Friday, September 14, 2012

In the media: Week of Sept. 9 | UC Health

September 13, 2012.

A sampling of news media stories involving UC Health:

A Q&A with Michael Larimore, dean of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Two scientists at UCSF and Stanford University, together with a colleague at Columbia University in New York, have won this year?s prestigious Lasker Award in basic research for discovering how ?molecular motors? work inside cells, causing hearts to beat, muscles to contract and cells to?divide. The researchers? work has already resulted in efforts to develop new drugs aimed at treating heart failure, cancer and muscle disorders such as Lou Gehrig?s?disease. The scientists ? Dr. James Spudich, 70, of Stanford, Dr. Ronald Vale, 53, of UCSF and Dr. Michael Sheetz,65, of Columbia ? will receive the Lasker Foundation?s $250,000 award at a ceremony in New York on Sept. 21, the foundation said?Monday.

Jay Keasling, a UC Berkeley chemical engineer and leader in the new field of synthetic biology, has won the prestigious Heinz Award of $250,000 for developing an inexpensive way to mass-produce a plant-based drug to treat?malaria. UCLA?s Richard Jackson also received the prize.

UC San Diego?s Jacobs School of Engineering is enrolling its second class for its Master of Advanced Study Program in Medical Device Engineering. The multidisciplinary curriculum has been developed specifically for working engineers who have at least two years of job experience, with the goal of preparing students for a career in the medical device industry, one of San Diego?s fastest-growing technology sectors.

UC Davis Eye Center surgeons on Tuesday unveiled a new, bionic tool for treating macular degeneration: a miniature telescope, smaller than a pea, that is implanted directly into the eye.

Ekso, which was founded seven years ago by engineers in Berkeley, takes its name from the word exoskeleton, meaning a skeleton that is on the outside of the body. Originally financed by the military, the company collaborated with the University of California, Berkeley, and the military contractor Lockheed Martin on a device called the Hulc, which allows soldiers to carry up to 200 pounds of equipment over mixed terrain.

UC San Diego?s already large Jacobs School of Engineering will become even bigger Friday with the opening of an $83 million center whose researchers work in areas ranging from aircraft design to the testing of medical devices, the 3-D printing of blood vessels and creation of all manner of artwork.

Dr. Nilas Young, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at the UC Davis Health System, has won the 2012 World of Children Health Award, known as the ?Nobel Prize for child advocates.? Young has made 28 trips to the former Soviet Union to save thousands of children with heart disease and is being recognized for his work with Heart to Heart International Children?s Medical Alliance.

As it celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding, Children?s Hospital Oakland faces major challenges and opportunities, including an upcoming capital campaign to finance $450 million in seismic upgrades and renovations, a possible partnership with UC San Francisco, a new state-of-the-art electronic medical record system, and the financial difficulty of getting by with 70 percent of its patients on Medi-Cal.

In California, an Affordable Care Act grant is offering select Medi-Cal enrollees $20 retail gift cards in a leading edge, anti-smoking trial. An initial pilot project already finished in Sacramento and showed positive results, according to Elisa Tong, associate professor at UC Davis Medical Center and a member of the outreach team. California?s Department of Health Care Services recently expanded the pilot project statewide, to further test the effectiveness of offering financial incentives. California received a federal grant of $10 million to pay for the program, which will target 75,000 Medi-Cal members over five years of incentives and study. The state was deemed well-positioned for the project because the California Smokers? Helpline has been up and running for 20 years at UC San Diego.

The days of lighting up a smoke are rapidly coming to an end at college campuses across the USA.The University of Oklahoma, the University of Oregon and Montana State University are among those which have enacted campuswide bans this year. The University of California system announced in January that by 2014 all of its campuses would ban use or sale of cigarettes and chewing tobacco. On Wednesday, Howard Koh, U.S. assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, will be on the University of Michigan campus to announce a White House-backed nationwide push to get campuses everywhere to enact tobacco-free policies.

You don?t usually hear ?palliative care? associated with children. That?s the term generally used for adult patients in hospice, where severely ill people are brought home to live their final days. A new pilot program brings palliative care home to some children with serious illnesses. The pilot program, Partners for Children ? a joint partnership of CHPCC and the state Department of Health Care Services ? brings care to the home for some children with serious illness. Keeping those children in the home environment not only increases quality of life for those children and their families, but also results in better outcomes for those children, according to a study recently released by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

After much anticipation: Accountable care organizations have arrived. Or at least, researchers ? armed with data that attempt to quantify ACOs? impact ? made their way to Washington, D.C., last week, drawn to a Health Affairs roundtable on payment reform. Economist Austin Frakt discussed his study, conducted with UC-Berkeley researcher Rick Mayes, on how lessons from capitation have informed ACO development.

