Digestive Disease Research

Our digestive system is made up of the digestive tract — a series of organs from the mouth to the anus — that help the body break down and absorb food to create energy. Gastroenterology focuses on the causes, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the digestive system, including the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon and rectum, pancreas, gallbladder and bile ducts.

This conversation with the globally recognized team of physician-scientists at UC San Diego Health includes the latest research, innovations, therapies and potential cures for digestive diseases. They discuss Inflammatory Bowel Disease, advanced techniques in endoscopic surgery, and paradigm-shifting treatments to manage esophageal conditions.

U.S. News & World Report ranks UC San Diego #1 in the world for gastroenterology and hepatology (liver) research, based on physicians’ research reputation and publications.

Watch Trusting Your Gut – Insights from World Leaders in Gastroenterology – Health Talks.

Building Back Together: Canada and the United States

Sharing the longest international border in the world, Canada and the United States enjoy a truly unique relationship with similar core values, common geo-political interests, and deeply intertwined economic and cultural ties. Among Canada’s nearly 38 million people, close to 90% live within 150 miles of the U.S. border.

Together Canada and the United States have the largest bilateral trading relationship in the world with supply chains that are inextricably linked and two-way trade in goods and service totaling over $718 billion in 2019. Investment by Canadian companies in the United States is also substantial with US $495.7 billion invested in 2019. That year, U.S. companies invested $402.3 billion in Canada. This investment has contributed to employment and job growth that benefits the economies of both countries, with 1.47 million Canadians employed by U.S. owned firms and 752,000 American workers employed by Canadian companies operating in the United States.

Canada is of strategic importance to the energy security of the United States. In 2019, Canada accounted for 91% of U.S. energy imports, principally crude oil. Also, according to the US Energy Information Administration, 98% of all U.S. natural gas imports came from Canada.

Business travel and tourism is also significant between both countries. In 2019, the United States was the top destination for Canadian visitors with 20.72 million visitors. Of these Canadians, nearly one million are annual “snowbird” visitors fleeing the Canada’s colder climate for America’s south and southwest. Similarly, Canada ranked #2 as a top foreign destination for American tourists after Mexico, with 15 million travelers that year, accounting for two-thirds of all Canadian foreign visitors. The vast majority of Americans arrive to Canada by car.

Canada and the United States also have shared environmental interests leading to cooperation on a wide range of transboundary issues from water resource management, air quality, protection of migratory bird and marine mammal species, fisheries management and emergency planning and response in response to natural disasters along our common border.

In spite of our shared interdependencies, the COVID-19 pandemic has tested the Canadian-United States bilateral relationship in new ways leading to a reduction in two-way trade and investment as well as non-essential business and leisure travel over the past year. As a result, regional economies in both Canada and the United States have both suffered. Lack of early cross-border collaboration in vaccination development and distribution is now hampering economic recovery for many communities on both sides of our common border.

As we look toward the future, Canada and the United States have both learned important lessons about our shared inter-dependencies, common destiny and the need for expanded binational collaboration in the future.

This forum is an opportunity to learn from our shared COVID-19 experience to build back better together as we grapple with the emerging regional and global challenges of the 21st century including future public health crises, regional security threats, and climate change, as well as our shared interests on the global stage through international bodies such as the United Nations, NATO, WTO, G7, G20, APEC, the Artic Council and the OAS.

The Institute of the Americas’ Canada Day forum examines the binational Canada-United States relationship to explore new possibilities in the post-pandemic era.

Watch Canada and the United States – Complete Program.

Challenges & Opportunities in Central America’s Northern Triangle Region

Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador (The Northern Triangle) are experiencing a historic diaspora to the southern border of the United States. The precipitants of this migration are an unprecedented economic contraction occurring after back-to-back major hurricanes compounded by a pandemic and further complicated by heightened crime, violence and corruption. The United States, particularly California, is the primary destination for Central American migrants, making this a regional issue of immediacy to Californians and to the Institute of the Americas. The Northern Triangle diaspora is also regional, affecting neighboring nations in Central America and in Mexico. The search for solutions and/or relief is now multi-national and increasingly urgent.

Collapsing rule of law, collapsing economies, insecurity, declining government revenues concurrent with rising public needs and a myriad of related complications are not likely treatable by strictly internal adjustments. A consensus is developing that only a regional multi-pronged strategy to strengthen both democracy and the economies of Central American countries provides plausible hope for relief. The expectation is that a multi-pronged strategy could help diminish the extent to which these problems reach the U.S. southern border. How to best achieve this multi-pronged, multi-national strategy is where the debate can get tangled.

Central America’s ability to attract U.S. financial aid is hampered by the increased appeal in the U.S. of zero-sum politics, i.e., the idea that mutual prosperity is not achievable because countries prosper at each other’s expense. Nonetheless, President Biden’s comprehensive four-year regional strategy for Central America creates a significant opening of the dialogue on how the U.S. can best address some of the root causes of Central American migration. Ultimately, badly needed job creating foreign investment and tourism will not be attracted to the area until Central American citizens feel they can live in peace and safety in their native countries. The objective of this two-day forum is to discuss ideas on how to get from here to there.

This Forum is presented by the Institute of the Americas and features Norma Torres (CA-35), Juan Vargas (CA-51) and Scott Peters (CA-52). They address corruption, security and economic factors in the region and what can be done.

Watch Challenges & Opportunities in Central America’s Northern Triangle Region.

Spinal Cord Injury and Stem Cells

Every year, 15,000 – 20,000 Americans sustain a spinal cord injury (SCI). Another 200,000 – 500,000 are living in the chronic stages of SCI every day. Loss of movement and sensation, persistent pain, and depression are common. Could stem cells play a role in finding a cure? Dr. Mark Tuszynski shares his work using neural stem cells to build bridges after an SCI – forming new relays across injury sites in the hopes of restoring limb function and feeling. Bob Yant, who suffered an SCI in 1981, joins Tuszynski to express the need for further research in the field of regenerative medicine and to share his story of living with and SCI.

Watch A Closer Look at…Spinal Cord Injury.

Music is Community

For Andrés Martín, “music is community,” and his career path bears out this assertion. Native of Buenos Aires, Argentina and resident of Tijuana, Mexico bassist, arranger, and composer Martín has performed with orchestras, chamber ensembles, and as a soloist throughout Latin America, Europe, and the United States.

Since his arrival in Tijuana Martín has been immersed in teaching as well as performing as a soloist and chamber musician. He also crosses the border to San Diego frequently to perform as part of the Camarada ensemble, and it was Camarada that commissioned Unstoppable, a four-movement suite for flute, violin, and bass that also provided a fitting title for Camarada’s 2020/2021 season. As is typical of Martin’s work, Unstoppable draws upon his multicultural life experiences and broad influences for inspiration, blending jazz, Latin, classical, and world beat idioms to create a work that is engagingly eclectic, complex but accessible.

In conversation with Rafael Fernández de Castro, Director of UC San Diego’s Center for US-Mexican Studies, and Beth Ross Buckley, Co-Artistic Director of Camarada, Martin discusses Unstoppable’s genesis and structure and the importance of collaboration for maintaining artistic vitality, citing his work with Camarada as an example. Martin also stresses his commitment to cross-border projects as a means of building community, noting that their passion drives artists to create and connect no matter what the circumstances. He is a member of the Orquesta de Baja California, and also organizes and directs Contrabajos de Baja California A.C., an academy that celebrates a yearly international double bass festival and chamber music course in Tijuana.

Above all, Martín describes the goal that drives his work as conveying emotional truths about the human spirit and our shared aspirations, something for which music is uniquely suited.

Watch Andrés Martin’s Unstoppable.