New Division Chief and Vice Chief of Endocrinology and Metabolism

Announced July 28, 2014, by Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD, Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine

Dr. Nicholas Webster

Nicholas Webster, PhD

I am pleased to announce that an internal review committee has selected Dr. Nick Webster as the new chief of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism in the Department of Medicine. Dr. Nai-Wen Chi has been selected to serve as vice chief.

Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD

Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD

I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Nick Webster, who accepted the role of interim division chief after I stepped down in 2010. In leading the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism for the past four years, Dr. Webster has done an important service for the division and the department.

Nick Webster, PhD, professor of medicine, is Associate Director for Shared Resources at the Moores Cancer Center and holds a joint appointment as a Senior Research Career Scientist at the VA San Diego Healthcare System. He is a highly respected researcher and thought leader in the field of endocrinology and metabolism.

Dr. Webster earned his B.A. and M.A. from Cambridge University and his Ph.D. from Stanford University.  After a post-doctoral fellowship at the CNRS in Strasbourg, France, he joined the UCSD faculty in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism in 1989 and was promoted to Professor in 2006.

Dr. Webster has been very active in service to the University and the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System (VASDHS).  He has held a number of leadership positions at UCSD, including Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Facilities in the Office of Research Affairs, where his portfolio included oversight of the animal welfare program and university-wide shared resources.  Dr. Webster has served as chair of a number of university committees, including the Radiation Safety and Surveillance Committee, the Animal Program Oversight Committee, the Recruitment and Admission Committee for the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, the Shared Resources Oversight Committee, and the Research Space Committees at the VASDHS.

Over the past 25 years, Dr. Webster has maintained an active research program, which is broadly focused on the mechanisms of hormonal signal transduction and gene regulation in different developmental and disease contexts.  He actively participates in the Center for Reproductive Science and Medicine, the Diabetes Research Center, and the Center for Transdisciplinary Research in Energetics and Cancer.

Nai-Wen Chi, MD, PhD

Nai-Wen Chi, MD, PhD

The newly appointed vice chair of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Dr. Nai-Wen Chi, is a researcher and board-certified endocrinologist at the UCSD Medical Center and the VA. Dr. Chi earned his M.D. from National Taiwan University prior to receiving his Ph.D. from Harvard University, where he was mentored by Dr. Richard Kolodner in investigating the molecular machinery that maintains the yeast mitochondrial genome.  Dr. Chi then completed his medical residency and endocrine fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital.  During his postdoctoral fellowship at MIT, he was mentored by Dr. Harvey Lodish in identifying novel insulin-signaling molecules that regulate vesicular trafficking.

Dr. Chi joined the UCSD faculty in 2000 and has been the director of the Endocrine Fellowship since 2005.  His clinical interest focuses on dysnatremias while his research program takes biochemical and genetic approaches to investigate the pathophysiology of diabetes and obesity.

Please join me in giving your enthusiastic support to Drs. Nick Webster and Nai-Wen Chi in their new positions of leadership in the Department of Medicine.

Richard D. Kolodner Elected to Institute of Medicine

University of California, San Diego School of Medicine researchers Joseph G. Gleeson, MD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and professor of neurosciences and pediatrics, and Richard D. Kolodner, PhD, professor of medicine and Ludwig Cancer Research scientist, have been named new members of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), considered among the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego News Center


Dr. Richard KolodnerGeneticist and biochemist Richard D. Kolodner, PhD, is a distinguished professor in the departments of medicine (Division of Hematology-Oncology) and cellular and molecular medicine at UC San Diego.

Kolodner co-leads the Laboratory of Cancer Genetics in the San Diego branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, which is located at UC San Diego.

At the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, he co-leads the Cancer Genomes and Networks research program with Trey Ideker, PhD, and is a member of the faculty of the Cancer Therapeutics Training (CT2) Program.

He is also a member of the Institute for Genomic Medicine and the Biomedical Sciences graduate program.

Kolodner was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2000 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2008. His election to the Institute of Medicine brings to 10 the number of Department of Medicine faculty members who are members of the institute.

See other UC San Diego news stories about Dr. Kolodner and his work.

Cancer Cells Co-opt Immune Response to Escape Destruction

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that tumor cells use stress signals to subvert responding immune cells, exploiting them to actually boost conditions beneficial to cancer growth. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Dr. Maurizio ZanettiThe report comes from the laboratory of Dr. Maurizio Zanetti (left), with graduate student Navin R. Mahadevan as lead author and Dr. Zanetti as senior author.

Maurizio Zanetti, MD, is emeritus professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and director of the Laboratory of Immunology at the UCSD Moores Cancer Center.

Dr. Zanetti is the director of tumor immunology for the UCSD Center for Immunology, Infection and Inflammation.  He directs the immunology course in the Biomedical Sciences graduate program.

Drs. Zanetti and Mahadevan published a Science Magazine Perspectives article on the connection between immune surveillance and chromosomal chaos in September.

On the PLOS ONE report, coauthors from Dr. Zanetti’s laboratory are undergraduate student Veronika Anufreichik, graduate student Jeffrey J. Rodvold and research associate Kevin T. Chiu.

