UC San Diego Part of New Effort to Fight Autoimmune Disorders

Major multi-year partnership will focus first on rheumatoid arthritis and lupus

The Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine has been named a key site in a national, multi-institution, multi-year $41.6 million program to speed drug discovery, development, diagnostics and therapies for patients with autoimmune disorders, primarily rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and lupus erythematosus, which affect millions of Americans. …Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Dr. Karl Hostetler on Discovery and Development of Brincidofovir (DNA Viruses) and 1968(HPV 16&18) October 1

Dr. Karl HostetlerDr. Karl Hostetler presents on the topic, “Discovery and Development of Brincidofovir (DNA Viruses) and 1968 (HPV 16&18)” at Medicine Grand Rounds on October 1.

Karl Hostetler, MD, is emeritus professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at UC San Diego.

San Diego’s 2014 Top Doctors List Includes 41 from Department of Medicine

Forty-one physicians from the Department of Medicine are among 101 UC San Diego Health System doctors named to the 2014 San Diego Top Doctors list. See the full list for UC San Diego Health System.

The Top Doctors list comes from the annual “Physicians of Exceptional Excellence” survey from the San Diego County Medical Society and San Diego Magazine.

Read the UC San Diego Health System press release

Dr. Alina Popa on “Teaching Tools for Medical Education” at Medicine Grand Rounds September 24

Alina Popa, MDAlina Popa, MD, speaks on the topic, “Teaching Tools for Medical Education” at Medicine Grand Rounds on September 24.

Dr. Popa is Health Sciences associate clinical professor in the Division of Hospital Medicine at UC San Diego.

Novel Drug Targeting Leukemia Cells Enters Clinical Trial

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have launched a phase 1 human clinical trial to assess the safety and efficacy of a new monoclonal antibody for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the most common form of blood cancer in adults. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


A team led by Dr. Thomas Kipps developed the new antibody, known as cirmtuzumab or UC-961. The work was conducted and supported by a California Institute for Regenerative Medicine HALT grant to co-principal investigators Dennis Carson, MD, and Catriona Jamieson, PhD, MD.

Dr. Thomas Kipps

Catriona H. M. Jamieson, MD, PhDDennis Carson, MD

L to R: Drs. Kipps, Jamieson and Carson.

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.