Currents

    UCSD to expand campus Faculty Club

    Construction on the campus’ Faculty Club broke ground on Oct. 18, marking the start of a $5.3-million project to expand the site that serves faculty, staff, graduate students and those that donate money to the university. The additions will include larger dining and courtyard areas and an 1,800-square-foot conference room, according to a university press release.

    More than 200 donors contributed to the $2.3 million in private financing, including Audrey Geisel, wife of Theodore Geisel, better known as author Dr. Seuss, who donated $1 million. The remaining $3 million of construction costs will be funded through campus and Faculty Club monies. The university expects that the expansion and renovation will be completed by December 2006.

    National college review underway

    The Commission on the Future of Higher Education, spearheaded by U.S. Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, has begun discussing major issues involved in higher education, according to a government press release. The commission’s first meeting on Oct. 17 included discussions about college financing and accessibility. When Spellings first announced the group’s goals last month, she outlined several areas in higher education that needed improvement.

    “So I ask you to focus on four key areas in your work: accessibility, affordability, accountability and quality,” she stated in a press release.

    Spellings expects the commission to report its findings to her by August 2006.

    Researchers find new sand origins

    New UCSD research indicates that more sand along the Central and Southern California coast was created by coastal bluffs and cliffs than previously believed.

    While geologists have thought that sediment from rivers provided up to 90 percent of beach sand in California, UCSD scientists have published research showing that about 50 percent of sand comes from erosion of coastal bluffs and cliffs.

    Jacobs School of Engineering doctoral candidate Adam Young used laser-scanning methods to find that approximately half of the beach sand in the Oceanside Littoral Cell, a 50-mile stretch of California coast from La Jolla to Dana Point, was provided by coastal bluffs.

    “While keeping in mind that six years is only a brief snapshot in the life of the Southern California coastline, our results call into question the conventional wisdom that coastal bluffs don’t contribute much to the beaches,” stated Scott Ashford, a professor of structural engineering at UCSD and Young’s faculty advisor, in a press release.

    UCSD completes clinical drug trials

    Researchers at UCSD School of Medicine have completed the second clinical trial phase of a drug that treats rheumatoid arthritis without affecting the immune system, according to a university press release.

    The new drug, dubbed dnaJP1, counters tissue inflammation in patients by working with the immune system’s T-cells, which usually would harm the body’s own tissues in the disorder.

    Oral ingestion of UCSD’s new drug allows the mucosal immune system, found in the intestines, to direct the body to not attack its own tissue.

    Currently, rheumatoid arthritis is treated with medications such as aspirin. However, such treatments impair the immune system’s defense against infectious diseases, according to Director of the Translational Research Unit of the Clinical Investigation Institute Salvatore Albani.

    “Such drugs … have potentially dangerous side effects and are inconvenient to administer,” Albani said. “Our drug leaves the patient’s natural immune responses intact. This differs profoundly from what is currently available to patients.”

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