Medical research goes global

36dsc_1304_ucsandiegopublications_erikjepsenBy Marg Stark

For more than 30 years, Dr. David Shapiro has had a front-row seat to watch the growth and evolution of San Diego’s booming biotech community and its increasing impact on the world. Shapiro, who is the chief medical officer at Intercept Pharmaceuticals, a company focused on developing treatments for nonviral liver disease said the engine that drives the growth of the life sciences is clinical trials, which help to prove—or disprove—the efficacy of possible treatments. Over the years, he said, as biotech companies around the globe have raced to find treatments for a wide range of diseases, clinical trials have become more crucial and more rigorous than ever.

“The primary and secondary research endpoints have to be more defined at the outset; there’s more uniform coordination across the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and others, and less margin for error across the board,” Shapiro said. “Of course, even amid higher regulatory standards, we are always trying to make the pathway shorter. And drugs are now being tested globally much earlier in the development process, with patients being recruited for trials on multiple continents.”

To manage these intricacies, professionals need instruction that keeps up with a staggering pace of change and offers them global research insights. Because of the critical importance of having a talent pool with this expertise, Shapiro serves as an advisor to UC San Diego Extension’s clinical trials programs. He said the courses and certificates Extension offers in clinical trials and drug development allow professionals the opportunities to stay current and ensure San Diego continues as a leading hub in biotech and life science.

“Extension provides ideal training for professionals,” Shapiro said. “I’m extremely impressed with the energy and expertise of the program and the way it prepares students and rewards prospective employers.”

Robyn Leary is one of those professionals who has benefitted from Extension’s training. She had spent 14 years working in various roles in clinical research labs, but she yearned to see the results of her work in patients. Although Leary has a PhD, she said her lack of an MD thwarted her efforts to shift from “bench science to human work.”
So, while pursuing her second “postdoc” fellowship, Leary embarked on clinical trials administration studies at UC San Diego Extension. Within a year, she landed her dream job at Teva Pharmaceuticals, serving as a medical science liaison between the company and the outside community.

For Leary, learning the practicalities of how clinical trials are run and becoming versed in pharmaceutical industry lingo in the Extension certificate program proved essential to her career transition.

“Medical science liaison has become a hot job in the industry, and I would not otherwise have had enough insider knowledge to make the jump into it,” she said.

Shapiro said UC San Diego Extension works extremely hard to design programs that anticipate the constantly changing nature of research and clinical trials.

“Extension attends to innovations with a very fast-wheeling commitment to change and improvement,” Shapiro said.

To stay ahead of the curve, Grace Miller and Donna Stern, who oversee Extension’s clinical trials programs, travel the globe, attending international conferences and forging international partnerships. They also recruit instructors who are leaders in the field, refine curriculum, and add courses to keep the Extension program and its students at the forefront of the industry.

As an example, Miller recently noticed an uptick in interest in project management in clinical trials and attended a session on this topic at a conference in Montreal. Miller promptly recruited the instructor, who will soon teach the course for Extension. Similarly, Stern said, initial coursework in the Clinical Trials Administration Certificate Program will feature more information on the International Council for Harmonization of Technical Requirements for Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (ICH) and other regulatory bodies, not just the FDA and EMA. Clinical trials studies are also offered in Spanish to accommodate the emergence of clinical trials in Latin America.

At Intercept Pharmaceuticals, where Shapiro is overseeing the development of an agonist in bile acid chemistry to treat liver disease, among other therapies, clinical trials are underway in 20 countries.

“That’s an amazing global reach for a small company,” he said. “But that is typical today in drug development.”

International trial recruitment comes earlier in the research process, and global trials are no longer pursued just by field giants such as Merck and Pfizer, both of which Shapiro worked for.

100dsc_1400_ucsandiegopublications_erikjepsenTrained in the United Kingdom, Shapiro said San Diego is the perfect training post for this fast-moving industry. Some of the seminal work on the nuclear receptor FXR, which Shapiro’s company is advancing, was performed two decades ago by UC San Diego professor Alan Hofmann and his team of scientists. UC San Diego’s intense study of this complex molecule, including examining bile samples from animals from the San Diego Zoo, paved the way for the practical-applications work Intercept is forging. If all goes well, patients across the world with liver disease will soon benefit from therapies created in San Diego.

“So often this is the case,” Shapiro said. “Biotechs here are building on the extraordinary basic science performed at UC San Diego and San Diego’s robust nonprofit research organizations.”

Indeed, UC San Diego Extension has partnerships that expose students to international research leaders, such as the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands.

“Our students spent a week at Utrecht as part of our summer intensive workshop,” Miller explained. “But more and more, students interested in our program want to come to San Diego for their classroom work, both for our weather and for the introduction to our international biotech hub.”

Having made her jump from basic to translation research, Leary said she keeps the binder from her Extension studies in her office at Teva and still calls upon it occasionally.

“Teva is an Israeli company with a very global perspective. For my work, I must know what the EMA does and keep up with the research in Europe and elsewhere,” she said. “I knew this day one because of the Extension program: all the agencies, how they differ, and how to look up all their regulations, not to mention the host of pharmaceutical abbreviations and terminology, which are not things you just Google and find.”

Having transitioned from academia to the private sector, Leary said she marvels at the considerable salary and benefits bumps she enjoys and the facets of her personality and interests she now indulges. “In the lab, my work was focused on going very deep. It was tough to find time to read the journals and get the big picture in medicine,” Leary said. “Today, I’m paid to do that—to read about scientific and medical developments and attend conferences to stay abreast of innovation. I consult and troubleshoot about clinical trials. I fly across the region, counseling doctors and answering questions for insurers and payers about the applications of Teva’s therapies. And I’m getting to see the results: the impact we are making around the world on the lives of patients who benefit.”

Free OSHA Safety Training Classes Offered in San Diego and Hawaii


UC San Diego’s OSHA Training Institute Education Center is hosting the 2017 Pacific Coast Safety Fest on March 79 at two regional locations

SAN DIEGO (Feb. 10, 2017) – From small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, organizations with robust workplace safety programs can reduce worker injuries and boost their bottom lines.

That’s good news considering that more than 3 million American workers reported on-the-job injuries last year costing employers nearly $200 billion, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To help improve workplace safety and enhance employee productivity, UC San Diego Extension is inviting regional employers to participate in multiple free classes and workshops being offered at the 2017 Pacific Coast Safety Fest on March 7 through 9 in San Diego and Oahu, Hawaii.


UC San Diego’s OSHA Training Institute Education Center, one of a handful of authorized institutions on the West Coast and one of only 26 nationwide, is co-hosting Safety Fest along with federal OSHA’s Region IX area office.

“This annual event is open to the public and is designed to create safer job sites and increase the number of OSHA-trained workers in our region,” said Dr. Grace Miller, Director of UC San Diego’s OSHA Training Institute Education Center.

While huge strides have been made in protecting workers in U.S. factories, hospitals, construction sites and other workplaces over the last few decades, she said even one death on the job is one too many, and nearly all workplace injuries are preventable.

“If the education and training information offered at Safety Fest helps prevent a serious injury or saves just one life, it is well-worth attending,” said Dr. Miller.

In addition to saving employees’ lives and limbs, she said job-site safety is a “business growth strategy,” a cost-effective way for employers to improve both productivity and profits.

“Focusing on the health and safety of our region’s workforce is good for workers and good for businesses,” said Dr. Miller.

Demand for Safety Fest and other OSHA safety training classes has grown three-fold in the last few years, noted Dr. Miller, who has seen the annual event expand from a one-day, one-location program first held in 2005 to its current multi-day format offered in cities throughout the western United States.

This year’s Safety Fest will offer a variety of classes on safety standards and best practices in key industries as well as general presentations on the latest OSHA rules, regulations and training requirements. Other topics will include hazard recognition, accident investigation, job hazard analysis and whistleblower complaints.

The impact of terrorist threats on companies’ emergency planning and evacuation programs will headline one of the many workshops at San Diego Safety Fest, said Brandon Phillips, an event instructor and EHS Safety Manager at Continental Tide Defense Systems Inc.

“This is a great opportunity to network with other professionals and get the latest on training equipment, products and online tools,” said Phillips.

According to Hawaii Safety Fest instructor Joaquin Diaz, the event allows area professionals to engage with area experts on issues critical to the local workforce, including compliance and regulatory challenges.

“Participants can learn practical applications to improve the safety conditions in their work environments,” said Diaz, Health, Safety and Environmental Director at Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co.

In San Diego, the Pacific Coast Safety Fest will be held March 7 and 8 at UC San Diego’s OSHA Training Institute Education Center, 6256 Greenwich Drive.

On Oahu, the three-day event is slated for March 7 through 9 at the Construction Training Center of the Pacific, located at 94-487 Akoki St. in Waipahu.

Space is limited and advanced registration is required. All participants will receive credit for authorized OSHA Education Center classes and a certificate of attendance for all completed workshops and seminars.

For more information, visit the Pacific Coast Safety Fest 2017 website at or call UC San Diego’s OSHA Training Institute Education Center at 800-358-9206.


 About the UC San Diego’s OSHA Department and Training Institute Education Center

UC San Diego’s Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) Department is focused on providing high-quality training services for health and safety professionals. UC San Diego’s OSHA Department currently offers: U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA Training Institute Education Center’s authorized courses; UC San Diego developed health and safety courses; and a Safety Professional Certificate program.

The high quality and experienced faculty, in cooperation with esteemed local partners, bring applied safety regulations and curriculum to OSHA Region IX, which includes California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and Guam. Additionally, UC San Diego’s OSHA Department provides safety courses to local companies on site. For more information, contact 800-358-9206.

Instructor Spotlight: Amanda Quintenz-Fiedler on helping students achieve their [photographic] vision

By Kelly Davis


Name: Amanda Quintenz-Fiedler
Title: President
Company: dBF Associates, Inc.
Courses taught: Introduction to Black & White Photography; Understanding Photographic Light: Studio & Location

For photographer Amanda Quintenz-Fiedler, teaching others her craft is as important as practicing it. “My entire life is photography,” she writes on her website. “Learning it. Teaching it. Writing about it.” She’s the author of three books on photographic techniques and frequently contributes articles to professional photography magazines. Her best advice for aspiring photographers: Find your voice and niche. “Try to be inch-wide, mile-deep, instead of mile-wide, inch-deep,” she says.

Why did you choose this career field?
I’ve always loved photography and teaching. I’ve been a photographer since I was 12 and started teaching first as a tutor when I was in high school, tutoring younger students in math.

I chose photography because I love the creation of images, the concept of the frozen moment and the idea of changing the story of reality with my own perspective. I just gravitated towards it in high school and could never get rid of the bug. I finally realized it’s what I should do for a living after working in corporate America for six years. Best choice I ever made.

How’d you get started?
I majored in Interdisciplinary Film Studies at Purdue University and then got my Master of Fine Arts in photography from Brooks Institute. My first professional gig was for a small greeting card company, shooting still-life images of their products. I knew the owner and we both started our businesses about the same time. After that, I got larger corporate jobs, weddings and family portraits.

What do most enjoy about your job?
I love helping students achieve their vision.

What advice would you give to someone looking to enter the field?
Photography is a saturated field. That doesn’t mean you can’t be successful; it just means that you are more likely to be successful if you excel at a specific [kind of] photography and make it your own. A unique voice with technical skill and consistency will get you a lot further than trying to be a jack-of-all-trades. Try to be inch-wide, mile-deep, instead of mile-wide, inch-deep.

How is your field changing? What new skills do people need to stay current?
Photography changes daily. There are new tools, new software, new cameras. Trying to stay on top of everything will drive you crazy. But you can stay relevant to the things that matter to you — and be sure to always look at new photography to be sure you understand where the trends are headed and if they apply to you.

Why do you teach for Extension?
I teach for UC San Diego Extension because it’s a good program with concise classes. Not everyone wants a semester system or a twice-weekly class structure. This program allows people to engage with photography at their own rate with specific insights and classes to help direct that unique voice I mentioned earlier. It’s important to figure out what you want to do and build skills towards that goal. Extension provides a great structure to do that.

For information on Amanda Quintenz-Fiedler’s courses and the Photography programs at Extension, check out the Digital Arts and Arts & Humanities areas of interest of our website.

UC San Diego sees Downtown as innovation’s next frontier


Since its inception more than 50 years ago, UC San Diego has been an agent of change in the region. But its transformative role was hardly by chance. Rather, it was the stated goal of civic leaders in the 1950s and 1960s. They envisioned a world-class research university that would serve the needs of innovative defense companies after World War II as well as enable and energize a growing cluster of life science and technology firms on the Torrey Pines Mesa.

That vision has succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. Today, San Diego is home to one of the world’s largest research and development clusters in the world, which, according to the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, has an economic impact of almost $14 billion annually.

But while innovation continues to flourish on and around the UC San Diego campus, there is growing recognition that technological advancement is not—nor should it be—the sole province of the Torrey Pines Mesa, said Mary Walshok, associate vice chancellor of public programs and dean of UC San Diego Extension.

“Just as the growth of the research institutions on the Torrey Pines Mesa has been transformative for the city and the region,” Walshok said, “we realize there is an opportunity to be part of the next great transformation, and we believe that means UC San Diego needs to have a vital presence in the urban core.”

To that end, UC San Diego Extension recently announced its intention to build an Innovative Cultural and Education Hub in downtown San Diego. The four-story, 66,000-square-foot facility, which is slated to open in 2020, will sit at the corner of Park Boulevard and Market Street and deliver a wide range of programs to the growing downtown innovation community and the diverse neighborhoods throughout San Diego’s urban core.

“This facility will open up doors to our students and our faculty to be more embedded in the rich tapestry of our community,” Walshok said. “We hope it will attract others to the mission of an inclusive innovation economy that is so critical for San Diego’s ongoing success.”

UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla said the new facility is designed to deliver on the core tenets of the university’s Strategic Plan to ensure equity and excellence.

“Our establishment of an urban innovation and educational hub demonstrates our commitment to be bold and build a better university, a better community, and a better world,” Khosla said. “This new hub will support economic development downtown while delivering new educational opportunities for our students, faculty, and staff, and provide a greater connection to the communities throughout San Diego.”

UC San Diego Extension will provide leadership for the center, which the Holland Partner Group is developing as part of a larger residential project at the location. The UC San Diego center will offer educational and cultural programs and will include an outdoor amphitheater. The center will be home to:
•    Academic and outreach programs for middle school and high school students from surrounding communities
•    Business incubation and entrepreneurship resources for entrepreneurs throughout the urban core
•    A venue for arts events and exhibits to showcase the university’s and the larger community’s cultural offerings
•    A hub for civic engagement, including applied research and volunteer opportunities
•    Courses, workshops, and seminars relevant to downtown’s growing workforce.

Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer applauded UC San Diego for its commitment to the city’s ongoing efforts in education and economic development.

“Landing a university presence in downtown San Diego is a game changer and the result of years of hard work to make it a reality,” Faulconer said. “This new project will continue the revitalization of the East Village neighborhood and, with UC San Diego’s top-notch reputation, provide countless opportunities for collaboration as we prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow.”

No state funds will be used to finance the construction of the project, and ongoing financing will come from a combination of program underwriting, contracts and grants, fees for services, and lease revenues all of which UC San Diego Extension will manage.

Walshok said rapid advances in technology and changing demographics demand that UC San Diego move beyond its main campus and find ways to engage a wide array of constituencies at the new downtown facility.

For one, if San Diego is to maintain its leadership role as a global hub for innovation, the region needs to invest in its downtown because millennials, who make up the largest generation in U.S. history, crave an urban lifestyle. The Nielsen Company, a national market research firm, found in a recent survey that 62 percent of millennials would prefer to live in the type of mixed-use communities found in urban centers, where they can be close to shops, restaurants, and offices. This demographic trend parallels the increasing importance of software, data analytics, and computers to all industries—retail, health, services, manufacturing, and entertainment.

Downtown San Diego echoes the national trends. Of the 34,550 people living in downtown, millennials are the largest demographic group, making up a third of the population.


An urban environment is even important to millennials who work in the innovation sector, Walshok said. Increasingly, UC San Diego graduates in computer science are moving to cities such as San Francisco because they offer a wide variety of job opportunities and an urban lifestyle.

“We’d naturally much rather they live and work here,” she said.

This desire for an urban environment is evident in downtown San Diego’s growing innovation cluster. Already, downtown is home to more than 110 startups, which translates into 15.34 startups for every 10,000 people. By way of comparison, there are just 1.35 startups per 10,000 people countywide.

Walshok emphasized that much of what is driving the innovation economy is the growing importance of software to all fields—from healthcare to transportation to telecommunications. Because of its collaborative nature, software development demands density to foster connections and spur new advances—something that urban environments are uniquely able to offer.

But UC San Diego’s urban innovation initiative is about more than growing downtown’s tech scene, Walshok said. It is about engaging the surrounding communities to ensure they have access to the training and educational resources they need so they can be part of a growing and constantly changing innovation sector.

One of the main reasons the university selected the Park and Market site is because it is located next to the extension of the trolley’s UC San Diego Blue Line, which will run from San Ysidro to University City and connect the campus in La Jolla with the greater San Diego region.

“These transportation links that connect the university with the larger community are critical as the city comes of age,” Walshok said. “We want to build this facility to demonstrate that no matter where you come from, there is a place for you in the innovation economy.”

Walshok said the exact programs the facility will house will be determined over the coming year through conversations and collaborations with a wide array of community stakeholders. Nonetheless, she added, it is clear this new hub will help redefine the role of a research university in the 21st century by offering unique educational experiences and research opportunities as well as arts and cultural activities.

“With the diverse neighborhoods surrounding the urban core, including Barrio Logan, the Diamond District, and Golden Hill, this project reinforces UC San Diego’s role as a key partner in spurring economic prosperity and inclusion through engaging events and educational offerings of interest to all San Diegans,” Walshok said. “In the decade ahead, I think the downtown facility will yield real economic benefits for the citizens of San Diego. It is an extraordinary time for our region.”


Lean Six Sigma produces results for UC San Diego

img_1160As a global leader in higher education, UC San Diego strives for excellence in all aspects of campus life – from offering world-class educational opportunities to leading the industry in research accomplishments – that ambition transcends to employees as well. In order to become better, UC San Diego has partnered with UC San Diego Extension to provide employees the opportunity to gain valuable problem solving tools through the Lean Six Sigma program.

Lean Six Sigma’s process improvement methodologies teach participants how to eliminate steps and activities that don’t add value to a process, ensuring the employee’s skills are being used to the best of their potential. Because people are the most valuable asset of any organization, this is an important component to the program’s goals.

pierre_ouilletPierre Ouillet, vice chancellor and CFO of UC San Diego, believes in the necessity of constantly improving and is a strong advocate of the Lean Six Sigma program.

“Our Strategic Plan gives us an imperative to challenge ourselves to constantly increase both the efficiency of our operations and the quality of the services we provide in support of teaching, research and public service” said Ouillet. “The Lean Six Sigma continuous improvement methodology enables us to do so. It has a long history of success not only in its traditional manufacturing industries, but also across service industries, higher education and health care.”

