At the Nexus of Substance Abuse and HIV

UC San Diego Researcher Wins Major Award to Study New Treatments and Preventions —

Dan Werb, PhD, an internationally noted epidemiologist at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, has been named one of four inaugural recipients of the Avenir Award, a prestigious $1.5 million research grant from the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Jill P. Mesirov Appointed Associate Vice Chancellor for Computational Health Sciences

UC San Diego School of Medicine recruits world leader in computational biology —

Leading computational biologist Jill P. Mesirov, PhD, has been appointed associate vice chancellor for computational health sciences and professor of medicine at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center. Mesirov most recently served as associate director and chief informatics officer at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where she directed the Computational Biology and Bioinformatics Program. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Dr. Mesirov joins the Department of Medicine as a professor in the Division of Biomedical Informatics.

New Biomarkers Might Help Personalize Metastatic Colorectal Cancer Treatment

Low levels of two genes predicts positive response to chemotherapy and longer survival times —

Metastatic colorectal cancer patients tend to live longer when they respond to the first line of chemotherapy their doctors recommend. To better predict how patients will respond to chemotherapy drugs before they begin treatment, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine conducted a proof-of-principle study with a small group of metastatic colorectal cancer patients. The results, published June 17 in PLOS ONE, revealed two genes that could help physicians make more informed treatment decisions for patients with this disease. …Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Paul Fanta, MD, MS

Paul Fanta, MD, MS

Senior author of the study is Department of Medicine oncologist Paul Fanta, MD, MS, Health Sciences associate clinical professor in the Division of Hematology-Oncology. Dr. Fanta is a researcher in the Solid Tumor Therapeutics Program at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

Read the article in PLOS ONE (Open Access)

Dietary Trans Fat Linked to Worse Memory

Higher consumption of dietary trans fatty acids (dTFA), commonly used in processed foods to improve taste, texture and durability, has been linked to worsened memory function in men 45 years old and younger, according to a University of California, San Diego School of Medicine study published online on June 17 in PLOS ONE. …Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Principal investigator of the study is Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, PhD, professor in the Department of Medicine.

Medicine 401 Teaching Award Winners Announced

The winners of the 2015 Medicine 401 Teaching Awards were announced at an awards ceremony on May 27. Granted by the third-year medical students each year, the awards go to residents and attending physicians for their excellence in teaching on the wards at the Veterans Administration San Diego Healthcare System and the UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest.

The winners:

VA Wards Resident Award: Dr. Tyler Woodell
Hillcrest Wards Resident Award: Dr. Michelle Pearlman

VA Wards Attending Award: Dr. Mara Zulauf
Hillcrest Wards Attending Award: Dr. Darcy Wooten

“There were many kind words of praise and admiration in the comments from the students who worked with Drs. Pearlman and Woodell,” said residency program director Simerjot Jassal, MD. “Congratulations to these outstanding doctors!”

The medical students’ comments included the following.

Dr. Michelle Pearlman

Dr. Michelle Pearlman

Of Michelle Pearlman, MD: … Really focused on teaching … worked hard during the rotation to make sure we were achieving our own goals and learning as much as possible … gave excellent feedback … made great teaching points during rounds … great example of professionalism … will make an excellent teacher … great role model … clear and detailed expectations … we knew exactly what to work on and how to succeed … one of the best residents with whom I have worked … gave frequent feedback enabling me to improve daily … strong leadership skills, a positive attitude, and a great work ethic … will make an amazing GI fellow and attending.

Dr. Pearlman has matched to a fellowship program in gastroenterology at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Dr. Tyler Woodell

Dr. Tyler Woodell

Of Tyler Woodell, MD: Always made it a priority to have a teaching point every day … always willing to make sure all of our questions were answered and that we were engaged in patient care … went out of his way to make sure we had a good learning experience … an exceptional model physician who I would recommend to any student as a preceptor and any patient as a doctor … focused on making sure that we learned as much as possible … carved out time to talk through our assessment and plans with us … took time on rounds to talk through key issues with us …both a fantastic role model for compassionate patient care and bedside manner as well as an engaging teacher … clearly loved to teach … not only an outstanding teacher, but also very compassionate with patients.

Dr. Woodell has matched to a fellowship program in nephrology at Oregon Health & Science University.

Drs. Joachim Ix, Davey Smith Elected to American Society for Clinical Investigation

Two Department of Medicine physician-scientists have been elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) this year.

Dr. Joachim Ix

Dr. Joachim Ix

Joachim H. Ix, MD, MAS, FASN, a nephrologist and epidemiologist, is professor and chief of the Division of Nephrology-Hypertension. He holds a secondary appointment in the Division of Preventive Medicine, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine.

Dr. Davey Smith

Dr. Davey Smith

Translational research virologist Davey M. Smith, MD, MAS, professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases, directs the Center for AIDS Research Translational Virology Core and is medical director of the Early Intervention Program at the UC San Diego Antiviral Research Center.

ASCI membership is a distinction that recognizes the nation’s most outstanding physician-scientists.

Clinical Trial Launched to Assess Safety and Efficacy of Autism Drug Treatment

UC San Diego researchers open first study of suramin in children with autism —

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have launched a clinical trial to investigate the safety and efficacy of an unprecedented drug therapy for autism.

The phase 1 clinical trial, which is recruiting 20 qualifying participants, will evaluate suramin – a century-old drug still used for African sleeping sickness – as a novel treatment for children with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Previous published research by Robert K. Naviaux, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, pediatrics and pathology at UC San Diego School of Medicine, and colleagues reported that a single injection of suramin reversed symptoms of ASD in mouse models. …Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Senior author Robert K. Naviaux, MD, PhD, is professor of medicine in the Division of Medical Genetics. He co-directs the Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disease Center at UC San Diego.

Visit the Naviaux Laboratory website

Researchers Boost Body’s Inflammation-Reduction Mechanism to Combat Obesity-Fueled Disease

Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and University College Dublin (UCD) have found that augmenting a naturally occurring molecule in the body can help protect against obesity-related diseases by reducing inflammation in the fat tissues. The study, published June 4 in the journal Cell Metabolism, focused on liver and kidney diseases, but the researchers believe it could lead to a new therapeutic approach for a variety of obesity-fueled conditions.

“This is a new way of reducing inflammation and protecting organs, using a compound that’s already produced by the body,” said co-senior author Kumar Sharma, MD, a professor of medicine and director of the Center for Renal Translational Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “Essentially, we’re boosting the body’s natural response for reducing inflammation and showing the benefit in obesity-driven diseases.” … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Internal Medicine Resident Drs. Noel Lee, Satya (Nanu) Das and Michele Pham Present Research at Medicine Grand Rounds

Three internal medicine residents who were among six winners at the First Annual Internal Medicine Residency Program Research Symposium on May 7 will present their research at Medicine Grand Rounds June 10:

Noel Lee, MD – The Prevalence of Coronary Artery-Pulmonary Artery Collaterals in Patients with Chronic Thromboembolic Pulmonary Hypertension

Satya (Nanu) Das, MD – The Role for Cell Free Circulating DNA in Detecting Secondary EGFR Mutations in Advanced Stage Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Patients

Michele Pham, MD – Decreased BDNF in Aspirin Exacerbated Respiratory Disease

Internal Medicine Resident Drs. Julie Chen and Darrin Wong Present Research at Department of Medicine Grand Rounds

Drs. Darrin Wong and Julie Chen at Medicine Grand Rounds.

Drs. Darrin Wong and Julie Chen at Medicine Grand Rounds.

On June 3, 2015, Drs. Julie Chen and Darrin Wong presented their research at Department of Medicine Grand Rounds.

The subject of Dr. Chen’s research was “Failure to Adjust Diabetes Medications at Discharge for Hospitalized Patients with Poorly Controlled Diabetes.”

Dr. Chen worked with members of the faculty in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, including Drs. Robert El-Kareh and Kristen Kulasa as well as Dr. Pedro Ramos from the Division of Hospital Medicine.

Dr. Wong presented his research on the topic, “Right Ventricular Dyssynchrony in CTEPH.” He worked with Dr. Daniel Blanchard from the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine.

Dr. Wong presenting background information about echocardiography.

Dr. Wong presenting background information about echocardiography.

Drs. Chen and Wong won their places at Medicine Grand Rounds when they were chosen for their admirable research achievements at the UC San Diego Annual Internal Medicine Resident Research Symposium on May 7.

The other research symposium winners were Drs. Satya Das, Noel Lee, Michele Pham and Kevin Shah. Drs. Das, Lee, and Pham will present their research at Medicine Grand Rounds on June 10.

Dr. Shah presented his research, along with fellow resident Dr. Nick Marston, on the topic, “Serial Sampling of Copeptin Levels Improves Diagnosis and Risk Stratification in Patients Presenting with Chest Pain: Results from the CHOPIN Trial” last June.

2015 Resident Research Symposium Winners

Research winners at last month’s Annual Internal Medicine Resident Research Symposium. Left to right: Drs. Shah, Lee, Das, Chen, Pham and Wong.