Stuck on Flu

How a sugar-rich mucus barrier traps the virus – and it gets free to infect

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have shown for the first time how influenza A viruses snip through a protective mucus net to both infect respiratory cells and later cut their way out to infect other cells. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego News Center

Dr. Robert T. "Chip" Schooley

Dr. Robert T. Schooley

Project co-investigators from the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine are Robert T. “Chip” Schooley, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the division; associate project scientist Xing-Quan Zhang; and Hui-Wen Chen, now at the School of Veterinary Medicine at National Taiwan University.

Dr. Schooley is academic affairs vice chair for the Department of Medicine.

Citation for the study report in Virology Journal:

Miriam Cohen, Xing-Quan Zhang, Hooman P Senaati, Hui-Wen Chen, Nissi M Varki, Robert T Schooley, Pascal Gagneux. Influenza A penetrates host mucus by cleaving sialic acids with neuraminidase. Virology Journal 2013, 10:321 (22 November 2013) doi:10.1186/1743-422X-10-321.  |  Full text (Open access)

More news from the Division of Infectious Diseases:


Presenting at Medicine Grand Rounds May 9: Yu Xie, MD

Yu Xie, MDPictured:
Yu Xie, MD, incoming chief medical resident in the Internal Medicine Residency Training Program at UC San Diego, presenting “Chronic Thromboembolic Pulmonary Hypertension – Implications for the Left Heart” at Medicine Grand Rounds on May 8.

Watch the video (UCSD only)

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.

Research Profile: Dr. Timothy Morris, Clinical and Research Specialist in VTE

Dr. Timothy MorrisTimothy Morris, MD, has received a 5-year R01 grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute for his study, “Deep vein thrombosis and chronic thrombotic venous disease.”

The goal of the study is to find out why deep vein thrombi fail to dissolve completely in some individuals, leaving them with blood clot remnants that become scars and obstruct blood flow.

This condition, called chronic thrombotic venous disease, can cause disfigurement and chronic leg pain.   |  Read the public abstract of Dr. Morris’s grant

Dr. Morris, Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, is a clinical and research specialist in venous thromboembolism (VTE).

He helped create the VTE prevention protocols for which the UCSD Medical Center has won national recognition.

Dr. Morris has received a number of honors and research funding awards for his work.

He was recently awarded the American College of Chest Physicians and The CHEST Foundation “Grant in Venous Thromboembolism” for 2009-2011 for a multicenter project entitled “User-Friendly VTE Prophylaxis.”In May of this year, the American Thoracic Society honored Dr. Morris with the “Certificate of Achievement as the Clinical Expert in Pulmonary Embolism.”

The California Thoracic Society named him Outstanding Clinician for 2008.

In 2003, Dr. Morris was awarded the first-ever “Distinguished Scholar in Thrombosis” by The CHEST Foundation of the American College of Chest Physicians.

The award, given for his project “Learning From Ourselves: Application of the Continuous Quality Improvement Model for the Management of Pulmonary Embolism,” was accompanied by a four-year salary support grant.

Dr. Morris is clinical service chief of the pulmonary and critical care program at the Hillcrest campus of the UCSD Medical Center. In addition, he is Medical Director of Respiratory Care and the Pulmonary Function Laboratory.

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High Rankings for Four UC San Diego Internal Medicine Subspecialties in 2008 “Best Hospitals” Report

Four UC San Diego Department of Medicine subspecialties are among the top in the nation in the 2008 “Best Hospitals” list from U.S. News & World Report:

The report was released July 10.

Read the full story from
UC San Diego Health Sciences Communications

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“A High Life” Symposium Honors the First 50 years in the Remarkable Career of Dr. John B. West

Dr. John B. West, UCSD Division of PhysiologyWorld leaders in respiratory research gathered here in a special symposium December 14 to honor the career of a luminary UCSD scientist and educator, Professor John B. West, MD, PhD, DSc, a member of the Division of Physiology in the UCSD Department of Medicine.

Dr. West is a world-renowned respiratory physiologist and high-altitude scientist and historian.

During the past 50 years, he has illuminated diverse aspects of respiratory physiology and has inspired countless other researchers around the world.

He is Distinguished Professor of Medicine at UCSD, and will become Professor Emeritus in January 2008. However, he plans to continue unabated his current roles in research, education and writing.

Titled “A High Life” and known here on campus as the “WestFest,” the December 14 event paid tribute to the first 50 years of Dr. West’s scientific career with a day-long program of presentations.

“The celebration was a great success,” said Dr. Peter D. Wagner, Chief of the Division of Physiology and lead organizer of the WestFest.

He said nearly 100 distinguished visitors, UCSD faculty, and guests attended the day-long event.  View the symposium program (PDF)

Cover of brochure for A High Life, a symposium in honor of Dr. John B. WestThe WestFest presenters spoke on seven facets of respiratory function, addressing all of the major areas into which Dr. West’s groundbreaking work has extended.

Dr. West’s studies have explored the effects of reduced gravity and, separately, decreased oxygen availability on pulmonary function, in venues from Tibet and Everest to the International Space Station. His findings are published in over 450 scientific articles and more than 20 books.

He was the first to study the respiratory effects of high altitude on the high slopes of Everest, joining Sir Edmund Hillary in the Silver Hut expedition of 1960-1961.

The WestFest program concluded with Dr. West’s own retrospective, “Highs and Lows in Three Countries.”

After the presentations, Dr. Ken Kaushansky, Helen M. Ranney Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine, presented Dr. West with a framed copy of the day’s program signed by all speakers, a bound volume of tributes penned by many of Dr. West’s colleagues who could not attend, and a bound edition of all of his research papers from 1957-2007.

The day’s events ended with an evening reception and dinner at the UCSD Faculty Club.

The symposium was recorded on video and will be released as a 4-DVD set in January 2008.

Cover of brochure for A High Life, a symposium in honor of Dr. John B. West
Available on DVD
in January 2008

To order copies of the DVD set: Send an email to Dr. Wagner ( or Lisa Richter ( with:

  • Your contact information
  • The number of sets you wish to purchase.

Payment ($25.00 per 4-DVD set) will be requested when the DVDs are ready for mailing in early January.

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