Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Listen to the Regents Health Committee Meeting of Oct. 18, 2017

The Regents' Health Services Committee met on October 18th, prior to the full meetings in mid-November. As usual, we preserve the audio of that meeting for the archives. Blog readers will be aware of the fact that the Regents preserve their meeting recordings only for one year, so we preserve them indefinitely. And, of course, as we have noted many, many times, our archiving would be unnecessary if only the Regents would simply leave their recordings up after one year has past. There is no good reason why they don't. The best we have gotten when this question is posed is that they follow the one year rule because that's what CSU does.

OK, with that rant accomplished, we note that at the Health Services Committee, there was discussion of a proposal by UCLA to act as a consultant to the establishment by a real estate company of two hospitals in China. The hospitals would then carry the UCLA brand, although UCLA would not operate them.

This proposal was up for discussion, not approval, with the notion that UCLA would come back with revisions, based on what it heard from the Committee if it decided to go head with the plan. As you might expect, various Regents expressed reservations based on concerns about quality control, reputation, different human subjects rules in China, etc. The dispute over the Dalai Lama giving a commencement address at UC-San Diego was noted. China cancelled scholarships in protest over that speech. UCLA reps at the meeting said the rationale was that the plan would be financially rewarding for the university, that there would be research opportunities, and that we would be helping an important country. The main protection for UCLA would be that it could cancel the agreement under various circumstances.

You can hear the discussion of the proposed UCLA-China deal from roughly minute 47 on for about 35 minutes.

The link for the audo of the entire meeting is below:

CRISPR dispute continues

From the Daily CalThe Broad Institute filed a brief Wednesday denying many of the University of California’s patent claims on CRISPR-Cas9, a groundbreaking gene-editing technology.
The Broad Institute was awarded the patent first, despite submitting its application after the University of California, which the UC argues interferes with its patent to the technology created by campus professor of molecular biology and chemistry Jennifer DoudnaThe two institutions have been locked in a patent dispute for months.
“(Patent dispute) happens all the time,” said Jacob Sherkow, an associate professor at New York Law School. “Groundbreaking piece of technology will have a bunch of other innovators who are relatively at the same place at relatively the same time.”
The Broad Institute’s patent is in regard to the use of CRISPR-Cas9 in eukaryotic cells, which the UC argued was an obvious extension of its researcher’s work, and as such was interfering with its patentIn February, however, the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board, or PTAB, ruled that there was no interference regarding the patents. The UC appealed this decision in July, claiming its patent applied to use of CRISPR-Cas9 in all environments.
The most recent brief from the Broad Institute responds to the appeal by stating that the use of CRISPR-Cas9 in eukaryotic cells was not obvious. It cites evidence of the past failed attempts to use CRISPR-Cas9 and statements made by Doudna and others expressing doubt about making CRISPR-Cas9 functional in eukaryotic cells.
“We are confident the Federal Circuit will affirm the PTAB’s judgment and recognize the contribution of the Broad, MIT and Harvard in developing this transformative technology,” read a press release issued by the Broad Institute.
The brief claims that the PTAB’s judgement was based on substantial evidence and that the PTAB made no legal errors in its ruling and considered all relevant evidence.
“The University of California looks forward with confidence to the oral arguments and ultimate ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit,” read a press release issued Wednesday by the UC.
According to Sherkow, before oral arguments, the UC will have until Nov. 22 to file its reply. Approximately two months after this, there will be oral arguments in front of a three-judge panel and a written decision by the court of appeals four to six months later. That, however, may not be the end to the dispute, as another appeal could be made by the losing party.

Scary (for some)

If you have procrastinated about updating your UCLA account, your Halloween scare is that your account won't work. If you have updated your account and are looking for some other scare, may we suggest:

(And, please, no comments from health professionals that the brain doesn't feel pain.)

Monday, October 30, 2017

How THEY feel about that

From the Bruin:

The University of California counseling psychologists are calling for wage increases, claiming low pay drives many of them to leave their positions and the students who depend on their services.
UCLA Counseling and Psychological Services provides on-campus mental health and wellness services in the form of individual and group therapy, among other programs. CAPS has lost an average of one therapist per month at UCLA since 2016, said Jamie McDole, vice president of the University Professional and Technical Employees, the union that represents UC counseling psychologists.
McDole said counseling psychologists first became unionized and represented by UPTE in January in order to enter an official contract. Counseling psychologists began negotiations with the UC in March, but have so far been unable to reach an agreement regarding wage increases, she said.
“(The UC) is still proposing wage scales significantly below market, and they’re not at this point willing to move (their current ranges),” she said. “The UC administration doesn’t want to recognize underpay as an issue.”
McDole said she thinks low wages impact a school’s ability to hire and retain clinicians with significant counseling experience. As of 2016, the average salary for counseling psychologists at UCLA is about $69,300 compared to the national average of $72,500 for psychologists working in educational support settings, according to the Department of Labor Bureau’s of Labor Statistics...

