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News in Brief 5/29/18

UCI Research Center to Combine Biology and Math Disciplines

Researchers at UC Irvine’s new MathBioSys Center on Multiscale Cell Fate will examine how mathematical concepts can be used for the field of biology, specifically what determines the differentiation of cells.

The National Science Foundation and the Simons Foundation have each contributed $5 million for the center. It will be led by mathematicians Jun Allard, John Lowengrub and Qing Nie.

Studies will be conducted by students and faculty from five UC Irvine schools and centered on cellular complexity in skin, stem cell specification control and neural crest cell dynamics. The center will also be engaged in providing project awards, a visiting scientist program, a high school program and and opportunity for young researchers to present their findings at symposiums.


UCI Center on Stress and Health Awarded $6.3 Million

UC Irvine’s Center on Stress & Health have received $8 million in grants from the National Institute of Health to develop and test health interventions for stress and pain in children facing medical procedures and for individuals, and their families, battling cancer.

Michelle Fortier, associate professor of anesthesiology & perioperative care and co-director of the UCI Center on Stress & Health, was awarded a $3.2 million NIH grant over five years. Her electronic intervention is called Pain Buddy and works to examine the effectiveness of a web-based pain and symptom management tool for children receiving primarily outpatient cancer treatment.

The center’s director, Dr. Zeev Kain, Chancellor’s Professor of anesthesiology & perioperative care, was awarded $3.1 million over five years. His creation is an interactive computer website for children undergoing outpatient surgery as well as their families. His program, WebTIPS, will develop personalized plans for alleviating anxiety and pain, taking into account medical and psychological factors, such as the surgical procedure and the parents’ coping and caring skills.

The Center on Stress & Health is devoted to discovering ways to improve quality of life for children and adults undergoing surgery and children, along with their families, with cancer.


UCI Social Ecology Celebrates 25th Anniversary

The 2042 25th Anniversary Celebration will honor the School of Social Ecology’s accomplishments along with revealing its vision for the next 25 years. The event will be at the Irvine Barclay Theater on Wednesday, June 6, at 5 p.m.

A welcome will be give by Nancy Guerra, dean of Social Ecology, celebrating their 25 years of achievements. Then, a description of the school’s vision will be given by the associate dean for research and international programs, Richard Matthew. The keynote address will be given by  NASA astronaut Steve. L Smith, who also won the 2018 Human Security Award.

The event will conclude at 7 p.m. with a light buffet and performance by the Irvine Barclay Theatre Band.


UCI Study Finds In-Home Stroke Therapy Just as Effective as In-Clinic Therapy

In a UCI study conducted in eleven U.S. sites, researchers found that for stroke patients needing arm motor therapy, telecommunicated home therapy was as equally effective as in-clinic therapy.  

124 stroke patients all around 61 years of age underwent six weeks of arm motor therapy, with half receiving traditional in-clinic therapy with a doctor and half subjected to the same therapy supervised in-home by a videoconferenced telemedicine system. Thirty days after the end of therapy, the in-clinic group improved their arm-motor status by 8.4 points on the Fugl-Meyer scale, while the home therapy group improved by 7.9 points. The Fugl-Meyer scale measures arm motor ability from zero to 66, with higher numbers being better. The study also found that patients did not need any additional computer skills to operate the telerehabilitation systems.

Research was presented by Dr. Steven C. Cramer, UCI neurologist and professor of neurology at the UCI School of Medicine, at the recent 2018 European Stroke Organisation Conference in Gothenburg, Sweden.

“Motor deficits are a major contributor to post-stroke disability, and we know that occupational and physical therapy improve patient outcomes in a supervised rehabilitation program,” said Cramer in a UCI press release.  “Since many patients receive suboptimal therapy for reasons that include cost, availability and difficulty with travel, we wanted to determine whether a comprehensive in-home telehealth therapy program could be as effective as in-clinic rehabilitation.”

Cramer believes in-home teletherapy could potentially lead to longer treatment cycles, pairing telerehab with long-term doses of a restorative drug, treating other neurological domains affected by stroke, or even building smart homes for stroke recovery.   

An aging population will likely increase the demand for stroke treatment and rehabilitation in the coming years.