement support
  • Crystal Owings, California Higher Education Food Summit planning support and planning to establish the Swipes program at UC Santa Cruz

Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Jacqueline Chang, UC Berkeley, hunger survey of UC students
  • Kevi Mace-Hill, UC Berkeley, graduate student preparedness for Cooperative Extension
  • Samantha Smith, UC Davis, scientist interviews

Berkeley Lab

  • Kripa Akila Jagannathan, UC Berkeley, alignment of climate model outputs to farmers’ information needs
  • Michelle Stitzer, UC Davis, genomic annotations of maize
  • Gus Tolley, UC Davis, effects of prolonged drought on hydrologic conditions

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

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UC students bring attention to impact of racial disparities in health care


Students stage “white coat die-ins” nationwide, including at UCSF, other UC medical schools.

UC San Francisco professional students led a national movement via social media that examined how racial disparities impact health care. (Photo by Leland Kim, UC San Francisco)

By Leland Kim, UC San Francisco

A group of UCSF School of Medicine students started a nationwide movement to bring attention to the impact of racial disparities in health care. They led more than 2,000 students in 80 medical schools across the country in a “white coat die-in” where they lay down in their white coats to protest recent grand jury decisions not to indict white police officers who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner, unarmed African American men in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City, respectively.

At UCSF, more than 150 students and some faculty and staff members gathered in front of the UCSF Parnassus Library at noon on Dec. 10. Making sure not to block the sidewalk or entrance to the library, they lay down for 45 minutes in silence. Many closed their eyes. Some held hands.

“As health professional students, we really want to emphasize the fact that what happens in the community bears relation to what happens in our work,” said event organizer Nicolás Barceló, a fourth-year student in UCSF School of Medicine. “The context in which our patients live contextualizes the type of care we need to provide.”

This movement started at UCSF several weeks before the “die-in” when a core group of students of color in the UCSF Underrepresented In Medicine (UIM) program, and their white allies within the School of Medicine, worked with established networks of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA), the Latino Medical Students Association (LMSA), and the PRIME Program of UC medical schools to raise awareness. Soon after the hashtag #whitecoat4blacklives was born.

“Using social media as the primary driver, and with the help of incredible individuals, many of whom we had never met, our idea became a shared cause,” said Barceló. “Students at UPenn were responsible for creating the national Facebook group. The national press release disseminated through Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), which was a product of the collaboration between students from UCSF, UPenn, Brown and Mt Sinai. The artwork of white coats becoming flying doves – perhaps most symbolic of the movement –was created by a student at UCSF.”

The School of Medicine-led event also included participation by students in the School of Dentistry, School of Nursing and School of Pharmacy. Students from other UC medical schools also participated at their locations. The hashtag #WhiteCoats4BlackLives generated close to 2,000 posts or mentions on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram on the day of the event, reaching more than one million people. It was covered by local and national media, including MSNBC, the Huffington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle.

“This movement is particularly important because in the end we’re here to advocate for our patients, to be the voice for those who are not heard,” said Daniela Brissett, a second-year School of Medicine student who helped organize the event. “Health care disparities for people of color are ever growing and we need to change that. It’s the responsibility of us, as well as our faculty and our deans. And it starts here, and it starts with the resources we need to provide for our patients.”

Some faculty members and members of the leadership team, including Renee Navarro, Pharm.D., M.D., vice chancellor of diversity and outreach, came out to support the students.

“It’s been an incredible catalyst to bring together students,” said Barceló . “We couldn’t be more grateful for the support we’ve received from our administration, from our Vice Chancellor Dr. Renee Navarro.”

“I am inspired by our students,” Navarro said. “I’m inspired by our collaboration, the solidarity across our schools, across our faculty, our students and our staff coming together on such a critically important issue, and recognizing as deliverers of health care, this is such an important component of what we do and we should have a voice in this.”

As a follow up, the student organizers of the “die-in” scheduled a town hall meeting on Dec. 12 at Cole Hall to share reflections on violence and racial bias in the community as well as in the health care system. They also brainstormed ideas for organized student response with several deans and some faculty members.

“We look forward to having productive conversations with leadership here at UCSF and other UC campuses to amend our curriculum, to increase diversity both in the students and in the faculty,” Barceló said. “Ultimately we want to improve relations between our institutions and the communities we serve.”

In the days following the “die-in,” several other college campuses in other parts of the country hosted town halls and open meetings to discuss and develop a plan for institutional change.

