Ultragenyx Wins The 2024 Top Workplaces Culture Excellence Award

Written in a LinkedIn post by Ultragenyx, “We’re proud to share that we’ve been awarded the 2024 Top Workplaces Culture Excellence award in recognition of our exceptional achievements in Purpose & Values, Innovation, Compensation & Benefits, Work-Life Flexibility, and Leadership.

Fostering a sense of community where every team member can find their place, make a meaningful difference and flourish is a top priority for us. Thank you to all our team members for their contributions in making Ultragenyx a great place to work. Learn more: https://lnkd.in/eunqYyqk.”


Comerica Bank Ushered Into the Junior Achievement Northern California Business Hall of Fame

Written in a LinkedIn post by Michael Silva, “Last night, we at Comerica Bank were pleased to be honored into the Junior Achievement Northern California Business Hall of Fame. It was a truly inspiring event –highlighted by remarks from high school seniors who are heading off to college in the Fall — and poised for much success, at least in part, to their JA experience. Across Comerica, so many of our colleagues donate significant time and energy to JA in promoting financial literacy, a cause that is near and dear to our hearts.”


SOMO Cowork’s CEO and Co-Founder Maciej Plich Honored On the 40 Under 40 List

Written in a LinkedIn post, “CEO and Co-Founder, Maciej P., has been honored as one of the notable young professionals in the North Bay! 🏆 He’s been recognized in the 40 Under 40 list for 2024 by the North Bay Business Journal!

As the visionary behind SOMO Cowork, Maciej is reshaping collaboration and environments. His goals for 2024 include growing SOMO Living, our new home-building company, and launching Komplex Studio, a wellness-focused fitness center – both here @SOMOVillage 🚀 Join us in congratulating Maciej on this well-deserved recognition! 👏 .”


Congratulations to Our Members Who Made The San Francisco Business Times Most Admired CEOs

Join us in congratulating the Bay Areas Most Admired CEOs at this inspiring celebration of leadership at its best. The San Francisco Business Times will recognize these outstanding CEOs at this prestigious event honoring vision, values, performance, and what it takes to lead.

Our member CEOs are:

Dr. Emil D. Kakkis      
CEO – Ultragenyx
Kristina Lawson
Managing Partner – Hanson Bridgett

Canine Companions Behind Bars at San Quentin, Training Puppies To Be Service Dogs An Act Of Learning And Redemption

The sky is gray over California’s most notorious prison. Rain threatens. In the West Block Yard of San Quentin, a dozen inmates focus on their dogs.

Chase Benoit and Travis Fendley are working with Wendel, a black Labrador.

Benoit, who has put in seven years at “The Q,” part of his 16 years to life sentence, walks forward about 25 paces, turns and calls out: “Wendel, here, here.”

By now, Benoit has trained and lived with Wendel for a year, in a prison puppy raising program that has changed the 28-year-old’s life behind bars. So it seems automatic when Wendel promptly lopes over from Fendley to Benoit’s side, where he is rewarded with a biscuit.

“Very nice, right on,” says James Dern, the national director of puppy programs for Santa Rosa-based Canine Companions, which provides free service dogs to people with disabilities.

Dern, who is overseeing the training on this Friday, started talking with officials in 2017 to bring the Canine Companions prison program to San Quentin. Administrative turnover and then the COVID-19 pandemic stalled that effort. But it was revived by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s California Model initiative to transform the state’s prison system into one focused on rehabilitation rather than solely punishment.

The prison is now named San Quentin Rehabilitation Center, and its puppy raising program is in full swing.

Fendley, who has spent four years at San Quentin, takes Wendel off to a box the inmates built where the dogs can relieve themselves. Benoit says of his four-legged charge: “He’s helped me with being more responsible and just making me feel, you know, less incarcerated, like I’m not in prison when I’m working with him. It’s humanizing.”

These inmates are defined not by the crimes that sent them to prison but by what they bring to the prison puppy raising program, and what it’s done for them.

The yard is bordered on two sides by cell blocks that, oddly, evoke cathedrals, with high, inward-sloping beige walls that contain tall, narrow windows. On another side is a dining hall. Behind where the men are lined up with their dogs is a cluster of low white and tan buildings fronted by a chain-link fence and razor wire, beyond which green hills are visible.

Higher success rate

Canine Companions, a $45 million nonprofit, started its first prison program in 1995 in what is now Coffee Creek Correctional Center in Wilsonville, Oregon. The organization now has 15 such programs in operation, including San Quentin’s.

Dogs trained in prison, Dern says, have a 10% greater success rate at becoming full-fledged service dogs than other candidates. (Many Canine Companions dogs that don’t make it to that level go on to work as therapy, search and rescue or medical alert dogs.)

“It has a lot to do with the amount of time and care that our incarcerated puppy raisers take with the project,” Dern says. “They take it really seriously. And, you know, they tend to be really competitive, which is great. And they tend to be really highly skilled.”

Puppy raisers — in and out of prisons — go through canine behavior and canine learning theory classes, focusing on subjects including body language, a dog’s emotional state and how to ensure they are engaged with the handler.

Says Dern: “I see our puppy raisers at San Quentin really making good decisions for the dogs so the dog doesn’t end up practicing behaviors that can be problematic for service dogs. Not being overstimulated when they meet people, practicing greetings that are calm and maintaining responsiveness to the handler is really important.

“A lot of these skills and behaviors are things that dogs don’t just know. They need to learn it and they learn it by being provided experiences that are enjoyable for them, that they are successful in. And that takes foresight and it takes patience, and those are the skills” that the incarcerated trainers possess, Dern says.

There are six dogs in the prison program; each has two inmate trainers (currently, the men are also raising a seventh dog that has been placed at San Quentin). The dogs live around the clock with the trainers, who rise at 5 a.m. — an hour earlier than the other inmates — to take the dogs to relieve themselves. Every three months the dogs are relocated to a civilian trainer for a month to become accustomed to other environments. Every Friday, Dern or another Canine Companions’ staffer visit the prison to supervise training. The incarcerated men handle it the rest of the week.

The San Quentin trainers suggest and vet other inmates to be part of the program. Their recommendations are evaluated by prison staff and Canine Companions, who interview applicants and observe them interacting with dogs. Inmates with records that include any animal cruelty or sex crimes are not allowed to participate.

“We don’t just let nobody in this,” says Jared Hansen, 41, and 14 years into a 35-year sentence. He and Aaron Ramzy co-train Artemis, usually called Artie, a golden retriever.

Dern doesn’t ask about the San Quentin puppy trainers’ offenses.

“It’s out of respect for who they are. I don’t want to make assumptions about who these people are based on their history. It’s not a question that we ask other puppy raisers,” he says. “We want to be respectful and build a relationship with people based on who they are. I really want to keep my own sort of bias and opinions about people in check.”

Lt. Brian Haub, the second watch lieutenant in the cell block where the puppy trainers live, says those in the group have been convicted of crimes ranging from gun offenses to murder.

Once Death Row, now home to ‘model prisoners’

The cell block called Donner used to house Death Row. The condemned men’s cells, which measure 4 feet by 10 feet, occupied the lowest two of the building’s five tiers, and were distinguished from the others in that they held only one bunk, not two.

Last March, Donner was turned into what’s known as the Earned Living Unit, which now houses prisoners with the most exemplary behavioral records, like the puppy trainers; model prisoners, as Hansen puts it.

All 12 trainers live on the cell block’s ground floor, between cells five and 17. A slatted wooden fence has been built in front of those cells, creating a sort of front porch where the dogs and their trainers hang out. Under each bunk is a dog bed, a flat box with blankets that can be slid in and out.

The men in Donner are allowed to personalize their cells to a great degree, and Hansen has painted a beach scene with palm trees on the wall opposite his bunk. It’s Ocean Beach in San Diego, he says, where he grew up. He stands in the doorway to his cell. Artie is nearby, with Ramzy.

Donner aside, and the transition from a prison to a rehabilitation center notwithstanding, San Quentin is a challenging environment, Hansen says, and training Artie has helped him better navigate it.

“Trust me,” he says, “being a dog handler, we’re challenged with that every day right here. People that have mental illness problems, people that are on drugs, people that are unhinged. We come across them every day. Every day. But it’s good because it teaches the dog to be able to cope around situations like that, which they’re unfazed by anything. Now, these dogs will never be harmed by anybody, that’s a fact. But we could be.”

Here’s an example, Hansen says. If another inmate touches Artie, he might have to ask them not to because the dog is working. And he might hear back, “Well, it’s not your dog. F … that. They just start cussing at you and you’ve got to be able to take that.