Public health experts say that valley fever has reached epidemic levels in some regions of the state. Efforts to curb the fever are hampered by misdiagnoses and a lack of research funding, which often goes to higher profile diseases like the West Nile virus. The article quotes valley fever researcher Dr. George Rutherford at the University of California San Francisco.

Scientific breakthroughs, one piled on top of another at breakneck speed over the past few years, have put medical researchers on the cusp of curing almost everyone who suffers from hepatitis C, if not wiping out the disease?entirely. The article quotes Dr. Warner Greene, director of the virology and immunology division at the UCSF-affiliated Gladstone Institute in San Francisco. Read an accompanying Q&A with Greene.

Hepatitis is an inflammatory disease of the liver and a major, if unrecognized, health crisis in the United States. The disease has multiple forms, identified by their alphabetized viruses. The most problematic form is hepatitis C or HCV.? A Q&A with Dr. Alexander Kuo, medical director of the Liver Transplant Program at the UC San Diego Liver Center and a leading researcher in ongoing HCV clinical trials, about treatments.

This story reports on a study by Dr. Donald Kohn, professor of pediatrics and microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics in Life Sciences and a member of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA, that showed the immune system of ?Bubble Babies? can safely be restored using gene therapy.

This story highlights the work of UCLA?s Operation Mend, a partnership between Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Brooke Army Medical Center and the Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, that offers free reconstructive surgery and other medical care for military personnel severely wounded and disfigured during service in Afghanistan and Iraq.? A program patient was featured and the story was picked up by numerous news outlets across the country.? Dr. Chris Crisera, associate professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery and medical co-director of Operation Mend, is interviewed.

Exchanges between veterinary science and human application are becoming increasingly common as researchers turn their attention from rodent models to naturally occurring diseases in dogs, horses, sheep and pigs, whose physiology and anatomy more closely resemble those of humans. ?In the past I might have gone over to the medical school with a specific problem and ask advice,? said Larry D. Galuppo, equine surgeon at UC Davis. ?But it wasn?t programmatic the way it is now.? UC San Francisco also is mentioned.

UC Irvine has developed its own mobile security system to safely give Wi-Fi access to students and staff who bring their own smartphones and tablets.

Shana Alex Lavarreda, director of health insurance studies at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research in the Fielding School of Public Health, is interviewed about new research showing that some $750 billion is wasted each year in the U.S. health care system as a result of unnecessary services, inefficient delivery of care, excessive administrative costs, price inflation, prevention failure and fraud.

A feature on an art therapy course at the Simms/Mann-UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology at UCLA?s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

This story reports on a study by researchers from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and colleagues showing that as rates of obesity and diabetes have risen, so has the incidence of kidney stones. Dr. Charles D. Scales Jr., a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Clinical Scholar in the departments of urology and medicine, is interviewed.

Dr. Levi Harrison, an orthopedic surgeon and UC Davis Medical School graduate, visited his alma mater last month to talk to students about the role that fitness plays in medical education. Harrison has also recently published a book titled ?The Art of Fitness: ?A Journey to Self Enhancement.?

Infectious disease expert Dr. Stuart Cohen of UC Davis discusses hantavirus risks and symptoms, following reports that eight people who visited Yosemite National Park this summer contracted the rare, rodent-borne disease.

UC Davis has been awarded $206,460 from the state to support its family practice residency-training program, one of 29 health care workforce training programs receiving a total of $2.89 million from the Song-Brown Program administered by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. The aim of the program is to increase the number of family practice physicians, nurse practitioners, assistants and registered nurses.

NFL Charities is awarding more than $1.5 million in grants for sports-related medical research at 15 organizations, with nearly two-thirds of the money going to study concussion prevention and treatment.The intuitions receiving grants include UC Berkeley.

Teach-back can help effectively communicate the key teaching points hospitalized patients and their caregivers should take home. At UC San Diego, teach-back was incorporated into a larger process of improving care transitions and preventing avoidable readmissions. In addition to the new communication techniques, the process also includes risk assessment, post-discharge follow-up phone calls, and other strategies, supported by a hospitalwide, multidisciplinary education council. UC San Diego clinical nurse leader Laura Vento is quoted.

When prosecutors earlier this year filed murder charges against a physician for prescribing to patients who overdosed, Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley said he was also sending a message to other ?Dr. Feelgoods? who over-prescribe. ?Enough is enough,? he said. ?Doctors are not above the law.? But in the months since Rowland Heights physician Hsiu-Ying ?Lisa? Tseng was charged, there has been a growing debate among medical professionals about whether prosecutors went too far by alleging murder. The article quotes Dr. Marshall Morgan, chief of emergency medicine at UCLA Medical Center, and Dr. Kimberly Lovett, who teaches at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.

UC San Francisco professor of medicine Rita Redberg?says that the best way to ensure quality care is to have discussions with your doctor.

A column by Dr. Claire Panosian Dunavan, UCLA clinical professor of infectious diseases, about West Nile virus.


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