Having the opportunity to gain effective skills is paramount to always improving, which is why Ouillet allocated funds for 26 scholarships for participants in the most recent Lean Six Sigma course.

“Through our Office of Operational Strategic Initiatives and in partnership with UC San Diego Extension, we are building and supporting a culture of continuous improvement through targeted projects, education and collaboration,” said Ouillet “A great importance is the ongoing positive impact on service quality and our collaborative culture.”

A number of UC San Diego staff have completed UC San Diego Extension’s Lean Six Sigma program, earning a green belt and implementing the methodologies in the workplace to achieve results.

Lisa Thai Schlossman, principal human resources analyst at UC San Diego, said the Lean Six Sigma program taught her to look beyond the surface of a problem to understand the underlying issues.

“What Lean Six Sigma teaches you is to explore the root cause of a problem and to measure it with data,” she said.

A principle methodology is teaching participants how to step outside the process in order to see what is painful about going through the process and then making improvements.

“One of the best things that Lean Six Sigma did for me was help me understand the process for the customer,” Schlossman said. “It taught me to expand my perspective and understand how the customer is experiencing the process.”

Rosemarie Marino Del-Mar, IT project manager at UC San Diego, appreciated the emphasis of real-world learning in which participants could immediately apply their new knowledge.

“We came in with projects from our work environment that we needed to solve,” she said. “What I like is that there was a real goal.”

img_1076The impact of the Lean Six Sigma program is felt throughout campus and has already improved a number of processes including:

  • reducing the amount of time to recruit and hire staff;
  • shortening payment terms while ensuring UC San Diego’s commitment to consistently pay on time;
  • developing an objective measuring system to receive and understand patient experiences in the International Patients Program;
  • shortening compliance approval processes for recruiting faculty;
  • reducing errors in the HDH Hospitality Express Catering Orders;
  • identifying ways to expedite the UC San Diego’s Staff Volunteer Appointment Process;
  • and reducing cycle time for the job classification process.

As an active supporter of continuous improvement, Ouillet said he plans to offer additional scholarship funds for upcoming Lean Six Sigma courses through Extension to further UC San Diego’s efficiency and superb customer service.

For more information on UC San Diego Extension’s Lean Six Sigma programs, visit us online at

Coding boot camp to launch at UC San Diego Extension

55430675_mUC San Diego Extension’s first coding boot camp, where students train for careers as full-stack web developers in just 24 weeks, will begin this winter at Extension’s University City Center campus.

The Coding Boot Camp at UC San Diego Extension is an intensive, part-time program structured around the schedules of working professionals and full-time students. Two three-hour evening classes will be held during the week with a four-hour class set for each Saturday. The program will run from Jan. 24, 2017 through July 8, 2017.

“UC San Diego Extension is excited to bring this program to the San Diego market,” said Svetislav Maric, director of technology at UC San Diego Extension. “There is virtually no area of our lives that hasn’t been affected by the internet and because of this, the need for technology expertise will only continue to grow.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks web development among the world’s fastest-growing professions, with the job market on track to expand by as much as 27 percent through 2024. According to CBRE Group, San Diego ranks 16th among tech talent markets in the United States and Canada.

“Each year in the United States there are about 50,000 tech jobs that can’t be filled,” said Maric. “We are hoping to help shrink that number by offering this program to motivated and hardworking people in the San Diego community.”

In addition to discussion and collaboration in the classroom, students will also work on outside projects with participating area businesses. These projects will be part of their professional project portfolio and will serve as a powerful tool in helping participants land a job after the course.

While previous training or experience isn’t required, applicants should have some knowledge of coding basics.

The course covers coding and data structure fundamentals, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Node.js, jQuery, Java, MongoDB and more – all the skills they need to develop dynamic end-to-end web applications. Students also will have access to career-planning services, including portfolio reviews, demo days, recruiting assistance and extensive staff support.

“A career in web development puts you right in the middle of a digital revolution,” said Maric. “It is an in-demand career that is also filled with creative projects that help improve companies and communities. For the right person, The Coding Boot Camp at UC San Diego Extension can be the perfect starting point to an amazing path as a web developer.”

To learn more about The Coding Boot Camp at UC San Diego Extension, visit Students can apply online or by calling (858) 519-8997.

Launch pad: Taking successful product management to the next level

product-managementBy Andrea Siedsma

In today’s fast-paced, consumer-driven market, having the best product or technology doesn’t always equal success. In fact, companies are faced with mounting pressure to define, develop and launch the right products and services at the right time and in the right market. Product managers are at the forefront of this evolution, bringing together business and consumer needs while articulating strategy, defining requirements, and being involved in on-going delivery.

A new Product Management program through UC San Diego Extension addresses these challenges and changes by offering students a comprehensive look into the elements and skills necessary to transition into a product management role at their company. The Product Management program provides the real-world tools necessary to be a successful product manager, from learning the phase-gate process critical to product management success to the team and leadership skills necessary to lead a cross functional product management team. Coursework ranges from in-class lectures to field trips and guest speakers, as well as hands on cases, projects and market simulations. The program kicks off on Feb. 9, 2017 with an opening dinner, followed by the first module on Friday, Feb. 10.

While developing new products and managing them through their life cycle is the lifeblood of companies, especially those in technology and science, new product development is risky and most new products ultimately fail. The goal of the in-depth UC San Diego Extension program is to improve a company’s ability to bring successful products to market and maintain that success throughout their lifecycle.

carlton“Product management is in greater demand than it’s ever been because the pressure on companies to be innovative, especially technology companies, is as high as it’s ever been – somebody sitting at home watching a football game can impact a whole industry by creating an innovative app,” said Carlton C. O’Neal, program director of the UC San Diego Extension Product Management program. “The only way for a company to be systemically innovative is to have quality product managers following a world class product management process.”

O’Neal (pictured here) said successful product management also includes knowing how to fail quickly and efficiently.

“Product management, especially in smaller companies and even some bigger companies, is typically not managed as a separate function with an iterative phase-gate process – a series of phases separated by approval gates. It’s necessary to balance a bunch of different priorities, from trying to innovate or fail quickly, to using limited resources, and getting buy-in from all different departments,” he said.

The program has been designed to benefit a wide range of employees, whether in engineering, marketing, sales, finance, operations, customer service, or manufacturing, who might want to move into a product management role, as well as current product managers who want to sharpen their skills and learn the latest product management techniques. Throughout the course, students learn how to collect new ideas, and launch and manage products throughout their lifecycle. The comprehensive program covers product management for the full life cycle of products including overall fit with the company strategy, as well as new technological developments. Students are even introduced to various product management tools, such as innovative product roadmap tools.

Hand drawn product management circular conceptWhile this is a holistic approach to looking at a company’s strategy and product development, O’Neal said it’s critical that organizations also be flexible in the creative process.

“The challenge is that senior executives and companies are under increasing pressure to be more innovative and more rapidly create a new product every two years instead of five years or a new software release every six months. But if you are too efficient, you won’t be as innovative,” said O’Neal, who has 25 years of product management and marketing experience and designed the program based on industry best practices across a wide range of world-class companies. “The challenge is how to maximize creativity and innovation while at the same time being efficient and successful with new products.”

For vibrant tech regions like San Diego, such a program could give local companies the boost they need to remain competitive. In fact, the UC San Diego Extension program was designed based on input from several local CEOs.

“San Diego as a growing city is constantly upgrading its professional community. One of the fastest and best ways to enhance the San Diego business community is to have companies be more innovative and more successful with their new products,” O’Neal said. “UC San Diego Extension’s mission is to help businesses very quickly improve their new product development approaches and to be more innovative and more successful in growing their companies. We are a local resource; for only a few hours a month, we can greatly impact the success of local businesses in terms of innovation and launching new products.”

The easy way to share ideasThe UC San Diego Extension Product Management program includes six training modules, including: Product Management, Planning and Innovation; Team Building and Decision Making; Financial Considerations for Product Managers, Marketing and Sales; New Product Process including Phase Gate; and Product Portfolio Management and End of Life. For more information about the program, call (858) 534-9148 or visit


50 Voices of the Future: Margaret Leinen on advances in oceanography

leinen50voiceIn honor of UC San Diego Extension’s first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

As much as we know about our planet’s ocean, it contains countless mysteries we have yet to solve, countless secrets we have yet to decipher. Dr. Margaret Leinen, director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, notes that “we have more images of Mars than we do of the bottom of the ocean.” Advances in technology, she says, will allow us to peer into the ocean’s distant past in order to forecast its future changes and the implications of those changes for the planet as a whole. “That ability to really see the ocean, and what’s in the ocean, and to see it changing in front of us, is probably the most exciting development in our field,” she says.

 Why is the work you do important?

I’m an oceanographer. The ocean covers 70 percent of the planet. It is the absolute driver of global climate. The ocean moderates the climate and keeps us from having really great temperature extremes. All of the precipitation originally comes from the ocean. The ocean is a huge food source for everyone and a major food source for 2 billion of the poorest people on the planet. Virtually all the goods that we think of as the basis for trade – big things like lumber and cars, small things like electronics — are transported over the ocean. Then of course there’s national defense – the Navy is a major player in defense. Then there are other things like the quality of the environment that makes swimming, diving, surfing, and sailing possible. Oceanographers look at all of those aspects. They look at how the ocean works, they look at the ecosystems within it, they look at techniques to be able to determine how the ocean is changing, they look at fisheries, they look at coastal issues like water quality, sea-level rise, etc. So it’s the sum of all those very important roles that oceanographers play.

What are the influential/exciting developments happening in your field now and why?

