The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Makes A Splash At City Hall

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Dana Straehley, published in the Press-Enterprise on August 21, 2014.)

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is flooding the nation, with everyone from former President George W. Bush to celebrities such as Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and Justin Bieber getting soaked for charity.  The Riverside area is all wet as well.

Riverside Mayor William "Rusty" Bailey takes the Ice Bucket Challenge Thursday at the fountain in front of City Hall.  Phot credit: Kurt Miller

Riverside Mayor William “Rusty” Bailey takes the Ice Bucket Challenge Thursday at the fountain in front of City Hall. Photo credit: Kurt Miller

Friends challenge each other to donate $100 for ALS or take a soaking and post photos or video to social media. 

Riverside Mayor William “Rusty” Bailey was among the latest Thursday to have ice water poured over his head in the fundraising stunt that has gone viral. Drenched while sitting in the fountain in front of City Hall, he challenged his City Council colleagues to do the same or donate $100.  According to The ALS Association, Ice Bucket Challenge donations have surpassed $79 million as of 8/25/14.  For more information about ALS research in Riverside County, click here to connect with The ALS Golden West Chapter Support Group located here in Riverside.    

ALS, or Lou Gehrigs Disease, is a progressive disease that causes motor nerves to degenerate in the brain and spinal cord so the nerves can’t control muscles, leading patients to lose their ability to walk and talk and leading to eventual paralysis and death, according to the ALS Association.

Riverside Mayor William "Rusty" Bailey gets a double-bucket dunking from his daughters Julia, 8, left, and Elizabeth, 11, on Thursday at the fountain in front of City Hall.  Photo credit: Kurt Miller

Riverside Mayor William “Rusty” Bailey gets a double-bucket dunking from his daughters Julia, 8, left, and Elizabeth, 11, on Thursday at the fountain in front of City Hall. Photo credit: Kurt Miller

The people of Riverside are brought together around common interest and concerns, to engage with one another and accelerate the common good for all.  The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is just one example of Riverside coming together as a unified city.  Research and awareness for ALS is an important cause whether you are a professional, college student, or the Mayor.  It is refreshing to see all types of individuals from different backgrounds in the community doing there part to try and make a real difference.

To read the full article, click here.

 

 

Researchers At UCR Find Key Component Of Autistic Behavior

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Mark Muckenfuss, published in the Press-Enterprise on July 26, 2014)

Through constant commitment and dedication, UC Riverside is consistently raising the bar with their research and technological advancements.  One recent advancement, in regards to autism research, is a model of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar.  Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.

Iryna Ethell in her lab at UCR on Thursday, July 24, 2014. UCR researcher Iryna Ethell of Biomedical Sciences heads team that finds what may be a key to effective therapy for autism.  Photo credit: Kurt Miller

Iryna Ethell in her lab at UCR on Thursday, July 24, 2014. UCR researcher Iryna Ethell of Biomedical Sciences heads team that finds what may be a key to effective therapy for autism. Photo credit: Kurt Miller

A UC Riverside-led team of researchers says it has found conclusive evidence that a naturally produced enzyme in the body is responsible for autism and other neurological disorders in people with Fragile X syndrome.

Fragile X is a mutation of the X chromosome associated with obsessive-compulsive and repetitive behaviors as well as learning deficits. People affected by Fragile X have been shown to have structural differences in brain cells, such as underdeveloped neural receptors.

In 2007, Iryna Ethell, a UCR biochemist, found that overactivity of an enzyme called MMP-9 was connected with Fragile X. Her team recently identified MMP-9 as a major culprit in symptoms associated with Fragile X in mice.

Iryna Ethell holds a chart of her work in her office at UCR on Thursday, July 24, 2014. UCR researcher Iryna Ethell of Biomedical Sciences heads team that finds what may be a key to effective therapy for autism. Photo credit: Kurt Miller

Iryna Ethell holds a chart of her work in her office at UCR on Thursday, July 24, 2014. UCR researcher Iryna Ethell of Biomedical Sciences heads team that finds what may be a key to effective therapy for autism. Photo credit: Kurt Miller

By eliminating a gene that activates MMP-9, the researchers found that even with the presence of Fragile X syndrome, the mice showed no symptoms of autistic behavior. They measured sociability, anxiety and other behaviors, as well as examining individual brain cells.

Often, such discoveries are the first step in a long process. Just understanding a mechanism for a particular disease or disorder doesn’t  necessarily mean a treatment is imminent. Effective therapies or drugs can be many years away.

To read more, click here.

Riverside Ranks 28th On Annual Fit City Index

(This article contains excerpts from an article featured in theievoice.com, published on July 5, 2014)

Summer is finally here, and everyone’s attention shifting towards health and fitness.  The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) with support from Anthem Blue Cross Foundation,unveiled it’s seventh annual American Fitness Index (AFI) data report during the organizations annual meeting.

Photo credit: americanfitnessindex.org/

Photo credit: americanfitnessindex.org/

The Riverside area ranked 28th in the 2014 report with a overall score of 47.5 (out of as possible 100 points).  The 2014 AFI data report, “Health and Community Fitness Status of the 50 Largest Metropolitan Areas,” reflects a composite of preventative health behaviors, levels of chronic disease conditions, and community resources and policies that support physical activity.  “Health advocates and community leaders have come to expect the arrival of the American Fitness Index as an annual check-up regarding their community’s health and fitness levels,” said Walter Thompson, Ph,D., FACSM, chair of the AFI advisory board.

“The AFI data report is a snapshot of the state of health in the community and an evaluation of the infastructure, community assets and policies that encourage healthy and fit lifestyles.  These measures directly affect quality of life in our country’s urban areas,” says Thompson.

Only through commitment and dedication was our beloved city of Riverside able to claim the 28th spot on the AFI report for 2014.  Riverside is a location of choice where health and fitness are priorities among its inhabitants.  An unmatched landscape, year-round outdoor activities, ample recreational options and attention to healthy living make Riverside one of the most inspiring, livable, healthy and adventurous cities to live in or visit. 

To read more, click here.

 

Local Foundation Invests $2.4 Million Into Riverside Community in 2013

(Excerpts from this post were taken from a Press Release posted by Riverside Community Health Foundation on January 27th, 2014)

Riverside Community Health Foundation (RCHF), a local nonprofit dedicated to improving the health and well-being of the community, invested over $2.4 million into the Riverside Community through its programs and grants in 2013.  Seizing Our Destiny pillar, Location of Choice, specifically mentions healthy living as a characteristic of a good quality of life.

Jana Webb, DO, of Borrego Health provides care at the Eastside Health Center. . Photo Credit to Chase Photography

Jana Webb, DO, of Borrego Health provides
care at the Eastside Health Center.
Photo Credit to Chase Photography

The impact of RCHF’s 2013 grants, which totaled over $1.2 million, will be felt at some of largest medical centers that serve Riverside residents: Parkview Community Hospital received $173,500 to install a new nurse call system that will provide reliable communication for patients and nurses and an additional $100,000 for a new surgival microscope that will be used in delicate procedures; Riverside County Regional Medical Center (RCRMC) Foundation was awarded $169,312 to provide Infusion PC Devices and Pump Modules for intravenous therapy use for the Emergency Department and Same Day Surgery Department at RCRMC.

“As always, we like to ensure that our grant dollars will have an immediate impact on the healthcare residents of Riverside receive,” said Dr. Dan Anderson, President/CEO of RCHF.  “This year we were not only able to help two of the hospitals serving Riverside improve the care they are able to provide, we were also able to ensure that more people received access to quality care through our grants focused on funding healthcare coverage for the uninsured.”

Inland Empire Health Plan was awarded $300,000 to provide insurance for children under the age of 19 through their Healthy Kids Program.  Also amont RCHF’s 2013 grantees is Borrego Health, who received funding to increase outreach and enrollment for eligible individuals of Covered California and Medi-Cal.  Borrego currently has six outreach workers inthe Riverside area  that are located at the Arlanza Family Health Center and Eastside Health Center, clinics that RCHF owns and Borrego operates, but who travel extensively in the community to provide information about healthcare options to residents. The group has helped enroll nearly 300 residents so far.

