Individualizing Patient Care, Interventions May Dissuade Opioid Abuse 

Dr. Mikio Nihira is a Clinical Professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and Residency Program Director in the UCR School of Medicine.

More than three out of five drug overdose deaths in the United States involve an opioid – the highly addictive drug that acts on the nervous system to relieve pain.  Alarmingly, nearly 80 percent of the world’s opioid prescriptions are now written for Americans.  Indeed, more Americans die from prescription opioid overdose than from illegal heroin overdose.

For pain following surgery, physicians often prescribe opioids.

In a paper published in the February 2018 issue of OBG Management, Dr. Mikio Nihira, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology and residency program director in the UCR School of Medicine, and a colleague provide advice to surgeons to address the opioid epidemic. They urge surgeons to minimize the need for their patients to use opioids for postsurgical pain management.

Nihira recommends individualizing patient care and employing multiple interventions to address patients’ pain following surgery.

“Before surgery, patients must be provided with comprehensive pre-operative education, including pain management options,” he said.  “All surgeons need to be familiar with multimodal pain therapy and be aware of non-medical therapies to reduce postsurgical pain without relying solely on opioids.”

Nihira noted that opioids have been used to treat pain for 700 years.

“But they have many adverse effects in addition to being highly addictive,” he said.

The paper describes in detail a case study in which a patient was given nonopioid alternatives preoperatively as well as postoperatively.  The patient did exceptionally well in managing her pain following surgery.

“She returned to her duties at work two weeks after surgery,” Nihira said. “She even flushed nine of her ten prescribed unused opioid pills down the toilet to reduce the potential for these dangerous medications to be misused.”

Nihira, a member of the UCR Health Obstetrics/Gynecological team, was recently the invited speaker to comment on a scientific presentation on Enhanced Recovery after Surgery at the Society of Gynecologic Surgeons meeting in Orlando, Fla.

Iqbal Pittawala

UCR Graduate Students Share Why Their Research Matters

This photo shows UCR graduate students Jesus Rivera and Donovan Argueta with Assemblymember Jose Medina.

UCR graduate students Jesus Rivera (left) and Donovan Argueta with Assemblymember Jose Medina (D-Riverside).

On March 21, UC Riverside graduate students Jesus Rivera and Donovan Argueta joined 24 other UC graduate students and UC President Janet Napolitano at the state capitol ​to impress upon lawmakers the benefits of their research.

An annual event, Graduate Research Advocacy Day brings delegates from each campus to the capitol for a day of informal chats with lawmakers. The visits have established valuable relationships between graduate students and elected officials, who have often invited researchers back to Sacramento to tap their expertise on critical issues.

The University of California has 56,000 graduate students, who are the workhorses behind UC’s prowess in education and research — helping teach undergraduates, conducting original research and making discoveries that result in a new startup every two weeks. The whole state would benefit if Sacramento lawmakers helped UC expand its graduate student enrollment, UC officials say.

Donovan Argueta is a Ph.D. candidate in bioengineering. His advisor is Nicholas DiPatrizio, an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Sciences in the School of Medicine.

Sarah Nightingale

Read the full story here.

National Academy of Sciences Profiles UCR Emerita

Photo shows Natasha Raikhel.

Natasha Raikhel is the founding Director of the Center for Plant Cell Biology.Photo credit: L. Duka.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has profiled Natasha V. Raikhel, distinguished professor emerita of plant cell biology, in an article about the history, work, and advocacy of Raikhel, who is founding director of the UCR Center for Plant Cell Biology.

The article, which ran in the February edition of the scientific journal, tells the story of Raikhel’s harrowing early career in an anti-Semitic Soviet Union, and her bold immigration move that changed the course of her research and her mission.

“Dr. Natasha Raikhel is a force of nature and a profile in courage,” The Department Of Energy’s Office of Science said in a Tweet responding to the article “[PNAS] highlights her amazing career and the incredible hurdles she overcame.”

Reflecting on her role as founding director of the UCR Center for Plant Cell Biology (CEPCEB), Raikhel is quoted in the profile as saying “I wanted to build something that everybody at University of California, Riverside would benefit (from), but I wanted to concentrate on plants, because that is where I could make a difference.” Raikhel said she is especially proud that four CEPCEB women were members of the National Academy of Sciences by the end of her tenure.

In retirement, Raikhel works with universities and institutions in China to mentor female scientists, and spearheads efforts to bring art exhibits and concerts to European and Chinese scientific conferences, exposing young people to a perhaps-unfamiliar medium for beauty and expression.

A preview of the profile can be viewed here

-Madeline Adamo



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