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Daily Business Report-Jan. 6, 2015

Daily Business Report-Jan. 6, 2015

The VONS store serving Mission Hills and Hillcrest.

VONS Settles Lawsuit Alleging Illegal

Disposal of Hazardous and Medical Waste

The 25 VONS grocery stores in San Diego will place tighter controls on their hazardous and medical wastes as part of a legal settlement agreed to by their parent company, Safeway Inc., according to the City Attorney’s Office.

The procedures will end the improper disposal of hazardous and medical waste products, which VONS and Safeway employees had been placing into store trash bins for eventual disposal in local landfills.

The internal procedures are part of a permanent injunction against the company, which had been accused of violating state health and safety laws designed to protect the public and the environment from potential health risks.

The lawsuit against Safeway was filed in Solano County by 43 California agencies, including the San Diego City Attorney’s Office. As part of a stipulated judgment announced Monday, Safeway also agreed to pay $9.87 million in civil penalties and costs and to supplemental environmental projects.

The San Diego City Attorney’s Office will receive $45,000 to fund future enforcement of consumer and environmental protection laws.

The investigation into Safeway’s practices began after discovery of improper shipments of hazardous and pharmaceutical waste to Safeway’s distribution centers through its reverse logistics program.

The investigation revealed that Safeway was also routinely and systematically sending hazardous and pharmaceutical wastes to local area landfills not equipped to receive such waste.

Upon being notified of the widespread issues, Safeway worked cooperatively to remedy the issue, enhance its environmental compliance program and train its employees to properly handle such waste, the City Attorney’s Office said.

In settling the case before trial, Safeway made no admission of guilt. More than 500 stores and distribution centers, including its VONS, Pavilions and Pak ‘n Save stores, were alleged to be engaged in the unsafe storage, handling and disposal of hazardous and pharmaceutical waste generated from spills and customer returns.

Mayor to Deliver State of the City Address Jan. 14

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer will deliver his first State of the City Address on Wednesday, Jan. 14, from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Balboa Theatre, 868 Fourth Ave., in Downtown San Diego. Doors open at 5:15 p.m. A reception will be held imediately following the speech at the U.S. Grant Hotel.


Ebola Virus

Ebola Virus

Locally-Developed Device for Ebola

Patients Cleared by FDA for Further Testing

A blood filtration device that was developed in San Diego and can be used on Ebola patients has been cleared for further testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Aethlon Medical announced Friday.

The company said its hemopurifier will be tested at 10 sites for up to 20 U.S. patients. The goal of the study is to standardize and evaluate the use of the device in the treatment of Ebola.

An outbreak of the disease last year in three West African countries killed nearly 8,000 people and, for the first time, patients brought the virus to U.S. soil. More than 20,200 people have been sickened in the outbreak, mainly in Guinea, Liberia, Mali and Sierra Leone, but also some in Nigeria, Senegal, Spain and the U.S., according to the World Health Organization.

The hemopurifier was being tested on HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C patients overseas before the recent Ebola breakout.

The device can be hooked directly to a patient via a tube or attached to a dialysis machine in order to remove large quantities of the Ebola virus and proteins the disease creates to suppress the immune system, according to Aethlon founder and CEO Jim Joyce.

The hemopurifier was used in Germany on a physician who became sick while treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone.

According to Aethlon, what’s known as the “viral load” of Ebola in the critically ill doctor was 400,000 virus copies per milliliter of blood. After a 6 1/2-hour treatment, the load was reduced to 1,000 copies.

The treatment was well tolerated with no adverse events reported, Aethlon reported.

The company said that at the time of treatment, the physician was unconscious and suffering from multiple organ failure, which required mechanical ventilation, continuous dialysis and the administration of vasopressor medications. The patient has since made a full recovery and returned home to his family.

— By City News Service


Ronald Evans, director of Salk’s Gene Expression Laboratory, has developed a compound called fexaramine that acts like an imaginary meal, tricking the body into reacting as if it has consumed calories.

Ronald Evans, director of Salk’s Gene Expression Laboratory, has developed a compound called fexaramine that acts like an imaginary meal, tricking the body into reacting as if it has consumed calories.

‘Imaginary Meal’ Tricks the Body Into Losing Weight

Salk scientists made a more effective diet pill

Salk researchers have developed an entirely new type of pill that tricks the body into thinking it has consumed calories, causing it to burn fat. The compound effectively stopped weight gain, lowered cholesterol, controlled blood sugar and minimized inflammation in mice, making it an excellent candidate for a rapid transition into human clinical trials.

Unlike most diet pills on the market, this new pill, called fexaramine, doesn’t dissolve into the blood like appetite suppressants or caffeine-based diet drugs, but remains in the intestines, causing fewer side effects.

“This pill is like an imaginary meal,” says Ronald Evans, director of Salk’s Gene Expression Laboratory and senior author of the new paper, published Monday in Nature Medicine. “It sends out the same signals that normally happen when you eat a lot of food, so the body starts clearing out space to store it. But there are no calories and no change in appetite.”

Evans’ laboratory has spent nearly two decades studying the farensoid X receptor (FXR), a protein that plays a role in how the body releases bile acids from the liver, digests food and stores fats and sugars. The human body turns on FXR at the beginning of a meal, Evans and others have shown, to prepare for an influx of food. FXR not only triggers the release of bile acids for digestion, but also changes blood sugar levels and causes the body to burn some fats in preparation for the incoming meal.

Pharmaceutical companies aiming to treat obesity, diabetes, liver disease and other metabolic conditions have developed systemic drugs that activate FXR, turning on many pathways that FXR controls. But these drugs affect several organs and come with side effects. Evans wondered whether switching on FXR only in the intestines — rather than the intestines, liver, kidneys and adrenal glands all at once — might have a different outcome.

“When you eat, you have to quickly activate a series of responses all throughout the body,” says Evans. “And the reality is that the very first responder for all this is the intestine.”



Patio at the San Antonio De Padua student housing building.

Patio at the San Antonio De Padua student housing building.

Dempsey Construction Completes

Renovation Project at USD

Dempsey Construction has completed the renovation of the San Antonio De Padua student housing building located on the campus of the University of San Diego. The project transformed an old recreational swimming pool and surrounding area into a new 6,500-square-foot outdoor patio for the adjacent dormitory.

The renovation project involved the conversion of an existing swimming pool into a multi-use area, more conducive to the learning environment.

The completed patio area now features a new grand staircase to the area for ease of access, a newly constructed staircase to the dormitory, new landscaping and planter seat walls, a large steel-framed trellis structure with newly framed integral benches, and a new fire pit.

Dempsey Construction was responsible for construction and design-assist coordination. Dempsey also worked with the OBR Architecture team on the project.


Jan. 15 Seminar on Mexican Immigration

Rodulfo Figueroa, the head of immigration in Baja California, will explain information regarding foreigners working in Mexico at a Jan. 15 seminar sponsored by the Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce. The seminar will be from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at the Southwestern College Higher Education Center, 8100 Gigantic St., Room 4500, in Otay Mesa.

The cost is $25 for chamber members and $45 for nonmembers.

Survey: Community Colleges Play

Key Role in Graduates’ Success

A first-ever study of recent community college graduates in San Diego and Imperial counties shows that nearly 9 out of 10 have either transferred to a university or are in the labor force, and their community college education played a key role in getting them there.

The report, based on a survey of more than 1,400 spring 2014 graduates, was conducted by San Diego State University’s School of Journalism & Media Studies on behalf of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Community Colleges Association, a consortium of the nine community colleges in the two-county region.

“This survey illustrates the commendable job that community colleges do in preparing students for further education and the workforce,” said Cindy L. Miles, association president and chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District.

Among the findings:

• More than half of the community college graduates had transferred to a four-year college or university, with 77 percent attending a California State University campus and 15 percent attending a University of California campus. Most graduates have remained in the area to complete their bachelor’s degree.

• Seventy-nine percent of the surveyed graduates who continued their education agreed with the statement, “Academically, my community college prepared me well for my current studies.”

• About 75 percent of the graduates surveyed agreed with the statement, “My community college gave me a chance to figure out what I wanted to study.”

• About 96 percent who pursued work after graduation found a job within six months, with 60 percent working in a field related to their studies.

• More than nine out of 10 working graduates found employment in San Diego or Imperial counties.

Students who responded to the study graduated from one of the nine community colleges in the two-county region: Cuyamaca, Grossmont, Imperial Valley, MiraCosta, Miramar, Palomar, San Diego City, San Diego Mesa and Southwestern College. Several attended more than one community college.

Isis Pharmaceuticals Signs $835M

Deal With Johnson & Johnson

Carlsbad-based Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced Monday it will collaborate with a unit of Johnson & Johnson to develop new drugs to to treat autoimmune disorders of the gastrointestinal tract.

The agreement with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Biotech  unit includes a $35 million upfront payment plus up to $800 million in in development, regulatory and sales milestone payments and license fees.

The deal combines Isis’ RNA-targeted technology platform with Janssen’s expertise in autoimmune disorders and therapeutic formulation.

