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UCLA Campus Report: Southern Cal Makes "The List", New MS Treatment, More

A look at some of the non-sports stories making headlines around campus

Earth and Space Science
Earth and Space Science

An occasional report from around campus that recognizes that UCLA is a school with a world-class reputation for research and innovation and whose people make real impact on the real world:

This week’s news focuses on the list of schools under Title IX inquiry for the way they handled sex violence claims (guess who made the list? ), a new MS treatment and how unemployment impacts children.

National News

55 colleges under Title IX inquiry for their handling of sex violence claims

The Washington Post (and many other publications) had news this week that 55 colleges were under a Title IX inquiry for the way the schools handled claims of sexual violence. Nick Anderson wrote the story.

The release Thursday of a federal list of 55 colleges with open "sexual violence investigations" underscores that the twin problem of how to prevent and respond to sex assaults on campus has become a national question, touching schools from elite privates to large publics to small regional schools.

The list from the Education Department continues the Obama administration’s push to shine a spotlight on sex assault in response to questions raised in recent years about how prominent colleges have handled rape allegations and related issues. This week, a White House task force released a report aiming to help colleges prevent sex assaults.

Three Ivy League universities landed on the list: Harvard University (its college and its law school), Princeton University and Dartmouth College. So did other prestigious private schools, such as Emory University, the University of Southern California and Amherst and Swarthmore colleges.

I do realize some reading this post will take issue with the word "prestigious, while expressing no particular shock that our cross-town rivals made the ignominious list.

UCLA Headlines

Preliminary clinical trial shows great promise for new multiple sclerosis treatment

A study conducted by Dr. Rhonda Voskuhl, a UCLA neurologist, shows that combining estriol, a female hormone, with Copaxone, a medication currently used to treat multiple sclerosis, reduced the relapse rate of MS by nearly 50 percent with only one year of treatment.

Voskuhl presented the results of the preliminary Phase II clinical trial today at the annual meeting of the AmericanAcademy of Neurology in Philadelphia.

The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involved 158 women with relapsing-remitting MS. At 16 sites across the U.S., one group of women was treated with Copaxone, a commonly prescribed, standard-of-care drug for MS, and an 8 milligram estriol pill each day; others received Copaxone and a daily placebo pill. After 12 months of treatment, the relapse rate for the Copaxone-plus-estriol group was 47 percent lower than that of the group that took Copaxone plus a placebo.

The test also showed that women who were taking Copaxone plus estriol scored higher on cognitive tests after one year than did women who were taking Copaxone and the placebo.

Voskuhl found that, after two years, patients taking Copaxone and the placebo began to show improvement, but those results took longer to appear and were not as strong as those of the group taking Copaxone plus estriol.

MS is an autoimmune and neurodegenerative disease that affects 400,000 people in the U.S. Relapsing-remitting MS, the most common form, can result in such permanent disabilities as loss of vision, paralysis and cognitive problems.

After single moms get laid off, their kids may suffer for years

UCLA study finds children are less likely to graduate from high school and college, more likely to experience depression

When single mothers lose their jobs, their children suffer significant negative effects as young adults, according to a new study by researchers at the California Center for Population Research at UCLA.

The study focused on two sets of outcomes for the children - educational achievement and social-psychological well-being. Specifically, researchers evaluated whether those in the study had graduated from high school by age 19, attended college by age 21 and graduated from college by age 25; and whether they exhibited symptoms of depression between the ages of 20 and 24 and between the ages of 25 and 29.

"The findings are alarming, and they suggest we should be doing more to ensure that these children don't get lost in the shuffle," said lead author Jennie Brand, associate director of the research center and associate professor of sociology at UCLA. "Through no fault of their own, they appear to be paying years down the line for their mothers' employment issues."

The study will be published Friday by the American Journal of Sociology.

Simply being called 'fat' makes young girls more likely to become obese

Girls who are told by a parent, sibling, friend, classmate or teacher that they are too fat at age 10 are more likely to be obese at age 19, a new study by UCLA psychologists shows.

The study looked at 1,213 African-American girls and 1,166 white girls living in Northern California, Cincinnati and Washington, D.C., 58 percent of whom had been told they were too fat at age 10. All the girls had their height and weight measured at the beginning of the study and again after nine years.

Overall, the girls labeled fat were 1.66 times more likely than the other girls to be obese at 19, the researchers found. They also found that as the number of people who told a girl she was fat increased, so did the likelihood that she would be obese nine years later. The findings appear in the June 2014 print issue of the journal JAMA Pediatrics and are published online April 28.

"Simply being labeled as too fat has a measurable effect almost a decade later. We nearly fell off our chairs when we discovered this," said A. Janet Tomiyama, an assistant professor of psychology in the UCLA College of Letters and Science and the study's senior author. "Even after we statistically removed the effects of their actual weight, their income, their race and when they reached puberty, the effect remained.

(No UCLA in the News this week. Oh well ... )