Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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A BI-WEEKLY PUBLICATION FROM THE CEDARS-SINAI CHIEF OF STAFF Jan. 20, 2012 Issue | Archived Issues

December P&T decisions released

Pharmacy Focus

December Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee decisions and pertinent agenda topics are summarized in the PDF file below. Highlights include: updated C. diff treatment guidelines, dabigatran safety analysis, nesiritide guidelines, and risk evaluation and mitigation strategies for rosiglitazone and dofetilide.

P&T Approvals: December 2011 (PDF)


Meetings and Events


Grand Rounds

Click here to view upcoming Grand Rounds.


Upcoming CME Conferences

Click below to view a complete list of all scheduled Continuing Medical Education conferences.

CME Newsletter - January 2012 (PDF)

Web/VS password can now match email, CS-Link

Web/VS has been enhanced so that it can use the same login and password as your Cedars-Sinai email account, the medical library resources, and your CS-Link™ account.

» Read more

Nobel Laureate speaks at Research Day

About 400 Cedars-Sinai Medical Center graduate students, postdoctoral scientists, faculty and other research staff gathered Jan. 13 for Research Day III to showcase their studies and hear Nobel Laureate David Baltimore, PhD, discuss the latest findings on the inflammatory process.

» Read more

Cedars-Sinai Husband-Wife Team Launching Experimental Therapeutics Program in Cancer

Based in a quiet corner of Cedars-Sinai's Saperstein Critical Care Tower, new faculty members Alain and Monica Mita are launching a program for the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute to test cutting-edge cancer treatments.

» Read more

Neuromuscular disease expert joins Cedars-Sinai

Robert H. Baloh, MD, PhD, an expert in genetic defects and molecular mechanisms causing neuromuscular and neurodegenerative diseases, has joined Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to advance the study of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease), muscular dystrophies, spinal muscular atrophies and other poorly understood disorders that start in nerve cells and electrical signaling.

» Read more

Red wine may help cut breast cancer risk

Drinking red wine in moderation may reduce one of the risk factors for breast cancer, providing a natural weapon to combat a major cause of death among U.S. women, according to new research from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

» Read more

Circle of Friends honorees for December

The Circle of Friends program honored 160 people in December. Circle of Friends allows grateful patients to make a donation in honor of the physicians, nurses, caregivers and others who have made a difference during their time at Cedars-Sinai.

» Read more

Wear red for women on Feb. 3

Support women's heart health by wearing red on Friday, Feb. 3, when Cedars-Sinai will mark the sixth annual Marlene Wald Memorial Wear Red Day to increase awareness of heart disease as the leading killer of women.

» Read more

On MLK Day, a call to service and a celebration

Kevin Powell's words were consistent and tastefully humorous.They were bold, but balanced with an eloquence befitting the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the legendary civil rights leader who was slain while advocating for love, peace and non-violence in America.




» Read more

Web/VS password can now match email, CS-Link

Web/VS has been enhanced so that it can use the same login and password as your Cedars-Sinai email account, the medical library resources, and your CS-Link™ account.

When CS-Link Computerized Physician Order Management (CPOM) goes live in March, you will already have your login and password, you will only have one password to remember, and your password will never expire!

Please contact the clinical support team at (310) 423-2828 during normal business hours, and they can quickly flag your Web/VS account to use the same login and password as CS-Link and email.

Nobel Laureate speaks at Research Day

Hundreds attend third annual event

About 400 Cedars-Sinai Medical Center graduate students, postdoctoral scientists, faculty and other research staff gathered Jan. 13 for Research Day III to showcase their studies and hear Nobel Laureate David Baltimore, PhD, (above) discuss the latest findings on the inflammatory process.

An annual event since 2010, Research Day occupied the Harvey Morse Auditorium, lobby and adjacent rooms, where Cedars-Sinai researchers displayed 140 colorful posters explaining their studies.

"The poster session was an excellent opportunity for our scientists to get to know each other and to understand the breadth of science at our institution," said Kenneth Bernstein, MD, professor and director of the Experimental Pathology Division in the Cedars-Sinai Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. "On Research Day, we stop to recognize the importance of scientific research, and we try to have fun."

