Potential New Way to Suppress Tumor Growth Discovered

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues at the University of Rochester Medical Center, have identified a new mechanism that appears to suppress tumor growth, opening the possibility of developing a new class of anti-cancer drugs. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Dr. Willis X. Li

Dr. Willis X. Li

Senior author of the study report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is Willis X. Li, PhD, professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine and faculty member in the Biomedical Sciences graduate program.

Li’s UC San Diego Department of Medicine coauthors are postdoctoral fellow Pranabananda Dutta, PhD; pulmonary/critical care physician-scientist Jinghong Li, MD, PhD, and senior undergraduate student Jingtong Wang.

Coauthors Xiaoyu Hu, Amy Tsurumi and Hartmut Land are colleagues at the University of Rochester, where Li was a faculty member and researcher at the Wilmot Cancer Center before he joined the faculty at UC San Diego.

At the University of Rochester, LI received the 2008 Davey Memorial Award for Outstanding Cancer Research for his work in the cellular and molecular signaling in cancer development.

He is now principal investigator of an R01 research grant from the National Cancer Institute for the project, Epigenetic Tumor Induction by Heterochromatin Instability.

Citation for the study report:  

Xiaoyu Hu, Pranabananda Dutta, Amy Tsurumi, Jinghong Li, Jingtong Wang, Hartmut Land, and Willis X. Li. Unphosphorylated STAT5A stabilizes heterochromatin and suppresses tumor growth. PNAS 2013 ; published ahead of print June 3, 2013, doi:10.1073/pnas.1221243110  |  Abstract  |  Full text (PDF)

A Cancer Marker and Treatment in One?

UC San Diego Researchers Find Promise in Non-Human Sialic Acid Antibodies

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine say antibodies to a non-human sugar molecule commonly found in people may be useful as a future biomarker for predicting cancer risk, for diagnosing cancer cases early and, in sufficient concentration, used as a treatment for suppressing tumor growth…. Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom

Dr. Richard Schwab and Dr. Ajit Varki (pictured above left), led the study, which was a multicenter collaboration that included the departments of Medicine and of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Moores Cancer Center, and the Glycobiology Research and Training Center at UC San Diego.

Richard Schwab, MD, is Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology. Ajit Varki, MD, is Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Co-Director of the Glycobiology Research and Training Center, and Co-Director of the UCSD/Salk Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny. Read the abstract of the published study in Cancer Research.

Call of the Riled

Stress Signal in Cancer Cells Triggers Similar Response in Other Cells, Aiding Tumor Growth

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine say a “stress response” mechanism used by normal cells to cope with harsh or demanding conditions is exploited by cancer cells, which transmit the same stress signal to surrounding cells, triggering an inflammatory response in them that can aid tumor growth…. Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Dr. Maurizio ZanettiDr. Maurizio Zanetti, pictured at left, is senior author of the study. Maurizio Zanetti, MD, is Emeritus Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and Director of the Laboratory of Immunology at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center|  Read the abstract of the published report in PNAS.

Appreciation and a Fond Farewell to Dr. Ken Kaushansky

Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, MACPOn July 19, Dr. Ken Kaushansky officially begins his work as Senior Vice President for Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine at Stony Brook University in New York.

When he announced his departure to the faculty and staff of the UCSD Department of Medicine on June 7, he described his new position as an opportunity to implement, on a larger scale, the successful programs that the Department of Medicine has instituted under his leadership here.

He called his years at UCSD a time of “incredible transition in our faculty, our leaders, our teaching programs, and our clinical impact.”

During Dr. Kaushansky’s tenure as Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair, the Department of Medicine expanded from 253 to over 420 faculty members, added four divisions, and recruited 11 division chiefs. Its annual budget grew from $86 million to nearly $150 million.

Dr. Robert Schooley“Dr. Kaushansky has been an outstanding Chair for this department,” said Dr. Robert “Chip” Schooley, Professor and Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Vice Chair for Academic Affairs in the Department of Medicine.“

During his eight years as Chair, the medical house staff program became one of the most highly regarded programs in the country. New divisions in Hospital Medicine, Biomedical Informatics, Geriatrics, and Global Public Health were developed and research programs thrived throughout the Department,” Dr. Schooley said.

“In response to increasing interest in international medicine among the medical house staff, Dr. Kaushansky launched the Department’s Global Medicine Residency Program in 2009,” he said.“Dr. Kaushansky worked with his counterpart at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane to establish a model program in international cooperation that has revitalized postgraduate medical training in the Republic of Mozambique.”


Dr. Kaushansky with Drs. Marisa Magaña, Emilia Noormahomed, and Robert Schooley in Mozambique Dr. Kaushansky on a global medicine planning trip to China.Dr. Kaushansky with Drs. Marisa Magaña, Emilia Noormahomed, and Robert Schooley in Mozambique (left); on global medicine program planning trip to China (right).