At the national level, student leaders of the movement are deciding how to proceed in effecting change. They hope to systematically reform the policies and practice of medicine to more adequately address racism and violence as major determinants to health.

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Traffic’s toll on the heart


Clogged interstates aggravate clogged arteries, according to UC Irvine research.

Credit: Jess Wheelock, UC Office of the President

By Nicole Freeling, UC Newsroom

Anyone who has experienced Los Angeles gridlock likely can attest that traffic may cause one’s blood pressure to rise. But UC Irvine researchers have found that, beyond the aggravation caused by fellow drivers, traffic-related air pollution presents serious heart health risks — not just for rush hour commuters, but for those who live and work nearby.

Research by UC Irvine joint M.D./Ph.D. student Sharine Wittkopp contributes to evidence that the increased air pollution generated by vehicle congestion causes blood pressure to rise and arteries to inflame, increasing incidents of heart attack and stroke for people who reside near traffic-prone areas.

“While the impact of traffic-related pollution on people with chronic lung diseases is well known, the link to adverse heart impacts has been less described,” said Wittkopp.

UC Irvine M.D./Ph.D. student Sharine Wittkopp is investigating genetic factors that make some people more vulnerable to pollution’s negative effects. (Photo courtesy of Sharine Wittkopp)

Her research project, funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, focused on residents of a Los Angeles senior housing community who had coronary artery disease.

Study participants spend the vast majority of their time at home, which meant they had prolonged exposure to traffic-related air pollution at the site. Because of their age and pre-existing heart conditions, they were thought to be more vulnerable to small, day-to-day variations in air quality.

“They are really in the thick of it,” Wittkopp said. “They are the ones that are going to suffer the most, and who are the least likely to be resilient.”

Up to now, most studies on the impacts of air pollution have focused on its effects over much larger populations, with difficulty capturing accurate exposures and short-term changes. Wittkopp and her team wanted to look at how daily fluctuations in traffic and air quality would affect those residing in the immediate vicinity of congested roadways.

The research team, led by adviser Ralph Delfino, associate professor and vice chair for research and graduate studies in the Department of Epidemiology at UC Irvine’s School of Medicine, set up air quality monitors at the residences of the study participants. They looked for daily and weekly changes in traffic-related pollution such as nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter.

What they found: “Blood pressure went up with increased traffic pollutants, and EKG changes showed decreased blood flow to the heart,” Wittkopp said.

Uncovering a genetic link

Just how susceptible a person is to these negative impacts appears to depend not just upon age and proximity to traffic, but also upon genetics, the research team found.

They uncovered what they believe is the first epidemiological evidence that a person’s mitochondrial DNA could affect their susceptibility to adverse health effects related to air pollution.

“When our cells are exposed to toxins, they respond by making more proteins that enable them to detoxify pollutants,” Wittkopp said. “We can actually monitor how the protein levels are going up and down and how the gene readouts change as people are exposed.” Looking at traffic-related pollution, they discovered that a person’s ability to produce the proteins that combat pollutants varied dramatically based on their DNA.

By identifying the genetic variables that place people at greater risk, health care providers could help account for these impacts and prescribe proactive treatments — such as antioxidants that reduce inflammation — that would make people less vulnerable.

But Wittkopp also stresses such treatment would simply be a Band-Aid on the greater problem.

Impetus to improve infrastructure, lessen exposure

“Understanding the health problems that traffic-related pollution causes helps us understand why we need to change things and improve our infrastructure to reduce exposure,” said Wittkopp, who believes this research can provide policymakers and the public with a fuller picture of the impact of pollution.

“This kind of information can help us quantify the cost of traffic-related air pollution in terms of health care costs, lives lost and quality of life diminished.”

While genetic factors may make some more vulnerable than others, Wittkopp points out, “There’s no one who’s not susceptible in some way. No one gets better when they are exposed to these pollutants.”

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Donations needed to help dogs, cats of the homeless


Supports Mercer Clinic Holiday Pet Basket program.

Help is welcomed this holiday season to help take the chill out of life on the streets for the dogs and cats of area homeless people.

For the 19th year, staff volunteers at UC Davis’ William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital are gathering monetary donations to help fill 130 holiday-wrapped boxes with toys, treats, food and pet-care products. The holiday pet baskets will be distributed on Saturday, Dec. 13, to pet owners attending the monthly Mercer Veterinary Clinic for the homeless in Sacramento.

The Holiday Pet Basket program also is raising funds for the fourth year to provide sweaters and coats to help these pets survive the winter weather.

“The Holiday Pet Baskets are a much appreciated gift to these very special pets that deserve a happy holiday, too,” said Eileen Samitz, who coordinates the holiday basket program. “However, we also recognize the essential need for warm sweaters and coats, particularly for the smaller or older pets, which have a far harder time enduring the cold winter temperatures, especially at night.”

Checks to support the Holiday Pet Baskets and purchase of pet coats and sweaters may be made payable to the UC Regents – Mercer Holiday Pet Baskets and mailed to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Office of the Dean, P.O. Box 1167, Davis, CA 95617-1167, Attn: Mercer Holiday Pet Baskets.

Online donations also can be made at: http://bit.ly/189XBde by choosing the “Mercer Clinic Holiday Pet Baskets” option.

More information about how to help the Mercer Holiday Pet Basket program can be obtained from coordinator Eileen Samitz (evenings and weekends) at (530) 756-5165 and emsamitz@ucdavis.edu or from the Mercer Clinic website and photo gallery at www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/clubs/mercer.

About the Mercer Clinic

Since 1992, the Mercer Clinic has provided the pets of homeless individuals with basic veterinary care, access to emergency care and pet food — all free of charge. The clinic is open on the second Saturday of each month, staffed by veterinary faculty and practitioners who volunteer their time and supervise the veterinary students, who run the clinic. The students gain valuable experience as they apply their studies and work alongside veterinarians to learn veterinary responsibilities and client communication skills.

In addition to improving the lives of the pets of the homeless, the Mercer Clinic works to reduce pet overpopulation by arranging for free vaccinations as well as spay and neuter surgeries for the animals.

Mercer Clinic takes place at Loaves & Fishes, 1321 West C St., Sacramento. The clinic has received the American Veterinary Medical Association Humane Award and the Sacramento SPCA “Humane-itarian” award for its work with this special population of animal companions.

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Regents approve long-term stability plan for tuition, financial aid


Plan would allow UC to enroll more California students.

The University of California Board of Regents approved today (Nov. 20) a five-year plan for low, predictable tuition that, together with modest state funds, would allow UC to enroll more California students, maintain the university’s strong financial aid program and invest in educational quality.

The plan authorizes UC to increase tuition by up to 5 percent per year through 2019-20, an amount that could be reduced or eliminated entirely if the state provides sufficient revenue. The full board approved the plan on a 14-7 vote. At Wednesday’s (Nov. 19) meeting, the Regents Long-Range Financial Plan Committee approved the plan on a 7-2 vote, with Gov. Jerry Brown and student regent Sadia Saifuddin voting against it.

“No one wants to see the price of a UC education increase, but I believe the plan is fair and necessary if UC is to remain a world-class, public-serving university,” said Bruce Varner, regents chair, at Wednesday’s meeting, where the plan was discussed at length.

UC President Janet Napolitano noted that state support for UC students remains near the lowest it has been in more than 30 years. The university receives about $460 million less today than it did before the recession.

“Despite the level of public disinvestment, its research and academic reputation have been largely sustained,” Napolitano said. “Entire swaths of the California economy — from biotechnology to the wine industry — have sprung from UC research. UC graduates lead the creativity and innovation activities upon which California prides itself.

“With this plan we can invest in faculty. This means we can increase course selection, speed time to graduation, and better support graduate education as well as undergraduate education. But we cannot continue to do these things without additional revenue.”

She said the long-term plan also would help students, families and the university by helping to end the annual “feast or famine” budget cycle in which tuition rises and falls — sometimes dramatically — in relation to state funding.

“This plan brings clarity to the tuition and financial aid process for our students and their families,” Napolitano said.

Napolitano noted that UC has one of the strongest financial aid programs of any university in the country: Fifty-five percent of California undergraduates have all systemwide tuition and fees covered.

The plan preserves that robust aid model. It also will allow UC to enroll 5,000 more California students, a critical component given that applications are “running at a record pace,” as they have been for the last decade, Napolitano said.

Brown proposed that he and Napolitano instead form a select committee to investigate a variety of ideas for reducing UC’s long-term costs, including creation of a three-year undergraduate degree, greatly expanding the use of online courses, and the development of campus specific specializations.

Napolitano and other regents welcomed the committee idea, but said UC could not wait to take decisive action on the university’s budget.

Regent Sherry Lansing thanked the governor and said she looked forward to deeper talks with the state.

She noted that Brown recently had vetoed a bill that would have boosted UC’s state funding by $50 million, and that the state also does not contribute to UC’s employer portion of pension costs, even though it does pay those for both the California State University and the California Community College system.

