COVID-19 vaccines--in addition to saliva tests and sewage tests--will be covered at the UC Davis COVID Symposium on Wednesday, Jan. 13.
The new addition to the panel is UC Davis Health physician Stuart Cohen, chief of the Division of infectious diseases and director, Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control, "who is running vaccine trials will answer your questions about vaccines," said UC Davis Distinguished Professor Walter Leal, the organizer and moderator.
Registration is underway at https://bit.ly/2Li9pnV. The public is invited to submit advance questions and also may ask questions during the symposium via the Zoom chat.
“Dr. Cohen is leading a Phase 3 clinical trial of the Novavax vaccine called NVX-CoV2373,” said Leal. “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."
UC Davis Chancellor Gary May will deliver the opening remarks. UC Davis scientists Richard Michelmore, Nam Tran and Heather Bischel will explain the COVID tests underway at UC Davis and the Davis community and answer questions. A new addition to the panel is UC Davis Health physician Stuart Cohen, chief of the Division of infectious diseases and director, Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control, "who is running vaccine trials will answer your questions about vaccines," Leal said.
Free COVID-19 saliva tests are being administered by appointment to the Davis community--those who live in Davis or work at UC Davis--at testing kiosks on campus. It is a rapid, comprehensive laboratory-developed test that 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 symposium also will cover how the COVID-19 tests administered in an hospital emergency room or at bedside can distinguish between whether a patient has COVID-19 or the flu. In addition, wastewater surveillance tests, also known as sewage tests, are underway to detect the virus.
Viewers also will learn 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.”
Chancellor Gary May, Ph.D.
He became the seventh UC Davis chancellor on Aug. 1, 2017. A native of St. Louis, Mo., he received his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1985 and his master's degree and doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science from UC Berkeley in 1987 and 1991, respectively. Prior to becoming the UC Davis chancellor, he served as the dean of the Georgia Tech College of Engineering from July 2011-June 2017 and as the Steve W. Chaddick School Chair of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering from May 2005-June 2011. His resume also includes executive assistant to Georgia Tech President G. Wayne Clough from 2002-2005.
Heather Bischel, Ph.D.
Bischel holds degrees in civil and environmental engineering. She received a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley in 2005, a master of science degree from Stanford University in 2007, and a doctorate from Stanford University in 2011. She served as a postdoctoral scientist at the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Reinventing the Nation's Urban Water Infrastructure (2011-2012) and the Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (2012-2017).
Richard Michelmore, Ph.D.
Nam Tran, Ph.D.
Stuart Cohen, M.D.
He received his bachelor of science degree from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in 1974 and his medical degree from Chicago Medical School in 1978. He completed his residency in internal medicine at the University of New Mexico from 1978-81 and a fellowship in infectious diseases at the UC Davis Medical Center, 1981-1983. He is board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Internal Medicine, Infectious Disease.
This is the fourth in a series of COVID-19 symposiums that Leal has organized and moderated since April. A query from one of Leal's students prompted the Jan. 13 symposium.
“Inflammation in the brain, or neuorinflammation, is strongly implicated in Alzheimer's disease,” said Hammock, co-author of a research paper, “An Epoxide Hydrolase Inhibitor Reduces Neuroinflammation in a Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease,” published Dec. 9 in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
“This paper is getting worldwide attention, and I hope it stimulates research on the role of lipid mediators in brain health” said Hammock, who holds a joint appointment with the Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer.
Some 5.8 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, an irreversible brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills.
A team of eight scientists, led by Hui Zheng of the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, explained that the enzyme, soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH), is elevated in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and in an amyloid mouse model with AD. Blocking sEH “may replenish the natural epoxy lipids, combat neuroinflammation, and improve cognition,” they said.
Hammock describes sEH as a key regulatory enzyme involved in the metabolism of fatty acids. It regulates a new class of natural chemical mediators, which in turn resolve inflammation while reducing blood pressure and pain. Hammock and his lab have been involved in research on this enzyme for more than 50 years.
“Inflammatory processes are known to be associated with the pathology and neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer's disease," said Dr. Charles DeCarli, director of UC Davis Health's Alzheimer's Disease Center, a National Institutes of Health-funded research center funded by the National Institutes of Health. "While the exact mechanisms remain elusive, these new data offer a unique avenue for novel therapeutic development and may be the first step in the process of finding an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease." DeCarli, who was not involved in the Baylor-UC Davis study, is a distinguished professor of neurology in the Department of Neurology and the Center for Neuroscience. He serves as the Victor and Genevieve Orsi Chair in Alzheimer's Research and directs the Imaging of Dementia and Aging laboratory.
In their abstract, the scientists explained that epoxy fatty acids “are derivatives of the arachidonic acid and omega-3 fatty acid metabolism pathways and have anti-inflammatory activities. However, their beneficial efficacy is limited because of their rapid hydrolysis by the soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH).”
Zheng, director and professor of Baylor's Huffington Center on Aging, also holds joint appointments with Baylor's Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and the Department of Molecular and Human Genetics. Her laboratory focuses on basic and translational research on Alzheimer's disease. “Our expertise is mouse genetics, and we are known for using sophisticated mouse models and innovative approaches to probe the biology and pathophysiology of AD,” she writes on her website.
Hammock added: "We have been lucky to collaborate with the scientists from Baylor and others around the world to find ways to resolve inflammation and reduce chronic diseases of aging. One of our sEH inhibitors is in human safety trials on a clinical path to treat chronic pain, we are hopeful that the compound also can be repurposed to ameliorate symptoms of diseases in the central nervous system.”
Of the 5.8 million Americans who have Alzheimer's, around 5.3 million are 65 and older, according to the Alzheimer's Association (AA). About two-thirds are women. “African-Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia as whites. Hispanics are about 1.5 times as likely to have Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia as whites.”
The National Institute on Aging indicates that the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease doubles every five years beyond the age of 65. At present, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer's disease every 66 seconds. Worldwide, some 44 million people have Alzheimer's.
The abstract: “Neuroinflammation has been increasingly recognized to play a critical role in Alzheimer's disease (AD). The epoxy fatty acids (EpFAs) are derivatives of the arachidonic acid metabolism pathway and have anti-inflammatory activities. However, their efficacy is limited because of their rapid hydrolysis by the soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH). We report that sEH is predominantly expressed in astrocytes and is elevated in postmortem brain tissue from patients with AD and in the 5xFAD β amyloid mouse model of AD. The amount of sEH expressed in AD mouse brains correlated with a reduction in brain EpFA concentrations. Using a specific small-molecule sEH inhibitor, 1-trifluoromethoxyphenyl-3-(1-propionylpiperidin-4-yl) urea (TPPU), we report that TPPU treatment protected wild-type mice against LPS-induced inflammation in vivo. Long-term administration of TPPU to the 5xFAD mouse model via drinking water reversed microglia and astrocyte reactivity and immune pathway dysregulation. This was associated with reduced β amyloid pathology and improved synaptic integrity and cognitive function on two behavioral tests. TPPU treatment correlated with an increase in EpFA concentrations in the brains of 5xFAD mice, demonstrating brain penetration and target engagement of this small molecule. These findings support further investigation of TPPU as a potential therapeutic agent for the treatment of AD.”
The Bohart Museum will live-stream the free open house on Facebook. Entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the 500,000 Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) collection, will show specimens and answer questions.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the Bohart Museum's first-ever Virtual Moth Open House.
“We started holding a moth-themed open house near Mother's Day in May, because people who are enthusiasts for moths are called moth-ers,” said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator for the Bohart Museum. “We then switched our programming to align with National Moth Week. This year's Moth Week is July 18-26. The annual event is celebrated throughout the world with private and public events.
Bohart Museum officials are preparing videos on black-lighting and how to spread and pin moths.
During the Facebook Live program, viewers can type in their questions on moths.
Smith is expected to answer questions such as:
- What is the largest moth?