“You’ve got be like, ‘Alright, man, have a good day.’ And those are things that if you would have hit me up years ago, I would have just automatically fought you. I would have just went in and took off on you. Now it doesn’t even bother me. It’s taught me how to deal with people no matter what kind of person,” Hansen says. “If you get one write-up, you’re out of this building. You lose everything that you have, including being able to be housed in this building in a single cell. I lose my dog.”

Breaking down walls, making amends

Many prison staff and inmates resisted the program at first. The dogs would make a mess, was one reservation. The prisoners wouldn’t be able to handle them, was another. They’d cause problems in the “population,” as inmates are often referred to by prison officials. They’d disrupt operations. Even, that the inmates might present a risk to the dogs.

About a year later, Haub has this to say: “It relaxes people having dogs in here. Every time they walk the dogs around, you can see staff and the residents smile. So it’s eased tension. It’s made people relax. It just makes for a better environment with them here.”

In the yard is a small stockade that inmates built for dog drills. Ramzy stands by the fence watching Artie practice one of the three dozen cues the dogs are taught; this one to remain focused when encountering another dog. Like many of his colleagues, Ramzy, who is 33 and has eight more years on his sentence, has thought deeply about the program’s impact on life in San Quentin.

“This has been a great morale builder. Up in the building. In the yard. It’s eased the tensions,” he says. “It’s been a culture shift with having Artemis here in San Quentin. Because before, I was just only seen as an inmate, right? But now with these dogs here, it’s humanized me to a lot of the staff. And that’s humanized a lot of the staff here as well. So it’s been a great bridge of culture change and community here.”

Specifically, he says, “That means unity. It means not objectifying people. Like before it was an us versus them mentality — you never have these interpersonal interactions with staff. But being here, having this opportunity, raising puppies, we see each other as allies, right? Why am I against you? We’re supposed to be here accomplishing the same goal. If you’re working for rehabilitation and I’m rehabilitating myself, then I mean, what is there to fight against? We should be working together, right?”

Ramzy surveys the other trainers. They are various shades of Black, brown and white. They are laughing, exchanging quips, asking Dern questions, and passing along tips about teaching dogs their cues.

“This has been beautiful, honestly,” Ramzy says. “As you can see, we have a lot of different races here, so we’re blurring the racial lines. That’s really not being blurred in other prisons, right?”

Unlike Ramzy, who has been with the program since its start a year ago, Oscar Constancio, 36, just became a trainer in September. He works with Scarlet, a golden retriever, and he says the experience has given him something he didn’t expect.

“I love this program. I’m able to give back to the people I hurt once, once upon a time in my life, because training these dogs, they get to go out to society and hopefully be full service dogs,” he says. “And that helps out somebody else that, you know, needs help, and I’m a part of that training. So that’s my way of giving back.”

“It’s no pay number,” adds Constancio, who has been at San Quentin 2½ years and has a parole hearing next month. “It’s volunteer.”

‘It changes your heart’

“We see you,” Susan Porteous, Canine Companions’ Northwest region puppy manager, says in front of perhaps 150 people gathered in San Quentin’s Chapel B.

It’s April 5 and the chapel is full. The audience includes about 20 other incarcerated men, many of whom are from other units and were invited as guests of the trainers (who are accompanied by their dogs), family members, Canine Companions staff, correctional officers and other prison officials. An inmate news and video production team documents the event.

Porteous addresses the trainers.

“We know you are individuals,” she says. “You have names. You are not numbers. We see you as the men you are today, and not for whatever you’ve done in your past. And we thank you for being a part of this.”

Cheers and applause fill the room.

The ceremony marks graduation day for Artemis and Wendel. From San Quentin they will go to the nonprofit’s Santa Rosa campus where, for up to nine months, their training will direct them to full service dog status. Starting today, Hansen, Ramzy, Benoit and Fendley will be training two new dogs, Pippa and Margaret.

Warden Chance Andes, the first speaker, says expanding the program is “definitely on the list. It brings such a sense of normalcy to a tough situation for us all: work environment and living environment.“

Other speakers recall the initial growing pains, trace the history of prison puppy training programs and commend San Quentin as critical to Canine Companion’s success. In a highlight moment, Benoit is joined on stage by his grandfather, Marv Tuttle of San Jose, who uses a wheelchair and has a Canine Companions service dog of his own, Goose. The men embrace. Before this day, they hadn’t seen each other in a decade.

“This program came at an extremely difficult time in my life,” Benoit tells the audience, “and I wasn’t 100% sure if adding the responsibility of a puppy was a good idea. But it turns out that’s exactly what I needed. And I found a great sense of purpose by training one.”

During an intermission, a Katy Perry song plays while everyone mingles, standing in small groups and chatting, or seated at round tables in easy conversation. If the inmates weren’t wearing blue and so heavily tattooed, and holding dogs on leashes, they’d be indistinguishable from the others.

According to Kaylee Latimer, the nonprofit’s prison and college clubs program manager, based on data from prison program liaisons, Canine Companions estimates the recidivism rate for inmates who were puppy trainers is less than 5%. Overall, according to a 2024 report on the California Model program, 20% of people released from prison in 2018 were imprisoned again within three years.

That makes sense, says Greg Eskridge, 50, who has been in prison for 30 years, at San Quentin since 2012, and is to be paroled in August. One of the trainers invited him to today’s graduation.

“Absolutely. These dogs really changed the environment here in San Quentin. And when you begin to change the environment for the positive, it changes your thinking and it changes your behavior and it changes your heart,” Eskridge says. “For me, even though I’m not a handler, I’m witnessing this change in this environment. I’m witnessing people walk around prison with a very positive outlook. And so for myself, it’s definitely going to contribute to me getting out there and being successful and staying out there. Actually, I want a dog. I’ve never had a dog before in my life and I want a dog now.”


Basin Street Properties Broker of The Quarter Dave Peterson of Keegan & Coppin

Basin Street Properties is pleased to announce Keegan & Coppin’s Executive Vice President, Dave Peterson, has been named our Broker of the Quarter for Q1 2024. This quarterly award, presented by Basin Street Properties, recognizes outstanding brokers with whom we are privileged to collaborate with, acknowledging their noteworthy contributions to our industry, communities, and the success of Basin Street. A $1,500 contribution to Dave’s foundation of choice, a scholarship fund sending 4 underprivileged children to a weeklong summer camp through New Vintage Church in Santa Rosa, accompanies the award.

Dave joined Keegan & Coppin Company in 2003. He specializes in office and industrial leasing, owner/user purchases and real estate investments. Dave has been involved in some of the most notable transactions in the North Bay since joining Keegan & Coppin. He consistently ranks as one of the top producers, which led him to being named as a partner of the firm in 2010, Senior Partner in 2021 and Executive Vice President in 2023. Dave is proud to have the opportunity to work with his Keegan & Coppin family and to be part of the team leading the nearly 50-year-old boutique brokerage into the next generation.

Dave and his wife, Jill, have supported the Sonoma County community over the last 20+ years by serving on numerous non-profit boards and supporting fund raising campaigns mostly focused on disadvantaged children and youth athletics. He is currently on the board of Montgomery High School Boosters.

“Dave’s dedication and forward thinking helps drive our success in the North Bay and our Broker of The Quarter Award was created to recognize consistent hard work like his,” said Scott Stranzl, Chief Portfolio Officer for Basin Street Properties. “Dave is a true partner in helping us solve problems and find the best solutions for our tenants. His collaborative efforts drive a better product and tenant experience across the industry, and we are grateful for that.”

“It’s an honor to work on the Basin Street portfolio which includes some of the highest quality properties in the North Bay,” said Dave.  “However, more important to me is having the privilege to work with Basin Street’s team of professionals. I represent all types of ownerships and the professionalism, communication, and teamwork Basin Street displays on every transaction is second to none. Through creativity and competence, the leasing team expertly drives deals to completion. They follow that up with their construction and property management teams who skillfully take the reins to minimize complications and ensure timely occupancy of the tenant. From a broker’s standpoint, the entire Basin Street team makes my job easier and for that I’m very grateful.”

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to use Basin Street’s generous $1,500 donation as a scholarship to fund the costs to send 4 underprivileged children to a weeklong, overnight summer camp through New Vintage Church in Santa Rosa,” said Dave. “These are kids that would not have had this opportunity without Basin Street’s generosity, and I’m thrilled to be able to play a small part in providing these kids this chance.”

Basin Street is fortunate to collaborate with an exceptional team of commercial real estate brokers spanning our Sacramento, Reno, Petaluma, and Santa Rosa markets. We value those who consistently exceed expectations, making significant contributions to our company, the industry, and their respective communities. Broker of The Quarter Award selection considers industry contributions, community and charitable involvement and exceptional leasing efforts. Dave Peterson is a deserving recipient of the award.


ABOUT BASIN STREET PROPERTIES: Basin Street Properties, established in Petaluma in 1974, is one of Northern California and Northern Nevada’s most prominent developers, investors and managers of commercial properties. The company owns and manages over 5 million square feet of Class A office space. Basin Street is widely recognized for its office, retail, hospitality, multi-family and mixed-use developments. The company offers a broad range of real estate services, including development, property management, leasing, construction management, financial and asset management, and property acquisition and disposition. For more information, visit basin-street.com.

MarinHealth Surgery Center Sews Up New Deal

MarinHealth Medical Center and UCSF Health are joining forces on an outpatient surgery center.

The Marin Specialty Surgery Center is one of three outpatient centers operating in Marin County. The centers are often able to do surgeries at a lower cost than hospitals because they perform more routine procedures that require less-expensive equipment.

For MarinHealth and the Marin Specialty Surgery Center, whose owners include 11 local physicians, it is a reunion after a messy divorce.

Up until the end of 2018, MarinHealth owned a piece of the surgery center along with 20 doctors and Surgical Care Affiliates, an Illinois company that operates more than 300 ambulatory surgery centers and surgical hospitals nationwide.

Then the hospital and the surgery center went their separate ways.

“We sold our interest because that is what the physician-owners preferred,” Lee Domanico, MarinHealth’s chief executive officer, said at the time.

Domanico expressed concern that the surgery center would lure away patients who have private insurance that pays healthy reimbursements, leaving the hospital the majority of the Medi-Cal and Medicare patients, whose government reimbursements often fail to cover the cost of care. Last year, MarinHealth performed 6,249 outpatient surgeries while surgery center did about 2,400.

Under the newly announced alignment, the surgery center will continue to have tripartite ownership, but Surgical Care Affiliates has bowed out of the picture.

Dr. Brian Su, an orthopedic surgeon, the surgery center’s chairman and a Marin Healthcare District board member, said MarinHealth and the University of California at San Francisco Health have purchased equity stakes in surgery center from Surgical Care Affiliates.

“So now, the surgery center is co-owned by MarinHealth, UCSF Health and the physicians,” Su said.

Neither the surgery center nor MarinHealth were willing to disclose how large a share each holds or any other financial details of the arrangement, but Elizabeth Fernandez, a spokeswoman for UCSF, said UCSF Health holds a 20.4% share.

As for why the physicians decided to swap partners, Su said, “It’s easier to recruit physicians to the surgery center because of this consolidation.”

“SCA is an independent surgery center management group,” he said. “They’re not affiliated with any physician groups locally, and while they’re very good at building and operating the center, it’s a challenge to grow the center when you don’t have collaboration with a local health system.”

Under the new arrangement, UCSF physicians will also begin treating patients at the surgery center.

MarinHealth’s chief strategy officer, Mary Friedman, said she didn’t know if MarinHealth lost revenue because of competition from the surgery center during the intervening years.

“The reason we’re doing this deal now is because we have grown so much and we need more capacity,” Friedman said. “We’ve been looking for an opportunity to gain additional surgical capacity, and this surgery center was perfect for that.”

The time that MarinHealth and the surgery center spent apart was a difficult one for both parties.

In May 2020, just as COVID-19 was arriving in the U.S., the surgery center expanded, moving from a 5,000-square-foot space at 505 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. in Greenbrae, where it had been located for about 15 years, to its current 14,400-square-foot location at 1 Thorndale Drive in Terra Linda.

“COVID was horrible all round, for the hospital and the surgery center,” Su said.

He said, however, that with the help of a federal Paycheck Protection Program loan and various other strategies, the surgery center made it through the darkest days of the pandemic without laying off any employees.

MarinHealth reported losses of $22.2 million in 2020, $6.9 million in 2021 and $4 million in 2022. Friedman declined to say whether the hospital was profitable in 2023.

In 2023, the hospital issued $100 million of revenue bonds. During a presentation on the bonds at an April meeting of the Marin Healthcare District board, Dr. David Klein, MarinHealth’s current chief executive officer, said the hospital’s balance sheet had been adversely affected by the pandemic and the cost of installing the hospital’s new Epic computer system.

At the time MarinHealth and the surgery center parted ways, Domanico said the hospital had plans to open its own outpatient surgery center in the next few years, in a new building that would be constructed adjacent to the new hospital’s wing, which opened in September 2020.

The Marin County Planning Commission reviewed the hospital’s plans for a five-story, 100,000-square-foot ambulatory services building and a six-level, 20,000-square-foot parking garage in March 2021. At that time, MarinHealth representatives told the commission that a fifth of the building would be occupied by UCSF physicians.

During meetings of the Marin Healthcare District board in early 2023, Klein said that finance planning was underway for the new ambulatory services building with a goal of beginning construction by early 2024. At that time the project was estimated to cost about $200 million.

In August 2023, however, Klein informed the health care district board that plans for the ambulatory services building had been placed on hold.

“I started thinking about potential additions to our structure, where would be the best place for that to be,” Klein told the board members, “and it may actually be the site where we had planned to do the ASB. So we may have to shift the ASB to a different location depending on what we think our needs are going to be in 2030.”

Friedman said Thursday, “We are basically determining all of our space needs for the whole health system so that could be related to patient demand, to growth, and to seismic.”

MarinHealth’s Redwood Pavilion, which contains the hospital’s pharmacies, food service and 120 patient beds, must be retrofitted to meet state seismic regulations by 2030. The building was built in 1952.

The roof of the planned ambulatory services building is also one of three locations that MarinHealth is considering locating a helipad. In December 2022, the health care district board passed a resolution requesting that MarinHealth develop a proposal for an emergency helipad.

A consultant was hired to do a preliminary study and Klein reported to the health care district board on options for the helipad at its February 2023 meeting. The other locations under consideration are the hospital’s parking lot and the roof of Oak Pavilion, which houses the new hospital wing.

Klein told the district board members that approval of a helipad would require an environmental study, the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration and community support.

“It’s going to take a whole public relations campaign,” Klein said. “But I do think the sentiment of the community has changed. I think we can get this done.”

In the past, neighbors have objected to landing helicopters at the hospital. Currently, helicopters land infrequently at Hal Brown Park, which is across Bon Air Road from the hospital.


Dominican University Opens $8M Student Services Building

An $8 million renovation that replaces a 1960s-era library space with a centralized student services center has opened on the campus of Dominican University of California in San Rafael.

The Center for the Dominican Experience is the first significant new space developed on campus since the renovation of Meadowlands Hall in 2015. The project was funded by private donations.

“The Center for the Dominican Experience represents more than a decade of focused planning and innovation around a clear purpose: delivering Dominican students the very best, most accessible, most inclusive, most integrated, most holistic college experience,” said Nicola Pitchford, the college president.

The center unites under one roof offices that were dispersed throughout campus. The unity of the offices will better support undergraduate and graduate students and enhance work with community groups, Pitchford said.

The two-story building is located within what was one half of the university’s Alemany Library, designed by architects Howard Friedman and Henry Schubart in 1962. The interior of the partial library space was gutted and replaced with new construction.

On the first floor, the building encompasses three community engagement programs: the Susan and Dennis Gilardi Center for Community Engagement and Partnerships; the Francoise O. Lepage Center for Global Innovation; and the Barbara D. Goodman Art Gallery.

All three programs promote student engagement with the community. In the last 20 years, more than 7,000 students have engaged with the community through one or more service-learning courses, contributing 185,400 hours to on-site learning with community organizations, according to the university.

The Lepage Center extends those connections to organizations worldwide.

“The Lepage Center brings Dominican to the world and the world to Dominican by opening a network of roughly 80 organizations in 70 countries to students, faculty and staff,” said center director Wayne de Fremery, a professor of information science and entrepreneurship.

The center serves as a partner, collaborator and resource between Dominican’s business school and businesses, government and nonprofit organizations, he said.

The Barbara D. Goodman Art Gallery will display works by students and invited artists. Currently on display is the “Senior Thesis Exhibition,” featuring work by graduating students in the department of art, design and visual studies.

Student services are located on the second floor of the new building.

“This will enable students to deepen their experience with higher education, the campus community and community engagement,” said Lindsey Dean, assistant dean for academic affairs. “The university seeks to increase the student’s sense of belonging, in part by creating a welcoming space with the center.”

