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Training Future Haitian Rheumatologist to Meet Critical Need
Crowdfunding campaign to raise money for training at UCLA











the training that will prepare her to care for patients at Haiti’s busiest, public teaching hospital and also help her establish Haiti’s first rheumatology clinic.  In addition, Belliot will serve as a professor at the State University of Haiti's School of Medicine, helping to train Haiti’s next generation of physicians.

A new crowdfunding campaign is underway to raise $5,000 to bring Belliot to UCLA this summer for part of her training – to work side-by-side with some of the world’s best rheumatologists at UCLA. 

“This is a great opportunity to help fill a major medical need in Haiti since few health resources in the country are currently targeting rheumatic diseases,” said Dr. Rebecca Gordon, the project’s faculty lead who is a UCLA rheumatologist. 

Upon returning to Haiti, Belliot will participate in continuous medical training from visiting rheumatologists throughout the University of California. In addition, she will receive remote lectures and maintain a close mentorship with Gordon.

UCLA Spark, an online crowdfunding platform for innovative projects that is underway at UCLA, will host the 30-day campaign starting May 15. 

“We hope to raise funds to help bring Dr. Belliot to UCLA, including covering her flight, housing, food, transport, visa fee and short-term health insurance,” said Sophia Lykke, Chapter Director of the UC Haiti Initiative at UCLA. 

Funding raised beyond $5,000 during the campaign will contribute to establishing Haiti’s first rheumatology clinic. 

Follow the conversation on Twitter at www.twitter.com/UCHAITIorg  and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UCHAITIorg. To learn more, watch a video and support the project, please visit: http://ucla.in/1g1cHWQ.

The UC Haiti Initiative (UCHI) connects leaders from the University of California and the State University of Haiti to promote higher education and development in Haiti and California. UCHI hopes to build off of prior successes in pediatric, emergency medicine, and microbiology trainings.

Each of the 10 UC campuses has a UCHI student chapter, including UCLA. The Haitian Country Director works in Haiti to coordinate with our colleagues at the State University of Haiti. The initiative is administratively housed at the UCLA Center for World Health.

The UCLA Department of Rheumatology is ranked in the Top 10 across the nation by U.S. News & World Report.  UCLA rheumatologists provide consultation, diagnosis and treatment for simple to complex rheumatic diseases, including general rheumatology and arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, myositis, gout and osteoarthritis.  In addition to providing a full range of advanced and effective conventional therapies, UCLA integrates complementary methods such as acupuncture.  The division also has an active research and training program.  For more information or to make an appointment, visit the website: www.rheumatology.ucla.edu  or call 310-825-2448. 
Haiti has a tremendous burden of arthritis, lupus, and other rheumatic diseases. Currently there are only two rheumatologists to serve the country’s entire population of over 10 million.  Without access to a well-trained specialist, many patients with these conditions are misdiagnosed or remain untreated.   

To address this problem, the University of California Haiti Initiative is partnering with the State University of Haiti Medical School and physicians at UCLA to train a new Haitian rheumatologist at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica, and in Thousand Oaks.

Dr. Wilciane-Claire Belliot, a talented young physician from Haiti, has been selected for
Stem cell research at Keck Medicine of USC boosted by $2 million gift from The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation




Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC.

The gift establishes the first series of Broad Fellows—exceptional senior postdoctoral researchers who are preparing to start their own laboratories. It will also support core research facilities and innovative projects at USC, home to one of only two dedicated university stem cell research centers in Los Angeles.

“This generous gift ensures that USC’s stem cell research center will continue to attract the best and brightest emerging talent and encourages their pioneering work as they transition into the next stage of their careers,” said Andy McMahon, Ph.D., F.R.S., director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC. “The fresh views that come from promising scientists have always been the lifeblood of innovation.”

To advance the next generation of scientists, the gift provides ongoing support for the center's state-of-the-art core facilities in imaging, therapeutic screening, flow cytometry and stem cell isolation and culture. It also enables strategic investments in the innovative research projects that will become tomorrow’s clinical advances in regenerative medicine.

The investment comes at a critical time. With government dollars for promising researchers in short supply, the gift helps ensure USC will remain a destination for the next pioneers in regenerative medicine and stem cell research. Patients will also reap the rewards of this research in the form of future stem cell-based cures.

Philanthropic leaders in biomedical research as well as many other fields, philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad created USC’s stem cell research center with a $30 million gift to the Keck School of Medicine of USC in February 2006.

A renowned business leader who built two Fortune 500 companies over a 50-year career, Eli Broad is the founder-chairman of both SunAmerica Inc. and KB Home (formerly Kaufman and Broad Home Corporation). He is also a member of the Board of Overseers of the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

“We believe that the promise of stem cells—and the research underway at USC—is limitless,” said Eli Broad. “For us, this is an opportunity to advance essential research in hopes of finding new treatments for the many diseases that are still untreatable.”

ABOUT KECK MEDICINE OF USC: Keck Medicine of USC is the University of Southern California's medical enterprise, one of only two university-owned academic medical centers in the Los Angeles area. Encompassing academic, research and clinical entities, it consists of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the region’s first medical school; the renowned USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of the first comprehensive cancer centers established in the United States; the USC Care Medical Group, the medical faculty practice; the Keck Medical Center of USC, which includes two acute care hospitals: 401-licensed bed Keck Hospital of USC and 60-licensed bed USC Norris Cancer Hospital; and USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, a 158-licensed bed community hospital. It also includes outpatient facilities in Beverly Hills, downtown Los Angeles, La Cañada Flintridge, Pasadena, and the USC University Park Campus. USC faculty physicians and Keck School of Medicine departments also have practices throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties. The Keck Medicine of USC world-class medical facilities are staffed by nearly 600 physicians who are faculty at the renowned Keck School of Medicine of USC and part of USC Care Medical Group. They are not only clinicians, but cutting-edge researchers, leading professors and active contributors to national and international professional medical societies and associations. For more information, go to keckmedicine.org/beyond.

ABOUT THE ELI AND EDYTHE BROAD FOUNDATION: The Broad Foundations, which include The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and The Broad Art Foundation, have a combined mission of advancing entrepreneurship for the public good in education, science and the arts. The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation invests in innovative scientific and medical research in the areas of human genomics, stem cell research and inflammatory bowel disease. In an unprecedented partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and its affiliated hospitals and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, the Broads committed $700 million to fund The Broad Institute, the world’s leading genomic medicine research institute that is focused on using the power of genomics to understand human disease. The Broad Foundation has also invested in advancing stem cell research, particularly in California through the creation of the Eli and Edythe Broad CIRM Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC, the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA and the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCSF. For more information, visit www.broadfoundation.org.
Keck Medicine of USC has received a $2 million gift from The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation to support the development of promising regenerative medicine researchers at The Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative
Keck Medicine of USC launches USC Neurorestoration Center 
Multi-institution collaboration applies innovations in engineering and medicine to the clinic




collaboration for breakthrough discoveries that, for the first time, bring together neural engineering, neuroscience and neurorehabilitation to restore neurological function in the human brain.

The center is the “brain child” of Charles Liu, M.D., Ph.D., director, and Christianne Heck, M.D., M.M.M., co-director, who spent more than 10 years seeking the best community partners to move the treatment of neurological disorders beyond traditional surgery and medications. They aim to accomplish this by engineering new technology that restores neurological function while keeping the brain intact.

“As one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, Keck Medicine of USC bridges the gap between science and medicine, and the USC Neurorestoration Center is a prime example of that pioneering approach,” said Carmen A. Puliafito, M.D., MBA, dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “The center’s creation is in direct alignment with President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative, and we anticipate great things to come forth from the effort.”

The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, or BRAIN, Initiative was launched in April 2013 to accelerate the development and application of new technology to treat, cure and prevent brain disorders.

The USC Neurorestoration Center brings together the world’s best minds in neurology, neurosurgery, bioengineering and neuro-rehabilitation. Founding partners include Theodore W. Berger, Ph.D., from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering; Richard A. Andersen, Ph.D., of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech); and Mindy Aisen, M.D., of Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center.

“With nearly 100 billion neurons — and 100 trillion connections — the human brain is the ultimate frontier to explore in terms of complexity,” said Liu, professor of neurological surgery and neurology at the Keck School and director of the new Center. “Still, with all the scientific advances in understanding this vital organ, little has been done to bring those laboratory discoveries to the hospital clinic in a systematic way. The concepts we’re discussing are relevant to everybody in the world, and we are reaching out to partner institutions that include some of the very top universities in Asia and in Europe so that we can begin to collaborate together on these concepts.”

The Center builds on the successes and strategic partnerships that Liu and Heck have developed over the last decade through the USC Comprehensive Epilepsy Program. By mapping, decoding and repairing basic neural circuitry of patients being treated for epilepsy at Keck Hospital of USC, Los Angeles + USC Medical Center and Rancho Los Amigos, the team has established a solid platform from which to launch the new Center.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Heck, associate professor of neurology at the Keck School and medical director of the USC Comprehensive Epilepsy Program. “USC is an amazingly entrepreneurial place, and we want to find a way to make people’s lives better every day, whether they are suffering from epilepsy, strokes, multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury.”

The neurosciences are a critical area of scientific and clinical study at Keck Medicine of USC, which is home to research hubs such as the Institute for Neuroimaging and Informatics, with internationally renowned researchers Arthur Toga, Ph.D., and Paul Thompson, Ph.D., who are leading brain mapping initiatives, and the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute, led by one of the global leaders in Alzheimer’s disease research, Berislav Zlokovic, M.D., Ph.D. The intense focus on bridging neuroscience and neurological therapies includes hundreds of collaborators worldwide working with Keck Medicine of USC to find cures for millions of people who suffer from neurological and psychiatric diseases such as Alzheimer’s, autism, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and traumatic brain injury.

ABOUT KECK MEDICINE OF USC: Keck Medicine of USC is the University of Southern California's medical enterprise, one of only two university-owned academic medical centers in the Los Angeles area. Encompassing academic, research and clinical entities, it consists of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the region’s first medical school; the renowned USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of the first comprehensive cancer centers established in the United States; the USC Care Medical Group, the medical faculty practice; the Keck Medical Center of USC, which includes two acute care hospitals: 401-licensed bed Keck Hospital of USC and 60-licensed bed USC Norris Cancer Hospital; and USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, a 158-licensed bed community hospital. It also includes outpatient facilities in Beverly Hills, downtown Los Angeles, La Cañada Flintridge, Pasadena, and the USC University Park Campus. USC faculty physicians and Keck School of Medicine departments also have practices throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties. The Keck Medicine of USC world-class medical facilities are staffed by nearly 600 physicians who are faculty at the renowned Keck School of Medicine of USC and part of USC Care Medical Group. They are not only clinicians, but cutting-edge researchers, leading professors and active contributors to national and international professional medical societies and associations. For more information, go to www.keckmedicine.org/beyond
Continuing its tradition of excellence and innovation in the clinical neurosciences, Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) has established the USC Neurorestoration Center, a multi-institution
Research by Keck School of Medicine of USC scientists raises new concerns about air pollution impacts at Los Angeles International Airport



far larger area than previously assumed.

The study, to be published Thursday, May 29 in the journal Environmental Science and Technology (ES&T) and conducted with University of Washington (UW) researchers, found a doubling of ultrafine particle number concentrations extended east more than 10 miles downwind from the airport boundary over a 20-square mile area, encompassing communities including Lennox, Westmont, parts of South L.A., Hawthorne and Inglewood, and, in certain wind conditions, areas south of LAX.

“Our research shows that airport impacts extend more than 5 times further than previously assumed,” said Scott Fruin, D. Env., lead researcher and assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “Effects from planes that are landing appear to play a major role in this large area of impact.”

To put this large area of impact into perspective, the researchers calculated that one-quarter to one-half of the entire L.A. County freeway system produces an equivalent increase in ultrafine particle numbers on a concentration-weighted basis.

“LAX may be as important to L.A.’s air quality as the freeway system,” said Fruin. “The impact area is large, and the airport is busy most hours of the day. That makes it uniquely hard for people to avoid the effects of air pollution in affected areas.”

Most previous research on the air quality impacts of airports focused on measuring air quality near where jet takeoffs occur. Takeoffs produce immense plumes of exhaust but only intermittently, and pollution concentrations downwind have been observed to fall off rapidly with distance. The assumption has been that total airport impacts also fall off rapidly with distance. The new research finds that this assumption is wrong.

