Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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A BI-WEEKLY PUBLICATION FROM THE CEDARS-SINAI CHIEF OF STAFF Nov. 21, 2014 | Archived Issues

Recognition for Berci, Hadian, Shah, Siegel

Physician News

George Berci, MD, has been named a "Hero in Surgery," Mehrnaz Hadian, MD, MS, has received a law school scholarship, and Prediman K. Shah, MD, and Robert J. Siegel, MD, have won the Elliot Rapaport Cardiologist of the Year award.

» Read more


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 - November 2014 (PDF)


Milestones

David S. Gans, MD, has died.

» Read more

Get Ready for Joint Commission's Visit

The Joint Commission is due to visit before the end of the year, and there are only a few eligible weeks remaining. Please review the following reminders that have been published previously in Medical Staff Pulse. Thank you for your cooperation and support in ensuring a successful survey.

» Read more

Phillips Named Wilner Alumnus of the Year

Edward Phillips, MD, has been named the winner of the Howard I. Wilner, MD, Alumnus of the Year Award. The annual award, bestowed by the Cedars-Sinai Alumni Association, honors a physician's accomplishments and contributions to medicine. The award will be presented Wednesday, Dec. 3, at 6:30 p.m. in Harvey Morse Auditorium.
 

» Read more

Noah Is New Associate Dean of Medical Education

Mark Noah, MD, has been appointed associate dean of Medical Education at Cedars-Sinai. He will be responsible for the overall medical educational mission and for providing visionary leadership at the institutional, local and national levels.


 

» Read more

POLST Form Gets an Update for 2014

The California form for Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment has been revised for 2014, after five years of clinical experience and data collection, to be clearer and more accessible to patients and physicians.

» Read more

MEC Morning After Report

See highlights of the Nov. 3 meeting of the Medical Executive Committee.

» Read more

CS-Link Tip: Using AutoAdvance

The AutoAdvance feature in CS-Link™ saves you clicks when you look at results in your in basket. Select the AutoAdvance check box to automatically move to the next message when the status of the current message changes to Done.

» Read more

Pilot Allows Patients to See Progress Notes Online

Patients seen by one of 28 physicians participating in a new pilot called OpenNotes will be able to view their own progress notes in My CS-Link™. Faculty and private practice physicians are participating in the OpenNotes pilot, which went live Nov. 11.

» Read more

Cedars-Sinai Joins Initiative to Provide Quality Healthcare to Chinese Citizens Traveling to U.S.

Cedars-Sinai has joined Discover LA Medical Care, a new initiative to provide world-class healthcare to Chinese citizens seeking to travel to the U.S. for expert medical attention. Thomas M. Priselac, president and CEO of Cedars-Sinai, traveled to Guangzhou, China, for the Nov. 17 signing ceremony that created the initiative.

» Read more

Medical Staff Members Enjoy Musical Production

What's better than dinner and a movie? For an estimated 150 members of the medical staff, it was dinner and the Tony Award-winning musical "Kinky Boots" on Nov. 11.

» Read more

Circle of Friends Honorees for October

The Circle of Friends program honored 171 people in October. 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

Night at the Aquarium Set for Feb. 7

Medical staff members and their families are invited to a Night at the Aquarium, a dinner and sleepover at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, on Saturday, Feb. 7, starting at 7 p.m.

» Read more

Renewing Support Cells May Help in ALS Fight

A new study by investigators at the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute shows that the effects of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis on motor neurons are worsened by the aging and failure of support cells called astrocytes. The researchers also found that culturing aging astrocytes with a protein called GDNF could increase motor neuron survival.

» Read more

Get Ready for Joint Commission's Visit

The Joint Commission is due to visit before the end of the year, and there are only a few eligible weeks remaining. Please review the following reminders that have been published previously in Medical Staff Pulse. Thank you for your cooperation and support in ensuring a successful survey.

TJC Tidbits No. 1: Key Hospital Programs/Initiatives (Sept. 26, 2014)

TJC Tidbits No. 2: Practical Reminders (Oct. 10, 2014)

TJC Tidbits No. 3: Nurse Communication Orders (Oct. 24, 2014)

TJC Tidbits No. 4: Donning and Doffing PPE (Nov. 7, 2014)

TJC Quick Reference for Medical Staff (PDF)

Phillips Named Wilner Alumnus of the Year

Edward Phillips, MD, has been named the winner of the Howard I. Wilner, MD, Alumnus of the Year Award. The annual award, bestowed by the Cedars-Sinai Alumni Association, honors a physician's accomplishments and contributions to medicine.

