The CTSC recently hosted its Annual Scholar Symposium, where 41 researchers presented their work to mentors and colleagues. The event commenced with a welcome from Nick Kenyon, associate director of the CTSC. Presentations covered research on a wide range of diseases and conditions. The core themes included neurology, oncology, cardiology, women’s health, and pediatrics. Presenting scholars represented the CTSC TL1 and KL2 training programs, the Paul Calabresi K12 program, the BIRCWH program, the Mentored Clinical Research Training Program, and the Clinical Research Master’s Program.
The scholars presented many innovative approaches to a variety of health issues, such as high-risk pregnancy outcomes, transportation structures and access to healthcare, the effects of the environment and socioeconomic stressors on disease outcomes, and provider bias. They also addressed neurological diseases and disorders, including autism, particularly in children and adolescents as well as targeted treatments for brain cancers like neuroblastoma and glioblastoma.
Immediately following the presentations, the event concluded with a reception to celebrate the 2023 cohort of graduating scholars.
Several CTSC scholars and staff attended the Association for Clinical and Translational Science (ACTS) Translational Science 2023 event in Washington, DC, last month. The meeting attracted approximately 1,200 attendees.
CTSC TL1 Scholar, Anna Awolope, B.S., received a Top Poster Presenter Award for her poster entitled, "Electronic Health Record Data and Topological Data Analysis to Predict Clinical Outcomes Post Myocardial Infarction".
Other CTSC scholars who presented their work included:
CTSC Biostatistics Program Manager and Principal Biostatistician, Sandra Taylor Ph.D., presented her work on a new investigative tool used to assess the quality of data prior to statistical analysis, Data Loofah.
Valentina Medici, principal investigator and director of the CTSC TL1 Clinical and Translational Research Training Program, applied for and was awarded an NIH supplement to the existing TL1 award, which enhances diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) in the biomedical sciences and supports excellent mentorship and superior training. The award allows for enhanced curricular offerings and, in particular, a new coaching program that provides personalized career development tools to improve academic retention and support individualized pathways to success for those from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds. This is critical to the development of exceptional future scientists and leaders in the scientific research enterprise. With this award, we are also able to grow our current TL1 scholar cohort by three additional scholars (listed below).
Victor Rivas is a second-year Ph.D. student in Integrative Pathobiology with an ultimate goal of becoming a veterinary clinician scientist. His area of translational research focuses on genetic studies aimed to identify pathologic mutations responsible for invariably fatal diseases in veterinary patients. His research involves identification of the genetic etiology of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) in a naturally occurring rhesus macaque model. The results of his study hold promise in establishing the first-ever non-human primate model of HCM for subsequent novel therapeutic studies to treat the disease in veterinary and human patients alike.
Casiana Gonzalez is a second-year Ph.D. student in Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Physiology. Her research project is focused on the development of epigenetic therapeutics for the X-linked disorder, CASK-related intellectual disability. Her project utilizes CRISPR/dCas9 paired with epigenetic modifiers to reactivate the healthy CASK allele on the silenced X chromosome. This approach, assessed in patient-relevant cell models, will allow for analysis of a functional rescue of CASK and insight towards the application of a platform therapeutic for many X-linked intellectual disabilities.
Dagoberto Piña, Jr., is a fourth-year medical student working with Hai Van Le in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. His research focuses predominantly on spinal cord injuries in the setting of trauma and spondylitic changes. Together they are assessing the relationships between sociodemographic characteristics and their influence on surgical outcomes. His TL1 project involves working to change the paradigm of osteoporosis management and assessing the feasibility of transitioning care to orthopaedic specialists to lessen the burden on primary care providers.
UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center has selected pediatric oncologist and clinical researcher Elysia Alvarez as the 2023 Christine and Helen Landgraf Memorial Research Award recipient.
