A sampling of recent major achievements and developments from UC Davis Health. For more listings and news, please visit our website, follow us on social media, or subscribe to UC Davis Health System news feeds with an RSS reader.

One of America’s top 26 institutions for NIH research funding

UC Davis scientists working in a research lab

For the first time, the UC Davis School of Medicine has placed in the top 20 percent of institutions in the country for research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Since 2001, the school’s NIH research funding has risen from $41 million to $176.2 million in 2017. The school currently ranks 26th in the U.S.

“The proportion of NIH funding is an important measure of research excellence,” said Lars Berglund, M.D., Ph.D., interim dean of the School of Medicine and UC Davis Health’s associate vice chancellor for biomedical research. “NIH grants are awarded on a highly competitive basis, and only institutions with fundamental core strengths across a wide spectrum of life sciences have been successful at maintaining their NIH funding base.”

Posted in February, the ranking is based on 2017 data collected and tabulated by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research, a nonprofit that uses the NIH’s Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools for annual rankings. Berglund said UC Davis’ position reflects hard work by scientific teams, investments by former health system leaders, and synergies with industry and community partners and philanthropic contributors.

“We have built this research community together,” he said.

UC Davis Health campus to welcome new innovation hub

computer generated rendering of new innovation hub

UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg have chosen a portion of the UC Davis Health campus in Sacramento’s Oak Park area as the location for the first phase of a planned mixed-use innovation hub project known as Aggie Square.

The collaborative technology and innovation campus is intended to leverage the university’s strengths in order to help catalyze economic change, create jobs for graduates, and spur the economic vitality of the broader Sacramento region. It’s also designed to serve as a model public-private partnership, increasing technology transfer and creating opportunities for residents in both the local and overall communities.

An Aggie Square working group of city, regional and university officials has recognized several opportunities for public-private partners in the areas of life sciences, food systems, mobility, government and civic technology, and arts and communications.

May and Steinberg announced the project site at an April 12 news conference with leaders such as Assemblyman Kevin McCarty and Sacramento City Council-man Jay Schenirer, all shown in the photo at right. For more information, visit the UC Davis website.

Lara new director of UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

Primo “Lucky” Lara Jr., M.D.

Primo “Lucky” Lara Jr., M.D., has been named director of the National Cancer Institute-designated UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, where he has served as acting director since 2016. As director, Lara will hold the Codman-Radke Chair in Cancer Research and serve as executive associate dean for cancer programs.

Lara joined the UC Davis faculty in 1999 and is an accomplished scientist, with principal research interests in developmental therapeutics and clinical trials development. He has served as the center’s associate director for translational research since 2008, chaired or co-chaired many trials, and authored or contributed to more than 200 peer-reviewed papers. He currently serves as principal investigator of a NIH training grant and has chaired education committees for major medical professional organizations.

Three elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Three UC Davis Health faculty members have been elected to the newest class of fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications:

Satya Dandekar

Satya Dandekar, Ph.D., professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, was bestowed for distinguished contributions to the field of basic and translational infectious diseases, with emphasis on HIV pathogenesis, viral persistence and mucosal immunology. She is an international researcher who has been instrumental in developing a multi-institutional international program on HIV research in India.

Kenneth Kizer

Kenneth Kizer, M.D., M.P.H., a distinguished professor and director of UC Davis’ Institute for Population Health Improvement, was elected for his exceptional achievements in improving population health and his innovative contributions to health care quality and safety. Kizer is a former Under Secretary for Health in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and a former director of California’s Department of Health Services. He was founding president and CEO of the National Quality Forum and has been selected as one of the “100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare” by Modern Healthcare Magazine.

Nancy Lane

Nancy Lane, M.D., endowed professor of Medicine, Rheumatology, and Aging Research, was honored for distinguished contributions in the epidemiology and genetic composition of therapies for women’s musculoskeletal disorders, including osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Lane directs the UC Davis Center for Healthy Aging and serves as associate editor for Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism and co-editor of the Journal of Rheumatology.

