San Rafael Chamber Names Cynthia Murray ‘Women of Industry’ Honoree

Cynthia Murray, the executive director of the North Bay Leadership Council, has been named this year’s Women of Industry honoree by the San Rafael Chamber of Commerce.

Murray, a former member of the Marin County Board of Supervisors and Novato City Council, has been at the helm of the nonprofit for 13 years. The leadership council is a employer-led public policy advocacy organization dedicated to making the North Bay sustainable and innovative.

Murray, who serves on the boards of many organizations, will be honored at the seventh annual “Women of Industry” luncheon and marketplace Nov. 15 at Embassy Suites in San Rafael. Previous honoress include Joan Capurro, Ann Brebner, Patty Garbarino, Melissa Prandi, Patricia Kendall, Mary Kay Sweeney and Stephanie Plante.

More information is at

Midstate Construction Completes the Fuji Towers Project

General contractor Midstate Construction Corporation and construction manager The John Stewart Company recently completed an occupied rehabilitation of Fuji Towers, a 140 unit affordable housing community for Fuji Towers, Inc. in San Jose, CA.

Designed by SGPA Architecture and Planning, this HUD-financed project features the complete interior rehabilitation of all units including hazardous materials abatement, elevator upgrades, ADA compliance upgrades, new staff offices and updated laundry room. Exterior renovations include new roofing, windows, paint, on-site generator, parking lot, drought-tolerant landscaping, resident vegetable garden, new fencing and gate system.

Comcast Announces Largest Ever Expansion of Internet Essentials Program

Comcast announced the most sweeping eligibility changes ever to the Internet Essentials program, which is the largest, most comprehensive, and most successful broadband adoption program in America. Internet Essentials will now be available to all qualified low-income households in their service area.  To be eligible, low-income applicants simply need to show they are participating in one or more of a dozen different federal assistance programs, including Medicaid, SNAP, and SSI. A full list can be found on the Internet Essentials website.

This expansion is the culmination of an audacious goal set eight years ago, which was to significantly close the digital divide for low-income Americans. With this expansion, Comcast will open the door to the transformative power of the Internet to millions of additional households – including people with disabilities, parents with children either too young for school, or whose children are in college, and adults without children who need a connection to learn digital skills, search and apply for new jobs, or research medical benefits.

In addition, Comcast  announced that since 2011, they have connected more than eight million low-income Americans – from two million households – to the Internet at home, most for the first time in their lives.  Just to put that in perspective, eight million is larger than the populations of every city in America, except for New York City.

You can find more information about the Internet Essentials program on our website.

Dominican University of California, Xavier of Ohio and University of New Haven Are The Latest Colleges to Go Test Optional

Three more colleges — Dominican University of California, Xavier University of Ohio and the University of New Haven — have gone test optional.

Dominican said its policy would not apply to nursing, homeschooled or international students. For the others, “We believe that a student’s overall high school academic record is the best indicator of a student’s future college success,” said Vickie Alleman, vice president for enrollment and marketing.

Xavier made similar arguments. “Every application submitted to Xavier receives a holistic review. This means every piece of your application is reviewed and considered in order to make a decision. One single item does not determine your admissibility, and a test-optional policy allows students to demonstrate their abilities in other ways. Further, our research has shown that high school performance, especially in rigorous course work, is the best indicator of potential to succeed at Xavier,” said a statement.

Athletes, homeschooled, nursing and some honors students may not use the test-optional policy at Xavier.

The University of New Haven, which has similar rules about who can’t apply without an SAT or ACT score, explained its new policy in this statement: “The University of New Haven does not require students interested in most of our academic programs to submit SAT/ACT scores. As a student-first institution that deeply cares for education to be both personal and pragmatic, the University of New Haven strives to empower students to achieve excellence and success. By having a test-optional policy, we want students to determine if their SAT/ACT scores are an accurate representation of their academic ability. If they feel that their SAT/ACT scores are not, they will not be penalized during admission review if they do not submit test scores.”

CSU to Increase Investment in Mathematics and Science Teacher Initiative

​​​The California State University (CSU) will further increase the number of mathematics and science teachers in California by committing an additional $10 million over the next four years to its Mathematics and Science Teacher Initiative (MSTI).

