$100 Million Gift Launches Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center

UC San Diego-based effort will speed discoveries to new drugs and treatments for patients

Dr. Catriona Jamieson

In a bold and singular step toward delivering the therapeutic promise of human stem cells, businessman and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford has committed $100 million to the creation of the Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center at the University of California, San Diego… Read the full story from the UC San Diego News Center

Pictured: 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.

Enhancer RNAs Alter Gene Expression

New class of molecules may be key emerging “enhancer therapy”

In a pair of distinct but complementary papers, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and colleagues illuminate the functional importance of a relatively new class of RNA molecules. The work, published online this week in the journal Nature, suggests modulation of “enhancer-directed RNAs” or “eRNAs” could provide a new way to alter gene expression in living cells, perhaps affecting the development or pathology of many diseases. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Christopher K. Glass

Christopher K. Glass, MD, PhD

Drs. Christopher Glass (left) and M. Geoffrey Rosenfeld (at right below) are the principal investigators of the two studies reported in Nature.

M. Geoffrey Rosenfeld, MD

M. Geoffrey Rosenfeld, MD

Christopher Glass, MD, PhD, is professor of medicine and cellular and molecular medicine. M. Geoffrey Rosenfeld is professor of medicine and biology and is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute professor.

Both are members of the Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism in the Department of Medicine.

Citations for the study reports:

Glass report:

Michael T. Y. Lam, Han Cho, Hanna P. Lesch, David Gosselin, Sven Heinz, Yumiko Tanaka-Oishi, Christopher Benner, Minna U. Kaikkonen, Aneeza S. Kim, Mika Kosaka, Cindy Y. Lee, Andy Watt, Tamar R. Grossman, Michael G. Rosenfeld, Ronald M. Evans & Christopher K. Glass.  Rev-Erbs repress macrophage gene expression by inhibiting enhancer-directed transcription.  Nature (2013) doi:10.1038/nature12209. Published online 02 June 2013.  |   Full Text  (UCSD only)

Rosenfeld report:

Wenbo Li, Dimple Notani, Qi Ma, Bogdan Tanasa, Esperanza Nunez, Aaron Yun Chen, Daria Merkurjev, Jie Zhang, Kenneth Ohgi, Xiaoyuan Song, Soohwan Oh, Hong-Sook Kim, Christopher K. Glass & Michael G. Rosenfeld. Functional roles of enhancer RNAs for oestrogen-dependent transcriptional activation. Nature (2013) doi:10.1038/nature12210. Published online 02 June 2013.  |  Full text  (UCSD only)

More Information:

Drug Treatment Corrects Autism Symptoms in Mouse Model

An old drug gives hope for new treatment in autism

Autism results from abnormal cell communication. Testing a new theory, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have used a newly discovered function of an old drug to restore cell communications in a mouse model of autism, reversing symptoms of the devastating disorder.

The findings are published in the March 13, 2013 issue of the journal PLOS ONE. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


First author of the study report is Robert K. Naviaux, MD, PhD, professor of medicine in the Division of Medical Genetics and professor in the departments of pediatrics and pathology.

Naviaux leads a medical genetics research laboratory whose two major areas of study are the mitochondrial mechanisms of disease and development and evolutionary systems biology and marine metagenomics. He is founder and co-director of the UC San Diego Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disease Center.

Naviaux earned his MD and PhD degrees at the Indiana University School of Medicine and received his advanced training in virology and molecular biology at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. There, in the laboratory of Dr. Inder Verma, he conducted investigations in gene therapy and retrovirus biology.

Other Department of Medicine authors of the report are Laura L. Dugan, MD, who is chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Larry L. Hillblom Chair in Geriatric Medicine; research associates Lin Wang and Qingbo Tang; and Mihael Rogac.

Citation for the report:  Naviaux RK, Zolkipli Z, Wang L, Nakayama T, Naviaux JC, et al. (2013) Antipurinergic Therapy Corrects the Autism-Like Features in the Poly(IC) Mouse Model. PLoS ONE 8(3): e57380. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057380  |  Read the report

Chronic Stress Spawns Protein Aggregates Linked to Alzheimer’s

Repeated stress triggers the production and accumulation of insoluble tau protein aggregates inside the brain cells of mice, say researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine in a new study published in the March 26 Online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Dr. Wylie Vale Dr. Wylie Vale was one of two Salk Institute for Biological Studies researchers who contributed to this research. Dr. Vale, who held an adjunct professorship in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, collaborated on numerous research projects at UC San Diego. He passed away on January 6, 2012.  |  Read memorial

Read abstract of study report

Citation for the study report: Rissman RA, Staup MA, Lee AR, Justice NJ, Rice KC, Vale W, Sawchenko PE. Corticotropin-releasing factor receptor-dependent effects of repeated stress on tau phosphorylation, solubility, and aggregation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Apr 17;109(16):6277-82. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1203140109. Epub 2012 Mar 26.

