Inaugural Chiba-UCSD Mucosal Immunology and Immunization Symposium to Be Held Here February 21-22

Chiba University and UC San Diego, collaborators in the new Program in Mucosal Immunology, Allergy and Vaccine Development based at UC San Diego, are hosting the inaugural Symposium in Mucosal Immunology and Immunization on February 21-22, 2017, at UC San Diego.

The abstract submission deadline is February 17.

Register for the Symposium Here

Dr. Peter Ernst

Dr. Peter Ernst

Co-Directors of the program are Peter Ernst, DVM, PhD, Professor of Pathology and Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine, and Hiroshi Kiyono, DDS, PhD, Professor, University of Tokyo and Chiba University.

Dr. Ernst is Director of the Center for Veterinary Sciences and Comparative Medicine.

The Chiba University – UC San Diego collaboration is co-sponsored by the International Immunological Memory and Vaccine Forum (IIMVF) and complements the recently-created UC San Diego-La Jolla Institute Immunology Program.

The international initiative was first announced by UC San Diego in May 2016.

Unexpected Activity of Two Enzymes Helps Explain Why Liver Cancer Drugs Fail

Overturning previous assumptions, study also provides new, more realistic model for liver cancer research and drug development —

Some cancers are caused by loss of enzymes that should keep cell growth in check. On the flip side, some are caused by over-activation of enzymes that enhance cell growth. Yet drugs that inhibit the overactive enzymes have failed to work against liver cancer. In mouse models, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have discovered a potential reason — counterintuitively, lack of both types of these enzymes can lead to liver disease and cancer. In human liver tumor samples, they also found that deficiencies in these two enzymes, called Shp2 and Pten, are associated with poor prognosis.

The study, published December 13 by Cell Reports, provides a new understanding of how liver cancer develops, a new therapeutic approach and new mouse model for studying the disease. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Rohit Loomba, MD

Rohit Loomba, MD

The study team includes Rohit Loomba, MD, MHSc, Director of the NAFLD Research Center and Director of Hepatology in the Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine at UC San Diego. Dr. Loomba is Professor of Medicine (with tenure) and Vice Chief, Division of Gastroenterology.

Dr. Loomba is also Adjunct Professor, Division of Epidemiology, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health.

Protein That Protects During Stress Sheds Light on How Diabetes Drug Prevents Tumors

Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have identified a previously unknown mechanism that helps fortify the structure and tight junctions between epithelial cells — a basic cell type that lines various body cavities and organs throughout the body, forming a protective barrier against toxins, pathogens and inflammatory triggers. Breaches of this barrier can provoke organ dysfunction and development of tumors.

The findings, published online in the current issue of eLife by senior author Pradipta Ghosh, MD … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Dr. Pradipta Ghosh

Pradipta Ghosh, MD

Pradipta Ghosh, MD, MBBS, is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology.

She is a graduate of the UC San Diego Internal Medicine Residency Training Program, the Gastroenterology Fellowship Training Program and the Department of Medicine Physician-Scientist Training Program.

Study Finds Psoriasis Drug Significantly Effective in Treating Crohn’s Disease

Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have shown that ustekinumab, a human antibody used to treat arthritis, significantly induces response and remission in patients with moderate to severe Crohn’s disease. Results of the clinical trial will appear in the November 16 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

“A high percentage of the patients in the study who had not responded to conventional therapies were in clinical remission after only a single dose of intravenous ustekinumab,” said William J. Sandborn, MD, professor of medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine and director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at UC San Diego Health. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Dr. William Sandborn

William J. Sandborn, MD

William A. Sandborn, MD, is chief of the Division of Gastroenterology in the Department of Medicine.

2016 Update: A Lasting Solution for Healthcare in Mozambique

Mozambique highlighted on a map of Africa There is a critical shortage of practicing doctors and medical educators in Mozambique, where the life expectancy is less than 42 years and the rate of HIV infection in adults is 16%. UC San Diego is teaming with the nation’s flagship medical school to create a long-term solution.

Mozambique’s Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) and UCSD have won a five-year, $12.5-million award from the U.S. Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI). The project will strengthen the nation’s medical education system by building infrastructure in several ways.


“We hope this will be a demonstration project for the rest of Africa.”
— Dr. Robert Schooley


Dr. Emilia Virginia Noormahomed, a co-investigator on the UCSD-UEM MEPI project.UEM’s principal investigator is Emilia Virginia Noormahomed, MD, PhD, a former dean of the UEM School of Medicine. Dr. Noormahomed (pictured at left) is now Assistant Professor of Parasitology at UEM and Assistant Professor of Medicine at UC San Diego.

Sam Patel, MD, Professor of Medicine at UEM and UC San Diego, is a co-investigator. In the photo below, he is pictured on the right.

View photo captions and credits

Dr. Bill Detmer, at left, demonstrates iPad mobile digital device preloaded with medical programs for doctors’ use in the hospital. Dr. Manuel Joaquim Tomás is at center and Dr. Sam Patel at right. Sam Patel, M.D., co-investigator on the MEPI project, is Professor of Medicine at UEM and UCSD. Bill Detmer, M.D., M.Sc., a MEPI project consultant, is Assistant Adjunct Professor of Clinical Informatics at the University of Virginia and President and Chief Executive Officer of Unbound Medicine.

MEPI is a joint initiative of the National Institutes of Health and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Under the MEPI program, UEM receives the bulk of the funding and uses it to build capacity in medical training, research, and technology.

A smaller amount of funding comes directly to UC San Diego, supporting time and travel for the partners and mentors who will help UEM meet its goals.

M. Wilson Tilghman, M.D., UCSD’s on-site faculty member in Mozambique, consults with a UEM internal medicine resident at a patient’s bedside. Instituting the use of wirelessly-accessed medical reference material in the hospital is one of the UCSD-UEM project goals.“This is an experiment in medical education for UEM and for the U.S. government,” said Robert “Chip” Schooley, MD, who is coordinating the UC San Diego side of the project. “It puts the funding into the hands of the African universities and allows them to invest it in ways that are beneficial to them.”

Dr. Schooley is Professor and Academic Affairs Vice Chair in the Department of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases.

“I’m hopeful this will become a model for other kinds of aid,” he said.

Dr. Schooley and colleague Constance Benson, MD, have long experience in partnering with Mozambique and other African nations, and they have collaborated with Dr. Noormahomed in research projects for several years. Dr. Benson is Professor of Medicine, Director of the UC San Diego Antiviral Research Center, and Director of the Fellowship Program in Infectious Diseases.

The UEM-UCSD MEPI project expands some of the educational efforts that have been going on since July 2009 in the Internal Medicine Residency Program’s Global Medicine elective.

UC San Diego’s visiting faculty and residents have helped UEM adopt academic medical practices such as morning report and teaching conferences that strengthen the educational program.

MEPI biomedical informatics team members at October conference at UEM in Maputo.

MEPI biomedical informatics team members at October conference at UEM in Maputo.

The MEPI partnership relies heavily on biomedical informatics to accomplish its goals. This component of the program is led by Lucila Ohno-Machado, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Chief of UC San Diego’s Division of Biomedical Informatics. The division will provide expertise for the partnership’s information technology projects.

Dr. Kathy Promer, a 2013 graduate of the UC San Diego Internal Medicine Program, is the current infectious diseases fellow at UC San Diego on rotation at UEM’s Maputo Central Hospital. In the photo below, she is standing, second from the right.

Dr. Kathy Promer (standing, second from the right), 2013 Graduate of the UCSD Internal Medicine Program and current infectious diseases fellow at UCSD on rotation at UEM’s Maputo Central Hospital.

Smartphones and iPad mobile digital devices have been deployed on the wards at Maputo Central Hospital, UEM’s primary teaching hospital and the only tertiary care center in Mozambique. With these devices, the Mozambican doctors are able for the first time to consult online medical literature at a patient’s bedside. Soon they will have immediate access to data generated by the hospital’s clinical laboratories.

“These efforts really have changed the character of the residency program at Maputo Central Hospital,” said Dr. Schooley.

Through training and partnership with UC San Diego, UEM will also increase its capacity to do operational, epidemiological, translational and clinical research. Another program goal calls for UEM to set up a biomedical informatics infrastructure and connect with SEACOM, the new fiber optic broadband internet service in South and East Africa.

Students in UEM medical school class.UEM will also take steps to enhance its support of two new medical schools recently established by the Mozambican government in Nampula and Tete. These two new medical schools were launched in the past 3 years to address the profound shortage of physicians in the country.

Another key UC San Diego figure in the project is Stephen Bickler, MD, who will work to improve the nation’s surgical capacity in rural areas via a linked MEPI project, “UEM-UCSD Surgery Partnership.” Dr. Bickler is Associate Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics.

A number of other UC San Diego faculty members will contribute to the MEPI effort as well.

Medical school class   UCSD internal medicine resident Dr. Bethany Karl

Above left, a medical school class at Universidade Eduardo Mondlane. Right, Dr. Bethany Karl on rotation at UEM’s Maputo Central Hospital. Dr. Karl graduated from the UC San Diego Internal Medicine Program in 2010 and is currently a nephrology attending. Photo courtesy of Robert T. Schooley, MD

Project leaders expect to double the number of graduating doctors in Mozambique in the next 10 years. They also hope to inspire more doctors to devote their careers to medical education.

With a greater number of highly-trained doctors and a better infrastructure to support them, Mozambique will increase its capacity to deliver health care to its citizens and to fill the faculties of two new medical schools in Nampula and Tete.

The doctors training today in Mozambique will be the specialists, medical school faculty members, and government Ministry of Health policymakers of the future.

“We hope this will be a demonstration project for the rest of Africa,” Dr. Schooley said.

Read the UC San Diego News press release about our MEPI project.

Read about the project in “The Great Beyond,” Nature magazine’s blog
for breaking news in the sciences.


Photo Captions and Credits:

Dr. Emilia Virginia Noormahomed, co-principal investigator on the UCSD-UEM MEPI project.Dr. Emilia Virginia Noormahomed, co-principal investigator on the UC San Diego-UEM MEPI project. Photo courtesy of William M. Detmer, MD, MSc.

Drs. Detmer, Tomás, and PatelDr. Bill Detmer, left, demonstrates iPad mobile digital device preloaded with medical programs for doctors’ use in the hospital. Dr. Manuel Joaquim Tomás is at center and Dr. Sam Patel at right. Sam Patel, MD, co-investigator on the MEPI project, is Professor of Medicine at UEM and UC San Diego. William M. Detmer, MD, MSc, a MEPI project consultant, is Assistant Adjunct Professor of Clinical Informatics at the University of Virginia and President and Chief Executive Officer of Unbound Medicine. Photo courtesy of Dr. Detmer.

Dr. Tilghman and Mozambican residentM. Wilson Tilghman, MD, UC San Diego’s on-site faculty member in Mozambique, consults with a UEM internal medicine resident at a patient’s bedside. Instituting the use of wirelessly-accessed medical reference material in the hospital is one of the UC San Diego-UEM project goals. Photo courtesy of Robert T. Schooley, MD.

MEPI biomedical informatics team members at October conference at UEM in Maputo. MEPI biomedical informatics team members at October conference at UEM in Maputo. From left: Lucila Ohno-Machado, MD, PhD; Eli Aronoff-Spencer, MD, senior postdoctoral fellow in infectious diseases at UC San Diego; Eng. David Bila, Network Director for the Informatics Center at UEM; Heimar de Fátima Marin, RN, PhD, Professor of Health Informatics at Universidade Federal de São Paulo; and Eng. Francisco Mabila, Director of the Informatics Center at UEM. Photo courtesy of William M. Detmer, MD, MSc.

Dr. Kathy Promer (standing, second from the right), is a 2013 graduate of the UC San Diego Internal Medicine Program and is the current infectious diseases fellow at UC San Diego on rotation at UEM’s Maputo Central Hospital.

Students in a medical school class at UEM.Students in a medical school class at UEM. Photo courtesy of William M. Detmer, MD, MSc.

A medical school class at UEM.A medical school class at UEM. Photo courtesy of William M. Detmer, MD, MSc.

UCSD internal medicine resident Dr. Bethany Karl on rotation at UEM’s Maputo Central Hospital.UC San Diego internal medicine resident Dr. Bethany Karl on rotation at UEM’s Maputo Central Hospital. Photo courtesy of Robert T. Schooley, MD.

Trademark Credit Notices:

iPad is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

Drs. John Chang, William Sandborn and Kim Barrett Honored by American Gastroenterological Association at DDW 2016

Drs. John T. Chang, William J. Sandborn and Kim E. Barrett have received high honors at Digestive Diseases Week® 2016, the annual joint meeting of the American Gastroenterological Association and other gastroenterology and hepatology societies.

John T. Chang, MD

John T. Chang, MD

John T. Chang, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology, was honored with the AGA Young Investigator Award in Basic Science.  |  Read AGA Press Release

The award recognizes Dr. Chang for his originality and innovative insight into basic mechanisms underlying lymphocyte fate specification in systemic and mucosal immune responses.

Dr. Chang is currently exploring whether pharmacologic modulation of proteasome activity might be a useful strategy for improving memory cell generation, highly relevant for mucosal vaccine development.  |  Visit the Chang Laboratory

Dr. William Sandborn

William J. Sandborn, MD

William J. Sandborn, MD, AGAF, received the 2016 AGA Institute Council Immunology, Microbiology & Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IMIBD) Section Research Mentor Award.

Dr. Sandborn is Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology at UC San Diego.

The AGA Institute Council Intestinal Disorders Section Research Mentor Award went to Kim E. Barrett, PhD, AGAF, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Dean of Graduate Studies at UC San Diego.

Kim E. Barrett, PhD

Kim E. Barrett, PhD

The AGA gave its highest honor, the Julius Friedenwald Award, to C. Richard Boland, MD, AGAF, a past leader of the UC San Diego Division of Gastroenterology.

Dr. Boland was Chief of Gastroenterology at UC San Diego from 1995 to 2003.  |  Read the AGA Press Release

Dr. Boland, now at the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, TX, received the award for his lifelong contributions to the field of gastroenterology and the AGA.

The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD), American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) and the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract (SSAT) are other sponsoring societies in DDW.

Novel Imaging Model Helps Reveal New Therapeutic Target for Pancreatic Cancer

Antisense treatment in preclinical models shows effectiveness against deadly tumors —

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, the most common of pancreatic cancers, is extraordinarily lethal, with a 5-year survival rate of just 6 percent. Chemotherapy treatments are poorly effective, in part due to a high degree of drug-resistance to currently used regimens.

In a new study, published online June 6 in Nature, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center, together with colleagues at Keio University, the University of Nebraska and Ionis Pharmaceuticals describe an innovative new model that not only allowed them to track drug resistance in vivo, but also revealed a new therapeutic target … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Tannishtha Reya, PhD, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and Professor of Pharmacology, was co-principal investigator of the project.

Dr. Frederick D. Park

Dr. Frederick D. Park

Another Department of Medicine coauthor was Frederick D. Park, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Division of Gastroenterology.

Two Research Award-Winning Medical Residents to Present Grand Rounds This Week

Drs. Trisha Sharma and Ahnika Kline, two internal medicine residents who won research awards for their posters at this year’s UC San Diego Internal Medicine Residency Program Research Symposium, will present their work at Medicine Grand Rounds on June 1.

Trisha Sharma, MD

R2 Trisha Sharma, MD, left, will present on “Gastrointestinal Manifestations of Common Variable Immunodeficiency Disorder.”

Ahnika Kline, MD, PhDDr. Sharma received her MD degree from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

R3 Ahnika Kline, MD, PhD, right, will present “Quality Improvement in Internal Medicine: A Test Case of Hepatitis C.” In 2016-2017, Dr. Kline will be VA Chief Resident in Quality and Safety. She received her MD degree from UC San Francisco.

A Triple Play for Gastroenterology at UC San Diego

Division of Gastroenterology physician-scientists John T. Chang, MD, Pradipta Ghosh, MD, and Bernd Schnabl, MD, all were inducted into the American Society for Clinical Investigation on April 15, 2016.

To become a member of the ASCI, one of North America’s oldest and most respected medical honor societies, outstanding young investigators must be nominated and their nominations reviewed, ranked and scored in a process that selects less than 80 scientists from all areas of medicine each year.

“To have three young investigators from a single institution receive this honor in a single year is remarkable,” said William Sandborn, MD, Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology.

Said Sheila E. Crowe, MD, Director of Research in Gastroenterology, “This is indeed an exceptional achievement for John, Pradipta and Bernd as individuals, and they bring great honor to the Division collectively.”

The three honorees are Associate Professors of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology.

Chang-John_120x150

John T. Chang, MD

John T. Chang, MD, investigates fundamental mechanisms underlying lymphocyte fate specification in systemic and mucosal immune responses. This research theme has important relevance to human health and disease, particularly vaccine design for infectious diseases that affect the gastrointestinal tract and in developing new therapeutic approaches for inflammatory bowel disease.

