It's online on YouTube at https://youtu.be/Paq0ka3NIP0
"We had a total of 1,234 registrants," reported UC Davis Distinguished Professor Walter Leal, the organizer and moderator. "According to the ZOOM's report, we had 749 users, 613 unique views, and 500 max concurrent views (max capacity)." As of 7:30 p.m., Jan. 14, YouTube showed more than 650 viewers.
More than 94 percent of the participants who responded to the survey were very satisfied or satisfied. Some indicated it was too long, that the presentations should have been shorter, with more focus on the questions and answers. One said he/she: “liked the use of undergrads asking and introducing speakers and sharing questions. Wow, UCD has some really smart people!”
UC Davis Chancellor Gary May delivered the opening remarks. UC Davis scientists Richard Michelmore, Nam Tran and Heather Bischel explained the COVID tests underway at UC Davis and the Davis community and answered questions. UC Davis Health physician Stuart Cohen, chief of the Division of infectious diseases and director, Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control, answered questions about vaccines.
"Dr. Cohen is leading a Phase 3 clinical trial of the Novavax vaccine called NVX-CoV2373,” said Leal, a chemical ecologist with the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and a former chair of the Department of Entomology, now the Department of Entomology and Nematology. “This vaccine has a subunit from the spike protein in SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and it's combined with an adjuvant, a boosting agent to improve the body's immune response to the vaccine."
Viewers also learned about “Healthy Davis Together,” a program partnering UC Davis with the City of Davis to prevent the spread of the virus and “to facilitate a coordinated and gradual return to regular city activities and reintegration of UC Davis students back into the Davis community."
- "Amazing presentation. Will the recording be archived to view? there was information that I missed (I was taking notes) and wished I could rewind to listen to a second time."
- "Excellent focused and varied content. Impressive development of infrastructure and community collaborations. Nice introductions to some of the content that might need background information for some participants without taking away from the more in-depth information."
- "Great symposium, well organized, good flow of parts, excellent info provided by presenters."
- "Honestly I didn't think it was going to be so information dense, Dr. Leal really surprised me with organization, structure and information presented through this symposium."
- "I found the symposium panelists to be very informative and accessible, and Dr. Leal did a great job moderating the discussion! I appreciated the diversity of the panelists that are involved in different areas of testing, distribution, and surveillance."
- "Went longer than expected but very interesting!"
- "Thank you for hosting these sessions and for spreading more high quality information on the Covid-19 pandemic. I'm very grateful to be able to hear from specialists actively working on or around this tremendous issue. Huge thanks to all of the people involved and UCD!"
- "Very informative and engaging. Thank you Dr. Leal for hosting this. Your hard work and time is appreciated."
- "Thanks so much for offering this symposium. It's very informative, and the simple act of viewing the conversation makes me more confident in our community's preparedness and our shared determination to stop the virus and keep our community safe."
- "Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity! It was an incredible educational experience and I really appreciate the time and collective effort that was put into this symposium to make it happen."
- "These symposia provide me with the best, up-to-date information about COVID-19 that isn't dumbed down so much as to be meaningless. Priceless access to these great minds. Thank you so much!! - From A Veterinary Epidemiologist"
- "Very well organized and facilitated. An overall fantastic presentation!"
- "I enjoyed the interaction between the panel speakers in terms of answering a question or simply discussing safety and the people involved in the vaccine and COVID prevention/testing process. I liked the interview-style videos."
- "I have to give a shout out to UC Davis attacking this pandemic in its 3-pronged approach (testing, contact tracing, quarantining) and giving personal guidance for each case. Having had to go thru it, it's definitely very helpful."
- "Witnessing how my husband's work doesn't have the same hands-on guidance is giving a lot of misinterpretations and lack of direction and more work exposures. Thank you."
- "I really enjoyed this symposium! It was very informational and I learned so much! I really liked how students were able to ask questions because as student I had some of the same questions!"
This was the fourth UC Davis COVID-19 Symposium that Leal has organized and moderated since April 2020.
(Note: UC Davis Distinguished Professor Walter Leal focuses his research on the biochemical and molecular basis of insect olfaction, or how insects perceive the world through the sense of smell. However, he is also heavily involved in public service.)
It's not only good news, but great news.
UC Davis Distinguished Professor Walter Leal, a chemical ecologist with the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and a former chair of the Department of Entomology (now Entomology and Nematology), says the COVID-19 saliva test he received at a UC Davis testing kiosk is fast.
"I was tested yesterday at 1:11 p.m., the result was completed at 9:20 a.m., received an email at 10:50 a.m., remarkably fast!" he tweeted today. "Could we do the same with vaccination? Please join the 373 who have already registered (for the UC Davis COVID-19 public symposium).
Leal is organizing and moderating the virtual symposium, set for 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13, when UC Davis scientists will share information on COVID-19 saliva, hospital, and sewage surveillance tests--as well as the Healthy Davis Together program. UC Davis Chancellor Gary May will deliver the opening remarks.
Speakers will include UC Davis scientists Richard Michelmore, Nam Tram and Heather Bischel, who will explain the UC Davis COVID-19 tests and answer questions. The public is invited to submit advance questions and also may ask questions during the symposium via the Zoom chat. Registration is underway at https://bit.ly/2Li9pnV.
“This symposium will yield important information that everyone should know,” said Leal. A query from one of his students prompted the Jan. 13 symposium. (This is the fourth COVID-19 symposium he's organized and moderated since April 23.)
At specially set up kiosks on the UC Davis campus, free COVID-19 saliva tests are given, by appointment, to members of the UC Davis and Davis communities. The rapid, comprehensive laboratory-developed test detects whether a person is currently infected with the coronavirus. The UC Davis Genome Center processes the saliva samples. Technically, the test uses a high throughput, real time, quantitative polymerase chain reaction protocol run on machines repurposed from the agricultural genetics industry.
The Jan. 13th symposium also will cover COVID-19 hospital tests (given in the emergency room and bedside) and wastewater surveillance tests, also known as sewage tests.
“Healthy Davis Together” partners UC Davis with the City of Davis to prevent the spread of the virus and “to facilitate a coordinated and gradual return to regular city activities and reintegration of UC Davis students back into the Davis community.”
Michelmore, a UC Davis distinguished professor, directs the Genome Center, and holds joint appointments with the College of Biological Sciences, School of Medicine, and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Tram is an associate clinical professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine who specializes in clinical chemistry and point-of-care. Bischel is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
“Registration is required for the symposium, even if you cannot attend the live presentation but are interested in retrieving the symposium video later,” Leal said.
- We are taking a unique, multi-disciplinary approach to screening and testing members of the UC Davis community for the coronavirus. Screening symptom-free students and employees will help better identify COVID-19 and track cases on campus.
- This COVID-19 testing uses saliva samples, is cost-free to UC Davis students and employees, and provides rapid results in 24-48 hours.
- COVID-19 testing is now available to all UC Davis students and employees and will be required on a weekly basis to access any Davis campus facility.
Green Hall memorializes two outstanding scientists--Mel, a geneticist, and wife Kathleen, a biologist.
Melvin Green, who died Oct. 24, 2017 at age 101, was a UC Davis distinguished professor emeritus of molecular and cellular biology who co-founded the UC Davis Genetics Department (now part of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology). Kathleen, who died in 2002, was a UC Davis biologist and a longtime Davis City Council member--she was the first woman elected to serve on the council. A scholarship in her name honors women in science.
Selected the 1971 Davis Citizen of the Year, Kathleen served the community in a number of capacities, including charter member and president of the League of Women Voters in Davis, and a member of the the Sutter Davis Hospital Board of Directors.
During Mel Green's 60-year career, he was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences and received two Guggenheim fellowships. He inspired generations of students, faculty and staff.
We never met Kathleen, but we knew Mel as a brilliant scientist and a wonderful conversationalist, with a finely honed sense of humor. He was a frequent visitor in the halls and offices of the Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Leal and dozens of colleagues spearheaded a movement among the faculty to rename the building. UC Davis Chancellor Gary May approved the name.
"Not many know that Mel, who grew up in the Depression in a Jewish ghetto, became not only a first-generation college graduate in his family but also the first Jewish person to receive a Ph.D. in zoology and biochemistry from the University of Minnesota (1942)," Leal related. "Mel served in the U. S. Army during World War II, and then joined the UC Davis faculty in 1950. He worked until his nineties. During his lengthy and productive career, he made seminal discoveries concerning the nature of mutations using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. In particular, Mel is known for his discovery of mobile DNA elements."
"Mel would stop by my office on a regular basis just to check on me, talk science, and sometimes to tell a nice joke. For example, in October 2004 he showed up early in the morning and told me: 'Walter, you are screwed!' I asked why and he told me 'Richard Axel and Linda Buck just got the Nobel Prize for their work on olfaction.' I had a good laugh.'"
Mel connected widely and often with UC Davis entomologists, including Bruce Hammock, Hugh Dingle, Lynn Kimsey and Robert Kimsey. Lynn, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and a professor of entomology, identified the insect taxonomy for Mel's article, "It Really Is Not a Fruit Fly," appearing in the Sept. 1, 2002 edition of the journal Genetics.
In the article, Green pointed out that the genus Drosophila includes more than 1000 species. He argued that all Drosophila species "should be referred to by their scientific, not their common name."
Mel wrote that "real fruit flies, e.g., the Mediterranean fruit fly, the Oriental fruit fly, and other members of the family Tephritidae, attack unblemished fruit and in heavy infestations cause serious economic damage. In contrast, even if present in enormous numbers, D. melanogaster is innocuous and of no economic importance."
But to a "layperson's unsophisticated eye," the insects hovering over a fruit bowl, evoke the term, evoke "fruit fly," not "vinegar fly," the geneticist wrote.
The UC Davis campus bursts with buildings named for outstanding faculty, including:
- Asmundson Hall, named for Professor Vigfus Asmundson
- Briggs Hall,named for Professor Fred N. Briggs
- Everson Hall: Professor Gladys Everson
- Hutchison Hall: Professor Claude B. Hutchison
- Kleiber Hall: Professor Max Kleiber
- Bainer Hall: Professor Roy Bainer
And now, the list includes Green Hall, a fitting tribute to the careers of Melvin and Kathleen Green. (See UC Davis news story)
Focusing primarily on vaccines, it was broadcast Wednesday, June 3 on both Zoom and YouTube. UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Leal, organizer and moderator, said that "Zoom viewers had an opportunity to evaluate the event: 84.1% found the symposium very helpful; 88.7% were very satisfied or satisfied."
A few of the comments:
- “This is a great way to get facts to the public.”
- "The format was engaging and dynamic.”
- "I was pleased to see that politics was left out of it.”
- "Appreciated the question and answer format and thought that the questions were very well chosen to highlight important points in the discussion.”
Beekeepers were particularly interested in whether bee sting therapy could have a role in the COVID-19 crisis. Could bee sting therapy prevent the disease or could it be used for patient treatment? In addressing the symposium, honey bee geneticist Robert E. Page Jr., related that some beekeepers have used bee therapy to treat arthritis. Page also commented on a paper published in sciencedirect.com indicating that beekeepers living in the epicenter of the COVID-19 virus in China did not contract the virus, and neither did a group of patients receiving apitherapy.
A beekeeping couple in Maryland told Leal today that they read the sciencedirect.com article about a month ago and are taking bee sting therapy. "(We) are stinging ourselves in case it offers protection because the cost seems low and the potential benefit high," the wife said. "We've done it about 3 times so far, approximately once a week, and so far so good."
Virtual Symposium Attendance
Zoom drew 760 users (from 1,081 registered), with 543 unique viewers from 18 countries. "Zoom registrants were from 35 countries, but I assume that most of them watched the recorded presentation (given the time difference)," Leal said. "In less than 24 hours, the Youtube video https://youtu.be/O4L0OHcZ5Mk reached 3,681 views."
The main program, from 5 to 7 p.m., began with a welcoming address by UC Davis Chancellor Gary May. The keynote speakers:
- Dr. Robert Gallo, who co-discovered that HIV causes AIDS, is the Homer and Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine; co-founder and director of the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Institute of Human Virology; and co-founder of the Global Virus Network.
- Kate Broderick, who is leading an INOVIO research team in San Diego to develop a DNA vaccine for COVID-19,
- Dr. Dean Blumberg, professor and chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, UC Davis Health
- Dr. Allison Brashear, dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine., dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine.
- Dr. Paul Allan Offit, co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine, and the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
Also interviewed were Dr. Atul Malhotra, professor of Medicine, Pulmonology, Critical Care, UC San Diego Health, and Dr. Stuart H. Cohen, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and director of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control, UC Davis School of Medicine.
The pre-program included interviews with retired UC Davis Medical Center nurse Carolyn Wyler of Sacramento, a passenger on the ill-fated Grand Princess cruise ship; and with UC Davis Medical Center nurse Paula Wagner, who took a two-week "vacation" to treat COVID-19 patients at a Boston hospital.
Leal, a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, a member of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology faculty and a former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, organized and moderated two other COVID-19 symposiums.
He alerted UC Davis scientists to an article in sciencedirect.com that indicated this anecdotal information: beekeepers living in the epicenter of the COVID-19 virus in China did not contract the virus, and neither did a group of patients receiving apitherapy.
"These people have one thing in common: they develop a tolerance to bee sting," wrote lead author Wei Yang, an oncologist from China and two associates. The trio pointed out that "It reminds us the story of the discovery of cowpox and the eventual victory of humans over this disease (Bennett and Baxby)
"In the Hubei province, the epicenter of COVID-19 in China, 5,115 beekeepers were surveyed from February 23 to March 8," Gary said, quoting the article. "This survey included 723 who lived in Wuhan, the outbreak epicenter of Hubei. Amazingly, none of these beekeepers developed symptoms associated with Covid-19. Their health was totally normal. Additional studies at apitherapy clinics, where bee venom treatments were made on patients from October to December 2019, revealed that none of the 121 patients, or the apitherapists that treated them, became infected, even though some were exposed to relatives or contacts infected with Covid-19."
"Bee venom therapy is successfully used for treating some forms of arthritis and rheumatism," said Gary, who at 86 has worked with bees for more than seven decades. "I think that the use of bee venom vs.COVID-19 should be investigated. Maybe our UC Davis Primate Center (California National Primate Research Center) will consider appropriate experiments with primates to test bee venom therapy for COVID-19. I have received thousands of bee stings during my 70 years of working and playing with bees. Maybe that's why I'm 86 and COVID-19 free!"
Norm began keeping bees at age 15 in Florida. His career includes hobby beekeeper, commercial beekeeper, deputy apiary inspector in New York, honey bee research scientist, entomology professor, author, bee wrangler and Guinness World record holder.
During his professional bee wrangler career spanning four decades, “The Bee Man” served as a consultant and bee stunt coordinator for 17 movies, 70 TV shows and six TV commercials. Among his credits: “Fried Green Tomatoes” and appearances with Johnny Carson and Jay Leno on Tonight Shows.
He launched the Thriller Bee Shows, performing more than 100 times in three western states, with venues that included the California State Fair. He drew widespread acclaim for wearing a head-to-toe suit of clustered bees while "Buzzin' with His Bee-Flat Clarinet."
Gary once trained bees to fly into his mouth to collect food from a small sponge saturated with artificial nectar. His holds the Guinness World record (109 bees inside his closed mouth for 10 seconds) for the stunt. He's also the person behind the "bee suit" record in the Guinness World Records; Gary clustered more than 87 pounds of bees on a friend.
As a musician, Gary plays the clarinet (B-flat clarinet), alto sax, tenor sax, and flute with several groups.
Benefits of Bee Venom Therapy
Page remembers helping his friend and mentor, the late Harry Hyde Laidlaw Jr.,(1907-2003) of UC Davis, "the father of honey bee genetics," receive bee stings to alleviate his arthritis. (The bee research facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis, bears the name of the "Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Center").
"I used to take the bees and put them on his neck and have them stinging so that he would get his certain number of stings a week," Page told interviewee Leal, adding that this was "not standard medical practice" but "he believed in it."
Laidlaw's daughter, Barbara Laidlaw Murphy, now of Washingrton state, remembers the bee sting therapy well. "He put bee stings on his knee and he put them on my mom's hands--for (treatment of) arthritis," she said. "They used to get the bees out of the hive in the lab sign."
"He seemed to believe in it," Murphy said. "My mom was quite enthusiastic about it for her. He would have the bee sting her on her knuckles. Her hand would swell up quite a lot. After the swelling went down she was sure that her arthritis was better and she could get back to her knitting."
See the COVID-19 Symposium, primarily on vaccines, here: https://youtu.be/O4L0OHcZ5Mk.