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La Jolla News Nuggets: Restaurant Week, High School Science Week, climate change, more

San Diego Restaurant Week plans to feature more than 160 restaurants offering prix fixe menus April 11-18.
(File)

San Diego Restaurant Week plans April return

Despite the ever-changing coronavirus-related regulations and restrictions on restaurants, San Diego Restaurant Week is scheduled to return in April (instead of the usual January) in an eight-day “Spring Harvest.”

The event will feature more than 160 restaurants from across San Diego County offering prix fixe menus April 11-18.

Three-course dinner menus will range from $20 to $60 per person, and two-course lunch menus will cost $10 to $25 per person. Learn more at sandiegorestaurantweek.com.

Salk Institute presents virtual High School Science Week

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla is expanding its annual half-day outreach known as High School Science Day to a week-long online event called High School Science Week running Feb. 22-26.

The week’s programs will begin at 1:30 p.m. Monday with a welcome by professor Geoffrey Wahl, which will be followed by a virtual tour of his laboratory at 2 p.m.

Each day Tuesday through Thursday will include virtual lab tours at 12:30 and 2 p.m. The week will wrap up Friday, Feb. 26, with a keynote address by professor Kay Tye at noon, followed by a virtual tour of the Stem Cell Core.

Any high-school-age student can attend any or all of the lab tours. To register and for more information, go to salk.edu/about/education-outreach/programs.

Online event for White Elephant Sale set for Feb. 19

The 89th annual White Elephant Sale by La Jolla’s St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church is a virtual fundraiser this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The event raises money to fund grants for people in need.

A “Zoom to Remember” event is planned for 5 to 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19, via the church website, SJBTS.org, featuring past volunteers, shoppers, photos and a toast to beneficiaries.

With no in-person sale this year, donors are asked to send a check payable to the Women of St. James (with “WES” in the memo section) to St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, 743 Prospect St., La Jolla, CA 92037, or pay on the St. James website. The goal is to raise $50,000. Donations are tax-deductible.

San Diego launches campaign to make city more resilient to climate change

Faced with several recent studies showing climate change will make San Diego highly vulnerable to sea-level rise and severe wildfires, city officials are launching a campaign to make the city more resilient and better prepared.

The campaign, called Climate Resilient SD, will create a variety of adaptation strategies, determine which strategies to prioritize in which parts of the city and contemplate how to pay for them with grants and other resources.

City officials say the adaptation strategies will address each of the five largest threats that climate change poses for San Diego: severe wildfires, droughts, flooding, sea-level rise and extreme heat waves.

There also will be an equity element focused on things like helping neighborhoods where air conditioning is scarce during heat waves, which are expected to become more common as the climate changes.

The campaign also will consider the effects of climate change on the local economy.

The plan that results from the campaign, which is expected to be presented to the City Council for approval by the end of the year, also will include input from residents gathered from two online surveys.

The deadline to participate in the first survey is Friday, Feb. 19. The survey website is sandiego.gov/sustainability/resilience/climateresilientsd. — The San Diego Union-Tribune

New details uncovered about liver study at San Diego VA

The La Jolla campus of the VA San Diego Healthcare System
The La Jolla campus of the VA San Diego Healthcare System.
(File)

For the second time, a federal agency found that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ investigation into liver research involving the San Diego VA hospital in La Jolla was “not reasonable.”

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel published new reports last week revealing more details about mistakes and violations it said occurred during the research and its dissatisfaction with the VA’s investigation into what happened, Inewsource reported.

The study at the San Diego VA was part of a $6 million international project to find new therapies for people with alcoholic hepatitis. Researchers were supposed to collect patients’ leftover liver tissue after they received biopsies and then look for patterns.

In 2016, two whistleblowers filed complaints with the special counsel’s office claiming that researchers at the La Jolla hospital had persuaded veterans to undergo medically unnecessary biopsies and then used the samples for research purposes without telling the patients, according to Inewsource. The whistleblowers, who were San Diego VA employees at the time, said it put seriously ill subjects at unnecessary risk for bleeding and other complications.

VA investigators went to San Diego in 2017 and found violations of policies and procedures. The special counsel’s office called the VA’s work unreasonable and said it didn’t address most of the whistleblowers’ claims.

According to Inewsource, new documents say the team revisited the La Jolla hospital in 2019, reinterviewed employees involved in the research and found more serious wrongdoing, including that technicians were instructed to remove extra pieces of tissue from sick veterans during their liver biopsies for research — without the patients’ consent — which increased the chance of complications.

The whistleblowers documented seven cases in which such biopsies were ordered over the objections of colleagues.

But after an external review of all seven cases, the VA determined the procedures were appropriate given the patients’ medical conditions.

In a statement reported by Inewsource, the VA stood by its conclusion that the biopsies were appropriate. VA spokesman Randy Noller said the external reviews were thorough and performed by physicians with expertise in liver disease. He provided six written comments that the experts submitted during the review and said the American College of Gastroenterology Guidelines don’t support the whistleblowers’ opinions.

— Compiled by La Jolla Light staff