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Cedars-Sinai Receives $20M to Create Kao Autoimmunity Institute

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LOS ANGELES — Cedars-Sinai Tuesday announced a $20 million gift from Dr. and Mrs. Min H. Kao and the Kao Family Foundation to create the Kao Autoimmunity Institute to advance research and treatment of rheumatologic diseases. 

The gift also will establish the Scleroderma Program within the institute to provide interdisciplinary and integrated care for scleroderma patients and to support research, outreach, training and education to help those with the disease.

“Our family is fortunate to be in a position to partner with an academic medical center that places a premium on patient care and game-changing medical research,” said Dr. Min H. Kao. “We truly hope this gift will enable Cedars-Sinai to develop a nationally recognized institute that brings lifesaving treatments to those who experience debilitating diseases.” 

More than 80 autoimmune diseases affect an estimated 24 million people in the U.S., according to the National Institutes of Health. Patients suffer from a broad spectrum of disorders, including scleroderma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, myositis, multiple sclerosis, Grave’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease and Type 1 diabetes. These diseases are thought to be caused when the immune system-meant to defend against illness-begins attacking the body’s own organs, tissues and cells.

Clinical leaders and research scientists at Cedars-Sinai say the Kao gift will lay the groundwork for important medical advances in understanding autoimmune diseases and provide for the creation of a Scleroderma center of excellence. 

The new Kao Autoimmunity Institute and Scleroderma Program will be part of the Cedars-Sinai Department of Medicine. They will bring together clinicians, investigators and allied health professionals from a variety of disciplines across Cedars-Sinai and its affiliated hospitals and care sites. The institute and program will be led by new directors, along with a new director of the Division of Rheumatology. 

“The Kao family gift creates a unique opportunity to assemble the best researchers and clinicians together to better understand autoimmune diseases and to develop more effective treatments for our patients,” said Paul W. Noble, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine and director of the Women’s Guild Lung Institute. “Our investigators will have the opportunity to improve patient care and outcomes by studying disease onset and progression, as well as the key roles the microbiome, endocrine system, genetics and gender may play in autoimmune diseases that disproportionately affect younger people and women,” Noble added. 

Cedars-Sinai and the Kao family share a common goal of identifying personalized treatments for patients with autoimmune diseases, moving beyond a one-size-fits-all treatment approach. “We are committed to scholarly discovery of how best to distinguish autoimmune disease subtypes and to use personalized genetic and clinical information to develop safe, targeted therapies for individual patients that lead to improved health outcomes,” said Shlomo Melmed, MB, ChB, executive vice president of Academic Affairs and dean of the Medical Faculty at Cedars-Sinai. 

“This important gift by the Kao family recognizes the work of our talented investigators and medical staff and their dedication to tackling the most challenging diseases,” Melmed added. “We have a great deal of work ahead of us. The Kao family’s support and partnership are invaluable in that quest.” 

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: Autoimmune Diseases: When Your Body Turns On You

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Public Health Updates From LA County on Novel Coronavirus

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LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recently hosted a press briefing to provide an update on the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and the interagency work being done to identify and assess travelers who may have been exposed to the virus.
 
A significant number of resources across Los Angeles County are focused on protecting the public’s health at large,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health.

“To date, there have been no reported coronavirus cases in LA County and currently the risk of local transmission is low according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We will keep everyone informed as more information becomes available. We are urging the public to remain calm, as it is very unlikely that they are at risk of contracting this virus,” she added.
 
The CDC announced the first case in the United States on January 21, 2020. Recently, hundreds of cases of pneumonia associated with a novel coronavirus in Wuhan City have been identified.

Public Health will continue assisting the CDC to ensure that travelers who may have visited Wuhan City that have a fever or respiratory illness symptoms are appropriately screened, tested and receive care. Travelers who have visited Wuhan City who are not ill upon their arrival to the LA County are advised to contact a healthcare provider and seek care if they become ill while here.

While there is no cure for this virus, hospital partners and clinical providers are able to test and care for ill travelers to minimize transmission and treatment for symptoms.
 
Health care professionals have been reminded to use meticulous infection control practices at all times.  Public Health will continue to provide updated information about the diagnosis and management of cases of novel coronavirus to health care providers and all hospitals in the County in an effort to identify and contain any future cases.

About Coronavirus

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning that they cause infections that usually exist exclusively in animals but can be transmitted to humans. However, some coronaviruses are also able to be transmitted from person to person, like SARS and MERS, while others are not.

While there is no specific cure for infections caused by the novel coronavirus, hospital partners and clinical providers are able to provide care for symptoms caused by the infection. Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing

People who have traveled to Wuhan, China since December 1, 2019, could have been exposed to the virus. Seek medical care if you traveled to Wuhan and develop a fever and fever or respiratory symptoms within 14 days of your return. We want to underscore that there is no need to exclude anyone who has traveled to or from Wuhan City, or China in general, unless they are symptomatic, at which time they should seek a medical evaluation.
 
There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with this novel coronavirus, and investigations are ongoing in China and at least five other countries.
 
For more information about 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) visit  publichealth.lacounty.gov, or call 2-1-1.


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LA Public Defender Leads $1.2 Million Grant to Help Mentally Ill

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LOS ANGELES — The LA County Public Defender’s Office is the lead agency for a $1.2 million grant to divert people suffering from mental illness out of jail and into treatment.

LA County has been awarded the two-year grant from the MacArthur Foundation to directly address the over-incarceration of the mentally ill.

Los Angeles County operates the world’s largest jail system and its jails remain critically overcrowded. One of the main drivers of the local jail population is the incarceration of the mentally ill.

The grant will allow the Public Defender’s Office, working with other County and City agencies, to expand pre-plea diversion for those in custody as a result of a mental disorder. The effort will work toward breaking the cycle from medical and mental health facilities to custody, with a focus on the homeless population.

“Mentally ill people do not belong in jails,” LA County Public Defender Ricardo D. García said. “The startup funding provided by the MacArthur Foundation represents a substantial opportunity to mitigate the counterproductive use of criminal courts and jails as holding centers for the mentally ill men, women and children of Los Angeles County.”

This new initiative will include embedding mental health professionals in high volume courtrooms, same-day assessments of defendants who appear to suffer from a mental health disorder, and the pre-plea release and diversion of qualifying individuals into mental health treatment programs.

To help guide the launch of this program, the initiative will utilize provisions of AB 1810, a state law enacted in 2018 that allows pre-plea diversion for some defendants with mental health needs.

Partner agencies in this endeavor include the Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender; Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office; Department of Mental Health; Sheriff’s Department; Department of Probation; Department of Public Health; Health Agency Departments; County Counsel’s Bail Reform Team; Project 180, with support from the Superior Court.

The $1.2 million MacArthur grant will go toward diverting people suffering from mental illness out of jails and into treatment.

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L.A. Teachers Sue Delta Airlines for Fuel Dump on Elementary School

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L.A. Teachers Sue Delta Airlines for Fuel Dump on Elementary School

LOS ANGELES — Delta Airlines just got hit with a lawsuit because one of its jets allegedly dumped fuel on an L.A. elementary school.

Video showed Delta flight 89, a Boeing 777 bound for China, turning back to LAX Tuesday to make an emergency landing, and spewing fuel as it went in preparation for landing. Unfortunately, that fuel ended up dousing children at Park Avenue Elementary in the city of Cudahy, CA.

Four teachers at the school have hired Gloria Allred to take on Delta. In the suit, obtained by TMZ, they say the pilot was asked by air traffic control if there was a need to dump fuel before landing … and the pilot said no.

The suit alleges the pilot dumped the fuel without notifying the control tower … and the big problem is … it was done at an altitude of about 2,000 feet. According to docs, that’s simply too low to allow the fuel to evaporate before it reaches the ground — it should be done at 5,000 feet or higher.

In the suit, the teachers say their clothes, flesh and eyes were coated in jet fuel — and it also got into their mouths. They say they had trouble breathing and needed medical treatment.

They’re suing Delta for negligence … and seeking damages.

Tune in to TMZ on TV weekdays Monday through Friday (check syndicated/local listings)


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