The ocean has been one of the most under-observed parts of the earth. We have more images of the surface of Mars than we do of the bottom of the ocean. But that’s changing. New systems are being developed that are autonomous and that have great capability of collecting and transmitting data. Even more important are new technologies for being able to get a global picture of the ocean itself – the interior of the ocean. We now have four thousand autonomous floats moving around the ocean every day, and every day about a fifth of those floats report back on profiles they’ve taken of the entire upper 6,500 feet of the ocean. We have a picture of the temperature, the salinity, the currents of the ocean that is so much more detailed than ever before as a result of ten years of these measurements. This new technology is completely revolutionizing oceanography. There are also new instruments for biology, enabling us to look at the genomics of the ocean, the microbiology of the ocean. The field is exploding so fast in capability that it’s hard to even keep track of. That ability to really see the ocean, and what’s in the ocean, and to see it changing in front of us, is probably the most exciting development in our field.

What’s the next big thing?

It’s hard to under-sell how important our new knowledge of the microbiology of the ocean is. In the last decade our understanding of microbes and viruses has completely changed our thinking. We now know that the genetic make-up of microbes holds keys to what the ocean was like in the past. Someone just described it this way: The earth’s history — since the time that there was an ocean — is written in the DNA of the microbes of the ocean in a language that we never knew and that we still don’t know how to speak.

How big an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?

San Diego is a coastal town, has a huge economy related to the ocean – trade, tourism, fishing, Navy – and the region itself is very much a part of that. Even the biotech part of the San Diego economy has not yet profited by our understanding of all of this ocean biology. I think oceanography will play an incredible role in shaping the evolution of the biotech industry here, unveiling marine molecules related to new drugs or novel compounds that do interesting things that we need done. I think oceanography will also shape the future of San Diego in how we deal with sea-level rise and how we deal with pollution in our waters; oceanography is at the heart of that.

Hop into your time machine…what does the future look like for this field in 50 years?

Oceanography will be even more interdisciplinary than it is now. This year we hired eight new faculty who have fully joint appointments with other parts of the university – the School of Medicine, the School of Engineering, the departments of anthropology, biology, and global policy and strategy. We need closer relationships with all of those fields to be able to attack the big questions and problems that we want to look at over the next decades. Also, our field will be saturated with technologies for observing the ocean that we don’t even know about now

Leinen is featured on UC San Diego’ Extension STEAM Channel as part of series The Constellation: Sally Ride Science Conversations. She discusses her career, leading the University of California’s delegation to the Paris Climate Conference and the impact of the new Research Vessel/Sally Ride.

50 Voices of the Future: Todd Hylton on the rise of robotics

50v_toddhyltonIn honor of UC San Diego Extension’s first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

San Diego has the potential to become what scientist Todd Hylton calls “Robot Valley.” Hylton, executive director of UC San Diego’s Contextual Robotics Institute, believes the region has all the ingredients to become the nation’s leader in robotic innovations: great universities, a critical mass of private researchers and a fantastic location. Hylton has been working in robotics and related technologies for many years – most recently at the San Diego startup Brain Corporation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) before that. He predicts dramatic near-term advances in the way robots impact our daily lives, from how we drive to how we maintain our health. One day, he says, there might even be a widespread demand for so-called “humanoids” – robots that look like people. How humans might respond to a world filled with humanoids is, of course, anyone’s guess. “If the robot is not too human, people like it,” Hylton says. “If the robot is very, very human, people like it. If it’s in-between, it seems creepy.”

Why is the work you do important?

There are lots of practical needs in which robots or intelligent machines could make a big difference. Consider just the example of health care. As people get older, we’d like to help prevent falls. Having a house that’s smart enough turn on the lights for you, a walker that’s smart enough to come to you and tell you when you’re about to step over something, a machine that can look at the way you’re walking and try to anticipate that you might be having problems and alert caregivers or medical personnel – all of these things seem within our grasp but they’re not yet available.

What are the influential/exciting developments happening in your field now and why?

Perhaps the most exciting one is the rebirth of artificial intelligence in some new forms. You can see it everywhere. Self-driving cars, for example. These cars are going to have all these artificial-intelligence abilities on board that will enable them to do the things they need to do to drive themselves. Sensors and computing hardware and a lot of pieces you need to build robots have gotten really cheap. Also, some of the advanced sensors, the laser sensors, are coming down in cost, too, as the volumes go up, driven by applications like cars and other things. So there’s a lot of cool stuff going on. Of course, we do worry about robots displacing humans in various jobs. In the Robotics Institute at UC San Diego, it’s not simply an engineering-driven institute; it’s a collaboration of engineering and the division of social sciences. We need to be conscious of how the robots are going to influence and interact with the humans. That’s where the social scientists live, that’s their work. There are challenges going forward if we are able to automate much of the work we do now, which is what technology essentially always does. Historically, people have always reorganized themselves in a way where the technology provides tools that make them more capable. One would, of course, like the disruption to be as modest and the transition as smooth as possible. We certainly worry about those things.

What’s the next big thing?

The next big thing in the field of robotics is robots that have a more complex understanding of their world and that develop a larger understanding of the context of the environment that they live in. And that includes things that happen over a long period of time. They don’t do that now. And that’s partly why we named the institute the Contextual Robotics Institute. The idea is that the robot needs to understand the context of the situation it’s in.

How big an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?

We would like San Diego to become Robot Valley. We’re working very hard to engage people outside the university. A large fraction of my job is finding industry partners, creating research partnerships with them, and making sure that we are educating the kind of people that they’ll want to hire. There are quite a few companies in the area, small and large, working in the field, so a large part of what I’m trying to do is stitch those pieces together. We have all the parts here – we’ve got the great universities, we’ve got the intellectual capital, we’ve got the industry around it, we have a great location. So we have as good a shot of doing it as anybody.

Hop into your time machine…what does the future look like for this field in 50 years?

We’ll have machines that work in the real world without humans having to tell them what to do all the time. We can have cars that talk to each other, that pick us up, that talk to the airplane to tell us when we can get on the airplane. We’ll have sensors that tell us, your blood pressure’s too high so you need to change your diet. There’s so much low-hanging fruit that it’s sometimes hard to figure out where to start.

Hylton recently shared his insights into the rise of robotics at the Game Changer lecture that was put on by Collaboratory for Downtown Innovation (CDI), which is a partnership between UC San Diego and the Downtown San Diego Partnership. The mission of CDI is to build stronger connections between tech entrepreneurs in Downtown San Diego and UC San Diego and other research institutions on the Torrey Pines Mesa. You can find out more here.

50 Voices of the Future: Anthony Davis on musical innovation


In honor of UC San Diego Extension’s first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

Anthony Davis’ cutting-edge operas exude all the drama and power of the art form, while exploring relevant and often charged topics. At UC San Diego, the celebrated composer/pianist is a music professor in Integrative Studies and Composition. His eight operas (he is working on his ninth) include “X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X,” “Five” (about New York’s Central Park Five) and “Wakonda’s Dream,” (about a resilient Native American family). “Lear on the Second Floor,” which premiered at UC San Diego in 2013, is one of his several smaller-scale operatic works.

Davis also writes chamber, choral and orchestral music and leads workshops for the New York-based American Composers Orchestra. He frequently tours as a solo pianist, especially in Europe, and recently performed with acclaimed jazz trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, his longtime musical compadre. Davis’ collaborators at UC San Diego include playwright Allan Havis and contrabassist Mark Dresser, both fellow professors. Davis has been a music instructor at UC San Diego’s Jazz Camp since it began 15 years ago. He calls the camp a “wonderful experience.”

(1) Why is the work you do important?

My work, particularly in opera, has transformed the medium by creating pieces with political impact and synthesizing different traditions. I’m integrating jazz, classical and longer, extended forms. How I approach text and setting words to music is part of my innovation as composer.

Taking on politically charged issues is an important role that opera can play. My colleagues and I are working to make opera immediate and visceral, to create a different intimacy than grand opera.

(2) What are the influential/exciting developments happening in your field now and why?

One is the use of electronic media, using computers to merge sound effects with music. With synthesizers, we can create a sound world that affects the audience before the baton drops.

There are other innovative forms of storytelling – taking the linear approach out of it and looking at issues from various points of views. Rap and hip hop have influenced the way we approach rhythm and text. We are bringing improvisation into opera.

25ccabucsandiegopublicationserikjepsen(3) What’s the next big thing?

I’m interested in the idea of creating opera using telematics, which enables performers to collaborate in several locations at once. It’s not just the theatrical event but also includes using video projection. Pieces can be presented simultaneously allowing multiple perspectives.

(4) How big an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?

I don’t think it’s regional, although San Diego is emerging as a cultural center. The work I do looks at the country and the world. Nothing is limited to region now. What happens here happens around the world.

The work we do is very important in this hostile political environment. There’s a threat to our democracy. As artists, what we create sounds an alarm against oppression.

I worry that there will be assaults on the advancements that have been made over the last 20 years. We are looking at a period of great turmoil and ugly confrontations. As artists, we can galvanize people and help them realize what is at stake.

(5) Hop into your time machine…what does the future look like for this field in 50 years? How can individuals/companies get prepared for what’s next?

Who knows? It’s all up for grabs. If we are going to surrender to racist, misogynist forces within our society, we could get pessimistic. The stakes are high. In 50 years, we could be an open society welcoming ideas from people with different backgrounds or a repressive society that has reverted to our awful past. It’s not a given that in 50 years we will be in a better place than we are now.

UCSD Jazz Camp is a five-day summer program designed for intermediate to advanced level jazz musicians, ages 14–adult. UC San Diego Extension also offers a variety of Performing Arts courses in Singing, Guitar, Piano and more, for adults.