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News in Brief – 2/21/17

UC Partners with Israel’s Innovation Authority

The University of California signed a memorandum with Israel’s National Technological Innovation Authority to increase cooperation.

The memorandum strives to bolsters relations between the two organizations and look for more opportunities to collaborate on projects leading to global commercialization of innovative technologies.

According to a Feb. 15 press release, UC President Janet Napolitano stated, “This agreement aligns with UC’s larger efforts to build relationships with state, national and international partners to propel the many discoveries and innovations from our campuses, labs and medical centers into the world economy”

Avi Hasson, chairman of Israel’s Innovative Authority, said, “The economic fruits of collaboration with this large and impressive California environment will certainly play an instrumental role in helping these companies to increase their competitiveness and accelerate commercial success in global markets.”


UCI Announces Online Pharmacology Master of Science Program

UC Irvine is offering a new two-year online Master of Science in Pharmacology degree program (MSP) for individuals who want to obtain an advanced degree and stay in the work force.

Degree requirements include 39 units of graduate coursework and a capstone research paper. Pending approval by the WASC Senior College and University Commission, the program will begin in fall 2017. The application deadline is June 1, 2017.


Teamsters Union Protest Outside UC Offices

Almost 100 members of Teamsters Local 2010 gathered outside the University of California office building on Wednesday, Feb. 15 to protest insufficient wages and UC’s plan to move from its current retirement plan to a 401(k) plan.

Teamsters Local 2010 represents 14,000 workers from UC campuses and other UC affiliates. Employees say their current wages don’t adequately cover their living expenses. An Occidental College study on UC workers conducted in October found that 70 percent of workers are food insecure. The union states that adopting the new 401(k) plan will mostly benefit high-paid executives.

Union leaders spoke to John Stobo, executive vice president for health services, who said he would pass along workers’ concerns to UC President Janet Napolitano the next day.


UCI Researchers Use Horror Movies to Study Fear in the Brain

UC Irvine researchers have discovered a neural pathway in the brain that is important for processing fear and anxiety.

Researchers inserted electrodes in the amygdala and hippocampus of study subjects as they watched scary movies, including “Silence of the Lambs,” “Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter” and “The Others.”

The new findings can help scientists develop new ways to treat mental health disorders.

In a statement to UC Irvine Health, senior author and UCI Professor of Neurology, Jack Lin, MD, said, “This has huge implications for treating neuropsychiatric disorders. For example, current drugs available to treat anxiety disorder bind to large areas of the brain, leading to unwanted side effects.”  

“Our hope is that we will one day be able to target and manipulate the precise amygdala-hippocampal circuit involved in processing negative emotions while preserving positive ones,” he said. “This study brings the promise of targeted therapy a step closer.”


UCI Launches Credit Union Research Hub

UC Irvine’s Institute for Money, Technology and Finance Inclusion and the Filene Research Institute, a Wisconsin credit union think tank, co-launched a research hub last week to study how technology affects credit union practices.

The first report, coming out later this year, will make recommendations as to how credit union leaders can make better decisions.

An all-day research colloquium titled “Sorting the Hype Cycle” will be held on May 18 at UCI for Filene members to learn the most effective kinds of technologies to implement.


UCI Student Health Administrators Update Students on Services

UCI Student Health and Wellness Administrators gave a programming update last Tuesday at an ASUCI Senate meeting, outlining their recent initiatives to provide more anonymous HIV testing and other physical and mental health counseling services, despite a significant increase in recent student visits to the Student Health Center.

Doug Everhart, UCI’s Director of Student Wellness, noted that administrators have brought back free condom distribution and introduced free anonymous HIV testing in an effort to decrease the spread of sexually-transmitted infections among students.

Chuck Adams, Administrative Director of UCI’s Student Health Center, said that approximately 60 percent of UCI students are insured by SHIP, and that the SHC has recently seen a 15 to 20 percent increase in visits.

“We are a very busy, high volume patient medical center,” Adams said, before emphasizing the SHC’s recent focus on improving access to mental health care.

We know mental health is a big need. We are struggling right now to recruit psychiatrists. We need to find providers who come into academic environments compared to jobs in the private sector,” said Adams. “We need to find providers that really care about mental health at the college level. We are trying to increase service in house … We are [also] working on a vast database for mental health providers from the community for us to look through for what’s not offered on campus.