Some of the services are grouped together in the Mary B. Marcy Student Success Center, named after the former Dominican president. Services include integrative coaching, the peer mentor program, study strategies, career development, tutoring, digital portfolio development and accessibility and disability services.

“This is a centralized and welcoming space where all students will quickly realize they belong,” said Naomi Elvove, executive director of the center. “Proximity to library services increases opportunities for academic, scholarly support and engagement with students in a space where the students regularly gather.”

One feature of the center is the Fletcher Jones Digital Portfolio Lab, where students will be able to get help and access equipment to create professional-quality portfolios.

“Students have complex histories and nuanced life experiences,” said Christina Mayes, digital portfolio specialist. “The digital portfolio is a place to retell their story from a place of empowerment, where a previous setback or challenge can lead to clarity and spark a habit of lifelong learning.”

Ultragenyx Announces Positive Interim Phase 1/2 Data in Patients with Angelman Syndrome After Treatment with GTX-102

Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical Inc. (NASDAQ: RARE) today announced new data from the Phase 1/2 study of GTX-102 for the treatment of Angelman syndrome. Patients in Expansion Cohorts A & B treated with a set dose and regimen of GTX-102 showed rapid and clinically meaningful improvement across multiple domains consistent with or exceeding Dose-escalation Cohorts 4-7 data at Day 170. Treatment of the Dose-escalation Cohorts 4-7 showed long-term increasing and sustained clinical benefit far exceeding Natural History data at Day 758. These data will be discussed in more detail in a corporate presentation being hosted by the company today at 8:00 a.m. ET and will also be presented by Kemi Olugemo, M.D., FAAN at the 76th Annual American Academy of Neurology Meeting (AAN) in Denver on Tuesday, April 16.

“There is currently no approved disease modifying treatment for Angelman syndrome, which results in profound impairment in individuals living with this disease,” said Erick Sell, M.D., director of the Angelman clinic at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, and a principal investigator on the Phase 1/2 study. “The multidomain improvement in the Bayley-4 and ASA measures are significant and in line with the clinically meaningful change observed by patient families. These kids have continued to make functional gains over time, which may ultimately lead to more independence.”

New Expansion Cohorts A & B data include Day 170 results on 24 patients, and long-term Dose-escalation Cohorts 4–7 data include up to Day 758 results on 15 patients.

Expansion Cohorts at Day 170:

  • Cognition assessed by Bayley-4 showed rapid and clinically significant improvement compared with Natural History data. Day 170 data were consistent with the treatment benefit observed in the Dose-escalation Cohorts at a similar timepoint.
  • Behavior assessed by the Angelman Severity Assessment (ASA) showed rapid improvement exceeding the treatment benefit observed in the Dose-escalation Cohorts at Day 170.
  • Hyperactivity and noncompliance assessed by the Aberrant Behavior Checklist-Community (ABC-C) showed rapid and clinically significant improvement at Day 170 compared with Natural History data, providing further insight into one of the most commonly reported behavioral issues.
  • Sleep assessed by ASA showed rapid and clinically meaningful improvement exceeding treatment benefit observed in the Dose-escalation Cohorts at Day 170.
  • Receptive communication assessed by Bayley-4 showed rapid improvement compared with Natural History data. Day 170 data were consistent with the treatment benefit observed in the Dose-escalation Cohorts at a similar timepoint.
  • Gross Motor function assessed by ASA showed rapid improvement exceeding the treatment benefit observed in the Dose-escalation Cohorts at Day 170. Gross motor assessments as measured by Bayley-4 were not performed at Day 170 in the Expansion Cohorts to reduce patient testing burden and are not included in this analysis at this timepoint.
  • Multi-domain Responder Index (MDRI) analysis across the four domains of Cognition, Receptive Communication, Behavior and Sleep resulted in a total net response of +2.0 (p-value <0.0001). The majority of patients had already achieved a total net response of +2 to +4 domains, demonstrating improvement exceeding the minimally important difference (MID) threshold in several domains even at this early Day 170 timepoint.

