Currents

    Regents give money to nursing school

    The state of California is near the bottom of the national barrel when it comes to the nurse-to-patient ratio in its hospitals. The UC Board of Regents approved a move that its members hope will better the situation, adding $5.2 million for new bachelor’s and entry-level master’s degree programs at UCLA’s School of Nursing. The program, expected to begin fall 2006, will offer the only undergraduate nursing program in the 10-campus system. The budget boost will double the number of nursing students who enroll at the school, from 300 to 624, by 2010. Because of burgeoning population numbers, study estimates project that the state will require an additional 43,000 nurses by 2010, and 74,000 more by 2020 just to keep its current ratio, a UC Office of the President press release stated.

    “California’s nursing shortage stems from a crisis of both staffing quantity and educational quality,” UCLA School of Nursing Dean Marie Cowan said. “While people remain interested in pursuing nursing careers, not enough educational slots exist at California universities to train these individuals.”

    Researchers identify scarring asthma gene

    Researchers at UCSD School of Medicine have identified the gene linked to bronchial tube scarring caused by severe asthma. The gene, IKK beta, can reduce throat damage and airway inflammation, when blocked, researchers found.

    “This finding is significant because it suggests that if we can produce a drug that inhibits IKK beta — for example, a drug that is inhaled to target only the patient’s bronchial tubes and not their immune cells — then the scarring, inflammation and mucus production in asthma could be significantly reduced,” UCSD professor of medicine David H. Broide stated in a press release.

    Although only about 10 percent of asthma sufferers show severe symptoms of bronchial tube scarring, those patients make up for about half of the health costs related to asthma, the press release stated.

    Justice Department probes WebCT merger

    The U.S. Justice Department has launched an investigation into the intended merger of Blackboard and WebCT, two of the largest online course-management systems in the nation. The probe will postpone the merger by an additional 30 days, as the companies comply with the department’s information request. Blackboard officials said that they remain certain that the merger will continue as planned.

    Profs to jump through hoops for research

    The National Institutes of Health, the leading federal provider of academic research funding, has proposed guidelines for research that include more notification on the amount of time a professor spends on NIH research compared to teaching. Although the NIH said that research and instruction time could be difficult to separate, the institute called the change “critical” to make federal grants more efficient. Universities should be “especially vigilant in reporting the percentage of time devoted to projects,” the guidelines stated, since some researchers dishonestly report the amount of time they spend on research projects, which cost the government money.

    Gonorrhea rates hit national all-time low

    Gonorrhea rates have hit their lowest levels in history nationally, according to new data in a Center for Disease Control report. The recorded cases of gonorrhea fell 1.5 percent between 2003-04. However, the CDC also reported an 8-percent increase in the rate of syphilis infections, with men making up the majority of new cases. The report found the rate of chlamydia infections also rose, although the CDC said that most cases remain undiagnosed, with an estimated 2.8 million new chlamydia infections occurring annually.

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