Cancer and the Immune System: A Double-Edged Sword

Cell surface sugars can promote or inhibit cancer depending upon stage

During cancer development, tumor cells decorate their surfaces with sugar compounds called glycans that are different from those found on normal, healthy cells. In the Sept. 15 online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that sialic acids at the tips of these cancer cell glycans are capable of engaging with immune system cells and changing the latter’s response to the tumor – for good and bad. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Ajit Varki, MDPrincipal investigator of the study is Ajit Varki, MD, distinguished professor of medicine and cellular medicine, member of the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center and co-director of both the Glycobiology Research and Training Center and UCSD/Salk Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny (CARTA).

Dr. Chip Schooley on “MERS, Ebola, Boeing and Bats” at Medicine Grand Rounds September 17

Dr. Robert T. "Chip" SchooleyDr. Robert T. “Chip” Schooley will speak on the topic “MERS, Ebola, Boeing and Bats” at Medicine Grand Rounds on September 17.  Dr. Schooley is professor of medicine, academic affairs vice chair of the Department of Medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at UC San Diego.

Clinical Trial To Test Safety of Stem Cell-Derived Therapy for Type 1 Diabetes

UC San Diego is initial site for first-in-human testing of implanted cell therapy

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, in partnership with ViaCyte, Inc., a San Diego-based biotechnology firm specializing in regenerative medicine, have launched the first-ever human Phase I/II clinical trial of a stem cell-derived therapy for patients with Type 1 diabetes. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Principal investigator in the study is Robert R. Henry, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at UC San Diego and chief of the Section of Endocrinology, Metabolism & Diabetes at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System.

Sanford Shattil, MD, Stepping Down as Hematology-Oncology Chief; Remains Fellowship Program Director

Announced August 21, 2014, by Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD, Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine

Sanford Shattil, MD

Sanford Shattil, MD

Please join the Department of Medicine in extending a sincere thank you to Sanford (Sandy) Shattil, MD, who will be stepping down as chief of the Division of Hematology-Oncology after ten years of service. He will be succeeded by Dr. Razelle Kurzrock.

Dr. Shattil will remain the director of the Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Training Program.

Dr. Shattil earned his Bachelor of Arts in psychology at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana in 1964 and went on to receive his medical degree from the University of Illinois, College of Medicine in Chicago in 1968.

Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD

Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD

He completed his residency in internal medicine on the Harvard Medical Service of the Boston City Hospital and a fellowship in hematology at Boston City Hospital’s storied Thorndike Memorial Laboratory.

After a stint in the U.S. Public Health Service in San Francisco, he moved to the University of Pennsylvania in 1973, where he rose through the ranks to become professor of medicine and chief of hematology-oncology.

Razelle Kurzrock, MD

Razelle Kurzrock, MD

In 1995 he moved to The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, and in 2004 he was recruited to become division chief and professor of medicine at UCSD.

During Dr. Shattil’s tenure as the chief of hematology-oncology at UCSD, he has overseen major growth in the patient care, research and educational missions of the division. His vision has been to foster the careers of faculty and fellows in the context of all aspects of the division’s multiple missions and to work with other leaders at the Moores Cancer Center in expanding clinical services in a patient-centric manner.

Dr. Shattil will remain the department’s director of the Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Training Program, a role in which he has served since 2008. He will also continue his long-standing NIH-supported research program into basic and translational aspects of integrin adhesion receptor function for which he is recognized internationally, and he will maintain his clinical hematology practice, both in the inpatient setting and at Moores.

Please join me in expressing our sincere appreciation to Dr. Sandy Shattil for bringing his talents and expertise to both the Division of Hematology-Oncology and the Department of Medicine. We look forward to his continued service.

In Memoriam: Daniel T. O’Connor, MD

Dr. Daniel T. O'Connor

Daniel T. O’Connor, MD

Announcement from Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD, Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine

Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD

Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Daniel T. O’Connor, MD, a longstanding and beloved member of the faculty of the UCSD School of Medicine. He passed away peacefully at his home on August 6, 2014.

Dr. O’Connor graduated from the UC Davis School of Medicine in 1974 and completed both residency and fellowship at UCSD. He joined the faculty in the Division of Nephrology-Hypertension in 1979, after a productive fellowship with Richard Stone, MD, that focused on the sympathetic nervous system in hypertension.  Dr. O’Connor developed an early interest in the proteins that package neurotransmitters, particularly Chromogranin A.  His work on this molecule led to numerous awards including election to the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), the Harry Goldblatt Award for cardiovascular Research, a UC Davis distinguished alumnus award, a UCSD Faculty Distinguished Lecturer Award, an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association award and presidency of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET)/ Federation of Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB).  His work with Chromogranin A led directly to a blood test for endocrine tumors that is still in use, particularly to diagnose pheochromocytoma.  He discovered that catestatin, a proteolytic product of Chromogranin A, is an important regulator of blood pressure.  Catestatin and congeners are currently in development for clinical use.  Dr. O’Connor’s laboratory was funded by large research grants from the National Institutes of Health, including SCOR in Hypertension and Program Project Grants on the role of adrenergic activity in the regulation of blood pressure.  He published well over 350 original articles in first-rate peer-reviewed journals. Dr. O’Connor’s research spanned basic biochemistry through clinical trials, giving his many trainees invaluable skills across the full spectrum of medical investigation. The fellows and junior faculty that Dr. O’Connor trained have succeeded in academic medicine, pharmacology, biotechnology, and nephrology.  His approach to research was notable for openness, sharing and collaboration with other labs, and this infectious attitude is carried on by his trainees.

Not only was Dr. O’Connor a highly productive researcher at UCSD and internationally, but also a highly involved faculty citizen at UCSD.  He was an excellent teacher involved in both basic science teaching of MDs and PhDs, and a popular and learned educator in the clinical arena.  He was widely recognized as the consummate teacher and always had time to provide needed information to fellows and junior faculty members.

UCSD has grown justifiably proud of Dr. O’Connor’s achievements in clinical, translational and basic research on a national and international scale, particularly in the areas of adrenergic contributions to blood pressure regulation and the complex role of the genetics of hypertension.   All who had the privilege of working with Dan O’Connor will greatly miss his infectious attitude that academic medicine and research are more fun than work.

 

 

Tumor Suppressor Mutations Alone Don’t Explain Deadly Cancer

Biomarker for head and neck cancers identified

Although mutations in a gene dubbed “the guardian of the genome” are widely recognized as being associated with more aggressive forms of cancer, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have found evidence suggesting that the deleterious health effects of the mutated gene may in large part be due to other genetic abnormalities, at least in squamous cell head and neck cancers. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Trey Ideker, PhD

Trey Ideker, PhD, professor and chief in the Division of Medical Genetics and professor of bioengineering, is one of the study’s co-senior authors.

Other Department of Medicine faculty authors include Hannah Carter, PhD, assistant professor; and Scott M. Lippman, MD, professor of medicine and director of the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

Hannah Carter, PhD Dr. Scott M. Lippman

New Division Chief and Vice Chief of Endocrinology and Metabolism

Announced July 28, 2014, by Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD, Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine

Dr. Nicholas Webster

Nicholas Webster, PhD

I am pleased to announce that an internal review committee has selected Dr. Nick Webster as the new chief of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism in the Department of Medicine. Dr. Nai-Wen Chi has been selected to serve as vice chief.

Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD

Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD

I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Nick Webster, who accepted the role of interim division chief after I stepped down in 2010. In leading the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism for the past four years, Dr. Webster has done an important service for the division and the department.

Nick Webster, PhD, professor of medicine, is Associate Director for Shared Resources at the Moores Cancer Center and holds a joint appointment as a Senior Research Career Scientist at the VA San Diego Healthcare System. He is a highly respected researcher and thought leader in the field of endocrinology and metabolism.

Dr. Webster earned his B.A. and M.A. from Cambridge University and his Ph.D. from Stanford University.  After a post-doctoral fellowship at the CNRS in Strasbourg, France, he joined the UCSD faculty in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism in 1989 and was promoted to Professor in 2006.

Dr. Webster has been very active in service to the University and the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System (VASDHS).  He has held a number of leadership positions at UCSD, including Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Facilities in the Office of Research Affairs, where his portfolio included oversight of the animal welfare program and university-wide shared resources.  Dr. Webster has served as chair of a number of university committees, including the Radiation Safety and Surveillance Committee, the Animal Program Oversight Committee, the Recruitment and Admission Committee for the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, the Shared Resources Oversight Committee, and the Research Space Committees at the VASDHS.

Over the past 25 years, Dr. Webster has maintained an active research program, which is broadly focused on the mechanisms of hormonal signal transduction and gene regulation in different developmental and disease contexts.  He actively participates in the Center for Reproductive Science and Medicine, the Diabetes Research Center, and the Center for Transdisciplinary Research in Energetics and Cancer.

Nai-Wen Chi, MD, PhD

Nai-Wen Chi, MD, PhD

The newly appointed vice chair of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Dr. Nai-Wen Chi, is a researcher and board-certified endocrinologist at the UCSD Medical Center and the VA. Dr. Chi earned his M.D. from National Taiwan University prior to receiving his Ph.D. from Harvard University, where he was mentored by Dr. Richard Kolodner in investigating the molecular machinery that maintains the yeast mitochondrial genome.  Dr. Chi then completed his medical residency and endocrine fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital.  During his postdoctoral fellowship at MIT, he was mentored by Dr. Harvey Lodish in identifying novel insulin-signaling molecules that regulate vesicular trafficking.

Dr. Chi joined the UCSD faculty in 2000 and has been the director of the Endocrine Fellowship since 2005.  His clinical interest focuses on dysnatremias while his research program takes biochemical and genetic approaches to investigate the pathophysiology of diabetes and obesity.

Please join me in giving your enthusiastic support to Drs. Nick Webster and Nai-Wen Chi in their new positions of leadership in the Department of Medicine.

Pepper and Halt: Spicy Chemical May Inhibit Gut Tumors

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that dietary capsaicin – the active ingredient in chili peppers – produces chronic activation of a receptor on cells lining the intestines of mice, triggering a reaction that ultimately reduces the risk of colorectal tumors.

The findings are published in the August 1, 2014 issue of The Journal of Clinical InvestigationRead the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Eyal Raz, MD

Eyal Raz, MD

Senior author of the study is Eyal Raz, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology.

Dr. Lars Eckmann

Lars Eckmann, MD

Department of Medicine faculty coauthors include Lars Eckmann, MD, right, professor of medicine, and Hui Dong, MD, PhD, associate professor, both in the Division of Gastroenterology; and Maripat Corr, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology.

Maripat Corr, MD

Maripat Corr, MD

Hannah Carter Receives NIH Early Independence Award

CTRI Helps Launch Career of Bioengineer Hannah Carter

November 22, 2013 – With support from UC San Diego’s Clinical and Translational Research Institute (CTRI), bioengineer Hannah Carter, PhD, received the highly prestigious NIH Early Independence Award and recently began began her transition to a junior faculty position at UC San Diego.

Presently she is acquiring a research team and computational resources to delve into her project: Network approaches to identify cancer drivers from high-dimensional tumor data. … Read the full story from CTRI News & Events


Hannah Carter, PhDHannah Carter, PhD, is assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Medical Genetics. Her project is Network Approaches to Identify Cancer Drivers from High-Dimensional Tumor Data.

She is now recruiting postdoctoral fellows for her project, which is funded for five years.

Carter Laboratory website

 

UC San Diego Health System Retains #1 Ranking

US News & World Report Cites Region’s Only Academic Health System Among Nation’s Best 

UC San Diego Health System remains among the nation’s best, according to the U.S. News & World Report’s 2014-15 issue of “America’s Best Hospitals,” released this week. The magazine’s widely cited findings again placed UC San Diego Health System first in the San Diego metropolitan area and fifth in California, with national rankings in 11 specialties, up from 10 last year. This is comparable to the country’s most prestigious health care institutions.  Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Sulpizio Cardiovascular CenterUC San Diego Health System is nationally ranked in eleven medical specialties, including seven in the Department of Medicine:  Cancer, Cardiology, Endocrinology & Diabetes, Gastroenterology, Geriatrics, Nephrology, Pulmonology and Rheumatology.