“We are excited to be working with Janssen to apply our drug discovery and development efforts in this therapeutic area. This collaboration broadens the utility of our drug discovery technology to new targets in the GI tract and expands the administration of antisense drugs to local delivery, including oral delivery, to the gut,” said B. Lynne Parshall, chief operating officer at Isis Pharmaceuticals.

“We are the leader in RNA-targeted therapeutics and our innovation and the successes of our pipeline drugs enable us to form collaborations, like this one, with leaders in specific therapeutic areas. This partnering strategy ensures that we have access to resources that support and enhance our drug discovery efforts and also provides us with collaborators, like Janssen, who are uniquely capable of conducting development, marketing and commercial efforts for these drugs.”

— Reported by Times of San Diego

Personnel Moves

Elizabeth Fitzsimons Joins San Diego Chamber

Elizabeth Fitzsimons has joined the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce as vice president of marketing and events. Fitzsimons was the senior director of marketing and communications at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego.

In her position at Rady Children’s, Fitzsimons managed all aspects of marketing and communications, including a rebranding initiative that involved an update to the hospital’s visual identity and website redesign. She oversaw media relations; web, video and social media; creative content development; and strategic communications planning.

Fitzsimons has also worked at the County of San Diego in media and public relations, and was an award-winning journalist at The San Diego Union-Tribune. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s degree in journalism and public affairs from American University in Washington, D.C.

Patricia Perez Joins Ogletree Deakins’

San Diego Office as Shareholder

Patricia “Patti” Perez has been named a shareholder in the San Diego office of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart P.C. Perez joins Ogletree Deakins from Puente Consulting APC, which she founded in 2001 as a human resources and employment law consulting firm. Perez is the seventh shareholder and 13th attorney to join Ogletree Deakins’ San Diego office since it opened in January 2013.

Perez has served human resources professionals, across the U.S. and internationally, with issues related to employment law for more than 20 years. She regularly conducts workplace investigations, leads wage and hour and comprehensive HR audits, and hosts HR, management, leadership, and diversity trainings. Perez also provides litigation consulting, expert witness, and Spanish-language business services.

In May 2013, Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Perez as a member of the Fair Employment and Housing Council. Previously, Perez served as the commissioner of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Commission.

Marks, Finch, Thornton & Baird Law

Firm Add Partners Petray and Jones

Andrea L. Petray

Andrea L. Petray

Dustin R. Jones

Dustin R. Jones

The San Diego-based construction industry law firm of Marks, Finch, Thornton & Baird LLP announce the admission of Andrea L. Petray and Dustin R. Jones as partners of the firm. The firm represents prominent public works and commercial contractors in all their legal matters.

Petray practices in the areas of construction law, real estate, and business/commercial litigation. She represents clients in public and private works disputes, subcontractor default issues, commercial sales and other business litigation, and land use and planning/development issues. Petray has been with the firm since earning her juris doctor from the University of California Los Angeles School of Law. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California at Davis.

Jones practices in the areas of construction law, government contracts, False Claims Act defense, government relations and business/commercial litigation. He has represented clients in large-scale construction disputes. He has been with the firm since being accepted into the firm’s summer program as a law student at the University of San Diego. He graduated law school magna cum laude and a member of the Order of the Coif. Jones earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Legal Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.


Mark Angert Named Partner at Solomon Ward

Mark Angert

Mark Angert

Mark Angert has been made a partner at Solomon Ward Seidenwurm & Smith LLP. After obtaining a degree in Neuroscience and Mammalian Physiology from UC San Diego, Angert traveled the world working for M&M International Trading Corp. While at M&M International, he led the development of that company’s subsidiary, Golden Brazil, a coffee manufacturing and trading company. Angert made Golden Brazil a multi-million dollar international success, which was eventually spun-off. While at M&M International, Angert became a co-owner of both companies and eventually committed his full time to the practice of law.


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Voice Your Opinion

We Want Your Opinions on San Diego’s Big Issues In the coming months, Probosky Research (one of California’s leading opinion research firms) will continue its partnership with SD METRO to survey San Diego residents about topics of interest to our readers. We’d like to throw open the door for suggestions for topics. What do you want to know? What do you think you know, but aren’t sure? What are you certain you know, but want to prove it beyond doubt? Ideally, we’d like to see questions that have to do with public policy.

Some areas may include Mayor Filner’s first 100 days job performance, should the city be responsible for economic growth and the creation of new jobs, how important are infrastructure improvements to our daily lives (streets and bridges, etc.), how important is water independence, how satisfied are residents with public transit or how do city residents value Balboa Park and other open spaces? Do you believe the City Council should revive the Plaza de Panama plan for Balboa Park?

You can email Probolsky Research directly with your ideas: