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.

Researchers Boost Body’s Inflammation-Reduction Mechanism to Combat Obesity-Fueled Disease

Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and University College Dublin (UCD) have found that augmenting a naturally occurring molecule in the body can help protect against obesity-related diseases by reducing inflammation in the fat tissues. The study, published June 4 in the journal Cell Metabolism, focused on liver and kidney diseases, but the researchers believe it could lead to a new therapeutic approach for a variety of obesity-fueled conditions.

“This is a new way of reducing inflammation and protecting organs, using a compound that’s already produced by the body,” said co-senior author Kumar Sharma, MD, a professor of medicine and director of the Center for Renal Translational Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “Essentially, we’re boosting the body’s natural response for reducing inflammation and showing the benefit in obesity-driven diseases.” … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

In Memoriam: Daniel T. O’Connor, MD

Dr. Daniel T. O'Connor

Daniel T. O’Connor, MD

Announcement from Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD, Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine

Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD

Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Daniel T. O’Connor, MD, a longstanding and beloved member of the faculty of the UCSD School of Medicine. He passed away peacefully at his home on August 6, 2014.

Dr. O’Connor graduated from the UC Davis School of Medicine in 1974 and completed both residency and fellowship at UCSD. He joined the faculty in the Division of Nephrology-Hypertension in 1979, after a productive fellowship with Richard Stone, MD, that focused on the sympathetic nervous system in hypertension.  Dr. O’Connor developed an early interest in the proteins that package neurotransmitters, particularly Chromogranin A.  His work on this molecule led to numerous awards including election to the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), the Harry Goldblatt Award for cardiovascular Research, a UC Davis distinguished alumnus award, a UCSD Faculty Distinguished Lecturer Award, an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association award and presidency of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET)/ Federation of Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB).  His work with Chromogranin A led directly to a blood test for endocrine tumors that is still in use, particularly to diagnose pheochromocytoma.  He discovered that catestatin, a proteolytic product of Chromogranin A, is an important regulator of blood pressure.  Catestatin and congeners are currently in development for clinical use.  Dr. O’Connor’s laboratory was funded by large research grants from the National Institutes of Health, including SCOR in Hypertension and Program Project Grants on the role of adrenergic activity in the regulation of blood pressure.  He published well over 350 original articles in first-rate peer-reviewed journals. Dr. O’Connor’s research spanned basic biochemistry through clinical trials, giving his many trainees invaluable skills across the full spectrum of medical investigation. The fellows and junior faculty that Dr. O’Connor trained have succeeded in academic medicine, pharmacology, biotechnology, and nephrology.  His approach to research was notable for openness, sharing and collaboration with other labs, and this infectious attitude is carried on by his trainees.

Not only was Dr. O’Connor a highly productive researcher at UCSD and internationally, but also a highly involved faculty citizen at UCSD.  He was an excellent teacher involved in both basic science teaching of MDs and PhDs, and a popular and learned educator in the clinical arena.  He was widely recognized as the consummate teacher and always had time to provide needed information to fellows and junior faculty members.

UCSD has grown justifiably proud of Dr. O’Connor’s achievements in clinical, translational and basic research on a national and international scale, particularly in the areas of adrenergic contributions to blood pressure regulation and the complex role of the genetics of hypertension.   All who had the privilege of working with Dan O’Connor will greatly miss his infectious attitude that academic medicine and research are more fun than work.

 

 

Dianne McKay Receives CIRM Basic Biology Grant

Eight stem cell scientists at the University of California, San Diego have been awarded a total of $8.165 million to fund research tackling significant, unresolved issues in human stem cell biology. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego News Center


Dianne McKay, MDDianne B. McKay, MD, professor of clinical medicine in the Division of Nephrology-Hypertension, is one of the eight UC San Diego researchers to receive a Basic Biology V Award from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine this week.

McKay is medical director of the Kidney Transplant Program at UC San Diego Health System.

Studies Suggest New Key to “Switching Off” Hypertension

A team of University of California, San Diego researchers has designed new compounds that mimic those naturally used by the body to regulate blood pressure. The most promising of them may literally be the key to controlling hypertension, switching off the signaling pathways that lead to the deadly condition. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Senior author of the study report is Daniel T. O’Connor, MD, professor of pharmacology and professor of medicine in the Division of Nephrology-Hypertension. O’Connor directs the UC San Diego Hypertension Research Program and Hypertension Research Group.

Laboratory test tubesOther Department of Medicine coauthors are Sushil K. Mahata, PhD, professor of medicine and pharmacology; and project scientist Nilima Biswas, PhD. Mahata is also a Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System investigator.

Citation for the study report:  Igor F. Tsigelny, Valentina L. Kouznetsova, Nilima Biswas, Sushil K. Mahata, Daniel T. O’Connor, Development of a pharmacophore model for the catecholamine release-inhibitory peptide catestatin: Virtual screening and functional testing identify novel small molecule therapeutics of hypertension, Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry, Available online 17 July 2013, ISSN 0968-0896, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bmc.2013.07.008. |  Full text (UCSD only)

High Rankings for Internal Medicine Specialties in 2013-2014 “America’s Best Hospitals” Report

Internal medicine subspecialties received high rankings and played a large part in UC San Diego Health System’s excellent showing in the U.S. News & World Report “America’s Best Hospitals 2013-2014” guide released July 16.

Clinical efforts of Department of Medicine divisions are either partly or completely responsible for 7 of the 10 UC San Diego Health System adult specialties that ranked in the nation’s top 50 this year and 1 of the 4 ranked as high performing:

In addition, Rheumatology is ranked as high performing once again (Division of Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology).

Last year, three Department of Medicine specialties ranked in the nation’s top 50 and five were rated high performing.

Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD“We can be very proud of achieving such a significant rise in our specialty rankings in one year,” said Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD, Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine.

In an announcement to the Department of Medicine faculty, he said, “Thank you for your hard work and your dedication in your patient care activities.

“Your efforts play a major part in distinguishing UC San Diego Health System as one of the finest hospitals in the country, and the top hospital in the San Diego metropolitan area.”

Details of the rankings for UC San Diego Health System are published online here. |  More about the methodology

UC San Diego Health System Ranks #1

UC San Diego Health System is once again ranked among the nation’s best in U.S. News & World Report’s 2013-14 “America’s Best Hospitals” issue. The magazine placed UC San Diego Health System #1 in the San Diego metropolitan area with national rankings in 10 specialties—placing it among the country’s most prestigious institutions. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Doctor and patient. Stock photo.

Rankings for UC San Diego Health System Internal Medicine Subspecialties

In the nation’s Top 50:

High Performing:

Details of the rankings for UC San Diego Health System are published online here.

High Rankings for Internal Medicine Subspecialties in “Best Hospitals 2011-2012”

UC San Diego Medical CenterFour internal medicine specialties received top-50 rankings for UC San Diego Health System in the new “Best Hospitals 2011-2012” from U.S.News & World Report:

* Pulmonology (#16)
* Diabetes and Endocrinology (#25)
* Nephrology (#34)
* Cancer (#47)

Four other internal medicine specialties were high performers, scoring in the top 25 percent of those surveyed: cardiology and heart surgery, gastroenterology, geriatrics and rheumatology.

“Year by year, the Department of Medicine increases in clinical strength and breadth, and I am happy to see this strong representation in the rankings,” said Dr. Wolfgang Dillmann, Professor and Interim Chair of the department.

Dr. Wolfgang Dillmann “It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of all our clinicians, from the clinical service chiefs to the house staff, and the administrative structure that supports them.”

U.S. News evaluated the specialties on a number of points, including the availability of advanced patient care technologies and important patient services. All eight of the ranked and high-performing internal medicine specialties had high or perfect scores in those domains.

“This is one of the strengths of an academic medical center,” said Dillmann. “We offer our patients the latest developments, not only in new tools for diagnosis and therapy but also in approaches to care.”

U.S. News included 16 specialties in the rankings. Not included was HIV/AIDS care, which is ranked in a separate survey. In this year’s rankings, released in March, the HIV/AIDS program (Division of Infectious Diseases and Owen Clinic) is eighth in the nation.

U.S. News determines the “Best Hospitals 2011-2012” rankings from objective and subjective factors that vary by specialty. The factors include reputation among specialists, patient survival and safety, and care-related indicators such as nurse staffing and availability of advanced technologies.

More about the methodology >>

UC San Diego Health System also ranked in orthopedics and psychiatry and was high performing in otolaryngology, gynecology, neurology/ neurosurgery, and urology.

Read the UCSD press release >>

With a total of six top-50 specialties and eight high-performing specialties, UC San Diego Health System placed in the top 3 percent of over 4800 hospitals evaluated.

Two medical centers in the University of California system made the U.S. News “Honor Roll,” which lists the hospitals with high scores in at least 6 specialties. Among the 17 hospitals that qualified, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles is #5 and UC San Francisco Medical Center is #7.

Four Internal Medicine Subspecialties Shine for UCSD Medical Center on 2009 “America’s Best Hospitals” List

Ken Kaushansky, MD, MACP“Internal medicine subspecialties stood out again this year in the high rankings for UCSD Medical Center on the ‘America’s Best Hospitals’ list from U.S. News & World Report,” said Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine.

“And when you add in HIV care, which is listed separately every year and in which we are always ranked in the top 10 nationally, there is much for our faculty to be proud of,” he said.

America's Best HospitalsRated among the nation’s best were four UC San Diego Department of Medicine subspecialties:

With top-50 rankings in psychiatry (20th) and urology (39th) as well, UCSD Medical Center earned top-50 ratings in a total of six specialties.

The showing makes UCSD Medical Center one of the top-rated hospitals in the country. Of more than 4800 hospitals screened for the “America’s Best Hospitals” report, only 174 received a top-50 rating in even a single medical specialty.

“Our presence in multiple rankings is proof that our combination of innovative patient care, education and research is truly enviable,” said David Brenner, M.D., Chancellor for Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine, in his announcement to Health Sciences staff.

With this year’s high ranking in respiratory diseases, the Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine has achieved a decade of consecutive top-20 ratings.

The U.S. News rankings examined the quality of care in 16 medical subspecialties from cancer to urology.

Two medical centers in the University of California system ranked in the top 10 overall: Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles (3rd) and UCSF Medical Center (7th).

Read the full story from UC San Diego News

UCSD Nephrology Teaming with University of Alabama in O’Brien Center Grant

The Division of Nephrology in UC San Diego’s Department of Medicine has become part of a prestigious national kidney research network with the award of a five-year, $4.23 million O’Brien Research Center grant to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

The project, which will bring about $400,000 annually to UCSD, will focus on finding new ways to prevent and to treat kidney failure.

Read the full story
from Health Sciences Communications

UCSD nephrologists, headed by Ravindra L. Mehta, M.D., F.A.C.P., will operate one of the core research efforts in the UAB/UCSD O’Brien Center.

Dr. Mehta, professor of clinical medicine in the Division of Nephrology, is Associate Chair for Clinical Affairs in the Department of Medicine.

Two other UCSD Nephrology researchers will contribute their research expertise in genetics and molecular markers of kidney injury:

The O’Brien Center funding comes from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. There are only eight O’Brien kidney research centers in the United States.

More Information: