Novel Phage Therapy Saves Patient with Multidrug-Resistant Bacterial Infection

Intravenous viruses are used to target deadly bacterium; dramatic case suggests potential alternative to failing antibiotics —

Scientists and physicians at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, working with colleagues at the U.S. Navy Medical Research Center – Biological Defense Research Directorate (NMRC-BDRD), Texas A&M University, a San Diego-based biotech and elsewhere, have successfully used an experimental therapy involving bacteriophages — viruses that target and consume specific strains of bacteria — to treat a patient near death from a multidrug-resistant bacterium. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Health Newsroom

New Video Series Chronicles AIDS Epidemic in Tijuana

“HIV/SIDA: The Epidemic in Tijuana” focuses on UC San Diego researchers’ efforts to track and prevent the spread of HIV among the city’s most at-risk populations —

The new documentary “HIV/SIDA: The Epidemic in Tijuana” offers an unflinching look at the challenges facing researchers from the University of California, San Diego as they attempt to identify and treat people who inject drugs, sex workers, transgender women and others who are at high risk for HIV infection in Tijuana. The program, which was shot over two years, premieres Oct. 5 at 8 p.m. on UCSD-TV and can be viewed at www.uctv.tv/hiv-sida. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


The film features the efforts of Dr. Steffanie Strathdee, her Division of Global Public Health colleagues and a multidisciplinary, multinational team of medical professionals to trace and arrest the spread of AIDS in Tijuana.

Dr. Strathdee is Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences, Harold Simon Professor and Chief of the Division of Global Public Health at UC San Diego.

The four-part documentary, based on the book Tomorrow Is a Long Time by Malcolm Linton and Jon Cohen, premiered on UCSD-TV on October 5. It was supported by funding from the Ford Foundation.

Find more about the documentary here: HIV/SIDA: The Epidemic in Tijuana – UCSD-TV – University of California Television.

Binational Police Program in Tijuana Targets HIV Reduction

Effort also aims to improve safety of officers —

Research consistently shows that policing practices, such as confiscating or breaking needles, are key factors in the HIV epidemic among persons who inject drugs. Police officers themselves are also at risk of acquiring HIV or viral hepatitis if they experience needle-stick injuries on the job — a significant source of anxiety and staff turn-over.

A binational team from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission, Mexico Section has launched a new research project aimed at promoting prevention of HIV and other blood-borne infections. The effort is led by Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, professor and director of the UC San Diego Global Health Initiative, Leo Beletsky, JD, MPH, associate professor, and Gudelia Rangel, PhD, deputy general director for migrant health and executive secretary of the Mexico Section of the Mexico-United States Border Health Commission, in partnership with the Tijuana Police Department and Police Academy. The binational team will offer and evaluate Proyecto ESCUDO (Project SHIELD), a police education program designed to align law enforcement and HIV prevention in Tijuana. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Global Public Health Division Video Wins 2nd Prize in Video Challenge Competition for UC Global Health Day

A video made by doctoral candidate Jaime Arredondo and other members of the Division of Global Public Health has won second prize in the Video Challenge Competition for UC Global Health Day.

The video, “The Forgotten: Clinica del Bordo,” takes viewers to the San Diego-Tijuana border, where Arredondo and many other members of the global public health division provide wound care, HIV testing and other basic health services to people who live in the Tijuana River Canal.

Canal Wound Clinic, or Clinica del Bordo, is an outreach effort of UC San Diego’s NIDA-funded Proyecto el Cuete IV program, Impact of Drug Policy Reform on the HIV Risk Environment Among IDUs in Tijuana.

“This brief video embodies our division’s philosophy of integrating research, training and service to improve the health of our border community,” said Division of Global Public Health chief Steffanie Strathdee, PhD.

“I am very proud that our work is upheld by our students, as they are our next generation of health providers and prevention scientists.”

Dr. Strathdee is Harold Simon Professor, Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences; Chief, Division of Global Public Health and Director of the UC San Diego Global Health Initiative.