“Our pension funds are treated differently than CSU, and if they weren’t we would not be talking about a tuition increase,” Lansing said. “The solutions are there: Give us a tuition buyout or better than that, cover the pension obligation.”

Regent Bonnie Reiss echoed the sentiment. She said that California’s recent funding priorities have included funds for high-speed rail, water storage and a rainy day fund.

“All are important. But I say to our elected leaders, isn’t investing in public higher education an equally important priority?”

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Student veteran gives back for all doors Army has opened for her


She will speak at UCLA’s Veterans Day salute on Nov. 10.

Tigon Abalos, now a dental student at UCLA, volunteered to work with Afghan refugees when she was in the Army stationed in Afghanistan. Abalos, a former Vietnam refugee, will speak about what her military service means to her at UCLA's Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 10. (Photo courtesy of tigon Abalos)

When 9/11 happened, it jolted Tigon Abalos with such force that she felt she had to do something for the country that had given her and her family, former refugees from Vietnam, opportunities for a better life in a new country.

Two years later, Abalos, who was already serving part time in the California Army National Guard, interrupted her college career to enlist in the Army and train as a counter-intelligence specialist. That was the beginning of a six-year, military career that opened up more opportunities for Abalos: She met her future husband, a fellow soldier, and she discovered her life’s calling in Afghanistan when she began volunteering to help Afghan refugees.

Abalos, now a UCLA School of Dentistry student and one of more than 400 student veterans, will draw on her deep appreciation for her service experience when she speaks at UCLA’s annual Veterans Day ceremony Monday, Nov. 10, at 10:30 a.m. in Wilson Plaza, a time  when the campus community comes together to salute veterans and remember the sacrifices they’ve made. Also speaking will be Chancellor Gene Block and Kelly Schmader, assistant vice chancellor of facilities management at UCLA and a 28-year veteran of the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps.

“Serving in the Army allowed me to see the world,” said Abalos. “My experiences gave me a whole new perspective on life. While serving, I also became motivated to complete my college degree.” And it was while working with the refugees in Afghanistan that Abalos became aware of a critical shortage of dentists.

The daughter of a former South Vietnamese former military police officer, Abalos knew very little English and nothing about American culture when she arrived with her family in Fresno in 1996, five years before the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Nevertheless, she managed to become the first in her family to finish high school, graduating with honors, and then enrolling at UC Berkeley, only to leave for military service two years later.

When Abalos was discharged from the Army in 2008 as a staff sergeant with a string of medals and an Army Combat Action Badge for working under enemy fire in Afghanistan, she set her sights on a college degree and a career in dentistry. In 2012, she graduated from Cal State Fresno with a degree in chemistry degree and an invitation to enter UCLA School of Dentistry, her top choice.

“I wouldn’t have even considered dental school had it not been for my humanitarian work in Afghanistan,” she said. “The military taught me about teamwork and to never give up, both traits that I now use in dental school.”

As an older dental student and a mother — she gave birth to a son about the same time she started at UCLA — Abalos has faced challenges with the same “can-do” attitude that she learned in the Army.

“I have my own struggles, much like anyone would in a demanding training program,” said Abalos. “But, I feel like I’ve lived a lot of life already, compared to some of my younger colleagues. I’ve seen the world. I can handle stressful situation and have realistic expectations.”

She and her husband, who is now stationed in Long Beach after transferring to the California Army National Guard, share in the care of their 2-year-old son. “It is a lot of time and sacrifice, but we make it work,” she said.

Even with these added responsibilities, Abalos has continued to be actively involved in veterans’ affairs. As an undergrad, she was part of Fresno State’s Student Veterans Organization and received the National Student Veterans Association STEM Scholarship Award.

At UCLA, she is currently on a student committee in the dental school that provides services and oral health education to veterans in the Los Angeles area. She also volunteers in the dental clinic assisting patients at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center.

UCLA supports many such initiatives for veterans, ranging from programs that help student veterans navigate the benefits process to efforts to bring injured vets and their families to UCLA’s medical facilities through the nationally acclaimed Operation Mend.

After graduation, Abalos hopes to enter a hospital dentistry residency program that integrates medicine and dentistry. Patients who require this type of dental care have severe medical, physical or mental impairments. Her goal is to return to the military as an officer in the Naval Reserve and practice at a VA hospital somewhere in California.

“I feel that given my background in combat and the military, I can better relate to people who have experienced trauma,” said Abalos. “For example, patients who have posttraumatic stress disorder are going to trust someone that has gone through what they have gone through.”