The study, titled "Emissions from an international airport increase particle number 2 concentrations 4‑fold at 10 km downwind," found that concentrations of ultrafine particles were more than double over 20 square miles compared to background concentrations in nearby areas outside the area of LAX impact. Also, ultrafine particle number concentrations four times higher than background extended a distance of six miles.

“Given the existing concern about the possible health effects of urban ultrafine particle levels, living in an area with two to four times the average L.A. levels of ultrafine particles is of high public health concern,” said first author Neelakshi Hudda, Ph.D., research associate in preventive medicine at the Keck School.

Ultrafine particles are currently unregulated, but are of concern because they appear to be more toxic than larger particles on an equal mass basis in animal and cellular studies, and because they appear able to enter the bloodstream, unlike large particles that lodge in the lungs.

The research team used vehicles equipped with special measurement devices to capture data not available using traditional fixed monitors. The team was able to take moving measurements for more than 5 hours under consistent wind conditions to fully capture the extent of the impact boundaries.

“Other airports generally have less steady wind directions, which would make these measurements more difficult,” said Hudda. “Similar impacts are probably happening, but their location likely shifts more rapidly than in Los Angeles.”

“The on-shore westerly winds cause this impact regularly in communities east of LAX, because the impact’s location corresponds to the wind direction,” Hudda added. “In the winter months, when the winds were different, impacts were  measured south of the airport during northerly winds.”

UW researchers included Tim Larson, Ph.D. and Tim Gould, Ph.D. in the Department of Civil Engineering, and Kris Hartin, Ph.D. in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences.

Hudda, N., Gould, T., Hartin, K. Larson, T.V., and Fruin, S. A. (2014). Emissions from an International Airport Increase Particle Number 2 Concentrations 4‑fold at 10 km Downwind. Environmental Science and Technology, Published online May 29, 2014; dx.doi.org/10.1021/es5001566

ABOUT KECK MEDICINE OF USC: Keck Medicine of USC is the University of Southern California's medical enterprise, one of only two university-owned academic medical centers in the Los Angeles area. Encompassing academic, research and clinical entities, it consists of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the region’s first medical school; the renowned USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of the first comprehensive cancer centers established in the United States; the USC Care Medical Group, the medical faculty practice; the Keck Medical Center of USC, which includes two acute care hospitals: 401-licensed bed Keck Hospital of USC and 60-licensed bed USC Norris Cancer Hospital; and USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, a 158-licensed bed community hospital. It also includes outpatient facilities in Beverly Hills, downtown Los Angeles, La Cañada Flintridge, Pasadena, and the USC University Park Campus. USC faculty physicians and Keck School of Medicine departments also have practices throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties. The Keck Medicine of USC world-class medical facilities are staffed by nearly 600 physicians who are faculty at the renowned Keck School of Medicine of USC and part of USC Care Medical Group. They are not only clinicians, but cutting-edge researchers, leading professors and active contributors to national and international professional medical societies and associations. For more information, go to www.keckmedicine.org/beyond
For the first time, research conducted by scientists at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) shows that airliner activity at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) worsens air quality over a
Cancer survivors to celebrate life at USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital’s 24th Festival of Life event











WHERE:
USC Health Sciences campus
Pappas Quad
1975 Zonal Ave.
Los Angeles CA 90033
Parking is available at the Biggy Street parking structure. Metered street parking is also available.

WHO:
Ellen Whalen, survivor of ovarian cancer, employee of Keck Hospital of USC and Tustin resident
Caryn Roach, survivor of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, doctoral student in occupational
therapy at USC and Los Angeles resident

John Ferrelli, chief administrative officer, USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital
Heather MacDonald, M.D., assistant professor, clinical OB/GYN and breast surgery, Keck School of Medicine of USC

Art Ulene, M.D., former “Today Show” medical expert and board member, USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital

Traveler, official mascot of USC (8:30 – 9:45 a.m.)

WHY:
Every year, USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital organizes the Festival of Life to celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day with USC Norris patients and their families and friends. Patients enjoy the chance to celebrate their survival and reunite with physicians, nurses and staff who helped them through cancer treatment and recovery.

USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital, part of Keck Medicine of USC, is one of only 41 centers in the country designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute. USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center celebrated its 40th year in 2013 as one of the first comprehensive cancer centers established in the United States.

Please note this event is not open to the public.

ABOUT USC NORRIS COMPREHENSIVE CANCER: USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of Keck Medicine of USC, has been leading the fight to make cancer a disease of the past. As one of the eight original comprehensive cancer centers in the United States, its mission is to treat and prevent cancer by advancing and integrating education, research, and personalized patient care. For 40 years, USC Norris has been revolutionizing cancer research with innovative surgical techniques and novel cancer treatments. The cancer center's breakthroughs and discoveries in the field of epigenetics have led the way to a greater understanding of the underlying causes of cancer and new methods of prevention, detection, and treatment. With a multidisciplinary team of more than 250 dedicated scientists and physicians, USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center offers patients hope in the battle against cancer.
WHAT:
USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital will celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day (Sunday, June 1, 2014) with a reunion of more than 650 cancer survivors and their families. The center has hosted this celebration for 24 years.

WHEN:
Saturday, May 31, 2014
8:30 a.m. – noon (program begins at 10 a.m.)
Enzyme Used in Antidepressants Could Help Researchers Develop Prostate Cancer Treatments
Researchers Studying a Behavior-Altering Enzyme Commonly Used in Depression Medications Uncover a Link to Cancer’s Growth and Metastasis in Mice








opening the door for physicians to possibly use the antidepressant drugs that had targeted MAO-A as a cancer-suppressant as well.

“This is the first paper showing that MAO-A plays an important role in prostate cancer progression and metastasis. MAO-A inhibitors may provide an unmet need in cancer treatment,” said Jean C.  Shih, University Professor at the USC School of Pharmacy, two-time NIH Merit Awardee, and co-corresponding author of a paper on the research that will be published on May 27 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Shih, who has studied MAO-A for 30 years, collaborated with fellow co-corresponding author Leland Chung, a prostate cancer expert from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Their team included researchers from the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the Fourth Military Medical University in China. The first author, Boyang Wu was Shih’s doctoral student at USC.

“When this enzyme is not suppressed, it produces a tumor-rich environment that fuels the growth and metastasis of prostate cancer cells,” said Leland Chung, PhD, corresponding author of the paper and director of the Uro-Oncology Research Program at the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute. “Suppressing this enzyme and combining it with current therapies may provide a better way to manage and cure men with metastatic prostate cancer.”

MAO-A  regulates the amount of neurotransmitters in the central nervous system by deactivating some – breaking them down. Like all enzymes in the brain, MAO-A is needed in optimum quantities to keep a person healthy. Too much MAO-A has been linked with depression, while too little with autistic behaviors, aggression and anxiety.

Recently, scientists noticed that MAO-A levels were especially high in individuals suffering from prostate cancer – but were unable to determine why.

Shih, Chung, and their team found that MAO-A produces an oxygen-rich, free-radical environment for cancer cells to thrive in – promoting stronger growth and invasiveness. They were able to control this effect in mice, strongly suggesting that the drugs already in existence to inhibit MAO-A for mental depression can do double-duty to suppress prostate cancer.

“We’re happy to be able to translate our discoveries in basic research to clinical application,” said Shih, who is also the director of the USC-Taiwan Center for Translational Research.

Next steps include a Phase II clinical trial of the MAO-A inhibitor in prostate cancer, in collaboration with Mitchell Gross of the Keck School of Medicine of USC and colleagues in USC Norris Cancer Center.

This work was funded by the National Institutes of Health, Grant 5P01CA098912; the Department of Defense PCRP Grant W81XWH-12-1-0282; the USC-Taiwan Center for Translational Research; and the Daniel Tsai Family Fund.
An international team of scientists exploring an enzyme known for affecting brain functions and behavior discovered that it also promotes prostate cancer growth in mice.

A new study has found that suppressing the enzyme – monoamine oxidase A, or “MAO-A” – reduced or even eliminated prostate tumor growth and metastasis in mice,
Keck School of Medicine of USC researchers demonstrate that soda consumers may be drinking more fructose than labels reveal
.



of the University of Southern California (USC), part of Keck Medicine of USC.

In the study, published online June 3, 2014 in the journal Nutrition, Keck School of Medicine researchers analyzed the chemical composition of 34 popular beverages, finding that beverages and juices made with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Dr Pepper, Mountain Dew and Sprite, all contain 50 percent more fructose than glucose, a blend that calls into question claims that sugar and HFCS are essentially the same.

“We found what ends up being consumed in these beverages is neither natural sugar nor HFCS, but instead a fructose-intense concoction that could increase one’s risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and liver disease,” said Michael Goran, Ph.D., director of the CORC and lead author of the study. “The human body isn’t designed to process this form of sugar at such high levels. Unlike glucose, which serves as fuel for the body, fructose is processed almost entirely in the liver where it is converted to fat.”

The Corn Refiners Association, a trade group representing HFCS producers, has long argued that HFCS is only negligibly different than natural sugar (sucrose), which is made up of equal parts of fructose and glucose. Goran’s analysis of beverages made with HFCS, however, showed a fructose to glucose ratio of 60:40 — considerably higher than the equal proportions found in sucrose and challenging the industry’s claim that “sugar is sugar.”

The research also shows that the ingredients on some product labels do not represent their fructose content. For example, Goran’s team found that the label on Pepsi Throwback indicates it is made with real sugar (sucrose) yet the analysis demonstrated that it contains more than 50 percent fructose. Sierra Mist, Gatorade and Mexican Coca-Cola also have higher concentrations of fructose than implied by their label. This suggests that these beverages might contain HFCS, which is not disclosed on their labels.

The research team purchased beverages based on product popularity and had them analyzed for sugar composition in three different laboratories using three different methods. The results were consistent across the different methods and yielded an average sugar composition of 60 percent fructose and 40 percent glucose in beverages made with HFCS.

Americans consume more HFCS per capita than any other nation and consumption has doubled over the last three decades. Diabetes rates have tripled in the same period. Much of this increase is directly linked to sodas, sports drinks and energy drinks.

“Given that Americans drink 45 gallons of soda a year, it's important for us to have a more accurate understanding of what we're actually drinking, including specific label information on the types of sugars,” said Goran.

The full study, “Fructose content in popular beverages made with and without high fructose corn syrup,” is available at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0899900714001920

Funding for the research was provided by the Dr. Robert C. and Veronica Atkins Foundation.

Members of Goran’s research team include Ryan W. Walker, Ph.D. and Kelly A. Dumke, M.S.

The University of Southern California's Childhood Obesity Research Center is a collaborative effort between USC, the Keck School of Medicine of USC and Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. Home to one of the nation's leading research teams addressing childhood obesity, the Center strives to understand childhood obesity and its related conditions, to examine its relationship to minority health, and to develop novel strategies for prevention and treatment.

Walker, R.W., Dumke, K.A., Goran, M. I.  (2014). Fructose content in popular beverages made with and without high fructose corn syrup. Nutrition . Published online June 3, 2014; dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2014.04.003

ABOUT KECK MEDICINE OF USC: Keck Medicine of USC is the University of Southern California's medical enterprise, one of only two university-owned academic medical centers in the Los Angeles area. Encompassing academic, research and clinical entities, it consists of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the region’s first medical school; the renowned USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of the first comprehensive cancer centers established in the United States; the USC Care Medical Group, the medical faculty practice; the Keck Medical Center of USC, which includes two acute care hospitals: 401-licensed bed Keck Hospital of USC and 60-licensed bed USC Norris Cancer Hospital; and USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, a 158-licensed bed community hospital. It also includes outpatient facilities in Beverly Hills, downtown Los Angeles, La Cañada Flintridge, Pasadena, and the USC University Park Campus. USC faculty physicians and Keck School of Medicine departments also have practices throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties. The Keck Medicine of USC world-class medical facilities are staffed by nearly 600 physicians who are faculty at the renowned Keck School of Medicine of USC and part of USC Care Medical Group. They are not only clinicians, but cutting-edge researchers, leading professors and active contributors to national and international professional medical societies and associations. For more information, go to www.keckmedicine.org/beyond
Soda consumers may be getting a much higher dose of the harmful sugar fructose than they have been led to believe, according to a new study by the Childhood Obesity Research Center (CORC) at the Keck School of Medicine
Keck School of Medicine of USC announces appointment of nationally recognized geriatric expert as chair of Department of Family Medicine










“Dr. Mosqueda is an outstanding clinician and innovative teacher with a proven track record as a dynamic builder of clinical, educational, and interdisciplinary programs,” said Dean Carmen A. Puliafito, M.D., M.B.A., dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “She is also a widely respected authority on geriatric and family medicine, elder abuse, and care of the elderly and underserved. Her expertise will be a significant benefit to our medical students, faculty and patients.”

