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2 UCSF Faculty Elected to the National Academy of Medicine for 2017

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By Nina Bai, UCSF News Center

A clinician-scientist and a cardiologist from UC San Francisco are among the 70 new members and 10 international members elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), among the most prestigious honors in the fields of health and medicine.

Election to the NAM recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service in the medical sciences, health care and public health. The most recent UCSF faculty to join this distinguished group are Daniel H. Lowenstein, MD, the Robert B. and Ellinor Aird Professor of Neurology, executive vice chancellor and provost; and Rita F. Redberg, MD, MSc, professor of medicine.

Lowenstein is a clinician-scientist who studies both the basic science and clinical aspects of epilepsy. His laboratory work in the 1990s addressed the fundamental mechanisms by which a normal neuronal network transforms into a hyperexcitable network capable of producing or relaying seizure activity. Among his team’s discoveries was that seizure activity in an adult model of temporal lobe epilepsy causes a marked increase in the birth of hippocampal neurons. Lowenstein then turned his attention to the genetic basis of epilepsy, helping to create the international Epilepsy Phenome/Genome Project and the Epi4K Center without Walls, which, by compiling the most extensive and detailed phenotype dataset in the history of epilepsy research, has led to an entirely new understanding of the genetic architecture of epilepsy.

On the clinical side, Lowenstein has specialized in the treatment of unusually prolonged seizures, known as status epilepticus, leading two five-year multi-centered clinical trials that helped define the optimal therapy for this condition.

Lowenstein is a dedicated and highly-regarded teacher, and has received essentially every major award related to medical student education granted at UCSF and nationally. In recognition of his actions for social justice, he was received the UCSF Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award, the UCSF Chancellor’s Award for Public Service, and the UCSF Chancellor Diversity Award for Disability Service. He delivered the UCSF “Last Lecture” in 2013.

Redberg is a cardiologist and health policy expert. She directs the UCSF Flight Attendant Clinic and has received numerous awards for her work in women and heart disease.

Rita Redberg

Besides her clinical work, Redberg has pursued a longstanding interest in health policy. Her research has focused on the regulatory process for high-risk medical devices and the strength of evidence that supports them. She is a strong proponent of high-quality data to support safety and effectiveness of medical devices and has testified multiple times before Congress on these issues. Redberg enjoys working with UCSF students and residents on this research and has been recognized by several UCSF mentoring awards.

She has been the editor-in-chief of JAMA Internal Medicine since 2009 and initiated an ongoing series in the journal, called “Less is More,” that highlights areas of health care with little or no known benefit. Several articles published under her leadership have prompted the FDA to issue warnings about faulty drugs and devices. Redberg also serves on the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, which advises Congress on Medicare payment policy.

New members to NAM are elected by current active members. This year’s newly elected class brings NAM’s total active membership to 1,812 and the number of international members to 151. The elections bring UCSF’s membership in the NAM to 102.

The National Academy of Medicine, established in 1970 as the Institute of Medicine, is an independent organization of eminent professionals from diverse fields including health and medicine; the natural, social, and behavioral sciences; and beyond. It serves alongside the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering as an adviser to the national and the international community.

Community

City Wins Case Against Local Real Estate Empire for Systemic Tenants’ Rights Violations

The September 1 decision represents a significant triumph for the city in a case brought several years ago against the owners of a prominent local real estate empire for systematically violating the rights of tenants at buildings their family companies own. 

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Barbara Parker

Alameda County Superior Court issued its final Statement of Decision and Permanent Injunction After Trial in People of the State of California and the City of Oakland v. Dodg Corporation, et al., a major win for the city in a case against a local real estate empire for systemic tenants’ rights violations.

The September 1 decision represents a significant triumph for the city in a case brought several years ago against the owners of a prominent local real estate empire for systematically violating the rights of tenants at buildings their family companies own. 

Not only must the defendants now comply with tenant protection and health and safety laws at all of their properties, but they owe the city and their former tenants significant redress, including financial penalties to the city and compensation to tenants, for their years of unlawful activity.

Said City Attorney Barbara Parker, “Victory in this case means that tenants in Oakland do not have to choose between their fundamental rights and having a roof over their head at any cost. No longer will businesses like Dodg Corporation be able to run roughshod over the people relying on them for shelter, and no longer will landlords feel the same impunity to outright ignore their legal obligations under our local laws.”

When the City Attorney’s Office brought the Dodg Corp. case in 2019, Oakland had long been facing an unprecedented housing crisis. By 2019, the housing crisis was disproportionately impacting low-income households, with nearly half of rental households in Oakland being rent-burdened (i.e., the household spends over 30% of its gross monthly income on rent).

Because of the skyrocketing rents, many low- and middle-income Oakland residents lived and still live under threat of displacement.

Prior to filing the case, the City Attorney’s Office had already worked with members of the City Council and the Mayor’s Office to pass various important laws focusing on protecting Oakland residents, particularly low- and middle-income residents. 

The City Attorney’s Office worked closely with the Council to adopt the Tenant Protection Ordinance (TPO) in 2014, which was amended in 2020 to strengthen the TPO’s protections. But for some abusive landlords, neither the 2014 TPO nor its recent amendments were enough to stop their illegal activities.

For years, the defendants in the Dodg Corp. case owned and operated approximately 60 residential rental properties in the City of Oakland (and owned at least 70 more properties in the city). The lawsuit addressed their flagrant disregard for the letter and spirit of the law with respect to six specific rental properties, where the defendants subjected Oakland residents to grave health and safety risks. 

The owners’ activities included renting units in substandard conditions — including units never intended or approved for residential use — to tenants who were predominantly low-income immigrants, among them tenants whose primary language is not English. 