The award will be presented Wednesday, Dec. 3, at 6:30 p.m. in Harvey Morse Auditorium. The event also will include a chamber concert by members of the American Youth Symphony, led by Alexander Treger. Admission is $10 for the general public and $5 for members of the medical staff, residents, members of the nursing staff, employees and volunteers.

A pioneer in minimally invasive surgery, Phillips is executive vice chair of the Cedars-Sinai Department of Surgery and chief of the Division of General Surgery. He is director of the Saul and Joyce Brandman Breast Center — A Project of Women's Guild, the Wasserman Breast Cancer Risk Reduction Program and the Weight Loss Center. He holds the Karl Storz Chair in Minimally Invasive Surgery in Honor of George Berci, MD.

Presentation of the Howard Wilner Alumnus of the Year Award - Dec. 3 (PDF)

Noah Is New Associate Dean of Medical Education

Mark Noah, MD, has been appointed associate dean of Medical Education at Cedars-Sinai. He will be responsible for the overall medical educational mission and for providing visionary leadership at the institutional, local and national levels.

He will continue as director of the Cedars-Sinai Internal Medicine Residency Training Program.

Noah holds the Melvin Brody, MD, Endowed Chair in Medical Education.

For more information and the full text of the announcement, click the PDF link below.

New Associate Dean of Medical Education (PDF)

POLST Form Gets an Update for 2014

Bright pink POLST forms are available at all nursing units, from the Supportive Care Medicine team and from the Center for Healthcare Ethics.

The California form for Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) has been revised for 2014, after five years of clinical experience and data collection, to be clearer and more accessible to patients and physicians.

Developed in Oregon in the 1990s and legally recognized in California since 2009, the POLST is a physician's order that outlines a plan for end-of-life care reflecting a patient's preferences and current medical condition. The bright pink POLST forms are available at all nursing units as well as from the Supportive Care Medicine team. They also are available on the Intranet and Internet pages of the Center for Healthcare Ethics.

A POLST form allows a physician and patient to establish default orders concerning end-of-life care that can be conveyed succinctly and clearly to other healthcare professionals, facilities and emergency personnel when a patient is at home, in a long-term care facility, in transit between locations, entering an emergency department or being admitted into or discharged from an acute-care facility.

The POLST form is completed by a patient's physician (or by someone who has undergone special training about POLST, such as a member of the Supportive Care Medicine team) in conjunction with thorough conversation with the patient regarding the patient's current and future health conditions and treatment preferences. Both the physician and patient must sign the POLST. If the patient lacks capacity to make medical decisions, the patient's legally recognized decision-maker can participate in completing and signing the POLST form.

For patients who arrive at Cedars-Sinai with a POLST, those orders are to be entered into the patient's medical record and stand until further orders are written, if necessary. Similarly, for patients being discharged to another facility or home, completing a POLST is a way to have the appropriate orders continue beyond the hospital walls.

Completing a POLST would be appropriate for any patient who, while at Cedars-Sinai, has Do Not Attempt Resuscitation (DNAR) status, has been seen by the Supportive Care Medicine team, is being discharged to hospice, or has a metastatic or end-stage organ disease or a terminal diagnosis and for whom death in the next 12 months would not be unexpected. A POLST also may be appropriate for patients permanently residing in long-term care facilities.

If you have additional questions about the POLST form, are interested in further education or would like assistance in having the POLST conversation, please contact the Supportive Care Medicine team (310-423-9520 inpatient, 310-423-7500 outpatient) or the Center for Healthcare Ethics (310-423-9636).

Additional information about POLST, as well as copies of the form and a FAQ sheet in English, Spanish, Russian, Farsi, or Korean, may be found here.

MEC Morning After Report

Highlights of the Nov. 3 meeting of the Medical Executive Committee are summarized in the PDF link below.

Morning After Report - Nov. 3, 2014 (PDF)

CS-Link Tip: Using AutoAdvance

The AutoAdvance feature in CS-Link™ saves you clicks when you look at results in your in basket. Select the AutoAdvance check box to automatically move to the next message when the status of the current message changes to Done.

If you don't want to use this feature, simply uncheck the AutoAdvance box.

You can learn more by visiting CS-Link Central or by scheduling a training session with Lisa Masson, MD, (lisa.masson@cshs.org) or Alex Bram (alex.bram@cshs.org).

Click here for more CS-Link training updates for physicians.

Pilot Allows Patients to See Progress Notes Online

Patients seen by one of 28 physicians participating in a new pilot called OpenNotes will be able to view their own progress notes in My CS-Link™.

Faculty and private practice physicians are participating in the OpenNotes pilot, which went live Nov. 11. When their ambulatory care patients have an office visit during the six-month pilot period, a note from their visit may be accessible to them as part of the after-visit summary in My CS-Link, after it is completed and signed by the physician.

Only completed notes written after the go-live date will be available, and physicians will be able to hide specific notes if they wish. Following the conclusion of the pilot, patients and physicians will be surveyed to assess their perceptions of OpenNotes.

OpenNotes is a national initiative designed to improve patient engagement by providing patients with ready access to their medical information, such as their progress notes.

Health systems that have implemented OpenNotes have reported positive effects on patient engagement. A study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and conducted by investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Geisinger Health System and Harborview Medical Center showed that 87 percent of patients read at least one of their notes, and more than 76 percent reported improvements in remembering their plan of care. Importantly, more than 60 percent reported better medication adherence.

"Patients want to have an open, honest dialogue with their physician, and that includes having real-time access to their medical records," said Sharon Isonaka, MD, vice president of Clinical Transformation at Cedars-Sinai.

"This level of positive patient response is consistent with national studies that demonstrate that improved patient engagement leads to better outcomes," Isonaka said. "Physician feedback has also been very favorable, and virtually every physician who participated in the initial OpenNotes study chose to continue offering it to their patients."

In addition to Cedars-Sinai, OpenNotes has been implemented at a number of health systems, including the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, MD Anderson Cancer Center and Kaiser Permanente Northwest. Locally, UCLA Health System, Kaiser Permanente and Providence Health System are preparing to offer OpenNotes to their patients.

For more information, click the PDF link below for a physician FAQ on OpenNotes. You also can contact Isonaka at sharon.isonaka@cshs.org or visit myopennotes.org for videos and links to articles on OpenNotes.

OpenNotes FAQs For Physicians (PDF)

Previously in Medical Staff Pulse:

Project Will Let Some Patients View Progress Notes (Oct. 24, 2014)

Cedars-Sinai Joins Initiative to Provide Quality Healthcare to Chinese Citizens Traveling to U.S.

Thomas M. Priselac, president and CEO of Cedars-Sinai, (third from left) joined others at the Nov. 17 signing ceremony in Guangzhou, China.

Cedars-Sinai has joined Discover LA Medical Care, a new initiative to provide world-class healthcare to Chinese citizens seeking to travel to the U.S. for expert medical attention.

The initiative was established by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti with the intent of increasing medical collaboration and opportunities to provide quality healthcare to Chinese residents. In addition to Cedars-Sinai, members include the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, China Southern Airlines and four other leading Southern California medical centers.

Thomas M. Priselac, president and CEO of Cedars-Sinai, traveled to Guangzhou, China, to participate in the Nov. 17 signing ceremony for the memorandum of understanding that formed Discover LA Medical Care. Before the signing ceremony, Spencer Koerner, MD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Center for International Health and Telemedicine, visited hospitals in three other cities in China — Beijing, Hongzhou and Shanghai — to highlight the medical expertise available to Chinese citizens in Los Angeles.

"This is a landmark moment in the history of our growing international health department," Koerner said. "As China has grown economically and visas are now easier to obtain, more and more Chinese citizens are traveling to the U.S. to gain access to our world-class healthcare, especially for highly complex procedures and treatments for cancer, heart disease and neurological diseases."

The collaborative effort to provide care to Chinese citizens is the latest chapter in a long history of relationships between China and Los Angeles. More than 250 Chinese-owned firms do business in Los Angeles. Among them is China Southern Airlines, Asia's largest airline and the world's third largest in passenger volume. As a partner in the initiative, the airline is committed to raising its customers' awareness of Discover LA Medical Care.

Nearly 570,000 travelers from China visited Los Angeles in 2013. L.A. County is home to the largest Chinese community in the United States with nearly a half million residents, including about 11,000 Chinese students attending colleges and universities in the area.

Medical Staff Members Enjoy Musical Production

What's better than dinner and a movie? For an estimated 150 members of the medical staff, it was dinner and the Tony Award-winning musical "Kinky Boots" on Nov. 11.

The evening began with a special preshow dinner at the W Hotel across the street from the Pantages Theater in Hollywood, where medical staff members enjoyed a production of the hit Broadway musical featuring a Tony Award-winning score and choreography.

The next medical staff event will be a Night at the Aquarium, a dinner and sleepover at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, on Saturday, Feb. 7.

Click the image below to see photos from the event.

Circle of Friends Honorees for October

The Circle of Friends program honored 171 people in October.

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.

  • Cheryl L. Abrazado, RN
  • Felicitas M. Acosta
  • Keith L. Agre, MD
  • Howard N. Allen, MD
  • Daniel C. Allison, MD
  • Paula J. Anastasia Davis, RN, MN, AOCN
  • Bergit Arctander, BSN, RN, CN
  • M. William Audeh, MD
  • Jacqueline A. Avilez
  • Andrew R. Barquera
  • Jose E. Becerra-Flores
  • Valerie Betley
  • Donna M. Bias, BSN, RN
  • Keith L. Black, MD
  • Michael J. Blumenkrantz, MD
  • Earl W. Brien, MD
  • William W. Brien, MD
  • Eileen G. Brown, OCN, RN
  • Jovie O. Brown, RN
  • Matthew H. Bui, MD
  • Ilana Cass, MD
  • George Chaux, MD
  • Sant P. Chawla, MD
  • William W. Chow, MD
  • Geemee Chung, MD
  • J. Louis Cohen, MD
  • Stephen R. Corday, MD
  • Lawrence S. Czer, MD
  • Ruben C. Dadag
  • Shaun S. Daneshrad, MD
  • Catherine M. Dang, MD
  • Itai Danovitch, MD
  • Mark M. Davidson, MD
  • Jez A. Davidson Guito
  • Marietta A. De Jesus, RN
  • Robert W. Decker, MD
  • Maria L. Delioukina, MD
  • Ryan DellaMaggiora, MD
  • Alice R. Dick, MD
  • Thomas J. Diprima
  • Erika H. Douglass, RN
  • Noam Z. Drazin, MD
  • Julie A. Dunhill, MD
  • Pedram Enayati, MD
  • Fardad Esmailian, MD
  • Richard Essner, MD
  • Jeannifer W. Estrada, RN
  • Irina R. Eyfer
  • Mary Annalee C. Famas, BSN, RN
  • Edward J. Feldman, MD
  • Robert A. Figlin, MD
  • Eleni Fotiadis, RN
  • Joyce N. Fox, MD
  • Kathleen M. Freund, RN
  • Stuart Friedman, MD
  • David M. Frisch, MD
  • Ryan P. Galang, RN-BC
  • Ivor L. Geft, MD
  • Bruce L. Gewertz, MD
  • Armando E. Giuliano, MD
  • Sherry L. Goldman, RN, NP
  • Jeffrey S. Goodman, MD
  • Maria M. Gozip, RN
  • Steven B. Graff-Radford, DDS
  • Stephen L. Graham, MD
  • Jeffrey R. Gramer, MD
  • Leland M. Green, MD
  • Faina Gurfinkel
  • Andrew E. Hendifar, MD
  • Gail K. Higa, RN, OCN
  • David M. Hoffman, MD
  • Arash A. Horizon, MD
  • Antoinette Hubenette, MD
  • Joseph Isaacson, MD
  • Mariko L. Ishimori, MD
  • Laith H. Jamil, MD
  • J. Patrick Johnson, MD
  • David Y. Josephson, MD
  • Sheila Kar, MD
  • David Kawashiri, MD
  • Mehran J. Khorsandi, MD
  • Hyung L. Kim, MD
  • Michelle M. Kittleson, MD, PhD
  • Robert Klapper, MD
  • Jon A. Kobashigawa, MD
  • Michael A. Kropf, MD
  • David A. Kulber, MD
  • Erika E. Kurian, RN
  • Sandra M. Labat
  • Brenda N. Leano, BSN, RN, PCCN
  • Susie K. Lee, NP
  • Ella L. Leggett
  • Madeline S. Lerman, BSN, RN
  • Ronald S. Leuchter, MD
  • Andrew J. Li, MD
  • Michael C. Lill, MD
  • Julie Lim, RN
  • H. Gabriel Lipshutz, MD
  • Soledad Lopez-Ramirez
  • Mari A. Madsen, MD
  • Harumi O. Mankarios, RN, OCN
  • Ana R. Martinez
  • Edmund J. Martinez
  • Robert Maxwell, RN
  • Robert J. McKenna Jr., MD
  • Sharron L. Mee, MD
  • Andrea Meneses
  • Tamar Meszaros, MD
  • Stewart Middler, MD, PhD
  • Monica M. Mita, MD, MDSc
  • Rosina Mitchell-Lloyd, RN
  • Zuri Murrell, MD
  • Ronald B. Natale, MD
  • David G. Ng, MD
  • Roy D. Nini, MD
  • Nicholas N. Nissen, MD
  • Raena S. Olsen, DO
  • Rosalou Onate, RN
  • Sharon D. Ozorio
  • Guy D. Paiement, MD
  • Rhonda M. Parish
  • Monica R. Peterson, RN
  • Glenn B. Pfeffer, MD
  • Edward H. Phillips, MD
  • Tyler Pierson, MD
  • Mark Pimentel, MD
  • Mary M. Pittman, RN
  • Ralph T. Potkin, MD
  • Kristina C. Pulliam, BSN, RN
  • Joseph L. Robinson, MD
  • Warren L. Roston, MD
  • Tracy Salseth, ACNP-BC
  • Howard M. Sandler, MD, MS
  • Gregory P. Sarna, MD
  • Jay N. Schapira, MD
  • C. Andrew Schroeder, MD
  • Scott Serden, MD
  • Aamir S. Shah, MD
  • Takahiro Shiota, MD
  • Allan W. Silberman, MD, PhD
  • R. Kendrick "Ken" Slate, MD
  • Andrew Ira Spitzer, MD
  • Jasminka Stegic, MS, ANP-BC, CCRN
  • Jerrold H. Steiner, MD
  • Sarah J. Stepien, MSN, RN, MPH, CMSRN
  • Kazu Suzuki, DPM
  • Alyssa Tennenbaum, RD, CDE, MBA
  • David B. Thordarson, MD
  • Tram T. Tran, MD
  • Alfredo Trento, MD
  • Gregory Tsushima, MD
  • Richard Tuli, MD, PhD
  • Franca Uchemefuna, RN
  • Ruby M. Unabia-Carino
  • Angela Velleca, BSN, RN, CCTC
  • Robert A. Vescio, MD
  • Rafael Villicana, MD
  • Olga Voroshilovsky, MD
  • Katherine D. Waite, RN
  • Abraham U. Waks, MD
  • Xunzhang Wang, MD
  • Michael H. Weisman, MD
  • Jeffrey C. Wertheimer, PhD
  • Donald A. Wiss, MD
  • Curtis D. Woodworth, RN
  • Veronica T. Wootton
  • Clement C. Yang, MD
  • Joey M. Yap, RN
  • Amara Yob, BSN, RN, OCN
  • Phillip C. Zakowski, MD
  • Christopher Zarembinski, MD

Night at the Aquarium Set for Feb. 7

Medical staff members and their families are invited to a Night at the Aquarium, a dinner and sleepover at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, on Saturday, Feb. 7, starting at 7 p.m.

Eat dinner in the shadow of a life-size blue whale replica, experience aquatic exhibits and interactive entertainment, and watch aquarium staff feed the seals and sea lions their breakfast.

Pack sleeping bags, blankets, pillows and air mattresses (no tents). Dinner, exhibits and entertainment are included, as is a continental breakfast Sunday morning.

Cost is $60 per adult and $45 per child age 3-11. The cost for those who don't spend the night is $50 per adult and $25 per child age 3-11. Parking is $8 per car.

Contact Cheryl Verne in the office of Marjorie Santore Besson at 310-423-2681 or cheryl.verne@cshs.org to reserve tickets.

