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Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science faculty, staff and students who have news to share may submit their announcement here.

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News Releases

Study Finds ChatGPT Outperforms Physicians in High-Quality, Empathic Answers to Patient Questions
Featuring: Eric Leas, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor

A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine led by John W. Ayers, Ph.D., from the Qualcomm Institute at University of California San Diego provides an early glimpse into the role that AI assistants could play in medicine. The study compared written responses from physicians and those from ChatGPT to real-world health questions. A panel of licensed healthcare professionals preferred ChatGPT’s responses 79% of the time and rated ChatGPT’s responses as higher quality and more empathetic.

Read the full news release.


Center for AIDS Research Receives $15 Million Renewal Grant From NIH
Featuring: Sonia Jain, PhD, Professor and Associate Dean for Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded a five-year, $15.45 million grant to the San Diego Center for AIDS Research (SD CFAR) at UC San Diego, renewing support that extends back to an original establishing grant in 1994 at the height of the AIDS epidemic.

SD CFAR was established by the NIAID as a regional, collaborative, frontline hub for studying HIV, bringing together multiple institutional partners, including The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla Institute for Immunology, San Diego State University, plus local health agencies and community groups.  

Read the full news release


Libraries Primed to Play Integral Role in Preventing the Spread of Health Misinformation
Featuring: Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science

A new effort to counteract the spread of health misinformation has taken flight. The San Diego Circuit libraries (Circuit), a consortium of six prominent academic and public libraries, has announced the availability of a campaign website designed to help community members identify and protect themselves from health misinformation.

The primary goals of the project are threefold: 1) to raise awareness of health misinformation, 2) to share techniques for evaluating health claims and finding reliable sources, and 3) to provide guidance on how to respond to misinformation ethically and responsibly. An essential component of the effort is promoting National Library of Medicine resources such as MedlinePlus, PubMed and, to help community members find reliable consumer health and scientific sources.

Read the full news release.



Training Individuals to Work in their Communities to Reduce Health Disparities
Featuring: Wael Al-Delaimy, MD, PhD, Eric Hekler, PhD, Blanca Melendrez, and Chag Lowry

Community health workers were trusted messengers, disseminating health information in underserved communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, and playing a vital role in reducing health disparities.

This form of outreach is the basis of a newly launched academic-community partnership, led by the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at University of California San Diego and is funded by a $3-million Health Resources and Services Administration grant, that aims to train 200 individuals from refugee, immigrant, and Native American populations living in San Diego County to become community health workers on key health topics disproportionately affecting their communities.

Read the full news release.



Reimagining Public Health
Featuring: Cheryl Anderson, PhD, MPH, Sheri Thompson, PhD, Steven Edland, PhD, Martha Anderson, JD, Kyle Choi, Sonia Jain, PhD, Nancy Binkin, MD, MPH, Victoria Ojeda, PhD, MPH, and Michael Pratt, MD, MPH

From pandemics to health inequities, confronting future crises will look different—and that’s a good thing. With seven education programs, the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science is cultivating the next generation of diverse public health professionals and leaders while leveraging its research strengths to address deep and pressing 21st century public health issues.

Read the full news release.



More Steps, Moderate Physical Activity Cuts Dementia, Cognitive Impairment Risk
FeaturingAndrea LaCroix, PhD, MPH, and Steve Nguyen, PhD, MPH

Senior women were less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment or dementia if they did more daily walking and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, according to a new study led by the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at University of California San Diego.

In the Jan. 25, 2023 online edition of Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, the team reported that, among women aged 65 or older, each additional 31 minutes per day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity was associated with a 21 percent lower risk of developing mild cognitive impairment or dementia. Risk was also 33 percent lower with each additional 1,865 daily steps.

Read the full new release.



UC San Diego Student Catches Eye of White House
Featuring: Alec Calac, Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health candidate

A student at UC San Diego School of Medicine and Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science has been invited by the Biden administration to participate in an exclusive group of experts and leaders in the fields of medicine and public health.

A candidate in the university’s Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD) and a high-profile public health advocate, Alec J. Calac is one of several trainees invited to join some of the nation’s leading clinicians and scholars as a participant in the Health Equity Leaders Roundtable Series to discuss health equity in the United States.

“I’ve always had a special focus on education attainment and workforce development, which I’ve carried into my training as an MD/PhD student,” Calac said. “With the support of many students, staff and faculty at UC San Diego and across the entire University of California system, I have continued to advocate for policies aimed at supporting the next generation of American Indian and Alaska Native physicians and allied health professionals. My participation in the Health Equity Leaders Roundtable Series is a function and extension of those efforts.”

Read the full news release here.



UC San Diego Awarded $38 Million USAID Grant to Improve Global Health Equity
Featuring: Holly Shakya Baker, PhD

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has funded a $38 million, five-year project led by the Center on Gender Equity and Health (GEH) at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science. The project is an international, multi-institutional effort to better understand and promote agency for individuals, communities and local organizations in low- and middle-income countries.

The award is the largest ever given to UC San Diego by USAID, a 61-year-old federal program created by President John F. Kennedy to advance humanitarian efforts, reduce poverty and encourage sustained economic and social development throughout the world. 

“This is a spectacular moment,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla. “With this award, UC San Diego can lead in using research to address important social and health issues that result in beneficial change and new policies that make the world a better place.”

Read the full news release here.



Understanding Caste and the Power of Empathy in Human Health

Empathy is not a weakness, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson told a live audience gathered virtually to hear her insights into an artificial division that continues to plague society known as caste, and its contribution to health injustice.


Daily Activities Like Washing Dishes Reduced Heart Disease Risk in Senior Women

Featuring: Steven Nguyen, PhD, MPH, postdoctoral scholar, Andrea LaCroix, PhD, Loki Natarajan, PhDJohn Bellettiere, PhD  

Seniors take note, running or brisk walking is not the only way to reduce the risk of heart disease. Simply being “up and about” performing routine activities, referred to as daily life movement, including housework, gardening, cooking and self-care activities like showering can significantly benefit cardiovascular health.


Adoption of E-cigarettes for Smoking Cessation in 2017 Low and Ineffective

Featuring: John P. Pierce, PhD, and Karen Messer, PhD

Despite the rapid growth in sales of e-cigarettes in 2017, researchers at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at University of California San Diego say smokers seeking to quit were not early adopters of the products. The report appears in the February 7, 2022 online edition of the journal Tobacco Control.


Social Isolation and Loneliness Increase Heart Disease Risk in Senior Women

Featuring: John Bellettiere, PhD and Natalie Golaszewski, Ph.D., postdoctoral scholar

During the current pandemic, social distancing has been one tool used to reduce the spread of COVID-19. But data from a new study point to as much as a 27% increase in heart disease risk in postmenopausal women who experience both high levels of social isolation and loneliness.

The findings of the prospective study, published in the February 2, 2022 online issue of JAMA Network Open, reveal that social isolation and loneliness independently increased cardiovascular disease risk by 8% and 5% respectively. If women experienced high levels of both, their risk rose 13% to 27% compared to women who reported low levels of social isolation and low levels of loneliness.


Step Up: Walking May Reduce Type 2 Diabetes Risk for Adults 65 and Older

Featuring: John Bellettiere, PhD and Alexis C. Garduno, PhD student

Walking regularly and at greater intensity may help prevent Type 2 diabetes among 70 and 80 year olds, according to one of the first studies measuring steps and pace among this population.

The more steps a person takes, and the more intense, the lower their risk for developing diabetes, report researchers in a study published in the Jan. 20, 2022 issue of Diabetes Care.


UC San Diego Receives $14M to Drive Precision Nutrition with Gut Microbiome Data

Featuring: Rebecca Fielding-Miller, PhD, MSPH and Camille Nebeker, EdD

The NIH is now awarding $170 million in grant funding to centers across the country to create a new consortium known as Nutrition for Precision Health, powered by the All of Us Research Program®. The consortium will recruit a diverse pool of 10,000 All of Us Research Program participants to develop algorithms to predict individual responses to food and inform more personalized nutrition recommendations. 


Homelessness Increases Serious Illness, Emergency Room Visits During Heat Waves
Featuring: Tarik Benmarhnia, PhD, MSc, MEng

In a study published online on Dec. 22, 2021 in the American Journal of Public Health, University of California San Diego researchers in the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity ScienceScripps Institution of Oceanography and the Department of Emergency Medicine, provide the first epidemiological evidence of the health impacts of heat waves on people experiencing homelessness, visits to emergency departments and which characteristics make them particularly at-risk.


Havacado or Two. Study Finds Eating Lots of the Fruit Hass Public Health Import
Featuring: Lorena Pacheco, PhD, Matt Allison, MD, MPH and Cheryl A.M. Anderson, PhD, MPH

In a novel study, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science conducted a randomized controlled trial comparing the potential health effects between families that consumed a low allotment of avocados (three per week) and families that consumed a high allotment (14 per week) over six months. All families were of Mexican descent. They found that the high avocado allotment families self-reported lower caloric consumption, reducing their intake of other foods, including dairy, meats and refined grains and their associated negative nutrients, such as saturated fat and sodium. 


UC San Diego Study: E-cigarettes Don’t Help Smokers Stay Off Cigarettes
Featuring: John P. Pierce, PhD, and Karen Messer, PhD

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have suggested that smokers who are unable to quit smoking may benefit by switching from smoking cigarettes to vaping e-cigarettes if they switch completely and are able to avoid relapsing to cigarette smoking.

However, there have been few studies on whether smokers are able to transition to e-cigarettes—battery-operated devices that heat a liquid made of nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals to make an aerosol that users inhale into their lungs—without relapsing back to cigarette smoking.

Published in the Oct. 19, 2021 online issue of JAMA Network Open, an analysis by the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at University of California San Diego and UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center reports that e-cigarette use—even on a daily basis—did not help smokers successfully stay off cigarettes.



John and Sally Hood Family Foundation Gives $3 Million to UC San Diego
Featuring: Cheryl A.M. Anderson, PhD, MPH

The John and Sally Hood Family Foundation have given $3 million to establish the Hood Family Endowed Dean’s Chair in Public Health at University of California San Diego. The gift is intended to support excellence in research, education and practice of public health at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at UC San Diego.

Cheryl A.M. Anderson, Ph.D., MPH, founding dean of Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health, has been named the inaugural chair holder. An endowed chair is one of the highest honors that an academic institution can confer upon a faculty member. It recognizes excellence in their research and clinical practice.

With Time and Without Masks, COVID-19 Vaccines Wane in Protection
Featuring: Nancy Binkin, MD, MPH

In a letter to The New England Journal of Medicine, publishing online September 1, 2021, an interdisciplinary team of physicians and public health experts at University of California San Diego measured the effectiveness of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines among health workers at UC San Diego Health, most notably during the emergence of the highly transmissible delta virus variant and coincident with the end of the state’s mask mandate, allowing fully vaccinated persons to forgo face coverings in most places.

Public Health Leaders Urge HPV Immunization in Time for Back to School 
Jesse Nodora, DrPH

As the start of school approaches, local public health leaders are calling on parents to protect children from preventable diseases, in particular the human papillomavirus (HPV) which is responsible for 36,000 new cancer diagnosis each year. 

Graphic Warning Labels on Cigarette Packaging Changes Perceptions
Featuring: David Strong, PhD, John P. Pierce, PhD, and Karen Messer, PhD

Purchase a pack of cigarettes in Australia and be prepared to be accosted with graphic warning labels depicting the dangers of tobacco use — including images of gangrene of the foot, a newborn with a breathing tube and throat cancer. In a paper published online in JAMA Network Open on Aug. 4, 2021, Strong and colleagues at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, California State University San Marcos, San Diego County Public Health Services, and San Diego State University, demonstrated that graphic warning labels are effective reminders of the negative health consequences of smoking.


Common Medication Used to Reduce Cholesterol Levels May Reduce COVID-19 Severity
Featuring: Karen Messer, PhD

In a new study from University of California San Diego School of Medicine, researchers have confirmed that patients taking statin medications had a 41 percent lower risk of in-hospital death from COVID-19. The findings were published July 15, 2021 in PLOS ONE  and expand upon prior research conducted at UC San Diego Health in 2020.