- How do butterflies and moths differ?
- What is so unique about moths?
- Why should we be concerned with moth diversity?
Smith received a 2015 Friend of the College Award from the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences for saving the museum some $160,000 over a 27-year period through his volunteer service.
Kimsey, who has directed the museum since 1989, remembers when Smith joined the museum. “When Jeff was working for Univar Environmental Services, a 35-year career until his retirement in 2013, he would spend some of his vacation days at the museum. Over the years Jeff took over more and more of the curation of the butterfly and moth collection. He took home literally thousands of field pinned specimens and spread their wings at home, bringing them back to the museum perfectly mounted. To date he has spread the wings on more than 200,000 butterflies and moths. This translates into something like 33,000 hours of work!” The numbers have since increased.
“About a decade ago, Jeff began helping us by assembling specimen drawers from kits that we purchased,” Kimsey related. “This substantially lowered our curatorial costs, from $50/drawer to $16/drawer. We use several hundred drawers a year to accommodate donated specimens, research vouchers and specimens resulting from research grants and inventories. More recently, he's been accumulating scrap lumber and making the drawers from scratch at no cost to us. Overall, he has made more than 2000 drawers. Additionally, he makes smaller specimen boxes with the leftover scrap wood, which are used by students taking various field courses in the department. We simply could not curate the collection without his contributions.”
Kimsey praised Smith for completely reorganizing the butterfly and moth collection. “It's no small feat to rearrange this many specimens, housed in roughly one thousand drawers,” she said. “Many thousands of the specimens needed to be identified, and the taxonomy required extensive updating and reorganization.”
The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus, houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It is also the home of the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum.
Bohart Museum is the home of a “live” petting zoo featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas, and a gift shop, stocked with T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
Macaluso received $1000, and her research paper, “The Biological Basis for Alzheimer's Disease," will be published in eScholarship, an open-access scholarly publishing service affiliated with the University of California.
This is the first time a student enrolled in a UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology class has won the universitywide competition, now in its fourth year. The award memorializes Norma J. Lang (1931-2015), professor emerita of botany.
Macaluso, who is majoring in psychology with a biological emphasis, and minoring in aging and adult development, anticipates receiving her bachelor of science degree in the fall of 2020.
Carey, an internationally recognized teacher, instructs undergraduates in his classes--which usually exceed 200 students--how to research topics, use style sheets, and structure their papers. He has produced 13 videos on how to research and write a research paper, along with a new video on the use of style sheets.
The Lang Prize recognizes undergraduate students whose research projects make extensive use of library resources, services and expertise. First, second and third-place prizes are awarded each year in two categories: science, engineering and mathematics; and arts, humanities and social sciences. Second place in the science, engineering and mathematics category went to Vincent Pan, a student doing research in the lab of ecologist Rick Karban, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, for several years. His paper: "Recent Advances in Elucidating the Function of Zebra Stripes: Parasite Avoidance and Thermoregulation Do Not Resolve the Mystery." (See recipients at https://bit.ly/3cPPsNt.)
“Macaluso's term paper gives an in-depth synopsis of the biology of Alzheimer's disease, a prevalent form of dementia that impairs memory and cognition,” wrote the Norma J. Lang Prize judges. “Utilizing the library's databases and subject guides, Macaluso identified 20 sources from top scientific journals across multiple disciplines, including Nature and the Annual Reviews of Medicine, Neuroscience, Psychology and Public Health, to provide a comprehensive overview of the current state of the science on Alzheimer's.”
“This currently incurable disease is caused by significant neuronal death in the brain due to of the accumulation of two neurodegenerative proteins: intercellular amyloid-beta plaques and intracellular tau tangles,” she wrote. “The interaction of these two proteins creates a feedback loop that facilitates the continual destruction of nerve cells in the brain. Because the destruction of nerve cells disrupts the neuronal connections in the brain, Alzheimer's disease results in significant memory deficits as well as impaired cognition. Moreover, with the use of human models and transgenic mouse models, researchers have been able to analyze the role of biology, genetics, and physiology in Alzheimer's disease. For example, mutations in the presenilin 1 (PSEN1) gene or the amyloid precursor protein (APP) gene predispose an individual to acquire early-onset Alzheimer's disease.”