Among Mosqueda’s many achievements in geriatric advocacy is serving as the co-director of the National Center on Elder Abuse, a federally-funded initiative that serves as the nation’s coordinating body and clearinghouse for information on research, training, best practices, news and resources on elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. She is the principal investigator for a major Health and Human Services-funded study addressing primary and secondary prevention of the abuse of people who have a dementing illness, and leads numerous other activities related to elder justice.

Mosqueda calls her return to the Keck School “a special homecoming” because both of her parents graduated from medical school at USC. She said she looks forward to working with Keck School colleagues to expand USC’s primary care presence.

“I want to provide patient centered, family focused care that is not just high tech, but high touch,” Mosqueda said. “At an academic medical center, we can offer the highest quality scientific care accompanied by an empathetic and loving approach with patients. I’m very interested in team-based care, and how our health-care team can provide the best care for our patients and their families.”

At UCI, Mosqueda co-founded the nation’s first Elder Abuse Forensics Center, which unites legal, medical, social services and law enforcement experts to improve the investigation and prosecution of elder abuse cases. In 2006, Los Angeles County agencies established a center patterned after UCI’s. There are now four Elder Abuse Forensic Centers in California and one in New York. In April 2011, the center at UCI received the U.S. Department of Justice’s national Award for Professional Innovation in Victim Services.

Mosqueda is also an expert on medical education curricula design, development and implementation. She was the principal investigator on a four-year, $2 million grant from the Reynolds Foundation that led to integration of geriatrics education throughout the UCI School of Medicine and was chair of the school’s committee that provided oversight of all medical education activities.

“We’re thrilled to have someone with Dr. Mosqueda’s expertise and energy lead our Department of Family Medicine,” said Thomas Jackiewicz, senior vice president and chief executive officer for USC Health. “I am confident she will usher in a new era of clinical excellence that will resonate with our surrounding communities.”

Mosqueda received her bachelor’s degree from Occidental College in 1981 and medical degree from the University of Southern California in 1987. She completed her residency at USC and Glendale Adventist Medical Center in 1990. She joined the Keck School’s faculty in 1992 and was appointed assistant clinical professor, Department of Family Practice. She was appointed chair of geriatrics for Family Practice in 1993.

In her distinguished career, Mosqueda has published dozens of papers in peer-reviewed journals and presented scores of abstracts at national and international academic meetings. She served on the editorial board of the Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect. Her numerous awards include the 2013 Thomas C. Cesario Distinguished Clinician Award for her nationally recognized work in geriatrics and elder care, and for serving as a role model to students as a compassionate and skilled physician. She has also received the 2011 Orange County – California Academy of Family Physicians Physician of the Year Award, UC Irvine’s 2010 Department Chair/Division Chief Award for Excellence, and 2010 CalOptima Circle of Care Provider Award, among many others. She served as president and chair of the board of directors of the Association of Directors of Geriatric Academic Programs (ADGAP), the national organization for the leaders of academic geriatric programs.

Mosqueda is a member of several national and international organizations devoted to family medicine, gerontology, and the prevention of violence and abuse of the elderly, including an Institute of Medicine Forum on Global Violence. She is a popular speaker nationally and internationally on these and other health issues.

Mosqueda succeeds Jerry D. Gates, Ph.D., who will step down after serving as chair of the Department of Family Medicine since 2007, providing leadership and many contributions to the Keck School of Medicine.

A native of Los Angeles, Mosqueda and her husband Robert have lived in Pasadena since she was a medical student at USC.

ABOUT THE KECK SCHOOL OF MEDICINE OF USC: Founded in 1885, the Keck School of Medicine of USC is among the nation’s leaders in innovative patient care, scientific discovery, education, and community service. It is part of Keck Medicine of USC, the University of Southern California's medical enterprise, one of only two university-owned academic medical centers in the Los Angeles area. This includes the Keck Medical Center of USC, composed of the Keck Hospital of USC and the USC Norris Cancer Hospital. The two world-class, USC-owned hospitals are staffed by more than 500 physicians who are faculty at the Keck School. The school today has more than 1,500 full-time faculty members and voluntary faculty of more than 2,400 physicians. These faculty direct the education of approximately 700 medical students and 1,000 students pursuing graduate and post-graduate degrees. The school trains more than 900 resident physicians in more than 50 specialty or subspecialty programs and is the largest educator of physicians practicing in Southern California. Together, the school's faculty and residents serve more than 1.5 million patients each year at Keck Hospital of USC and USC Norris Cancer Hospital, as well as USC-affiliated hospitals Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center. Keck School faculty also conduct research and teach at several research centers and institutes, including the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute, the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine at USC, the USC Cardiovascular Thoracic Institute, the USC Eye Institute and the USC Institute of Urology.
The Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) has announced the appointment of Laura A. Mosqueda, M.D., as chair of the Department of Family Medicine, professor of family medicine and geriatrics (Clinical Scholar) and associate dean of primary care, effective July 1, 2014.

Mosqueda is a graduate of USC who is returning to the Trojan Family after working the past 16 years at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) School of Medicine. At UCI, she has served as associate dean of primary care, chair and professor of family medicine and geriatrics, and held the Ronald W. Reagan Endowed Chair in Geriatrics.
UCLA Researchers Identify New Gene Involved in Parkinson’s Disease, a Finding that may Result in New Treatments for the Debilitating Disorder





Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s disease, and there is no cure for the progressive and devastating illness. About 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease each year. It is estimated that as many as 1 million Americans live with Parkinson's disease, which is more than the number of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Lou Gehrig's disease combined.

In Parkinson's disease, multiple neurons in the brain gradually break down or die. This leads to the movement impairments, such as tremor, rigidity, slowness in movement and difficulty walking, as well as depression, anxiety, sleeping difficulties and dementia, said Dr. Ming Guo, the study team leader, associate professor of neurology and pharmacology and a practicing neurologist at UCLA.                                               

A handful of genes have been identified in inherited cases of Parkinson’s disease. Guo’s team was one of two groups worldwide that first reported in 2006 in the journal Nature that two of these genes, PTEN-induced putative kinase 1 (PINK1) and PARKIN, act together to maintain the health of mitochondria – the power house of the cell that is important in maintaining brain health. Mutations in these genes lead to early-onset Parkinson’s disease. 

Guo’s team has further shown that when PINK1 and PARKIN are operating correctly, they help maintain the regular shape of healthy mitochondria and promote elimination of damaged mitochondria. Accumulation of unhealthy or damaged mitochondria in neurons and muscles ultimately results in Parkinson’s disease. 

In this study, the team found that the new gene, called MUL1 (also known as MULAN and MAPL), plays an important role in mediating the pathology of the PINK1 and PARKIN. The study, performed in fruit flies and mice, showed that providing an extra amount of MUL1 ameliorates the mitochondrial damage due to mutated PINK/PARKIN, while inhibiting MUL1 in mutant PINK1/PARKIN exacerbates the damage to the mitochondria.  In addition, Guo and her collaborators found that removing MUL1 from mouse neurons of the PARKIN disease model results in unhealthy mitochondria and degeneration of the neurons.

The five-year study appears June 4, 2014, in eLife, a new, open access scientific journal for groundbreaking biomedical and life research sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (United States), the Wellcome Trust (United Kingdom) and Max Plank Institutes (Germany).

“We are very excited about this finding,” Guo said. “There are several implications to this work, including that MUL1 appears to be a very promising drug target and that it may constitute a new pathway regulating the quality of mitochondria.” 

Guo characterized the work as “a major advancement in Parkinson’s disease research.” 

“We show that MUL1 dosage is key and optimizing its function is crucial for brain health and to ward off Parkinson’s disease,” she said. “Our work proves that mitochondrial health is of central importance to keep us from suffering from neurodegeneration. Further, finding a drug that can enhance MUL1 function would be of great benefit to patients with Parkinson’s disease.”

Going forward, Guo and her team will test these results in more complex organisms, hoping to uncover additional functions and mechanisms of MUL1. Additionally, the team will perform small molecule screens to help identify potential compounds that specifically target MUL1. Further, they will examine if mutations in MUL1 exist in some patients with inherited forms of Parkinson’s. 

The study, collaboration between the Guo lab and Dr. Zuhang Sheng from the National Institute of Health, was supported by the National Institute of Aging (R01, K02), National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (EUREKA award), Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar Award, McKnight Neuroscience Foundation, the Klingenstein Foundation, the American Parkinson's Disease Association and the Glenn Family Foundation.

The UCLA Department of Neurology encompasses more than 26 disease-related research programs. This includes all of the major categories of neurological diseases and methods, encompassing neurogenetics and neuroimaging, as well as health services research. The 140 faculty members of the department are distinguished scientists and clinicians who have been ranked No. 1 in National Institutes of Health funding since 2002. The department is dedicated to understanding the human nervous system and improving the lives of people with neurological diseases, focusing on three key areas: patient/clinical care, research and education. 
A team of UCLA researchers has identified a new gene involved in Parkinson’s disease, a finding that may one day provide a target for a new drug to prevent and potentially even cure the debilitating neurological disorder.
Poor Health, Lifestyle Factors Linked to Memory Complaints, Even Among Younger Adults
Early complaints often precursors to significant decline in later life, UCLA/Gallup study says





UCLA researchers and the Gallup organization polled more than 18,000 people about their memory and a variety of lifestyle and health factors previously shown to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. They found that many of these risk factors increased the likelihood of self-perceived memory complaints across all adult age groups.

The findings, published in the June 4 edition of the journal PLOS ONE, may help scientists better identify how early lifestyle and health choices impact memory later in life. Examining these potential relationships, researchers say, could also help to pinpoint interventions aimed at lowering the risk of memory issues.

The 18,552 individuals polled ranged in age from 18 to 99. The known risk factors the researchers focused on included depression, lower education levels, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and smoking. They were surprised by the prevalence of memory issues among younger adults, said the study’s senior author, Dr. Gary Small, UCLA’s Parlow–Solomon Professor on Aging and director of the UCLA Longevity Center.

"In this study, for the first time, we determined these risk factors may also be indicative of early memory complaints, which are often precursors to more significant memory decline later in life," said Small, who is also a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA.

Depression, low levels education, physical inactivity and high blood pressure increased the likelihood of memory complaints in younger adults (ages 18–39), middle-aged adults (40–59) and older adults (60–99), the researchers found. Depression was the strongest single risk factor for memory complaints in all age groups.

Having just one risk factor significantly increased the frequency of memory complaints, regardless of age, according to researchers. Memory complaints rose when the number of risk factors increased.

Overall, 20 percent of those polled had memory complaints, including 14 percent of younger adults, 22 percent of middle-aged adults and 26 percent of older adults.

The researchers noted that, in general, memory issues in younger people may be different from those that plague older individuals. For younger adults, stress may play more of a role, and the ubiquity of technology — including the Internet and wireless devices, which can often result in constant multi-tasking — may impact their attention span, making it harder to focus and remember.

Small notes that previous studies have shown that education is a key element of "cognitive reserve," the ability to compensate for progressive brain pathology. These results suggest that pursuing educational activities at any stage of life may be helpful.

"We hope that our findings will raise awareness among researchers, health care providers and the general public about the importance of lowering these risk factors at any age, such as getting screened and treated for depression and high blood pressure, exercising more and furthering one’s education," said Dr. Stephen Chen, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the Semel Institute and the first author of the study.

"We’re planning to use these results as a basis for future studies to better understand how reducing these risk factors may possibly lower the frequency of memory complaints," said author Fernando Torres-Gil, a professor at UCLA's Luskin School of Public Affairs and associate director of UCLA’s Longevity Center.

The Gallup poll used in the study took place between December 2011 and January 2012 and was part of the Gallup–Healthways Well-Being Index, which includes health- and lifestyle-related polling questions. Pollsters conducted land-line and cell phone interviews that captured a representative 90 percent of the U.S. population, the researchers said.