This predatory business model allowed the owners to profit from renting uninhabitable or dilapidated units, including units that posed severe and imminent fire risks, to tenants who were desperate to find affordable housing and who often lacked the resources to take legal action to defend their rights. 

When tenants were displaced from their homes because their units were so unsafe, the owners further violated the law by neglecting to make relocation payments required by local law, according to a media release from the City Attorney’s Office. 

The case went to trial in early April of this year. In its September 1 decision, the court held that the defendant corporate entities and individual defendants Baljit Singh Mann and Surinder K. Mann exhibited a pattern and practice of violating the Tenant Protection Ordinance, and did so in bad faith, and that they created a public nuisance.

The verdict requires that defendants pay the City over $3.9 million in civil penalties for their egregious violations of tenants’ rights. Defendants must also provide long-overdue relocation payments to the dozens of tenants unlawfully displaced from the six properties at issue in this case. 

Going forward, defendants also may not operate any of their Oakland-owned residential properties in violation of local or state laws. This means the owners must promptly and competently address existing and future violations that jeopardize the well-being of their tenants.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Community

B.A.S.I.C. Ministry Opens Its Doors to Feed hundreds of Asian Americans in San Leandro

Since 2020, B.A.S.I.C. Ministry (Brothers and Sisters in Christ) has fed hundreds of families in San Leandro and Oakland through their Feed My Sheep Program. 

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Volunteers feed the community/ Photo Courtesy of Mustafa Muhyee, Pastor B.A.S.I.C. MINISTRY

Since 2020, B.A.S.I.C. Ministry (Brothers and Sisters in Christ) has fed hundreds of families in San Leandro and Oakland through their Feed My Sheep Program. 

Located at 1221 Pacific Ave. in San Leandro, B.A.S.I.C. Ministry feeds hundreds of Asian American families every Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. Members of B.A.S.I.C. Ministry and people in the community volunteers distribute bags of groceries and fresh vegetables.  

Also, on Wednesdays the church distributes hot meals to hundreds of families on the corner of 98th and Edes in Oakland at noon.

Lisa, a young adult Asian American woman, standing in line with her elderly mother, said “Many people in our community can’t afford to buy food.  This really helps.

B.A.S.I.C. Ministry Pastor Mustafah Muhyee says “since the pandemic he has seen a rise in families needing food.” To help us end hunger in our communities call the church at (510) 961-8781. To donate funds, go to www.jointhamovement.com  

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Commentary

Biden, Vax Americana, and What the Recall Could Mean in COVID-19 Wars

Masking works. You can see it working. Vaccines work too, but we’re on the honor system for that. And people lie or show a fake vax cards. 

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COVID/Photo Courtesy of Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire 

At Oakland’s Stagebridge, I taught a class this year. One of my students couldn’t make the final. The student had COVID.

I don’t know if the student was vaccinated or whether this was a breakthrough case. But the fact remains, the COVID war must be our No. 1 priority—no matter how many people you see on TV at football games and sporting events unmasked. 

Masking works. You can see it working. Vaccines work too, but we’re on the honor system for that. And people lie or show a fake vax cards. 

This is why President Joe Biden’s speech last week, what I call his “Vax Americana” speech was so much more important than people want to admit.

It was his first get tough moment. And it reminded me of the phrase, “Pax Americana,” from post-World War II in 1945 to describe how the U.S. used its dominance to bring peace and prosperity to the world. 

After months of “nice,” Biden was a little less nice ordering federal workers to get vaxed, and OSHA to lean on employers with 100 workers to mandate vaccinations.

But all you need to remember from the speech was the last line, when Biden in a hushed, aggressive whisper said, “Get vaccinated.” 

What are you waiting for—a death bed conversion? 

It’s time to get serious about public health, about caring for our country and each other. 

We can end the war on COVID if we all do our part, masked and vaxed. 

I wonder if Biden knows about a non-profit in Stockton called Little Manila Rising

“Someone Pulled a Gun” 

You know what guns do to a situation. In the COVID wars, the anti-vaxers are insane. 

One of the handful of Filipino American canvassers for Little Manila Rising going door to door to provide the public with good information, got a rude greeting from an anti-vaxer.

“A gun!” said Amy Portello-Nelson, the head of the Get-Out-The-Vaccine drive in Stockton. The canvassers are armed only with information. No one was hurt, but you see how dangerous fighting COVID can be when you’re armed only with facts. 

Here’s what Little Manila Rising’s done in two months on the job. It has knocked on more than 32,000 doors and had 20,000 conversations. The area they’ve worked has gone from a vaccination rate of 32% to more than 50%. 

Talking to people and telling them to get vax works. It’s how we’re going to get back to normal. It’s going to take a “Vax Americana” effort.

The Recall

Of course, whatever happens with this gubernatorial recall will determine how quickly the state gets to the 70%-80% rate that gives us an effective herd immunity. 

My deadline is before any official recall results. And even then, mail-in ballots with a September 16 postmark will take time to be counted. 

The talk of voter fraud is greatly exaggerated. There’s more rhetorical fraud than anything else. 

With more than 8 million ballots in already, unless there’s a strange crossover vote, the Democrats should continue in power. 

But let’s say the recall succeeds and a person with the most votes among 46 also-rans becomes the new governor, it would not bode well for the state.

The Black conservative Larry Elder was leading among those who want to replace Governor Gavin Newsom.

Elder is an anti-vaxxer and has espoused views indicating that – under his leadership– California would look a lot more like Alabama, Texas, Louisiana and Florida on the COVID map. 

That would be the real monumental tragedy for California and for Vax Americana. 

Let’s face it, the political virus unleashed by the Republicans on our democracy is worse than COVID. 

The recall effort needs to die a natural death this week.

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