- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
That's how long it takes to toss 2,000 water balloons.
Or, rather, that's how long it takes the Bruce Hammock laboratory at the University of California, Davis, to toss 2,000 water balloons.
The 15th annual Bruce Hammock Lab Water Balloon Battle will take place at 3 p.m., Tuesday, July 3 on the north side of the Briggs Hall lawn, outside Hammock's office.
That's when Hammock, a UC Davis distinguished professor who holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, turns water warrior.
Hammock lab researcher Christophe Morisseau, who coordinates the annual event, says balloon filling will begin at 1 p.m. on the grass by the loading dock. "Our policy: no filling, no throwing," he said, adding that you can also BYOB (Bring Your Own Balloons) or water guns. The event is open to all who want to get wet--including children and spouses.
The Hammock lab works hard and plays hard.
Trained as a entomologist, chemist and toxicologist--and who now focuses his research on human health--Bruce Hammock is known for his work on using natural chemical mediators to control inflammation and intractable pain. He co-discovered the soluble epoxide hydrolase, and many of his more than 1100 publications and patents are on the P450 branch of the arachidonate cascade where the soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH) degrades natural analgesic and anti-inflammatory compounds. The founder of several companies, he has helped raise more than $50 million in private capital, and currently is chief executive officer of the Davis-based EicOsis, where an orally active non- addictive drug for inflammatory and neuropathic pain is being developed for human beings companion animals. EicOsis is supported by several seed-fund grants and a NIH/NINDS (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) Blueprint Development Grant.
Highly honored by his peers, Hammock is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, which honors academic invention and encourages translations of inventions to benefit society. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the Entomological Society of America, and the recipient of the Bernard B. Brodie Award in Drug Metabolism, sponsored by the America Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. He is the first McGiff Memorial Awardee in Lipid Biochemistry. The Eicosanoid Research Foundation recently honored him for work on oxidized lipids.
The Hammock laboratory has published almost 900 peer-reviewed papers on the sEH enzyme, which Hammock, then a graduate student and colleague Sarjeet Gill (now a UC Riverside professor) discovered in the laboratory of the late UC Berkeley Professor John Casida. (Sadly, Casida died June 30 at age 88 in his Berkeley home.)
At the time of the discovery of the enzyme that regulates epoxy fatty acids, Hammock was researching insect developmental biology and green insecticides. For many years Gill and Hammock were alone in studying this enzyme, but today its importance is well recognized in mammalian biology, with more than 17,000 peer-reviewed papers in the area. Hammock credits the NIEHS for supporting research in this area since the 1970s.
The Hammock lab is international. Those working in his lab include post docs, researchers, graduate students, visiting scholars, visiting graduate students, visiting summer students, short-term visiting scholars and student interns.
Of the 28 researchers currently in the lab, here's the breakdown by country:
- China: 15
- United States: 6
- France: 2
- Ukraine: 2
- Lebanon: 1
- Japan: 1
- Korea: 1
Although the Balloon Battle at Briggs is spearheaded by the Hammock lab, other labs will join in. They include the labs of Aldrin Gomes of the UC Davis Department Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, and Walter Leal of the UC Davis Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.
So, if you're around Briggs Hall tomorrow at 3 p.m., stop by and watch the soakfest. The lawn will benefit, and the water warriors--and nearby spectators--will benefit as they cool off in in the summer heat.
But arrive early. These water warriors are pros. Sometimes it's not "15 Minutes of Aim" but "!0 Minutes of Aim."
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Well, if you're Bruce Hammock, distinguished professor of entomology with a joint appointment with the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, you annually host the Hammock Lab Water Balloon Battle on the Briggs Hall lawn.
He and research scientist Christophe Morisseau, coordinator of the event, are water warriors--the "Splash Brothers" counterpart to basketball superstars Steph Curry and Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors.
Their aim is as good the Curry/Thompson three-pointers.
Just call it 15 minutes of aim...and here's why.
Last Friday afternoon 40 participants, including professors, researchers, graduate students, staff, students and family members, tossed 3000 water balloons in 15 minutes on the thirsty lawn, as the temperature soared to 97 degrees. As the supply dwindled, they dumped the remaining water from the buckets on each other.
A highlight: “Splash Sister” Alifia Merchant of the Hammock lab, who just received her master's degree in agriculture and environmental chemistry, managed to sneak up on Hammock and drench him.
Hammock launched the annual event in 2003 as a form of camaraderie and as a means of rewarding the lab members for their hard work. The international Hammock lab includes 7 researchers, 9 postdoctorates, 3 graduate students, 10 visiting scholars, 3 staff and 1 undergrad. They represent Barbados, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, United States, Ukraine and Uruguay. Among those participating was Aldrin Gomes, associate professor in the Department of Physiology and Membrane Biology, and his lab.
Hammock, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, directs the campuswide Superfund Research and Training Program, an interdisciplinary program funded by the National Institute of Environmental Sciences (NIEHS) that has brought in almost $60 million to the UC Davis campus. The Hammock lab is also the home of the National Institutes of Health Training Grant in Biomolecular Technology. The lab alumni, totaling more than 100 graduates, hold positions of distinction in academia, industry and government as well as more than 300 postdoctorates.
The “Balloon Battle at Briggs” was canceled last year due to the severity of the California drought. In 2014, the water warriors took drought-conservation precautions as they did this year.
“We devised a filling station out of drip line and valves so we could fill the balloons outside and also turn off the water when not in use,” said Hammock lab program manager Cindy McReynolds. “Water conservation was a big topic surrounding the (2014) event, so we also used it as an opportunity to discuss ways we have changed our daily routines to conserve water."
As an extra bonus, the annual battle provides a little water for the thirsty Briggs Hall lawn, which is used by campus wildlife, including ducks, turkeys, squirrels, birds, butterflies and bees.
(Editor's Note: Hammock, who received his doctorate in entomology at UC Berkeley in 1973, joined the UC Davis faculty in 1980. Although an entomologist, he is now involved more in human health--alleviating human pain--than he is with insect research. With Sarjeet Gill (now at UC Riverside) he discovered that the enzyme, soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH), degrades fatty acid epoxides and plays an important role in human diseases. Hammock and his lab have developed inhibitors of sEH that are anti-inflammatory, anti-hypertensive, analgesic and organ-protective. Groundbreaking neuropathic pain research emanating from the Hammock lab made Discover magazine's Top 100 Science Stories of 2015 and ranks among the Top 15 in the Medicine/Genetics category. The UC Davis research was singled out for “Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress in the Peripheral Nervous System is a Significant Driver of Neuropathic Pain,” published in July 2015 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (See UC Davis news story)