An amazing comeback

Avid runner Theresa Amurao rejoices after crossing the finish line at the 2017 California International Marathon

Avid runner Theresa Amurao rejoices after crossing the finish line at the 2017 California International Marathon (CIM) — the same race where she collapsed and went into cardiac arrest after finishing in 2016. Prompt on-scene care by UC Davis emergency medicine volunteers restored Amurao’s pulse that day, and she was later diagnosed with an anomalous coronary artery at UC Davis Medical Center. After a successful open-heart procedure by UC Davis cardiac surgeons Paul Perry and Gary Raff — and lots of challenging rehabilitation — Amurao was given the green light to run again. In the video still images above, Amurao is surrounded by members of the UC Davis team that saved her life. For more about Theresa’s journey — and other inspiring stories from the UC Davis Children’s Hospital-sponsored CIM — visit UC Davis Health’s YouTube channel.

Top 10 in the nation for primary care training

Schools of Medicine and Nursing rise in national rankings

The medical and nursing schools at UC Davis Health ranked among the best in the country in the annual U.S. News & World Report 2019 graduate school rankings released in March.

School of Medicine building

The UC Davis School of Medicine is now one of the ten best in the nation for primary care training, rising to number 10 from 18th in 2017. The school also ranked 39th nationally for research, up from 45th last year.

School of Nursing building

The master’s-degree leadership program at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis jumped six spots, placing at 46th in the nation. The program prepares graduates for health care leadership roles in a variety of organizations and as nurse faculty at the community-college level.

Evans and Gao new president and president-elect of urologic societies

Christopher Evans

Christopher Evans, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Urologic Surgery, has been named president of the Society of Urologic Oncology. The society fosters discussion and initiatives in research, education and clinical-care improvement for malignant genitourinary diseases. Evans also received a top honor from the European Association of Urology during the association’s annual meeting in March. The Platinum Award recognizes Evans’ expertise and contributions to European Urology, a monthly peer-reviewed medical journal with an impact factor of 16.26.

Allen Gao

Allen Gao, M.D., Ph.D., director and Ralph de Vere White Endowed Professor of Urologic Research, has been named president-elect of the Society for Basic Urologic Research. The society promotes collaboration and communication and serves as a resource for research information through the American Urological Association.

Telliano assistant vice chancellor of strategic communications

Steven Telliano

Steven Telliano has been named assistant vice chancellor of strategic communications for UC Davis Health. As the organization’s chief communications officer, he oversees strategy and professional staff in media relations, marketing, brand management, digital outreach, internal communications and related areas. Prior to joining UC Davis, Telliano was Managing Director for Health and Public Affairs in Northern California for the global communications agency Edelman. His background includes firsthand experience in the news media, the government sector and in developing nationally-recognized health communications programs, such as Katie Couric’s model colon cancer awareness campaign.

Howell president-elect of Association of Pathology Chairs

Lydia Pleotis Howell

Lydia Pleotis Howell, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, is the new president-elect of the Association of Pathology Chairs. The nonprofit society serves as the voice of academic departments of pathology in the U.S. and Canada. As president-elect, Howell will serve a two year term, and will assume the presidency in July 2020.

Howell is also a past-president of the American Society of Cytopathology, which last year granted her its highest honor, the Papanicolaou Award. She is recognized as a national leader whose work has improved the practice of cytopathology and women’s health, and also widely known for her research on work-life balance and career development of biomedical faculty.

Ing named new chief of pediatric cardiology

Frank Ing

Frank Ing, M.D., an internationally renowned interventional cardiologist, has been named chief of pediatric cardiology at UC Davis Children’s Hospital. He will oversee the UC Davis Pediatric Heart Center and an integrated multidisciplinary team of surgeons, specialists, physicians, nurses and researchers. Ing joins UC Davis from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where he was chief of the Division of Cardiology, co-director of the Heart Institute, and director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory. He is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology and Society of Cardiac Angiography and Interventions.

New president of California Association of Healthcare Leaders

Toby Marsh

Toby Marsh, R.N., M.S.A., M.S.N., FACHE, NEA-BC, chief nursing and patient care services officer at UC Davis Medical Center, has been named president of the California Association of Healthcare Leaders.

The association is an independent chapter chartered by the American College of Healthcare Executives and aims to advance excellence in healthcare leadership, community health and clinical care. Marsh oversees more than 1,800 nurses and nurse practitioners at UC Davis.