“The California State University has made tremendous strides over the past few years to prepare even greater numbers of math and science teachers,” said CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White. “By dedicating additional funding, we can increase capacity in programs to further alleviate the looming teacher shortage. Additionally, by preparing a larger and more diverse pool of math and science teachers, our efforts will address the racial and ethnic disparities that exist throughout the state, helping to reduce equity gaps.”

With more than 7,400 credentials awarded to teachers prepared by CSU in 2017-18, the CSU educates more teachers than any other university in the state and approximately half the teachers in California every year. CSU’s efforts to increase the preparation of teachers—including a focus on quantitative reasoning, math and science teachers related to California’s implementation of the Common Core Standards in Mathematics and the Next Generation Science Standards—has resulted in much-needed growth over the past few years. Through its Mathematics and Science Teacher Initiative, the CSU has increased annual preparation of math and science teachers to nearly 1,000.

However, per a recent study by the Learning Policy Institute, the state will need an additional 33,000 math and science teachers over the next decade. To address the challenge, CSU will dedicate revenue from the university operating fund to roughly double its investment in MSTI over the next four years. The additional investment will advance proven strategies including:

·       Recruitment of new students;

·       Increased production through new credential pathways;

·       Financial support to attract outstanding candidates and facilitate credential completion;

·       Program alignment with California Community Colleges;

·       Online and in-person test preparation;

·       Partnerships with federal labs and industry;

·       Identification of the most successful approaches to share across the campuses.

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About the California State University
The California State University is the largest system of four-year higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, 52,000 faculty and staff and 481,000 students. Half of the CSU’s students transfer from California community colleges. Created in 1960, the mission of the CSU is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of California. With its commitment to quality, opportunity, and student success, the CSU is renowned for superb teaching, innovative research and for producing job-ready graduates. Each year, the CSU awards more than 125,000 degrees. One in every 20 Americans holding a college degree is a graduate of the CSU and our alumni are 3.7 million strong. Connect with and learn more about the CSU in the CSU NewsCenter.​

Sutter Announces $158M Expansion To Its Santa Rosa Hospital

Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital announced Friday it will hold a groundbreaking event on Sept. 20 at 11 a.m. to mark the official start of its $158 million expansion project — a 3-story structure that will add dozens of hospital beds, more treatment areas in the emergency room, and additional surgical suites.

Lisa Amador, assistant administrator and director of philanthropy, North Bay Sutter Health, announced the news during the Business Journal’s 20th annual Health Care Conference, held Friday at the Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country in Santa Rosa.

“The expansion is a $158 million project and also will include a $15 million capital campaign for philanthropy for (more) services, innovation programs and technology,” she said, adding that Sutter is taking a two-pronged approach to the expansion.

The first will be a three-story tower on the east side of the hospital, located next to the medical office building. The tower will include 40 additional beds, plus two more operating rooms to be located on the lower floor. The timeline for completion is April 2022.

“It takes a long time,” Amador said. “We’ve been in the planning process for a couple of years as well.”

The second phase of the expansion involves increasing the hospital’s emergency room department.

The work involves renovating the internal part of the building to accommodate an additional nine treatment areas, bringing the total number to 27, she said.

“We’ve been experiencing a lot of demand in the ER department, which is really the reason that we are expanding it,” Amador said, adding that support services will be increased as well. “That part of the project will be completed by Sept. 2022.”

The expansion project will mark the completion of the entire Sutter hospital plan, according Gary Helfrich, a planner with Permit Sonoma.

The current Sutter Hospital, which opened in 2014, completed phase 1 of the 2-phase project, he said.

“This expansion is the completion of phase 2, with some minor changes to the original project. Compared to the original approval, the revised phase 2 actually slightly reduces the final project size by 22,000 square feet, while slightly increasing the number of beds (up to 132 from 127),” Helfrich said. “There is also a small increase in height, and two additional employees (569 versus 567).

Sutter’s recently completed solar project also is part of the expansion, Helfrich said.

The hospital on June 17 officially “flipped the switch” on 4,627 solar modules covering approximately 565 parking spaces, supporting 40% of the main hospital’s electricity, Shaun Ralston, regional manager at Sutter Health, told the Business Journal at the time. The solar panels are expected to generate 2.4 million kilowatt-hours of clean energy annually, which would be equivalent to powering 206 homes in one year, according to Sutter.