Jaime Arredondo is an AIDS International Training and Research (AITRP) fellow.

The video is here:

Doctorate Program Will Study Substance Abuse and Its Consequences

Collaboration between UC San Diego and SDSU among first in nation —

A new Joint Doctoral Program (JDP) in Interdisciplinary Research on Substance Use has been launched by the Division of Global Public Health in the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and San Diego State University’s School of Social Work. The program will emphasize research devoted to studying the use and misuse of alcohol and drugs – and related social and health consequences. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Dr. Steffanie Strathdee

Dr. Strathdee.

Co-directors of the program are Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, and Maria Luisa Zúñiga, PhD.

Dr. Strathdee is Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences, head of the UC San Diego Global Health Initiative and Harold Simon Professor and Chief of the Division of Global Public Health at UC San Diego.

Dr. Zúñiga is associate professor and behavioral epidemiologist in the Division of Global Public Health and associate professor in the San Diego State University School of Social Work.

Read the joint doctoral program catalog description

Dr. Jamila Stockman to Receive Linda Saltzman New Investigator Award

Dr. Jamila Stockman

Dr. Jamila Stockman

Jamila Stockman, PhD, MPH, has been selected to receive the Linda Saltzman New Investigator Award, which recognizes a single outstanding new investigator in the field of gender-based violence and health.

Dr. Stockman, an infectious disease epidemiologist, is assistant professor in the Division of Global Public Health. She focuses her work on intimate partner violence (IPV) and substance abuse among low-income, underserved, vulnerable women.


Read the UC San Diego Newsroom press release


Said Dr. Steffanie Strathdee, chief of the Division of Global Public Health, “This is, without question, the most prestigious scholarly award in this field of study. Dr. Stockman’s selection indicates that she, at a very early stage in her career, is recognized as a national leader in this area.

“It is a true mark of excellence for the Division of Global Public Health, the Department of Medicine and the Center on Gender Equity and Health at UC San Diego to include Dr. Stockman among our faculty,” she said.

Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, is Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences & Harold Simon Professor and Chief of the Division of Global Public Health and Director of the Global Health Initiative.

Gender-based violence is increasingly recognized as central to health and development globally, Strathdee said.

Dr. Stockman holds a PhD in Epidemiology with a focus on infectious diseases from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a Master’s degree in public health from the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. She is an alumna of the UC San Diego National Center of Leadership in Academic Medicine.

She currently holds a UC San Diego Clinical and Translational Research Institute Academic-Community Partnership Pilot Grant for her project, “The Role of Peer Navigators and Social Support in the HIV Care Continuum: Perceptions of HIV-Positive Women.”

For the Linda Saltzman New Investigator Award, the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control solicits nominations from senior investigators in the field and convenes a committee of experts to select an outstanding individual to receive this national award once every two years.  Candidates for the award have 2-10 years of experience in their field.

Preventing Drug-Abuse-Related HIV in Tijuana by Educating Police

Dr. Steffanie Strathdee

Dr. Steffanie Strathdee

The NIH Record recently highlighted Dr. Steffanie Strathdee, Dr. Leo Beletsky, and their binational team for their efforts to prevent drug abuse-related HIV in Tijuana, Mexico, by changing the knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of the Tijuana police.

With support from the Open Society Institute and the UC San Diego Center for AIDS Research, the pilot phase of the project taught Tijuana police instructors how to prevent needle stick injuries by proper syringe handling, which advises them against breaking needles they apprehend from drug users. The training program is now being adopted by Tijuana’s police academy, whereby the police trainers will be teaching the program to their colleagues.

“We believe this program is the best way to reduce needle sharing among people who inject drugs, which is driven by policing practices,” Strathdee said.

The program will soon be tested in a newly funded grant by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Proyecto ESCUDO (Project Shield): Harmonizing Law Enforcement and HIV Prevention through a Police Education Program.

Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, is Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences and Harold Simon Professor and Chief of the Division of Global Public Health and Director of the Global Health Initiative.

Strathdee co-leads Proyecto ESCUDO with Leo Beletsky, JD, MPH, adjunct assistant professor in the Division of Global Public Health at UC San Diego and assistant professor of law and health sciences at the Northeastern University School of Law.

Richard Garfein and Kevin Patrick Named M2M Pioneers

Applying Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Technology to Verify Compliance with Tuberculosis Treatment Regimen

Dr. Richard Garfein

Dr. Richard Garfein

UC San Diego’s Richard Garfein and Kevin Patrick have been named M2M Pioneers for 2013 for their Video Directly Observed Therapy (VDOT) Program for tuberculosis.

The honor comes from Connected World magazine, which presents the M2M Pioneer awards to a small number of outstanding innovators in machine-to-machine technology each year.

The VDOT program uses smartphone video to verify that tuberculosis patients comply with the painstaking six-month regimen of antibiotics required for a cure. Incomplete treatment fails to cure the TB and raises the risk that antibiotic-resistant strains of TB will develop.

Richard Garfein, PhD, MPH, an infectious disease epidemiologist, is professor of medicine in the Division of Global Public Health. The inspiration for the VDOT program came to him as he watched his children use smartphones to send videos to their friends.

Dr. Kevin Patrick

Dr. Kevin Patrick

Kevin Patrick, MD, MS, is director of the Center for Wireless and Population Health Systems at the Qualcomm Institute (the San Diego division of Calit2) and professor of family and preventive medicine in the Division of Preventive Medicine.

In their NIH-funded pilot study in San Diego and Tijuana in 2011-2012, Garfein and Patrick demonstrated that the VDOT program was an effective tool for ensuring that patients adhered to their treatment regimens.

They also showed that VDOT could reduce costs for the local public health agency; in the pilot study, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency. The agency’s only previous option had been to send health workers to patients’ homes to watch them take their medications.

Garfein and Patrick reported their results in an mHealth Summit Meeting abstract published in the Journal of Mobile Technology in Medicine.

Now, Garfein and colleagues are working on implementing the program on a larger scale through a public/private partnership with the Verizon Foundation, which provides funding and in-kind assistance.

The Garfein-Patrick team included other faculty and staff of the Global Public Health division and a number of specialists from the Qualcomm Institute.

Steffanie Strathdee, PhD

Dr. Steffanie Strathdee. Image ©International AIDS Society/Marcus Rose/Workers’ Photos. Used with permission.

“Congratulations to them both, and to Ramesh Rao and their team from the Qualcomm Institute, for this fantastic achievement and excellent teamwork,” said Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, Harold Simon Professor, Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences and chief of the Division of Global Public Health.

Ramesh Rao, PhD, director of the San Diego division of the Qualcomm Institute, holds the QUALCOMM Endowed Chair in Telecommunications and Information Technology. He is professor of electrical and computer engineering in the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego.

Said Garfein, “Working with Kevin and collaborating with the expert programmers at the Qualcomm Institute has been one of the highlights of my academic career.

“Although they are not included in the article because of the magazine’s information technology focus, we wouldn’t have been as successful if it weren’t for all the hard work by Jazmine Cuevas-Mota, Kelly Collins, and Fatima Muñoz in the Division of Global Public Health, and the dedicated employees of the San Diego County TB Control Program led by Dr. Kathleen Moser,” he said.

In the Division of Global Public Health, Cuevas-Mota is a project coordinator for Garfein, Collins is an assistant project coordinator and Muñoz is a postdoctoral fellow on the project.

“This has been a terrific project and it’s been a true pleasure to work with Richard and his team on it,” said Patrick.

“With a bit of luck, this could have world-wide impact on the health of the public. When all is said and done, this is why we are in this game.”

“This is very exciting and well deserved,” said Susan Taylor, PhD, UC San Diego professor of chemistry and biochemistry and pharmacology. She is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator in biophysics and structural biology.

“It has been so much fun for me to watch these amazing things unfold and to realize how much we can achieve by working together and building bridges across the boundaries of our campus. This is much of what makes UCSD so special.

UC San Diego Health Sciences Video: VDOT Technology Eases Monitoring for Patients with Tuberculosis

More Information:

Steffanie Strathdee Receives National Award of Excellence in Mentorship from National Hispanic Science Network

Steffanie Strathdee, PhD

Dr. Steffanie Strathdee. Image ©International AIDS Society/Marcus Rose/Workers’ Photos. Used with permission.

Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, has received the 2013 National Award of Excellence in Mentorship from the National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse.

Strathdee is Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences, Harold Simon Professor and Chief of the Division of Global Public Health at UC San Diego.

She accepted the award at the NHSN 13th International Conference in Bethesda, Maryland, October 9-11.

“I am deeply honored to be selected for this prestigious award,” Strathdee said. “Hispanics now represent the largest minority population in the U.S., but only about 3% of NIH-funded researchers are Hispanic. My goal is to try to bridge that gap.”

The National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse, established in 2001, teams with the National Institute on Drug Abuse to foster advances in Hispanic drug abuse research. Mentorship is a major component of its work.

Each year, the National Award of Excellence in Mentorship goes to an established research scientist who has made exceptional efforts to help young researchers succeed in peer-reviewed publications and/or grant applications in the area of Hispanic drug abuse.

In Memoriam: Harold J. Simon, MD, PhD

Harold J. Simon, MD, PhD

Harold J. Simon, MD, PhD

The Department of Medicine celebrates the life and mourns the passing on August 6 of Harold J. Simon, MD, PhD, professor emeritus of medicine and inaugural chief of the Division of International Health and Cross-Cultural Medicine, now the Division of Global Public Health.

An influential leader in the field of international health and health policy, Simon was a founding father of the UCSD School of Medicine. He was recruited to the school in 1966 and served as its first dean of admissions, education and student affairs.

He wove global health training into the curriculum, designing community-based and international programs for students. Among these were courses in Spanish and cross-cultural issues that were the first of their kind in the nation.

Nationally and internationally, Simon advanced global health training and cultural awareness in medicine. His many achievements included the establishment of the Division of International Health for the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. With particular concern for small, isolated countries, he advised developing nations as they established medical education and health care delivery systems.

In 2001, the Harold J. Simon Chair In International Health and Cross-Cultural Medicine was established in his honor at UCSD.

Quoted in a UCSD press release at that time, Simon said, “I think it is necessary for all students to realize that there are significant differences in disease incidence and prevalence, in the way health care is delivered, and how concepts of health and illness are viewed by diverse cultures throughout the world. Medicine doesn’t recognize any geographic or national borders.

“In a world where the inequalities of health are grotesque; where for many millions of people health is absent throughout life; where nevertheless every individual has the right to the enjoyment of health, are we as doctors content to leave things as they are?”

Dr. Steffanie StrathdeeThe Harold J. Simon Chair In International Health and Cross-Cultural Medicine is now held by Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences, Harold Simon Professor and Chief of the Division of Global Public Health.

Quoted in a La Jolla Patch memorial story about Simon last week, Strathdee said, “He will be remembered by our division as its founder and tireless mentor, and by his students the world over as their inspiration to a career in global health.

“For me personally,” she said, “I have lost a treasured friend.”

More Information:

Press release: UCSD Chair in International Health and Cross-Cultural Medicine Named For Harold J. Simon, M.D., Ph.D. UCSD School of Medicine News, Health Sciences Communications press release, February 8, 2001.  |  Read the story

Video interview: Harold Simon, Founding Father at UC San Diego School of Medicine. UCSD Medical Center video posted February 2, 2012. |  Watch video

Interview: Dr. Harold Simon of La Jolla reviews his legacy in medicine at UCSD. La Jolla Light interview posted on February 28, 2012.  |  Read interview

Memorial story: Harold Simon, Founding Member of UCSD School of Medicine, Dies at 85. La Jolla Patch story, posted on August 15, 2013.  |  Read story

Memorial story: First Dean of Admissions at UCSD’s School of Medicine. San Diego Union-Tribune, posted August 18, 2013.  |  Read story