Pannikin helps its own

Pannikin La Jolla, 7467 Girard Ave., will hold a fundraiser for its sidelined chef, Gaby Ramirez, 6-9 p.m. Friday, July 12. Ramirez, a Clairemont resident, has been unable to work since suffering a heart attack about a month ago, and his medical bills are piling up.

“Everyone here adores him,” said Pannikin La Jolla co-owner Amanda Morrow. “He’s really been the father figure at the café. He’s incredibly nurturing and loving. He tells the staff he loves them and he takes care of everyone. He’s really our backbone.”

The fundraiser will include a taco bar, live music, craft beer, wine and a silent auction. $20. For additional details, call (858) 454-5453.

Surf’s uplifting

The Windansea Surf Club hosted 20 middle-school and high-school girls from the Copley-Price Family YMCA in City Heights for a day of surf lessons. The inaugural “Y-Strong Girls: A Day at the Beach” was held June 8 in La Jolla Shores.

“Many of these girls had never been to the beach — let alone surfing,” said organizer Steve Sullaway, a financial advisor and surfer. “The goal was to empower and show them you can do things outside your comfort zone, and we hope we had an impact.”

Even though the water was rough, Sullaway reported, most of the girls stood up and surfed.

UC San Diego discovers novel ALS target

As reported in a study published in the medical journal Neuron, UC San Diego School of Medicine researchers have discovered that clumps of a protein, TDP-43, provide novel targets in the battle against Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The UCSD team discovered that prolonged cellular stress, such as exposure to toxins, triggers TDP-43 clumping in the cytoplasm of human motor neurons. The team then screened and identified chemical compounds (potential precursors to therapeutic drugs) that prevent this stress-induced, persistent TDP-43 accumulation.

“These compounds could provide a starting point for new ALS therapeutics,” said senior author Gene Yeo, a UCSD School of Medicine professor and faculty member in the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine.

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, affects more than 20,000 Americans. Currently, there are no effective treatments, largely due to poor understanding of how the disease initiates and progresses at the molecular level. The survival rate from onset averages only two-to-four years.

It takes a Village Garden Club

Eight members of the Village Garden Club of La Jolla sponsored buses for Title 1 schools — which don’t have the money for field trips — for students to enjoy memorable agricultural experiences, and earn well-deserved farming ribbons, at this year’s San Diego Fair.

“When I learned of the bus sponsorship opportunity at a Village Garden Club of La Jolla meeting, I was happy to hear that the Club itself was a sponsor,” said member Margaret Anne Lozuk. “I immediately resolved that this was something I also wanted to do on my own as a way to give back.”

The Don Diego Scholarship Foundation, which collected the donations, was able to pay for 89 buses in total.

Scripps tests new liver transportation system

In a first for San Diego County, physicians at Scripps Green Hospital have used a warm-perfusion transportation system for a donated liver. They implanted the organ into a 36-year-old Las Vegas police officer who had been on the transplant waiting list for nine months.

The effort was part of a clinical trial evaluating the transportation system, Organ Care System (OCS) Liver, at major U.S. transplant medical centers. (Only three were located on the west coast.) Instead of placing the liver on ice in a cooler, the liver is placed in a heated portable carrier and is connected to a pumping system that maintains a steady flow of oxygen-rich blood from the donor, along with stabilizing fluid (a complex mixture of nutrients, electrolytes and hormones), mimicking the liver’s natural function in the body.

Theoretically, OCS allows for transportation over much greater distances and for longer periods of time to a waiting patient without compromising the organ’s viability.

“We are constantly challenged by a shortage of livers to meet the transplant needs of our patients,” said Christopher Marsh, division head of Scripps Center for Organ and Cell Transplantation. “Warm-perfusion transportation has the potential to expand the supply of organs that are available to our patients and, as a result, improve the chances of a successful transplant and a positive long-term health outcome for more of our patients.”

La Jollans row San Diego to victory

The San Diego Rowing Club had two boats finish in the Top 10 in the USRowing Youth National Championship, held recently in Sarasota, Florida. Of the club’s 10 rowers, three attend The Bishop’s School (sophomores Clay Kates and Liv Bolitho and junior Justin Lobo), and one La Jolla High (senior Charlie Coy).

Coy and Lobo were in the Men’s Youth Four that finished tenth place among 22 boats. Kates and Bolitho were in the Women’s Youth Lightweight Four that finished ninth.

“We’ve never raced Nationals in this event before, so I think they handled the pressure pretty well,” said Men’s varsity coach Bryan Volpenhein. “To come into this event seeded in the bottom third and finish in the Top 10 is a big step in the right direction!”

Added Bobbie Smith, who coached the Women’s Light Four: “These young women definitely showed the rest of the U.S. that they are fighters who won’t give an inch in a race. I’m incredibly grateful for the fact that all of them will be returning next year and I look forward to coaching them next season.”

Women’s Foundation grants $243K to fight human trafficking

The San Diego Women’s Foundation (SDWF) has awarded $243,000 to five local nonprofits that work to combat human trafficking. The recipients are Children’s Legal Services, Free to Thrive, GenerateHope, North County Lifeline and Project Concern International: San Diego Trafficking Prevention Collective. The recipients were announced at a ceremony at the Museum of Photographic Arts on June 5.

This is SDWF’s highest grant amount in its 19-year history and includes SDWF’s largest-ever individual grant: $75k to Free to Thrive. Since its founding in 2000, SDWF has granted $3.5 million to 96 nonprofit programs that benefit underserved communities in San Diego.

Rare award for La Jolla plastic surgeon

Robert Singer, a longtime La Jolla resident and Scripps Memorial Hospital plastic surgeon, recently received the career achievement award from the Aesthetic Society, of which Singer is a past president. This award has only eight previous recipients.

“Robert Singer is a true servant to the specialty, having devoted countless hours to our organizations,” said Robert Whitfield, president of the Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation. “He is an outstanding surgeon, educator and philanthropist.”

Select San Diego DMV locations open earlier

To ease customer wait times, nine California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices now serve customers beginning at 7 a.m. four days a week. They include Clairemont, Normal Street, San Marcos, Poway, El Cajon, Oceanside, Chula Vista, San Ysidro and Temecula. Wednesday hours at these locations are still 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

— Compiled by Corey Levitan