The study was supported by the Gallup organization, Healthways, the Parlow–Solomon Professorship on Aging, the Ahmanson Foundation, the Fran and Ray Stark Foundation Fund for Alzheimer's Disease Research, the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, and the UCLA Longevity Center. Torres-Gil is a consultant with Healthways.

Additional study authors included Prabha Siddarth, Linda M. Ercoli and Dr. David Merrill of the UCLA Longevity Center and the department of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA's Semel Institute.
If you’re depressed, don’t get enough exercise or have high blood pressure, you may find yourself complaining more about memory problems, even if you’re a young adult, according to a new UCLA study.
Fasting triggers stem cell regeneration of damaged, old immune system
Results in mice are first evidence of natural intervention triggering stem cell-dependent regeneration of organ or system; protection from chemotherapy immunosuppression indicates effect could be conserved in humans.




protect against immune system damage — a major side effect of chemotherapy — but also induce immune system regeneration, shifting stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal.

In both mice and a Phase 1 human clinical trial, long periods of not eating significantly lowered white blood cell counts. In mice, fasting cycles then “flipped a regenerative switch”: changing the signaling pathways for hematopoietic stem cells, which are responsible for the generation of blood and immune systems, the research showed.

The study has major implications for healthier aging, in which immune system decline contributes to increased susceptibility to disease as we age. By outlining how prolonged fasting cycles — periods of no food for two to four days at a time over the course of six months — kill older and damaged immune cells and generate new ones, the research also has implications for chemotherapy tolerance and for those with a wide range of immune system deficiencies, including autoimmunity disorders.

“We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the hematopoietic system,” said corresponding author Valter Longo, the Edna M. Jones Professor of Gerontology and the Biological Sciences at the USC Davis School of Gerontology, and director of the USC Longevity Institute.

“When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged,” Longo said. “What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back. So we started thinking, well, where does it come from?”

Prolonged fasting forces the body to use stores of glucose, fat and ketones, but also breaks down a significant portion of white blood cells. Longo likens the effect to lightening a plane of excess cargo.

During each cycle of fasting, this depletion of white blood cells induces changes that trigger stem cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells. In particular, prolonged fasting reduced the enzyme PKA, an effect previously discovered by the Longo team to extend longevity in simple organisms and which has been linked in other research to the regulation of stem cell self-renewal and pluripotency — that is, the potential for one cell to develop into many different cell types. Prolonged fasting also lowered levels of IGF-1, a growth-factor hormone that Longo and others have linked to aging, tumor progression and cancer risk.

“PKA is the key gene that needs to shut down in order for these stem cells to switch into regenerative mode. It gives the ‘okay’ for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system,” explained Longo, noting the potential of clinical applications that mimic the effects of prolonged fasting to rejuvenate the immune system. “And the good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting. Now, if you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or aging, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system.”

Prolonged fasting also protected against toxicity in a pilot clinical trial in which a small group of patients fasted for a 72-hour period prior to chemotherapy, extending Longo’s influential past research: “While chemotherapy saves lives, it causes significant collateral damage to the immune system. The results of this study suggest that fasting may mitigate some of the harmful effects of chemotherapy,” said co-author Tanya Dorff, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital. “More clinical studies are needed, and any such dietary intervention should be undertaken only under the guidance of a physician.”

“We are investigating the possibility that these effects are applicable to many different systems and organs, not just the immune system,” said Longo, whose lab is in the process of conducting further research on controlled dietary interventions and stem cell regeneration in both animal and clinical studies.

The study was supported by the National Institute of Aging of the National Institutes of Health (grant numbers: AG20642, AG025135, P01AG34906). The clinical trial was supported by the V Foundation and the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (grant number P30CA014089).

Chia Wei-Cheng of USC Davis School of Gerontology was first author of the study. Gregor Adams, Xiaoying Zhou and Ben S. Lam of the USC Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research; Laura Perin and Stefano Da Sacco of the Saban Research Institute at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles; Min Wei of the USC Davis School; Mario Mirisola of the University of Palermo; Dorff and David Quinn of the Keck School of Medicine of USC; and John J. Kopchick of Ohio University were co-authors of the study.
In the first evidence of a natural intervention triggering stem cell-based regeneration of an organ or system, a study in the June 5 issue of the Cell Press journal Cell Stem Cell shows that cycles of prolonged fasting not only
Four California physicians elected to American Medical Association offices






Jack Resneck Jr., M.D., a San Francisco-based dermatologist, was elected to the AMA Board of Trustees. Dr. Resneck had previously chaired AMA’s Council on Legislation and also serves on the Board of Directors for the America Academy of Dermatology.

The AMA Board of Trustees is responsible for ensuring that the AMA remains focused on its essential reason for being: to promote the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health.

Additionally, three CMA member physicians were elected to positions on AMA’s issue-based councils.

Patricia Austin, M.D., an Oakland-based ophthalmologist with more than 30 years of small group practice experience, was elected to the AMA’s Council on Constitution and Bylaws, while Adam Dougherty, M.D., MPH, and Robert Gilchick, M.D., MPH, were both elected to the Council on Science and Public Health. Dr. Dougherty is a recent graduate from the University of California, Davis School of Medicine and was elected to the council’s resident/fellow seat.  Dr. Gilchick currently serves as the medical director for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Department of Child and Adolescent Health, and was seeking re-election to the council.

The elected or appointed members of the seven AMA Councils concentrate their efforts on developing an expert understanding of specific issues related to such matters as ethics, science and medical education, so that they can make recommendations on policy to the AMA’s House of Delegates.

“I am extremely proud of my fellow California physicians who have been elected to their respective AMA positions,” said CMA President Richard Thorp, M.D., FACP. “These physicians have been an incredible asset to the California Medical Association, and I’m confident that they will bring the same insight, knowledge and leadership to their roles within the AMA.”

The AMA is the largest association of physicians and medical students in the United States.
At the annual American Medical Association's (AMA) House of Delegates meeting in Chicago today, four representatives from the California Medical Association were successful in seeking elected office within the national organization.
UCLA Doctors Use Google Glass to Teach Surgery Abroad






UCLA surgeon Dr. David Chen and surgical resident Dr. Justin Wagner have made it their mission to teach hernia surgery around the world and are harnessing the latest technologies to help.  

“Hernia repair is the most common operation performed worldwide,” said Chen, assistant clinical professor of general surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “From a global health perspective, it is as cost-effective as immunizations because it allows patients to regain function and resume work and other daily activities. ” 

It is also an easily teachable procedure that lends itself to the advent of this kind of technology, according to Chen who is associate director of surgical education and clinical director of the Lichtenstein Amid Hernia Clinic at UCLA.

The team used Google Glass, which is worn like conventional glasses, but houses a tiny computer the size of a Scrabble tile outfitted with a touch-pad, display screen and high-definition camera that can connect wirelessly to stream “live.” 

With Chen and Wagner’s help, local surgeons at a hospital in Paraguay in late May wore Google Glass while performing adult surgeries to repair a common type of hernia in which an organ or fatty tissue protrudes through a weak area of the abdominal wall in the groin.  This type of hernia is commonly found in both children and adults. 

Through Google Glass, the surgeries were viewed “live” via wireless streaming in the United States to a select group of leading surgeons who could watch and oversee the procedures. The experts could also transmit their comments to the surgeon, who could read them on the Google Glass monitor. The surgeries are also being archived for later training purposes as well. Chen added that the educational program ensures competency and quality of the operations.

“We are one of the first to use Google Glass in teaching and training surgeons from outside a country,” said Chen.  And he says hernia surgery is just the beginning.  

“Our goal is to utilize the latest technologies like Google Glass, Facebook and Twitter in connecting everyone in medicine worldwide for educational purposes that can help improve medical care in resource-poor countries,” said Chen.  “These cost-effective applications can ultimately be used for other surgical procedures and medical training as well.” 

The UCLA team also visited Brazil, where they used Google Glass during three hernia surgeries and also streamed a “live” debriefing session afterwards. The team plans to train 15 surgeons from around the country in September. These surgeons will then become trainers to teach other surgeons at several regional hospitals for underserved patients.  Similar programs will be implemented  in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Ecuador this fall. 

These training projects are part of an educational arm of Hernia Repair for the Underserved, a non- profit organization dedicated to providing free hernia surgery to children and adults in the Western Hemisphere.  Chen, who serves on the organization’s board, is spearheading these educational projects with the UCLA team to help “train the trainers” and increase the number of surgeons performing this surgery in underprivileged countries in the Western Hemisphere.

Chen and Wagner also work closely with UCLA’s Center for Advanced Surgical and Interventional Technology (CASIT) in developing new ways to help educate doctors remotely.  They have even streamed surgical lectures to Haiti from UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica. 

“We are developing practical applications for these technologies so that surgeons in any setting can have access to the global surgical community from within their own operating rooms,” said Wagner. “Even after the training is over, local surgeons can be teleproctored remotely so they will remain connected to experts worldwide.”
Imagine watching a procedure performed “live” through the eyes of the surgeon.  That’s exactly what surgical leaders in the United States were able to do while overseeing surgeons training in Paraguay and Brazil  with the help of UCLA doctors and Google Glass.
Finding sexual partners via smartphone apps carries higher infection risk than online dating sites or clubs
UCLA study notes a higher risk of gonorrhea and chlamydia for gay men






Previous research has suggested that gay and bi-curious men who meet online are more likely to indulge in unprotected sex and to have more partners than men meeting potential partners in other ways.

But since 2009 smartphone apps, such as Grindr, Scruff, and Recon have become an increasingly popular way to hook up with potential sexual partners. They allow registered users to use their smartphone’s GPS (global positioning system) to locate and network with other users in the vicinity. 

One of the first such apps accumulated 2.5 million new users in 2012, and in 2013 reported six million users in 192 countries.

Given those expanding numbers, the researchers wanted to find out if such use had altered behaviors and infection risk, so they collected data on HIV negative gay and bi-curious men attending a dedicated sexual health center in Los Angeles, California, between 2011 and 2013. 

In all, 7184 men were tested for sexually transmitted infections, and they provided information about their drug use and social networking methods to find potential sexual partners.

A third (34 percent) met sexual partners in person only; a slightly smaller proportion (30 percent) used a combination of person to person or online dating; and a slightly larger proportion (36 percent) used only smartphone apps or these plus other methods.

Smartphone apps tended to be favored by younger men (under 40), well educated men, and men of white or Asian ethnic backgrounds. App users were also more likely to use recreational drugs, including cocaine and ecstasy. 

The analysis showed that men who had used smartphone apps to hook up with other men for sex were more likely to have common sexually transmitted infections than those who met their partners online or in clubs and bars.

They were 25 percent more likely to be infected with gonorrhea and 37 percent more likely to be infected with chlamydia, although method of approach made no difference to the likelihood of infection with either HIV or syphilis.

The researchers suggest that smartphone apps make it easier to meet potential partners more quickly than online or more traditional methods, thereby boosting the chances of anonymous riskier encounters, and therefore of picking up a sexually transmitted infection.

“Instant gratification has its downside. Men should reach for their condoms even as they reach for their cell phone app to find nearby male sex partners,” said Robert Weiss, a professor in the department of biostatistics at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. “Using cell phone apps to find sex partners leaves men at heightened risk for acquiring sexually transmitted infections.  

“Technological advances which improve the efficiency of meeting anonymous sexual partners may have the unintended effect of creating networks of individuals where users may be more likely to have sexually transmissible infections than other, relatively less efficient social networking methods.

“Technology is redefining sex on demand,” they say. “Prevention programs must learn how to effectively exploit the same technology, and keep pace with changing contemporary risk factors for [sexually transmitted infections] and HIV transmission.”

Public link to study: http://sti.bmj.com/lookup/doi/10.1136/sextrans-2013-051494

Funding for the study was provided by the National Institutes of Health (P30MH58107; 5P30AI028697) and the UCLA AIDS Institute. Please see study for other authors and their affiliations.

The UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, founded in 1961, is dedicated to enhancing the public's health by conducting innovative research, training future leaders and health professionals from diverse backgrounds, translating research into policy and practice, and serving our local communities and the communities of the nation and the world. The school has 650 students from more than 35 nations engaged in carrying out the vision of building healthy futures in greater Los Angeles, California, the nation and the world. 
Gay men who use phone dating apps to find a sexual partner carry a higher risk of getting common sexually transmitted infections than meeting online or in bars and clubs, suggests research published online in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.
Technique Matters: Anonymous Peer Feedback Through Social Networking Helped Surgical Residents Improve their Robotic Surgery Skills
Allows Surgeons to Check their Egos at the Digital Door






The study is the first to examine the use of social networking to facilitate peer review of surgical procedure videos, said senior author Dr. Jim Hu, UCLA's Henry E. Singleton Professor of Urology and director of robotic and minimally invasive surgery in the urology department at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

The study included 41 urology and gynecology residents from UCLA and the University of Michigan, who used a robotic surgery simulator to sew and tie two tubes together. The residents were randomized into one of two arms – an intervention arm in which the residents videotaped their efforts and posted the video on a Google+ group forum for anonymous review and comment by their peers in the same study arm, and a control arm in which study participants did not videotape or post their work for review.

The residents performed the same simulated robotic procedure three times. The study found that the residents in the intervention arm improved their technique in subsequent attempts, experiencing shorter completion times and earning better scores from the simulator for technical efficiency, greater accuracy and economy of motion. 

“We have demonstrated that social networking can be a viable forum for coaching, both for residents honing their craft as well as practicing surgeons,” Hu said. “Technique matters, regardless of what type of surgery you’re doing. Surgeons who invest time in reviewing their techniques on video and seek the feedback and coaching of others ultimately will do better in terms of performance.”

The study appears in the early online edition of the peer-reviewed journal Annals of Surgery.

Hu said online peer review of demonstrated technique may one day become a paradigm for giving surgeons the privileges to operate at some medical institutions.

Hu said that because this platform is anonymous and accessible without time restraints or requiring a coach to be in the operating room during an procedure, it can greatly improve the quality of surgery among trainees, young surgeons who just finished training and more experienced surgeons seeking to refine their technique or adopt new technologies with challenging learning curves, such as robotic surgery.

After viewing the video, posted anonymously on the Google+ group forum, the residents in the intervention arm, also anonymously, would post comments on the performance and offer tips for improvement, Hu said. Comments included such suggestions as “be a little easier on the tissue” and “zoom in with the camera for better visualization.”

Hu said certain medical specialties can be slow to adopt new technologies, so this would provide an “egoless” opportunity to improve technique. Additionally, more experienced surgeons often don’t have time to coach younger surgeons, while older, more proficient surgeons can be reluctant to seek help from junior surgeons.

“Surgery can be very hierarchical,” he said. “When the robot came out a decade ago in urology, the people that really embraced it were the younger doctors. Many more established surgeons were resistant, claiming it wasn’t as good as open surgery,” Hu said. “It can be very humbling for the more experienced surgeons to get coached by surgeons with less prestige.”

However, using online peer review through social networking protects the identities of those reviewing and commenting and those whose craft is being examined. Surgeons can check their egos at the digital door, Hu said.

“Our study demonstrates the efficacy of peer feedback through social networking, a novel paradigm for technical mentorship. A benefit of using social networking as a forum is that it may serve as a vehicle for neophyte surgeons to receive mentorship from experts without the limitation of geographic distance or time constraints,” the study states. “Peer feedback of the online surgical video offers anonymity for all involved. and therefore removes potential barriers due to competitive surgeon egos. It may be a paradigm for continuous technical improvement beyond residency or fellowship training, which is critical with rapidly adopted new technologies such as robotic surgery.”

For more than 50 years, the urology specialists at UCLA have continued to break new ground and set the standards of care for patients suffering from urological conditions. In collaboration with research scientists, UCLA’s internationally renowned physicians are pioneering new, less invasive methods of delivering care that are more effective and less costly. UCLA’s is one of only a handful of urology programs in the country that offer kidney and pancreas transplantation. In July of 2013, UCLA Urology was once again ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, a ranking it has held for the last 15 years. For more information, visit http://urology.ucla.edu/.
Surgical residents who received anonymous feedback from their peers through a social networking site on their robotic surgery skills improved more than those who did not receive any peer feedback on their procedures, UCLA researchers found.
Four Providence Medical Centers Awarded for Outstanding Care
Healthgrades Awards Hospitals for Safety and Women’s Care





         Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica and Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance earned Healthgrades’ Patient Safety Excellence Achievement, the former ranking among the top 5 percent in the nation for two consecutive years, Healthgrades announced today.

         In the San Fernando Valley, Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills and Providence Tarzana Medical Center earned the 2014 Women’s Health Excellence Achievement, ranking among the top 10 percent in the nation for women’s health care.

         The Healthgrades Women’s Health Excellence Award recognizes hospitals for superior outcomes in women’s cardiovascular care, bone and joint health. Hospitals receiving this award represent the highest scoring of the nation's full-service hospitals in women's health based on 15 conditions and procedures. Women who go to a Healthgrades Women’s Health Excellence Award hospital have a lower risk of dying across eight heart-related conditions and procedures and a lower risk of complications across seven orthopedic and vascular procedures.

         If all hospitals nationwide performed at the level of the Healthgrades 2014 Women’s Health Excellence Award hospitals, 22,737 women’s lives could have potentially been saved and 30,577 women could have avoided potential in-hospital complications.

         Providence Saint John’s has received Healthgrades’ safety recognition for six consecutive years.

         During the 2014 study period, covering data from 2010-12 , Patient Safety Excellence Award hospitals showed better than expected performance in providing safety for patients in the Medicare population, as measured by objective outcomes (risk-adjusted patient safety indicator rates) across 13 of the 14 patient safety indicators defined by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ.)  If all hospitals performed at the same level of award recipients, 266,813 patient safety events among Medicare patients in U.S. hospitals potentially could have been avoided.

         “Healthgrades is dedicated to providing quality information that helps consumers make decisions based on objective data leading to the best care for themselves and their families,” said Evan Marks, Executive Vice President, Informatics and Strategy, Healthgrades.

         In January, Healthgrades honored the four Providence Health & Services, Southern California,  hospitals, as well as  Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, with its Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence – the first and only time all eligible hospitals in one system received this distinction.

About Providence Health & Services: Providence Health & Services, Southern California, is a Catholic not-for-profit, mission-driven healthcare system. Providence Southern California operates six award-winning hospitals and a comprehensive, fully-integrated network of primary care clinics, urgent care centers, home care, TrinityCare and TrinityKids Care hospice as well as Providence High School. Providence is anchored locally by Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Providence Tarzana Medical Center and Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Centers in Torrance and San Pedro. With more than 3,400 physicians, Providence provides coordinated primary and specialty care through an array of physician groups and individual providers including Providence Medical Institute and physician groups in the South Bay, the West Valley and Santa Clarita. Providence affiliate, Facey Medical Group, provides primary and specialized care in the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and San Gabriel valleys. For more information, visit California.providence.org.
Two Los Angeles Area Providence medical centers earned top patient safety awards from Healthgrades, a leading online consumer health care resource, and two others were lauded for their women’s health expertise.
Study Examines How Brain ‘Reboots’ Itself to Consciousness After Anesthesia





A new study by Dr. Andrew Hudson, an assistant professor in anesthesiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and colleagues provides important clues about the processes used by structurally normal brains to navigate from unconsciousness back to consciousness. Their findings are currently available in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Previous research has shown that the anesthetized brain is not “silent” under surgical levels of anesthesia but experiences certain patterns of activity, and it spontaneously changes its activity patterns over time, Hudson said.

For the current study, the research team recorded the electrical activity from several brain areas associated with arousal and consciousness in a rodent model that had been given the inhaled anesthetic isoflurane. They then slowly decreased the amount of anesthesia, as is done with patients in the operating room, monitoring how the electrical activity in the brain changed and looking for common activity patterns across all the study subjects.

The researchers found that the brain activity occurred in discrete clumps, or clusters, and that the brain did not jump between all of the clusters uniformly.

A small number of activity patterns consistently occurred in the anesthetized rodents, Hudson noted. The patterns depended on how much anesthesia the subject was receiving, and the brain would jump spontaneously from one activity pattern to another. A few activity patterns served as “hubs” on the way back to consciousness, connecting activity patterns consistent with deeper anesthesia to those observed under lighter anesthesia. 

“Recovery from anesthesia is not simply the result of the anesthetic ‘wearing off,’ but also of the brain finding its way back through a maze of possible activity states to those that allow conscious experience,” Hudson said. “Put simply, the brain reboots itself.”

The study suggests a new way to think about the human brain under anesthesia, and could encourage physicians to reexamine how they approach monitoring anesthesia in the operating room. Additionally, if the results are applicable to other disorders of consciousness — such as coma or minimally conscious states — doctors may be better able to predict functional recovery from brain injuries by looking at the spontaneously occurring jumps in brain activity.

In addition, this work provides some constraints for theories about how the brain leads to consciousness itself, Hudson said.

Going forward, the UCLA researchers will test other anesthetic agents to determine if they produce similar characteristic brain activity patterns with “hub” states. They also hope to better characterize how the brain jumps between patterns.

Other authors include Diany Paola Calderon and Donald W. Pfaff of Rockefeller University in New York and Alex Proekt of the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.

The research was supported by a Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research grant and K08 (GM106144-01) and an American Association of University Women International fellowship.
One of the great mysteries of anesthesia is how patients can be temporarily rendered completely unresponsive during surgery and then wake up again, with their memories and skills intact.
Mother’s place of birth a risk factor for their child’s autism
UCLA study says immigration status plays a role




While the prevalence of autism has been reported to be highest among non-Hispanic white children, a new study from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health has turned that notion upside down. Using data from the county of Los Angeles, California, a racially diverse region with a high percentage of recent immigrants, the researchers found that maternal nativity is a risk factor for childhood autism in U.S. populations. Specifically, they found that when compared with children born to white U.S. mothers, children of foreign-born black, Central/South American, Filipino, and Vietnamese mothers, along with U.S.-born African Americans and Hispanics, had a higher risk of autism.

The study appears in the current online edition of the journal Pediatrics.

For two decades, the authors report, autism prevalence has risen in the United States, now reaching 147 per 10 000 children who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) by the age of eight, and 21 per 10 000 children with autistic disorder (AD). According to Autism Speaks, an advocacy group, autism spectrum disorder and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. Autism can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances.

Until now, though, except for parental age and some pregnancy complications, evidence has been insufficient for many of the potential prenatal risk factors for ASD. Since some recent European research has reported associations between immigration status of the mother and ASD, the researchers saw an opportunity. 

“Epidemiology has a long tradition of using migration studies to understand how environmental and genetic factors contribute to disease risk in populations,” said senior author Beate Ritz, professor and chair of the department of epidemiology in the Fielding School. “The fact that 22 percent of six year olds’ born in the United States have immigrant parents opened a unique opportunity for us to consider the influence of nativity, race and ethnicity on the causes of ASD.”

In the study, children born in Los Angeles County who had been diagnosed with autism between the ages of three to five during 1998–2009 were identified and linked to their California birth certificates. The birth certificates had information on the mother’s race, ethnicity, and where the mother was born. In total, 7,540 children with autism were identified from 1,626,354 births. 

U.S. born African Americans and Hispanics, previously thought to have lower rates of autism, were found to have higher rates of ASD than whites, when the researchers looked at such factors as maternal race/ethnicity subgroups by nativity, and took into account such well-known risk factors as maternal age, maternal education, and insurance status. The latter are indicators for socio-economic conditions which are important since diagnosis may be related to health care access, she noted. 

The reasons why maternal nativity outside of the U.S. is a risk factor for childhood autism in U.S. populations are quite varied, the study suggests. Voluntary migration involves physical relocation and is often preceded by uncertainty, with refugees sometimes facing life-threatening situations; said Ritz. After arriving, immigrants may end up in low-income neighborhoods, becoming socially vulnerable. Women from Central American nations (Guatemala, El Salvador) who migrated seeking asylum in the 1980s may have a history of trauma from civil war, violence, and displacement. Maternal life event stresses and psychiatric disorders, possibly related to experiences of escaping wars and disasters, as well as nutritional deficiencies from famine, may be possible explanations for the increased risks observed in Central American, Vietnamese, and some African immigrant groups.

“Language and cultural barriers, and a lack of access to health care could also have caused an under-estimate of ASD in these populations,” said Ritz, who is also a professor of Neurology and a member of the UCLA Brain Research Institute. She noted that these barriers are challenges for all children from all minority groups who were at higher risk compared with U.S.-born white children.

Finding that maternal nativity is a risk factor for childhood autism has important clinical implications as well, said Ritz. “Our findings suggest we need to do a better job of early identification and treatment of ASD for these large and diverse immigrant communities who vary in risk, protective factors, and access to health care,” she said.

Other researchers on the study included first author Tracy Ann Becerra, Ondine S. von Ehrenstein, Julia E. Heck, Jorn Olsen, Onyebuchi A. Arah, Shafali Jeste, and Michael Rodriguez, all of UCLA. Funding for the study was provided by the UCLA Graduate Division and the UCLA California Center for Population Research, and supported by an infrastructure grant (R24HD041022) from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

The UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, founded in 1961, is dedicated to enhancing the public's health by conducting innovative research, training future leaders and health professionals from diverse backgrounds, translating research into policy and practice, and serving our local communities and the communities of the nation and the world. The school has 650 students from more than 35 nations engaged in carrying out the vision of building healthy futures in greater Los Angeles, California, the nation and the world. 
Can where a mother was born and raised be a risk factor for autism in her child? According to new research out of UCLA, the answer is: yes.
Group Recommends Removing Sexual Orientation-Related Disorders From the International Classification of Diseases




Organization (WHO), has recommended the disorders be deleted, a move that will make getting health care easier for gays and others who may have gender atypicality.

The WHO is the world body charged with deciding what is a disease and more than 170 countries, including the United States, follow their recommendations. The organization is currently revising the 10th edition of the ICD for release of the 11th edition in 2017.

Susan D. Cochran, a professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and a member of the working group, said the recommendation, if adopted, resolves “a human rights issue.”

“In California, gay people may have the right to marry, but in most of the world, being gay can be dangerous. There are at least six countries that criminalize homosexuality with a possible death sentence,” said Cochran, who is a clinical psychologist and epidemiologist. “This recommendation, to remove diagnoses that have no scientific basis, is a way of cleansing our public health apparatus of the social animus directed at a group of people for reasons that have no health justification.”

The recommendation must survive several layers of approval, the final being a vote by the member countries.

In 1974, the American Psychiatric Association decreed that homosexuality would no longer be considered a mental illness, though it created a new disorder, ego-dystonic homosexuality, as a political compromise. That disorder was later dropped as a diagnosis, and in the last iteration of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the last reference to sexual orientation being associated with a mental disorder was eliminated.

In 1990, the ICD made the same declaration, but retained several purported disorders, Cochran said. For example, if a person was married and woke one day and decided that they were gay and wanted a divorce,  the current ICD considers that a mental disorder. Or if a teenager was unsure if they were gay, straight or bisexual and were distressed about that, that also is considered mental disorder. Or if a person were gay, and for whatever reason wished not to be, that also is a disorder.

“It doesn’t make any sense. If a person were short and wished they weren’t, that is not a disorder. Or if someone was a lousy singer and wished they weren’t, that is not a disorder,” Cochran said. “In other words, the ICD takes content that is sexual orientation–related and attaches a diagnosis to it in ways that it does not do for other aspects of people.”

If the recommendation is adopted it will have an immediate and important impact on access to health care, she said. Every health care event and every doctor visit has an ICD code attached to it. These codes that are used for insurance billing, for public health surveillance and for medical records.

By removing these codes related to sexual orientation, the health care that gay people receive will be improved, Cochran said. For example, if a gay man is depressed and seeks care he is vulnerable to being mistreated by the health system. Currently, he could be diagnosed with ego-dystonic homosexuality if he says he is upset about how he is being treated as a gay man and wishes he were straight. There are discredited treatments, such as conversion therapy, that have been deemed unethical but sometimes are justified by this diagnosis. With the codes removed, it will be more likely that his complaints will result in a proper diagnosis of depression and treatments for that depression.

“This means that gay people can feel free to seek care, to share their concerns and not fear that they will diagnosed with a mental illness simply because the content is about homosexuality or gender atypicality,” Cochran said. “It would mean an end to the medicalization of homosexuality.”

An article published in the latest issue of the Bulletin of World Health Organization outlined the scientific basis for the recommendation to delete the sexual orientation-related disorders from the ICD.

“It is not justifiable from a clinical, public health or research perspective for a diagnostic classification to be based on sexual orientation,” the article states.
A working group evaluating sexual orientation-related disorders listed in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), a publication of the World Health
UCLA-led study finds communication for minimally verbal children with autism is greatly improved through interventions that use computer tablets.  




education and health sciences professor Connie Kasari, along with researchers at Vanderbilt University and the Kennedy Krieger Institute, has found that communication for minimally verbal children can be greatly improved through interventions that are combined with the use of iPad computer tablets. 

The trial involved an underserved population of 61 minimally verbal five to eight year old children with ASD. All children were treated with an intervention that combined a social communication intervention developed at UCLA with a spoken language intervention developed at Vanderbilt University.  This blended intervention was offered to all children while half were randomly selected to also have access to a computer tablet to determine if it would facilitate more communication. 

“It was remarkable how well the tablet worked in providing access to communication for these children,” stated Connie Kasari, principal investigator on the UCLA-led project. “Children who received the behavioral intervention along with the iPad to support their communication attempts made much faster progress in learning to communicate, and especially in using spoken language.”  

Researchers reported that children who used the computer tablet also used language spontaneously and socially, and they demonstrated more commenting language than children who were treated with behavioral interventions alone.  

Additionally, researchers discovered that beginning treatment with a computer tablet made a difference: Introducing a tablet later if a child was not progressing was not as effective as using it from the start.  An estimated 30 percent of school-aged children with an ASD remain minimally verbal even after receiving years of behavioral interventions.  

The study was the first in the field of ASD to utilize a Sequential Multiple Assignment Randomized Trial (SMART) design, which enabled researchers to tailor interventions according to how each child responded. Research assistant professor Daniel Almirall and professor of statistics Susan Murphy, both biostatisticians at the University of Michigan and researchers on the team, pioneered the SMART approach.  The SMART approach aims to develop behavioral interventions that are individualized to the specific needs and evolving status of the child.  

Partners for the research project include Rebecca Landa, director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at Kennedy Krieger Institute and a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, and Ann Kaiser, the Susan W. Gray professor of education and human development at Vanderbilt University.  The study was funded by a High Risk High Impact grant from the Autism Speaks Foundation, and is the first randomized controlled trial on an underserved population of children to use a computer tablet combined with behavioral interventions.

The findings of the study have been published in a paper, “Communication Interventions for Minimally Verbal Children With Autism: Sequential Multiple Assignment Randomized Trial,” (Kasari, C., Kaiser, A., Goods, K., Nietfeld, J., Mathy, P., Landa, R., Murphy, S., Almirall, D.) in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (June, 2014).  

Based on the pilot data generated by the study, Kasari has also received a $13 million Autism Centers of Excellence (ACE) grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund continued research involving minimally verbal children. 

Kasari will serve as principal investigator on the ACE Network grant that will compare two types of intensive, daily instruction for an underrepresented population of children in schools in underserved communities who have an ASD and who use only minimal verbal communication. For this study, a SMART design will once again be used and all children participating will be treated with interventions that use iPads.  Researchers on the five-year network study plan to enroll nearly 200 children in four cities, including Los Angeles, Nashville, New York and Rochester, N.Y.  With UCLA again serving as the lead site, partners will include Weill Cornell Medical Center, University of Rochester, and Vanderbilt University.  

Kasari, who is a member of UCLA's Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART), holds appointments in the department of education at UCLA's Graduate School of Education & Information Studies and in the department of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA.
In a three year study examining how different approaches to intervention can help children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) learn to become better communicators, UCLA
Physician uncertainty over Covered California plans has impacted patient care





"The state of confusion over Covered California networks needs to be addressed before the next open enrollment period, " said Richard Thorp, M.D., CMA president. “This survey shows that the mass confusion about participation status for both patients and physicians has led to patient access issues, loss of patients and has negatively impacted patient care in our state. We need to ensure that the promise of coverage is not an empty one."

CMA's survey, which resulted in an unprecedented response from over 2,300 physicians in less than two days, showed that inaccurate provider directories and health plan contract practices has made it difficult for both physicians and patients to find out who is in and out of the narrow provider networks, primarily those offered by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California.

Notable results from the survey include the following:

•Eighty (80) percent of physicians reported confusion about their participation status in the new networks at some point;
•Fifty-five (55) percent of physicians reported difficulties in finding an in-network physician or hospital for referral of Covered California patients;
•Seventy-seven (77) percent of physicians believed that network adequacy challenges were having a potentially negative impact on patient care in their practice;
•Fifty (50) percent of those physicians participating in the new products planned to continue participating, while thirty-nine (39) percent were not sure; and 
•Fifty-one (51) percent of physicians reported losing patients as a result of the new individual and small group products.
California’s health care system is arguably undergoing its biggest period of transformation since the introduction of Medicare 50 years ago. Roughly 1.4 million Californians across the state are now covered by dozens of new health insurance products offered through the state’s health benefit exchange, Covered California, and many more are now covered under new products in the broader individual market.

Coverage, however, means little without access to health care providers. Since the new coverage became active on January 1, 2014, CMA has logged a rather steady stream of concerns and complaints from physicians regarding the networks.

“The integrity of California’s health care delivery system is being threatened by the fact that patients cannot rely on certain major health plans’ lists of participating providers and that many physicians have been or remain confused about whether or to what extent they are contracted to serve patients covered under the slew of new insurance products,” wrote Dr. Thorp in a letter to Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee. 

CMA's letter urged Lee to make improvements to the Covered California physician contracting, networks and directories prior to the start of the next open enrollment period.
A survey, conducted last week by the California Medical Association (CMA), found that 80 percent of respondents were confused about their participation status in Covered California. The respondents also reported that this confusion has negatively impacted patient care.
Tweens and teens who receive sexts are 6 times more likely to report having had sex
Study shows that middle school students who send more than 100 texts a day are also more likely to be sexually active




is a risk behavior or just a technologically-enabled extension of normal teenage flirtation. The latest research, published today in the July 2014 issue of the journal Pediatrics, found that among middle school students, those who reported receiving a sext were 6 times more likely to also report being sexually active.

While past research has examined sexting and sexual behavior among high school students and young adults, the researchers were particularly interested in young teens, as past data has shown clear links between early sexual debut and risky sexual behavior, including teenage pregnancy, sex under the influence of drugs or alcohol, experience of forced sex and higher risk of sexually transmitted disease.

“These findings call attention to the need to train health educators, pediatricians and parents on how best to communicate with young adolescents about sexting in relation to sexual behavior,” said lead author Eric Rice, assistant professor at the USC School of Social Work. “The sexting conversation should occur as soon as the child acquires a cell phone.”

The study anonymously sampled more than 1,300 middle school students in Los Angeles as part of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Respondents ranged in age from 10-15, with an average age of 12.3 years. The researchers found that even when controlling for sexting behaviors, young teens who sent more than 100 texts a day were more likely to report being sexually active. Other key findings:

Young teens who sent sexts were almost 4 times more likely to report being sexually active.
Sending and receiving sexts went hand-in-hand: Those who reported receiving a sext were 23 times more likely to have also sent one.
Students who identified as LGBTQ were 9 times more likely to have sent a sext.
However, unlike past research on high school students, LGBTQ young adolescents were not more likely to be sexually active, the study showed.
Youth who texted more than 100 times a day were more than twice as likely to have received a sext and almost 4.5 times more likely to report having sent a sext.
The researchers acknowledge that despite anonymity, the data is self-reported and thus subject to social desirability bias, as well as limitations for geographic area and the diverse demographics of Los Angeles. However, the dramatic correlation between students who sent sexts and reported sexual activity indicates the need for further research and summons attention to the relationship between technology use and sexual behavior among early adolescents, the researchers say.

“Our results show that excessive, unlimited or unmonitored texting seems to enable sexting,” Rice said. “Parents may wish to openly monitor their young teen’s cell phone, check in with them about who they are communicating with, and perhaps restrict their number of texts allowed per month.”

Overall, 20 percent of students with text-capable cell phones said they had ever received a sext, and 5 percent report sending a sext. The researchers defined “sext” in their survey as a sexually suggestive text or photo.

Jeremy Gibbs, Hailey Winetrobe and Harmony Rhoades of the USC School of Social Work were co-authors of the study. The data collection was supported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (grant 5U87DP001201-04).
A study from USC researchers provides new understanding of the relationship between “sexting” and sexual behavior in early adolescence, contributing to an ongoing national conversation about whether sexually explicit text messaging
Research Reveals New, Protective Role for Specialized Cells in Intestinal and Respiratory Systems







Research in the laboratory of David Lo, a distinguished professor of biomedical sciences in the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine, found that certain cells of the epithelium have a potentially important role in immune surveillance – creating an electrostatic repulsion field to microbial invasion.

