Jill P. Mesirov Appointed Associate Vice Chancellor for Computational Health Sciences

UC San Diego School of Medicine recruits world leader in computational biology —

Leading computational biologist Jill P. Mesirov, PhD, has been appointed associate vice chancellor for computational health sciences and professor of medicine at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center. Mesirov most recently served as associate director and chief informatics officer at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where she directed the Computational Biology and Bioinformatics Program. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Dr. Mesirov joins the Department of Medicine as a professor in the Division of Medical Genetics.

Next Generation: Thomas Ohno-Machado Lobbies for Federal Research Funding

One in a Series of Occasional Stories About Faculty Members’ Children

Dr. Lucila Ohno-Machado and Thomas Ohno-Machado with Senator Barbara Boxer Lucila Ohno-Machado, MD, PhD; her son Thomas and California Senator Barbara Boxer.

Recently, to his mother’s wonderment, 17-year-old Thomas Ohno-Machado revealed that he is interested and quite active in politics.

It seemed to happen overnight, his mother said, and without any particular encouragement from his parents. “It doesn’t run in the family,” she mused.

Thomas, a senior at Torrey Pines High School, is the oldest of Dr. Lucila Ohno-Machado’s three sons. Lucila Ohno-Machado, MD, PhD, is associate dean for informatics for the UCSD School of Medicine and professor and chief of the Division of Biomedical Informatics in the Department of Medicine.

Thomas is now the founder and president of the Torrey Pines High School Autism Awareness Club and an advocate for children with disabilities. He and his friends have successfully organized a funding drive and raised money to benefit a local school for children with special needs.

One day out of the blue Thomas asked Dr. Ohno-Machado, “Mom, can we go to Washington, DC?”

It turned out he had written to Senator Barbara Boxer’s office and arranged to visit and express his concerns about federal support for biomedical and behavioral research, particularly for the National Institutes of Health, and for the increasing numbers of children who have special needs.

Dr. Ohno-Machado agreed to go. She arranged for him to add a one-day visit to Washington DC to a trip she had already scheduled. He purchased his first suit, from Macy’s, and carried it on the plane so that it would not wrinkle in flight.

She suggested he prepare for his audience with the senator, and he assured her, “Don’t worry.”

They arrived at Senator Boxer’s office and, with the Archbishop of California and a California judge who had come in with them, waited their turn to speak with one of the senator’s staff members.

The time came. Prepared with statistics to back him up, Thomas Ohno-Machado expressed his concern and asked to know what the senator was going to do about federal medical research funding and the rising numbers of special needs children in the United States.

The senator’s staffer responded by showing Thomas documents detailing how Senator Boxer and another senator are addressing these issues.

Said Dr. Ohno-Machado of the meeting, “I didn’t speak a single word.”

She and Thomas had tried but weren’t able to set up a visit to California Senator Diane Feinstein’s office on the same trip. In a separate solo trip, Thomas visited the governor of Massachusetts and a school for special needs children in the Boston area. Recently, he pressed his causes at the San Diego mayor’s office.

He is headed to UC Santa Cruz this fall. He plans on a political career.

Dr. Ohno-Machado is still marveling at how a strong interest can reveal itself so suddenly in one’s offspring.

“He’s very excited about it,” she said. “He has a bright future.”

Bringing Power of Prevention, Diagnosis to the People

“A Mercedes Benz isn’t designed to function in the Sahara Desert,” notes Dr. Eliah Aronoff-Spencer of the University of California, San Diego. “So why are we designing medical equipment for developing countries the same way we do for developed ones?”

It’s a question researchers at the new Distributed Health Laboratory in the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) at UC San Diego aim to address, and eventually, to render moot. In collaboration with the UC San Diego School of Medicine and the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) in Maputo, Mozambique, Calit2’s DH Lab is designing low-cost medical devices such as microscopes and wireless sensing devices that can be used by virtually anyone anywhere in the world to prevent and even diagnose illness. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Co-directing the Distributed Health Laboratory is Eliah Aronoff-Spencer, MD, PhD, fellow in infectious diseases at UCSD and informatics coordinator for the Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) between UC San Diego and Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) in Maputo, Mozambique.

Eliah Aronoff-Spencer, MD, PhD with Dr. Manuel TomasThe photo at left shows Dr. Aronoff-Spencer with UEM physician Dr. Manuel Tomás (at right) on a patient ward at Maputo Central Hospital.

Dr. Aronoff-Spencer is also an organizer of the Biomedical Research Informatics for Global Health Training (BRIGHT) program, an international collaboration devoted to training the next generation of informatics researchers in partner countries.

The BRIGHT program, a Division of Biomedical Informatics project, is funded by grant D43TW007015 from the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health.

A graduate of the UCSD Internal Medicine Residency Program and Physician-Scientist Training Pathway, Dr. Aronoff-Spencer has completed a fellowship in clinical infectious disease and is now a fellow in research in infectious disease, global health informatics and decision making at UCSD. He is also a staff physician in infectious disease at the VA San Diego Healthcare System.

More information:

UC San Diego Medical Center Named One of the Nation’s 100 Top Hospitals by Thomson Reuters

UC San Diego Medical Center, located in Hillcrest, has been named one of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals® by Thomson Reuters. Ranked among the country’s major teaching hospitals, the Medical Center was also one of twelve hospitals to receive the Everest Award. This award honors hospitals that have achieved both the highest current performance and the fastest long-term improvement over a five-year period in Reuter’s national benchmarking study…. Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom

UC San Diego Medical Center hospital in Hillcrest
More about the 100 Top Hospitals® Award:

SDSC’s “Big Data” Expertise Aiding Genomics Research

Focus on Genomics Medicine is Growing, says SDSC’s Norman

The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego, has in the last three years undergone a major reboot, remaking itself into a center of expertise on all aspects of “big data” research including genomics, one of the fastest growing areas of scientific study. …. Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom

Dr. Lucila Ohno-Machado
Among the current “big data” genomics projects at the San Diego Supercomputer Center is the Integrating Data for Analysis, Anonymization, and Sharing (iDASH) center, led by Lucila Ohno-Machado, MD, PhD, pictured above.

Ohno-Machado is professor of medicine, founding chief of the Division of Biomedical Informatics and associate dean for informatics and technology at UC San Diego.

iDASH is supported by the National Institutes of Health through the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research.  |  Read iDASH project abstract  |  Visit iDASH website  |   Visit San Diego Supercomputer Center website
Photo of Dr. Ohno-Machado: John Hanacek, Calit2 UC San Diego.