Briefs 11/6

▶ UC San Diego Wins Awards for Environmental Sustainability
UC San Diego Wins Award for Environmental Sustainability
On Sunday, the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District and the Industrial Environmental Association awarded its Blue Sky Leadership Award to UCSD for its efforts in reducing negative effects caused by global climate change.
“This is quite a feat for a facility of our size and complexity and something of which we are extremely proud,” Gary MacPherson, director of Environmental Health and Safety, said at a press conference. “Over the past nine years, we have not received a single notice of violation from the district.”
The university was specifically lauded for its electric power generation technologies, which account for 92 percent of electricity used each year on campus. These constructs help reduce the emission of greenhouse gases from the school. The bulk of the efficiency comes from the Combined Heat and Cogeneration Plant, though the school boasts the largest methane-to-electricity fuel cell of any college campus as well. The campus has also installed six electric car charge stations in order to advocate a shift from petrol-dependent automobiles.
Vice Chancellor for Resource Management and Planning Gary C. Matthews spoke for the university and expressed his excitement for the recognition.
“This award demonstrates our continued dedication to both maintaining a clean environment and utilizing the most advanced technology to ensure a sustainable future,” Matthews said.

▶ Human Stem Cell Clinical Trials on UCSD’s Horizon
UCSD is appropriating $275 million to start clinical trials of human stem cells, which can develop into a plethora of other cell types and has vast — as well as controversial — implications for the future of science and biology.
$100 million of the funding originates from philanthropist Denny Sanford, who has helped provide the capital for the school’s new Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center. The facility is poised to hire 20 to 25 student employees for research, and students will be able to be selected for drug trials, though this prospect will likely be stalled for some time to come. UC San Diego Health System CEO Paul Viviano had some reservations regarding the Center’s timeline.
“We’re still in the research stage,” he said in an interview. “This $275 million effort is meant to accelerate research, pushing things toward clinical trials in one of the most promising areas of science.”
Larry Goldstein, director of the UCSD Stem Cell Program, has contributed much to the field. He used stem cells to cultivate functioning Alzheimer’s neurons, which will be central in efforts to develop and screen potential medications. He is developing similar treatments for Lou Gehrig’s disease and spinal injuries. Goldstein recognizes the grant as a huge leap forward for stem cell research.
“We need to do experiments on people,” he said. “We’re not just big mice … This center will set up the pipeline, set up the methods, help us recruit patients and begin testing.”

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