Daily Business Report — Dec. 4, 2014
Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute study the Ebola virus and drug compounds to treat Ebola patients.
How Your Computer Can Help
Scientists Outsmart Ebola Virus
The Scripps Research Institute Wednesday announced an initiative in which people can make their idle computers and mobile devices available to scientists looking for compounds to treat the deadly Ebola virus.
The “Outsmart Ebola Together” volunteer computing project is being run by the Ollmann Saphire laboratory at TSRI, which has mapped the structures and vulnerabilities of the proteins comprising the Ebola virus.
More attention is going into Ebola research following a deadly outbreak of the virus in West Africa. The flare-up resulted in the first cases ever in this country.
In the program, anyone with access to a computer or Android-based mobile device can download a safe and free application that will put their devices to work when the machines would otherwise be idle. With their collective processing power, the computers will form a virtual supercomputer to help TSRI screen millions of chemical compounds to identify new drug leads for treating Ebola.
The devices will remain fully available for normal use by their owners, according to TSRI.
The La Jolla-based research organization will run the program in partnership with the IBM World Community Grid, which has been making similar data-driven health and sustainability initiatives possible for 10 years as a free service to the science community.
According to TSRI, the best candidate compounds that emerge from this crowdsourced effort will be physically tested in a lab to pinpoint their effectiveness against a real virus infection. The most promising compounds will be modified to perform even better, at lower concentrations, and with fewer side effects.
Subsequent drug trials could ultimately lead to an approved medicine, the scientists said.
“Our molecular images of the Ebola virus are like enemy reconnaissance,” said Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire of TSRI. “These images show us where the virus is vulnerable and the targets we need to hit. In the Outsmart Ebola Together project, we will be able to harness World Community Grid’s virtual supercomputing power to find the drugs we need to aim at these targets.”
The World Community Grid has provided nearly 3 million computers and mobile devices for use on research projects over the last decade.
TSRI said increasing computer power will dramatically accelerate the process of identifying a cure. The speed and scale of a drug search is essential, because the lethal disease continues to spread and mutate.
Ebola has also become more of an international threat because people are more mobile than ever.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 11,000 cases of Ebola have been confirmed this year in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, causing more than 6,000 deaths. The CDC believes there have been more than 17,000 cases overall, including those that have not been confirmed in a laboratory.
In the U.S, there have been four cases, with one fatality.
— City News Service
USD Index Forecast Strong 2015 For Local Economy
The latest index of leading indicators from the University of San Diego shows continued gains by the region’s economy, with prospects for solid growth through 2015.
The university’s Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate reported Wednesday that the index rose 0.6 percent in October. October’s gain was the fifth consecutive one for the index and “signals continued solid growth in the local economy at least through the end of 2015,” according to the report.
“Strong gains in initial claims for unemployment insurance and the outlook for the national economy offset a sharp dropped in building permits,” the center said in its report. “Consumer confidence and help wanted advertising were up moderately while there was only a slight increase in local stock prices.
Other positive developments are lower gas prices and an increase in the California minimum wage.
“The improving labor market should give consumers the confidence to spend that extra money,” the center said.
— Times of San Diego
Santaluz Investing in Recycled
Water Conversion for Irrigation
Santaluz, a community of 836 homes on 3,800 acres in Carmel Valley, has begun the process to convert the majority of its landscape irrigation from the 50 existing potable (drinking) water meters to recycled water connections. The four-phase project is designed to reduce potable water use at Santaluz by 75 percent and save about 60 million gallons of fresh water annually.
The Santaluz Maintenance Association is responsible for the care and upkeep of landscaping in the community. When the community was developed it implemented drought tolerant landscaping themes to both the common areas and homes to conserve water and reduce irrigation costs. Lawns are not permitted in the front yards of the homes and limited elsewhere, and planting is restricted to a drought-tolerant plant palette. This new recycled water conversion project takes water conservation at Santaluz to an even higher level. The first two phases of the project will reduce potable use by half and the lower cost of recycled water will help finance the capital cost of the new delivery system.
“San Diego is growing and our water supply is not. We need to be diligent to find ways to preserve our water resources in light of the severe California drought,” said Bill Stewart, general manager of the Santaluz Maintenance Association. “Switching to recycled water for landscape irrigation, where there is a local source of supply is the responsible action and may prove to be beneficial economically. Fourteen years ago Santaluz was planned to be the most sustainable community in San Diego and it wants to continue that heritage.”
Cubic Corp. Receives $1.2 Million Contract
Cubic Corp. Has been awarded a $1.2 million training contract for its Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES) Individual Weapon System by the Latvian Army. The contract is to deliver equipment to the Latvian Army in 2015 and includes follow-on logistic support services.
MILES equips high-mobility, multipurpose wheeled vehicles and other tactical vehicles with lasters, sensors and electronics used during combat training exercises.
“With our technology, Latvia is able to train with the U.S. Army and our allies,” said Dave Schmitz, president of Cubic Defense Applications. “This is the first order of TVS equipment and the first major FMS sale of MILES to Latvia since 2008. We are pleased to supply the Army with the latest advancements in our wireless training solutions, including better training fidelity, improved wireless communications and intuitive interfaces.”
Snoopy Not on California Roads Yet
This year in California, Snoopy license plates were authorized to raise money for museums. About 4,800 people have ordered the new specialty plates with the cartoon character, but no one has received them. Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins wrote the bill that created the plate based on the Charles Schultz character.
She said the Department of Motor Vehicles has a policy of not stamping a specialty plate until 7,500 people order it.
“You know it usually takes a couple of years usually. It’s not something that happens very quickly. People have to be aware that it’s available, that it’s there, and there’s so many great causes,” Atkins said.
For every non-personalized Snoopy plate, $40 will go to the California Cultural and Historical Endowment. The organization expects to collect about $300,000 for museums the first year the plates are stamped. For every personalized plate, $50 goes to museums while $48 goes to the California Environmental License Fund.
Celeste DeWald of theCalifornia Association of Museums said many of the 1,400 museums in the state could use the funding the plates would provide.
“Many of them are undergoing capital projects because their current facilities are in need of great maintenance or they need to expand the size of their classrooms to cater to more K-12 school children. There’s just a lot of need out there and not currently enough funding to support all of that need,” DeWald said.
If 2,700 more orders aren’t made by Jan. 24, the California Cultural and Historical Endowment may appeal for more time from the DMV. Typically, the DMV issues a one-year extension.
— Capital Public Radio
Northrop Grumman Delivers First
Operational MQ-8C Fire Scout to Navy
Northrop Grumman Corp. has delivered the first operational MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter to the Navy. The system will be used by ship-based commanders to improve the Navy’s intelligence-gathering capabilities.
The MQ-8C is an upgraded version of the existing MQ-8B Fire Scout using a larger airframe. It can fly nearly twice as long and carry three times more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance payloads.
“The test program will run through the summer as we expect these aircraft to be ready for operations by year’s end,” said George Vardoulakis, vice president for medium range tactical systems with Northrop Grumman.
The MQ-8C’s first ship-board flight tests aboard the USS Jason Dunham will be conducted this winter. The Navy will then assess the system for operational use.
Northrop Grumman is under contract to build 19 MQ-8C Fire Scouts, including two test aircraft. The Navy plans to purchase 70 aircraft total.
Pacific View Plaza Sells for $13 Million
CARLSBAD — Pacific View Plaza, a three-story, 51,825-square-foot office building at 5973 Avenida Encinas in Carlsbad, has been sold for $13 million to Peregrine Realty Partners. The seller was Cruzan.
Cruzan purchased the property in June 2013 and completed renovations and build-out of new lobbies, restrooms and showers, landscape upgrades and creation of Class A speculative office space.
The building wasw 97 percent leased at the time of the sale. CBRE represented the seller.
Public Safety Spending Grows by 5 Percent
Public safety spending in the San Diego region has risen for the third consecutive year, reaching $1.9 billion in fiscal year 2013-2014, according to a new report released by the SANDAG Criminal Justice Research Division. A year-to-year comparison showed a five-percent growth in spending over the past two fiscal years.
The increase is in part attributed to state funds received by local agencies to implement public safety realignment under AB 109, which took effect in October 2011.
In FY 2013-2014, the region as a whole received $50.71 million for realignment-related functions, such as housing and supervising offenders who were previously the state’s responsibility. The four primary local agencies responsible for carrying out realignment functions are: Probation, Sheriff, District Attorney, and Public Defender.