For now Abalos is concentrating on graduating and going onto the next step of her career. “My career path has been a bit of a winding road,” she said. “But I know where I’m going now.

“The timeworn Army slogan when I enlisted was ‘Be all you can be.’ I guess I just really took that heart,” she said.

The campus community is invited to UCLA’s Veterans Day ceremony on Monday, Nov. 10, at 10:30 a.m. at Wilson Plaza. In addition to speeches, the event will also feature an ROTC color guard and information fair. Visit UCLA Veterans to learn more about campus programs and resources for veterans.

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$2M donated for endowed scholarship at UCLA dental school


Gift by Bob and Marion Wilson is largest scholarship donation the dental school has received.

Bob and Marion Wilson

A $2 million gift from Bob and Marion Wilson, longtime supporters of the UCLA School of Dentistry, will give a significant boost to scholarship funding for future generations of dentists. The Wilsons’ donation will establish the Bob and Marion Wilson Endowed Scholarship Fund, which will be used in support of annual scholarships to students who excel in the classroom and are dedicated to public service.

The Wilsons’ gift, which is the largest scholarship donation the dental school has ever received, comes at an optimal time, with state support having decreased substantially over the years. Scholarships help students defray educational expenses, ensuring that the broad array of professional options — including teaching, research and practice in underserved communities — remains open to each student after graduating.

“Being able to establish an endowed scholarship allows Marion and me to support future generations of dental students,” Bob Wilson said. “The UCLA School of Dentistry is a top choice among dental school applicants and our hope is that this donation will allow the school to support students who exhibit academic excellence and exemplary public service.”

The dental school attracts world-class students who go on to be leaders in the fields of oral and systemic health in California, the nation and the world.

The School of Dentistry awards an average of roughly $3 million per year in scholarships and grants to students. The Wilson endowed scholarship will increase the school’s ability to give even more financial aid.

“Increasing our scholarship endowment is one of our top priorities,” said Dr. No-Hee Park, dean of the UCLA School of Dentistry. “This very generous gift made by the Wilsons allows the school to reward those students who excel academically and give back to the community. I cannot thank the Wilsons enough for their investment in our students’ future.”

For nearly three decades, the Wilsons have been loyal supporters of the dental school. Bob Wilson is a dedicated member of the school’s board of counselors and now serves on the dean’s Centennial Campaign Cabinet for UCLA, which launched in May.

The Wilsons both attended UCLA. Bob graduated with a bachelor of science degree in 1953 and Marion graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in 1950. Bob went on to a successful career in commercial real estate development, and the couple has remained dedicated to helping their alma mater fulfill its mission of educational excellence. In 1989, they helped establish the Wilson-Jennings-Bloomfield UCLA Venice Dental Center, a community clinic that provides dental care to predominantly low-income patients.

The impact of the Wilson’s philanthropy is evident across the UCLA campus, most notably in Wilson Plaza, which was dedicated in their name in 2000 in recognition of their longtime generous support for the university. In 2006, they were awarded the UCLA Medal, the university’s highest honor.

For everything that the couple has done for the School of Dentistry and UCLA, the dental school will recognize them as an official honoree at the dental school’s upcoming 50th Anniversary Gala event next spring.

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Training next generation of cancer scientists


National Cancer Institute training grant has supported UC San Diego scholars since 1984.

Key coordinators and newly appointed trainees of UC San Diego's Cancer Training Program. (From left) Annie Chou, Laura Castrejon, Daniel Donoghue, David Cheresh, Juliati Rahajeng, Amy Haseley Thorne and Jasmine Wang.

UC San Diego received a $2.5 million Institutional Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to support four predoctoral and six postdoctoral scholars in the campus’s cancer training program. First awarded in 1984, the grant is the single longest-running NCI training grant at UC San Diego. The 2014 grant renewal will provide funding through 2019, when it will have completed 34 years of training for cancer investigators.

The cancer training grant, administered through the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the UC San Diego Division of Physical Sciences, focuses on the study of growth regulation and oncogenesis, with the goal of understanding cancer from a cell biological and biochemical perspective. To date, the program has supported the advanced training of more than 200 predoctoral and 100 postdoctoral trainees.

“Past trainees have made many key discoveries that have paved the way for the ongoing revolution in personalized cancer therapies,” said Daniel Donoghue, Ph.D., professor of chemistry and biochemistry and training program director. Donoghue also serves as provost of UC San Diego’s Sixth College. “We are delighted that NCI has recognized the importance of our work by continuing to fund our trainees for the next five years. We can expect more key discoveries through this program.”

Among the researchers who have completed the training program are Beth Baber, who established a pediatric cancer institute — The Nicholas Conor Institute — in 2009 and Kun Ping Lu, a current Harvard University faculty member who identified a new cancer target that is now being developed therapeutically. Daniel Knighton, another past trainee, collaborated with his mentor in the cancer training program to solve the first crystal structure of a protein kinase in a large family of cancer targets.

“All of us at some point in our lives will be touched by cancer, sadly the number one cause of mortality in San Diego,” said Scott M. Lippman, M.D., director of UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center. “We are in the beginning phases of a transformation in the detection and treatment of cancer, the rate of which will depend on our ability to train the next generation of cancer scientists who will lead the innovative efforts, scientific discoveries and technology development that could change how we treat cancer tomorrow.”

The training program is comprised of 32 participating faculty members, including seven faculty who are members of the National Academy of Sciences, one Nobel laureate, four Fellows of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), one past president of the AACR and one Lasker Award recipient.

All participating faculty are members of UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, which acts as an umbrella for the various UC San Diego units including the department of chemistry and biochemistry, the Division of Biological Sciences, the School of Medicine, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, as well as the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research.

“This generous award will promote vital research productivity and allow synergistic scientific interactions between brilliant minds working in different organizations towards advancing our understanding of basic cell biological events that cause cancer,” said David Cheresh, Ph.D., associate director for innovation and industry alliances at Moores Cancer Center, distinguished professor of pathology, and co-chair of the training program. “Together we can identify drugs and innovative strategies for new cancer therapies.”

Key supporters of the cancer training program include Lippman; Suresh Subramani, executive vice chancellor of academic affairs at UC San Diego; David Brenner, vice chancellor of health sciences at UC San Diego; Web Cavenee, director of the Ludwig Institute of Cancer Research, San Diego Branch; and 32 participating faculty mentors.

More information about the cancer training program can be found online at cancertraining.ucsd.edu.

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UC Riverside students hosting free health fair Nov. 8 in San Bernardino


School of Medicine partners with Inland Empire Health Plan for 2nd annual event.

Second-year students from the UC Riverside School of Medicine will host the 2nd Annual Health Fair on Saturday, Nov. 8, at the Delmann Heights Community Center in San Bernardino.

Health screenings, flu vaccinations and a variety of health resources will be provided at the 2ndAnnual Health Fair scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Delmann Heights Community Center in San Bernardino.

The health fair is organized by second-year medical students at UC Riverside with co-sponsorship by the UCR School of Medicine and Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP).

Members of the community are invited to attend the free event. The Delmann Heights Community Center is located at 2969 N. Flores St. in San Bernardino.

A variety of health screenings will be available, including blood pressure, diabetes, glaucoma, hearing, mental health and body mass index. There will be flu vaccinations to the first 300 people attending and prescription glasses to the first 100 attendees.

Information on Covered California enrollment, affordable housing, bilingual health care resources, women’s health, after-school programs, homeless services, hospice and elderly care, and financial fitness will be provided. Fitness activities, including yoga, meditation and high-intensity exercise, also will be part of the event.

For younger participants, there will be face painting and balloon animals. Free soccer balls and sports jerseys also will be given to children as part of a soccer activity. There will be light refreshments, raffle prizes, a free library and gently used clothing.

The event is organized by the American Medical Student Association chapter at UCR with the support of local physicians and medical students. “Our mission for organizing this event is to provide medical students with an opportunity to reach out to a medically underserved community by providing health-promoting services in a fun, family-centered way,” said Diana Tran, a second-year medical student at UCR.

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UC San Diego launches new major in global health


Bachelor of arts in global health is a first in the UC system.

Junior Michelle Bulterys recently upped her global health minor to a major and is now double-majoring along with anthropology. She spent part of her summer in a small South African village doing research.

Undergraduates at UC San Diego will now be able to pursue a bachelor of arts in global health – an increasingly popular new field of study and urgent social concern.

Launched this fall, the program incorporates the global health minor started four years ago. Both the major and the minor are firsts in the UC system.

Tom Csordas, chair of the anthropology department, is the program’s director. The Global Health Program is truly interdisciplinary, he said, bringing together coursework and faculty from the UC San Diego divisions of Social Sciences, Biological Sciences, and Arts and Humanities, the School of Medicine, the Rady School of Management, and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The word “global,” he said, refers both to geography – encompassing health concerns around the planet, at home and abroad – and also to the program’s holistic approach.

