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.

Herpes Infected Humans Before They Were Human

The virus originated in chimpanzees, jumping into humans 1.6 million years ago

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have identified the evolutionary origins of human herpes simplex virus (HSV) -1 and -2, reporting that the former infected hominids before their evolutionary split from chimpanzees 6 million years ago while the latter jumped from ancient chimpanzees to ancestors of modern humans – Homo erectus – approximately 1.6 million years ago. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego News Center

Sara Browne Awarded $1M Innovation Initiative Grant

$1 Million Grant from Alliance Healthcare Foundation Awarded to UC San Diego

Dr. Sara BrowneThe Alliance Healthcare Foundation has awarded the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine a $1 million Innovation Initiative (i2) Grant to support the work of Dr. Sara Browne, associate professor in the School of Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases. The grant is funding groundbreaking research in the use of wireless technologies in the management of personal and public health. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego News Center

Dr. Helen King and Dr. Philipp Wiesner Present Mentored Research Study Results at Grand Rounds

Dr. Helen King

Dr. Helen King.

Dr. Philipp Wiesner

Dr. Philipp Wiesner.

Helen King, MD, and Philipp Wiesner, MD, junior residents in the categorical track of the UCSD Internal Medicine Residency Program, presented results of their elective mentored research projects at Medicine Grand Rounds on May 15.

The Internal Medicine Residency Training program offers trainees two months of elective time during their second or third year to undertake a research project under the guidance of a faculty mentor.

Dr. Helen King

Helen King, MD, Mercer University

King’s research project was “HIV Preexposure Prophylaxis: Barriers to Access for Men Who Have Sex With Men.” |  Watch the video (UCSD only)

“I have been interested in HIV medicine for some time now,” King said, “and since being a resident at UCSD have had the opportunity to have more exposure.

“I went to Dr. Davey Smith knowing that he might have some interesting projects, and he helped me get involved with the PrEPARE Study.”

Davey Smith, MD, MAS

Davey M. Smith, MD, MAS

Smith (at right), a translational research virologist, directs the Translational Virology Core of the UC San Diego Center for AIDS Research and is medical director of the Antiviral Research Center’s Early Intervention Program.

He is associate professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases.

The PrEPARE study evaluates preexposure prophylaxis for HIV in men who have sex with men, an approach in which an HIV-negative individual who is at high risk for HIV infection takes a daily HIV medication to lower his risk of infection.

“It has been proven effective in high-risk men who have sex with men,” King said. “Our study was aimed at identifying real-life barriers to accessing the medication, such as cost.”

The study pinpointed several barriers including cost and concern about side effects.

Of her research experience, King said, “I was lucky enough to work on a project that was interesting to me and to work with a great mentor.”

Dr. Philipp Wiesner

Philipp Wiesner
MD, Universität Regensburg

Philipp Wiesner presented the project “Oxidized Phospholipids in Inflammation and Atherosclerosis.” |  Watch the video (UCSD only)

“I started to work in the field of atherosclerosis in medical school,” Wiesner said. “I spent 2 years as a postdoctoral fellow and continued to work in this area during residency.

“My topic was a perfect fit, as I could continue to work in the same area in which I already had experience as well as continue to work with my previous mentors.”

Dr. Joseph Witztum

Joseph Witztum, MD

Wiesner’s primary mentor is Joseph Witztum, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism. Witztum leads the renowned atherosclerosis research laboratory that was established at UCSD by Dr. Daniel Steinberg.

Steinberg, emeritus professor of medicine and pioneering lipid researcher, was the founding head of the Division of Metabolic Diseases.

Dr. Yury Miller

Yury Miller, MD, PhD

Wiesner’s other mentors are lab members Yury Miller, MD, PhD, and Sotirios “Sam” Tsimikas, MD. Miller is associate professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism and Tsimikas is professor of clinical medicine and director of vascular medicine in the Division of Cardiology.

Dr. Sotirios "Sam" Tsimikas

Sotirios “Sam” Tsimikas, MD

Some of Wiesner’s research work, not included in his Grand Rounds presentation, recently has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Lipid Research.

Said Wiesner, “I am really glad our program gives us the opportunity to take two months off to do research. Residency is busy as it is and without this, many residents would not have the chance to get exposed to clinical or laboratory based research.”

Wiesner said it has always been his plan to have a career as an academic physician-scientist.

Presenting Grand Rounds on May 15: Dr. Helen King and Dr. Philipp Wiesner

Dr. Helen King

Dr. Helen King
MD, Mercer University

Dr. Philipp Wiesner

Dr. Philipp Wiesner
MD, Universität Regensburg

Helen King, MD, and Philipp Wiesner, MD, junior residents in the categorical track of the UCSD Internal Medicine Residency Program, will present results of their elective mentored research projects at Medicine Grand Rounds on May 15.

King’s research project is “HIV Preexposure Prophylaxis: Barriers to Access for Men Who Have Sex With Men.”  Philipp Wiesner will present the project “Oxidized Phospholipids in Inflammation and Atherosclerosis.”

The Internal Medicine Residency Training program offers trainees two months of elective time during their second or third year to undertake a research project under the guidance of a faculty mentor.

UC San Diego Researcher Receives $2.5 million Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse

Davey Smith, MD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the VA San Diego Health System is one of three recipients of the 2012 Avant-Garde Award for HIV/AIDS research. This prestigious award, announced today by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, is intended to stimulate high-impact research that may lead to groundbreaking opportunities for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS in drug abusers. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


David M. Smith, MD, MASDavey M. Smith, MD, MAS, is a physician-scientist specializing in the study of HIV transmission. He directs the Translational Virology Core at the Center for AIDS Research and the Early Intervention Program at the Antiviral Research Center at UCSD.Dr. Smith received his internal medicine residency training, including a year as chief medical resident, and his fellowship training in infectious diseases at UCSD. He earned his Masters of Advanced Studies (MAS) degree in clinical research at UCSD as well.

More about Dr. Smith’s work:

More about the award:

HIV Prevention in a Pill

UC San Diego researchers receive $5.6 million grant to test if they can keep high-risk individuals from becoming infected with virus that causes AIDS

Last year marked the 30th anniversary of the first clinical reports of AIDS, a then-mysterious and invariably fatal disease. Patients diagnosed with an HIV infection faced a looming death sentence. Most had just months to live…. Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


AIDS ribbon
One of three UC campuses in the project, UC San Diego will receive $5.6 million over four years. The lead investigator for UC San Diego is Dr. Richard Haubrich, professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Antiviral Research Center.

More about the project:

U.S. News Again Ranks UC San Diego Among Nation’s Best Graduate Schools

Each year, graduate programs at the University of California, San Diego are highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report, as noted in the 2013 edition of America’s Best Graduate Schools, released today…. Read the story from the UCSD Newsroom.

UCSD School of Medicine campus in La Jolla
In the rankings just released, the UCSD School of Medicine tied with Weill Cornell Medical College for 16th in research and ranked 27th in primary care. The School of Medicine maintained its ranking as #8 in the nation for AIDS programs.

In the HIV/AIDS specialty, the Department of Medicine offers research and clinical training via the teaching activities of the Division of General Internal Medicine and Division of Infectious Diseases. The two divisions operate a variety of clinical and research entities including the Owen Clinic, the Antiviral Research Center, the AIDS Research Institute and the Center for AIDS Research.  |  See details of the UCSD School of Medicine rankings in U.S.News & World Report

Discovery Provides Blueprint for New Drugs That Can Inhibit Hepatitis C Virus

Finding Could Pave Way for Drugs Against Virus That Kills More In US Than HIV

Chemists at the University of California, San Diego have produced the first high resolution structure of a molecule that when attached to the genetic material of the hepatitis C virus prevents it from reproducing . …. Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom

Laboratory test tubes
David L. Wyles, MD, is a coauthor of the study report. He is associate professor of clinical medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and a researcher in the UC San Diego Antiviral Research Center.

Read the study report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Related story:
UC San Diego School of Medicine Launches Hepatitis C Clinical Trials

UC San Diego School of Medicine Launches Hepatitis C Clinical Trials

A collaborative partnership between the UC San Diego Liver Center and Antiviral Research Center (AVRC) has resulted in 19 clinical trials for hepatitis C virus (HCV), focused on developing more effective and well-tolerated HCV treatments…. Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom

Department of Medicine clinical trials investigators Alexander Kuo, MD, and David L. Wyles, MD, are featured in this news release.

Dr. Kuo is associate professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and medical director of the Liver Transplant Program at the UC San Diego Health System Liver Center.

Dr. Wyles, a researcher at the UC San Diego Antiviral Research Center, is associate professor of clinical medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases.