Dr. Christopher K. Glass Among Three UC San Diego Researchers Elected to National Academy of Medicine

Ferrara, Glass and Malinow join premier advisory group on national medical and health issues —

The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) announced today the election of three new members from University of California, San Diego School of Medicine: Napoleone Ferrara, MD; Christopher K. Glass, MD, PhD; and Roberto Malinow, MD, PhD. Election to NAM is considered among the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine. …Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Christopher K. Glass, MD, PhDChristopher K. Glass, MD, PhD, is Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and Professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Glass Lab Website

Researchers Discover Protein’s Pivotal Role in Heart Failure

Better understanding of molecular mechanism could lead to new drug targets —

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have identified a key piece in the complex molecular puzzle underlying heart failure – a serious and sometimes life-threatening disorder affecting more than 5 million Americans.

In a study published in the March 5 online issue of Cell Reports, Xiang-Dong Fu, PhD, and colleagues explored the heart’s progression from initial weakening to heart failure, and found that a protein, known as RBFox2, plays a critical role in this process. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Ju Chen, PhD

Ju Chen, PhD

A number of Division of Cardiovascular Medicine researchers and affiliates are coauthors, including Kunfu Ouyang, Indroneal Banerjee, PhD; Caimei Zhang, Biyi Chen, Ju Chen, PhD; and Long-Sheng Song.

Dr. Chen is Professor of Medicine, American Heart Association Endowed Chair in Cardiovascular Research and Director of Basic Cardiac Research at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

Senior author Xiang-Dong Fu, PhD, is professor in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and investigator in the Institute of Genomic Medicine at UC San Diego.

See Full Text of Article (open access)

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.

Enzyme Accelerates Malignant Stem Cell Cloning in Chronic Myeloid Leukemia

An international team, headed by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, has identified a key enzyme in the reprogramming process that promotes malignant stem cell cloning and the growth of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a cancer of the blood and marrow that experts say is increasing in prevalence. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom

Catriona H. M. Jamieson, MD, PhDPrincipal investigator of the study is Catriona H. M. Jamieson, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and director of stem cell research at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

Dr. Jamieson is on the steering committee for the Moores Cancer Center’s My Answer to Cancer initiative for personalized cancer therapy. She is a member of the faculty in the UCSD Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program.

Department of Medicine faculty coauthor Sheldon R. Morris, MD, MPH, an investigator at the UCSD Antiviral Research Center,is health sciences assistant clinical professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases.

Citation for the report in PNAS: Jiang Q, Crews LA, Barrett CL, Chun H-J, Court AC, Isquith JM, Zipeto MA, Goff DJ, Minden M, Sadarangani A, Rusert JM, Dao K-HT, Morris SR, Goldstein LSB, Marra MA, Kelly A. Frazer KA, Jamieson C.H.M. ADAR1 promotes malignant progenitor reprogramming in chronic myeloid leukemia. PNAS 2012; published ahead of print December 28, 2012, doi:10.1073/pnas.1213021110

Read the study report (free full text)

More about Dr. Jamieson and her work:

In Memoriam: Samuel I. Rapaport, MD


Samuel I. Rapaport, MD
1921 – 2011

Samuel I. Rapaport, MD, Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Medicine and Pathology at UC San Diego and a former chief of the Division of Hematology, died December 20, 2011, in Baltimore, Maryland. He was 90.

A renowned hematologist, physician-scientist and teacher, Rapaport was internationally recognized for his research on the biochemistry of blood coagulation and the mechanism of clotting in disease.

Dr. Sandy Shattil“Sam was a major figure in American and international hematology,” said Sanford Shattil, MD, Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Hematology-Oncology.

“He made seminal basic and translational contributions to our understanding of blood coagulation.”

Rapaport joined the UCSD School of Medicine faculty in 1974 as the first chief of the medicine service at the VA San Diego Healthcare System.

During 22 years at UCSD, he served as a chief of the Division of Hematology and directed both clinical and research laboratories in hematology.

“Sam Rapaport was the epitome of a triple-threat physician-scientist,” said David N. Bailey, MD, Distinguished Research Professor of Pathology and Pharmacy, Emeritus Professor and former chair of the Department of Pathology, and Deputy Dean of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

“His teaching at all levels was superb,” Bailey said. “His clinical care was legendary, often extending into late-night patient visits, and his research was world-class.”

In the Department of Pathology, Rapaport founded and directed the Special Coagulation Laboratory for the UCSD Medical Center. Its director today is Dzung T. Le, MD, PhD, associate professor of clinical pathology, whom Rapaport mentored.

Said Le, “He was like a second father to me. Indeed, his treated his patients, his students, his laboratory technicians, his administrative assistants as if they were members of his own family.

“That was why many of his patients, his former colleagues and students remained good friends long after he retired. It was my distinct honor to be a member of his laboratory and to continue his legacy at the Special Coagulation Laboratory at UCSD.”

“I interacted with Sam in the formative years when we were both in the Department of Medicine,” said Palmer Taylor, PhD, who joined the School of Medicine as an assistant professor of pharmacology in 1971. “He brought to the Department a great balance of research and clinical skills.”

“Sam was an early supporter of the development of Pharmacology as the first basic science department and later the emergence of the School of Pharmacy from the planning stages,” Taylor said.

Taylor, the founding dean of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, is Sandra and Monroe Trout Professor of Pharmacology and Associate Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences.

On the national scene, Rapaport was a major influence in the development of the American Society of Hematology and served as its president in 1977. He was active in numerous academic societies and advisory groups.

Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky“Sam was the consummate scholar; he approached medicine, and life, with verve, compassion, inquisitiveness and intelligence,” said Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, MACP, former Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine at UCSD.

Kaushansky is Senior Vice President, Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine at Stony Brook University in New York. Also a hematologist, he served as president of the American Society of Hematology in 2008.

“He embodied all the best in the profession,” Kaushansky said. “I am saddened to know the world took a big hit with his passing.”

Shattil said, “He was a beloved member of our Hematology-Oncology Division. We will greatly miss his sage, gentle advice and his friendship.”

“He was a kind, warm human being,” said Bailey. “He will be sorely missed.”


Samuel I. Rapaport was born in Los Angeles, CA, in 1921. He received his undergraduate degree at UCLA and his MD in 1945 from the University of Southern California School of Medicine. After his residency training at the Long Beach Veterans Administration Hospital, he remained on staff as faculty supervisor of the hematology ward.

In the early 1950s, his interest in blood coagulation led to a Fulbright scholarship for a year of research in Dr. Paul Owren’s laboratory in Norway. Rapaport returned to the Long Beach VA in 1954 and founded a clinical and research coagulation laboratory. He was soon recruited to UCLA to do the same.

In 1958, he was asked to establish a hematology division at the University of Southern California. There, too, he set up clinical and research coagulation laboratories. He went on to conduct groundbreaking investigations of the mechanisms of blood coagulation in health and disease, spending the last two decades of his career at UCSD. He retired from the University in 1996 at the age of 75.

Rapaport was a past president of the American Society of Hematology, the Western Association of Physicians and the Western Society for Clinical Research. He was a member of the American College of Physicians and the National Academy of Sciences. In 2008, he was named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Profiles of Dr. Rapaport

Non-Coding RNA Relocates Genes When It’s Time To Go To Work

Cells develop and thrive by turning genes on and off as needed in a precise pattern, a process known as regulated gene transcription. In a paper published in the November 9 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine say this process is even more complex than previously thought, with regulated genes actually relocated to other, more conducive places in the cell nucleus…. Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom

Illustration of a double helix

Senior author of the study is M. Geoff Rosenfeld, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. Co-first authors Liuqing Yang, PhD, and Chunru Lin, PhD, are postdoctoral researchers in Dr. Rosenfeld’s laboratory.

Dr. Kirk Knowlton Appointed Vice Chair for Laboratory Research

Dr. Kirk KnowltonDr. Kirk Knowlton has been appointed Vice Chair for Laboratory Research for the Department of Medicine, Interim Chair Wolfgang Dillmann, MD, has announced.

Knowlton, Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Cardiology, holds the Edith and William Perlman Chair in Clinical Cardiology.

A physician-scientist, he is an esteemed academic leader, clinician, innovator, and mentor. He has been a member of the department faculty since he was a molecular cardiology research fellow at UC San Diego in 1990.

“Kirk’s experience and insight will benefit the department’s research mission greatly, particularly at this time of expansion,” said Dillmann. “With laboratory research playing so large a part in the success of the department, it is crucial to have an outstanding leader.”

Knowlton will direct research activities and space management for Medicine, the largest department in the School of Medicine. In fiscal year 2010-2011, Medicine received $113.6 million in research funding via nearly 380 individual contracts and grants.

The Department of Medicine is consistently one of the top in the nation in federal research funding per faculty member. In research funding from the National Institutes of Health in 2010, the Department ranks eighth in the nation.

The Department occupies 120,000 square feet of laboratory space and anticipates significantly more in the next several years as UC San Diego Health Sciences buildings now in the planning stages are erected.

Knowlton will spearhead the new Department of Medicine Research Council, which will synchronize research efforts within the department and the larger research community, coordinate responses to new funding opportunities, and provide mentorship for junior faculty.

Knowlton will also continue as Chief of the Division of Cardiology, Dillmann said.

Kirk U. Knowlton, MD, FACC, became Cardiology’s division chief in 2004 and assumed the Edith and William Perlman Chair in Clinical Cardiology in 2010.

A general cardiologist, Knowlton plays central clinical roles in diagnostic imaging and noninvasive cardiology and pulmonary thromboendarterectomy in the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center. In addition, he has a special clinical interest in infectious causes of heart failure such as viral myocarditis.

In his most recent research in molecular cardiology, he is studying mechanisms involved in the formation of intercalated discs to understand the means by which virus infection of the cardiac myocyte can cause dilated cardiomyopathy.

Knowlton is principal investigator of a program project, “Molecular Pathways for Hypertrophy and Cardiomyopathy, and a training grant, “Training in Cardiovascular Physiology and Pharmacology,” both funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Knowlton co-directs the Cardiac Biomedical Science and Engineering Center of the UC San Diego Institute for Engineering in Medicine, a collaborative effort centered on developing new means of understanding, detecting and countering cardiac diseases.

At UC San Diego, in the surrounding community, and at the national level, Knowlton is involved in numerous positions of leadership and service. He is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, an elected senior member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and Associate Editor of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

He has been recognized as one of the Best Doctors in America each year since 2003.

Active in the American Heart Association, he was recognized as 2010-2011 Western States Affiliate Physician Volunteer of the Year. He was nominated for the UCSD School of Medicine Kaiser Permanente Excellence in Teaching Award for the past two years.

CTRI Receives $37.2 Million Clinical and Translational Science Award

A 5-year, $37.2 million grant award for the Clinical and Translational Research Institute (CTRI) is the subject of the UCSD Newsroom story, “UC San Diego Receives Major Clinical and Translational Science Award.”

Dr. Gary Firestein, Director of the CTRI, is principal investigator of the project. Dr. Firestein is Dean of Translational Medicine for UC San Diego Health Sciences and Professor of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology.

In the Frontiers of Dermatology Research with Dr. Richard Gallo and Coworkers

Dr. Richard GalloAs they trace the causes of some common but poorly understood skin disorders, Dr. Richard Gallo and his colleagues at UCSD are finding themselves at the edge of the known world in dermatology and immune defense.

Richard Gallo, MD, PhD, Professor and Chief of Dermatology at UCSD and Chief of the Dermatology Section at the Veterans Administration San Diego Healthcare System (VASDHS), says he feels fortunate to be working in this exciting area of investigation.

He is also particularly glad to be here at UCSD in San Diego.

“It’s a vibrant research environment,” he says, naming the many major institutions that collaborate here, among them the Salk Institute and The Scripps Research Institute as well as UCSD.

“We have done what we’ve done here,” he says, “because we are here.”

UCSD and its neighboring institutions –
“A vibrant research environment”

Rob Dorschner, manager of Dr. Gallo's laboratory
At left: Rob Dorschner, manager
of Dr. Gallo’s dermatology
research laboratories.

Last year, Dr. Gallo and his coworkers reported a major finding in acne rosacea, a chronic skin inflammation that affects approximately 14 million adults in the U.S.

Rosacea can cause skin redness, visible blood vessels, facial burning or swelling, and bumps or pustules on the skin.

The cause of rosacea was a mystery until Dr. Gallo and colleagues found that the skin’s immune defenses are abnormal in three different ways in people who have it.

Unexpectedly, the abnormalities are in the innate immune system, an aspect of the body’s defenses that was not considered important in humans until recently.

Some of the latest findings
may bring new hope to millions
who suffer from acne rosacea

The report from Dr. Gallo and his international team of researchers was published in Nature Medicine last fall.

The study was supported by funding from National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health, the National Rosacea Society, a Veterans Administration Merit Award to Dr. Gallo, and the Association for Preventive Medicine of Japan.

The findings from Dr. Gallo’s lab may open the way for researchers to develop new acne rosacea treatments that address the real cause of the problem.

As a result, there is new hope for individuals who are affected by this uncomfortable and unpredictable disorder.

Dr. Amanda Buchau
At left: Dr. Amanda Büchau,
researcher in Dr. Gallo’s

The innate immune system is a new area of inquiry for researchers who are looking for the causes of skin disorders.

The very first defense mechanism of an organism, the innate immune system is genetically determined. “It’s evolutionarily ancient,” Dr. Gallo says. “All organisms have it. Like plants and sea sponges, humans have it.”

The innate immune system can recognize a dangerous molecule without having been exposed to it before.

Until recently, the innate immune response
was ignored in humans.

The other major component of our immune defenses is the adaptive immune system, which must learn through exposure — either by actual infection or by immunization.Why was the innate immune system ignored before?

“Because it’s hard to see,” Dr. Gallo says. When early investigators conducted their first studies of immune defenses in the skin, they focused literally on what was visible.

The pus in a skin wound, for example, is a clearly visible reaction to infection. It is a product of the adaptive immune system, and it drew the attention of researchers to that aspect of our immune defenses.

Meanwhile, the innate immune system was considered less important in humans than it was in simpler organisms.

“It has become clear that
the innate immune system
in humans
is really essential.”

As a result, many of the molecules involved in the innate immune system were not discovered until recent years.

“Now,” says Dr. Gallo, “it has become clear that the innate immune system in humans is really essential.”

Discovering more about innate immunity continues to be one of the aims of Dr. Gallo’s studies. His rosacea research is part of a much larger effort to shed light on the way the innate immune system works to protect the skin.

He and his researchers are seeking to identify all the factors that influence the way our defenses work. These include our genetics, our biochemistry, our environment, and the “bugs” themselves.

Dr. Gallo’s studies have yielded important and sometimes surprising results. One was that the amount of Vitamin D available to us has an important effect on the health of our skin.

He found that Vitamin D is an essential hormone in the control of the skin’s innate defenses.

Currently, Dr. Gallo is focusing his research on antimicrobial peptides, “the effectors of innate immunity.” The innate immune system deploys antimicrobial peptides to defend the skin from infection when it recognizes a harmful invader.

It was in antimicrobial peptides that Dr. Gallo and his coworkers found the abnormalities they reported in the immune defenses of acne rosacea sufferers last year.

Dr. Gallo’s goal is to discover new antimicrobial peptides and to learn how they are associated with human diseases, how they work, and how they are controlled.

Dr. Gallo’s work focuses on
developing better care for skin diseases
such as atopic dermatitis and acne rosacea

Dr. Gallo and his team pursue translational research, a high priority in the Department of Medicine at UCSD. The aim of translational research is to focus laboratory researchers on projects that will lead directly to better diagnosis and treatment of disease.

Dr. Gallo’s laboratory studies are concentrated on developing better care for skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis and acne rosacea.

Atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory skin disease in which the skin is unusually susceptible to infection. Affected individuals are not able to make antimicrobial peptides normally, and Dr. Gallo is investigating how to correct this defect.

In chronic inflammatory disorders such as acne rosacea, Dr. Gallo’s work is aimed at pinpointing the root causes. In rosacea, he and his coworkers found abnormally high amounts of certain antimicrobial peptides.

Such abnormalities are inherited. Heredity determines the biochemistry of an individual’s immune response, and it is in that biochemistry – a many-tiered system of molecules and interactions – that the targets for future treatments can be found.

The human skin –
important, accessible,
but mysterious

Dr. Gallo’s early training was in biophysics and pediatrics. He earned his M.D. degree and a Ph.D. in radiation biology and biophysics from the University of Rochester.

He became interested in the study of the skin because of its importance in human health, its accessibility, and its mystery — there was relatively little understanding of the skin’s defenses. He saw dermatology research as a wide-open field.

He currently holds a joint appointment in Medicine and Pediatrics. Although he is involved in Pediatrics in a relatively minor way at this point, he is interested in the development of the skin, a process that does not stop at the arbitrary age of chronological maturity.

He is also interested in how the skin’s immune defenses change as an individual goes through life.

“The San Diego research community
is clearly one of the leaders
in research in innate immunity.”

Dr. Gallo finds it invaluable to be part of the larger investigative environment in which UCSD is situated.

“The San Diego research community is clearly one of the leaders in research in innate immunity,” he says.

In addition to his own field of dermatology, he says, exciting investigations are going on in many body systems including the gastrointestinal system and the lung.

“It’s a great, open, communicative group of researchers that’s dynamic,” he says. “It’s fun to work here and be part of it.”

UCSD Dermatology residents –
“the best and the brightest.”

Dr. Gallo is proud of the UCSD Dermatology Residency Training Program.“It is one of the most competitive programs around,” he says. “We are dedicated to outstanding clinical teaching as well as training the future academic leaders in dermatology.”

Over half of the current residents have both MD and PhD degrees. For its three residency slots available each year, UCSD Dermatology receives 300-400 applications.

“We get the best and the brightest,” Dr. Gallo says.

More Information:

Photo of Dr. Gallo, top left of this article, by Joyce Roberts.