Progress: the UC San Diego – Universidade Eduardo Mondlane Medical Education Partnership Initiative

In this official video, Dr. Emilia Noormahomed describes the goals and progress of the UC San Diego—Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) program in Mozambique.

Map of Africa showing location of MozambiqueEmilia Noormahomed, MD, PhD, is UEM principal investigator of the MEPI project, which is intended to strengthen Mozambique’s medical education system by building infrastructure to support medical training, research and technology.

Noormahomed is associate professor in the Parasitology Section, Department of Microbiology, at UEM and associate professor of medicine at UC San Diego.

In their partnership, UEM receives the bulk of the grant funding and UC San Diego provides partners and mentors to help UEM meet its goals.  |  More about UC San Diego’s role

The UC San Diego Internal Medicine Residency Training Program offers a global medicine elective in which residents rotate to the UEM’s Maputo Central Hospital in Mozambique for a four-week period.  |  More about the elective

MEPI is a joint initiative of the United States National Institutes of Health and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

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Internal Medicine Residency Training Program

Medical Education Partnership Initiative

Dr. Victoria Ojeda Receives UCGHI Junior Faculty Fellowship Award

Dr. Victoria OjedaVictoria Ojeda, MPH, PhD, public health researcher and assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Global Public Health, has received a Junior Faculty Fellowship Program award for 2013-2014 from the University of California Global Health Institute (UCGHI).

The UCGHI Junior Faculty Fellowship Program, funded by a private donor, supports global health investigators in focused, multidisciplinary projects to develop their skills in investigation, training and leadership.

The award will support Ojeda’s ongoing work with deportees in Tijuana, Baja California, funding her project, “Tijuana Business Attitudes Toward Deportees and the Acceptability of an Employment Opportunities Program.”

Ojeda’s related Tijuana study, “Social incorporation following deportation and implications for health status and access to care,” is supported by a UCGHI GloCal Health Fellowship award she received in 2012. The GloCal Fellowship, a one-year mentored research fellowship, is a program of the National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center and a UCGHI consortium.

Ojeda focuses her research on substance use, HIV/AIDS infection, and mental health co-morbidities in migrant populations, including injection drug users and female sex workers. Through a number of studies in Tijuana and elsewhere, she is examining how patterns of population movement, including migration and deportation, affect the transmission of HIV/AIDS and other blood-borne infections in the United States-Mexico border region.

Ojeda earned her MPH and PhD in Community Health Sciences at the School of Public Health at UCLA and completed a NIMH Post-doctoral fellowship in Mental Health Policy at the Department of Health Care Policy at the Harvard Medical School.

She is principal investigator of a five-year, NIDA-funded K01 career development project Mexican Female Migration, Substance Use, Sex work, and HIV Risks in Tijuana (Mujer Migrante). She is a research associate of the UCSD Center for Comparative Immigration Studies and a faculty member in the UCSD-SDSU Joint Doctoral Program in Global Public Health.

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UC San Diego Health System Awarded “A”s for Patient Safety

UC San Diego Health System was honored with two separate “A” Hospital Safety Scores by The Leapfrog Group, an independent national nonprofit run by employers and other large purchasers of health benefits. The A scores were awarded in the latest update to the Hospital Safety Score℠, the A, B, C, D or F scores assigned to US hospitals based on preventable medical errors, injuries accidents, and infections. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom

Forty Department of Medicine Physicians on National “Top Doctors” List for 2012-2013

Forty Department of Medicine physicians are among the 137 UC San Diego Health System doctors designated Top Doctors by U.S.News & World Report for 2012-2013.  |  See a photo gallery of the Department of Medicine honorees

U.S. News teamed with Castle Connolly Medical Ltd., publisher of America’s Top Doctors and other consumer health guides, to create its Top Doctors™ list.

Of the 40 honorees from the Department of Medicine this year, 20 are among Castle Connolly’s top 1% in the nation. All physicians listed as Top Doctors are considered to be in the top 10%.

In the following list, an asterisk indicates the physician is in Castle Connolly’s Top 1%.

U.S. News and Castle Connolly use a combination of peer nomination and physician-directed analysis to create their Top Doctors™ database.

In the Spotlight: Global Public Health Division’s El Cuete and Mujer Mas Segura Projects

Dr. Steffanie Strathdee on El Cuete outreachAs the XIX International AIDS Conference met in Washington, DC, this month, Science highlighted the UC San Diego Division of Global Public Health’s El Cuete project and KPBS released a video and story about another of the division’s studies, Mujer Mas Segura.

Science magazine profiled the El Cuete project in a special issue, HIV/AIDS in America, released to coincide with the International AIDS Conference. Read “My Virus Is Your Virus” in Science

In the local media, KPBS interviewed Dr. Steffanie Strathdee (pictured at left above) and Dr. Jose Luis Burgos about the Changing HIV Risks in Female Sex Workers-Injection Drug Users on the Mexico-US Border study, known as Mujer Mas Segura.  Go to video story “UC San Diego Study Aims To Reduce The Risks In The Sex Trade”

Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, is Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences and Harold Simon Professor and Chief of the UC San Diego Division of Global Public Health. She directs the UC San Diego Global Health Initiative and is founding co-director of the UC Global Health Institute’s Center for Migration and Health.

Jose Luis Burgos, MD, MPH, is assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Global Public Health.

Related stories from UC San Diego and the University of California:

Needle Sharing May Play a Major Role in Transmission of Syphilis

Dr. Steffanie Strathdee and coworkers in the Division of Global Public Health and the Department of Psychiatry are the authors of a new research report featured in the UCSD story, “Needle Sharing May Play a Major Role in Transmission of Syphilis.”

BusinessWeek, U.S.News & World Report, and local media including KPBS and 10News have carried the story.

Steffanie A. Strathdee, Ph.D., is Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences and Harold Simon Professor and Chief of the Division of Global Public Health; Director of the Center for Migration and Health; and Director of the Global Health Initiative at UCSD.

Other coauthors in the Division of Global Public Health are Melanie L. A. Rusch, M.Sc., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine; and postdoctoral fellow Oralia Loza, Ph.D. Dr. Loza is now Assistant Professor of Public Health Sciences at the University of Texas at El Paso.

UCSD GI/Endoscopy Unit is One of the Nation’s Best

The GI/Endoscopy unit at UCSD is one of the top in the United States in rankings just released by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE).The rankings are part of a new ASGE Endoscopy Unit Recognition Program, which promotes quality improvement and recognizes the centers that meet the highest standards for patient safety and quality of care.Honors went to 56 GI/endoscopy units in all.

The UCSD GI/Endoscopy unit is a clinical service of the Division of Gastroenterology under the direction of Thomas J. Savides, MD.

Dr. Savides is Gastroenterology Clinical Services Chief and Director of the Interventional Endoscopy Program at UCSD Medical Center.

The ASGE is a highly respected medical professional society in the field of gastrointestinal endoscopy. Its mission is to advance the practice of GI endoscopy through education and advocacy.

Read the full story from UC San Diego Health Sciences Communications

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New 5-Year Grant Is a Boon for Major UCSD Study on HIV and the Brain

Why does HIV infection cause dementia in some patients and not in others?

With help from a new 5-year, $3.7 million federal grant, UC San Diego clinician-researcher Dr. Davey M. Smith is looking for the answer.

He and his coworkers will study HIV in a total of 1000 HIV-infected patients in Brazil, China, India, Romania, and the U.S.

In these five countries, three major subtypes of the HIV virus are found.

Dr. Davey Smith

His latest study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, will look for the causes of AIDS dementia in HIV subtypes from five countries (in red on the map above).

Dr. Smith hopes to find out which HIV subtypes, or clades, are more likely to cause neurological damage, and why the affected individuals are susceptible.

Dr. Smith is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases. He joined the faculty in 2003 as a clinician and translational researcher.

He learned in January that the National Institute of Mental Health had decided to fund his study. The title is “A Multi-site Investigation into the Effect of HIV Clade on Neurocognitive Impairment.”

It’s the first study of its kind.

“There’s a need to compare the HIV subtypes in their genetic makeup and their effect on the brain,” Dr. Smith says. “Most of it is still an open question.”

The HIV found in the rest of the world
is very different from that
in the U.S. and Europe.

“Everything we know about the way HIV affects the brain is based on the HIV virus that’s found in the United States and Europe,” he says. “The HIV found in the rest of the world is very different.”

HIV mutates rapidly as it enters new environments, both in the world and in the human body. Not only is HIV in China different from HIV in Romania; HIV in an individual’s brain is different from the HIV in his or her blood.

“HIV is one of the most diverse organisms, if not the most diverse organism we have,” Dr. Smith says. “It’s a hundred times more diverse than influenza.”

Researchers are just beginning to understand the genetic variations of HIV and how they affect the way the virus is transmitted.

Dr. Smith has developed a way to inspect the HIV virus for its genetic signature, a pattern of mutations in the HIV gene.

In the new project, he and his team will use that technique to compare the genetic makeup of HIV in blood versus brain, in individuals with and without neurological damage, in the five countries.

Researchers will look at
the “genetic signature” of HIV
across the world.

The study is an example of translational research, which is a high priority at UC San Diego and in the Department of Medicine.

“UCSD is a great place for doing translational research, applying basic science to clinical problems,” Dr. Smith says. “There’s very strong support for it here.”

“The HIV research team,” he adds, “is a really great group of people.”

Dr. Smith joined the faculty in 2003 after training at UC San Diego in both internal medicine and basic and clinical research. After his internal medicine residency training and a term as Chief Resident, he completed a fellowship in Infectious Diseases and a Masters of Advanced Studies (M.A.S.) in Clinical Research here.

He is Medical Director of the San Diego County Early Intervention Program at the Antiviral Research Center (AVRC).

He directs two co-infection clinics at the Veterans Administration San Diego Healthcare System (VASDHS), one for HIV/Hepatitis C and one for HIV/HPV infection.

He conducts his clinical research at the AVRC and his basic science studies in his UC San Diego campus laboratory.

“UCSD is a great place
for doing translational research.”

His advisor and mentor is Dr. Douglas D. Richman, Professor of Pathology and Medicine and the Florence Seeley Riford Chair in AIDS Research.

Dr. Richman is Director of the UC San Diego Center for AIDS Research (CFAR).

Another HIV researcher whom Dr. Smith considers a mentor is Dr. Joseph K. Wong, now Associate Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at UC San Francisco and a staff physician at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

As both a clinician and a translational research virologist, Dr. Smith divides his time between the laboratory and the patient clinic.

“It means a lot to me,” he says, “to be able to do both patient care and research.”

His goal, both in the laboratory and in his clinics, is to provide better care for individuals who are infected with HIV.

“It’s good to see people getting better
and going on in their lives.”

On a recent trip to Ethiopia, Dr. Smith saw HIV-infected patients who had not had access to the antiretroviral treatments we have here in the U.S. and Europe.

“Seeing them reminded me of where we were in the early 90’s here,” he said. “It was heartbreaking; HIV is so destructive. We have got to do better in getting our antiretroviral therapy out there.

“But we’re getting there,” he says. “It’s good to see people getting better and going on in their lives. It’s good to see things change.

“That perspective, I think, makes me a better researcher,” he says. “I get to see the why. Why this research is so important.”

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