Novel Phage Therapy Saves Patient with Multidrug-Resistant Bacterial Infection

Intravenous viruses are used to target deadly bacterium; dramatic case suggests potential alternative to failing antibiotics —

Scientists and physicians at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, working with colleagues at the U.S. Navy Medical Research Center – Biological Defense Research Directorate (NMRC-BDRD), Texas A&M University, a San Diego-based biotech and elsewhere, have successfully used an experimental therapy involving bacteriophages — viruses that target and consume specific strains of bacteria — to treat a patient near death from a multidrug-resistant bacterium. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Health Newsroom

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.

CIRM Approves New Funding to UC San Diego Researchers Fighting Zika Virus and Cancer

Grants focus on re-purposing drugs to treat Zika infections and using anti-cancer natural killer cells —

The Independent Citizens Oversight Committee of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has approved a pair of $2 million awards to University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers to advance studies of new treatments for Zika virus infections and the use of stem cell-derived natural killer (NK) cells to target ovarian cancer and other malignancies. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Dr. Dan Kaufman and his laboratory received one of the two $2.1 million CIRM grants. The normal immune system contains natural killer (NK) cells; Dr. Kaufman and coworkers are using induced human pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to produce NK cells that can target specific tumors, such as ovarian cancer, with high specificity.

Dan Kaufman, MD, PhD, is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Regenerative Medicine and Director of Cell Therapy at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Active Genetics Goes Global

Tata Trusts & University of California San Diego partner to establish Tata Institute for Active Genetics and Society (TIAGS) —

UC San Diego has received a $70 million commitment from the India-based philanthropic Tata Trusts, which includes the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, the Sir Ratan Tata Trust and the Tata Education and Development Trust, to establish the Tata Institute for Active Genetics and Society (TIAGS), a collaborative partnership between the university and research operations in India. UC San Diego, which will be home to the lead unit of the institute (TIAGS-UC San Diego), will receive $35 million in funding, while the remainder of the committed funds is anticipated to support a complementary research enterprise in India (TIAGS-India). … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Anita Raj, PhD

Anita Raj, PhD

Anita Raj, PhD, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Global Public Health, is one of the UC San Diego researchers who will contribute to the TIAGS.

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.

UC San Diego Students Design Low-Cost HIV Viral Load Monitoring System for Tijuana, Mexico

A group of students from the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California San Diego will spend the summer trying to curb the HIV epidemic in Tijuana, Mexico.

Two teams from UC San Diego’s Engineering World Health (EWH) student organization and Global TIES program are combining forces this summer to bring a device they created to monitor viral load in HIV patients to a clinical setting in Tijuana, Mexico for testing. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


UC San Diego Health Department of Medicine physicians Davey Smith and Matt Strain are advising both teams of students.

Dr. Davey Smith

Dr. Davey Smith

Davey Smith, MD, MAS, is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases. He co-directs the UC San Diego Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) and directs the CFAR’s Translational Virology Core.

Matt Strain, MD, is Assistant Professor of Medicine and physician in the Genomics and Sequencing Core at the UC San Diego CFAR.

How Decriminalizing Drugs Might Affect the Spread of HIV in Tijuana

Richard Branson and experts debate the losing war on drugs — and its victims — at UC San Diego event —

As the 1960s came to a close, Richard Nixon famously declared a “war on drugs.” They were “public enemy number one,” the president said. Their menace demanded a full-throated federal effort of interdiction, eradication and incarceration.

The goal: No more illegal drugs. Period.

The reality: The war still rages. There are now more illegal drugs produced and consumed than ever.

If the war on drugs were one of his businesses, said Sir Richard Branson, the renowned British magnate, philanthropist and activist, it would have been shut down within a year. “It hasn’t worked at all, ever, but governments continue to ignore the facts, creating untold misery. Drug use isn’t a criminal problem. It’s a health problem.”
Image

Branson, who has become a major voice in the global drug policy debate, visited UC San Diego last week to participate in a panel discussion on global drug decriminalization and Tijuana’s HIV/AIDS epidemic, which is fueled in part by widespread drug use, notably the sharing of needles to inject black tar heroin. … Read the Full Feature Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Steffanie Strathdee, PhD

Steffanie Strathdee, PhD

The UC San Diego Global Health Institute (GHI) was a co-sponsor of the event. GHI Director Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, was moderator and host of the event.

Dr. Strathdee is Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences, Harold Simon Professor and Chief of the Division of Global Public Health in the Department of Medicine.

Building a Defense Against Zika

UC San Diego researchers leading efforts to find turning point to virus —

On April 18, 1947, a monkey in Uganda’s Zika Forest fell ill with a fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit, 4 degrees higher than normal. “Rhesus No. 766” was part of a yellow fever virus study. Scientists took a blood sample. They conducted tests. The rhesus monkey had been stricken by something unknown. In time, the revealed virus would be named after the place where it was first discovered.

But for decades to follow, the Zika virus would garner only sporadic and limited scientific attention. It was determined that the virus could infect humans, but symptoms—if there were any—appeared to be mild (fever, joint pain, rash) and passing. Zika wasn’t deemed a significant human health threat until a major outbreak occurred in the Yap Islands north of Australia in 2007, followed by another in French Polynesia in 2013. For the first time, the Zika virus was associated with serious symptoms, including life-threatening neurological disorders. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Altman Clinical and Translational Research Building Makes Its Debut

New structure will be campus hub for advancing basic science to clinical applications —

Rising above Interstate 5 on the east campus of UC San Diego, the Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute Building (ACTRI) officially opened its doors Friday in a ribbon-cutting ceremony under blue skies.

The new seven-story building of steel, glass and grooved concrete is home to the Clinical and Translational Research Institute (CTRI) at UC San Diego, established in 2010 as part of a national consortium of 60 medical research institutions created to energize bench-to-bedside efforts. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Moments of Acute Stress Can Cause Molecular Alterations in Immune Response

Findings come from study that involved participants jumping out of planes —

Chronic psychosocial and emotional stress has well-documented negative effects upon the human immune system, measurably increasing the risk of disease. Much less is known about the health effects of acute but transitory episodes of stress, such as jumping out of an airplane. Do these panic-inducing moments also raise the risk of stress-related conditions and disorders, such as cardiovascular disease, sleep dysfunction, impaired wound healing, depression and obesity?

A team of researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, Stony Brook University in New York and elsewhere addressed that question by asking study participants to literally jump out of a plane, taking blood samples before and after to measure key immune response indicators.

Their findings are published in the March 4 issue of Brain, Behavior and Immunity. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Nadejda Beliakova-Bethell, PhD, Assistant Project Scientist and infectious disease researcher in the Department of Medicine, is co-first author on the study report.

Read the Report in Brain, Behavior and Immunity (UC San Diego only)