Dr. Chang is principal investigator of several active research grants, including two NIH R01 grants, an NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, and a Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America Senior Research Award. These grants fund Dr. Chang’s research to elucidate mechanisms by which regulators of polarity and asymmetric division influence T lymphocyte fate specification and function during microbial infection; the process by which T lymphocytes develop into pathogenic cells that cause intestinal inflammation; and identifying new approaches that enhance the function of regulatory T cells for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.

He is also a past recipient of a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Physician-Scientist Early Career Award and a V Foundation V Scholar Award. The latter has supported his work on the role of the cellular degradation machinery in cancer stem cell homeostasis.

Dr. Chang earned his MD from Temple University. He took two years off during medical school as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute-National Institutes of Health Research Scholar to pursue research training. Dr. Chang completed his internship/residency and gastroenterology fellowship training, along with four years of postdoctoral research in immunology, at the University of Pennsylvania. He joined the UC San Diego Division of Gastroenterology faculty in 2009.

Dr. Pradipta Ghosh

Pradipta Ghosh, MD

Pradipta Ghosh, MD, investigates the cell biology of signal transduction to find new ways to understand and block the development and spread of cancer and other diseases. Dr. Ghosh’s work has established a new paradigm in signal transduction by characterizing a new family of proteins which allow diverse receptors to transactivate heterotrimeric G-proteins. She unraveled the molecular mechanisms that govern such activation and established its unique spatiotemporal features. Finally, she demonstrated the relevance of this paradigm to modern medicine by defining the therapeutic potential of key signaling interfaces in diverse pathophysiologic states including diabetes, organ fibrosis, and cancer.

Her research funding includes three NIH R01 research grants, among them two five-year National Cancer Institute research grants that support her projects, “Modulation of G Proteins by Growth Factors” and “Spatial Regulation of G Protein Signaling.”

Among her scholarly awards are an American Gastroenterology Association Research Scholar Award in 2008, a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award for Medical Scientists in 2009, and a Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) Clinical Scientist Development Award in 2010.

Dr. Ghosh joined the Division of Gastroenterology faculty as assistant professor of medicine in 2008. She is a graduate of the UC San Diego Internal Medicine Residency Training Program, the Gastroenterology Fellowship Training Program and the Department of Medicine Physician-Scientist Training Program. She earned her MBBS in medicine at Christian Medical College and Hospital, India.

Bernd Schnabl, MD, PhD

Bernd Schnabl, MD

Bernd Schnabl, MD, focuses his research on liver disease. In studies funded by an NIH R01 grant, a NIH U01 cooperative agreement, a VA Merit Award, and industry grants, he is examining the relationship between liver disease and the intestinal microbiota.

He seeks to understand mechanisms by which the intestinal microbiome, metagenome and metabolome promote the development of chronic liver diseases. The goals of his investigations include the identification of new therapeutic targets for patients with liver disease.

Dr. Schnabl’s past honors and awards include an NIH K08 Career Development Award from the NIH/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and an American Gastroenterological Association/Astra Zeneca Faculty Transition Award. The K08 award supported his project, “Blocking Toll-Like Receptor 4 Signaling as Therapy in Hepatic Fibrosis.” He is currently Associate Editor of Digestive Disease and Sciences, the oldest continuously published gastroenterology journal in North America.

After he received his medical degree from the University of Freiburg in Germany, Dr. Schnabl spent three years in postdoctoral research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He completed his medical residency at the University Hospital in Regensburg/Germany and his gastroenterology fellowship training at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City.

He joined the UC San Diego Division of Gastroenterology in 2008.

The ASCI new member induction ceremony took place on Friday, April 15, at the 2016 Joint Meeting of the Association of American Physicians, the ASCI, and the American Physician-Scientists Association in Chicago.

Diabetes Drug Found No Better Than Placebo at Treating NAFLD

But randomized, double-blind clinical trial suggests better way to conduct future trials —

A diabetes medication described in some studies as an effective treatment for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) works no better than a placebo, report researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, after conducting the first randomized, double-blind, controlled clinical trial of sitagliptin, an oral antihyperglycemic marketed by Merck & Co. under the name Januvia.

Writing in the Journal of Hepatology, a multidisciplinary team headed by study senior author Rohit Loomba, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and director of the NAFLD Translational Research Unit at UC San Diego School of Medicine … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom