Success Stories Spring 2013


Stefan Habelitz, PhD

Carol S. Camlin, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor
Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences and Center for AIDS Prevention Studies

The RAP Pilot Award in HIV/AIDS I recently received will support the study “Strategies to obtain systematic samples and measure HIV prevalence in migrant women in western Kenya”. This study will pilot test a sampling method for hard to reach, migrant women, in an area with substantive HIV burden. We will be able to assess HIV prevalence in one potentially high risk group of mobile women, female market traders, and assess the effects of mobility, independent of other risk factors, on their HIV risk. This research will fill an important gap in studies of mobility and HIV. There is very little data on women’s levels of participation and unique patterns of mobility. This has hampered a full understanding of the role that women’s migration may play in sustaining the HIV epidemic in the area. This study complements the qualitative research we have been conducting in Kenya on the pathways through which women’s mobility contributes to their risks of HIV transmission and acquisition.


Nancy J. Burke, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Anthropology, History, and Social Medicine and Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

Latino immigrants are the fastest-growing and largest minority group in the United States. Latino children age 5 or under, and those of Mexican origin, in low-income families or in rural locations, have the highest rates of early childhood caries of any ethnic groups, second only to Native Americans. Latinos also have one of the lowest dental utilization rates of all ethnic groups. Maintaining oral health requires the ability to understand and act on health information and to navigate dental healthcare; in other words, an adequate level of Oral Health Literacy (OHL). Addressing OHL in Latino immigrant families with appropriately framed education is an emerging dental public health priority. The New Direction award I received will support initial research designed to understand Oral Health Literacy among newly arrived Latino immigrant parents of young children in the SF Bay Area. The project is a substantive departure from the research program I have built over the last twelve years focused on culture and communication as related to cancer screening, treatment, and survivorship. In the RAP pilot I draw upon insights from my prior work and apply them to the issue of oral health disparities.


Matthew Lin, MD
Assistant Professor of Clinical
Department: Surgery

Our RAP-Shared Instrument Award will allow our team of bariatric surgeons to push the envelope on developing even more minimally invasive procedures to treat morbid obesity. Morbid obesity and its associated co-morbidities is a rapidly increasing problem in the United States. It is estimated that the direct cost of treating obesity will rise to 15.8%-17.6% of national health care expenditures by 2030. The most effective current treatment for morbid obesity is laparoscopic bariatric surgery. While laparoscopic bariatric surgery has greatly improved postoperative morbidity and mortality, there is still a subset of patients who are too ill or super obese to qualify for bariatric surgery. We are currently exploring new endoscopic techniques to assist in weight loss for this subset of patients as well as those who have experienced recidivism despite prior bariatric surgery. This grant has permitted us to acquire a highly-specialized endoscope with suturing capabilities. This equipment will not only advance our research but will also have an immediate practical use in treating other gastrointestinal diseases.


Anders I. Persson, PhD
Assistant Professor in Residence
Department: S/M Neurology 

The RAP Shared Instrument Award will enable us to purchase a system that allows precise measurements of interstitial fluid pressure (IFP) in mice xenografted with human glioblastoma cells. This system uniquely allows remote measurements over long periods of time. Pioneering work at UCSF will give the University a competitive advantage towards other Institutions. Multiple research groups at UCSF will have immediate use of this system to study changes of IFP in normal mice and mice developing brain tumors. We will investigate if increased levels of IFP regulate tumor growth and uptake of drugs across the blood-brain barrier. Preliminary studies have identified a therapy that can effectively reduce IFP and tumor growth in mice xenografted with human GBMs. Ongoing experiments investigate uptake of chemotherapeutics in tumors. This award will enable continued development of several projects and help the research team to obtain future funding.


Shivani Tripathi MD

Khalida Sabeur, PhD
Research Specialist
Department: HHMI- David Rowitch Lab

With support from the RAP Award, we were able to purchase a laser system to improve rates of in vitro fertilization for mouse embryos in the UCSF Cryo Core. The laser system drills holes in the zona pellucida to help sperm access the oocyte. It is now routinely used in the Core with frozen sperm and has consistently enabled successful fertilization with sperm that failed conventional IVF. It also significantly increased the fertilization rate of known low fertilization sperm/oocyte combinations.

The Cryo Core is now able to save a larger number of mouse strains that would otherwise be lost. With the laser acquisition, we are working closely with LARC to rederive the lines. When rederivation by natural mating fails, the laser-assisted IVF comes to rescue problem strains. Since the purchase of the laser system, we have a steady increase in requests for mouse sperm resuscitation and recovered a larger number of mouse lines. Because of a higher yield in fertilized embryos, we are now able to reduce the number of oocyte donors and the costs. The Cryo Core is now making the transgenic models more readily available for research.