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La Jolla News Nuggets: UCSD draws record research funds; La Jolla Shores bylaws; Library Master Plan; more

Students walk at the UC San Diego campus in La Jolla in November 2019.
(File / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

UC San Diego pulls in record $1.54 billion behind research tied to COVID-19

UC San Diego pulled in a record $1.54 billion for research during the fiscal year that ended June 30, a 6 percent increase tied directly to studies involving the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was the 12th consecutive year that UCSD has obtained at least $1 billion for research, and it maintains the school’s status as one of the 10 largest research universities in the country.

Campus officials say UCSD got more than $55 million to study everything from how COVID-19 spreads to the development of vaccines to fight the coronavirus.

The National Science Foundation gave UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography more than $11.5 million for the operation of Roger Revelle, a research vessel that travels the world. —The San Diego Union-Tribune

La Jolla Shores Association adopts bylaws revisions

The La Jolla Shores Association voted to approve revisions to its bylaws at a special meeting held virtually Aug. 17.

After heavy debate, the bylaws passed, 8-2, with LJSA board members Brian Earley and Rick Kent voting against the revisions.

Kent said his main objection was the inclusion of a section that reads “multiple members of the same family shall not serve on the board at the same time.”

Reiterating concerns he aired at the board’s Aug. 11 meeting, Kent said in “not a single one of the 42 published bylaws of any of the planning associations, community boards, school boards, any kind of board, could I find a single example of the word ‘family’ being a restriction.”

At the Aug. 11 LJSA meeting, Emerson said the prohibition was needed to prevent a “conflict of interest.”

“The implications are that the IRS does not like family members to be on the same board of a 501(c)(3),” board member Dede Donovan said. Emerson said LJSA is considering becoming a 501(c)(3) nonprofit as it looks to form a maintenance assessment district.

“That’s good enough for me,” board member Joe Dicks said.

Earley said he didn’t “know enough about the subject” to approve the revisions.

Some other La Jolla groups do not have such stipulations. La Jolla Parks & Beaches and the La Jolla Community Recreation Group have married couples on the boards.

Early data for Library Master Plan available for review

With data from nearly 7,500 San Diegans and more than 15 focus groups with people from underrepresented communities, the preliminary findings of the first phase of the San Diego Library Master Plan are available for public review.

The Library Master Plan is designed to provide a long-range vision and strategy for facility, technology and program investments in the San Diego Public Library system. The current Library Master Plan was adopted in 2002 and is based on census data from 1990, which means it doesn’t address new technologies or reflect how libraries have evolved and are used today.

An online public workshop is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18. Learn more at sandiego.gov/public-library.

San Diego lifeguards get 2.5 percent pay hikes

The city of San Diego has concluded labor negotiations for the year by forging a new contract with city lifeguards, the only employee group that didn’t agree to a new pact in June.

The city’s 100 year-round lifeguards and 230 seasonal lifeguards will get pay hikes of 2.5 percent.

The raises for lifeguards are similar to the 3.2 percent raises given to police officers and the 2.5 percent given to firefighters but are significantly smaller than raises given to most other city employees.

Deputy city attorneys got 12 percent raises over the next two years, blue-collar workers got 8 percent over two years and white-collar workers got 9 percent over two years.

“It was a tough negotiation,” said Chris Vanos, chief steward of the labor union representing the city’s lifeguards. He said it’s hard to compare lifeguard salaries because duties vary by government agency and a limited number of cities even have beach and bay lifeguards. “We’re pretty happy with it.” — The San Diego Union-Tribune

La Jolla Lacrosse opens registration for coming season

Registration for the La Jolla Lacrosse Club — a nonprofit managed by a volunteers to teach fundamental techniques, strategies and teamwork for kindergarten through eighth-grade athletes — is now open.

Practices will begin Sept. 26 and games on Oct. 9, both at the Pacific Beach Recreation Center.

La Jolla Lacrosse will take the following COVID-19 safety measures during the 2021 season: disinfect balls and goals before practice; require masks and hand sanitizer (athletes can remove masks during practice); allow only athletes and coaches at practice; and temperature checks (if applicable). Learn more at lajollalacrosse.com.

Salk Institute studies breathing disruption in drug overdoses

Overdose deaths are often caused by disrupted breathing, but a recent study by the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla has identified how blocking opioid receptors in specific neurons can restore breathing during an overdose.

The study, published in June in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, described how blocking certain receptors can cause opioid-induced respiratory depression, or OIRD, to be reversed.

Senior investigator Sung Han’s team set out to search for the breathing neurons in the brain that also carry opioid receptors. In the study, the researchers identified a group of neurons that express a certain type of opioid receptor and are located in the brainstem breathing modulation center. They then characterized the neurons’ role in OIRD.

They found that mice that were genetically engineered to lack opioid receptors in these neurons didn’t have their breathing disrupted when exposed to morphine, as mice in the control group did. The researchers also found that, without introducing opioids, stimulating these receptors in control mice caused symptoms of OIRD.

The team then looked at ways to reverse the process by treating the overdosed mice with chemical compounds targeted to other receptors on the same neurons, which play an opposite role as the opioid receptor (activating rather than inhibiting them).

“We discovered four different chemical compounds that successfully activated these neurons and brought back the breathing rate during OIRD,” said first author Shijia Liu, a graduate student in the Han lab. Recovery in overdosed mice was close to 100 percent, the team said.

— Compiled by La Jolla Light staff