La Jolla News Nuggets

WORTH A THOUSAND ‘THANK YOUS’: Members of Fire Station 13 accept a photo of The Shack donated by the Windansea Surf Club earlier this month. The donation was made to thank the station for assisting during its Chloe Buckley paddle-out on July 28, 2018. Pictured are photographer Mark Bromley, community activist Melinda Merryweather, firefighters Monica Switick, Daran Osborne, Michael Silva and Donnie Everson, and Cortez Jernigan holding the photo.

Mid-Coast Trolley crews complete largest concrete pour ahead of schedule, Monday

On Monday night, Nov. 18, the Mid-Coast Trolley project reached a significant milestone when crews conducted the largest concrete pour of the project to date. 650 cubic yards of concrete were used to form the 670-foot-long deck of the future Trolley freeway overcrossing south of Nobel Drive, one of two points where the Trolley crosses Interstate 5.

The work required a full freeway closure of northbound I-5 and lane reductions on southbound I-5. Crews worked steadily through the night to complete the pour ahead of schedule, allowing the freeway to reopen hours earlier than expected.

Monday night’s work over I-5 was the final concrete deck pour along the elevated Trolley guideway that runs through the La Jolla and University community areas. The remaining concrete pours on the project will be much smaller in scale.

The Mid-Coast Trolley project represents a $2.17 billion investment to expand the regional transit network. Funding for the project is made possible with funds from TransNet, the half-cent sales tax dedicated to transportation projects. TransNet will fund 52 percent of the project, with the remaining funding being provided by a grant from the Federal Transit Administration.

The Mid-Coast Trolley project will extend UC San Diego Blue Line Trolley service from Downtown San Diego to the University community, serving major activity centers such as Mission Bay, the VA Medical Center, UC San Diego, and University Towne Centre. Nine new stations will be constructed. Major construction work began in 2016, with service anticipated to begin in late 2021.

Two La Jolla students show they ‘Got Talent’

James O’Brien, a sixth-grader at Muirlands Middle School, and his friend Ella Klein, a fifth-grader at Bird Rock Elementary School, both auditioned for NBC-TV’s “America’s Got Talent” during a cattle-call Nov. 10 at San Diego Convention Center. O’Brien performed a standup comedy routine about middle-school life; Klein played piano and sang an original song.

“When I sing, people’s jaws drop because they never expect the sound of a soulful woman to come out of a little girl like me,” Klein said. “I love seeing their reactions.”

They find out in early 2020 if they made it to the next round, but their hopes are up because the last time people voted on them, they were named president and vice president of Bird Rock Elementary.

“Google says my chances of getting on the show are 1 in 156,203,” O’Brien said. “But I think I have a better chance than the girl who put a hula-hoop in her mouth or the woman who rapped ‘Itsy, Bitsy Spider.’ ”

‘Blade Runner’ art director Lawrence G. Paull lived in La Jolla

Lawrence G. Paull, the production designer and art director who won an Academy Award for his work on 1982’s “Blade Runner,” spent the last 15 years of his life living on Mt. Soledad. He died Nov. 10 at age 81.

“My family lived here for many years and we always wanted to retire here,” said Marci Bolotin, Paull’s wife for 36 years. “He just wanted to have a quiet life. He loved it here, especially the view from our backyard.”

Paull retired from art-directing in 2004, though he taught it for several more years at Chapman University in Orange, California. He suffered from COPD, which grew progressively worse.

“He quit smoking in his 60s,” Bolotin said, “but the damage was already done.”

What’s coincidental about the timing of Paull’s death is that November 2019 is the month and year that “Blade Runner,” a dystopian fantasy about the distant future, is set. “Life’s very strange, isn’t it?” Bolotin asked.

UCSD scientists predict life expectancy in heart-failure patients

Physicists and cardiologists at UC San Diego have collaborated to produce an algorithm that predicts the longevity of heart-failure patients with an unprecedented 88 percent accuracy. The results are published online in the Nov. 12 edition of European Journal of Heart Failure.