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Saturday, October 28, 2017

More on Speech at UCLA

Note: One suspects that the powers-that-be took note of the UC prez's creation of a free speech center (see earlier blog post) in making the  decision described below:

From KPCC: The University of California, Los Angeles said on Friday that it will not charge the Bruin Republicans student group a fee for a November 13 campus event featuring controversial conservative speaker Ben Shapiro.

The Bruin Republicans had protested the potential fee – charged if more than 30 percent of the audience is from outside the campus – as a tax on their free speech.

“Given UCLA’s commitment to free speech, and to avoid any appearance to the contrary,” said campus spokesman Tod Tamberg in an email, “UCLA has decided to also pay the basic security costs for this event. UCLA will be adopting this approach going forward while it reviews its current policy to ensure that it continues to be a useful planning tool for UCLA and registered student organizations.”...

Full story at

Scary Pre-Halloween Note from UC-SF

Boo! Scary findings about imported candy

By Laura Kurtzman, UCSF, October 26, 2017

Following a state law mandating testing, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued more alerts for lead in candy than for the other top three sources of food-borne contamination combined, according to the first analysis of outcomes of the 2006 law by researchers at UC San Francisco and CDPH.

For many years, the state health department’s Food and Drug Branch has routinely prepared and disseminated health alerts to regional and county public health programs, practicing community clinicians, and the general public warning of potentially toxic food exposures. But until the 2006 law mandated a surveillance program, the CDPH did not test widely for lead in candy.

The new study shows that in the six years before the law went into effect—from 2001 to 2006 — just 22 percent of the alerts about food contamination involved lead in candy. Once the program was implemented, however, 42 percent of the food contamination alerts issued by state health officials were for lead in candy — nearly all of it imported — which was more than the total for Salmonella, E. coli and botulism, according to an analysis of alerts issued between 2001 and 2014. The study was published Oct. 26, 2017 in Environmental Health Perspectives...

Full story at

Friday, October 27, 2017

Not clear on the concept - Part 2

We recently posted an item about a new free speech center created at UC's Washington, DC location and listed its leadership. However, in addition to those names, an article in the Seattle Times indicates that the UC prez will herself be co-chairing this center:

...Napolitano will be chairwoman of the new center along with co-chairs Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Berkeley School of Law and UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman.

Full story at

Berkeley's Daily Cal Apologizes

Note: The apology seems to be regularly updated. As we post this item, a note on the apology says it was updated one hour ago.

The editorial cartoon that ran in our opinion page Oct. 13 failed to meet our editorial standards and has been retracted.
The cartoon hearkened to clearly anti-Semitic tropes. It should not have been published, and we sincerely apologize that it was.
The cartoon depicted Alan Dershowitz presenting as he crouched on a stage, with his body behind a cardboard cutout labeled “The Liberal Case for Israel.” Dershowitz was drawn with twisted limbs. His foot was crushing a Palestinian person; placed in his hand was a depiction of an IDF soldier next to someone the soldier had shot.
We apologize to our readers and members of our staff who were hurt by the cartoon. We especially apologize to Alan Dershowitz for the ways it negatively impacted him both personally and professionally.
As is clear in the outpouring of criticisms and condemnations by community members both in Berkeley and beyond, the cartoon was unacceptable. The thoughts of several community members have since been published in the form of letters to the editor.
Covering a community means listening to that community and reflecting its beliefs, feelings, fears and opinions. As part of our ongoing education, we will be meeting with local religious leaders and experts to improve our understanding of the historical context behind these types of images and contemporary manifestations of anti-Semitism.
Additionally, we are ensuring that a detailed knowledge of the history of harmful visual propaganda becomes an integral part of how we train our staff.
We understand and take responsibility for the harm we have caused our readers and our staff. We hear you, we accept your criticism, and we will learn from our errors.
Karim Doumar is the editor in chief of the Daily Cal.

We won't repost the cartoon in question on this blog, but it is easily found on the web.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Change in Bargaining Law for Student Employees

Governor Brown signed a bill Oct. 15 - SB 201 - amending HEERA, the legislation regulating collective bargaining at UC, to widen unionization of student employees. (Yours truly missed this one, but here it is now.)

SB 201, Skinner. Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act: employees.
(1) Existing law, known as the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act, contains provisions relating to employer-employee relations between the state and the employees of state institutions of higher education, including the University of California and the California State University, as well as the Hastings College of the Law. These provisions assign major responsibilities for implementation to the Public Employment Relations Board.
Under the act, an “employee” or “higher education employee” is defined as any employee of the Regents of the University of California, the Directors of the Hastings College of the Law, or the Trustees of the California State University. The act authorizes the board to find student employees whose employment is contingent on their status as students are employees only if the services they provide are unrelated to their educational objectives, or that those educational objectives are subordinate to the services they perform and that coverage under this act would further the purposes of the act.
This bill would make student employees, whose employment is contingent upon their status as students, “employees” and “higher education employees” for purposes of the act.
(2) The act grants employees the right to form, join, and participate in the activities of employee organizations of their own choosing for the purpose of representation on all matters of employer-employee relations and for the purpose of meeting and conferring with their employer. Under the act, all matters not within the scope of representation are reserved to the employer and are not subject to meeting and conferring. The act excludes from the scope of representation, for purposes of the University of California only, among other things, conditions for the award of certificates and degrees to students.
This bill would specify that, for purposes of the University of California only, the requirements for students to achieve satisfactory progress toward their degrees are also outside of the scope of representation.
Full text of law at:

Not clear on the concept

According to the LA Times, UC's prez is creating a free speech center, but locating it far away from the UC. Does anyone besides yours truly see something strange about the location?

The University of California, where the free speech movement started and students now argue over how far unrestricted expression should go, announced plans Thursday to launch a national center to study 1st Amendment issues and step up education about them.

“There have been more serious issues about the 1st Amendment on campuses today than perhaps at any time since the free speech movement,” UC President Janet Napolitano said in an interview. “The students themselves are raising questions about free speech and does it apply to homophobic speech, does it apply to racist speech? We have to consider the student concerns but return to basic principles about what free speech means and how do we better educate students about the extent of the 1st Amendment.”

The National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement will be based at UC’s Washington, D.C., center, and will sponsor as many as eight fellows a year to research such issues as whether student views on free speech are changing and what role social media and political polarization play in shaping perspectives on the 1st Amendment...

The center’s advisory board will be headed by UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman and UC Berkeley Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, a renowned 1st Amendment scholar. The pair co-wrote a book, “Free Speech on Campus.”

Other board members include former U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer; New York Times columnist Bret Stephens; John King, president and chief executive of the Education Trust and former U.S. secretary of education; Anne Kornblut, director of strategic communications at Facebook; Geoffrey R. Stone, a 1st Amendment scholar and professor at the University of Chicago Law School; Avi Oved, a UCLA law student; and Washington Post columnist George Will...

Full story at

New business plan, menus for Faculty Center

The UCLA Faculty Center has had financial problems in recent years. New management has been brought in and a new business plan created. The latest newsletter of the Faculty Center has details. To read it, go to the link below:

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Speech at UCLA

We have been posting free speech related items for various campuses. The Bruin now has one for an upcoming event at UCLA:

A campus political group is accusing UCLA of suppressing free speech because the university may impose additional security costs for an event the group plans to hold in November.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal organization representing Bruin Republicans, sent Chancellor Gene Block a letter Monday calling on the university to rescind additional security costs on its upcoming event. The group plans to host Ben Shapiro, a conservative commentator, Nov. 13.
Tyler Fowlkes, the internal vice president of Bruin Republicans, said the university has told the club it will have to pay the security costs for the event if more than 30 percent of its event’s attendees are not affiliated with UCLA. He added the club’s officers could be responsible for the event’s security costs, which he said could be several thousand dollars.
“We’re being (made) financially responsible for something the university should be paying for,” said Fowlkes, a fourth-year political science student.
UCLA spokesperson Tod Tamberg said UCLA’s policies governing safety expenses for campus events state the university will waive basic security costs for an event if at least 70 percent of its attendees are affiliated with UCLA. If less than 70 percent of the event’s attendees are affiliated with UCLA, the university will bill the cost of the event’s security to the student group holding the event.*
However, Tamberg added that even if less than 70 percent of the event’s attendees are affiliated with UCLA, the university will pay all incremental security costs associated with protests that may occur in connection with the event.
Fowlkes said UCLA has not given the club a specific estimate of the event’s security costs, and will only do so the week of the event...
*Editorial note: It should be possible for the group to ensure that at least 70% are from UCLA by simply requiring a UCLA ID to attend or pre-register. No?

UC-Irvine Gets More Critical PR for Donation

New-age medicine star Andrew Weil defends UC Irvine against charge that it's partnering with quacks

Michael Hiltzik  LA Times  10-24-17

Dr. Andrew Weil, perhaps the nation’s best-known purveyor of “New Age” medicine, has written The Times to “take umbrage” at my recent column warning that UC Irvine risks becoming a haven for quacks if it’s not careful about deploying a $200-million gift from the Samueli family.

Weil, whose familiar bearded visage peeks out from covers of his more than 20 published books, desires to make a distinction between “quackery,” which “refers to dishonest practices performed by those who pretend to have special knowledge and skill in some field,” and what he does at his Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona.

Real integrative medicine, he says, is “healing-oriented medicine that reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the entire patient and body systems, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all therapeutic and lifestyle approaches to achieve optimal health and healing.”

Fair enough. But then why does Weil exaggerate, in the very same letter to the editor, the level of professional acceptance of some of his “integrative” nostrums? (Weil’s letter is co-signed by three of his acolytes at his center and a recent graduate, as if to suggest there’s strength in numbers even if everyone’s a member of the same family.) Weil says integrative medicine, presumably as he practices it, is “informed by evidence.” But the evidence he cites in his letter isn’t very convincing.

Before we delve further, some background: Henry and Susan Samueli, whose multibillion-dollar fortune springs from his co-founding of the semiconductor firm Broadcom, are sworn adherents of integrative medicine, including homeopathy, which has been scientifically discredited.

Some of their huge gift will go to fund a building for the Samueli College of Health Sciences, which will incorporate UC Irvine’s medical and nursing schools and planned schools of pharmacy and “population health” (that is, public health). But most of the money will be devoted to an endowment for up to 15 chairs for world-class faculty with “expertise in integrative health” and for the training of students in that curriculum.

As I reported last month, medical professionals who believe that healthcare should be based on treatments validated by science view the very term “integrative medicine” as a path to introduce unproven or disproven therapies into medicine. UC Irvine has hewed very close to that line in relation to an earlier gift from the Samuelis, which was used to fund a center at the university that actually offered homeopathy to patients. (The mention of homeopathy disappeared from one of the college’s web page after I asked about it; but a naturopath on the staff is still promoting homeopathy under the UC Irvine imprimatur even now.)

Promoters of integrative medicine often play a couple of shell games with the public. First, they assert that conventional doctors treat only discrete diseases in isolation, while integrative medicos approach health “holistically.” This is what Weil is up to when he writes in his letter that his method “reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient [and] focuses on the entire patient and body systems.” The distinction is absurd, of course, as it’s hardly uncommon for any patent to be queried by his or her doctor about lifestyle, diet, home environment and so on...

Full column at

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

They want him gone

The University of California Student Association, or UCSApassed a second resolution calling for the dismissal of UC Regent Norman Pattiz during the Oct. 14-15 UCSA board meeting. The first UCSA letter calling for the removal of Pattiz came January, after allegations against him of sexual harassment first surfaced. The UCSA also intends to create a new “report card” for the UC Board of Regents, within which the regents will be graded based on how well their actions respond to student needs. The resolution lists more specific demands for the regents than the first in order to be clear, according to Parshan Khosravi, UCSA treasurer and the bill’s sponsor...
Compared to the letter from January, Khosravi said, the new resolution uses much stronger language, so UCSA is expecting a response from the regents. Khosravi added that UCSA will not stop at “anything short of (Pattiz’s) dismissal.”...
The actual resolution (which has some typo and grammar issues) is at:

Monday, October 23, 2017

Speech at Berkeley

From an op ed by a Berkeley student in the LA Times:

...The media narrative around these events has tended to frame Berkeley students as the violent protesters — and, very often, as intolerant obstructionists and militant liberals intent on destroying our university’s legacy of free speech. We are also cast as excessively sensitive millennials who fear the aggressions, micro or otherwise, of conservatives and the alt-right.
But in these moments of high drama, very few of the actors are actual Berkeley students. The large pro-Trump rallies have not been organized by Berkeley students, and, for the most part, the large counter-protests have not been organized by Berkeley students. Although a conservative student group, Young America’s Foundation, invited Shapiro to campus, it wasn’t students who led the angry response, but outsiders such as the Refuse Fascism organization.
And even if that weren’t the case, even if every single protester at such events were an undergraduate enrolled at Berkeley, the selection would be far from representative of the student body. Most on-campus protests have attracted only a few hundred people. At a school of 30,000 undergraduates, a crowd of several hundred does not impress.
The truth is that daily life at UC Berkeley is, for the most part, rather ordinary. Students work and study, striving to rack up credits and minimize debt. Professors lecture, do research and hold office hours. An understaffed administration slogs through the mini mountain of paperwork that accompanies each potential graduate.
Life gets out of whack only when high-profile speakers descend on campus, at which point the students become collateral damage. We receive email alerts advising us to avoid protest areas. Teachers, citing safety concerns, cancel classes that fall at the same time as the speaking engagement. The police materialize with unsettling speed.
The dissonance between these two states is rivaled only by the dissonance between the reality of campus life and the story unfolding in the national media...

Back to the future for MBA?

Yours truly - for another blog he does - happened to post for this week an item about the pendulum swinging on the MBA vs. specialized degree programs. Now Inside Higher Ed has a piece on that very subject:

Feeling changes in the M.B.A. market, the University of Wisconsin at Madison is considering changes to its M.B.A. program that would “increase accessibility, flexibility” and be “responsive to the changing needs of students and employers.”
That was the message delivered in a vague statement posted by the School of Business Friday, and -- as business schools across the country shake up their M.B.A. programs -- it leaves more questions than answers.
The Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel was unable to shake out any details of what those changes might mean, although a source told The Wall Street Journal that full-time M.B.A. programs might be coming to an end -- a trend that Virginia Tech, the University of Iowa and Wake Forest University, among others, have picked up on already -- in favor of shorter, more specialized programs.
Corroborating the Journal’s source was an email sent to students Wednesday -- cited by Poets & Quants, an outlet that specializes in business schools -- in which Donald Hausch, associate dean for M.B.A. programs, said shutting down the full-time program was seriously being considered. Students were invited to a town hall meeting this week, and a faculty vote on the matter is expected in November.
Wisconsin's announcement noted that the executive and part-time M.B.A. programs would continue to be offered. That news comes as Washington University in St. Louis recently reined in its executive M.B.A. program, moving to close branch offerings in Denver and Kansas City, Mo. The executive M.B.A. program still has international branch offerings, but the move to scale back the domestic program was seen as result of a multitude of factors chipping away at the executive M.B.A. market, and the M.B.A. market as a whole: employers reluctant to pay, the proliferation of online courses and what some are saying is a declining interest in M.B.A. programs from U.S. students...
As it happened, the UCLA B-school had specialized programs in the late 1960s when yours truly joined the faculty. But these were dumped in favor of a generalist MBA when a new dean arrived in the early 1970s - largely because that's how Harvard did it:

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Turmoil ahead at Irvine?

Note: Oddly, the LA Times has coverage of the story below but the student newspaper at Irvine seems not to have any coverage (at least based on a quick search by yours truly). Yet the event seems possibly to herald turmoil at Irvine similar to what has occurred at Berkeley.

From the LA Times:  10-22-17
In a closely divided election, a UC Irvine student who led an insurgency against establishment politics won a bitter battle Saturday for control of the California College Republicans, a triumph for provocative conservatism over a more moderate approach.
Ariana Rowlands, an ally of right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, led a slate called Rebuild, which advocates aggressive actions in campus culture wars and taking on college administrators and liberals who try to suppress the conservative voice.
Her opponent, USC graduate Leesa Danzek, works for a centrist Republican state legislator, favors inclusion and encourages students to help GOP candidates with phone banking and electioneering. She headed the Thrive slate and had led the state organization, which supports about 70 campus chapters, over the last year.
Rowlands defeated Danzek, 88-64, in the first contested election in nearly a decade but the 14-member executive board ended up evenly split between the two sides. The divide between them reflects the national battle between GOP establishment insiders and insurgents inspired by Trump...


Students going to college are susceptible to depression and anxiety because of pressures to succeed, especially those incoming freshmen who are immersed in the throes of a completely new academic environment.
The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), has sought to address this issue by taking administrative action to implement a new service for this specific matter.
UCLA is in the works to offer voluntary mental health screenings during orientation for students who are new to the campus, according to official announcements by UCLA Chancellor Gene Block.
By setting this service in motion, the college hopes to encourage students who may feel that seeking help is a bother to themselves or others.
“In terms of dollar costs to society, depression is one of the most expensive diseases we face. The human toll is terrible. It affects all ages and all backgrounds. It is pervasive,” Block said in a CNN article.
For those whose time is occupied with difficult classes, long hours at work, and at-home assignments, rarely can they find time to rest and relax.
This stress can accumulate and manifest itself through symptoms like fatigue and lack of motivation.
In extreme cases, it may lead to mental conditions like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which is characterized by persistent and excessive worry about a multitude of things...

Saturday, October 21, 2017

UC Prez on National Defense, Free Speech, & Other Topics

Janet Napolitano appeared for a six-minute interview on "Morning Joe," talking about various topics including national defense, free speech, etc. Oddly, immigration issues did not come up, at least in the posted material. You can see what she said at the link below: [Direct embedding did not work for mysterious computer reasons.]

Friday, October 20, 2017

Bias in Economics - Part 2

Blog readers will recall our posting about bias in the labor market for academic economists. If not:

The American Economic Association (AEA) has now sent out an email notice on the subject:

Statement of the AEA Executive Committee
October 20, 2017

To: Members of the American Economic Association
From: Peter L. Rousseau, Secretary-Treasurer
Subject: Statement of the AEA Executive Committee

Many members of the economics community have expressed concern about offensive behavior within our profession that demeans individuals or groups of individuals. The American Economic Association strongly condemns misogyny, racism, homophobia, antisemitism and other behaviors that harm our profession. 

AEA President Alvin E. Roth has charged an ad hoc committee on professional conduct to formulate a set of guidelines for economists to be considered by the Executive Committee. The ad hoc committee is charged with evaluating various aspects of professional conduct, including those which stifle diversity in Economics. It will submit a report in time for discussion in January. There will be a period for comment by the AEA membership on that report following its release.

The Association is also exploring the possibility of creating a website/message board designed to provide additional information and transparency to the job market for new Ph.D.s, and! will be surveying departments to assess what information about their search processes might be shared.


Texas A&M University System regents voted unanimously Thursday to authorize the system to compete for a contract to run Los Alamos National Laboratory, centerpiece of the nation’s nuclear weapons complex and part of the portfolio overseen by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, a graduate of A&M.
The action by the A&M System Board of Regents, meeting at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, about 150 miles north of Austin, comes exactly a month after University of Texas System regents authorized their system to spend up to $4.5 million to prepare a bid to operate Los Alamos.
The lab, which is tucked into the mountains of northern New Mexico, is currently operated by Los Alamos National Security LLC, a consortium of the University of California, the Bechtel Corp., BWXT Government Group Inc. and the URS unit of AECOM.
The contract's fate will be decided in 2018. Essentially, all of this goes back to the World War II Manhattan Project and its link to the UC-Berkeley physics department.
We always take this opportunity to recommend the BBC "Oppenheimer" series to give insight into the history:

What Happened?