College of Marin Gets $200K Grant for Career Training Online

College of Marin is proposing to add nine new job-focused online certificate and degree programs in multimedia studies, hospitality management and business as part of a $200,000 grant from the state.

David Wain Coon, the college president, said the one-time grant was part of $27.5 million awarded earlier this month to 70 California community colleges in support of online programs in career technical education, or CTE. Formerly called vocational education, CTE has been expanded beyond trade school curricula to encompass modern tech careers.

“As we continue developing curriculum in response to the needs of our local economy, this funding will allow the college to expand offerings and reach students who might not otherwise have access to these classes,” Wain Coon said in an email. “Once they enroll, support services like financial aid information, counseling, and guidance in finding internships will be there to help ensure their success both as a student and as part of the workforce.”

Wain Coon said the grants are administered by the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, which serves as the fiscal agent. The timeline for the grant is the 2019-20 fiscal year. COM will use the grant to expand its online certificate and degree programs, he said.

“The primary focus of COM’s proposed project, ‘Creating Online CTE Pathways,’ is to develop new online and hybrid CTE certificates and degree programs,” Jonathan Eldridge, a vice president at College of Marin, said in an email. “These programs are already developed as on-campus programs with less than 50% of the respective courses offered online. Currently, COM does not offer fully online degrees or certificates.”

Eldridge said the proposed online certificate and degree programs include business administration, hospitality management, multimedia studies, entertainment, graphic design and web design.

Eldridge added that “additional nine-unit, short-term certificates in multimedia graphic design and digital illustration will also be developed. These certificates will provide ‘upskilling’ opportunities for employees currently working in the field. These short-term certificates will also be ‘ladder’ certificates, which can lead to degree completion.”

The grant award comes on the heels of a critical report on Marin’s career technical education progress by the Marin County Civil Grand Jury. The grand jury’s report, issued earlier this month, said Marin’s K-12 schools and colleges could do a better job in communicating CTE options for students — and that students who might be able to benefit from such communications were “underserved.”

Eldridge said the grand jury’s report failed to fully recognize existing CTE partnerships between the K-12 schools and College of Marin.

“The Marin County Civil Grand Jury report focused on CTE offerings at the secondary level, and presupposed that not all students would or should continue with post-secondary coursework,” Eldridge said. “As noted before, College of Marin has partnerships with local high schools that allow students to complete much of a CTE program by high school graduation.”

“It is important to understand with technical education that re-certifications, upskilling, and learning evolving technologies/new equipment requires continuing education,” Eldridge added. “The purpose of this grant is to expand and enhance opportunities for students in CTE programs to complete their educational goals by offering required courses and general education courses in online/hybrid formats.”

According to Eldridge, a third of the students in the state community college system take at least one class online.

“The expansion of College of Marin’s existing distance education program to include CTE and four-year college transfer degrees, certificates and credentials will provide the community with access to high-quality online programs and student support services,” he said.

Sonoma County Office of Education’s Dr. Steve Herrington is the 2019 Sonoma Changemaker Honoree

10,000 Degrees invites you to the Second Annual Sonoma County Changemakers Dinner in celebration of our cherished community partners who deliver transformative change in the lives of our students and families from low-income backgrounds.

Please join us for an intimate evening of fabulous food and special friends, old and new, as we look to help even more Sonoma County students realize their dreams of becoming college graduates.

All proceeds benefit the 10,000 Degrees students and programs in Sonoma County.

Thursday October 10th 2019 • 5:30 pm
Prelude Restaurant at Sonoma State’s Green Music Center, 1801 East Cotati Avenue, Rohnert Park, CA

Steve Herrington, PhD

Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools

10,000 Degrees supporter since 2014

“The goal of the Sonoma County Office of Education is to ensure that all Sonoma County students, regardless of background, graduate high school ready to succeed in college and career. That’s why we’re proud to partner with organizations like 10,000 Degrees that are working hard to close the achievement gap and create opportunities for all students.”

Buck Institute for Research on Aging Professor Gordon Lithgow Receives Prestigious Award From the American Aging Association

Gordon Lithgow, Buck Institute professor and Chief Academic Officer, will receive the Denham Harman Award from the American Aging Association today, in recognition of lifetime achievement in the field of research on aging.  The award will be made at the organization’s annual meeting, held this year in Burlingame, CA.