UCSD physics professor Avi Yagil was diagnosed with heart failure in 2012 and received a life-saving heart transplant four years later. While recovering from surgery, he began thinking about how he could improve the process for patients like him.

“In my day job, I use machine-learning to understand a vast amount of information and measurements of particles and how they interact,” he said. “The human body is even more complex, but the medical profession isn’t using the technologies that are needed to capture the multi-dimensional correlations between the measurements, such as lab tests and vital signs, and the outcomes.”

So Yagil teamed up with his UCSD doctors, Eric Adler and Barry Greenberg, to invent artificial intelligence that measures seven factors — creatinine, blood urea nitrogen, hemoglobin, white blood cell count, platelets, albumin and red blood cell distribution — and predicts an outcome.

“There are apps where algorithms are finding out all kinds of things — like products you want to purchase,” Adler said. “We needed a similar tool to make medical decisions. Predicting mortality is important in patients with heart failure.”

Go behind-the-seahorses at Birch Aquarium

Birch Aquarium at Scripps Oceanography now offers “Growing Up Seahorse,” a behind-the-scenes tour of its seahorse care and breeding program.

The tour shows guests how Birch Aquarium’s experts care for and breed its pot-bellied, lined, and spotted seahorses — more than 5,000 of which it has shipped to other institutions around the world over the past 25 years. It culminates with a visit baby seahorses in the breeding room.

“People often don’t think about what type of food an animal with a mouth smaller than a pin-head needs to eat — or how to care for a baby the size of a grain of rice,” said Lisa Gilfillan, tour leader at Birch Aquarium. “There are so many eye-opening experiences on this tour allowing guests to forge a personal connection with seahorses. We hope these connections inspire guests to take the next step to protect seahorses, their habitats, and our ocean world.”

“Growing Up Seahorse” runs daily at 10:30 a.m. and advanced registration is recommended. Tickets are $35. (858) 534-3474.

Stepping up to the Bar

Johanna Schiavoni will lead the San Diego County Bar Association (SDCBA) in 2020 as president of its Board of Directors. Schiavoni is an appellate attorney and founder of her own boutique appellate firm.

“I am particularly honored to serve as the SDCBA’s president in 2020, when the nation will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and women’s right to vote,” Schiavoni said, “and at a time when there is an increasing focus in our public dialogue about the importance of the courts, the role of attorneys, and the rule of law.”

Schiavoni and all other 2020 Board members will be sworn in at the annual Stepping Up to the Bar event, 5:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13 at the Guild Hotel, 500 W. Broadway.

UC San Diego researchers find vicious circles in cancer cells

Rings of extrachromosomal DNA (ecDNA) dramatically amplify mutant oncogenes in cancer cells, making tumors more aggressive and resistant to therapy. These discoveries — reported in the Nov. 20 online issue of Nature — were made by researchers at the UCSD branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Stanford University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. And they have important implications for both understanding the abnormal biology of cancer and developing new, more effective therapies.

“This is a paradigm-shift,” said UCSD School of Medicine professor Paul Mischel, co-senior author of the study. “The shape of cancer ecDNA is different than normal DNA, and that has really important implications, both for our understanding of cancer biology and clinical impact.”

The findings build upon research published in 2017 reporting that short fragments of circular DNA encoding cancer genes were far more common than previously believed — detected in nearly half of human cancers but rarely in normal cells — and likely to play a key role in how tumors evolve and resist threats such as chemotherapy.

Two eateries replace The Hake

The dual Japanese restaurant concept of Harumama and Blue Ocean Sushi have replaced The Hake, which operated for five years until April, at 1250 Prospect St. The former 5,783 square foot space is now split between the two restaurants, with Harumama in the front and Blue Ocean Sushi located oceanfront, toward the back. Both restaurants were created by local restaurateurs Jenny and James Pyo. Harumama and Blue Ocean Sushi are open Sunday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

— Compiled by Corey Levitan from local reports