Dose-escalation Cohorts up to Day 758:

  • Cognition assessed by Bayley-4 showed continuing long-term improvement compared with Natural History data and exceeded the threshold of clinical significance by many-fold in many patients.
  • Behavior assessed by ASA showed continuing clinically meaningful improvement.
  • Sleep assessed by ASA showed sustained clinically meaningful improvement.
  • Receptive communication measured by Bayley-4 showed sustained and clinically significant improvement compared with Natural History data.
  • Gross motor function assessed by Bayley-4 showed continued and clinically significant improvement compared with previously reported Natural History data.
  • MDRI analysis across the four domains of Cognition, Receptive Communication, Behavior and Sleep resulted in a total net response of +2.0 (p-value = 0.0007) at Day 338. The majority of patients had a total net response of +2 to +4, as well as a 2- to 5-fold improvement over the MID threshold in several domains.

“The totality of these interim data demonstrates that treatment with GTX-102 resulted in rapid, multi-domain improvements that continued during maintenance dosing. These broad developmental gains are having a meaningful impact on patients and their families. For example, we’re hearing about children who are now able to routinely communicate their needs to family members, which greatly improves their ability to interact with their caregivers. We have also heard from families about their children who are accumulating additional developmental gains such as running, swimming and independent eating,” said Eric Crombez, M.D., chief medical officer at Ultragenyx. “Our next step is an end of Phase 2 meeting with the FDA and interactions with other health authorities to enable timely initiation of a Phase 3 pivotal study.”

There were no unexpected serious adverse events. Three patients had serious adverse events (mild to moderate) of lower extremity weakness assessed as related to study treatment; one in Cohort 7, two in Cohorts A & B; none reported in Cohorts C–E to date. All resolved rapidly without sequelae and remain in the study without ongoing safety concerns. The five original patients affected by lower extremity weakness from Cohorts 1–3 have been re-dosed safely multiple times and are receiving maintenance treatment without recurrence. The Cohort 7 patient has also been re-dosed safely multiple times and is receiving maintenance treatment without recurrence. The two patients in Cohorts A & B remain in study and are expected to continue dosing. The FDA and other regulatory agencies were notified of all safety events and raised no issues nor required additional actions. The foregoing safety information is current as of April 5, 2024.

Conference Call and Webcast Information

Ultragenyx will host a conference call at 8:00 a.m. ET today to discuss the new efficacy and safety data from the GTX-102 Phase 1/2 clinical study. The live and replayed webcast of the call will be available through the company’s website at https://ir.ultragenyx.com/events-presentations.


Kaiser Permanente Healthy Environment, Healthy People

At Kaiser Permanente, on Earth Day and every day, we know that climate change affects the environment and impacts the health of our members and communities.

How climate change affects health Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns due to human activity. It increases the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, which have many impacts on human health.

Heat waves are longer and more intense. Floods cause more damage. Hurricanes are stronger and wetter. These extreme events can lead to injuries and deaths. They also can lead to poor health. Here are some examples.

• Climate change is contributing to mosquitoes and ticks being able to live in more places. Those insects spread illnesses like Lyme disease and West Nile virus to more people.
• Climate change is increasing air pollution. Poor air quality can cause or worsen lung and heart disease.
• Climate change is increasing the amount of pollen plants, leading to more intense and longer allergy seasons.

And not everyone is equally at risk. Climate change causes more harm to children, older adults, people of color, and people with low incomes.

At Kaiser Permanente, our work to protect the environment is part of everything we do, from the way we power our facilities to how we purchase medical supplies and equipment and support our communities.

For example, a Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa medical office building recently was the first health care building in the United States to achieve net-zero status, meaning it produces enough renewable energy to meet its own annual energy consumption requirements.

The facility has substantial energy-efficiency features. Its parking lot is covered by solar panels, generating more than 600 kilowatts of power, or enough to run 3,000 average-size refrigerators. Instead of gas-fired boilers, heat pumps regulate the building’s temperature and hot water. Outside insulation and special windows adjust to the sun, which reduces the need for air-conditioning inside.

Many of Kaiser Permanente Northern California’s newest buildings, including our new genomics lab open in April this year, have also earned LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for energy efficiency and environmental design. They are being built with low- or non-emitting materials to improve indoor air quality, have a small carbon footprint, and use less water than typical health care facilities.

In 2020, Kaiser Permanente became the first U.S. health care organization to achieve certified carbon neutral status. Now, 100% of our electricity is coming from renewable sources. Moving forward, we are striving to do even more. We aim to reduce all our greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030, and we are working to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.