UC San Diego and GSK Collaborate to Eradicate Cancer Stem Cells, Treat Leukemia

First California institution selected to participate in GSK’s bench-to-bedside academia-industry collaboration program —

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center are working with GSK on a bench-to-bedside project to treat leukemia and other diseases by eliminating cancer stem cells. The collaboration is part of GSK’s Discovery Partnerships with Academia (DPAc) program, where academic partners become core members of drug-hunting teams. Catriona Jamieson, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Regenerative Medicine, will lead UC San Diego’s effort in the new DPAc team. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Leading Metabolics Researcher Joins UC San Diego School of Medicine

Alan Saltiel will head unified effort to create comprehensive diabetes center —

Alan R. Saltiel, PhD, whose studies of the hormone insulin have helped drive research of obesity, diabetes and other metabolic disorders across the nation, is joining University of California, San Diego School of Medicine as professor and director of a new Comprehensive Diabetes Center.

Saltiel, who most recently served as director of the Life Sciences Institute at University of Michigan, will bring together and expand UC San Diego’s diverse programs to better understand and treat diabetes and other metabolic disorders. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Dr. Saltiel joins the Department of Medicine as professor in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Protein’s Impact on Colorectal Cancer is Dappled

In early stages, it acts as tumor suppressor; later it can help spread disease —

Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered a cell signaling pathway that appears to exert some control over initiation and progression of colorectal cancer, the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. A key protein in the pathway also appears to be predictive of cancer survival rates. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Dr. Pradipta GhoshThe study’s senior author is Pradipta Ghosh, MD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology.

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.

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


Robert Naviaux, MD, PhD, is professor of medicine in the Division of Medical Genetics and professor in the departments of pediatrics and pathology.

He co-directs the Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disease Center at UC San Diego.

More about research in the Naviaux laboratory

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.