Category Archives: Health and Medicine

Developmental Disabilities Update

Check out highlights from this year’s conference addressing a variety of topics, including the impact of trauma and immigration on child development and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Offering a unique update for primary care and subspecialty health care professionals and others who care for children, youth, and adults with developmental disabilities and complex health care needs, the conference covered a broad spectrum of developmental disabilities across the lifespan including autism spectrum disorders, mental health, genetic screening and diagnoses, and intervention and therapeutic consideration. Focus on special education, law enforcement, and policy from a variety of specialists adds to the content.

Presentations by expert faculty should be of interest to pediatricians, family physicians, nurse clinicians, psychologists, and internists who are involved in the healthcare of individuals with developmental disabilities, as well as to those in other health-related disciplines including health policy, epidemiology, psychiatry, school health, social work, and case management services.

While the conference is designed for health care professionals, families and individuals with developmental disabilities will also learn from the various represented disciplines. The conference was held at UCSF on March 14 and 15, 2019.

Browse more programs in Developmental Disabilities Update

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Trust in Nutrition Science

Can scientists research nutrition if they take money from the food industry? Nutrition scientist and author Marion Nestle has long been concerned about the way food company sponsorship influences (or, at best, appears to influence) the outcome of research on nutrition and health. She says that the idea that one food or food product has a big impact on health doesn’t really make sense, yet we see these claims all the time.

Marion Nestle sat down with Laura Schmidt, UCSF Professor of Health Policy, for this lively conversation that explores the conflicts of interest behind food studies funded by food corporations, the proven biases they create from the get-go, and how this directly affects the way we eat. They also talk about how to be more aware of misleading publications about nutrition and how to identify industry-funded research.

You’ll also get a preview of the upcoming dietary guidelines and hear more about global food systems. Find out how Marion knows there are industry “spies” at most of her talks – confirmation of this came about through the Russian hacking of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Nestle is the author of ten books, most recently “Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat” and “Food Politics 2018: Food Industry Influence on Nutrition Research.”

Watch — Food, Nutrition and Politics: A Conversation with Marion Nestle

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A Personal Encounter with a Global Crisis

Epidemiologist Steffanie Strathdee and her husband, psychologist Tom Patterson, were vacationing in Egypt when Tom came down with what appeared to be a routine (if severe) case of food poisoning. Tom’s condition quickly deteriorated, and upon transfer to a hospital in Germany blood work revealed that he had contracted one of the most dangerous superbugs in the world, a condition that rendered modern standards of treatment useless. Following an emergency medevac to the medical center at UC San Diego, where both Steffanie and Tom worked, Tom suffered several episodes of septic shock and spent months in a coma.

An increasingly frantic Steffanie used her scientific training to research alternative solutions and stumbled upon “the perfect predator” in an all-but-forgotten treatment: bacteriophage therapy. Bacteriophage, or phage, treatment had fallen out of favor almost 100 years ago, largely due to the invention of antibiotics. Phages are naturally-occurring viruses capable of destroying even the most lethal bacteria, but in order to be effective they must be precisely matched to their prey. With the clock running down on Tom, Steffanie appealed to phage researchers worldwide. Working with allies that included the FDA, top university researchers, and a clandestine Navy biomedical center, a match was found; Tom was treated and made a remarkable recovery. Since then others have also been saved by this resurrected treatment.

The hard-won knowledge gained during Steffanie and Tom’s trial, and the alliances formed, helped to establish the Center for Innovative Phage Applications and Therapeutics (IPATH) at UC San Diego, the first phage therapy center in North America.

Steffanie and Tom’s memoir of their ordeal, The Perfect Predator, is a love story as well as a propulsive medical thriller. Though often near despair as Tom’s condition progressively worsened, Steffanie refused to concede defeat. The book also serves as a warning and a call to action, as Steffanie points to the rise of multidrug-resistant bacteria as a direct result of our overuse of antibiotics, particularly in livestock. The superbug crisis has assumed global proportions, and Steffanie argues that while phage therapy has tremendous promise, we must also focus our collective attention on the source of the crisis in order to prevent more cases like her husband’s.

Watch The Perfect Predator: A Scientist’s Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug with Steffanie Strathdee and Thomas Patterson

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Americans’ Views on Healthcare

At the root, healthcare is a pocketbook issue. An increasing share of insured Americans report difficulty affording healthcare. Deductibles are rising – growing more than four times faster than wages – and causing worry, especially over unexpected medical bills that ripple families and their budgets.

Drew Altman, President and CEO of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, provides an analysis of the public’s priorities and opinions in healthcare as the new congress takes shape and the 2020 presidential campaign begins.

Using polling data, he shows that in the midterms, healthcare was a top issue for Democrats and Independents but not for Republicans. The Democrats perceived that the ACA was under threat and rallied behind that issue. That helped propel them to large gains in the House.

Altman predicts that with that new Democratic-majority some of the big moves proposed in the last two years will not happen. These include repeal and replace of the ACA, changing Medicaid to include caps or block grants, and changing Medicare to a voucher system. He further predicts that no major health legislation will be passed at all except perhaps some bipartisan legislation on drugs.

With the huge partisan divide on the ACA – 81% of Democrats approve versus only 17% of Republicans – there are obvious limits to passing any national health care reform, even though generally the public highly values many of the key benefits of the ACA. Simultaneously, public knowledge about what the ACA does is actually spotty. For example, Altman cites polls that show that 41% wrongly believe that the ACA established “death panels.”

As the 2020 presidential election heats up, Altman shows that healthcare will continue to be a big issue with Medicare-for-all perhaps out in front of the others. There are many misconceptions about this kind of plan including the costs and benefits of a single-payer system.

When it comes to Medicaid, sweeping change proposed by the Republicans is unlikely. Polls show that it is generally more well-liked than some people acknowledge, almost as popular as other big programs like Medicare and Social Security, in part because it covers almost 75 million people. There are lurking issues such as work requirements but most Americas want to keep it as it is, affordable insurance for low income people.

Watch The Pulse of the Public on Health Policy and Politics – The Chancellor’s Health Policy Lecture Series

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Food Industry Manipulation

Do you want to find out how various food and beverage manufacturers have manipulated science and public health policy over the last 50 years? Now you can with the new searchable archive of food industry documents at the UCSF Industry Documents Library. The Food Industry Documents Archive https://www.industrydocumentslibrary.ucsf.edu/ is a brand-new collection of over 30,000 documents related to the food industry and its impact on public health.

This new archive builds on the long history at UCSF of caring for those suffering from obesity and helps researchers get at the root causes that contribute to the disease. This archive comes at an important time as researchers and policy experts take great strides to address problems of industry influence on our health, food and human rights. Data is powerful in creating change and now documents that the industry wanted secret are safe and available.

Existing archives of Chemical, Drug, and Tobacco Industry collections at UCSF have saved millions of lives. The future research with the Food Industry Documents Archive materials will have a dramatic impact on human health and policy changes.

Find out more about these documents that highlight marketing, research, and policy strategies used by food companies and trade groups, and reveal the communications and connections between industry, academic, and regulatory organizations.

These two programs feature speeches and presentations from the unveiling of the archive.

Watch UCSF’s New Food Industry Documents Archive, Part 1
Watch UCSF’s New Food Industry Documents Archive, Part 2

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