Read the report in PLOS ONE

Citation for the report:  Mahadevan NR, Anufreichik V, Rodvold JJ, Chiu KT, Sepulveda H, et al. (2012) Cell-Extrinsic Effects of Tumor ER Stress Imprint Myeloid Dendritic Cells and Impair CD8+ T Cell Priming. PLoS ONE 7(12): e51845. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051845

More Information:

  • Science Magazine Perspectives article, September 2012:

Zanetti M, Mahadevan NR. Immune Surveillance from Chromosomal Chaos? Science 337 (6102): 1616-1617, 28 September 2012. DOI: 10.1126/science.1228464.

  • Other UCSD news stories about Dr. Zanetti’s work:
  • Related Links:

In Memoriam: Virgil L. Woods, Jr., MD

Virgil L. Woods, Jr., MD
1948 – 2012

Dr. Virgil L. Woods, Jr.Virgil L. Woods, Jr., MD, pioneer in the field of proteomics and beloved teacher and clinician who spent his academic career at UC San Diego, died September 30 after an illness. He was 64 years old.

“We are very saddened at the loss of our colleague and friend,” said Wolfgang Dillmann, MD, Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine.

Dr. Woods was professor of medicine in Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology.

“He was an enthusiastic clinician and teacher, and brought a high level of energy and critical thinking skills to the teaching and clinical programs in rheumatology at UCSD,” said Robert A. Terkeltaub, MD (below), professor of medicine and interim chief of the division.

Robert Terkeltaub, MD“He was very generous in his service roles. He will be greatly missed in our program, on both a personal and professional level. He was truly one of a kind.”

“Virgil Woods was a gifted scientist, an outstanding clinician, a generous colleague, and an enthusiastic teacher,” said Mark H. Ginsberg, MD (below), colleague of Dr. Woods and a fellow rheumatologist.

Dr. Ginsberg is professor of medicine in the divisions of Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology and Hematology-Oncology and director of the UCSD Physician-Scientist Training Program.

“Virgil was an active and engaged rheumatologist,” he said.

Dr. Mark Ginsberg“He taught his subspecialty and particularly relished working on the front lines of inpatient medicine as an academic hospitalist. In this role he assumed responsibility for acutely ill patients with a wide spectrum of conditions and was a major resource for young physicians.

“Virgil was always willing to share the clinical work load with his colleagues and was unfailingly generous in making time to teach fellows, residents, and students,” Ginsberg said.

In addition to his teaching activities within the Department of Medicine, Dr. Woods was a faculty member in the UCSD Biomedical Sciences and Bioinformatics and Systems Biology graduate programs.

“He was a fountain of clinical and research wisdom,” Dr. Ginsberg said, “and his untimely death is a loss to the UCSD community.”

Dr. Woods was a highly respected and productive physician-scientist. “Virgil was one of the first to use monoclonal antibodies to examine the functional role of platelet cell surface receptors,” Dr. Ginsberg said.

“In doing so, he raised some of the earliest antibodies that blocked the function of platelet integrins, antibodies that were prototypes for agents in current use in the clinic in a spectrum of diseases including multiple sclerosis and arterial thrombosis.”

In recent years, his research centered upon structural biology applications of an advanced proteomics technology.

“Virgil had a dream to use mapping of amino acids that were protected from chemical modification as a means to assess protein folding and identify sites involved in protein-protein interactions,” said Dr. Ginsberg. “With the advent of modern high-resolution protein mass spectroscopy, it was possible to analyze deuterium exchange of whole proteins as a means to study their higher order structure,” he said.

“Virgil’s singular contribution was to develop methods to proteolytically cleave proteins into peptides under conditions that prevented further deuterium exchange. This enabled him to map the accessibility of individual peptides in a folded protein, a technique called peptide amide hydrogen-deuterium exchange mass spectrometry (DXMS).”

In the following years, Dr. Woods and his colleagues refined the DXMS method, increasing its resolution and applying it in an expanding range of protein studies.

“His techniques have found wide applicability in the study of protein structures in the Structural Genomics Initiative and have been used around the world to assess protein-protein interactions,” Dr. Ginsberg said.

The work resulted in seven patents and earned considerable funding from the National Institutes of Health and other sources. Dr. Woods was the UCSD Technology Transfer Office’s Fall 2012 “Featured Pioneer.”

Dr. Woods directed the DXMS Proteomics Resource at UCSD and was actively collaborating with researchers at UCSD, The Scripps Research Institute, the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, the Salk Institute and other institutions in the United States and abroad.

“Virgil’s scientific achievements spring directly from his vision, dedication, and perseverance,” said Dr. Ginsberg. “He had a true scientific ‘green thumb.’ He could make things work when many others had tried and failed.”

Dr. Woods received his undergraduate training at UC San Francisco (BS, medical sciences) and UCSD (BA, biochemistry) and his MD degree at UC San Francisco. After interning and completing his residency at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, he came to UCSD as a rheumatology fellow in 1979.

He joined the Department of Medicine faculty when he completed his fellowship in 1981, and served UCSD for 31 years.

“Virgil was an outstanding colleague and faculty member by being an exceptional clinician, enthusiastic teacher and highly creative scientist,” said Dr. Dillmann.

Dr. Woods is survived by his wife, Betsy, and three children; his parents; and three brothers.
Profile of Dr. Woods

UCSD Press Releases About His Work

Dr. Seth Field Elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation

Dr. Seth FieldSeth J. Field, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, has been elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI).

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

“Seth is a highly innovative biomedical researcher, a caring clinician, and a teacher who devotes himself to mentoring learners at all levels,” said Wolfgang Dillmann, MD, Professor and Interim Chair of the Department of Medicine, who supported Dr. Field’s nomination. “He embodies the ideals of the ASCI.”

“It has been a pleasure to watch Seth’s career take off and succeed at UCSD,” said Jerrold M. Olefsky, MD, who proposed Dr. Field’s nomination. “He’s an outstanding and incisive scientist who still manages to be an exceptional clinician and teacher.”

Dr. Olefsky is Associate Dean for Scientific Affairs and Distinguished Professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Dr. Field has earned international recognition and major extramural funding for his original research. His investigations focus on the metabolism and signaling pathways of phosphoinositides, a group of lipid signaling molecules implicated in the pathophysiology of a range of human diseases.  |  Visit his laboratory website

“His findings,” said Dr. Dillmann, “have catalyzed a major paradigm shift in our understanding of the export of proteins from the cell.”

In 2009, Dr. Field and coworkers discovered that the Golgi protein GOLPH3 binds to phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate in the trans-Golgi membranes and connects the Golgi to F-actin via binding the unconventional myosin MYO18A. The resulting tensile force plays an important role in the secretory pathway by drawing vesicles and tubules from the Golgi. In the process, the Golgi apparatus acquires its characteristic stretched and flattened shape.

Dr. Field and colleagues reported the finding in the journal Cell in October 2009. The discovery, announced in a UC San Diego press release, earned worldwide attention.  |  Read the report in Cell (free full text)

Now, in one of many subsequent studies, Dr. Field is examining how GOLPH3 may function to cause cancer and whether there are potential therapeutic targets in the GOLPH3 pathway. GOLPH3 has been identified as a cancer gene commonly associated with human cancers, including breast cancer.

This work is supported by a 5-year, $3.8 million Era of Hope Scholar Award for Breast Cancer Research he received last year from the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.

Dr. Field collaborated with Judith A. Varner, PhD, and coworkers in the tumor inflammation studies reported in the June 14, 2011, issue of the journal Cancer Cell. They have identified a single point at which myeloid cells are triggered to enter cancer cells and promote tumor growth: the PI-3 kinase-gamma enzyme. The report, pinpointing what may be an important new therapeutic target for cancer treatments, was highlighted in a mini-review in the same journal.  |  Read the report in Cancer Cell (free full text)

Dr. Field has also collaborated with Dr. Ronald Evans and coworkers in the Gene Expression Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in defining a novel negative feedback pathway for insulin signaling. The results identify a new target area for the development of insulin-sensitizing drugs.

In 2008, Dr. Field was honored with an NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, a five-year, $ 2.3-million research grant. Recipients of the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award are selected for the exceptional creativity and potential impact of their research.

In an earlier honor that brought major funding, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund granted Dr. Field a Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences in 2004. The five-year, $500,000 career awards are given to support outstanding postdoctoral researchers in their transition from advanced training to academic faculty service. The funding supported Dr. Field’s project, “Comprehensive analysis of phosphoinositide function.”

An active teacher in the Department of Medicine’s education programs, Dr. Field is also a member of the teaching and research faculty of the UC San Diego Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program. In addition, he is an investigator in the Cancer Biology program at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

Dr. Field received his MD degree from Harvard Medical School and his PhD in Genetics in the laboratory of Michael E. Greenberg, PhD, at Harvard. After his internship and residency in internal medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, he completed his fellowship in endocrinology at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

He returned to Harvard for his postdoctoral research training in cell biology and systems biology in the laboratory of Lewis C. Cantley, PhD. In 2005, he joined the UC San Diego Department of Medicine faculty as an assistant professor in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Dr. Field and the other honorees for 2011, including Dr. Maike Sander from UC San Diego’s Department of Pediatrics, were introduced April 16 at the annual joint meeting of the ASCI and the Association of American Physicians in Chicago.

With the addition of Dr. Field, the ASCI now includes 63 current members of the faculty of the Department of Medicine.

Nearly 30 Percent of New CIRM Awards go to UC San Diego Stem Cell Researchers

UC San Diego scientists garnered 8 of the total 27 of Basic Biology III awards announced today by the Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee (ICOC) of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the state agency created by California voters to pursue the promise of stem cells in science and medicine…. Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom

Dr. Farah Sheikh

Among the awardees is Farah Sheikh, PhD (pictured above), Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology and faculty member in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program. She was awarded $1.43 million to further her research in the molecular mechanisms that underlie human cardiac cell junction maturation and disease.