Since 2002, the Department’s NIH research funding has grown from $60 million to $113.6 million. It has more than twice as many complex multi-investigator program-project grants and career development awards granted to the junior faculty and fellows.

The Department has also boosted its showing in the “America’s Best Hospitals” rankings from U.S.News & World Report. In 2002, two subspecialty clinical programs ranked in the nation’s top 50: respiratory at 9th and cancer at 41st. In the most recent rankings, five subspecialties ranked in the top 50, including one (HIV/AIDS) in the top 10.

Dr. Greg Maynard“Ken was directly responsible for building up the strength of clinical care at UCSD,” said Dr. Greg Maynard (right), Health Sciences Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Hospital Medicine.

“He recruited me here about 7-1/2 years ago, and in that time, the Hospital Medicine program has grown from 4 hospitalists to nearly 30, as just one example of that.”

“Dr Kaushansky nurtured my career here at UCSD,” said Dr. Pradipta Ghosh (below left), physician-scientist and Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology.

Dr. Pradipta Ghosh“As a product of the Physician-Scientist Training Program,” she said, “I am one of those few who enjoyed special access to this busy department chair. His doors were always open. I recall having multiple consultations with him at various stages of my career as it grew here at UCSD.

“When the time came for me to choose where to spend the first decade of my young career as an independent investigator, it was his support and a match in our visions which tilted my decision in favor of UCSD,” she said.

“His tireless efforts at instilling the physician-scientist culture here in the Department of Medicine, both from top-down and bottom-up, have paved the path for many young folks like me to craft a career for themselves as physician-scientists,” Dr. Ghosh said.

Dr. John Carethers“Ken was the reason why I eventually accepted the GI Chief job at UCSD,” said Dr. John M. Carethers (right), now John G. Searle Professor and Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan.

When Dr. Kaushansky joined the UCSD faculty, Dr. Carethers was an associate professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology. Dr. Carethers became division chief in 2004

“Ken … gave me enough autonomy to help grow the GI Division, gain a GI Center grant, coordinate well with the Cancer Center and other divisions, and allowed me to grow personally,” Dr. Carethers said. “The GI Division flourished under that mantra.

“We went to a clinical service chief structure, developed a new hierarchy for our administrative staff, started a robust web site, grew our fellowship, and survived many challenges over that time because of his support,” he said.

“Ken provided invaluable advice on my career,” Dr. Carethers said. “He was a great sounding board, not pretentious; encouraging, but never overprotective. I think he understood the value of growth and opportunity, something that is hard to come by these days.”

Dr. Patricia FinnDr. Patricia Finn (left), Professor and Chief of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, described Dr. Kaushansky as “a tireless advocate for his faculty.”

“He is accessible 24/7 to offer support and guidance, which is huge to a new faculty member just moving cross country,” she said.

“On a personal note, when I had barely arrived here he was already nominating me for positions and committees to help me advance my career.”

Dr. Kirk Knowlton“His integrity, fairness, and open-mindedness built an environment of trust that allowed the substantial growth of the Department of Medicine during his tenure as Chair,” said Dr. Kirk U. Knowlton (right), Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Cardiology.

“I am struck by how he has been able to hold the respect of so many people with widely disparate interests,” Dr. Knowlton said.

“This included people who were fully engaged in basic science and those who were busy taking excellent care of their patients; medical students and residents and post-graduate research fellows; administrators and faculty; and others over whom he might have had influence or who crossed his path.

“The people he has worked with knew that they could count on him to represent their interests in the context of the institution’s goals in a considered and reasonable manner while at the same time maintaining his vision of the future of the Department of Medicine.”

“He is a rare breed,” Dr. Maynard said. “I guess I’d call him a quadruple threat. An outstanding scientist, a superb clinician, a great educator, and an incredible leader and administrator to boot.

“While he is not really replaceable,” he said, “he has left an enduring legacy that stresses clinical and operational excellence, as well as research contributions.”

Dr. Finn said, “In addition to [his] world-class scientific reputation, Dr. Kaushansky is most respected for his character and vision.”

“He makes his department and faculty a priority, while striving to always do the right thing for the patients,” she said. “He will be most remembered for his infectious enthusiasm, upbeat attitude, and steady, insightful guidance of students and faculty.”

“He leaves an 8-year legacy that advanced the Department of Medicine in many ways,” said Dr. Carethers, “including growing faculty, changing the way residents learn, obtaining key recruitments for division chiefs and faculty, enhancing VA relations, and being an all out cheerleader for the Department.”

On June 21, Dr. Kaushansky was honored at a farewell reception hosted by David Brenner, M.D., Dean of the UCSD School of Medicine and Vice Chancellor, Health Sciences. In his remarks there, Dr. Kaushansky expressed his appreciation for “eight and a half years of good friends, challenges, and teamwork.”

Observing that he had been involved in recruiting many of the faculty members in the room, he said, “Everything at UCSD works toward recruiting great people.”

“It’s easy, at UCSD, to build things and to make a difference,” he said. “Everybody makes everyone else stronger.”

Dr. Kaushansky praised UCSD’s “incredible richness” of people, science, teaching, and clinical programs. “I’ve never seen more devotion to the three missions,” he said.

And now he looks ahead.

“In academic medicine, you get to re-craft yourself every ten years,” he said. “I’m looking forward to my newly-found steep learning curve.”

Dr. Kaushansky was honored at a tribute from the senior leaders of the Department of Medicine on July 11. There will be a tribute from all departmental staff, faculty, and house staff on a date to be selected.

“Although one could cite metric after metric by which his unceasing efforts strengthened the Department,” said Dr. Schooley, “what many of us think distinguished his tenure most was the way in which his ‘bottom up’ style of leadership brought out the best in all of us.

“The Department will benefit for many years to come from things he set in motion – as will each of its members from what we learned from his multifaceted demonstration of scholarship, integrity, imagination and dedication to his Department.”


Drs. Ken Kaushansky and Wolfgang Dillmann   Drs. Ken Kaushansky and Wolfgang DillmannDr. Kaushansky with newly designated Interim Chair Wolfgang Dillmann, M.D.

A Transition for the Department of Medicine

June 7, 2010

From Kenneth Kaushansky, M.D., M.A.C.P.
Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair

Dear Friends,

I write today to let you know of an upcoming change in the Department, effective July 19th. It has been my greatest privilege and pleasure to serve as Chair of the Department of Medicine at UC San Diego for the past 8 plus years, witnessing an incredible transition in our faculty, our leaders, our teaching programs and our clinical impact.

Since the beginning of 2002, the Department has grown from 253 to over 430 faculty, excelling in all aspects of academic medicine. Our grant portfolio has nearly doubled, including a greater than doubling of the number of career development awards to junior faculty and fellows and of complex multi-investigator program-project type awards. We have grown our residency program, in size and, I believe, in the qualities of our new recruits, and its impact. We have created four new divisions, and recruited 11 new division chiefs. And our clinical programs have grown in both impact and quality. Our patient care volume has nearly doubled, we have made major impacts on general internal medicine, both inpatient and outpatient, as well as our subspecialty services. We have created multi-disciplinary clinics within our department and with our colleagues in other departments. And we have seen numerous accolades come from all of the publicly reported assessments of hospital and medical quality. All in all, a fine 8 years of progress.

As for me, I am looking forward to the next step in my career, serving as Senior Vice President for Health Sciences, and Dean of the School of Medicine at Stony Brook University in New York. I have always admired Stony Brook, as a young medical school with incredible potential to make a huge impact on research, teaching and clinical care. Serving as Dean will afford me the opportunity to put a broader thumbprint on undergraduate medical education. For example, many of you have heard me lament that medical training is characterized by the insufficient juxtaposition of basic science and clinical care; this will change! My role as Dean will also allow sharing the successful programs we have instituted together, to a broader stage, the 25 basic science and clinical departments within the School of Medicine at Stony Brook. My serving as Vice President for Health Sciences will facilitate the institution of truly revolutionary, cross-disciplinary programs between the Schools of Dentistry, Health Technology and Management, Nursing, Social Welfare and Medicine. And I look forward to helping to guide the Stony Brook University Hospital and Clinics, further advancing the quality of healthcare delivered by our faculty and learners.

I would be remiss if I did not express my heart-felt thanks to all the wonderful people of the Department of Medicine. The faculty members here are simply incredible, and the sky is the limit for their accomplishments. Likewise, I fully anticipate equally rewarding careers for the residents, fellows and students who call our Department home. A special thanks to the 36 chief medical residents with whom I have worked, all of whom have made UCSD a very special place for me. A huge thanks also to the incredibly devoted staff of the Department, who have made it all look easy, even when it wasn’t, and have made the lives of all the members of the Department productive. And the Department wouldn’t be our Department without our Vice Chairs over the years, Drs. Roger Spragg, Chip Schooley, Jason Yuan, Elaine Muchmore, Ravi Mehta, Francis Gabbai and Dan Bouland.

In closing, it has been my great honor to serve as the Helen M. Ranney Chair of the Department of Medicine. With Helen’s recent passing, her qualities of intellectual curiosity, innovation, incredible wit and leadership epitomize all the individuals who comprise our Department. Like Helen, I will miss you all, immensely.

Cheers,

Ken

Kenneth Kaushansky, M.D., M.A.C.P.
Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor
Chair, Department of Medicine
University of California, San Diego