RCHF Vice President Ninfa Delgado provides information to interested parties about RCHF’s grants program.

RCHF Vice President Ninfa Delgado provides information
to interested parties about RCHF’s grants program.

RCHF also invested another $1.2 million into the community through its health education and prevention programs, which provide nearly 100,000 interventions yearly.  “Our programs address many of the health concerns of our community,” said Anderson. “We are proud of our roots as a true community organization working with residents to make sure their needs are being met.  I believe this year’s program funding underscores our commitment to make healthcare and education accessible for everyone in Riverside.”

Click here to see the Press Release.

Discovery May Improve Insect Repellants

(This article includes excerpts from the article written by Mark Muckenfuss and published in The Press Enterprise on October 3, 2013.)

UC Riverside researchers say they have found the long-sought receptors in mosquitoes that are affected by DEET, the most common active ingredient used in popular insect repellents.

Identifying the receptors, they say, could lead to more effective and less annoying chemicals for deterring mosquitoes, as well as other insect pests. One compound they’ve identified so far is a grape extract that, unlike DEET, doesn’t damage plastic and nylon. The study appeared Wednesday in the latest online edition of Nature.

(Photo Credit: 2011/File Photo, The Press-Enterprise)

(Photo Credit: 2011/File Photo, The Press-Enterprise)

Anandasankar Ray, pictured above, an associate professor of entomology and the study’s director, said the discovery opens new doors for dealing with mosquito-borne illness as well as other insect-related problems, possibly even as treatments for agricultural crops. Finding better ways to keep the insects at bay is important worldwide, where mosquito-borne diseases kill hundreds of thousands of people every year.

In recent years, Ray’s lab has made other mosquito discoveries, such as finding ways to block a mosquito’s ability to detect carbon dioxide, the primary method it uses to find human or animal prey.  Discoveries such as this demonstrate Riverside as a leader in Catalyst for Innovation, a pillar of Seizing Our Destiny.

This most recent work, he said, “is certainly as important if not, potentially, more important than our earlier discovery.”

Read the full article here.

UC Riverside Researchers Create a ‘Window to the Brain’

(As written by Sean Nealon and published September 3, 2013 by UCR Today)

A team of University of California, Riverside researchers have developed a novel transparent skull implant that literally provides a “window to the brain,” which they hope will eventually open new treatment options for patients with life-threatening neurological disorders, such as brain cancer and traumatic brain injury.

(Members of the research team, from left, Javier Garay, Yasuhiro Kodera, Carissa L. Reynolds, Yasaman Damestani, Guillermo Aguilar, Masaru P. Rao and B. Hyle Park. Photo Credit: UCR Today)

(Members of the research team, from left, Javier Garay, Yasuhiro Kodera, Carissa L. Reynolds, Yasaman Damestani, Guillermo Aguilar, Masaru P. Rao and B. Hyle Park. Photo Credit: UCR Today)

The team’s implant is made of the same ceramic material currently used in hip implants and dental crowns, yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ). However, the key difference is that their material has been processed in a unique way to make it transparent. Since YSZ has already proven itself to be well-tolerated by the body in other applications, the team’s advancement now allows use of YSZ as a permanent window through which doctors can aim laser-based treatments for the brain, importantly, without having to perform repeated craniectomies, which involve removing a portion of the skull to access the brain.

The work also dovetails with President Obama’s recently-announced BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative, which aims to revolutionize the understanding of the human mind and uncover new ways to treat, prevent, and cure brain disorders. The team envisions potential for their YSZ windows to facilitate the clinical translation of promising brain imaging and neuromodulation technologies being developed under this initiative.

“This is a case of a science fiction sounding idea becoming science fact, with strong potential for positive impact on patients,” said Guillermo Aguilar, a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering (BCOE).

Aguilar is part of the 10-person team, comprised of faculty, graduate students and researchers from UC Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering and School of Medicine, who recently published a paper “Transparent Nanocrystalline Yttria-Stabilized-Zirconia Calvarium Prosthesis” about their findings online in the journal Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine.

