‘Hiding in plain sight,’ revolution in fight against disease emanates from Palm Springs
On any day along Palm Canyon Drive, shoppers and tourists roaming the ground floor of an ultramodern building between Andreas Road and Museum Way could be perusing the latest high-end home furnishing or grabbing a pizza. They will likely have no idea that doctors who could one day cure cancer might be seated 30 feet above their heads.
Those doctors will probably be hunched over microscopes or attending lectures in what is now the epicenter of pathology — a state-of-the-art facility for the United States & Canadian Academy of Pathology (USCAP) that occupies the entire third floor of the West Elm Building. At one time, the 18,000-square foot space was being considered for apartments or condominiums. It now includes two microscopy labs, one of the finest video production studios in a region full of them, a lecture hall, and office space for roughly 20 employees.
“These classrooms are hiding in plain sight,” remarked Paul Lewin, USCAP’s chief operating officer, during an open house April 8 that gave community members their first opportunity to see the $4 million project that quadrupled USCAP’s footprint in the city. The more than 100-year-old nonprofit organization moved into the West Elm Building last year after relocating to Palm Springs in 2015 and setting up in the 500 Building less than a mile to the south.
Lewin is a third-generation city resident whose family name is familiar to anyone interested in art (his parents and grandparents owned the iconic Adagio Galleries and B. Lewin Galleries). He also served on the Palm Springs City Council. But he’s just one of several longtime city residents who are now helping to educate thousands of pathologists who trek to the city or subscribe to USCAP’s online learning courses, produced in the Palm Springs studios.
Ethan Kaminsky, who found success with his own photography and production company, now runs those studios; Christian Giangreco is USCAP’s director of information technology. Both are members of the Palm Springs High School class of 1988 who said they never imagined the stars would align to put them front and center at an organization such as USCAP.
“All these coincidences that started in high school ended up like this,” Giangreco explained outside the labs as attendees of a ribbon cutting passed by on tours with appetizers and drinks in hand. “We didn’t think it would get to this level, but it has,” Kaminsky added.
Where USCAP is today is a far cry from where it was when another longtime Palm Springs resident — Dr. David Kaminsky, Ethan’s father — first laid out his vision in 2014 to a somewhat skeptical USCAP executive committee and board of directors. Dr. Kaminsky, who retired last November at 77, served as chief of pathology for 30 years at Eisenhower Medical Center. Like many physicians, he kept up to date on the latest advances through journals and seminars. But with advances in online learning and teaching technology, Dr. Kaminsky knew he could not only change how pathologists learned about their chosen field, but also reach a wider audience, quicker, using videos and live learning sessions that could be accessed online anywhere in the world.
With Ethan on board as the creative director, and his father serving as executive vice president, USCAP took off. The organization went from roughly 130 online course subscribers to 1,500 in just six months, and today has 20,000. Courses with titles such as “Contemporary Issues in Breast Pathology” and “Modern Approaches to Classification of Hematolymphoid Neoplasms” may not sound like box office sensations, but they are literally saving lives.
“We’re building a body of knowledge on diseases, and from diseases come cures,” Lewin said, pointing to USCAP’s ability to rapidly spread new information about immunotherapy, a type of cancer treatment that helps train immune systems to fight cancer.
“You can cut it out, you can burn it out with radiation, or you can poison the body through chemotherapy,” Lewin explained. “That’s why cancer is so devastating. But when you turn on your immune system to fight the cancer, that’s revolutionary.”
LOWER LIMITS: Palm Springs officials and others took the wraps off a sign Friday believed to be among the first in the state to begin tackling the “holy grail” of untouchable California laws: Speed limits in the city are actually coming down. The move was made possible by a state bill shepherded by Assemblymember Laura Friedman — AB43 — that went into effect on Jan. 1. Municipalities were previously only allowed to set speed limits within the 85th percentile of “spot speed” surveys conducted by traffic engineers. The surveys measured typical vehicle speeds on some city streets and never resulted in math that suggested a speed decrease. Under AB43, cities can consider many other factors when determining vehicle speed limits, including pedestrian and bicycle use on streets. Check out our full story for more details, and see this report (starting on page 27) for a list of speed limit recommendations, including decreases. FULL STORY: Slower speeds rolling out on 36 city roadways
DUST ADVISORY: The South Coast Air Quality Management District has issued a dust advisory due to high winds and dry conditions for Riverside County, including parts of Palm Springs, until 5 a.m. Tuesday. The dust advisory was issued at 5 p.m. Sunday for the San Gorgonio Pass, Coachella Valley, and eastern Riverside County. The National Weather Service posted wind advisories and high wind warnings in the same areas through Tuesday morning. West winds of 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 50 mph are expected today. Winds will be increasing to 20 to 40 mph with gusts of 40 to 60 mph tonight, with the strongest gusts along the desert mountain slopes where localized gusts to 80 mph are expected. Roadways connecting the city with Interstate 10 will be subject to closure.
? Today’s events
- The Mizell Center offers a full slate of events, classes, meet-ups and more all this week starting at 8 a.m.
- Free Covid Testing is available today at the Palm Springs Convention Center from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- Spring Break camps are taking place at James O. Jesse Desert Highland Unity Center and elsewhere in the city this week.
- The next star on The Palm Springs Walk of Stars will be presented to composer Mikael Healy today at 3 p.m.
- The Adult Adoptee Peer Support Group meets virtually at 3 p.m. today
- The Palm Springs Sunshine Sisters are having a game night this evening, starting at 5 p.m.
- The city’s Human Rights Commission meets at 5:30 p.m. this evening
For more events in Palm Springs, check the complete community calendar. Want your event listed? Just click here.
? What to watch for
- The 23rd Waring International Piano Competition continues through April 18 in Palm Desert.
- A Family Fun Fest is planned for Wednesday on the field of the Palm Springs Stadium, located at 1901 E. Baristo Rd., starting at 9 a.m.
- The next Martinis and Moxie event, titled “Dino and Dinah,” is Wednesday evening at The Palm Springs Cultural Center, starting at 6 p.m.
- A free Easter egg hunt and pancake breakfast is planned for April 16 at Ruth Hardy Park, starting at 9 a.m. Later that day, the annual Desert Highland Gateway Estates Easter egg hunt takes place at Desert Highland Park, starting at 2 p.m.
- Alohana, a celebration of Tiki culture, takes place at the Palm Springs Cultural Center on April 17, starting at 10 a.m.
- The Books vs. Badges charity basketball game between Palm Springs High teachers and staff and Palm Springs Police Department officers is scheduled for April 26 at the high school gym.