Alvarez’s research focuses on improving the care of adolescents and young adults who have cancer by identifying barriers to accessing treatment. She also studies interventions to overcome these barriers to improve survival outcomes. Read More
Sheela Toprani, assistant professor in Neurology and Neurosurgery, and a KL2 scholar, was awarded a Mentored Early Career Mental Health Award. Toprani will study how neurosurgery for refractory epilepsy of the nondominant hemisphere impacts neuropsychological functions that are not well measured by current methods, such as executive function or emotional perception. Read More
Na'amah Razon is an assistant professor of family and community medicine. In the following Q&A, Razon shares her findings from her recent study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. Read More
Julie Bidwell, assistant professor with the Family Caregiving Institute at Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, describes how the CTSC KL2 Career Development Program assisted her in obtaining a K01 award. Read more.
Melanie Dove, assistant professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at UC Davis Health, has been invited to present a poster at the Association for Clinical and Translational Science (ACTS) annual conference in April of this year.
Dove conducts research on the impact tobacco control policies have on health behavior. At the ACTS conference, she plans to present findings from a research project looking at the impact local flavored tobacco sales restrictions in California have on youth e-cigarette use. Results suggest that these policies were not associated with a decrease in e-cigarette use one year post policy. She also found that students reported an easier time accessing e-cigarettes and an increase in youth using marijuana in an e-cigarette, which may explain why we did not find a decrease in use. The UC Davis CTSC KL2 Mentored Career Development Program provided support to conduct this research.
KL2 scholar Elysia Alvarez is the first author of a study published on Dec. 3 in Lancet Oncology. The manuscript presents an analysis of results from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2019. With a focus on the outcome of disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs), the study informs global cancer control measures in adolescents and young adults (aged 15-39 years). Alvarez, assistant professor of clinical pediatrics with UC Davis Health, is dedicated to improving survival outcomes in adolescents and young adults with cancer. Studies focusing on incidence and mortality, while important, do not always capture the entire impact of a disease on a population. This study, focused on disability-adjusted life year burden, allows for a comprehensive analysis of the impact of cancer in the young population as students or starting their careers and families. In addition to this work, Alvarez is exploring the experience of adolescents and young adults with cancer in Latin America and the barriers they face to care in hopes of improving outcomes in this unique population.
Heather Siefkes, assistant professor in the UC Davis Department of Pediatrics, has received the 2021 Eli Gold Prize. Siefkes works in the Pediatric and Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at UC Davis Children’s Hospital and serves as medical director of Project ADAM Sacramento, which helps schools prepare for a sudden cardiac emergency through AED and CPR training.
The prize was named for Eli Gold, former professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Pediatrics, who supported and encouraged many young aspiring pediatricians. The annual award of $3,000 supports winners’ research and career development.
“In her relatively short time in our department, through a unique combination of focus, persistence and vision, Dr. Siefkes has established herself as a leader in clinical research,” said Jennifer Plant, division chief of pediatric critical care medicine at UC Davis Children’s Hospital, who nominated her for the award. “Dr. Siefkes has also made considerable contributions to the Department of Pediatrics, related to service, education and clinical work. She is a thorough and thoughtful clinician worthy of recognition for the quality of her work.” Read more.
Hui Amy Chen joins the Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH K12) program as the newest Dean’s Scholar in Women’s Health Research (DSWHR) as of June 1, 2023. A recent graduate of the UC Davis Mentored Clinical Research Training Program (MCRTP), Chen's project focus will be on a Feasibility Pilot Study of a Standardized Extract of Cultured Lentinula edodes Mycelia (AHCC) on Quality of Life for Ovarian Cancer Patients on Adjuvant Chemotherapy. Among gynecologic cancers, ovarian cancer has the highest mortality rate and quality of life is affected by both the disease and its treatment. Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC), a shiitake mushroom extract, has early data showing improved chemotherapy side effects and quality of life. The aim of the study is to examine the feasibility of conducting a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effects of AHCC on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in ovarian cancer patients undergoing adjuvant chemotherapy.