The study is featured on the cover of the July issue of Infection and Immunity.

The finding improves scientists’ understanding of the densely packed protrusions – resembling a carpet – on the surface of some cells that line the insides of the intestines and respiratory system. The protrusions, called microvilli, increase the surface area of cells and have a role in absorbing nutrients, for instance.

Lo’s laboratory has found that the microvilli actually repel negatively charged bacteria and viruses, suggesting a protective “shield” akin to the force field that envelops the Enterprise in the plots of many “Star Trek” television episodes and movies.

For more information, please visit: http://ucrtoday.ucr.edu/23661
Ripping a page from the Star Trek script, specialized cells of the barrier that lines the inside of the intestines and airways of humans have invoked a biological version of Captain Kirk’s famous command “shields up” as a first defense against invading microbes.
Orange County enters new era of world-class cancer care, research, treatment as Orange Coast Oncology Hematology physician practice joins Keck Medicine of USC



and treatment.  OCOH will now be part of Keck Medicine of USC and the practice will be known as USC Oncology/Hematology with locations in Newport Beach and Irvine and a treatment center in Newport Beach called the USC Oncology/Hematology Infusion Center.

Orange County cancer patients of USC Oncology/Hematology will now have services only a university-based cancer treatment center such as Keck Medicine of USC can offer:  access to clinical trials, teleconference tumor boards, and genetic stem cell research conveniently delivered in the local Orange County outpatient settings in Newport Beach and Irvine. The OCOH practice, which was originally founded by Louis VanderMolen, M.D., is now aligned with Keck Medicine of USC’s 41-year-old renowned USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital – one of the original National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the country.

“We are passionate in our pursuit to fight cancer with our internationally recognized researchers and clinicians – a vision Dr. VanderMolen shared for the future of his prestigious local practice,” said Tom Jackiewicz, senior vice president of USC Health and CEO of Keck Medicine of USC. “At USC we know about recruiting the best physicians to our faculty and there is no one better at providing cancer care and treatment in Orange County than Dr. Louis VanderMolen and his physician associates – we’re proud to have them as part of our Trojan family.”

The mission of Keck Medicine of USC is to provide exceptional, expertise care at the right time, place and cost benefitting patients. This physician practice acquisition underscores Keck Medicine of USC’s commitment to patients who will be seen and treated by its experts in Orange County and as part of an ongoing affiliation with Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach. In addition, patients of Keck Medicine of USC have a dedicated, experienced patient navigator who is a liaison between Hoag Hospital and USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Hospital. The navigator help guide families through a loved one’s treatment and the maze of the health care system.

“Health care is undergoing dramatic changes and looking into the future, I realized I could best serve my patients by aligning with a medical enterprise that has a global reputation and provides the leading-edge cancer treatments that are only found in a university-based setting like the one Keck Medicine of USC has built,” said Louis VanderMolen, M.D., newly appointed clinical professor of medicine for Keck School of Medicine of USC, part of Keck Medicine of USC.

“It was important to bring the power of Keck Medicine of USC researchers and clinical expertise to Orange County rather than transfer most patients to Los Angeles for their cancer treatment,” continued VanderMolen. “There was no other medical enterprise I was confident could deliver on this promise and knowing Keck Medicine of USC had an affiliation with Hoag Hospital was an added bonus for my patients.”

In addition, the former OCOH physicians become faculty at the prestigious Keck School of Medicine of USC, the southland’s oldest medical school as well as part of USC Care, the medical faculty practice group of Keck Medicine of USC.  The physicians joining Keck School of Medicine of USC faculty include: Greg Richard Angstreich, M.D., clinical associate professor of medicine; Minh D. Nguyen, M.D., clinical associate professor of medicine; George B. Semeniuk III, M.D., clinical associate professor of medicine; Dilruba Haque, M.D., clinical assistant professor of medicine and Louis VanderMolen, M.D., clinical professor of medicine.

“Having the Orange County medical oncology group, led by Dr. VanderMolen, join our faculty is testament to our legacy of attracting the best medical and scientific minds to USC,” said Carmen A. Puliafito, M.D., MBA, dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “We’re thrilled to have these physicians become part of our faculty.”

One of the benefits of Keck Medicine of USC’s patient services is access to cutting-edge clinical trials, tumor boards where experts in both Los Angeles and Orange County regularly teleconference on patient treatments, and genetic stem cell research being conducted at both USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and The Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC.

“Our global research experience and leadership in developing innovative new therapies over the past 41 years is reaching new peaks,” said Stephen Gruber, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., director of USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and an expert in cancer genetics and medical oncology. “By working with the oncology specialists at USC Oncology/Hematology, we are dedicated to working together to bring our global cancer breakthrough treatments to conquer cancer for patients in Orange County.”

The USC Oncology/Hematology practice physicians have been seen in Orange County as a “best practice” in the outpatient care and treatment for those battling all types of cancer and blood disorders. Known for its excellent patient treatment, the practice has one of the highest nurse-to-patient ratios and is affiliated with the Cancer Treatments of Excellence (CCE), America’s only practice-owned, physician-driven network of oncologists.

ABOUT KECK MEDICINE OF USC: Keck Medicine of USC is the University of Southern California's medical enterprise, one of only two university-based medical systems in the Los Angeles area. Encompassing academic, research and clinical excellence, the medical system attracts internationally renowned experts who teach and practice at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the region’s first medical school; includes the renowned USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of the first comprehensive cancer centers established by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States; has a medical faculty practice, the USC Care Medical Group; operates the Keck Medical Center of USC, which includes two acute care hospitals: 401-licensed bed Keck Hospital of USC and 60-licensed bed USC Norris Cancer Hospital; and USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, a 158-licensed bed community hospital. It also includes more than 40 outpatient facilities, some in affiliated hospitals, in Los Angeles, Orange, Kern, Tulare and Ventura counties. For more information, go to www.keckmedicine.org/beyond
Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) announced today it has acquired Orange Coast Oncology Hematology Medical Associates (OCOH) and together they will lead Orange County’s world-class cancer care
Keck Medicine of USC scientists discover immune system component that resists sepsis in mice
Study identifies potential therapeutic target for inflammation




potentially fatal complication of infection. The discovery suggests that blocking this immune system component may help reduce inflammation in human autoimmune and hyper-inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Type 2 diabetes.

The study was published online on June 23 in The Journal of Experimental Medicine, a leading peer-reviewed scientific journal in research medicine and immunology.

The immune system is the body’s first line of defense against infection. The system, however, can also injure the body if it is not turned off after the infection is destroyed, or if it is turned on when there is no infection at all. Scientists do not yet fully understand how the immune response is turned on and off and continue to study it in hopes of harnessing its power to cure disease.

In this study, scientists have found that a component of the system, HOIL-1L, is necessary for formation of the NLRP3-ASC inflammasome signaling complex.

“This regulatory mechanism is critical in vivo, where we find that mice lacking HOIL-1L are completely resistant to sepsis, which is a lethal inflammation model of human sepsis,” said Mary Rodgers, Ph.D., USC postdoctoral fellow and the study’s first author. “Our results suggest that blocking the activity of HOIL-1L could be a new therapeutic strategy for reducing inflammation in disease.”

Led by Jae U. Jung, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the research team included scientists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Kyoto University in Japan. USC study co-authors also include James W. Bowman; Nicole Orazio, Ph.D.; Mude Shi, Ph.D.; Qiming Liang, Ph.D.; Rina Amatya; and Thomas J. Kelly. The work was partly supported by the National Institutes of Health (1F32AI096698, CA180779, CA082057, CA31363, CA115284, AI073099, AI083025, HL110609, CA156330, AI029564), GRL, Hastings Foundation, and Fletcher Jones Foundation.

Article cited:
Rodgers, M. A., Bowman, J. W., Fujita, H., Orazio, N., Shi, M., Liang, Q. … Jung, J. U. (2014). The linear ubiquitin assembly complex (LUBAC) is essential for NLRP3 inflammasome activation. The Journal of Experimental Medicine, 1-15. Published online June 23, 2014; doi:10.1084/jem.20132486

ABOUT KECK MEDICINE OF USC: Keck Medicine of USC is the University of Southern California's medical enterprise, one of only two university-based medical systems in the Los Angeles area. Encompassing academic, research and clinical excellence, the medical system attracts internationally renowned experts who teach and practice at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the region’s first medical school; includes the renowned USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of the first comprehensive cancer centers established by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States; has a medical faculty practice, the USC Care Medical Group; operates the Keck Medical Center of USC, which includes two acute care hospitals: 401-licensed bed Keck Hospital of USC and 60-licensed bed USC Norris Cancer Hospital; and owns USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, a 158-licensed bed community hospital. It also includes more than 40 outpatient facilities, some at affiliated hospitals, in Los Angeles, Orange, Kern, Tulare and Ventura counties. For more information, go to www.keckmedicine.org/beyond.
Molecular microbiologists from the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) have discovered that mice lacking a specific component of the immune system are completely resistant to sepsis, a
Depressed Men with Prostate Cancer are Diagnosed with Later Stage Disease, Get Less Effective Therapies and Don’t Live as Long as Men who are not Depressed



times than prostate cancer patients who were not depressed, a UCLA study has found.

The negative outcomes may be the result of several factors such as bias against the mentally ill, depression’s impact on biological cancer processes, the depressed man’s lack of investment in his general health and disinterest in receiving more effective care, and missed opportunities by physicians to educate patients about prostate cancer screening and treatment, said study lead author Dr. Jim Hu, UCLA's Henry E. Singleton Professor of Urology and director of robotic and minimally invasive surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

The population-based observational study using patients from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Medicare database focused on 41,275 men diagnosed with localized prostate cancer between 2004 and 2007 and observed through 2009. Of those, researchers identified 1,894 men with a depressive disorder discovered in the two years before the cancer was diagnosed.

“Men with intermediate- or high-risk prostate cancer and a recent diagnosis of depression are less likely to undergo definitive treatment and experience worse overall survival,” Hu said. “The effect of depressive disorders on prostate cancer treatment and survivorship warrants further study, because both conditions are relatively common in men in the United States.”

The study appears this week in the early online edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Hu said that although demographic and socioeconomic differences can affect treatment and outcomes in prostate cancer, the effect of mental health disorders has remained unclear. Depression has been associated with increased likelihood of not getting the best treatment, as well as lower overall survival in other cancers, including breast and liver cancers. However, little is known about the relationship between depression and diagnosis, treatment and outcomes in prostate cancer. This study helps shed some light on the issue, but further examination is warranted, Hu said.

The study also found that men with prostate cancer who were older, lower income, who had other medical problems, were white or Hispanic, who were unmarried and those residing in non-metropolitan areas were more likely to be depressed. 

In addition, depressed men were less likely to seek out definitive therapy such as surgery or radiation in contrast to prostate cancers who were not depressed. 

“This was surprising, because depressed men were more likely to see physicians in the two years prior to prostate cancer diagnosis compared to non-depressed men,” Hu said. 

Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men aside from skin cancer. An estimated 233,000 new cases of prostate cancer will occur in the United States in 2014. Of those, nearly 30,000 men will die. 

“These results point toward a newly identified disparity in the management of men with incident prostate cancer,” the study states. “Considering the marked prevalence of both prostate cancer and depression, additional efforts are needed to better understand and ameliorate the decreased survival following prostate cancer diagnosis in the depressed male patient.

The study was funded by Department of Defense Physician Training Award.

For more than 50 years, the urology specialists at UCLA have continued to break new ground and set the standards of care for patients suffering from urological conditions. In collaboration with research scientists, UCLA’s internationally renowned physicians are pioneering new, less invasive methods of delivering care that are more effective and less costly. UCLA’s is one of only a handful of urology programs in the country that offer kidney and pancreas transplantation. In July of 2013, UCLA Urology was once again ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, a ranking it has held for the last 15 years. For more information, visit http://urology.ucla.edu/.
Depressed men with localized prostate cancer were more likely to be diagnosed with more aggressive prostate cancer, received less effective treatments and survived for shorter
Keck Medicine of USC appoints physician executive Amar Desai as CEO of USC Care and Ambulatory Care Services









At USC, he will report to Tom Jackiewicz, senior vice president and CEO of USC Health , and will work closely with leadership across the university-based health system to achieve the system’s ambulatory and physician alignment goals.

This role is critical for our rapidly expanding health system," said Jackiewicz. "The development of our ambulatory care network, through our existing faculty and community doctors is an essential component of our enterprise-wide clinical strategic plan. Dr. Desai will provide executive oversight of all Keck Medicine of USC ambulatory satellites, including our hospital-based clinics, Keck School department clinics, and other new outpatient joint venture partnerships and community practices."

Desai will be responsible for driving quality and best practice standards associated with USC Care and will promote an integrated clinical environment to streamline care coordination, set quality benchmarks and improve clinical outcomes.

“This is a transformational time for Keck Medicine of USC as it evolves into a health system that can truly deliver integrated care,” said Desai. “In the post-healthcare reform world, USC’s physician practices and ambulatory care services will be a critical platform for long-term growth and success. We have world-class physicians at Keck Medicine of USC.  Our aspiration is to demonstrate a highly differentiated quality and service experience to the patients and communities we serve and bring the best of USC’s health care to Southern California and beyond. There is tremendous opportunity at USC.”

Desai has significant experience leading health systems to improved quality, reduced costs and clinical integration. He has a proven track record for driving organizational results across inpatient and ambulatory settings, and for the design and implementation of innovative care delivery models. Prior to his work with DaVita Healthcare Partners, Desai worked with McKinsey & Company, where he led engagements with hospitals, integrated health systems, governments, and medical technology companies.

He has had experience working in other leading academic health centers across the country, including the University of California San Francisco Medical Center and San Francisco General Hospital. Desai has held faculty appointments at the Stanford School of Medicine and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He holds a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Brown University, a medical degree from Brown Medical School and a master’s degree in public health from the Harvard School of Public Health. He is board certified in internal medicine and nephrology, and is broadly published in health services and outcomes research.

ABOUT KECK MEDICINE OF USC: Keck Medicine of USC is the University of Southern California's medical enterprise, one of only two university-based medical systems in the Los Angeles area. Encompassing academic, research and clinical excellence, the medical system attracts internationally renowned experts who teach and practice at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the region’s first medical school; includes the renowned USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of the first comprehensive cancer centers established by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States; has a medical faculty practice, the USC Care Medical Group; operates the Keck Medical Center of USC, which includes two acute care hospitals: 401-licensed bed Keck Hospital of USC and 60-licensed bed USC Norris Cancer Hospital; and owns USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, a 158-licensed bed community hospital. It also includes more than 40 outpatient facilities, some at affiliated hospitals, in Los Angeles, Orange, Kern, Tulare and Ventura counties. For more information, go to www.keckmedicine.org/beyond
Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) has appointed seasoned physician executive Amar Desai, M.D., M.P.H. as chief executive officer of USC Care and Ambulatory Care Services, effective Aug. 1, 2014.

Desai is an experienced health-care executive with significant expertise leading health systems to improved quality, reduced costs and clinical integration.  He joins Keck Medicine of USC from DaVita Healthcare Partners Inc., where he currently serves as chief medical officer of the Paladina Health division and previously led corporate strategic development for the enterprise.
Keck Medical Center of USC improves its national rankings in cancer, urology and geriatrics and maintains its No. 9 spot in ophthalmology in the U.S. News & World Report annual Best Hospitals issue




California but also moved up in national rankings – posting No. 9 in ophthalmology, No. 20 in urology, No. 23 in cancer and No. 33 in geriatrics – in the 2014-2015 U.S. News & World Report annual “Best Hospitals” rankings released today.

The hospitals and related institutes which comprise Keck Medical Center of USC have consistently ranked among the top 10 in California since 2009 when USC purchased the two hospitals: Keck Hospital of USC and USC Norris Cancer Hospital. While the USC Eye Institute maintained its No. 9 national ranking in ophthalmology from last year, Keck Medical Center of USC moved up nine ranks to No. 20 for its USC Institute of Urology, and jumped more than 25 ranks to No. 23 for its cancer care at USC Norris Cancer Hospital. Last year, Keck Medical Center of USC was not ranked in geriatrics but this year achieved a No. 33 ranking nationwide in this specialty.

In addition, Keck Medical Center was “high performing” in seven specialty areas: cardiology and heart surgery; ear, nose and throat; gastroenterology and GI surgery; gynecology; nephrology; neurology and neurosurgery; and orthopedics. A high performing score represents hospitals ranking among the top 25 percent nationally in a given specialty. Just three percent of the nearly 5,000 hospitals analyzed earned national ranking in even one specialty.

“These rankings underscore our commitment to quality patient care and recognize the exceptional medicine we perform every day,” said Tom Jackiewicz, senior vice president and CEO of USC Health. “Health care has undergone tremendous change in the last year but we have stayed focused on our mission to provide the expert medical care where and when patients need it – from the hospital to the outpatient setting in a growing number of communities across Southern California.”

The 25th annual U.S. News & World Report “Best Hospital” rankings, which are voted on by physicians and medical colleagues across the country, represent a guide for patients who need a high level of care because they face difficult surgery, challenging conditions or added risks because of other health conditions or advanced age. Objective measures such as patient survival and safety data, the adequacy of nurse staffing levels and other data largely determine the rankings in most specialties. The rankings are freely available at http://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals and will appear in the U.S. News “Best Hospitals 2015” guidebook, available in August.

Over the last six months, U.S. News & World Report has also recognized Keck Medicine of USC through its “Best Graduate Schools” issue which ranked the Keck School of Medicine of USC No. 31 among 153 medical schools in the nation. And in its “Best Children’s Hospitals” honor roll this April, the USC-affiliated Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles ranked No. 5 nationwide, a position it has held the last three years. The renowned children’s hospital is staffed predominantly by Keck Medicine of USC faculty physicians.

“There are few medical centers nationwide that can boast USC’s dedication to training the next generation of scientists and physicians as well as having a faculty staff committed to caring for people from the youngest in our society to our most aged,” said Carmen A. Puliafito, M.D., MBA, dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “Patients benefit from having access to the world’s top surgeons, scientists and medical experts as well as being able to participate in clinical trials and other cutting-edge treatments – services and benefits only a university-based medical system can provide.”

In addition to its U.S. News & World Report rankings, Keck Medical Center of USC was also awarded an “A” grade from The Leapfrog Group in March 2014. This annual voluntary survey assesses how hospitals address patient safety and overall patient outcomes.

“When patients come to Keck Medical Center, they typically are referred here because we have world-renowned experts in most major specialty fields and our treatments and technology are the best medical solutions they will receive,” said Scott Evans, Pharm.D., M.H.A., CEO of Keck Hospital of USC and USC Norris Cancer Hospital. “What is most important is they become part of our Trojan family – we treat each patient as a member of our family and being ranked nationally by U.S. News & World Report is recognition of this commitment to medical excellence, patient safety and compassionate care.”

ABOUT KECK MEDICINE OF USC: Keck Medicine of USC is the University of Southern California's medical enterprise, one of only two university-based medical systems in the Los Angeles area. Encompassing academic, research and clinical excellence, the medical system attracts internationally renowned experts who teach and practice at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the region’s first medical school; includes the renowned USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of the first comprehensive cancer centers established by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States; has a medical faculty practice, the USC Care Medical Group; operates the Keck Medical Center of USC, which includes two acute care hospitals: 401-licensed bed Keck Hospital of USC and 60-licensed bed USC Norris Cancer Hospital; and USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, a 158-licensed bed community hospital. It also includes more than 40 outpatient facilities, some in affiliated hospitals, in Los Angeles, Orange, Kern, Tulare and Ventura counties. For more information, go to www.keckmedicine.org/beyond
Keck Medical Center of the University of Southern California (USC), one of only two university-based medical systems in Los Angeles, maintained its No. 3 ranking as the top hospital in the Los Angeles metro area and No. 8 in
Keck Medical Center of USC surgeons perform first robotic-assisted operation in California for prostate cancer patient using latest-generation, minimally invasive surgical system
Procedures for bladder, prostate, kidney cancers found at University of Southern California, a world-renowned treatment and teaching center for robotic surgery




The surgery further cements the Los Angeles-based university hospitals’ position as a global center of excellence for robotic surgery.

The procedure used the new Xi robot that gives surgeons greater dexterity, precision and ability to remove cancerous tissue in all quadrants of the abdomen and chest because of its smaller arms. In addition, surgeons have a larger operating field in which to work, leading to better maneuverability without having to reposition the robot as frequently throughout the procedure. For patients, robotic surgery, when appropriate, provides a minimally invasive treatment choice that often leads to smaller incisions (less than one inch), less pain and less need for medication, minimal scarring, reduced bleeding, shorter hospital stays and a faster recovery time to return to normal daily routines.

The new da Vinci Xi Surgical System robot created by Intuitive Surgical was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on April 1. Using the Xi robot, Keck Medicine of USC urologic surgeon Inderbir S. Gill, M.D., M.Ch., founding executive director of the USC Institute of Urology and professor and chairman, department of urology, removed a man’s prostate.

“We perform more robotic surgeries than any other hospital in the metro Los Angeles area, and that is a direct reflection of our surgical expertise and our staying one step ahead by having the latest robotic technology available,” said Scott Evans, Pharm.D., M.H.A., CEO of Keck Hospital of USC and USC Norris Cancer Hospital.  “For patients, the fact we have the most technologically advanced equipment is compelling, but it is really about the surgeons operating these machines that brings comfort and confidence to those who need expert treatments for the most complex diseases. It is similar to driving a Ferrari – instead of a teenager at the wheel, we offer the world’s most expert drivers who have vast experience with sophisticated machines.”

The Keck Medical Center of USC, which consists of Keck Hospital of USC and USC Norris Cancer Hospital, has been pioneering robotic surgery for years and is the fastest-growing robotic surgery center in the country. As a university-based medical center, the Keck Medical Center of USC’s reputation as a center of excellence for robotic surgery has led other surgeons and physicians worldwide to its doorstep to be trained on the latest advances in robotic procedures.

Keck Medical Center of USC is also a global training ground for urologic procedures. For the past five years over 100 urological surgeons, nationally and internationally, have visited the USC Institute of Urology to learn advanced robotic procedures from USC’s urological robotic surgeons.

Gill, who also is associate dean of clinical innovation at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and his team comprising of Mihir Desai, M.D. and Monish Aron, M.D., have pioneered many novel procedures at the USC Institute of Urology, including removal of a cancerous bladder and construction of a new one totally within the body; and robotic removal of tumors inside the inferior vena cava. The USC Institute of Urology, ranked No. 20 in urology in this week’s U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 “Best Hospitals” rankings, boasts the nation’s fastest growing robotic urology program.

“The Xi surgical system is an evolution of our robotic surgical prowess,” said Desai, professor of urology and director of urological robotic surgery. Aron, professor and vice chair, depart
ment of urology added, “This is another example of how we continue to lead the field on latest surgical techniques.”

“Because of our reputation as a center for excellence in robotic surgery, patients come to USC for treatment from all over the world,” Gill added. “In addition, we are at the forefront of training other physicians from around the globe on these machines and in the latest robotic surgery techniques because we are committed to pushing the envelope of what is best for patients everywhere.”

Earlier this week, U.S. News & World Report ranked Keck Medical Center of USC among the Top 25 hospitals in the United States for urology (No. 20) and cancer  care (No. 23). The medical center was also awarded an “A” grade from The Leapfrog Group in March, representing outstanding patient safety practices and overall patient outcomes.

ABOUT KECK MEDICINE OF USC: Keck Medicine of USC is the University of Southern California's medical enterprise, one of only two university-based medical systems in the Los Angeles area. Encompassing academic, research and clinical excellence, the medical system attracts internationally renowned experts who teach and practice at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the region’s first medical school; includes the renowned USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of the first comprehensive cancer centers established by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States; has a medical faculty practice, the USC Care Medical Group; operates the Keck Medical Center of USC, which includes two acute care hospitals: 401-licensed bed Keck Hospital of USC and 60-licensed bed USC Norris Cancer Hospital; and owns USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, a 158-licensed bed community hospital. It also includes more than 40 outpatient facilities, some at affiliated hospitals, in Los Angeles, Orange, Kern, Tulare and Ventura counties. For more information, go to www.keckmedicine.org/beyond
Surgeons at the Keck Medical Center of University of Southern California (USC) this week performed the first robotic-assisted procedure in California for a prostate cancer patient using the latest, minimally invasive surgical system.