Positive Impact on California’s Healthcare, Energy, and Water

Positive Impact on California’s Healthcare, Energy, and Water

California’s Healthcare, Energy, and Water

Dear Friends of CITRIS:

As we launch into a new academic year—our third in the beautiful Sutardja Dai Hall!—we are excited to report that CITRIS is firmly established and well-revered throughout its four campuses. UC Davis, UC Merced, and UC Santa Cruz have each succeeded in increasing the CITRIS footprint, and all of our major initiatives are thriving. We attract approximately 75 million dollars a year of fresh research funds to our campuses. Combined with the state’s initial investments, that makes us a billion-dollar institute.

In our ten years, we have spawned 35 start-up companies, an accomplishment facilitated by our 70-million-dollar Marvell Nanofabrication Laboratory, accessible to researchers from all four campuses and the extended Bay Area scientific community. Twenty-one small companies are currently using the Nanolab for prototyping.

A key to our success is our close relationships with public institutions such as the California Energy Commission, the Department of Water Resources, the Health and Human Services Agency, and the Federal Communication Commission, which helped us launch the California Telehealth Network. We thrive on the “societal pull” we get from these agencies. And while our academic research continues to be the highest caliber, of course, that “pull” guides it where its excellence can have the greatest positive impact on California’s healthcare, energy, and water.

The UC Davis Medical Center’s California Tele-Audiology Program, featured in this newsletter, is a prime example. Too many newborns living in remote parts of the state have hearing difficulties that go undiagnosed for months or years after they are born. Despite instruction from doctors to go, parents of these rural babies often cannot afford to get them to audiology screening centers that may be hundreds of miles away. With a grant from the California Department of Health Care Services, and another from CITRIS, the Davis-based multi-campus collaboration is delivering top-notch hearing examinations to these infant patients over the California Telehealth Network. The savings, in both money and suffering, will be huge. According to Dr. James Marcin, the project’s excellent principal investigator, each young person with serious hearing problems who goes undiagnosed for the first six months or more of life can accrue about a million dollars in extra healthcare and special-education costs later on. Add the patient’s life-long disability and suffering and it becomes crystal clear what a good investment this project is.

>>> Read: Can You Hear Me Now?

Finally, I’m delighted to welcome Camille Crittenden, who in June joined us as the Executive Director of the Data and Democracy Initiative. We all know that “big data”—the generation of, and access to, massive amounts of IT-based information—is quickly becoming a major societal concern…and opportunity. We feel strongly that if this data can be made accessible to private citizens, they can, with the right tools, enhance our democratic procedures and institutions, from large government and private industry to local governments and even to individual citizens and their neighborhoods.

>>> Read: Building Tools for Citizen Engagement

In the second newsletter story, you can read about this unique CITRIS spin on big data: enabling it to empower the disenfranchised, promote citizen engagement, and revitalize our democratic institutions. These are exhilarating and hopeful times!

Keep up the good work.
Paul K. Wright
Director, CITRIS and the Banatao Institute@CITRIS Berkeley