Renewing Support Cells May Help in ALS Fight

Lou Gehrig's disease attacks muscle-controlling nerve cells — motor neurons — in the brain, brain stem and spinal cord, leading to progressive weakness and eventual paralysis of muscles throughout the body. Patients with the disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), typically survive only three to five years after diagnosis.

Now, with publication of a study by investigators at the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute, ALS researchers know the effects of the attack are worsened, at least in part, by the aging and failure of support cells called astrocytes, which normally provide nutrients, housekeeping, structure and other forms of assistance for neurons.

The researchers also found that culturing aging astrocytes with a specially engineered protein called GDNF could increase motor neuron survival.

Earlier studies suggested the possible involvement of astrocytes in ALS development and progression, but the new research is believed to be the first to directly measure the effects of aging on the ability of astrocytes to sustain motor neurons. Results are published online in Neurobiology of Aging.

The Cedars-Sinai researchers first tried to repeat previous studies showing that astrocytes from laboratory animals with an ALS mutation failed to support normal motor neurons. They were surprised to find that very young ALS astrocytes were supportive, but ALS astrocytes from older animals were not. More surprisingly, it wasn't just diseased astrocytes that were affected by age. The scientists discovered, and reported for the first time, that even normal aging of astrocytes reduces their ability to support motor neurons.

"Aging astrocytes lose their ability to support motor neurons in general, and they clearly fail to help those attacked by ALS," said Clive Svendsen, PhD, director of the Regenerative Medicine Institute and the article's senior author.

He said old astrocytes and ALS-affected astrocytes have lower death rates in the petri dish than younger ones — they seem to hang around longer and accumulate. But while older astrocytes and those with the ALS mutation live longer, they appear to have significant damage to their DNA. Instead of being cleared away for replacement by new, healthy cells, the old, defective cells become useless clutter, producing chemicals that cause harmful inflammation. The process is accelerated in ALS astrocytes.

"Our findings have implications for scientists studying neurodegenerative diseases like ALS and Alzheimer's and the aging process in general. In younger animals modeling ALS and in older 'normal' animals, the accumulations of defective astrocytes in the nervous system look similar," said Melanie Das, PhD, a student in the Cedars-Sinai Graduate Program in Biomedical Science and Translational Medicine, the article's first author.

After establishing the effects of aging on astrocytes, the researchers evaluated the potential therapeutic effects of a specially engineered protein.

"We found that by culturing aging astrocytes and those harboring the ALS mutation with a neuron-protective protein called GDNF, we could increase motor neuron survival. We already knew that GDNF was protective directly on motor neurons, but we believe this is the first time that the delivery of GDNF has been shown to have a direct beneficial effect on astrocytes, perhaps resetting their aging clock, which ultimately benefits neurons," Svendsen said.

Svendsen and scientists in his laboratory have studied GDNF extensively, devising experimental methods to restore beneficial levels in the brain and spinal cord — where the disease originates — and in muscles, at the point where nerve fibers connect with muscle fibers to stimulate muscle action. Several large GDNF-related research projects taking shape at Cedars-Sinai are funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).

"Our major CIRM-funded programs — aimed at engineering young stem cell-derived astrocytes to secrete GDNF, then transplanting those cells back into patients — take on even greater importance given this aging phenomenon," said Svendsen, the Kerry and Simone Vickar Family Foundation Distinguished Chair in Regenerative Medicine.

Svendsen and his research teams often collaborate on ALS and other motor neuron disease studies with Robert H. Baloh, MD, PhD, director of neuromuscular medicine and the ALS Program in the Department of Neurology. Cedars-Sinai's ALS treatment facilities will be on the front lines as this type of basic research is translated into experimental clinical trials.

Cedars-Sinai's efforts to discover therapies for ALS recently were reinforced when the Regenerative Medicine Institute became part of a multicenter collaborative funded by the National Institutes of Health. This research, dedicated to developing and expediting therapeutic approaches for ALS, received another boost this month when the ALS Association contributed $5 million, part of its initial distribution of money raised by the public outpouring of support through the Ice Bucket Challenge. In addition, as an ALS Association Certified Treatment Center of Excellence, Cedars-Sinai is expected to receive $25,000 for research each of the next three years, an increase over the $12,500 previously budgeted.