Exactly what happened in the incident described below is unclear. The Inside Higher Ed story refers to a joint meeting by College Republicans and Democrats. Most accounts online of the incident appear in conservative sources that make no mention of Democrats. (One account makes mention of a Democrat in attendance as an individual.) The local Santa Cruz Sentinel appears not to have any account of the incident.

Arrests Over Shutting Down of Event at Santa Cruz

By Nick Roll, October 20, 2017, Inside Higher Ed

The University of California, Santa Cruz, Police Department arrested three students for disrupting a meeting organized by College Republicans and College Democrats Sunday night. A Santa Cruz spokesman, Scott Hernandez-Jason, said the students who were arrested refused repeated requests from other students, staff and police officers to leave a conference room booked by the College Republicans in the library.

The students were arrested for disturbing the peace, failure to disperse, unlawful assembly and trespassing. Police intervened “so that we could protect the students’ right to meet.”

“These are the kinds of meetings we want to see taking place -- two groups with differing views having meaningful discussions,” Hernandez-Jason said in an email. “It’s unfortunate and disappointing that a few students disrupted their meeting and refused repeated requests to leave.”
In a video posted online, the protesters said that the College Republicans' act of hosting private meetings was a disturbance that ought to be shut down.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Admissions Bill Signed

Assembly Bill No. 1674


An act to add Section 68052.1 to the Education Code, relating to the University of California.

Approved by Governor  October 14, 2017. Filed with Secretary of State  October 14, 2017.


AB 1674, Grayson. University of California: nonresident student enrollment.

Existing law expresses the intent of the Legislature that the University of California establish nonresident student tuition policies that are consistent with their resident student fee policies. The provisions are applicable to the University of California only if the Regents of the University of California act, by resolution, to make them applicable.

This bill would request the University of California, in collaboration with the Academic Senate of the University of California, to ensure that implementation of any admissions policy regarding admission of nonresident undergraduate students includes guidance that ensures the academic qualifications for admitted nonresident undergraduate students generally exceeds the academic qualifications of resident undergraduate students, and would request the University of California to report specified information to the Legislature annually regarding implementation of the policy.


SECTION 1. Section 68052.1 is added to the Education Code, to read:

68052.1. The University of California is requested to comply with both of the following:

(a) By July 1, 2018, the University of California, in collaboration with the Academic Senate of the University of California, is requested to ensure that implementation of any admissions policy it adopts regarding admission of nonresident undergraduate students shall include guidance that ensures that the academic qualifications for admitted nonresident undergraduate students generally exceeds, on average, the academic qualifications of resident undergraduate students admitted at each campus.
(b) The University of California is requested to report to the Legislature annually regarding implementation of this policy, including, but not limited to, the mean and median scores on academic indicators of admitted resident and nonresident undergraduate students at each campus.


Drug Defense

How the University of California Is Fighting Proxy Patent Battle for Expensive Cancer Drug in India

Anoo Bhuyan, Oct. 17, 2017, The Wire

UCLA appears to be representing the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Medivation and Astellas in its battle. They aren’t telling the Delhi high court this, but they do talk about it in other documents. 

New Delhi: Xtandi is a life-prolonging cancer drug and sells at about Rs 2.7 lakh for a month’s course in India – that’s for four tablets daily. It works for patients with stage-four prostate cancer who have exhausted their drug options and also cannot be treated with castration. The prostate is among the top ten sites of cancer in the Indian population and prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men worldwide.

Xtandi does not have a patent in India. Its patent application was rejected in 2016 on the grounds of “obviousness and lack of patentable invention”. This means patients are able to avail of generic versions that cost about Rs 70,000 a month, nearly three times less than the trademarked drug Xtandi.

But the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), which developed the drug with US taxpayer money and holds the patent, has bypassed the patent office and is fighting a battle in the Delhi high court. They are represented by former Union minister P. Chidambaram, who has made two appearances in the case this year. Of the hundreds of pages they have filed in their writ petition, which The Wire has reviewed, they have not mentioned even once that there are big pharmaceutical companies with whom UCLA has commercial relationships on this drug. And curiously, a Pfizer lawyer has been given the power of attorney. And curiously, a Pfizer lawyer has been given the power of attorney.

A proxy battle for Pfizer, Medivation and Astellas

But what does Pfizer have to do with UCLA’s patent battle? Absolutely nothing, if one goes by what UCLA has filed in their petition.

However, other documents as well as communication with The Wire reveal that Pfizer has a lot to do with UCLA pursuing this battle. In fact, the legal battle is “filed and is being controlled and managed by and at the request of Medivation and its commercial partner Astellas,” according to a letter from John C. Mazziotta, the CEO of the UCLA Health System, on September 7, 2017. Pfizer acquired Medivation in 2016.

Although UCLA developed the drug with public money and holds the patent, it has given up any role in setting the price of the drug. As a result, in the US, the drug is sold at the highest price compared to any developed country, according to the Union for Affordable Cancer Treatment (UACT).

