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December 01, 2022 | Features Stephanie Cherqui, PhD and Alysson R. Muotri, PhD

Scientists Receive $4.8M to Pursue Gene Therapy for ‘Incurable’ Disease 

CIRM grant will fund novel gene therapy aiming for one-time, lifelong treatment of Friedreich’s ataxia, a progressive neuromuscular disorder; second CIRM grant will advance efforts to leverage UC San Diego research on another rare disease

Read More on UCSD Today

November 03, 2022 | Features Alysson R. Muotri, PhD

Organoids Reveal How SARS-CoV-2 Damages Brain Cells — and a Potential Treatment

Using human brain organoids, an international team of researchers, led by scientists at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Sanford Consortium, has shown how the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 infects cortical neurons and specifically destroys their synapses — the connections between brain cells that allow them to communicate with each other.  

Read More on UCSD Today

October 18, 2022 | Features Victor Nizet, MD

UC San Diego Physician-Scientist Elected to National Academy of Medicine 

Victor Nizet, MD, Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Pharmacy at Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine.

In officially announcing Nizet’s election, NAM credited Nizet "for discovering numerous hallmark virulence mechanisms of bacterial pathogens and key roles of antimicrobial peptides, neutrophils and macrophages in innate immunity. His translational research has yielded innovative approaches to counteract the threats of antibiotic resistance and sepsis."

Read More on UCSD Today

2022 | Features Mamata Sivagnanam, MD   

Mamata Sivagnanam, MD, Selected to be New Pediatric Residency Program Director 

It is with great pleasure we announce that Mamata Sivagnanam, MD will be the new Pediatric Residency Program Directory, the role currently held by Dr. Mark Sawyer. Dr. Sivagnanam was selected for this position after a vigorous national recruitment and a unanimous recommendation by the search committee that was fully supported by select faculty members and department leaders. 

August 11, 2022 | Features Brookie Best, PharmD   

Meet Dr. Brookie Best, Dean of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Brookie Best was named new dean of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, succeeding James McKerrow, who stepped down in June after serving as dean for seven years.

Best is a familiar face. She joined Skaggs faculty in 2003, just one year after the school opened its doors to its first class, rising to professor of clinical pharmacy and pediatrics and associate dean for pharmacy education. Her contributions span the school’s missions of research, education and clinical care.


Read More on UCSD Today 

June 27, 2022 | Features Jeffrey Schwimmer, MD   

New Genetic Associations in Pediatric NAFLD Affect Both Risk and Severity

Paired studies in children further identify differences between pediatric and adult diseases and may inform future treatments in a chronic childhood disease.

In a pair of overlapping studies, a diverse team of researchers, led by scientists at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, have deepened investigations into the genetic origins of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in children, describing multiple gene variants (including some previously unknown) that contribute to the risk of developing NAFLD and gene variants associated with the severity of the liver disease.

The findings published in the June 25, 2022 online issue of the journal Hepatology .

Read More on UCSD News


November 4, 2021 | Features Smruthi Karthikeyan, postdoc researcher, and Rob Knight, PhD   

The Proof is in the Poop

Smruthi Karthikeyan, an environmental engineer and postdoctoral researcher, works in the lab of Rob Knight at UC San Diego School of Medicine. Researchers in Knight’s lab are used to getting their hands dirty. The team has long been known for their studies of the gut microbiome—the unique communities of microbes that live in our gastrointestinal tracts. By the summer of 2020, Karthikeyan, Knight and team were sifting through fecal samples closer to home —sewage flushed away by people occupying UC San Diego buildings—to look for the virus that causes COVID-19.

Read More on UCSD News 

October 27, 2021 | Features Alysson Muotri, PhD, and Sheldon Morris, MD   

San Diego Research Centers Receive $15 million to Train Next Generation of Scientists

Three San Diego research institutions have been awarded nearly $15 million from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to train the next generation of scientists in regenerative medicine, a field of research that holds great promise for generating transformative medicines. Scripps Research, University of California San Diego, and Sanford Burnham Prebys each received grants of around $5 million from CIRM to support the training of graduate students, postdoctoral trainees, and clinical trainees.

Read More on SD News 

October 27, 2021 | Features Rob Knight, PhD  

Is it OK to go Trick-or-Treating in San Diego this Halloween?

UC San Diego biologist and microbiome researcher Rob Knight, who worked with microbial ecologist Forest Rohwer to do the candy study last year, said in an email Wednesday that Delta does give him reason to continue advising caution this year.

Read More on SD-UT 

October 26, 2021 | Features Elizabeth Winzeler, PhD, JoAnn Trejo, PhD, MBA, and David A. Brenner, MD, vice chancellor, health sciences 

Rancho Santa Fe scientist elected to National Academy of Medicine 

Rancho Santa Fe’s Elizabeth Winzeler, a leader in anti-malarial drug development, was recognized by her peers with one of the highest honors in health and medicine—she was recently elected to the National Academy of Medicine. Winzeler, PhD, is a professor in the division of host microbe systems and therapeutics in the department of pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine and an adjunct professor in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at UC San Diego.

Read More on Rancho Santa Fe Review 

October 26, 2021 | Features Jane Burns, MD, and Ben Croker, PhD

Same Treatment Tested for Kids with Kawasaki Disease and Rare COVID-19 Reaction

Researchers look at the use of intravenous immunoglobulin for treatment of Kawasaki disease and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, a rare reaction to SARS-CoV-2. 

Read More on UCSD Health 

October 25, 2021 | Features Mark Sawyer, MD

FDA advisory committee to review data on Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11

The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) vaccine advisory committee will meet to review data on the safety and efficacy of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5 to 11.

Read More at 10 News  

October 21, 2021 | Features Alessandra Franco, MD, PhD

Children with MIS-C Mount Normal T-cell Response to SARS-CoV-2, Study Finds

Children with an inflammatory syndrome linked to SARS-CoV-2 infection mount a normal T-cell response to the virus, according results from a multi-institutional study reported in the European Journal of Immunology. Researchers had hypothesized that multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) may result from an abnormal T-cell response against the virus, leading to inflammation.

Read More at Healio 

September 16, 2021 | Edmund Capparelli 

Edmund Capparelli Receives Sumner J. Yaffe Lifetime Achievement Award in Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics

Edmund Capparelli, PharmD is the 2021 recipient of the Sumner J. Yaffe Lifetime Achievement Award in Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics. This award is given annually in recognition of significant and sustained contributions toward the improvement of children's health through the expansion of the field of pediatric pharmacology and therapeutics.

Read More at PPAG 

September 10, 2021 | Announcement

UC San Diego School of Medicine Awarded $6.1M to Study Effects of Maternal Antibiotic Use on Infant Health in New Collaborative Research Center

Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have received a $6.1 million grant to launch a new Center of Excellence in Therapeutics (CET). The CET will study the effects of medications on human milk and infant health. The research team includes division members Adriana Tremoulet (lead PI), Victor Nizet, George Liu, Pieter Dorrestein, and Brookie Best. 

Read More at UCSD Health News 

September 9, 2021 | Features Maike Sander, MD, PhD, and Kyle Gaulton, MD

$6M NIH Grant Launches UC San Diego Consortium to Study Insulin-Producing Cells

University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers will receive $6.4 million in grant funding to study how external signals and genetic variations influence the behavior of one cell type in particular: insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.

Read More at UCSD Health News 

September 8, 2021 | Features Christina Chambers, PhD, MPH, and Kerri Bertrand, research mananger 

Study: No Serious COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects in Breastfeeding Moms, Infants

Researchers found after Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, breastfeeding mothers experienced similar side effects to what has previously been reported in non-breastfeeding women, and infants exhibited no serious side effects. 

Read More at UCSD Health News 

September 3, 2021 | Features Debashis Sahoo, PhD 

Researchers Replicate COVID-19 Infections with Lab-Grown 'mini-lungs'

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have grown miniature human lungs in a lab dish that they say come the closest to mimicking the real thing—complete with all the myriad cell types found in the body.

Read More at Fierce Biotech 

July 29, 2021 | Chris Cannavino, MD

Special Announcement: Chris Cannavino

We are very pleased to announce that Christopher Cannavino, MD has been selected for the 2020-2021 Barbara and Paul Saltman Distinguished Teaching Award for Non-Senate Members.

Read the Announcement

June 2, 2021 | Features Alysson Muotri, PhD

Alysson Muotri: A Brain Begins – in a Dish

By coaxing skin cells to become brain cells in a dish, Alysson Muotri hopes to learn how early brain development can go wrong in conditions like autism or epilepsy – and how our brains differ from those of our cousins, the Neanderthals.

listen to the Science Clear+Vivid podcast here 

March 30, 2021 | Karen Mestan, MD

Announcement: Karen Mestan, MD, New Division Chief for Neonatology

It is with great pleasure that we announce Karen K. Mestan, MD will be joining the Department of Pediatrics at UC San Diego and Rady Children’s Hospital this fall as Division Chief of Neonatology.

Dr. Mestan is currently an attending neonatologist at Lurie Children's Hospital and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She is an active clinician, researcher and teacher. Her research focuses on identifying biochemical, environmental, and genetic markers for preterm birth and its complications. She is also interested in understanding perinatal factors that determine long term health.

Read the Announcement Here

March 29, 2021 | Tariq Rana, PhD

Professor Tariq Rana Inducted into National Academy of Inventors! 

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Tariq Rana, a multidisciplinary RNA Biologist, has been named a 2020 fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). The NAI Fellows are chosen for a highly prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on the quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society. Election to NAI fellow status is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to truly prolific academic inventors.

Read the Announcement Here

​February 24, 2021 | Features Toluwalase Ajayi, MD

Midday Edition Special: Racism Fuels A Public Health Crisis In Black Maternal And Infant Health

In San Diego County, Black women are three times more likely to die due to pregnancy or delivery complications than white woman and Black infants are also 3 times more likely to die and 60% more likely to be born prematurely than white babies. In a special program on KPBS Midday Edition we hear personal stories from Black mothers about their birthing experience, explore why the problem exists and what is being done to address it.

Read More at KPBS


​December 10, 2020 | Announcement

Stat Madness 2021 Competition

Please think about if you have anyone in your department that should be nominated for the STAT Madness 2021 competition sponsored by STAT news ( for the top innovation or discovery of 2020 in biomedical science. 

Nominations (and yes, one can self-nominate) must be received by me January 5, 2021. 64 potential winners will be selected from the eligible entries by STAT News editors beginning on January 19, 2021 and entries will be paired with each other in brackets for a single-elimination tournament (aka March Madness) until the final championship matchup.

Read the Official Rules for STAT Madness

​October 21, 2020 | Features Victor Nizet, MD

Start-up Receives up to $15 M to Develop Nanoparticle Therapy for Sepsis Licensed from UC San Diego

San Diego-based Cellics Therapeutics, which was co-founded by UC San Diego nanoengineering Professor Liangfang Zhang, has received an award of up to $15M from Boston-based accelerator CARB-X to develop a macrophage cellular nanosponge—nanoparticles cloaked in the cell membranes of macrophages—designed to treat sepsis.

Read More at UCSD News

​October 19, 2020 | Features Mark Sawyer, MD

Two from San Diego named to governor’s COVID-19 vaccine safety panel

Two San Diego physicians are among 11 experts statewide tasked with determining the quality of any new coronavirus vaccines released in the United States. 
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the COVID-19 Scientific Safety Review Workgroup Monday, promoting the panel as an independent body capable of scrutinizing the trial results and risk assessments associated with any vaccine approved for release by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Read More in SD-UT  

​September 23, 2020 | Features Tariq Rana, PhD

Statins Reduce COVID-19 Severity, Likely by Removing Cholesterol That Virus Uses to Infect

There are no Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved treatments for COVID-19, the pandemic infection caused by a novel coronavirus. While several therapies are being tested in clinical trials, current standard of care involves providing patients with fluids and fever-reducing medications. To speed the search for new COVID-19 therapies, researchers are testing repurposed drugs — medicines already known to be safe for human use because they are FDA-approved for other conditions — for their abilities to mitigate the virus.

Read More at UCSD Health

​September 9, 2020 | Features Alysson Muotri, PhD

How the Coronavirus Attacks the Brain

It’s not just the lungs — the pathogen may enter brain cells, causing symptoms like delirium and confusion, scientists reported. The coronavirus targets the lungs foremost, but also the kidneys, liver and blood vessels. Still, about half of patients report neurological symptoms, including headaches, confusion and delirium, suggesting the virus may also attack the brain.

Read More at NYTimes

September 2, 2020 | Features Alessandra Franco, PhD

Innovator Spotlight: Alessandra Franco

Dr. Franco has identified a set of immune modulatory peptides that stimulate Treg with great potency. The novelty resides in exploiting the adaptive immune regulation in a specific manner avoiding immune suppressive therapies, as steroids, that affects many efferent arms of the immune response.

Read More at UCSD Innovation

August 19, 2020 | Features Jane Burns, MD

New Data on How Many Kids Got That Covid Mystery Illness

A few young patients also develop strange inflammatory symptoms. A CDC report sheds light on how widespread this syndrome is, and what it could mean for vaccines. AS STUDENTS GO back to school across the United States, the assumption that children and teens play little role in spreading Covid-19 is taking a beating. One Georgia school district quarantined more than 900 students and adults. At another in Mississippi, more than 100 students were sent home. One Indiana high school didn’t even make it through a full day—and on Monday, the entire University of North Carolina reversed course on in-person learning and went fully remote.


​​August 19, 2020 | Features Rob Knight, PhD

Human microbiome trims mucosal glycans, influencing SARS-CoV-2 infection

An international team of researchers has conducted a study showing that differences in the human microbiome may influence the ability of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) to infect host cells. These microbiome differences may help to explain why older individuals and men are more susceptible to developing coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19), compared with younger individuals and women, says the team.

Read More on Medical News

​August 4, 2020 | Features Sandra Leibel, MD

Researchers Growing Mini-Lungs To Study Coronavirus Impacts On Different Race, Gender

San Diego scientists are growing mini-lungs from a diverse set of stem cells to see how COVID-19 impacts the organ. Researchers are hoping the study shows how coronavirus affects people from different backgrounds. Researchers collected stem cells from people with different racial backgrounds and gender and then used them to grow organoids, or small functioning organs, in Petri dishes.

Read More on KPS

August 3, 2020 | Features Tariq Rana, PhD

​Inhibiting Enzyme Helps Cancer Immunotherapy Work Better

People with inactive RNA-editing enzyme respond better to immunotherapy; inhibitors of the enzyme help mice with difficult-to-treat cancers live longer.

Cancer immunotherapy — a treatment that better enables a patient’s own immune system to attack tumors — has shown great potential against some cancers. Yet immunotherapy doesn’t work against all tumor types, and many patients who initially respond later develop resistance and relapse.

Read More on UCSD Health

July ​31, 2020 | Features Alysson Muotri, PhD

How Zero Gravity Can Reveal Basic Biological Questions

Astronauts have conducted all sorts of experiments in the International Space Station—from observations of microgravity on the human to body to growing space lettuce. But recently, cosmonauts bioengineered human cartilage cells into 3D structures aboard the station, using a device that utilizes magnetic levitation.

Read More on Science Friday

July 29, 2020 | Features Stephanie Cherqui, PhD

Best Life: Experimental Treatment for Cystinosis Featuring Dr. Stephanie Cherqui

The Department of Pediatrics is excited to share this news clip that highlights Dr. Stephanie Cherqui’s experimental gene therapy approach to treating cystinosis.   Stem cells taken from patient’s peripheral blood were re-engineered to produce functional cystinosin, the protein defective in cystinosis.  The patient was then reinfused with his own cystinosin-producing cells.

Read More on Action News 5

July 28, 2020 | Features Rob Knight, PhD

Watcher in the Wastewater

Research groups around the globe are looking to see whether urban wastewater monitoring can be integrated into surveillance systems for SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogens. After COVID-19 lockdowns eased across the United States in June, some parts of the country began reporting sudden increases in new cases. Texas was among the states leading the surge, and Houston in particular emerged as a national hotspot. 

Read More in Nature

​July 24, 2020 | Features Stephen Spector, MD

National Clinical Trial Launches, Will Test Promising Vaccine Against Novel Coronavirus

UC San Diego Health and the Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute, part of UC San Diego School of Medicine, will be sites for an accelerated national clinical trial to assess the efficacy and immunogenicity of a vaccine intended to protect against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Read More on UCSD Health

July 23, 2020 | New Publication

Seema Aceves and team identified a new signaling pathway in eosinophilic eshophagitis that could lead to new therapeutics

​Increased production of LIGHT by T Cells in eosinophilic esophagitis promotes differentiation of esophageal fibroblasts toward an inflammatoryphenotype.

Read More on PubMed