Before the afternoon Poster Session, more than 300 people attended the noon lecture, "Control of the Inflammatory Process," by Baltimore, president emeritus and Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Biology at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

In introducing the speaker, Bernstein noted that a renowned 1970 study by Baltimore led to a chain of research that, decades later, helped save countless lives.

The study showed the presence of an enzyme, later named "reverse transcriptase," which is essential to the reproduction of a group of viruses called retroviruses. That line of research, for which Baltimore shared the 1975 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with two others, helped make possible the development of the drug AZT, an inhibitor of reverse transcriptase, which beginning in the 1990s helped to dramatically decrease mortality from the HIV retrovirus.

"If someone asked the question, 'Can our society afford to do scientific research?' I would answer, 'How can we not afford to do scientific research?'" Bernstein said.

In his lecture, Baltimore outlined recent research by himself and others into how the body responds to infection and how it turns off the inflammatory response. Both processes are vital. When inflammation is not turned off, it can lead to hyper-responsiveness and eventually cancer.

Although the inflammatory process occurs in multiple stages, it has a common transcription factor, NF-kappaB , or NF-kB, "that we were lucky enough to discover in 1986," Baltimore said.

NF-kB plays many roles in the regulation of inflammation. Recent work showed that it induces three microRNAs, including miR146a, a repressor of the inflammatory response. When Baltimore and fellow researchers deleted the gene that encodes miR 146a in mice, the mice developed a hyper-inflammatory response, which in the long run led to myeloid sarcomas and some lymphomas.

This is a growing area of research.

"Work on microRNAs is just now reaching a crescendo," Biltmore said. "We are just learning how important they are."

After Baltimore's lecture, audience members and others from the medical center gathered around posters presenting Cedars-Sinai studies on cancer, stroke, diabetes, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, high cholesterol and other conditions.

Among other purposes, the session offers "a chance for the entire Cedars-Sinai research community … to exchange ideas and to make connections with other researchers that might lead to new collaborations," said Helen S. Goodridge, PhD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Postdoctoral Scientist Program, which supports the work of postdocs and their mentors.

The Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute's Women's Cancer Program alone presented a dozen posters, said its director, Beth Karlan, MD, including a study on shortened telomeres in BRCA1- and BRCA2-associated ovarian cancer patients.

BJ Rimel, MD, one of the researchers in that study, said "a pat on the back is nice," but that's not the main reason she attends Research Day.

"I get to meet other investigators and get critical feedback on our work," Rimel said. "I want to know: What did I miss? What didn't I see?"

After the event, Bernstein said, "I think Research Day III was a great success. Our keynote speaker, David Baltimore, epitomizes excellence in science and is a model for all of us at Cedars-Sinai. That hundreds of people attended his lecture attests to his status and the growth of research personnel at Cedars-Sinai."

Pictured above right: Armando Giuliano, MD, and Nicole Yeager, neurosurgery research associate II, view one of 140 posters that were on display as part of Cedars-Sinai Research Day III. Giuliano is executive vice chair of Surgery for Surgical Oncology, co-director of the Saul and Joyce Brandman Breast Center - A Project of Women's Guild and associate director for Surgical Oncology at the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute.

Cedars-Sinai Husband-Wife Team Launching Experimental Therapeutics Program in Cancer

Based in a quiet corner of Cedars-Sinai's Saperstein Critical Care Tower, new faculty members Alain and Monica Mita are launching a program for the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute to test cutting-edge cancer treatments. Their work is expected to benefit not only the medical center's researchers and physicians but, most importantly, the patients.

Cedars-Sinai's new Experimental Therapeutics program, co-directed by the Mitas, who are both MDs and distinguished scientists, so far consists of a state-of-the-art Clinical Research Unit with six treatment rooms on the restricted-access mezzanine of the Saperstein Tower. Patients are just starting to trickle in.

But the Mitas have big plans.

"We hope to build a world-class program," Alain said. "We're going to work with patients who have no more treatment options and find them treatments."

Monica said they also will help patients "where we feel we can offer a novel treatment that might be better" than existing options.

In either case, she said, "we would like our work to be a collaboration with other departments," with clinical physicians referring patients for treatments that will generate research findings that may be applied to future patients. They also envision collaborating with eminent laboratory researchers at Cedars-Sinai to further refine the understanding of the novel anti-cancer therapies under investigation in the Experimental Therapeutics unit.