Xtandi is now increasingly inaccessible to the very public that funded it in the US, where it sells for about Rs 6.9 lakh per month ($10,772). With a price of Rs 2.7 lakh ($4,172) per month and a patent battle threatening generic production in India, the drug becomes inaccessible to the rest of the world as well.

Globally, Xtandi is one of the top-selling cancer drugs, slated to be in the top five by 2022. This is good news for Pfizer and Astellas. Not having a patent in India on a drug like Xtandi is bad news for them.

UCLA seems to be putting forth two different points based on where it is speaking. Inside court, it has presented itself as an aggrieved educational institution, promoting its academic interests. Outside court, documents reveal that the university is only proxy-battling this at the bidding of its commercial partners, fronting for one of the most expensive cancer drugs in the world.

UCLA denies acting on behalf of big pharma in court

Xtandi is a trademark of Astellas. Its active ingredient is Enzalutamide. Xtandi prolongs the lives of those who have metastatic, castration-resistant, prostate cancer for a few months. It is administered towards the end of a patient’s life when they are already in stage four of prostate cancer, as a third- or fourth-line drug. This is after doctors have already tried things like Bicalutamide, Abiraterone and Docetaxel. After Xtandi, doctors may still try Cabazitaxel.

“As such, by the time patients have reached the stage of Xtandi, they have already spent large amounts of money trying to prolong their lives by a few months with all these other drugs. Generic versions are far more affordable to patients at this stage,” says Dr Alok Gupta, a uro-medical oncologist at Max Hospital in Delhi. “In India, due to ignorance and low levels of screening especially among poor patients, they often come to us only when the disease is already presenting its symptoms. At these late stages, poor patients only have options like Xtandi to help them. We would of course like to prescribe drugs that can help them. But these prices are prohibitive,” says Dr Gagan Prakash, associate professor and urologic oncologist at Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai.

Over the last year, health watchers from several countries, including India, have written to UCLA, asking them to drop their pursuit of this patent in India. Letters have also been written to Hollywood biggie Sherry Lansing, former CEO of the Paramount Pictures Motion Group. She has an entire foundation in her name dedicated to cancer research. At UCLA, she is the chair of the University’s Health Services Committee. UCLA’s school of medicine was named after another Hollywood heavyweight – David Geffen of DreamWorks SKG – who donated $200 million to the university in 2002, making it the single largest gift to a US medical school.

The Wire sent UCLA nine questions. The Wire also sent five questions for Lansing. UCLA’s Phil Hampton, sent a 163-word reply, answering no question in specific. He also did not confirm if he had forwarded the questions to Lansing. Lansing’s other offices have not replied to The Wire nor to those who have petitioned her for action.

UCLA’s reply says “UCLA’s licensee is pursuing a patent in India under an agreement not subject to re-negotiation.” The licensees here are Pfizer through Medivation and Astellas.

With this, the university says that the licensee is pursuing the patent and not the university itself.

But UCLA’s statement to The Wire is contrary to the writ petition they have filed in court – the university itself, and not the licensees, have filed a writ petition in India against the rejection of its patent. In fact, UCLA’s petition has not mentioned the licensees even once, it has denied any attempt to conceal them from the court in its subsequent filings, and has definitely not made these commercial bodies a party to their case, although they are apparently the ones “pursuing a patent”.

This isn’t all. On September 7, 2017, Mazziotta replied to letters from the UACT and Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), both of whom have been writing to UCLA on the pricing and patent strategies behind Xtandi. Mazziotta says in technical detail that the patent appeal in India has been “filed and is being controlled and managed by and at the request of Medivation and its commercial partner Astellas”. He says Medivation is the commercial licensee for Xtandi and “The licensee usually has a significant role in the prosecution of patent applications,” including paying for its cost and choosing which countries to pursue patents, he said.

With this, UCLA says that the reason for pursuing this case is because the commercial licensees have asked for it. But this does not answer why UCLA is saying in court that the university has filed the case of its own accord.

There is no official trace of Pfizer, Medivation or Astellas in this litigation, except for the power of attorney granted to Samir Kazi, care of Pfizer Limited, Jogeshwari, Mumbai. He has sworn to court that all the affidavits of UCLA have been “drafted on the basis of instructions given by me” and “nothing material or relevant has been concealed therefrom”. Pfizer has not replied to The Wire’s email with queries on this.

Likewise, UCLA ignored the three specific questions on this asked by The Wire. However, an answer comes from one of the subsequent documents they filed in the Delhi high court, where they said, “It is completely irrelevant that the product XTANDI is apparently manufactured for or on behalf of Medivation Inc, a subsidiary/ sister company of Pfizer Inc, and is sold by Astellas Pharma”. They continued, “It is denied that the failure by the Petitioner to specifically identify the purported commercial interested entities referred to above is deliberate”. They also denied that they have concealed material in their writ petition “in an attempt to secure relief that it is not entitled to, including information relating to the true party or parties who have or may have an interest”.

Seen in light of UCLA’s contradictory statements inside and outside court, Pfizer deputing an attorney on this case seems unsurprising; after all the company has an undeniable commercial interest here. But what is not clear is why the university is fighting the public and proxy-battle for these companies.

