UC Davis, the third largest of the 10 campus UC System, is now ranked among the top 10 public universities in the nation. UC Davis includes the main campus in Davis, and the UC Davis Health campus in Sacramento, which includes the School of Medicine. Our department is one of the 6 basic science departments in the School of Medicine. While the UC Davis Health clinical and educational facilities are located on the Sacramento campus, the UC Davis Health research mission has a presence on both campuses, with the basic science departments located on the Davis campus. This arrangement places us in a great position to bridge the research missions of the UC Davis Health, with that of the main campus, which is home to one of the largest biological science faculties in the nation, and which includes both the College of Biological Sciences and School of Veterinary Medicine.

As part of an overall strategy of building its research strength, the School of Medicine committed to renovation and expansion of its basic research mission. As a result, UC Davis Medical School has had the fastest growth in basic research funding of all US medical schools for several years running, having moved from a ranking of 62nd to 26th since 2001. We recently completed renovation of 19,000 square feet of research space, and the hiring of 6 new FTE faculty. In addition we created space within the department to house faculty from clinical departments to enrich the research environment and build programmatic strength. The Department, while among the smallest in the nation, is ranked 14th for extramural research funding among cell biology and Anatomy Departments. Our growth is occurring in parallel with the expansion and renovation of several of the biological science units on campus, and in the UC Davis Health, creating an environment rich in opportunity for creative young scientists motivated to take advantage of a wealth of collaborative opportunities.

UC Davis researchers dissect COVID-19’s impact on sense of smell

Qizhi Gong, Ph.D.

Professor Qizhi Gong along with Otolaryngologist Toby Steele, recently received a two-year, $275,000 National Institutes of Health grant to study how COVID-19 disrupts the sense of smell. In this unique collaboration, the UC Davis Health team hopes to potentially identify diagnostic tools and therapeutic treatments. They'll be characterizing the severity and length of patient smell loss, collecting samples and conducting in-depth protein analyses to dissect the mechanisms that cause olfactory dysfunction.

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School of Medicine lab recognized for safety

Burns Pugh LabThe Burns-Pugh lab, which researches neurodegenerative diseases of the eye, is one of six winners in the inaugural Laboratory Safety Awards program from UC Davis Safety Services.

The awards panel chose a winner from each of the university’s four colleges and the School of Medicine and School of Veterinary Medicine.

To see what the culture of safety looks like in the Burns-Pugh lab, show up on a Friday – and be prepared to watch 10 people go into action. Those who work with Principal Investigators Marie Burns and Edward Pugh, studying photoreceptors of the retina, pause what they’re doing once a week for “Friday Frenzy” mode.

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A comprehensive study on the structure of the vimentin protein

Paul FitzGerald, Ph.D.The Voss lab, together with the FitzGerald lab of Cell Biology and Human Anatomy, published a comprehensive study on the structure of the vimentin protein. The article, “Completion of the vimentin rod domain structure using experimental restraints: a new tool for exploring Intermediate Filament assembly and mutations” appeared August 8th in Cell: Structure. The work includes description of vimentin’s linker 1-2 region, which has thus far eluded structural determination. The Voss and FitzGerald groups used a combination of EPR spectroscopy and molecular modeling to describe linker 1-2 and unite the separate elements of the vimentin rod domain into a single experimentally-based model.

The paper can be found here »

UC Davis doctors help Haitian residents, physicians years after quake

Douglas S. Gross, M.D., Ph.D.The devastating earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010 left the Caribbean country in ruin. More than 230,000 people died, and millions were injured and without homes. Today, thousands of residents still live in unsanitary, unsafe conditions. To help this vulnerable population, UC Davis Children’s Hospital physicians travel to Haiti to provide care and training.

Departmental faculty member and pediatrician Douglas S. Gross, M.D., Ph.D., served on a federal disaster medical assistance team that was deployed shortly after the earthquake. The trip inspired him to create the UC Haiti Initiative, an educational, research and public service partnership between each University of California campus and the State University of Haiti.

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Subject: [cvnet] 2015 Verriest Medal awarded to Professor John S. Werner

The International Colour Vision Society (ICVS) is pleased to announce that the 2015 Verriest Medal will be awarded to Professor John S. Werner at the 23nd Biennial ICVS Symposium to take place in Sendai, Japan, July 3rd-7th, 2015. This award was established in 1991 in memory of the founding member of the Society, Dr. Guy Verriest, and honors outstanding contributions in the field of color vision.

Professor Werner received his Ph.D. from Brown University under the supervision of Professor Billy Wooten in the Walter S. Hunter Laboratory of Psychology. He conducted postdoctoral research with Professor Jan Walraven at the Institute for Perception – TNO in Soesterberg, The Netherlands. He was a member of the Psychology faculty at the University of Colorado, Boulder and is presently a Distinguished Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of California Davis where also holds appointments in Vision Science, and Neurobiology, Physiology & Behavior.

An active member of ICVS and of it predecessor, IRGCVD, he is also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Psychological Association, American Psychological Society, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the Gerontological Society of America and the Optical Society of America. He received the Pisart Vision Award from Lighthouse International and he presented the University of Colorado, Boulder distinguished research lecture and the Optical Society of America Robert M. Boynton lecture.

He has made important contributions to our knowledge of the development and aging of color mechanisms using psychophysics, VEP's and most recently optical imaging techniques, OCT and adaptive optics. He has contributed to our understanding of the processes of aging in perception particularly as they relate to plasticity and potential clinical applications. Throughout his career he has maintained an active interest in opponent color mechanisms, color in art and color illusions.

A generation of vision scientists has enjoyed the benefits of reading the many books he has coedited. These include, Visual Perception: The Neurophysiological Foundations, Color Vision: Perspectives from Different Disciplines, The Visual Neurosciences , and The New Visual Neurosciences, which like Professor Werner’s own research have brought together discoveries from anatomy, physiology and psychophysics to illuminate fundamental mechanisms underlying human perception.