Dr. Seth Field Elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation

Dr. Seth FieldSeth J. Field, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, has been elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI).

ASCI membership is a distinction that recognizes the nation’s most outstanding physician-scientists.

“Seth is a highly innovative biomedical researcher, a caring clinician, and a teacher who devotes himself to mentoring learners at all levels,” said Wolfgang Dillmann, MD, Professor and Interim Chair of the Department of Medicine, who supported Dr. Field’s nomination. “He embodies the ideals of the ASCI.”

“It has been a pleasure to watch Seth’s career take off and succeed at UCSD,” said Jerrold M. Olefsky, MD, who proposed Dr. Field’s nomination. “He’s an outstanding and incisive scientist who still manages to be an exceptional clinician and teacher.”

Dr. Olefsky is Associate Dean for Scientific Affairs and Distinguished Professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Dr. Field has earned international recognition and major extramural funding for his original research. His investigations focus on the metabolism and signaling pathways of phosphoinositides, a group of lipid signaling molecules implicated in the pathophysiology of a range of human diseases.  |  Visit his laboratory website

“His findings,” said Dr. Dillmann, “have catalyzed a major paradigm shift in our understanding of the export of proteins from the cell.”

In 2009, Dr. Field and coworkers discovered that the Golgi protein GOLPH3 binds to phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate in the trans-Golgi membranes and connects the Golgi to F-actin via binding the unconventional myosin MYO18A. The resulting tensile force plays an important role in the secretory pathway by drawing vesicles and tubules from the Golgi. In the process, the Golgi apparatus acquires its characteristic stretched and flattened shape.

Dr. Field and colleagues reported the finding in the journal Cell in October 2009. The discovery, announced in a UC San Diego press release, earned worldwide attention.  |  Read the report in Cell (free full text)

Now, in one of many subsequent studies, Dr. Field is examining how GOLPH3 may function to cause cancer and whether there are potential therapeutic targets in the GOLPH3 pathway. GOLPH3 has been identified as a cancer gene commonly associated with human cancers, including breast cancer.

This work is supported by a 5-year, $3.8 million Era of Hope Scholar Award for Breast Cancer Research he received last year from the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.

Dr. Field collaborated with Judith A. Varner, PhD, and coworkers in the tumor inflammation studies reported in the June 14, 2011, issue of the journal Cancer Cell. They have identified a single point at which myeloid cells are triggered to enter cancer cells and promote tumor growth: the PI-3 kinase-gamma enzyme. The report, pinpointing what may be an important new therapeutic target for cancer treatments, was highlighted in a mini-review in the same journal.  |  Read the report in Cancer Cell (free full text)

Dr. Field has also collaborated with Dr. Ronald Evans and coworkers in the Gene Expression Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in defining a novel negative feedback pathway for insulin signaling. The results identify a new target area for the development of insulin-sensitizing drugs.

In 2008, Dr. Field was honored with an NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, a five-year, $ 2.3-million research grant. Recipients of the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award are selected for the exceptional creativity and potential impact of their research.

In an earlier honor that brought major funding, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund granted Dr. Field a Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences in 2004. The five-year, $500,000 career awards are given to support outstanding postdoctoral researchers in their transition from advanced training to academic faculty service. The funding supported Dr. Field’s project, “Comprehensive analysis of phosphoinositide function.”

An active teacher in the Department of Medicine’s education programs, Dr. Field is also a member of the teaching and research faculty of the UC San Diego Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program. In addition, he is an investigator in the Cancer Biology program at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

Dr. Field received his MD degree from Harvard Medical School and his PhD in Genetics in the laboratory of Michael E. Greenberg, PhD, at Harvard. After his internship and residency in internal medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, he completed his fellowship in endocrinology at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

He returned to Harvard for his postdoctoral research training in cell biology and systems biology in the laboratory of Lewis C. Cantley, PhD. In 2005, he joined the UC San Diego Department of Medicine faculty as an assistant professor in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Dr. Field and the other honorees for 2011, including Dr. Maike Sander from UC San Diego’s Department of Pediatrics, were introduced April 16 at the annual joint meeting of the ASCI and the Association of American Physicians in Chicago.

With the addition of Dr. Field, the ASCI now includes 63 current members of the faculty of the Department of Medicine.