Week 46: Giving Thanks

Later this week most Americans will gather with family to celebrate Thanksgiving. For many of you, this will involve traveling long distances to gather for a large feast. I wish you safe travels, and more importantly, a successful execution of the meal for those who will cook. I recently watched a documentary that critically examined the origins of this holiday, showing that there are aspects of its roots that are fraught and complicated with less than wholesome aspects of our country’s colonial history. Thus, although for many of us, it is a time to celebrate and be with our loved ones, we should also remember those who are less fortunate, and contribute to support them in any way that we can. Traditions around the holidays vary but a common theme around the table for many families are reflections on things that we can be thankful for. Thus, for this week’s post, I will highlight some DoM stories for which being thankful would be appropriate.

I start with a little miracle who arrived just in time for Thanksgiving for Ally Kiyomura, senior payroll analyst in the DoM, who granted permission to share this story. On November 9th, Ally and her husband Jeffrey were in route to UCI Medical Center after Ally, who was 38 weeks pregnant, started experiencing contractions that were four minutes apart. However, while on the 5 freeway in Anaheim, Ally realized that the baby had other plans and they were not going to make it to the hospital! Jeffrey pulled over onto the shoulder of the carpool lane and by the time he had raced over to the passenger side, baby Gemma was born. Coming in at 7 lbs., 6 oz, and 18 in. Gemma has already made a big entrance into the world with her birth story being featured in multiple news outlets across the country!

Ally and Jeffrey Kiyomura with Gemma
Gemma Kiyomura

Our little girl was determined to make a grand entrance into this world, and we couldn’t be happier that she is finally here,

states Ally.

I am pleased to share that Ally and Gemma are doing well and extend my congratulations to the Kiyomura family on behalf of the entire DoM. Welcome to the DoM family, Gemma!

Last week, many friends and colleagues gathered to celebrate Arash Naeim, MD, who was appointed the inaugural Neria and Manizheh Yomtoubian Endowed Chair in Cancer and Risk Sciences in the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering. An oncologist and bioengineer with appointments in the school of engineering, the divisions of geriatrics and hematology-oncology, Dr. Naeim’s research focuses on health services, informatics, health policy and quality-of-care issues. More specifically, he has made major contributions in reducing risk of cancer and its complications in underserved populations by providing personalized treatment, introducing new technology and data analytics.

The endowed chair was established by Manizheh Yomtoubian, a UCLA health care practitioner and philanthropist, in honor of her late husband Neria Yomtoubian, an accomplished electrical engineer who developed voice-warning system for aircrafts, talking calculators, and the talking multimeter used to measure voltage, current and resistance by engineers with visual impairments. Below are a few pictures of Dr. Naeim and the Yomtoubian family at the celebration for the Neria and Manizheh Yomtoubian Endowed Chair. We are grateful to the Yomtoubian family for endowing this chair and congratulate Arash on this honor. (Photo credit: Don Liebig from ASUCLA Photography).

L to R: Manizeh Yomtoubian and Arash Naeim, MD
L to R: Interim Dean DGSOM Steven Dubinett, MD, Manizeh Yomtoubian, Arash Naeim, MD, and Interim Dean Samueli School of Engineering Bruce Dunn, PhD

Last Friday, we announced that after 29 years as chief of the division of geriatrics, David B. Reuben, MD will be stepping down from his role to focus on his research interests, teaching and mentoring, and patient care. I would like to take another opportunity to thank Dr. Reuben for his leadership and contributions to the division of geriatrics and the DoM, and for his support as he we begin the search for his successor. Dr. Reuben leaves behind very large shoes to fill and an amazing legacy. I will be working closely with a search committee to conduct a national search for the next chief of the division of geriatrics. 

Congratulations to Alice Kuo, MD, PhD, MBA who was awarded the MPPDA Leadership in Med-Peds Award from the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine. Dr. Kuo served as the program director of the division of med-peds for 19 years. This award reflects her leadership, dedication to service, and outstanding achievements, including her commitment to preparing future internal medicine and medicine-pediatric leaders. Dr. Kuo, a professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and of Health Policy and Management in the Fielding School of Public Health leads research evaluating access to and delivery of developmental services, cognitive and language development in minority children, and services for children and adults with autism or neurodevelopmental disabilities.