On average, there were 1.31 sworn officers per 1,000 residents in the region in the last fiscal year, which is unchanged from FY 2012- 2013 and is well below the recent national figure of 2.4 per 1,000 people. Over the past year, sworn staffing increased less than one percent regionally, with five of the 11 agencies having no change in sworn staffing, four having increases, and two with decreases.
Supervisors Move to Protect Gnatcatcher
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Wednesday approved the purchase of 345 acres of open land for around $5 million to extend trail systems and protect habitat for the California gnatcatcher.
The smaller of two purchases, about 100 acres for the Goodan Ranch Preserve — west of state Route 67 near Poway — is part of an effort to connect trails in the area, according to Supervisor Dianne Jacob.
“The idea is to have that connection between Mission Trails (Regional) Park all the way up through Santee Lakes to Goodan Ranch — that north-south connection,” Jacob said of the $810,000 purchase.
The supervisor said she has been working with the military to allow a public trail to cross the eastern edge of Camp Elliott, which is in the hilly area north of Santee and east of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
According to county staff, the trail connection would also serve as a corridor for wildlife to pass through. The Goodan Ranch property is a “prime habitat” for the gnatcatcher, according to a staff report.
The bird, which was listed as a threatened species in 1993 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, also lives in the area of the second acquisition, around 240 acres in the Escondido Creek Preserve near Harmony Grove Road in the North County.
The land is part of a network of preserves that consist of about 1,400 acres.
In addition to the $4 million purchase price, about $300,000 will be spent on surveys, installing signs, erosion control, vegetation management and staff salaries, according to the county.
— City News Service
North Harbor Drive Realignment Project Begins
A $3.9 million project that will make a portion of North Harbor Drive safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers is now under way. The Port of San Diego held a groundbreaking ceremony for the project on Wednesday.
The project is located in the America’s Cup Harbor section of Point Loma and entails realigning and reconstructing approximately 1,600 linear feet of North Harbor Drive, including parking, bike lanes and driving lanes.
Bicyclists will have an easier time getting around this portion of North Harbor Drive since the old parallel parking spots on the frontage road will be removed. The project also supports pedestrian and driver safety with a new, signalized traffic crossing and modifications to crosswalks and ramps to meet current Americans with Disabilities standards and to promote pedestrian access from the community to the bay front. It will convert an existing south-side frontage road into additional parking, with a net increase of 130 public parking spaces. It will also improve a parking lot located at 4975 North Harbor Drive with a new asphalt-concrete overlay and restriped stalls. New median landscaping and LED street lighting are also included.
AMN Healthcare Promotes Dan White
To President of Strategic Workforce Solutions
AMN Healthcare Services Inc. announced the promotion of Dan White to president of strategic workforce solutions. White assumes the role held by Bob Livonius, who will continue with AMN as executive adviser reporting to CEO Susan Salka. White will be responsible for business development for the suite of AMN’s health care workforce programs including the Managed Services Programs, Recruitment Process Outsourcing, Strategic Accounts and Client Marketing teams.
White joined AMN as senior vice president of strategic workforce solutions in early 2014 with more than 25 years of professional experience in recruitment, product marketing and management, software development, executive leadership and venture capital. He was also the founder of SkillSet Software in 1993 and served in various sales and operational leadership roles across the industry.
Livonius joined AMN in 2010 as president of strategic workforce solutions after serving for seven years as chief executive officer of Medfinders, a health care workforce and staffing company. Prior to joining Medfinders, Livonius served as chief operating officer for Spherion Corp. He also spent 20 years in the information technology sector, including 15 years at IBM.
Chris Bellios Joins Cubic Corp. Executive Staff
Chris Bellios has been appointed senior vice president of National Intelligence, Mission Support Services for Cubic Corp. He will report to Bill Toti, president and general manager of Cubic Mission Support Services.
In his new role, Bellios will lead the executive oversight and execution of all programs within the National Intelligence business area. He will also chart the pathway for talent management within his business area by providing training and mentorship on business strategy and profitable execution.
A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and the intelligence community, Bellios also served more than 14 years at BAE Systems, most recently as vice president, managing operations for a $300 million business concentrated on intelligence analysis and operations.