Mell new director of UC Davis Vascular Center

Matthew Mell

Matthew Mell, M.D., M.S., a national leader in defining health policy for managing and treating aortic disease, has been named director of the UC Davis Vascular Center and chief of the Division of Vascular Surgery. Mell joins UC Davis from Stanford University, where he was medical director of the vascular clinic and Stanford Healthcare Ambulatory Specialty Care, and vice chair of clinical affairs for the surgery department. Mell is an expert in promoting early recognition of vascular disease and is well known for improving knowledge and standards for screening, surveillance and treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Primo Lara new deputy chair of SWOG

Primo “Lucky” Lara Jr

Primo “Lucky” Lara Jr. is the new deputy chair of SWOG, a research organization of more than 12,000 people at over 1,000 hospitals and clinics. SWOG designs and conducts publicly funded cancer clinical trials and represents a major force in cancer advances worldwide.

Lara, the new permanent director of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, will oversee SWOG’s National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN) portfolio of treatment trials. Formerly known as the Southwest Oncology Group, SWOG’s clinical trials have led to the approval of new cancer drugs, changed care standards and profoundly impacted survival.

National Hispanic Health Foundation recognition

Mary Lou de Leon Siantz

The National Hispanic Health Foundation has honored Mary Lou de Leon Siantz, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN, a professor at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, for her commitment to serving the health needs of the growing Hispanic communities in the U.S. She was the only nurse recognized this year and has been acknowledged as an outstanding role model who has positively impacted agencies, health professions schools, research, community agencies and media to advance care to underserved communities. She is a founding member and former president of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses and founding director of the UC Davis Center for the Advancement of Multicultural Perspectives on Science.

Honored for lifetime achievements and mentorship in ophthalmology

Mark Mannis

The American Academy of Ophthalmology and The Cornea Society have recognized Mark Mannis, M.D., chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Science, for his lifetime achievements in corneal transplantation and his contributions to the profession.

Mannis received The Cornea Society’s Claes Dohlman Award for his dedication to teaching excellence in the field of cornea and external disease. The Academy of Ophthalmology honored him with its EnergEYES Award, which recognizes his exemplary leadership skills and mentorship.

Mannis has pioneered methods for corneal transplants, and has been an advocate for high-quality ocular tissue transplants worldwide.

Humanitarian award for glaucoma work

James D. Brandt

James D. Brandt, M.D., has received the humanitarian award from the American Glaucoma Society for his longstanding efforts to preserve vision and to improve quality of life for those in need. Brandt, a renowned glaucoma specialist and professor of ophthalmology and vision science, is director of the Glaucoma service and vice chair for International Programs & New Technologies at the UC Davis Eye Center. For the last decade he has traveled around the world to treat children with glaucoma through a partnership he developed with the nonprofit Orbis International.

Physician assistant named national distinguished fellow

Felix Emond

Felix Emond, M.S., PA-C, DFAAPA, an assistant clinical professor at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, has been honored as a distinguished fellow of the American Academy of Physician Assistants for outstanding contributions to patient care and the profession. He brings more than 30 years of clinical experience in outpatient, inpatient and operative care of individuals with musculoskeletal conditions.

Talamantes honored as an emerging scholar

Efrain Talamantes

Efrain Talamantes, M.D., M.B.A., MSHPM, assistant professor of Internal Medicine and an expert in advancing equity and diversity in the field of medicine, has been named an Emerging Scholar by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. Talamantes serves as co-director of the UC Davis Center for a Diverse Healthcare Workforce, associate director of the Center for Reducing Health Disparities, and associate director of UC Davis’ internal medicine residency program.

#WhatYouCanDo to help reduce gun violence

A new website launched by the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program (VPRP) offers information and support for health providers who are seeking ways to reduce firearm injury and death, particularly among patients at elevated risk. The What You Can Do section of the program’s website includes practical guidance on identifying patient risk factors, preparing an individualized approach to counseling, and opening a conversation about firearms. The VPRP assesses firearm violence and the connections between violence, substance abuse and mental illness, and is home to the University of California Firearm Violence Research Center.