The Mitas arrived at Cedars-Sinai in September from San Antonio, where they held parallel posts as associate professors of medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center and staff medical oncologists at the NCI-designated Cancer Therapy and Research Center.

At the Cancer Therapy and Research Center's Institute for Drug Development, Alain was principal investigator, and Monica was clinical research director and principal investigator.

Earlier, the Mitas had spent a decade in France pursuing postgraduate studies and postdoctoral medical training after leaving their native Romania following the 1989 fall of Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. ("We were disappointed it was not a true regime change to democracy," Alain said.)

At Cedars-Sinai, the couple is taking on the task of creating a program at "one of the premier cancer centers," Alain said.

"Our passion is the development of new drugs for cancer therapy," he said.

Alain's specialties include lung cancer and thoracic malignancies; Monica focuses on breast cancer and sarcomas. But their research findings can be applied to many types of malignancies.

Alain, for instance, was the principal investigator for early Phase I trials of cabazitaxel, a high-potency chemotherapy that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved in 2010 for treatment of prostate cancer. In December, Monica initiated a study exploring the application of iniparib, a PARP-inhibitor that has been used against breast cancer, to other types of tumors.

On Jan. 16, the couple plans to open the Clinical Research Unit after holding an open house Jan. 13

"We are very excited about this opportunity," Monica said.

Neuromuscular disease expert joins Cedars-Sinai

Robert H. Baloh, MD, PhD, an expert in genetic defects and molecular mechanisms causing neuromuscular and neurodegenerative diseases, has joined Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to advance the study of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease), muscular dystrophies, spinal muscular atrophies and other poorly understood disorders that start in nerve cells and electrical signaling.

In his medical practice and research, Baloh focuses on challenging cases involving the neuromuscular system. He will be director of the Neuromuscular Division, working with Patrick D. Lyden, MD, chair of the Department of Neurology, and Clive Svendsen, PhD, director of Cedars-Sinai's Regenerative Medicine Institute. When Lyden and Svendsen joined Cedars-Sinai in 2009, they identified ALS as a top clinical and research priority because of their collective experience and because there is no treatment for the fatal disease. The addition of Baloh creates one of the most comprehensive teams in California.

Baloh, a prolific research scientist who has published groundbreaking discoveries in genetics and molecular biology, is the principal investigator of five projects examining the molecular and cellular basis of neuromuscular disorders, primarily focused on ALS, but also on muscular dystrophies and inherited peripheral nerve and muscle disorders including Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, one of the most common inherited neurological disorders, named for the three doctors who identified it in 1886. Two projects are funded by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and others are supported by grants from the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Burroughs Wellcome Foundation.

He has published articles on the role that mitochondria play in peripheral nerve disorders. His research group was one of the first to discover that mutations in a gene (TDP-43) cause inherited forms of ALS and frontotemporal lobar degeneration, a type of dementia that can accompany ALS.

He led studies that in 2009 produced a mouse model of ALS based on a mutation in the TDP-43 gene - the first new mouse model of ALS in 14 years - that now is employed by researchers worldwide to study the disease. His group recently identified new genetic causes of both spinal muscular atrophy and limb girdle muscular dystrophy, degenerative illnesses that typically afflict young children.

"The Regenerative Medicine Institute continues to make progress in developing new stem cell treatments for Lou Gehrig's disease. Dr. Baloh will be a critical part of translating these innovative treatments to the clinic and providing new insights into the mechanisms of how cells die in these disorders," Svendsen said. "Our laboratory has been working on ALS for more than 10 years and we are very excited to have Dr. Baloh as a new neighbor."

Lyden noted that discoveries like Baloh's are changing the way scientists view the fundamentals of these disorders and the possibilities for creating new treatments. In many neurodegenerative diseases, clumps of abnormal proteins disrupt cell-to-cell signaling and kill neurons; different diseases target different types of nerve cells. Baloh's research focuses on understanding the genetic abnormalities that cause disease; these genes provide a roadmap of molecules that are possible drug targets in diseases that have few if any treatments.

