News in Brief & Upcoming Events

USHIP fraud targets students throughout the UC

On Thursday, April 20, the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) released a statement announcing the discovery of a fraud incident through its university-wide health care program, Undergraduate Student Health Insurance Plan (USHIP).

The fraud allegedly stole almost $12 million from the UC by writing counterfeit medical prescriptions in students’ names. As per an email sent out by the UCOP with this statement, the university filed a temporary restraining order against the perpetrators early Friday, April 21 in Los Angeles County Superior Court to shut down the scheme.

This scheme involved enlisting students in sham clinical trials at campus job fairs which were used to gain access to students’ health insurance information and then write millions of dollars in false prescriptions. These schemes offered students as much as $550 to participate in these trials, usually extorting prescription-grade pain cream through a company named California Clinical Trials, LLC, or CCT and advertising through Facebook.

These prescriptions were mostly filled in Studio City and Chino, even though students were enrolled at UCLA, UC Riverside, UC San Diego and as far north as UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz.

The drugs usually consisted of “convenience kits” which are emerging targets for complicated health care frauds. Per the UC email, “these are comprised of low-cost, off patent medications but are billed to patients, insurers, and government healthcare programs at a cost of thousands of dollars per drug.”

Nematodes make “insect milkshake,” UCR researchers find

In a recently published paper by UCR Assistant Professor of Parasitology Adler Dillman, it was concluded that nematodes — microscopic, mostly parasitic worms can help control diseases in humans like Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome, and kill food crop-damaging insects — inject a fatal mixture of proteins to kill many agricultural pests.

Nematodes live in just about every ecosystem at all elevations, ranging from oceans and lakes to the polar and tropic zones of Earth. Resembling earthworms but without the segments, they measure roughly 0.1 to 2.5 millimeters and are thought to comprise nearly 80 percent of animals on Earth.

The research focused on a particular species, Steinernema carpocapsae, that is known to kill over 250 insect pests a year that damage popular crops such as citrus, peaches, tomatoes and corn. They are marketed as an organic gardening pest control solution, with one site, groworganic.com, selling 10 million for $37.98.

The researchers were able to extract this mixture by exposing the nematodes to insect tissues in flasks located in their laboratory. This was found to be incredibly toxic to several species, including adult fruit flies.
Upcoming events:

  • Powerful Migrations: Jack Dangermond Keynote
    • On Thursday, April 27 at 6 p.m., Jack Dangermond, CEO of Environmental Systems Research Institute, will give a lecture on the need to understand the power that migration has on the world in order to address issues concerning national security and exclusion. The lecture will be hosted in INTS 1113 and is open to the public. Admission is free.
  • Quien Sigue? (Who’s Next)
    • A politically inspired dance choreographed and directed by Rebecca Hernandez will be presented on Friday, April 28 from 7-9 p.m. at the arts building performance lab, ARTS 166. Based on the disappearance of 43 Mexican students from Escuela Normal de Ayotzinapa, the dance is a part of Hernandez’ requirements for her M.F.A. in experimental choreography. The department of dance presents the event which is open to the public. Tickets are available for $7 general admission and available online.
  • Migrating the Museum
    • This exhibition which focuses on the influence of migrations, will be hosted at the Culver Center of the Arts on Friday, April 28 from noon to 1 p.m. The artworks featured were co-curated by seven UCR undergraduate students under the guidance of Assistant Professor of the History of Photography Susan Laxton. This event is open to the public and admission is free.
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