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UCSF Scientists Honored by National Academy of Sciences

May 4, 2011

Alexander D. Johnson, PhD, and Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD, have been elected as members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) for their excellence in original scientific research. It is one of the highest honors bestowed on a scientist or engineer in the United States.
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Three UCSF Professors Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

April 20, 2011

Three UCSF professors, in medicine, immunology and molecular pharmacology, are among 212 international leaders who have been elected as new members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS). Two of the three researchers are members of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. The new Fellows and Foreign Honorary Members were announced on April 19 and will be inducted on Oct. 1, 2011 at the academy's headquarters in Cambridge, Mass. The new class joins one of the world's oldest and most prestigious honorary societies and includes accomplished members of academia, business, public affairs, the humanities and the arts. Among them are three renowned UCSF professors: * Talmadge E. King, Jr., MD, Julius R. Krevans Distinguished Professor in Internal Medicine and chair of the Department of Medicine; * Lewis L. Lanier, PhD, chair, Department of Microbiology & Immunology; * Kevan M. Shokat, PhD, chair, Department of Cellular & Molecular Pharmacology. "It is a privilege to honor these men and women for their extraordinary individual accomplishments," said Leslie Berlowitz, academy president and William T. Golden Chair. "The knowledge and expertise of our members give the Academy a unique capacity - and responsibility - to provide practical policy solutions to the pressing challenges of the day." Talmadge King An internationally respected expert in lung disorders, King was recruited to UCSF from the University of Colorado in 1997 to be chief of medical services at San Francisco General Hospital, where he served for a decade, improving the quality of clinical care and research and advocating for the public hospital, particularly its mission of community service. In September 2007, King was named chair of the UCSF School of Medicine's Department of Medicine, where he oversees the university's largest department, comprising 550 doctors and scientists and more than 700 support staff. A graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., King earned his medical degree from Harvard Medical School. He conducted his residency at Emory University Affiliated Hospitals, Atlanta, Ga., and a pulmonary fellowship at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, where he later became a medical professor. King is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and is on the Advisory Council of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, among several distinguished professional organizations. King has been listed on several of the "Best Doctors lists in America" for more than a decade and in 2007 won the American Thoracic Society's highest honor, the Trudeau Medal, for his work. Lewis Lanier Lanier has made extensive contributions to our understanding of immunology, from his initial characterization of human natural killer (NK) cells and identification of many of the NK receptors, to his demonstration that these cells directly recognize viruses and play a key role in protecting their host against pathogens and tumors. He joined the UCSF faculty as a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and in the Cancer Research Institute in 1999, and became chair of the department in 2009. Lanier was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2010. Lanier graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and received his PhD from University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. He conducted postdoctoral work in immunology at the UNC Lineberger Cancer Center and the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. He worked as a senior scientist and Research Fellow at Becton Dickinson Immunocytometry Systems from 1981 to 1990, and from 1991 to 1999 at the DNAX Research Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Inc., where he was director of immunology. Lanier was president of the American Association of Immunologists from 2006 to 2007 and serves on the editorial board of numerous research publications, as well as the scientific advisory boards of biotechnology companies. Kevan Shokat Shokat is a leader in the field of chemical biology. He uses the tools of synthetic organic chemistry, structural biology, genetics and mathematical modeling to decipher the role of individual proteins called kinases and their cellular signaling networks. Those efforts include research to understand which kinases could be targeted to treat diseases such as cancer and immune dysfunction. Shokat is currently a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine. A graduate of Reed College, in Portland, Ore., Shokat earned his PhD in organic chemistry from UC Berkeley. He has been a joint member of both the UCSF and UC Berkeley faculties since 1999, after serving as an assistant professor at Princeton University, and has led the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology since January 2010. Since its founding in 1780 by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock, and other scholar-patriots, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences has elected leading "thinkers and doers" from each generation, according to the institution. They include George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the 19th, and Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill in the 20th, as well as more than 250 Nobel laureates and 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.
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UCSF Scientists Discover Link Between Inflammation and Pancreatic Cancer

April 11, 2011

Solving part of a medical mystery, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco have established a link between molecules found in an inflamed pancreas and the early formation of pancreatic cancer - a discovery that may help scientists identify new ways to detect, ...
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Exercise May Prevent Impact of Stress on Telomeres, A Measure of Cell Health

April 4, 2011

UCSF scientists are reporting several studies showing that psychological stress leads to shorter telomeres - the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes that are a measure of cell age and, thus, health. The findings also suggest that exercise may prevent this damage. The team ...
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UCSF Team Discovers New Way to Predict Breast Cancer Survival and Enhance Effectiveness of Treatment

April 4, 2011

A team of researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) has discovered a new way to predict breast cancer survival based on an "immune profile" -- the relative levels of three types of immune cells within a tumor. Knowing a patient's profile may ...
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UCSF Researchers Identify Promising New Treatment for Childhood Leukemia

March 31, 2011

An experimental drug lessens symptoms of a rare form of childhood leukemia and offers significant insight into the cellular development of the disease, according to findings from a new UCSF study. The mouse model research could spearhead the development of new leukemia therapies and paves the way for future clinical trials in humans. "Although this drug did not produce a cure, it alleviated the symptoms of leukemia as long as the treatment was continued and delayed the development of a more aggressive disease," said senior author Benjamin Braun, MD, PhD, a pediatric cancer specialist at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital. "Maintaining a clinical remission for as long as we can may help patients who don't have other options, and perhaps will allow us to approach this disease as a chronic, but manageable, condition." Study results are published in the March 30, 2011, online edition of the journal Science Translational Medicine. The study focused on a type of leukemia called juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia, or JMML. An aggressive blood cancer usually diagnosed in patients younger than 5, JMML accounts for 1 to 2 percent of all childhood leukemia cases. The disease develops in the bone marrow and leads to an elevated white blood cell count that interferes with bone marrow's ability to produce healthy red blood cells. The abnormal increase in white blood cells occurs when genetic changes, or mutations, arise in the genes that encode proteins in a cellular signaling network called the Ras pathway. This network, controlled by the Ras protein, is a critical regulator of cell growth and a frequent target of cancerous mutations. Currently, JMML is curable only through bone marrow transplantation, in which healthy blood stem cells are extracted from a matched donor and intravenously transplanted into the patient. Still, nearly half of patients relapse after undergoing a transplant, and others are not candidates for transplantation because of advanced illness or the lack of a suitable donor, Braun said.