Physician Among Alliance Questioning Overutilization of Health Care Processes

Dr. Remus I. Popa, a health sciences associate clinical professor of internal medicine in the School of Medicine.

For hospitalized patients, continuous electrocardiographic (heart rhythm) monitoring, aka telemetry, can be very useful for some patients and over-utilized for others.

Dr. Remus I. Popa, a health sciences associate clinical professor of internal medicine in the School of Medicine, is the co-author of a paper published in JAMA Internal Medicine titles “Eliminating Inappropriate Telemetry Monitoring,” which points to how unnecessary use of telemetry leads to increased cost, patient discomfort, and, at times, false alarms that could lead to a cascade of other unnecessary tests or treatments.

Popa represents UCR in the High Value Practice Academic Alliance, a national group of physician members and residents determined to reduce overutilization of several health care processes, including telemetry. 

“Many of us already worked on such projects in our own hospitals, and together we created a blueprint for implementing similar projects in any hospital in the U.S. or abroad,” he said.

The High Value Practice Academic Alliance has published similar implementation guidelines for other topics.

“Such implementation guidelines will help physicians and hospitals around the country improve their processes in order to provide high quality, safe, and cost-efficient care,” Popa said.

-Iqbal Pittalwala

Scientists Rethink Co-Evolution of Marine Life, Oxygenated Oceans

Fossils of marine animals from more than 320 million years ago, immortalized in Virginian limestone. (Courtesy of Ben Gill/Virginia Tech).

A team of scientists, including two from UCR’s Department of Earth Sciences, have confirmed that rising oceanic and atmospheric oxygen levels co-evolved with marine life hundreds of millions of years ago.

Published May 31 in Science, the paper stems from a multiyear, multinational research effort led by Zunli Lu, an associate professor of earth sciences at Syracuse University. The study re-examines the causes and impacts of increased oxygenation on the continental shelves during the current Phanerozoic Eon, which began more than 542 million years ago.

“These are the waters in which the earliest animals first appeared, evolved, and advanced toward complex ecologies,” said Timothy Lyons, distinguished professor of biogeochemistry at UCR and one of the study authors. “The question we asked was, ‘How and when did the global ocean became oxygenated enough to accommodate diverse marine life forms, including those alive today?’.”

Using a novel geochemical approach, the team measured the ratio of iodine to calcium in calcium carbonate rocks and fossils. Iodine’s particular value lies with its ability to gauge oxygen conditions near the surface of the ancient ocean.

It turns out the upper ocean became well-oxygenated much later than originally thought.

“Our iodine data are consistent with a major rise in the atmospheric oxygen level that occurred around 400 million years ago,” said Wenli Lu, a doctoral student at Syracuse University and lead author on the study. “Nevertheless, upper-ocean oxygen levels did not stabilize at near-modern conditions until 200 million years ago, when larger eukaryotic plankton dominated the world’s oceans.”

Understanding these observations in the rock record involves an appreciation of large-scale biogeochemical and oceanographic processes, as well as atmospheric chemical composition. To do this, the team used a sophisticated numerical model of global climate and carbon cycling called “Grid-Enabled Integrated Earth,” or GENIE.

Andy Ridgwell, professor of earth sciences at UCR and an author on the study, first started developing and using the GENIE model as a postdoctoral researcher at UCR in 2002. The goal then, as now, was better understanding of the causes and consequences of past steps in the evolution of life and the global environment.

“The innovative way that the Syracuse team combined measurements of ancient rocks with a complex, mathematical model of the global climate system and carbon cycle was impressive,” Ridgwell said. “The team’s final analysis that a fundamental change in the plankton species growing at the ocean surface led to organic matter sinking much deeper in the ocean and, ultimately, a ‘resiliently oxygenated’ upper ocean, fits perfectly with our developing understanding of the key evolutionary steps taken to create the planet we have today.”

This article contains information provided by Syracuse University. Read a full news release on the Syracuse University website.

Sarah Nightingale

New Lithium-ion Battery Conditioning Method Improves Capacity Up to 10 Percent

(Left) Cengiz Ozkan, professor of mechanical engineering, and Mihri Ozkan, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and researchers Rachel Ye, Jeff Bell and Daisy Patalino in Ozkans battery laboratory.

Researchers in the Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering have developed a technique to improve high performance Lithium-Sulfur (Li-S) batteries without any physical changes to the material themselves. The batteries will help extend the range of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, while also providing more power with fewer charges to personal electronic devices such as cell phones and laptops.

The findings were published in an article titled, “Plateau Targeted Conditioning: An Additive-Free Approach towards Robust SEI Formation in Li-S Batteries for Enhanced Capacity and Cycle Life,” in the journal Nano Energy. Cengiz Ozkan, professor of mechanical engineering, and Mihri Ozkan, professor of electrical and computer engineering, led the project.

“As it becomes increasingly difficult to improve the performance of Li-ion batteries, new methods that do not require changes in the material system or battery chemistry are needed.” Cengiz Ozkan said.

As a result, researchers have turned toward new lithium-ion battery conditioning techniques in order to increase performance without increasing cost.

“The amount of research done in this area is currently limited. It has the potential to not only improve Li-S based systems, but improve other lithium-based battery systems as well.” Mihri Ozkan said.

To study the new conditioning techniques and their impact on Li-S cells, the team developed a novel driving program that simulates the current draw from the batteries that would be found in everyday life. This allowed researchers to study the performance impacts of their conditioning technique in practical situations.

“Formation or conditioning is a natural process in today’s lithium-ion batteries. Unfortunately, it has not been explored at all for new material systems, and it warrants a lot of attention,” said Jeffrey Bell, a UC Riverside graduate student who worked on the project. “We believe that this is the first step into an exciting area of research with a big potential upside to performance.”

“Our new conditioning method not only improved the battery capacity by 10 percent, but also increased the battery’s resistance to temperature change, and improved the battery’s coulombic efficiency greatly,” added Rachel Ye, another graduate student researcher on the project.

This research is the latest in a series of projects led by the Ozkans to create and improve lithium-ion battery materials and architectures from abundant resources and environmentally friendly materials. Previous research has focused on developing and testing anodes from glass bottles, portabella mushrooms, sand, and fossil-rich earth.

In addition to Bell and Ye, other research contributors include graduate students Daisy Patino and Kazi Ahmed. Funding for this research project came from UCR and Vantage Advanced Technologies. The university’s Office of Technology Commercialization has filed a patent application for the inventions.

Mihri Ozkan

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