New in Brief

UCI Campus Architect Builds Orphanage in India

From designing university buildings, hospitals and research centers in Orange County to building orphanages in India, there’s one thing that UCI Campus Architect and Associate Vice Chancellor Rebekah Gladson can say she’s not short of: a diverse range of projects.

Gladson was in a for a big change of scenery when six years ago, she and her husband Paul Cooley decided to volunteer with Engineering Ministries International by building an orphanage in India. With Gladson being an award-winning architect and her husband being a water and environmental engineer, the pair thought that they could put their skills to good use and  help those in need.

When the couple first arrived in Hyderabad to begin construction of the orphanage, they had to quickly make some adjustments in order to carry out their goals. Instead of using a computer to create site plans, they had to revert back to the old-fashioned way and use a pen and pencil for designs. Adding to the list of unexpected changes was the fact that Gladson and her husband were the only licensed professionals – the rest of the crew consisted of volunteering college students.

However, despite the forced adjustments that others may have found discouraging, Gladson and Cooley persevered and ended up creating a simple, one-story concrete building able to house 200 orphans from the streets of India. The site already gives children a place to feel safe and loved, but the project has much more in store.

Gladson and Cooley are currently working on phase two of the building to increase the orphanage’s capacity to 1,000 children. Additionally, a school will be built that has 46 classrooms and many science, computer, and library labs.

The crew hopes to have the orphanage completed by February 2012.

Having Fatty Food Withdrawal Symptoms?

UCI researcher Danielle Piomelli and her team have discovered a potential reason why people tend to overeat fatty foods such as potato chips and French fries. Their studies show that a person “can’t have just one” because the digestive system releases a chemical called endocannabinoid when the taste buds register the fatty contents of such dishes. Endocannabinoid is a chemical similar to Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC),  which is also found in marijuana. This chemical acts in a signaling pathway that spurs the body to maintain and continue its intake of food, even if that food is detrimental in its fat content. Research on this chemical will continue, with perhaps the goal of finding a way to block the cannabinoid receptors in the brain, reducing the urge to intake more food and potentially provide a solution to obesity, diabetes, and cancer caused by excess consumption of fatty foods.

Princeton Review Crowns UCI one of the “Best in the West

UC Irvine now graces Princeton Review’s list of “Best Western Colleges” on their “College Ranking” website. Out of 121 schools, UC Irvine takes its place alongside UC Davis and UCLA, deemed to be “a good fit for studious undergrads looking to benefit from the University of California’s famous faculty and ample research opportunities.” UC Irvine students, Princeton Review states, are likely to be in the company of “the best and the brightest”, and can expect to “say hello to a Nobel Laureate on the way to class” and see “an Olympic gold medalist practicing with the women’s volleyball team in the same afternoon.” Although such occurrences may be more seldom than stated, there is no doubt, however, that UC Irvine remains one of the best schools in the state, if not the nation and beyond.

UCI Medical School Kicks off the iMed Initiative

The days of simply receiving a white lab coat upon entrance of the UCI Medical School program are far gone thanks to the addition of the iMedEd Initiative.

Traditionally, medical students are awarded a white lab coat to mark the beginning of their medical career, but students received a little something extra during the annual ceremony on August 5: a brand new iPad.

This is the second year that med students have received innovative devices. However, these are not just ordinary iPads – these tablet computers come equipped with notes, course outlines, lecture slides, and textbooks that are required for the upcoming academic year.

The iPad is not the only way the iMedEd Initiative is using digital technology to enhance the education of students. The program also uses the West Coast’s first portable ultrasound training curriculum. Advanced telemedicine and medical simulation facilities are included in the curriculum as well.

The cost of providing iPads for   every med student is possible thanks to the $1.2 million gift from John Tu, co-founder and CEO of Kingston Technology in Fountain Valley. His donation will cover the expenses until 2015.

The new program created under the iMedEd Initiative also allows students from UCI’s School of Medicine and Australia’s University of New England School of Rural Medicine to work together in real-time telemedicine and medical simulation practices.

In addition, second-year med students who have already had a year of working with the iPad have been exploring its uses as a health tool outside the classroom.

So far, students have been able to use the iPad as a patient-tracking system at a free clinic in Mexico as well as for projects in Vietnam and India.