Created in 1978, the award was named in honor of Dr. Denham Harman, a pioneer in research on aging who is credited with establishing the free radical theory of aging in a paper he published in 1954.  His hypothesis did not attract serious consideration for almost 30 years, but its core insights opened new avenues of research into the causes of many age-related diseases. Harman died in 2014 at the age of 98.

At the Buck, the Lithgow lab is focused on uncovering genes and identifying small molecules that prolong lifespan through enhancing the molecular stability that often goes out of balance during aging.  The lab concentrates on identifying small drug-like molecules that re-engage and enhance homeostatic mechanisms in the microscopic nematode worm C. elegans, aiming to boost mechanisms that prevent protein misfolding and remove damaged proteins and other forms of molecular damage. Treatment with such molecules frequently results in lifespan extension and postpones disease pathology. Lithgow’s team collaborates with other Buck researchers to test the effectiveness of these compounds to prevent chronic disease in mouse models.

A native of Scotland, Dr. Lithgow received his PhD from the University of Glasgow and obtained further training at Ciba Geigy AG in Basel, Switzerland, and the University of Colorado. He established his lab studying the biology of aging at the University of Manchester, England, before moving it to the Buck Institute in 2000.

Dr. Lithgow has been recognized for his research with many honors, including a Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging, a senior scholarship from the Ellison Medical Foundation, and the Tenovus Award for Biomedical Research. He has served on many national advisory panels in both the United Kingdom and the United States, including the National Institute on Aging’s Board of Scientific Councilors, and has served as the chair of biological sciences at the Gerontology Society of America.

Buck Institute for Research on Aging Faculty Chronicle 30 Years of Research on Aging in Review Article Published in Nature

Understanding aging and the processes that limit lifespan have challenged biologists for years. Thirty years ago, aging biology gained unprecedented scientific credibility when gene variants were identified that extend the lifespan of the nematode C. elegans. In a major review – From discoveries in ageing research to therapeutics for healthy aging – published in the July 10 issue of Nature, six Buck faculty members highlight discoveries that have moved the field forward, suggesting that aging research is entering a new era that has unprecedented medical, commercial and social implications.

“We are at an inflection point, not only in aging research, but for all biological research on the human healthspan,” said Eric Verdin, MD, Buck Institute President and CEO, and lead author of the review. “Research shows that aging is much more plastic than expected. The fact that the cellular pathways that control aging are remarkably conserved in simple animals and humans has brought to the fore the idea of interventions in humans. We anticipate that targeting these conserved pathways will protect against multiple diseases of aging and represents a disruptive approach to tackling the rapidly growing burden of chronic disease worldwide.”

The review highlights some of the key aging pathways and processes that have emerged during the past 30 years, including the insulin-like signaling pathway, target of rapamycin (TOR), Sirtuins and NAD+, circadian clocks, mitochondria and oxidative stress, senescence, chronic inflammation and proteostasis. The review provides an overview of interventions that are being tested to increase healthspan and/or lifespan including rapamycin, senolytics, NAD precursors, sirtuin-activating compounds, metformin, exercise and caloric restriction.

The authors also address challenges that lie ahead for the field, in particular the need to account for the genetic heterogeneity that plays a role in disease susceptibility, lifespan and individual responses to drugs. They note the need for close interaction between the fields of personalized medicine and geroscience, and highlight newer technologies which are enabling the development of new biomarkers of aging.

“This new era of research on aging holds unprecedented promise for increasing human healthspan, and for preventing, delaying or, in some cases, reversing many of the pathologies of aging,” said Verdin. “What is clear is that, thirty years after the fundamental discoveries that linked unique genes to aging, a solid foundation has been built and clinical trials that directly target the aging process have been initiated. Although difficulties can be expected as we translate this research to humans, the potential rewards in terms of healthy aging are extraordinary.”

Citation: From discoveries in ageing research to therapeutics for health ageing
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1365-2
Other Buck faculty contributing to this review include Judith Campisi, Pankaj Kapahi, Gordon J. Lithgow, Simon Melov and John C. Newman.