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Serving the Bay Area Medical Community

Archive for March, 2006

Local Hospitals Create Home-like Environments

Posted by Alex Gault on March 28, 2006

In response to growing evidence that healing is linked to home-like environments, Bay Area medical centers are wooing patients with a host of new amenities.

Kaiser Permanente's $750 million medical center in Santa Clara is one of the more dramatic illustrations of this trend, with sheer glass walls, carpeted floors and a variety of creature comforts aimed at soothing patients.

"There are some studies that show that environments with lots of light are probably more conducive to healing," says Physician-in-chief Dr. Bernadette Loftus . "I think we are organizing our facility to recognize the new standards of Americans." Those new standards also include convenience and expediency, she says. Kaiser has responded by adding wireless "hot spots" in many areas of its campus that allow visitors to log on to the Internet, while patients can be admitted to the hospital through a bedside registration service.


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UCSF To hold “Mini Medical School” for the Public

Posted by Alex Gault on March 20, 2006

Beginning in May, UCSF professors will give a series of classes to the general public, under the banner Bringing Science to Life: The Promise of Modern Medicine. The lectures are designed to give the layman a window onto what goes on in university classrooms and research labs.

Scheduled lectures include:

Risky Business: Reporting on Research in the Lay Press | Lisa Bero, professor, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, School of Pharmacy, and Institute for Health Policy Studies.

Embryonic Stem Cells and Their Potential for Treating Diabetes | Michael German, professor, Hormone Research Institute; clinical director, UCSF Diabetes Center.

Telomeres and Telomerase and Their Implications for Cancer and Aging | Elizabeth Blackburn, Morris Herzstein Professor of Biology and Physiology, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics.

What Does a Drunken Fruit Fly Tell Us About Addiction? | Ulrike Heberlein, professor of anatomy, Wheeler Center for the Neurobiology of Addiction.

The Developing Embryo and Implications for Disease | Didier Stainier, professor, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics; Member, Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Genomics and Infectious Diseases: Hunting the Causes of SARS, Malaria and Prostate Cancer | Joe DeRisi, associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at UCSF; MacArthur Award fellow.

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Gladstone Institutes: Best Place for Postdocs to Work

Posted by Alex Gault on March 15, 2006

Life sciences journal The Scientist ranks San Francisco-based J. David Gladstone Institutes as the best place to do postdoctoral studies, jumping from 12th place in 2005.

The Institutes’ recent move across the street from UCSF’s Mission Bay campus has strengthened their affiliation with the university, where postdocs and faculty hold joint appointments.

Primary research efforts at the Institutes focus on 3 clinical problems: cardiovascular disease, AIDS, and neurodegenerative disorders. Each institute is organized around research units consisting of scientists, postdoctoral researchers, research associates, and students. 

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Mission Bay Life Science Campus

Posted by Alex Gault on March 10, 2006

Alexandria Real Estate Equities has just secured the first tenant for the 2.1 million square foot Mission Bay life science campus the firm plans to complete by 2013.

Sirna Therapeutics is moving its headquarters to 1700 Owens St., the first building Alexandria is constructing. The 155,000-square-foot building is expected to be completed later this year, and Sirna will occupy nearly 40,000 square feet. Sirna focuses on developing therapeutics for a wide range of diseases using RNA interference technology.

Alexandria plans to sign up a life science cluster of tenants within the building — including venture capital firms with a focus on biotechnology, other R&D-focused companies, and academic research programs. The complex abuts two important nonprofit research centers: the David Gladstone Institute and the California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research.

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Electronic Records Transform Healthcare

Posted by Alex Gault on March 5, 2006

Electronic health records and health-information technology are poised to transform healthcare, forecasts Jo Ellen H. Ross, CEO of San Francisco-based consulting firm Lumetra. Specifically:

Pay for Performance. Effective treatment and preventative care will be measured, and doctors will be rewarded for achieving patient satisfaction and making effective use of computer technology. Local IT firms Cisco Systems, Intel and Oracle all offer financial incentives to doctors who adopt health-information technology as a means to deliver safer and higher quality care.

Health Information Technology. The same type of IT that allows us to bank online, check inventory, track the delivery of shipped packages and file taxes electronically is often absent in health-care delivery. Our paper-dominated medical record system is highly vulnerable — not to mention expensive and time-consuming to maintain.

Health-care Information Exchanges. The California Regional Health Information Organization (CalRHIO) — a nonprofit collaborative of California health-care providers, payers, government and consumer organizations — is leading the effort in California to build a highly secure network that can electronically move data when and where patients and their doctors need it.

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Outlawing Private Health Insurance in California

Posted by Alex Gault on March 3, 2006

Proposed state legislation calling for the establishment of a state-run single payer system for health care is still under consideration. If enacted, private health insurance would be abolished in California. The legislation is modeling on the Canadian system of socialized medicine which, until a recent court ruling in the province Quebec, made all private health care illegal.

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