Laser-based treatments have shown significant promise for many brain disorders. However, realization of this promise has been constrained by the need for performing a craniectomy to access the brain since most medical lasers are unable to penetrate the skull. The transparent YSZ implants developed by the UC Riverside team address this issue by providing a permanently implanted view port through the skull.

“This is a crucial first step towards an innovative new concept that would provide a clinically-viable means for optically accessing the brain, on-demand, over large areas, and on a chronically-recurring basis, without need for repeated craniectomies,” said team member Dr. Devin Binder, a clinician and an associate professor of biomedical sciences at UC Riverside.

Although the team’s YSZ windows are not the first transparent skull implants to be reported, they are the first that could be conceivably used in humans, which is a crucial distinction. This is due to the inherent toughness of YSZ, which makes it far more resistant to shock and impact than the glass-based implants previously demonstrated by others. This not only enhances safety, but it may also reduce patient self-consciousness, since the reduced vulnerability of the implant could minimize the need for conspicuous protective headgear.

This research was supported, in part, by the UC Riverside Chancellor’s Strategic Research Initiative.

This unique treatment is not only a major win for UC Riverside and the Riverside community but will be revolutionary in the care of patients undergoing treatment for neurological disorders. The innovative implant is a true reflection UC Riverside’s commitment to serving as a Catalyst for Innovation

Read the full article as published September 3, 2013 by UCR Today, here.

Inaugural Class at UCR School of Medicine Prepares for Success

(Includes excerpts from the article published August 12, 2013 and written by Kris Lovekin for UCR Today)

UCR's first class of medical school students celebrate at the White Coat ceremony. (Photo Credit: UCR Today)

UCR’s first class of medical school students celebrate at the White Coat ceremony. (Photo Credit: UCR Today)

On August 9, 2013, the UCR Student Recreation Center was filled with excitement, nervousness, smiles and cameras.  An admiring crowd of 700 people cheered on the inaugural class of 50 students in UC Riverside’s School of Medicine as each medical student slipped into the doctor’s white coat, held by a faculty member, to mark the beginning of four more years of hard work.  This White Coat Ceremony was not just an ordinary celebration; it served as a prominent mark in the history of Riverside, and California.  These students are members of the first medical school to be developed in California in more than 40 years.

 “I’ve been telling the students this is a once in a lifetime event, like the sighting of Haley’s comet”, said Kendrick A. Davis, director of medical education for the UCR School of Medicine. “It is rare that you are in the right spot and you can take advantage of it. It is beyond a milestone.”

Things like this don’t just happen magically.  The effort to establish the school took a concerted community effort over many years, capped off recently with a state budget deal that included $15 million in annual funding, thanks to the successful advocacy of the Inland Empire Caucus, the Monday Morning Group and Inland Action.  Funding for the medical school will now be part of UC’s base budget annually going forward.

“We are at the end of a long relay,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, the founding dean of the School of Medicine. “Each time we had a roadblock, our community doubled down on their effort. I want to thank everyone for that effort.  Ultimately, our strongest supporters have always been our community, individually and collectively,” he said.

Olds also acknowledged the efforts and dedication of the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce, the California Medical Association, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, the Desert Healthcare District, the Greater Riverside Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Citizens University Committee, the Vines Society, and the medical associations in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

The amount of support seated in the Recreation Center that Friday night was definitely felt.  Jaire Saunders, a member of the Class of 2017, was surrounded by his parents and a brother who were beaming with pride as they talked about this new accomplishment in his life.  Janel Gracia, another member of the first class, said she was inspired.  She said receiving her own coat “makes it feel 100 percent real.” She did her undergraduate work at UC Riverside and currently serves as a mentor in the outreach programs that build a pipeline of culturally diverse college students qualified to go to medical school.

It is this inaugural class of medical students that will propel Riverside forward as a leader in 21st Century Healthcare.  The medical school was made possible only by the hard work and unified dedication of many in the community who believed in the mission and the potential impact the school would have on Riverside and the greater Inland area. The UC Riverside School of Medicine will continue to advance the economic competitiveness of the region,  fostering the creation of a highly skilled workforce to meet the growing demand for primary care physicians and healthcare support services in Inland Southern California. 

Read the full article as published August 9, 2013 by UCR Today, here.