World AIDS Day Silicon Valley this Saturday!

No plans yet for tomorrow?

Come out and  join us for a celebration of the victories such as increased access to treatment and prevention services, creative efforts from youth, remarks by community leaders, reflection of those impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic and a call to action.

The PACE Clinic in partnership with the VMC Foundation presents World AIDS Day Silicon Valley at the Locatelli Student Center at Santa Clara University from 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM.

The event will feature a Red Ribbon Tree, a Facing AIDS photobooth, free HIV testing from Santa Clara County Public Health, and the displays of posters submitted by youth in Silicon Valley about HIV/AIDS prevention & intervention.

The program will be MC’ed by St. John from 99.7 and will include talks from Fred Ferrer, CEO, The Health Trust,  Fr. Michael Zampelli, SJ, community members as well as the presentation of awards for the youth poster & video contest.

We hope you can make it!


New Institute of Regenerative Medicine being generated at VMC!


“As a physician and researcher at Stanford University and the Palo Alto VA, I was very gratified to see world leaders in spinal cord injury and regenerative medicine come together in conferences on the Stanford campus two weeks ago.  This collaboration is remarkable and essential for translating regeneration research into clinical treatments.

SCVMC Rehab has played a key role in forming these collaborations through the efforts of Dr. Stephen McKenna and his pioneering work in the first clinical trial of human embryonic stem cells for spinal cord injury. SCVMC stands to be a pillar in translational research for SCI, through the visionary leadership of Dr. Jeff Smith and Liz Kniss and Santa Clara County, which has set up the Silicon Valley Institute for Regenerative Medicine. I congratulate all involved and look forward to exciting breakthroughs in this field.”

Graham Creasey, MD

Spinal Cord injury Service, VA Palo Alto Health Care System

Professor of Spinal Cord Injury Medicine, Stanford University


You may remember Katie Sharify, the young woman who made history at Valley Medical Center a year ago, when she received stem cells into her spinal cord in a ground-breaking procedure. Since then, a lot has happened. A whole lot, in fact.

First, readers of this blog may remember that VMC is now the home of the Silicon Valley Institute of Regenerative Medicine – “regenerative” meaning to use robotics, molecules and stem cells to actually cure paralysis. We are a long way off, but we have to start somewhere…and somewhere is here. And now.

Second, just after the Board of Supervisors voted for the creation of the “SV Institute”, VMC helped plan and sponsor a conference at Stanford called Regeneration, Repair and Restoration of Function after Spinal Cord Injury. The conference brought experts from around the world to Silicon Valley and examined, among a range of topics and discussions, the lessons learned from recent clinical trials of spinal cord interventions as well as knowledge management and dissemination moving forward.

Third, you may also remember that the initial trial was sponsored by a firm called Geron, who discontinued their funding of the trial just as Katie was enrolling. Well, for a number of reasons it looks like Geron is back – so watch this space for more updates on this potentially exciting development.

Because, we now know full well that launching a new field of medicine cannot be done by one corporation, or one hospital…it needs to be a collaboration between (in our case) VMC, Stanford, UCSF, the Palo Alto VA, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and many others. The launch of this collaborative has been documented expertly by David Alvarado, award-winning film maker, in his 7-minute documentary “The Cure”.

Please take the time to watch this video (above). You’ll meet some of the world’s experts and advocates in this brand-new field, including VMC’s own Stephen McKenna MD. You’ll also learn how the political will of Santa Clara County helped create this new Institute.

If you are thinking “how can I help?” then I like the way you think! Many already have, including a major gift from the Mulcahy and DiNapoli Families. If you want to be a part of this game-changing work, let us know in the comment section below.

A vote for Sue, for Turning Wheels, and for $25,000!

Sue Runsvold, RN, Nurse Manager at Valley Medical Center, founded Turning Wheels with an idealistic team of volunteers.

As one election winds down, it’s time to ramp up another. It’s fun and easy, and if you help and spread the news, we could raise $25,000 for a program we all know and love: Turning Wheels for Kids!

The founder of Turning Wheels, Sue Runsvold, RN, has been named a “Woman of Worth” by L’Oreal. Well, those of us who know Sue already KNEW that, but now the world can know…and if enough of us vote, we help Sue provide even more new bikes to kids who would otherwise never have one.

Again, the winner’s charity gets $25,000…and you can vote once a day until November 22.

Turning Wheels is really making a difference. Let’s all make a difference for Sue by voting for her here. If your employer blocks websites like this, just forward this email to your private account and vote later. Thanks…and again, spread the word!

Donors Help Make VMC’s Regional Burn Center a Healing Place for Families

(The following story was originally published in the Fall 2012 issue of the VMC Foundation Impact Report, available online by clicking here.)

16 month-old Anavieve during a follow-up visit with Burn Center resident, Dr. Lauren Fischer.

When 16 month-old Anavieve reached for a hot cup of tea, parents Christina and Teddy watched in horror as scalding liquid rained down over her chest, back and face. Knowing she would need medical attention, they called 911. Emergency Medical Techs on the scene told them they would take Anavieve to VMC’s Regional Burn Center, where she could receive the care she needed.

Christina and Teddy stayed with their small daughter over the next eight days, comforting her as Burn Center staff treated her for first and second-degree burns. This specially trained team also supported Anavieve’s parents as they dealt with a host of emotions, including guilt. Christina relates, “Not only were they wonderful with Anavieve, they were excellent with us. They gave us the tools we needed to work with her, and helped us understand that by remaining strong we could help her feel less frightened.”

Christina says that the availability of a fully equipped playroom in the nearby Pediatric Unit got the family out of the clinical setting and returned a sense of normalcy to their lives. Because of the generosity of donors to the VMC Foundation, the warm and inviting playroom is stocked with toys, movies and educational DVDs, providing needed respite for smaller patients and their families.

Christina also credits VMC Foundation donors for helping provide specialized equipment used to rehabilitate Burn Center patients, including games, activities and healing burn patient clothing. “We are so lucky to have this medical resource,” she told us. “Anavieve is home and healing well. I think the outcome could have been very different without the VMC Burn Center. I’m very grateful to this excellent team and to the donors to the VMC Foundation!”