How to Reduce Obesity among Latino Children, with Precision
Featuring: Eric Hekler, PhD

As part of Governor Gavin Newsom’s newly budgeted California Comeback Plan and the California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine (CIAPM), researchers at UC San Diego, led by the Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute (ACTRI), will receive approximately $3 million to create a precision, community-based program to address specific health problems related to adverse childhood experiences or ACEs, a term that describes potentially traumatic events that affect children, such as family violence, abuse or neglect.

UC San Diego Wildfire Experts Directory
Featuring: Tarik Benmarhnia, PhD, MSc, MEng

As California faces wildfire season following drought in much of the state, experts at UC San Diego are available to discuss wildfires, drought, and California climate across an array of topics, including climate science, technology, public health, and economics and policy.

Social Justice as Part of the Remedy for What Ails Us
 Cinnamon Bloss, PhD

The T. Denny Sanford Institute for Empathy and Compassion has opened its newest center, focused on addressing issues of social justice in health care.

In the News

A Quarter of Americans Live with Polluted Air, with People of Color and those in Western States Disproportionately Affected, Report Says
Faculty Featured: Tarik Benmarhnia, PhD, MSc, MEng, Associate Professor

Why the Mediterranean Diet Benefeicial for Women's Heart
Faculty Featured: Cheryl Anderson, PhD, MPH, Professor and Dean

Republicans Must Get Over Their Fear of Medicare
Faculty Featured: Richard Kronick, PhD, Professor

Let's Talk About Menopause! - Part 1 | Part 2
Faculty Featured: Andrea LaCroix, PhD, MPH, Distinguished Professor

Pope Francis and Health
Faculty Featured: Wael Al-Delaimy, MD, PhD, Professor

Why the Mediterranean Diet May Be Especially Beneficial for Women’s Heart Health
Features: Cheryl Anderson, PhD, MPH, Professor and Dean

Air Pollution Raises Risk for First-Year ED Visits in Preterm, Full-Term Infants
Faculty featured: Anaïs Teyton, MPH, Joint Doctoral Program student

What Does Intuitive AI and ChatGPT Mean for Research?
Faculty featured: Camille Nebeker, EdD

California and San Diego County's Pandemic Emeregencies are Over, What's Next
Faculty featured: Rebecca Fielding-Miller, PhD, MSPH, Assistant Professor

E-Bikes or EVs? Rooftop Panels or Solar Farms? As San Diegans Weigh How to Fight Climate Change, Key Challenges Emerge
Faculty featured: Tarik Benmarhnia, PhD, Msc, MEng, Associate Professor

Infants Exposed to Fine Particulate Matter at Higher Risk of Emergency Room Visits
Faculty featured: Anaïs Teyton, MPH, Graduate Student Researcher

Walking Just 1,800 Steps Every Day Could Cut Your Dementia Risk by a Third, Science Says
Faculty featured: Andrea LaCroix, PhD, MPH, Distinguished Professor

Preventing Dementia and Cognitive Impairment: The Powerful Benefits of More Steps and Moderate ExerciseUCSD Embarks on Three-year, $3 Million Effort to Train 200 Community Health Workers
Faculty featured: Andrea LaCroix, PhD, MPH, Distinguished Professor, and Steven Nguyen, PhD, MPH, Postdoctoral Scholar

UCSD Embarks on Three-year, $3 Million Effort to Train 200 Community Health Workers
Faculty featured: Wael Al-Deliamy, MD, PhD

After the Vaccine, Republicans Became Far More Likely to Die with Covid-19 Than Democrats
Faculty featured: Rebecca Fielding-Miller, PhD, MSPH

Exercise Could Help Prevent Mental Decline
Faculty featured: Andrea LaCroix, PhD, MPH

The link between exercise and severe COVID symptoms
Faculty featured: James Sallis, PhD

Exercise Helps Blunt the Effects of Covid-19, Study Suggests
Faculty featured: James Sallis, PhD

Physicians Addressing Climate Change
Faculty featured: Wael Al-Deliamy, MD, PhD

When Public Health and Urology Intersect: Finding the Path Forward
Faculty featured: Cheryl Anderson, PhD, MPH

A Mental Health Tech Company Ran an AI Experiment on Real Users
Faculty featured: Camille Nebeker, EdD

For older "In the News' content, visit the News Archives Page