I am so proud to lead our group of outstanding med-peds physicians at UCLA. My colleagues are leaders in so many areas here, including EDI, Gender Health, global health and advocacy, just to name a few. I am honored to receive this award and delighted to represent the DoM at the AAIM conference in the spring,

states Kuo.

Awards recipients will be honored April 2-5, 2023, during Academic Internal Medicine Week 2023.

Thank you, Alice and congratulations on this award!

I am grateful for the strong commitment of many of our faculty to pursuing health equity across all our missions. As such, I was pleased to learn that Kimberly D. Narain, MD, PhD, from the division of general internal medicine and health services research, published “The diabetes health plan and medication adherence among individuals with low incomes”  in a special edition of Health Services Research which focused on health care equity. In her study, Dr. Narain explores whether a diabetes specific insurance plan aimed at lowering costs for medication and clinical visits impacts medication adherence among adults with low incomes and type 2 diabetes.

Researchers used a linear regression difference-in-differences (DID) approach with a matched comparison group. Followed by a difference-in-difference-in-differences (DDD) analyses to assess the differential effects of the insurance plan across adherent and non-adherent patients. Their DID findings did not show improvements in medication adherence when examining all people with the insurance plan. However, the DDD demonstrated an 8.2 percentage point increase in medication adherence among individuals participating in the insurance plan with low baseline adherence. These results suggest that value-based insurance design may mitigate income disparities that impact Type 2 diabetes outcomes.

I am grateful for the contributions of our faculty to educating community colleagues on aspects of their specialty to improve care and outcomes in primary care. On Saturday, November 12th, over 250 primary care providers from across the country joined the division of endocrinology for the 10th Annual UCLA Diabetes Symposium. As the prevalence, cost, and risk of complications from diabetes continues to rise, the full-day CME course offered healthcare providers, insight into the latest state-of-the-art care, best practices, medications, understanding of the cultural disparities in diabetes treatment, and the connection between diabetes and co-morbidities. This year, Dianne S. Cheung, MD, MPH and Matthew Freeby, MD served as course directors and speakers. Division Chief of Endocrinology Gregory Brent, MD shared welcoming remarks in which he provided an overview of the division, including the leadership, faculty, fellowship, and available resources. He shared a map of offices providing care of endocrine disorders across the UCLA Health system and invited partnership in patient care.

A distinguished group of speakers included UCLA faculty as well as guest speakers from UCSF and UCSD. Our UCLA faculty who led exceptional talks with the standing room only audience were:

Moderators included Jelena Maletkovic Barjaktarevic, MDJane Rhyu, MDRobert L. Li, MD, PhDYaroslav A. Gofnung, MDJeffrey Wei, MDJennifer Y. Han, MDNa Shen, MD, and Andrew J. Day, MD.

It is a truly exciting time to be managing patients with diabetes with the newer agents GLP1-receptor agonists and SGLT2-inhibitors showing proven benefit for not just for glycemic control, but also for CVD, CHF, CKD risk reduction and treatment.  Our conference showed how primary care providers, endocrinologists, nephrologists and cardiologists work together as a team now to treat our patients with diabetes.  I thank my co-course director Dr. Matthew Freeby and our UCLA DOM faculty who volunteered their time for making this meeting so successful,

states Cheung.

"Although it's an exciting time in diabetes care, it can also be overwhelming to the provider who isn't a specialist in the disease. I'm hopeful we were successful again this year in conveying the important studies, treatment updates and guidelines recommendations thereby making our colleagues' jobs a bit easier. I want to thank our tremendous faculty throughout the Department of Medicine who gave such incredible talks,"

adds Freeby.

In last week’s post we celebrated the success of our DoM Research day. We have now completed the tabulation of the poster award winners and are pleased to share their accomplishments with the DoM. The winners of our networking Powerball are also revealed!

In closing, as we look forward to the Thanksgiving holiday, let me express my gratitude to each member of the DoM. Your hard work and commitment to advancing our missions, ensure that we provide the best patient care, push the boundaries of biomedical innovation, and ensure that our trainees continue to build on our collective achievements. Each one of you is a valued member of our community and key in making our department great. A very special recognition and thanks to those who are covering the hospitals.



We moved from the rental into our house this weekend, so my Thanksgiving week will be spent unpacking boxes. Our son flew in to help so I am thankful for that. I personally moved my socks over to the new place.

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