"Neurodegenerative diseases cause a loss of function: memory in the case of Alzheimer's disease, motor control in the case of Lou Gehrig's disease, and balance and coordination in the case of Parkinson's disease, to name a few," Lyden said. "We now know that these diseases are all linked, with common underlying biochemistries. From a treatment perspective, as we gain an understanding of one, we gain the principles to treat others. Having Dr. Baloh's expertise contributing to our research will be invaluable."

Before joining Cedars-Sinai, Baloh was an assistant professor of neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, where he earned his MD and PhD after graduating from Brown University. He completed an internship at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and a neurology residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Brigham and Women's Hospital combined neurology program, serving as chief resident his final year. He continued his training with a fellowship in neuromuscular diseases at Washington University in St. Louis, and is board certified in both neurology and neuromuscular medicine.

Red wine may help cut breast cancer risk

Drinking red wine in moderation may reduce one of the risk factors for breast cancer, providing a natural weapon to combat a major cause of death among U.S. women, according to new research from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

The study, published online in the Journal of Women's Health, challenges the widely held belief that all types of alcohol consumption heighten the risk of developing breast cancer. Doctors long have determined that alcohol increases the body's estrogen levels, fostering the growth of cancer cells.

But the Cedars-Sinai study found that chemicals in the skins and seeds of red grapes slightly lowered estrogen levels while elevating testosterone among premenopausal women who drank eight ounces of red wine nightly for about a month.

White wine lacked the same effect.

Researchers called their findings encouraging, saying women who occasionally drink alcohol might want to reassess their choices.

"If you were to have a glass of wine with dinner, you may want to consider a glass of red," said Chrisandra Shufelt, MD, assistant director of the Women's Heart Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and one of the study's co-authors."Switching may shift your risk."

Shufelt noted that breast cancer is the leading type of women's cancer in the U.S., accounting for more than 230,000 new cases last year, or 30 percent of all female cancer diagnoses. An estimated 39,000 women died from the disease in 2011, according to the American Cancer Society.

In the Cedars-Sinai study, 36 women were randomized to drink either cabernet sauvignon or chardonnay daily for almost a month, then switched to the other type of wine. Blood was collected twice each month to measure hormone levels.

Researchers sought to determine whether red wine mimics the effects of aromatase inhibitors, which play a key role in managing estrogen levels. Aromatase inhibitors are currently used to treat breast cancer.

Investigators said the change in hormone patterns suggested that red wine may stem the growth of cancer cells, as has been shown in test tube studies.

Co-author Glenn D. Braunstein, MD, said the results do not mean that white wine increases the risk of breast cancer, but that grapes used in those varieties may lack the same protective elements found in reds.

"There are chemicals in red grape skin and red grape seeds that are not found in white grapes that may decrease breast cancer risk," said Braunstein, vice president for Clinical Innovation and the James R. Klinenberg, MD, Chair in Medicine.

The study will be published in the April print edition of the Journal of Women's Health, but Braunstein noted that large-scale studies still are needed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of red wine to see if it specifically alters breast cancer risk.He cautioned that recent epidemiological data indicated that even moderate amounts of alcohol intake may generally increase the risk of breast cancer in women. Until larger studies are done, he said, he would not recommend that a non-drinker begin to drink red wine.

The research team also included C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, director of the Women's Heart Center, director of the Preventive and Rehabilitative Cardiac Center and the Women's Guild Chair in Women's Health, as well as researchers from the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and Hartford Hospital in Connecticut.

Circle of Friends honorees for December

The Circle of Friends program honored 160 people in December.

Circle of Friends allows grateful patients to make a donation in honor of the physicians, nurses, caregivers and others who have made a difference during their time at Cedars-Sinai. When a gift is made, the person being honored receives a custom lapel pin and a letter of acknowledgement.

Click here for more information about the program and for a list of past honorees.