“The program balances pragmatic real-world experience with theoretical, analytic and critical skills. We aim to offer students a comprehensive introduction to the ‘hard’ and ‘flexible’ sciences that together make up the emerging field of global health,” Csordas said. “Our curriculum spans the continuum of approaches to health: medical social sciences, biological sciences, health policy and planning, epidemiology, global social processes and medical humanities.”

An important component of the bachelor’s degree, as it is with the minor, is a global health field experience comprised of 100 hours of work at a research, service or clinical site. In the case of the B.A., that fieldwork also culminates in a capstone seminar and a senior thesis, which students will present to the university community at the program’s annual Horizons of Global Health conference.

Csordas pointed out that the program is highly student-centered and closely articulated with both the university’s Global Health Initiative and with three (of four) research themes outlined in UC San Diego’s Strategic Plan: Enriching Human Life and Society, Understanding and Protecting the Planet, and Understanding Cultures and Addressing Disparities in Society.

Campus partners of the program also include the International Center, the Academic Internship Program, the Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies, the Center on Global Justice and the Blum Cross-Border Initiative.

Students are excited about the program, Csordas believes, because it affords them so many different avenues following graduation. The Global Health Program is intended, he said, to pave the way for work in health sciences, research and teaching, service-providing organizations, government or non-governmental agencies, health policy, environmental health, or law. It is also excellent preparation, he said, for advanced study in medical or graduate school.

Junior Michelle Bulterys recently upped her global health minor to a major and is now double-majoring along with sociocultural anthropology.

“It’s an incredible program,” said Bulterys, who serves on the program’s Student Advisory Committee. She cited in particular the opportunity to take classes you might “not even know about” in a more traditionally single-discipline major.

This past summer, Bulterys spent two months in South Africa doing anthropological research with a global health focus. She home-stayed with a family in the village of Hamakuya, which still struggles with the consequences of Apartheid, she said, and studied “both traditional healing practices and care-seeking behavior in a bio-Western facility.” The data her group collected were turned over to local health authorities.

Before coming to San Diego for university, Bulterys went to schools in China and Zambia (where her parents’ medical work took the family). Bulterys plans to pursue a career in medical anthropology and epidemiology. She expects she’ll seek to return abroad soon after graduating but may stay in the U.S. for a while.

“Global health has no boundaries,” Bulterys said. “It’s about interacting with the whole world.”

To learn more, visit the program website or write to Program Advisor Brittany Wright at bloy@ucsd.edu. Phone: (858) 534-7967. You can also find and follow the Global Health Program on Facebook and on Twitter.

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UCLA hosting 24-hour invention competition to meet health care needs


Inventathon encourages teams of young inventors to develop innovative solutions.

A team of UCLA students working on their project during the 2013 Inventathon competition. (Photo by Samantha Le, UCLA)

Just a stone’s throw from Silicon Beach — the epicenter of technology in Los Angeles — the Business of Science Center at UCLA, with support from the Center for Advanced Surgical and Interventional Technology and Center for Digital Behavior, is spurring innovation as the organizer of the second-annual Inventathon.

This event is a unique 24-hour competition designed to develop solutions for pressing health care needs using the latest device technology and mobile applications.

Watches that track more than time and augmented reality glasses worn like conventional glasses, but that also house a tiny computer, are just the latest examples of wearable devices. Inventathon is designed to help young inventors harness similar technologies for use in the healthcare field.

Inventathon kicks off Oct. 15 with the announcement of the health care need to be addressed. Teams then have a couple of days to assemble before the actual competition starts on Oct. 17. Once the competition begins the teams will work around the clock to develop and eventually present their ideas to a panel of judges. The product could be a mobile app, conceptual drawing or embedded or wearable device. Mentors from UCLA and industry will be available during the entire process, which is designed to help participants hone their research and entrepreneurial skills.

The 24-hour inventing marathon serves as the concluding event of UCLA Innovation Week, organized by Bruincubate, a collection of 14 different groups at UCLA dedicated to promoting entrepreneurship. Bruincubate is hosted by the UCLA Office of Intellectual Property and Industry Sponsored Research. Innovation Week brings together UCLA’s entrepreneurial organizations to help students, faculty, and staff explore and grow their ideas into tangible products. In addition to the Inventathon, events include talks, a career fair and mixers.

The Inventathon competition will take place at the UCLA California NanoSystems Institute. “This event supports future inventors and entrepreneurs,” said Shyam Natarajan, a Business of Science program director and a Center for Advanced Surgical and Interventional Technology researcher, who helped launch the event last year. “We are excited to see raw science talent paired with business and design expertise to develop and jumpstart ideas.”

Medical technology inventors of all levels, from undergraduates and graduate students from UCLA and other universities are welcome. Organizers encourage the teams, consisting of three to five participants, to include a wide range of skills from the medical field, engineering, art, design and business.

During the 24-hour competition, the teams will have access to tools such as 3-D printers, augmented reality glasses that can be used to help design and test applications for wearable devices, and special boards to help make mini computer chips, which are the brains behind the applications.

“Competitions like Inventathon get students to think there are no walls that will inhibit them,” said Roy Doumani, a professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and executive director of the Business of Science Center. “The experience is invaluable in developing the skill set needed to succeed in developing and pitching a product. Participants are mentored throughout the competition and we want to thank our mentors for their extremely valuable support and time.”

Additional programs on UCLA’s campus help students even after the competition. The Business of Science Center offers a course called Advancing Bioengineering Innovations designed to teach medical device design and to develop practical solutions for unmet medical needs. The program is a collaboration among the Department of Bioengineering in the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

“There is huge potential for the latest remote monitoring applications and devices to support and track health care needs,” said Sean Young, assistant professor of family medicine and executive director of the Center for Digital Behavior at UCLA. The center brings together academic researchers and private sector companies to study how social media and mobile technologies can be used to predict and change behaviors that impact health. “Events like Inventathon are a great resource and learning opportunity for students.”

The second annual Inventathon will start on Wednesday, Oct. 15, with a kickoff event to announce the type of health need to be solved and to start assembling teams. Competition begins at 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 17 and the competition concludes Saturday, Oct. 18 at 6 p.m.

The public is invited to watch the final pitches to the judges and the announcement of the winners, which will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. on Saturday.

The UCLA Clinical Translational Science Institute is a collaborator on the event. This project received support from the following NIH/NCATS grant to the UCLA Clinical Translational Science Institute: UL1TR000124.

Inventathon sponsors include: Option3 LLC; Cardiovascular Systems; Epson America; SparkFun Electronics; UCLA Blum Center for Poverty and Health in Latin America; KARL STORZ Endoscopy-America; Hitachi Aloka Medical America; UCLA Center for World Health; Lob; California NanoSystems Institute, UCLA AIDS Institute and UCLA Health.

For more information about Inventathon and sponsorship opportunities, please visit www.UCLAideas.com.

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Student conference opens doors to health care professions


UC Davis hosting national pre-medical, pre-health conference Oct. 11-12.

Leading voices in health care and some 8,000 pre-health and pre-medical students will meet to explore the future of health care and how the students can join and influence the professions at the University of California, Davis, Oct. 11-12.

Keynote speakers at the 12th annual UC Davis Pre-Medical and Pre-Health Professional National Conference — the largest conference of its kind in the country — include:

  • United States Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in the Pavilion;
  • U.S. Navy Surgeon General Matthew Nathan at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Pavilion;
  • California Department of Public Health Director Ronald Chapman at 10 a.m. Saturday in Rock Hall;
  • American Medical Association CEO James L. Madara;
  • National Hispanic Medical Association President and CEO Elena V. Rios;
  • American Osteopathic Association  President Robert S. Juhasz;
  • Harvey Fineberg, former president of the Institute of Medicine; and
  • presidents and CEOs of leading national organizations in the health professions.

See the complete list.

Making welcoming remarks at 8 a.m. Saturday in the Pavilion on the Davis campus will be Adela de la Torre, vice chancellor of Student Affairs at UC Davis, and UC President Janet Napolitano.

“At the University of California, we want to empower students from across our state to discover and achieve their dreams in health care and contribute to the care and welfare of their communities and society as a whole,” Napolitano said. “This conference is an opportunity for young students to spark their passions in the medical fields.”

With the theme of “Empowering the Next Generation of Health Care Professionals,” the conference aims to introduce students to careers and educational opportunities in health care and help them achieve their goals.

The conference is organized by the UC Davis Pre-Health Student Alliance with the support of de la Torre’s office. The alliance is a partnership of pre-medical and pre-health student organizations, fraternities and sororities at UC Davis and other colleges in Sacramento. More than 400 students from throughout the region serve as leaders and volunteers for the conference.

Among those attending are high school, community college and university students; school counselors; and parents.

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