Public Release: 

REI medical research briefs

June 2004

LA BioMed

In this issue:

  • A New Institute Name...New Possibilities for the Los Angeles Region
  • Islet Transplantations Performed by REI Investigators
  • New Report Shows U.S. Babies Health Hurt by Hunger

A New Institute Name...New Possibilities for the Los Angeles Region

On July 1, 2004, the Research and Education Institute (REI) becomes the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, or LA BioMed for short. For 52 years, physician-scientists at REI, located on the grounds of the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center near Torrance, have made major contributions to the advancement of medicine.

LA BioMed is one of the largest independent biomedical research institutes in California and one of the top 15 in the United States. LA BioMed has nearly 1000 research projects ongoing, conducted by 200 MDs and PhDs with 1,100 full-and part-time employees overall. With a total budget of $65 million, LA BioMed receives over $30 million in federal funding, most of which comes from the NIH.

Among our present research projects include a major effort on the next generation of antimicrobials, new therapeutic and diagnostic approaches to chronic lung disease, refined methods for earlier identification of Type II diabetes and the identification of a common pathway for several autoimmune diseases.

To obtain a press packet outlining the name change or to speak to Kenneth P. Trevett, J.D. President and CEO of LA BioMed, contact the Communications Office at LA BioMed at 310-222-2820 or Mr. Trevett can speak on the research industry as a whole and the economic impact of biomedicine on the region.

Islet Transplantations Performed by REI investigators

Working in collaboration with the Southern California Islet Consortium (SC-IC), investigators at REI were chosen to perform islet transplantations on patients with difficult to control diabetes. SC-IC members include such prestigious institutions as Cedar-Sinai Medical Center, Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles, City of Hope National Medical Center, University of California, Irvine, University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Southern California and REI.

This study is being performed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of islet cell transplantation alone (ITA) in patients who have difficult to control type 1 diabetes mellitus without kidney failure.

Approximately one million Americans have type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is associated with the damage of a specific cell subtype of pancreatic islets (clusters of cells in the pancreas that produce insulin and other metabolic hormones), which makes patients depend on an outside source of insulin. Transplantation of islets into the portal vein of the liver offers the prospect of good blood glucose control without the major surgical risks associated with whole pancreas transplant and may result in independence from insulin injections.

Eli Ipp, MD, Principal Investigator of the project, can be contacted at 310-222- 2503 or

New Report Shows U.S. Babies Health Hurt by Hunger

Infants and toddlers being raised in food insecure homes are more likely to suffer poor health, including illness severe enough to require hospitalizations, according to a new study published in the June 2004 issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

Food insecurity is defined as limited or uncertain access to enough nutritious food. Measured in the study by United States Household Food Security Scale standards, it is an important indicator of a household's health and well-being.

Researchers compared children ages three years and younger living in food insecure households to children living in food secure homes. Those exposed to food insecurity had approximately 30% greater odds of hospitalization and 90% greater odds of being characterized in fair/poor health.

"Just 60% of eligible children receive food stamp benefits," said Carol Berkowitz, MD, co-investigator of the study and pediatrician at the Research and Education Institute (REI) at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. "Given that 17% of American households with children are food insecure, the national implications of these findings are staggering. The failure of nutrition safety-net programs to reach all children in need may be contributing to growing national healthcare costs."

Contact Carol Berkowitz at 310-222-3091 or


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