  • Kristine Acorda, RN, BSN

  • Barry A. Kramer, MD

  • Felicitas M. Acosta

  • Lia B. Labrant, MD

  • Kenneth Adashek, MD

  • Gary Leach, MD

  • Eloisa R. Aguilar

  • Walter Lemankiewicz, RN

  • Michael J. Alexander, MD

  • Madeline S. Lerman, RN, BSN

  • Paula J. Anastasia Davis, RN, MN, AOCN

  • Andrew J. Li, MD

  • M. William Audeh, MD

  • Michael C. Lill, MD

  • Laura G. Audell, MD, MS

  • Simon K. Lo, MD

  • Parvaneh Bahmani, MD

  • Rajendra Makkar, MD

  • Shahriar Bamshad, MD

  • Adam N. Mamelak, MD

  • Jana Baumgarten, MD

  • Lucy Mathew, NP

  • Leon I. Bender, MD

  • Ruchi Mathur, MD

  • Satinder J. Bhatia, MD

  • Michael Casey McGuire

  • Aron B. Bick, MD

  • Robert McKenna, Jr., MD

  • Michael A. Bolton, MD

  • Gil Y. Melmed, MD, MS

  • Glenn D. Braunstein, MD

  • Leslie Memsic, MD
  • Lula M. Brooks

  • Allan L. Metzer, MD

  • Barbara Brown

  • Joel Mittleman, MD

  • Ilana Cass, MD

  • Esther Morrison, RN

  • Claudia Castellanos, LVN

  • Zab Mosenifar, MD

  • Bojan Cercek,MD, PhD

  • Charisse A. Murakami, RN, MSN

  • Kirk Y. Chang, MD

  • Rebecca Naor, PA-C

  • Connie Chein, MD

  • Ronald B. Natale, MD

  • William W. Chow, MD

  • Philip K. Ng, MD

  • Susan B. Clark, RN

  • Nicholas Nissen, MD

  • J. Louis Cohen, MD

  • Veronica N. Nyaung, RN, BSN

  • Teresita “Tess” A. Constantino, RN, BSN, BC

  • Yuriko A. Ogawa, RN, MSN, PHN

  • Chelsea L. Converse

  • Brian Perri, MD, DO

  • Stephen R. Corday, MD

  • Edward H. Phillips, MD

  •  Ellen J. Creamer

  • Mark Pimentel, MD

  • Lawrence S. Czer, MD

  • Edith Q. Quitangon, RN

  • Michele “Mick” A. De Robertis, RN

  • Geraldine L. Rice, RN, ASN, AC-BC

  • Robert W. Decker, MD

  • Laura J. Riggs, RN

  • Rick B. Delamarter, MD

  • Jeremy D. Rudnick, MD

  • Alice R. Dick, MD

  • Wendy L. Sacks, MD

  • Noam Z. Drazin, MD

  • Bernard Salick, MD

  • J. Kevin Drury, MD

  • Crystal Sanchez

  • Marla C. Dubinsky, MD

  • Howard M. Sandler, MD, MS

  • Brenda J. Durand

  • Gregory P. Sarna, MD

  • Rory Duval-Bolender, MSW

  • David N. Sayah, MD

  • Fardad Esmailian, MD

  • Wouter I. Schievink, MD

  • Kristen M. Feldkamp, RN, BSN, CBN

  • William J. Sears

  • Robert A. Figlin, MD

  • Scott Serden, MD

  • Anne L. Fischer, RN, CWOCN

  • Alan L. Shabo, MD

  • Torsten Fischer

  • Payam Shadi, MD

  • Gregory Fontana, MD

  • Prediman K. Shah, MD

  • Joyce N. Fox, MD

  • Michael M. Shehata, MD

  • Gerhard J. Fuchs, MD
  • Robert J. Siegel, MD

  • Clark B. Fuller, MD

  • Allan W. Silberman, MD, PhD

  • Ivor L. Geft, MD

  • Americo Simonini, MD

  • Jordan L. Geller, MD

  • Steven M. Simons, MD

  • Eli Ginsburg, MD

  • Thomas P. Sokol, MD

  • Armando E. Giuliano, MD

  • Marilyn A. Solsky, MD

  • Richard N. Gold, MD

  • Jerrold H. Steiner, MD

  • Jeffrey S. Goodman, MD

  • Joseph Sugarman, MD

  • Richard F. Gordon

  • Mark W. Surrey, MD

  • Shanthi Gowrinathan, MD

  • Steven W. Tabak, MD

  • Steven B. Graff-Radford, DDS

  • Michele Tagliati, MD

  • Paula M. Grandbois, RN, CNOR, RNFA

  • Alfredo Trento, MD

  • Rubin Greif

  • Amy E. Trinidad, RN

  • Antoine Hage, MD

  • Gregory Tsushima, MD

  • Behrooz Hakimian, MD

  • Shiela Marie A. Tungol, RN

  • Michele A. Hamilton, MD

  • Mark K. Urman, MD

  • Miracle Hart, RN

  • Leticia O. Uy, RN, OCN

  • Stuart Holden, MD

  • Jennifer D. Valdez, RN

  • Robin R. Hudson, RN, CPAN

  • Eric Vasiliauskas, MD

  • Gabriel E. Hunt, Jr., MD

  • Robert A. Vescio, MD

  • Leonel Hunt, MD

  • Andrew Wachtel, MD

  • Laith H. Jamil, MD

  • Abraham U. Waks, MD

  • Stanley C. Jordan, MD

  • Daniel J. Wallace, MD

  • Pauline J. Jose, MD

  • Alexandra M. Wierzbicki, RN, BSN, CN

  • Peter Julien, MD

  • Jeanne J. Williams

  • Saibal Kar, MD

  • Matthew D. Williams, RN

  • Beth Y. Karlan, MD

  • Robert N. Wolfe, MD

  • Scott R. Karlan, MD

  • Edward M. Wolin, MD

  • David Kattan, MD

  • Joni Woo, RN, BSN

  • Walter F. Kerwin, MD

  • Howard Wynne, MD

  • Mehran J. Khorsandi, MD, CCDS

  • Philip A. Yalowitz, MD

  • Hyung L. Kim, MD

  • Christopher Zarembinski, MD

  • Asher Kimchi, MD

 

  • Jon A. Kobashigawa, MD

 

Wear red for women on Feb. 3

The Heart TruthSupport women's heart health by wearing red on Friday, Feb. 3, when Cedars-Sinai will mark the sixth annual Marlene Wald Memorial Wear Red Day to increase awareness of heart disease as the leading killer of women.

A group photo will be taken at 9 a.m., cardiac risk assessment screenings will be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m., and Michele Hamilton, MD, director of the Heart Failure Program at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, will speak from noon to 1 p.m.

Cedars-Sinai's event is named in honor of Marlene Wald, the wife of KTLA news director, Jeff Wald. She died unexpectedly of a heart attack while on vacation in Cabo San Lucas in December 2006. She was only 51 and, as is the case with so many women, she didn't know she had heart disease.

On MLK Day, a call to service and a celebration

Kevin Powell's words were consistent and tastefully humorous.They were bold, but balanced with an eloquence befitting the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the legendary civil rights leader who was slain while advocating for love, peace and non-violence in America.

"We have to be what we want to see on this planet," said Powell, pictured at right, a political activist and entrepreneur who has written numerous books and has been published in Esquire, Newsweek, The Washington Post and Rolling Stone.

Powell was this year's guest speaker at the10th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration co-sponsored by the medical center and medical staff and co-chaired by Joel Geiderman, MD, and Keith Black, MD. A powerful recitation of King's "I Have a Dream" speech by the Rev. Fred Johnson provided an emotional preamble to Powell's talk.

Cedars-Sinai Board of Directors Chair Lawrence B. Platt introduced Powell by underscoring the medical center's belief in King's message.

"We work to bring hope and healing to every corner of our community," Platt told those assembled in Harvey Morse Auditorium on Monday.

Powell, who overcame poverty and was raised by a single mother, described Cedars-Sinai as a "phenomenal establishment" with notable diversity. He spoke of several ways to carry the "baton" King left behind, first being that everyone project a "dangerous kind of unselfishness."

"We need to ask ourselves: ‘Why are we on this planet today?'" he said. "We need to dedicate our lives to doing something."

Powell suggested those in the standing room only crowd should help others - not just the less fortunate overseas but also the needy here in Los Angeles.

"Just go to Skid Row," he said. "There is nothing wrong with being middle class or wealthy. But, there is something wrong if your privilege is not tied to a sense of humanity."

His speech was followed by R&B singer Goapele, pictured at right, who performed several numbers including Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come."

Karyn Hardaway, a management assistant II for the Lifeline program, attended the celebration and got herself photographed with the singer.

"Kevin (Powell) kind of touched all the bases," she said. "Martin Luther King Jr. Day is about everyone. He said we are all brothers and sisters and not just on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I think that's what people need to understand. I also liked his examples of how we can live our lives, such as helping those who are less fortunate or in need."