“Likewise, an individual can have an increased likelihood of developing late-onset Alzheimer's disease if they carry the ApoE4 variant of the apolipoprotein E (ApoE) gene. In summary, researchers are amply investigating Alzheimer's disease from a variety of biological faucets in an effort to treat or even cure this form of dementia.”
Macaluso went on to discuss three major risk factors affiliated with Alzheimer's disease: age, gender, and genetics.
Macaluso penned “The Biological Basis for Alzheimer's Disease” as her term paper for Human Development-Aging 117 (Longevity) in the fall of 2019. “The purpose of this assignment was to utilize the library databases for research, improve both my writing and editing skills, and broaden my understanding of longevity with a topic of my choice," she wrote in her Norma J. Lang Prize application. "Moreover, this research paper served to expand my communication skills and bolster my intellectual confidence. A key requirement for this paper was to use at least ten sources, seven of which needed to be primary sources such as a research article or a review paper. Initially, I was quite daunted by the prospect of this assignment because I had only modest experience reading research papers or using the online library databases. I distinctly recall reading about this assignment on the syllabus and questioning if I was capable of such an onerous task. To my surprise, by the end of this quarter and after countless hours exploring the online library reserves, I completed my assignment and felt confident in my ability to utilize the UC Davis library resources.”
A 2019-2020 McNair Scholar, Macaluso has worked as an undergraduate research assistant for the Dynamic Memory Lab (Charan Ranganath Lab) since 2017. She serves on the Animal Care Staff at Young Hall; as a genetics tutor for the Academic Assistance and Tutoring Centers; and as president of the America Red Cross Club at UC Davis.
The UC Davis student, a native of Santa Barbara but raised in nearby Buellton, plans to enroll in graduate school in the fall of 2021 to study cognitive neuroscience or cognitive psychology. Her career plans? "I'm thinking academia right now," she said. "I hope to finish my PhD, work as a postdoctoral fellow for a few years, and then pursue a professorship position."
Carey, a member of the UC Davis entomology faculty since 1980, is considered the preeminent global authority on arthropod demography. He directed the multidisciplinary, 11-institution, 20-scientist program, “Biodemographic Determinants of Lifespan,” which garnered more than $10 million in funding from the National Institute on Aging from 2003 to 2013.
Highly honored by his peers for his teaching expertise, Carey received the Entomological Society of America's 2015 Distinguished Teaching Award; a 2018 Robert Foster Cherry Award from Baylor University, which presents international teaching awards; and the UC Davis Academic Senate's 2014 Distinguished Teaching Award, an honor given to internationally recognized professors who excel at teaching.
(Undergraduate students can apply for the annual Norma J. Lang Prize here.)
In a newly published article on “The School of Food” in Futurum, Nansen advocates that all school curricula be “rooted in a single dominator: food.”
Biology, ecology and environmental science should be “taught based on subjects related to the growth of plants and animals,” Nansen writes. Literature, history, sociology and humanities should focus on “the importance of food concepts, like ‘breaking bread,' feasts and banquets.”
“What I am proposing here is already being done, in part, as individual initiatives and projects,” he writes. “For example, many schools have a butterfly garden, biology labs keep colonies of insects, students grow some vegetables and have a few livestock animals. In some schools, students learn how to eat and cook healthy food.”
Futurum is a website geared toward students and teachers to become inspired and interested in science. It focuses on research, analysis and insights.
Nansen, whose research interests include insect ecology, integrated pest management, and remote sensing, says that such a focus on food “would strengthen, not weaken, the academic rigor that could be delivered to students of all age groups.”
