Division of General Internal MedicineIn the Department of Medicine

Research

Airways Research and Clinical Trials Center: “The faculty and staff of the University of California, San Diego Airways Research and Clinical Trials Center are committed to improving healthcare in our target areas of asthma, COPD and general medicine by translating new discoveries into effective therapy. To this end, we work with laboratory scientists, clinical researchers, biostatisticians, our skilled laboratory team and our volunteer subjects to investigate and test new treatments.”

For information, call 888-UCSD-AIR or go to http://ctc.ucsd.edu/

Boss Lab: Dr. Boss’s laboratory has two major research activities. The first is developing the vitamin B12 analog cobinamide as a new therapy for cyanide poisoning as well as radiation-induced cell damage. Cobinamide has a very high affinity for cyanide and free radicals, and acts as a scavenger of these toxic chemicals. Much of the detrimental effects of radiation are mediated via free radicals. As a vitamin B12 analog, cobinamide is relatively non-toxic, and we have had a pre-Investigators New Drug (IND) meeting with the Food and Drug Administration. The lab anticipates starting Phase I clinical trials in 2012.

The second major area of research is studying the regulation of purine nucleotide synthesis by amino acid availability and the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathway. Dr. Boss’s research group has found that amino acids are potent regulators of purine nucleotide synthesis, and that regulation occurs through the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathway. The lab is in the process of determining the precise mechanism of action. As part of these studies, the lab has found that purine synthesis is regulated during the cell cycle. This work could lead to novel forms of cancer treatment, since purines are required for DNA and RNA synthesis and cellular metabolism.

Center for Management Science in Health: Dr. John Fontanesi is the Director of the Center for Management Science in Health. The Center uses operational research principles to develop novel quality improvement strategies and performance measures to improve healthcare quality, delivery, and practices. Methodologies used include:

  • Value Chain Mapping
  • Workflow Analysis
  • Data Environment Analysis
  • Cost engineering
  • Agent-Based and Discrete Event simulations
  • Predictive Analytics

Eraly Lab: Over the last 10 years, Dr. Eraly’s research has focused on the organic anion transporters (OATs) of the kidney proximal tubule, proteins that are important for the urinary secretion of a very large number of organic acids of pharmacological (eg, penicillins, NSDAIDs, diuretics), physiological (eg, prostaglandins, cyclic nucleotides), and pathophysiological (eg, ketone bodies, uremic toxins) importance. His group has studied the OATs using a variety of approaches including basic molecular and biochemical techniques, knockouts, transcriptomics, metabolomics, and computational modeling of OAT structure and function. We recently discovered that knockout of one of the OATs results in hypotension, suggesting a role for these transporters in the regulation of blood pressure; we are currently investigating the underlying physiological mechanisms as well as the potential of OAT inhibitors as therapeutic agents for hypertension.

Golomb Lab: Dr. Golomb’s laboratory focuses on several intertwined themes: 1. Ensuring medical evidence is procured, interpreted and applied soundly, e.g. issues like what goes into placebos (there is nothing known to be inert, there are no regulations, the composition is usually not disclosed) and how conflicts of interest influence what is published; 2. Ensuring risks as well as benefits are considered for drugs and exposures, such as statin cholesterol-lowering drugs, other preventive agents (studies are typically designed to optimize benefit assessment – and for reasons of human subjects protections and cost efficiency, may obviate detection of harm), pesticides; 3. The role of free radicals (“oxidative stress”—i.e. the damage that antioxidants protect against), and cell energy impairment in health, illness, aging and disease. Harms to these are promoted by some drugs and exposures, and protected by some lifestyle factors. Areas of interest encompasses Gulf War illness, chronic multi-symptom illness (like Chronic Fatigue syndrome); autism; obesity and metabolic syndrome, neurodegenerative conditions like Lou Gehrig’s disease and Parkinson’s disease; and dietary factors like trans fats on the harm side, and potentially favorable substances like vitamin D, omega-3s, coenzyme Q10, and chocolate.

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