It is these contradictory statements which have made health advocates suspicious of this case. “University of California, at the time of licensing this product, did not look at serious access issues in the developing world. The drug is virtually in the hands of Pfizer. This case is basically Pfizer, using the name of University of California, asking the court to review this patent,” says Leena Menghaney, head of the access campaign for South Asia at Medecins Sans Frontieres. “We expect Pfizer or Astellas to pursue the patent in India, but the University of California should have done things differently,” says James Love, director of KEI.

UCLA contradicts own ‘Licensing Guidelines’ 

Replying sharply to Mazziotta’s letter, Manon Anne Ress, the acting director for UACT, said that this case is “a sobering reminder of the excessive and shamefully unaffordable prices associated with your invention in India”. She told him to “stop patronising” them. In court, the case is being opposed by two pharmaceutical companies, two individuals and the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance. Globally, the patent is being opposed by health advocates in India, the US and even Chile.

Ress draws attention to UCLA’s own Licensing Guidelines in a reply to questions from The Wire. The guidelines spell out how UCLA could pursue its intellectual properties.

UCLA’s Licensing Guidelines advise the university and its licensees to pursue patents only in those developed countries which can afford it and to not seek patent protection in developing countries. This is part of the university’s “public benefit mission” to promote access to essential medical innovations in the developing world through “humanitarian patenting and licensing strategies”. The guidelines call for “alternate licensing” in the developing world, to allow generic manufacture to provide the same drugs without license agreements with UCLA and to even forego royalties in these countries.

Healthcare watchers see none of this reflected in the UCLA’s conduct in the US or in India. “The university claims its license carries an obligation to assist in the litigation, but it should not have a contract that runs counter to its own licensing policy guidelines,” says Love.

Menghaney, Ress and Love all point to India’s status as the generic drug supplier for much of the world. “The grant of a patent on Xtandi in India would prevent generic competitors from supplying the drug at an affordable price, in India and in other countries where there is no patent,” says Ress.

With these differing approaches inside and outside court, UCLA’s case is slated to come up in the Delhi high court in December 2017.


Chain Mail (on Retiree Health)

A series of letters regarding retiree health benefits and the recent aborted attempt to drop the 70% floor at the July 2017 regents meeting:

From letter to the chair of the University Committee on Faculty Welfare from the chairs of the Task Force on Investment and Retirement (TFIR) and the Health Care Task Force (HCTF), letter of Sept. 21, 2017:

...TFIR and HCTF reject the balance-sheet argument that begins with a large-scale retiree-health liability increase to argue that change is needed. The calculation produces an artificially high estimate of the liability, due to a low discount rate dictated by GASB and high rates of general health care cost inflation, to portray our retiree-health benefit as unsustainable. In the projections TFIR and HCTF have been shown, even while using unrealistically high projected health care cost inflation, and while still maintaining the 70% floor, UC’s total post-employment benefit costs (again, currently 18% of payroll) increase to a maximum peak of 19.7% in 2027 and soon decline to less than 18% in 2034. We believe that these numbers are close to a worst-case scenario, and we note that even small declines in the assumed rates of health care cost inflation and/or small increases in the bond index used for discounting lead to large declines in the GASB-reported liabilities. Costs approaching 20% of payroll are not trivial, but the projections bring important perspective: UC is managing these costs currently, and their projected increase is only a marginal adjustment. It is more productive to frame the retiree health discussion as a budget topic, concerning our annual pay-as-you-go approach to retiree health, instead of reacting to startling—but ultimately meaningless—liability calculations.

Furthermore, we recognize that all of these statements are based on projections—as is the claim that retiree health spending is unsustainable. TFIR and HCTF further note that the retiree health spending projections are much more uncertain than projected UCRP costs since no one can accurately predict the outcome of current political debates over the U.S. health system. Uncertain health care costs have a larger impact on current active employee health costs, and UC has successfully managed these costs by annually reviewing our active employee health benefits with consultation from the Academic Senate (especially the HCTF). This model is successful and should be replicated for retiree health benefits... 


From the chair of the University Committee on Faculty Welfare to the chair of the Academic Council in letter of Sept. 25, 2017:

...In short, HCTF and TFIR assert, and UCFW agrees, that new federal accounting standards promulgated by GASB (Government Accounting Standards Board) that require UC to list its retiree health liability in the ledger do not represent a significant new cost to the University, and attempts to portray it as such are misdirected. UCOP overestimates the size of the liability due to faulty inflation assumptions, and even if the administration assumptions are accurate, the response – to lower University contributions and cap spending – is disproportionate and hasty. Instead, adequate consideration of alternate funding strategies must be given publicly, with the inclusion of impacted stakeholder groups...


From the letter to the UC prez from the chair of the Academic Council dated Oct. 5, 2017:

...(The main message from the projections (made by TFIR and HCTF is that) the pay-as-you-go cost (of retiree health care) is manageable as a budget category, and the benefit is sustainable going forward...

Full documentation at