“That is, ‘food' as an educational denominator can be taught and approached with multiple goals in mind, and these would be similar to the current distinctions between practical and more theoretical classes. By engaging with students through the prism of food, we can make math, physics, history, biology, literature--all these topics more relevant to students and make the teaching more interactive and challenge-based.”
Nansen acknowledges that it is crucial that schools teach students about traditional subjects and provide them with essential skill sets regarding problem solving, critical thinking and basic knowledge, but that that students “can all be taught very effectively through an underlying emphasis on food.”
For example, he mentions that students of all ages can grow crop plants in small pots inside a classroom or outside (small plots and roof gardens), “and study growth as a function of time and growing conditions.” More advanced practical tasks could include developing irrigation systems, and plant and animal breeding programs.
Another example: for engineering, computer sciences and food production, students could delve into solar panels, rainwater catchment systems and water recycling methods. At the more advanced level, they could integrate robotics and machine learning system.
Nansen, linking chemistry with cooking, comments: “Cooking is nothing more and nothing less than applied chemistry. How does the pickling of vegetables work? What is happening when cream is whipped? What happens to food during heating and/or frying? Salting olives, fish and other types of meat has been practiced for thousands of years—how does this means of preserving food actually work?”
In his article, Nansen also explains how food can be incorporated in such subjects as humanities, human history, social studies and math.
Eating has changed over time, the professor acknowledges, “and it varies among countries and cultures, meaning that not all students view food in the same way.” But teachers can capitalize on diversity in the classroom, he relates. They can also address “societal challenges, such as obesity” and elevate levels of empowerment related to stresses, such as fear.
In the article, Nansen shared a project he assigned to his 11-year daughter, Molly, during the sheltering-in requirements: “How much cabbage would be needed to meet the Vitamin K requirements for her entire class for a whole year?”
In addition to learning about the metric system, using Excel spread sheets, regression analyses and calculus, Molly investigated websites and came to several conclusions:
- A person can harvest about 3 kg per m2 (kilograms per square meter)
- A student her age has to have 105 grams of cabbage to meet daily vitamin K requirements
In addition, she created a cabbage-muffin recipe and calculated she would need to eat four muffins per day to meet the daily Vitamin K requirements. She also calculated she would need 2,291 m2 to grow enough cabbage to meet the daily vitamin K requirement for her entire school. It is age-dependent, so that was a bit tricky to figure out.
And lastly, using Google Earth, Molly suggested where to place the cabbage field next to her school. (Her entire project is online as a sidebar.)
Virtual Youth Summit on Food and Education 2021
Nansen said he seeks contact with teachers and headmasters "interested in pursuing this approach at some level at their school."
"The idea is now to take this several steps further, through collaboration with teachers and their students, and set up a web-based platform to host an annual virtual youth summit on food and education!" he said. "That is, groups of students, in collaboration with their teachers and as part of course curricula, produce a 3-5 minute video describing a particular project they have executed. These videos would then be shown at the virtual youth summit, and we will organize review panels of students, teachers, and scientists to comment on the videos. These video projects would be divided into age groups and topics – still to be determined."
"I am hoping that we will be able to create a very special category of video projects describing two schools (have to be on separate continents) doing a project together," Nansen said. "As a start, we are pursuing the potential of a school in California working with a school in Uganda… which would be awesome!"
"We may be able to obtain corporate sponsorships and therefore be able to offer prizes/awards to participating schools, teachers and student groups. With corporate sponsorships, we may also be able to offer logistical support to schools – computers, software licenses (to create videos), basic lab supplies and equipment to conduct experiments.'"
"Just imagine a school being able to put on its website that a group of students competed in the Virtual Youth Summit on Food and Education 2021 and was selected as one of the winners! Students can put this experience on their resume when they later apply to university or jobs. Teachers can include this in their evaluation dossiers."
"Initially, we need to identify teachers interested in joining this effort--ideally teachers from multiple countries," Nansen related. "Once we have 5-10 teachers committed, then we can start putting together the virtual platform and invite schools and teachers more broadly." School teachers and others potentially interested in getting involved can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.