News In Brief

Five UCs Collaborate on Federal Research

The Federal Government has awarded several UC medical campuses a grant to promote the creation of medical products and breakthroughs to combat deadly diseases.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has awarded UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Davis, UC San Francisco and UC Irvine with a combined grant of $12 million to promote the development of health care products for the treatment of heart, lung and blood diseases.
The grant money will be administered by the newly created UC Center for Accelerate Innovation (UC CAI) which is based at UCLA. The UC CAI was one of three Centers for Accelerated Innovation created in September by the NHLBI. UC CAI has four goals for the upcoming project: first to engage UC heart, lung and blood disease innovators in entrepreneurism, the second to solicit and select technologies with high commercial potential for the NHLBI’s program from the UC medical centers, the third goal to incubate UC campuses with the most promising technologies to facilitate their transition into commercial products for the health care industry and the fourth goal to create a high-performing, sustainable infrastructure that will serve as a model to academic research centers.
The UC Biomedical Research Acceleration, Integration and Development (UC BRAID) administration will oversee UC CAI and the program. UC BRAID Chairman Dr. Gary Firestein has high hopes for UC CAI, calling it “a remarkable example of inter-institutional collaboration,” and is optimistic about the program.
“The leaders of engineering, business and medical schools across the five campuses developed a shared vision and worked with UC BRAID to create an extraordinary proposal. The new resources will dramatically accelerate the development of novel diagnostics, therapies and devices discovered at the University of California.”
Under UC CAI, each university will be able to focus on their individual projects and maintain some form of independence but be able to collaborate with the other UCs in the program. The goal is to allow universities to specialize in particular fields in which they hold expertise while allowing them to coordinate efforts in order to maximize efficiency.
The innovations brought about by this collaboration will be an attempt to lower the mortality rate of heart, lung and blood diseases. Currently, heart disease is the leading cause of death in America with 554,689 dying in 2010 according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) were the third leading cause of death in 2010 claiming 129,476 (this does not include lung cancer). Information on blood diseases is harder to get due to the wide range of diseases but many are currently difficult to treat or cure.
Despite the challenges involved, UC administrators are optimistic about the program, including Dr. Clay Johnston, the director of Clinical and Translational Science Institute at UCSF.
“Each of the UCs is a powerhouse, but together they are unstoppable.”

UC Irvine Health and MemorialCare Health Partner

The UC Board of Regents approved of the affiliation between UC Irvine Health and MemorialCare last Wednesday, Oct. 2. The two major hospital systems will not be merging and instead remain independent of each other.
UCI Health and MemorialCare will be working together to expand Orange County’s access to high quality and cost effective health care. MemorialCare is a not-for-profit integrated health care delivery system of hospitals, retail clinics and outpatient health centers. UCI is internationally recognized for its academic medical center, education, clinical research and development of new therapies and techniques.
“Together, we will fulfill our joint mission of providing exceptional, personalized care that is driven by research with the latest and most advanced technologies and techniques available that promote better health and healing,” Terry Belmont, the CEO of the UCI Medical Center, said. “This is driven by a shared passion for innovation, grounded in the most advanced medical and scientific knowledge.”
The two hospital systems will start with opening primary care health centers staffed primarily by UCI primary care physicians. These centers aim to serve communities that lack medical services. UCI Health primary care physicals will also be included as MemorialCare providers in the system’s health plan contracts.
“We are combining our strengths to expand access to high quality, fully integrated care for the entire range of medical diagnoses and treatments —from primary care to the rarest, most complex conditions to care in inpatient and outpatient settings,” Mark Schafer, chief medical officer of MemorialCare Medical Foundation, said.
This collaboration is one of a kind, as it is the only health care partnership in the Orange and southern Los Angeles counties that includes an entire line of care: an academic medical center, teaching and research hospitals, a children’s hospital, outpatient centers, imaging facilities, surgery centers, urgent care, a health plan and retail health. The two systems will also be integrating their electronic medical records.
Raising Minimum Wage Impacts Employment

Yona Rubinstein, an assistant professor in the Department of Economics at Brown University, visited the UC Irvine campus last Tuesday, Oct. 1, and gave his lecture on “Using Federal Minimum Wages to Identify the Impact of Minimum Wages on Employment and Earnings across the U.S. States.”
Rubinstein’s lecture was in Social Science Plaza B and was part of the Population, Society and Inequality Fall 2013 Colloquium Series. Rubinstein’s research and lecture focused on the impact federally imposed minimum wage floors have on overall wages and unemployment.
Rubinstein used the variation in states’ propensity to be affected by federal minimum wage to “identify the impact of minimum wages on employment and illustrate bias in existing studies.”
“Different specification with different controllers led to diversification [of findings],” Rubinstein said. The results of minimum wage studies have been greatly diverse, with results varying between the individuals or groups conducting them.
One issue Rubinstein had with other studies was their acceptance that changes in wages and employment were relating to solely outside factors — such as the change in federal minimum wage. Instead he focused on internal variables such as political and economic conditions of the state to calculate how likely it is to be affected. By using these factors he found that more liberal states and states with higher income per-capita are more likely to have higher minimum wages, and are therefore less likely to be affected by changes in a raise in the federal minimum wage.
His findings concluded that minimum wage instantly increases wages but over time will decrease employment. Such findings are likely to continue the debate on the effects of minimum wage laws on the economy as part of the series.
“The weekly Population, Society and Inequality Seminar Series fosters dialogue on current research, funding opportunities, analytic approaches and new data sets,” Judith Treas, director of the Center for Demographic and Social Analysis said.
The series is put on by the School of Social Sciences and is jointly sponsored by the Center for Economics and Public Policy and the Center for Demographic and Social Analysis.

Aldrich Bees on Worst Behaviour, Students Take Care

A swarm of bees terrorized the Physical Sciences region of Aldrich Park last Friday at around 1:00 p.m. A zotALERT was issued, instructing students to call police if they saw the bees or were stung.
“It took me several seconds to realize how bad the situation was after a few other students ran by screaming,” a third-year student who wished to remain anonymous said.
She was stung near her eyelid but said the experience was more traumatizing than painful. While the threat was very real for some, the serious tone of the zotALERT seemed like an overreaction to the majority of students. Twitter was abuzz with students incredulous over UCI’s decision to respond with police and dismissive of what, to some, was not that big of a deal. The entire affair concluded within half an hour upon removal of the beehive.