A new study entitled “Experiences of Transgender and Gender Expansive Physicians” was published on June 29, 2022, in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Network Open. Angela Jarman, an emergency department physician at UC Davis Health, served as senior author on the study, collaborating with colleagues at several institutions across the country. Read More
Alicia Agnoli, assistant professor of family and community medicine, contributed to a study that suggests the increased rates of overdose and mental health crisis observed during the first year after opioid dose tapering persist through the second year. The study was published June 13 in JAMA Network Open. Read More
Victoria Lyo, assistant professor in the Foregut, Metabolic, and General Surgery division was appointed the Dean’s Scholar in Women’s Health Research by the UC Davis School of Medicine’s Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) program. Lyo joined the faculty three years ago after finishing a fellowship in Advanced GI Minimally Invasive and Bariatric Surgery at Oregon Health & Sciences University. She is a San Francisco native, and after undergraduate school at Wellesley College, she completed medical school and general surgery training at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). As a medical student, she built her research foundation as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Medical scholar. As a resident, she received a Master of Translational Medicine investigating the use of silver microparticles with fibrin sealant to prevent hernia formation.
This five-year mentored K-type research award allows Lyo to further her research in Sex Differences in Response to Bariatric Surgery. She is studying how microbiome and metabolomic differences may contribute to sex-specific outcomes of surgery with the help of her mentor team Mohamed Ali, Sean Adams, Bethany Cummings, and Anne Schafer. This award builds upon her research grant from the Society of Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons and allows her to develop her other interests in obesity-related fatty liver disease and its response to bariatric surgery. Personally, she enjoys spending time with her family and indulging her young son’s obsession with cars.
Angela Jarman, an assistant professor and the director of sex and gender in emergency medicine, was selected as an Interdisciplinary Women’s Health Research (IWHR) scholar in the Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) K12 program. She joined the faculty after completing a two-year fellowship in Sex and Gender in Emergency Medicine at Brown University, where she also earned a Master of Public Health degree. Angela is a North Carolina native and majored in Gender Studies at Duke University before attending medical school at the University of Kentucky. She trained in emergency medicine at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Her research interests include sex differences in venous thromboembolism, health disparities, and gender bias in medicine and leadership. Personally, Angela enjoys spending time in the mountains with her family and good books.
Alicia Agnoli is an assistant professor of Family and Community Medicine at UC Davis School of Medicine. She is first author of a study published Aug. 3 in JAMA, in which a team of UC Davis Health researchers examined the potential risks of opioid dose tapering. Their study found that patients on stable opioid therapy who had their doses tapered had significantly higher rates of overdose and mental health crisis, compared to patients without dose reductions. Read More
Orwa Aboud, assistant professor of neurology and PC K12 scholar, presented on, "Incidence of intracranial hemorrhage in glioma patients with venous thromboembolism converted from LMWH to Apixaban", at the CNS Clinical Trials & Brain Metastases Conference in Canada. The goal of this annual conference is to provide a deeper dive into the area of neuro-oncology clinical trials, to understand how to make more significant improvements in survival and quality of life of patients with primary and metastatic cancers of the central nervous system.
Chengfei Liu has received a $2 million R37 National Cancer Institute (NCI) award for prostate cancer research. Dr. Liu is the first early-stage cancer investigator at UC Davis to receive an R37 award. Dr. Liu was a dean’s scholar in the UC Davis Paul Calabresi Career Development K12 program, which was of immense importance in his trajectory toward the R37. K12 program director and Comprehensive Cancer Center Director, Dr. Primo Lara said, “This award will help him further develop his career and his research, while making important contributions to our understanding of what’s driving resistant prostate cancer.”
Guobao Wang, associate professor in the Department of Radiology, has received a "Trailblazer R21" grant ($628,000 over three years) from the National Institutes of Health and National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIH/NIBIB).
With this grant, Wang will develop the algorithms and test the feasibility of a new method combining positron emission tomography (PET) and X-ray computed tomography (CT) scanning. The proposed method provides new applications for human molecular imaging and adds spectral CT imaging as a dimension of information to clinical PET/CT.